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Pick Your Brain
Weighing in at a hefty 6 pounds, The Special Field: A History of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins is a meticulous account of the contributions Johns Hopkins has made to neurosurgery, from past to present day. It’s not just for those who love all things cerebral, however. See how well you do on our multiple-choice quiz, which highlights some of the lighter anecdotes that author Neil A. Grauer included in his book.
1. After winning the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship, what did PGA golfer J.B. Holmes joke he’d stash in the silver trophy?
a. A golf ball
b. A piece of skull
c. A four-leaf clover
2. What gift did Harvey Cushing’s staff give him on the occasion of his 2,000th brain tumor operation on April 15, 1932?
a. A golden scalpel
b. An X-ray film signed by every member of the surgical team
c. A cigarette case
3. Which political figure died before neurosurgeon Walter Dandy could get to the revolutionary’s bedside?
a. Leon Trotsky
b. Che Guevara
c. Malcolm X
4. Which political figure requested an advance appointment from the neurosurgeon making hospital rounds?
a. Madame Chiang Kai-shek
b. Eva Perón
c. Margaret Thatcher
5. When Walter Dandy would distinctively call out “Lawrence!” during an operation, what was he requesting?
a. Audio recording of The Lawrence Welk Show to be played
b. A nurse to read poems by D.H. Lawrence, for inspiration
c. His slipping trousers to be hiked up
6. With which nemesis was it proposed that Harvey Cushing share a Nobel Prize?
a. Walter Dandy
b. Albert Einstein
c. Flash Gordon
7. Who did Harvey Cushing threaten to kick down the stairs if he ever showed up again at The Johns Hopkins Hospital?
a. His nephew
b. Newspaper reporter Edwin Grauer
c. Al Capone
8. According to Walter Dandy, this item made operating a pleasure.
a. An improved, adjustable headlamp
b. The music of Debussy playing in the OR
c. A padded stool
1. b - A piece of skull
After suffering from vertigolike dizziness, Holmes learned he had a Chiari malformation, a structural defect in the cerebellum. Pediatric neurosurgeons George Jallo and Edward Ahn operated on Holmes in September 2011, and the pro golfer kept the leftover piece of skull in his closet.
2. c - An engraved silver case filled with cigarettes
As a chain smoker, Cushing surely appreciated the gift. Black-and-white footage of the historic operation can be found on YouTube.
3. a - Leon Trotsky
Trotsky was living in Mexico in 1940 when he was struck in the head with an assassin’s mountaineering ice axe. Dandy was asked to fly to Mexico City to save him, but Trotsky died before Dandy could board a plane at Washington National Airport.
4. a - Madame Chiang Kai-shek, first lady of the Republic of China
During her hospital stay, Madame Chiang Kai-shek insisted that neurosurgeon Donlin Long make an appointment to see her instead of dropping in; she wanted adequate forewarning to do her hair, clothes and makeup.
5. c - His slipping trousers to be hiked up
Wallace Lawrence, Dandy’s faithful orderly, was occasionally asked to pull up the neurosurgeon’s pants if they began to slip during his many long operations.
6. a - Walter Dandy
In 1936, it was suggested the so-called father of modern neurosurgery share the prize with the younger, risk-taking Dandy—despite the complex disdain the two held for one another. The Nobel, however, went to two pharmacologists. Cushing, nominated at least 38 times for a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, never won.
7. b - Edwin Grauer, a reporter for the Baltimore American
The Special Field author’s great uncle tussled with Cushing after Edwin showed up at the hospital to try to confirm secret brain surgery on Army Chief of Staff Gen. Leonard Wood in 1910. Cushing called Grauer the next day to berate him for snooping.
8. a - An improved, adjustable headlamp
General Electric helped Dandy develop a headlamp to better see during operations. Its special light bulb screwed into a bendable outlet mounted on a metal, surgical tape-covered headband.