March 18, 2014

"They had to cut my head off basically, I have scar from ear to ear. That was my first experience."

"You think circumcision's bad? Wait till they cut your fucking head off! But my grandmother told me for my entire life — everyday, 'John, you're the luckiest boy in the world.' And when you hear that everyday from somebody you actually start to believe it, which made me adventurous, which made me not afraid to try things, which made me not care about stopping myself from doing things that people said you shouldn't be doing."

That's John Mellencamp, answering "What adventure changed your life?," the first question in an excellent interview. (Via Metafilter.) He was born with spina bifida, and what they did back then "is let the kids lay there, and they would die, that's just what they would do." But a doctor (in Indiana) had an experiment to try and Mellencamp's parents allowed it.

(My mother had a sister, born circa 1930, who was born with spina bifida, who died in exactly the way Mellencamp describes.)


rehajm said...

What year did he have the Cougarectomy?

Patrick said...

Agreed, very good interview answers. A true interview would've included some follow up or picked out some points for elaboration, but ths that doesn't appear to n be the format of this feature.

Nobody is pre effect, but I always expected to like the guy who wrote "Minutes to Memories."

madAsHell said...

Do you know what the average life expectancy for a guy in a rock band is?

The Traveling Wilburys.
I was always convinced it was a play on words.

Scott M said...

A little ditty,
'bout jackin' yo' spine...

Oso Negro said...

And he rewarded the good folks of his home state with "Little Pink Houses."

Unknown said...

You can detect it at 12 weeks; what are the chances he would have made it to birth today?

David said...

" It's not like that today, because nobody gives a shit. Nobody cares about the music. Music does not speak the way it used to for my generation."

He needs to listen more closely Blurred Lines. The anthem for an entire generation.

David said...

"The Traveling Wilburys.
I was always convinced it was a play on words."

Hmmmmm? Never thought of that one before.

Ask Orbison if that was the case.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Pretty sure I read once that JM is one of those 'artists' who demands that the crew never make eye contact with him, among other things.

If true, would that little info item take a little of the bloom off the rose?

"Don't follow leaders, and watch your parking meters."

Assume people are not what they appear, and are shameless hypocrites . Especially if they are liberals. You'll be correct to do so, most of the time.

chuckR said...

Somebody should forward the paragraph on his grandfather's advice to our President.

dbp said...

Thanks to a doctor who did not follow the consensus on spina bifida, we now have heard "A little story about Jack and Dianne".

Cedarford said...

Unknown said...
You can detect it at 12 weeks; what are the chances he would have made it to birth today?

According to recent statistics, a 33% chance. The rest are aborted so the woman can start on having a healthy child pregnancy, if desired. Also, a significant number of bifida fetuses not in the abortion stats but believed to be even more common way of terminating - are naturally aborted by the personal abortion clinic God or evolution gave all mammals to weed out severely defective fetuses by miscarriage.
A lot of that depends on the severity of the spina bifida condition, how many other genetic defects accompany it and a prognosis on the sum of those conditions on quality of life and likely life expectancy.

For comparison, only 24% of cleft-palate fetuses are aborted..most of the most severe malformation..

And Downs Babies, once the parents grasp the ramifications, are aborted at a 92% rate. Trisomy18 is a 97-98% abortion rate IF detected in vitro.

dreams said...

My sister's first baby was born with spina bifida and devolop Hydrocephalus and died at about two years old. FYI, the cause of spina bifida is the poor diet of the mother.

Martha said...

FYI spina bifida is an example of multifactorial inheritance--the combined contribution of one or more often unspecified genes and environmental factors, often unknown, in the causation of a particular trait or disease.

Folic acid deficiency in the diet is one cause.
Genetics also play a part.

My second child was born with spina bifida and my diet was more than adequate. That child went on to graduate from Harvard. There are gradations of severity-- I would surmise that Mellancamp was minimally affected though I cannot fathom why he had to have an operation that almost cut his head off. Perhaps that was a treatment for hydrocephalus, a common complication associated with spina bifida.

Keryn said...

Let me add my confusion to Martha's--I'm having a hard time understanding a spina bifida surgery that practically cuts off your head. My seven-year-old son has an ugly seven inch scar on his lower back, from the surgery to close his spinal cord when he was 36 hours old, but none near his head (except the small ones from the shunt to relieve his hydrocephalus). If Mr Mellencamp's spine was open near his head and neck, he almost certainly would be paralyzed in the arms as well as the legs. I wonder what the surgery was/helped with.

(And, yes, spina bifida is a genetic/environmental birth defect, so poor diet is NOT the primary cause. Perhaps I'm a little sensitive on the subject, but I ate well and took all the appropriate prenatal vitamins through my pregnancy. Just FYI.)

dreams said...

I was careless in not saying that diet could be a cause of spina bifida . Sorry.

Freeman Hunt said...

What does it mean that they let them lie there and die? How did they die? Hydrocephalus? Other complications from spina bifida? From lack of water/nutrition?

Helenhightops said...

Keryn, I wonder if he had repair of a Chiari malformation.

Freeman, people with high spinal cord paralysis have trouble with respiration and have repeated pneumonias, don't empty their bladder and have repeated severe kidney infections, sometimes get severely infected bedsores despite diligent effort, and aspirate when they eat, or even when they swallow their saliva. It would have been very difficult then to keep a severely afflicted child alive for a long time.

Ann Althouse said...

@Freeman What I was told was that when the baby developed enough to be able to turn over, that movement would fatally damage the spine.

So the baby laid there, and everyone knew that was her fate.

Smilin' Jack said...

So the baby laid there, and everyone knew that was her fate.

The baby laid what there?

Anyway, this is yet another reason to ban abortion. Such babies must not be permitted to cheat fate and evade the long and miserable death ordained for them by a just and merciful God. Praise the Lord!

Martha said...

Today much can be done medically-- even in utero-- for babies suspected of having spina bifida.

Years ago many people with untreatable diseases were left to suffer and die. Years ago hydrocephalus in babies with spina bifida went untreated allowing their heads to slowly expand in circumference while obliterating gray matter within leaving the babies mentally retarded.

Now shunts are surgically implanted-- sometimes in utero.
Babies born with spina bifida can grow up to be happy, productive individuals. My son is one of those cherished accomplished individuals.