Arts, Culture & Media

Musician plays through "open-head" surgery


Eddie Adcock (image: baldeaglebluff/Flickr)

For the last fifteen years, musician Eddie Adcock suffered from a termor in his hand. Eddie makes his living playing the banjo, so this was very bad news. But, this August, Eddie had surgery at Nashville's Vanderbilt University.

Why did you stay awake for the whole time you were having surgery?

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"Well, you have to stay awake during most brain surgeries, but I had to stay awake in order to have him guide the four electrodes on the end of a wire down through my brain. However, there is no feeling in the brain, so I didn't experience pain from that."

So, their operating on your brain, you're playing the banjo; how is your banjo playing changing while they are doing the operation?

"Well, from the beginning of the operation, I could not play at all. My tremor had gotten so bad I couldn't play. At the end of the operation, I was playing normal."

You were hooked up to a couple of pieces of equipment--you've got a pacemaker, and electrodes? Explain how that actually works.

"Actually, it's called a generator, in this case. It sends a small amount of voltage to my brain. It's a wire that's planted in my chest, runs up my neck, and into the brain on the top-left side, because it is a right-side motor skill. It puts in a program, I mean a certain amount of electricity, and it has to be programmed to get it to work exactly right.

Did they make you sterilize your banjo?

"No, that was a funny thing. I never had to sterilize anything. They were very carfeul themselves not to touch it, you know, or do anything like that. But, I never sterilized it. I laid it on my chest and they pushed the bed in the operating room. And, watching out for the neck of the banjo, I had my little small practice Deering banjo, so it wasn't really a regular big banjo, which would have been really hard to do."


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