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"The best cure for what ifs is moving on" - Dr. Cathey

Dr. Steve Cathey grew up “all over Arkansas,” spending time in Smackover, Whitehall, Fayetteville, Little Rock and graduated from Monticello High School while his father was the head basketball coach at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Steve stayed in Monticello and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. In 1989, he returned to Monticello, where he was honored as the Distinguished Alumni.

After medical school, Steve went to Baylor University for a one year internship in general surgery. He then returned to UAMS for a five year residency in neurosurgery, where upon completion in 1988 began private practice in neurosurgery. “I love what I do,” Steve said. “I will continue to practice as long as I enjoy it.”

Recently, he was asked to sit on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association board, but declined the invitation siting perception of a conflict of interest with his role as the State Medical Board Chairman.

Listen to the podcast to learn:

  • Blood balloons, hear how an aneurysm foiled a perfect surgery
  • Find out if a brain surgeon will donate his brain to science
  • Brain surgeon predicts the cure for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
  • Brain surgeons have hot wives!

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Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com

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[0:00:03.2] CC: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy’s production of flagandbanner.com. Stay tuned until the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.

Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.


[0:00:24.1] KM: Thank you, Chris. If right now you’re sitting at your computer, you might want to watch us live on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page. It’s fun to see what goes on behind the scenes. It’s reality radio. Today, as really with every day a lot is going on. Hey, Chris?

[0:00:41.5] CC: Yeah. Yes?

[0:00:42.0] KM: The air-conditioner is on over there. I think it’s messing up our mics.

[0:00:44.6] CC: All right. Stand by.

[0:00:45.3] KM: I see Jason waving to us over there. Thank you. Like I said, you can watch us live in the action on flagandbanner.com’s page. I see you're scurrying around, hand-waving to each other about the air-conditioner being on. We're not as professional as we might like to be over here, but we’re getting there.

[0:01:01.7] CC: It’s okay. Absolutely.

[0:01:03.0] KM: This is my 101st show. I’d call that pretty professional.

[0:01:07.8] CC: That's a lot of shows.

[0:01:10.1] KM: Like I said, if you're sitting at your computer, you might want to watch us. I want to welcome back my new co-host, Chris.

[0:01:17.3] CC: Well, thank you.

[0:01:18.4] KM: Chris Cannon.

[0:01:19.1] CC: Yeah.

[0:01:20.2] KM: Thank you. I was out last week seeing my son in Ohio. He's going to the Ohio State, getting a PhD in horticulture, because he said we're going to need food.

[0:01:29.3] CC: The big 10.

[0:01:31.4] KM: Yeah.

[0:01:31.5] CC: I'm from Iowa, so I’m a big 10 boy as well.

[0:01:34.1] KM: Oh, that's true. I'll get to watch the SEC and the big 10 now.

[0:01:37.1] CC: There you go.

[0:01:40.4] KM: If anybody's listening, they might want to know that you are Chris Cannon, who used to be the DJ on B98, so some of them might remember you.

[0:01:49.8] CC: Yeah.

[0:01:50.8] KM: Thank you again for helping out last week. We made a recording of the show for Facebook and a podcast. Oh, no. Making a recording of the show for Facebook and a podcast for next week to be released is Jayson Malik from Arise Studio in Conway, Arkansas. We want to thank Jayson. He's been doing a great job and these podcasts are always up next week.

This show Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy began as a platform for me, a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way. Originally, my team and I thought it would appeal to entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs, but it seems to have had a wider audience appeal, because after all, who isn't inspired by everyday people's American-made stories?

It's no secret that successful people work hard, but a discovery I find interesting is that many, many of my guests have a spiritual bent. They believe in a higher power, thus enabling them to take risks. Now this next discovery about entrepreneurs really caught me by surprise. Almost all my guests have the heart of the teacher and you do too. I saw where you teach your knowledge forward. They share their knowledge and are great communicators. Last, that business in of itself is creative more so than I ever thought.

If you miss any part of the show, or want to learn more, Chris is going to tell you how.

[0:03:11.0] CC: Learn more and listen to previous interviews on UIYB by going to flagandbanner.com and clicking on Radio Show. There you'll find our guests’ interview and links to resources you heard on this show. Be proactive and join our e-mail list, or like us on Facebook to get an early sneak peek of each week's guest.

[0:03:32.9] KM: Thank you, Chris. My guest today saves lives, improves lives and teaches us about the brain. It's not every day you get to speak to a brain surgeon. Many of us don't even know one. They're a rare breed, even among doctors. Today is your lucky day, because after 36 years in practice, neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Cathey has retired and graciously accepted an invitation to today's Up In Your Business show. We're going to pick his brain. I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist.

[0:04:00.7] SC: Thank you, Kerry.

[0:04:02.0] KM: You’ve never heard that before.

[0:04:03.1] SC: As I was telling Chris, when you called me out as a neurosurgeon, first words were a letdown when you meet one in person.

[0:04:11.6] KM: Oh, it is not true. It is not true. We're going to find out from you what it's like to be you and we're going to find out about the future of the burgeoning new science brains research. Isn't that a new science?

[0:04:25.0] SC: It is. It is. The technology is advancing so quickly. Things that 30 years ago required a scalpel and anesthesiologists are now being done by interventional radiologists with a much lower mortality and morbidity rate. I had aneurysm clipping treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, all of those things are brave new frontiers.

[0:04:49.1] KM: You are an Arkansas native, attending Monticello High School and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

[0:04:54.0] SC: I'm a boll weevil. Yes.

[0:04:56.3] KM: Graduating of course from both with high honors. On combined scholarships, you attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and in 1982 and 83, you did your surgery internship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. After that, lucky for us you returned back to Little Rock, Arkansas and began your long career as a neurosurgeon.

In the last decade, I think this is interesting, you have been selected accumulatively three times by the Arkansas Times and AY Magazine as either the best doctor, or the best physician, pat yourself on the back.

[0:05:30.0] SC: I will. Thank you, Kerry.

[0:05:31.9] KM: Apart from being a surgeon, you are a teacher, an orator and a published author, and I'm going to see if I can say these titles, because I just think it's fun to talk to a neurosurgeon and get to use words like this, because you never get to say things like this. Some of your articles are, you could correct me if I do it wrong, Paraplegia caused by coarc –

[0:05:51.2] SC: Coarctation.

[0:05:52.1] KM: Coarctation of the aorta and hydrocephalus.

[0:05:55.3] SC: Hydrocephalus, yes.

[0:05:56.2] KM: Hydrocephalus. That was one of your articles. The other one is the Camino intracranial pressure monitor performance and experimental and clinical trials. Most recently just in 2017 September, I think it was, you published an article called The Politics of Infection Disease. That one I can get my head around.

[0:06:15.1] SC: That was a fun project for me, because I work with some incredibly smart people at UAMS that are infectious disease specialists. I had a lot of fun writing that article.

[0:06:26.6] KM: Well you're going to tell us all about it. It's a pleasure to welcome to the table my super smart nerves of steel neurologist Dr. Steven Cathey.

[0:06:37.6] SC: Well, I'm not a neurologist. I'm a neurosurgeon. You know the difference between a –

[0:06:41.9] KM: No. I have no idea.

[0:06:42.6] SC: - a neurologist and neurosurgeon?

[0:06:44.1] KM: No, I have no idea.

[0:06:45.1] SC: About 300 grand a year.

[0:06:48.7] KM: He’s funny. What is a neurologist?

[0:06:52.4] SC: A neurologist is one of the specialties we really lean on hard. They do a lot of the diagnostics; nerve testing, imaging studies, this set and the other. The neurosurgeon is the one who actually operates on the patient to use the –

[0:07:07.9] KM: Does the surgery.

[0:07:08.9] SC: Does the surgery. That's correct.

[0:07:10.9] KM: I usually, when I think of somebody like you, I think that they came from probably a long line of family doctors. When I read your bio, I don't think that's true.

[0:07:21.8] SC: My mom and dad were school teachers. My mother was a nurse toward the end. Yeah, I was raised in South Arkansas and my dad, basketball coach, school teacher, my mother the same, ultimately a nurse. No doctors on the family. I have two children, neither of which have pursued a career in medicine.

[0:07:45.3] KM: Let's just tell everybody what your son does. This is how I first met you actually.

[0:07:49.5] SC: Very proud of my son. He's a captain in the US Marine Corps. He's in Rhode Island right now, at the Naval Law Academy, but he will be posted at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. He's a lawyer and a captain in the US Marine Corps. I'm very proud of that kid.

[0:08:08.9] KM: Absolutely. I met you because you bought a flagpole for your backyard, so you could put a Marine flag up.

[0:08:16.2] SC: As a matter of fact, the last time I remember seeing you was at the grand opening of my flagpole. You know Kerry, if I had one regret about that flagpole?

[0:08:28.3] KM: Okay, tell me.

[0:08:28.7] SC: It wasn't big enough.

[0:08:29.9] KM: Oh, my gosh. It’s 40-feet tall.

[0:08:32.4] SC: I wanted to look like a car dealership.

[0:08:35.9] KM: Well, it's a good one, let me tell you.

[0:08:37.5] SC: I love that. I had my Marine Corps flag, my American flag, Arkansas flag, so it was great.

[0:08:41.9] KM: I love it. That's really –

[0:08:42.9] SC: It was a blessing.

[0:08:44.1] KM: What do you think you decided to do that? You think you're an example for him on working hard?

[0:08:47.9] SC: I would like to think so. I'd like to think I was an inspiration for my son.

[0:08:51.9] KM: Did he always want to be a Marine? Some kids do.

[0:08:54.2] SC: He went to Hendrix College, and which is traditionally a liberal thinking, liberal-leaning college and he was one of the only military kids on campus, but he loved the Marine Corps, he loved what it stood for, stands for and he's excelled.

[0:09:12.8] KM: Well, let's not leave your daughter. I feel like if we talk about your son, we have to talk about your daughter. She's very successful too.

[0:09:17.5] SC: Yeah. Yes. She's the reason I don't have any money. She's at Columbia – she's in New York right now.

[0:09:23.9] KM: That’s a good girl. That’s what girls are supposed to do. All right, keep going.

[0:09:27.3] SC: Yeah, she’s in graduate school at Columbia University in New York City, on doing broadcast journalism. That's what she'd like to do.

[0:09:33.7] KM: She’s worked on what shows?

[0:09:35.1] SC: She's been on the Today Show, she's been on Jimmy Fallon.

[0:09:39.6] KM: In the back, in production of those shows? Not as a star.

[0:09:42.1] SC: Yes. Yes. Right. Not in front of the camera.

[0:09:43.7] KM: Behind the camera.

[0:09:44.3] SC: Behind the camera, and she just finished two years in Los Angeles working for Ellen DeGeneres. She met everybody from Justin Timberlake, to Michelle Obama.

[0:09:54.7] KM: She got a good story for any of them?

[0:09:55.9] SC: All of them. Great stories.

[0:09:58.8] KM: When did you decide you wanted to be a surgeon? You went to high school like everybody, and then you went to Monticello, University of Monticello. What did you think you were going to be when you went there? Did you know you wanted to be a brain surgeon?

[0:10:12.7] SC: I knew I wanted to be a doctor.

[0:10:14.5] KM: From early on.

[0:10:15.3] SC: Early on.

[0:10:16.2] KM: Just like your son. You knew what you wanted to be?

[0:10:18.2] SC: I knew. I was fortunate, because a lot of kids these days they really don't know. We ask 18-year-old kids to make a career decision when they don't know what they want to do, but I was fortunate in that way. I'll tell you the reason. You're going to laugh. My senior year of medical school, I decided I wanted to be a neurosurgeon because the neurosurgical trainees, the residents, the interns, the staff, and you're going to laugh, but they had the best-looking girlfriends and lives of any of the other trainees. It was like, these are the coolest guys in the world.

[0:10:55.8] KM: They’re going to have the most money, those girls are smart.

[0:10:58.6] CC: Absolutely.

[0:10:59.3] SC: I want to be like these guys. All kidding aside, I love the brain, I love the study of neurosciences, loved the neurological diseases. Anyway, that's where I am today.

[0:11:12.0] KM: You ended up going to Baylor and Dallas.

[0:11:14.1] SC: I did spend a year in Dallas.

[0:11:15.9] KM: Did it they call it residency, or surgery?

[0:11:17.8] SC: Internship.

[0:11:18.5] KM: Internship. Surgery internship.

[0:11:20.1] SC: That’s right. General surgery. Did appendectomies, gall bladders, hernia repairs, circumcisions. I mean, just the basics. Then returned to Arkansas in the summer of 1983 and began my residency training in neurosurgery.

[0:11:36.1] KM: Wanted to come back to Little Rock.

[0:11:37.2] SC: Absolutely. I'm an Arkansas boy.

[0:11:38.9] KM: All the way. If someone wanted to go into your profession, do you have anything to recommend to them right now?

[0:11:44.7] SC: Yes. Study hard. Try to make good grades, because it's a very competitive program to be a neurosurgery resident. Dr. John Day is chairman of neurosurgery at UAMS, does a fantastic job. They pick the best, the brightest and the guys and girls with the best grades, best academics and the most successful, and then that's just the nature of the business.

[0:12:15.5] KM: Did you ever make an attempt and fail at something and then have to come back and take another course again, or were you just sailing through everything?

[0:12:20.9] SC: I sailed. I was lucky. I had great teachers, great professors. I really never suffered any setbacks in my training.

[0:12:31.2] KM: That's pretty unusual. That's a great brain.

[0:12:34.0] SC: Well, it took me a whole brain.

[0:12:34.8] KM: Are you going to give your brain to science?

[0:12:37.0] SC: I don't think I could give my brain to science. I'm not sure what it would –probably weighs about 2 pounds, I could throw anyway.

[0:12:46.9] KM: All right. This is a great place to take a –

[0:12:48.3] SC: That’s a perfect question. I've never had that before.

[0:12:51.8] KM: When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with retired neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Cathey. We'll pick his brain, again. Sorry.

[0:12:58.6] SC: Oh, my God. No pun intended.

[0:13:00.3] KM: I know. I can’t help myself. About life as a specialized surgeon about theh burgeoning science of brain research and the secrets he may unlock, and last, what he's doing today after retirement. We'll be back after the break.


[0:13:17.6] CC: You're listening to up in your business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry McCoy founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed, starting with door-to-door sales, then telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales, and now a third of their sales come through the internet. This past year, Flag and Banner added another internet feature, live chatting.

Over time, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge grew. As early as 2004, she began sharing her knowledge in her weekly blog. Then in 2009, she founded the nonprofit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom. Then in 2014, started an in-house publication, Brave Magazine. Now she has branched out into radio with this very production, podcast and live stream. Each week on this show, you'll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you'll find interesting and inspiring. If you'd like to ask Kerry a question, or share your story, send an e-mail to questions@upyourbusiness.org. That's questions@upyourbusiness.org, or send her a message on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page.

We'll be right back.

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[0:16:14.8] KM: Boost morale and patriotism with a new flag or flagpole from Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. We have poles, hardware, accessories, maintenance support, installation and custom flags. We have flags of all kind, for the sports enthusiast, the world traveler, or history buff, we have them all. Bring in your own flag and get $5 off a new one. Consult the experts at Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. Come shop at our historic location at 800 West 9th Street in Little Rock, or visit us online at flagandbanner.com.

[0:16:44.8] CC: Now back to Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy.


[0:16:52.5] KM: We are listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm cutting it up with Steve Cathey. Dr. Steve Cathey, we’re old friends. We go way back. I hope you didn't hear what we were saying in the break. That's why you should be watching Facebook Live, because it's just all right there for you to see at flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page.

I'm speaking with retired neurosurgeon and author Dr. Steven Cathey. Before the break, we talked about how smart you are. No, we talked about being a neurosurgeon, your life in Monticello, how competitive it is to become one and how you just really need to work hard. Being a brain surgeon is not for the faint of heart.

My friend Cathy, she asked me this week. She said, “Who are you having on?” I said, “Oh, I'm having on Dr. Cathey. He's a brain surgeon.” She said, “You know, when I'm having a bad day, I look at my friends and say, well at least, I'm not having to do brain surgery.” I said, “Yeah. Who wants to ever do that?”

[0:17:47.6] SC: I really wanted to be a rocket scientist, but I ended up going to brain surgeon.

[0:17:50.5] KM: Oh, really? No.

[0:17:52.7] SC: Kidding.

[0:17:53.3] KM: Seriously, what is it like to play God?

[0:17:56.5] SC: Oh, Kerry. It's a very awesome and humbling experience to take care of someone and to know that during some of these surgeries, some of these procedures take 10, 12 hours. You're operating through a tiny opening in someone's brain. It's tedious, punctuated by sheer panic when something starts to bleed, or you get into a part of the brain you really didn't mean to get into. You make a technical error, or things like that.

As we talked earlier, one of the advances in neuroscience has been this less invasive procedures, where you no longer have to open the skull. You can actually do it through a catheter into the brain to clip an aneurysm, or to treat a brain tumor. It's been extremely – it's profoundly limited the risk of surgery and bleeding and death and morbidity. Yeah, it gets better every day. The technology is getting better every day.

[0:19:03.6] KM: You started 36 years ago.

[0:19:05.0] SC: I did.

[0:19:05.7] KM: That would be like 1992. No, no ’82. That would be ’82.

[0:19:09.6] SC: Yeah, yeah. That’s right.

[0:19:10.9] KM: Boy, there's been huge advances in 30 years.

[0:19:13.5] SC: Absolutely. I mean, it used to be for example, one in condition is called trigeminal neuralgia, which is a painful condition of the face caused by the fifth cranial nerve, trigeminal nerve. In the old days, we would go in and literally explore the nerve, lesion the nerve to prevent pain. Now we have what's called radiosurgery, or the gamma knife, which we radiate the nerve.

[0:19:41.9] KM: What do you mean you radiate the nerve?

[0:19:43.4] SC: You'd send a high pulse of gamma radiation directed in a very small area around the nerve.

[0:19:51.3] KM: It kills the nerve?

[0:19:52.2] SC: It kills the nerve. Well, it kills the painful aspects of the nerve. It's been revolutionary.

[0:19:59.5] KM: Can we just do that everywhere? Can we do it on your feet? People have nerve damage on their feet. Can you do that everywhere?

[0:20:05.2] SC: No, not everywhere, but the technology is advancing. I think someday, you will be able to not even have to use a scalpel.

[0:20:12.8] KM: What did you call that? Tri –

[0:20:14.2] SC: Trigeminal neuralgia.

[0:20:15.9] KM: That's pretty common.

[0:20:17.3] SC: It is. It's very painful condition of the face.

[0:20:20.0] KM: My daughter has that.

[0:20:21.0] SC: Is that right? Okay.

[0:20:22.3] KM: She does. She got it from a dental procedure.

[0:20:24.4] SC: That’s right. Absolutely. That's none of the complications of root canals, or dental surgery.

[0:20:29.6] KM: She just had a tooth pulled and then she kept complaining about it and I thought, “You're just crazy.”

[0:20:33.8] SC: She had an injury to her trigeminal nerve in all likelihood. It's treatable, but it's horribly painful.

[0:20:41.2] KM: Yes. How do you stop and smell the roses when you're smart as you are and driven as you are? How do you get pleasure out of life? I'm just saying, okay now I'm not doing it right now. I just want to stop and not think for a minute.

[0:20:58.3] SC: I miss it every day.

[0:20:59.6] KM: You do.

[0:21:00.4] SC: I miss it every day. You get to a point your career, which I think most physicians do. You get to a point where you realize you've been doing this too long and there are smarter guys, younger guys, more energetic guys that do it better. It's time to take a step back and that's what I did.

[0:21:23.2] KM: In fact, just April of this year.

[0:21:25.2] SC: Yeah, that's right. I was actually chairman of the state medical board up until April of this year. Then after I retired, I stepped down as chairman, but that was a fabulous experience. Being on the state medical board, I was originally appointed by governor Beebe and then reappointed by Governor Hutchinson; two of the finest men I've ever known in my life. I was lucky and blessed enough to serve the people of Arkansas in that capacity. That probably was the high point of my professional career.

[0:21:57.2] KM: What are you going to do now?

[0:21:59.4] SC: Well, I’d say play golf.

[0:22:01.8] CC: Yes.

[0:22:03.3] SC: Chris agrees.

[0:22:04.5] CC: Yes, absolutely.

[0:22:06.3] SC: Play golf. Hang out with my kids. Yeah.

[0:22:11.8] KM: They're not going to hang out with you.

[0:22:12.9] SC: No, they won’t. They don’t now.

[0:22:14.5] KM: All right. Tell us what it's like when you were a practicing surgeon, what's your day like? How many did you do a week? What did you do the day – how many – I mean, a 10, or 12-hour surgery, you could only do one a week maybe?

[0:22:26.2] SC: That's right. No, I never. I always did at least 2 or 3 cases a week.

[0:22:31.4] KM: How did you manage – what are you get up – you start 5:00 in the morning, you wake up, you get your coffee, you take a shot of liquor so that –

[0:22:38.8] SC: I didn’t.

[0:22:39.2] KM: - to calm your nerves. That’s what I’d have to do.

[0:22:41.4] SC: You know what? Honestly, taking a shot of liquor is better than a shot of coffee, because you don't want your hand to have a tremor. You really have to have very steady hands and caffeine promotes tremors. I didn't drink coffee on days I operated. I honestly didn't drink. After surgery, that was all.

[0:23:02.5] KM: All another story.

[0:23:03.4] SC: Another story.

[0:23:04.1] KM: You get up, you start – What time do you start in the middle, in the day?

[0:23:07.8] SC: Well, at the peak of my career you're right, I would be up at 5:30 and you would go and make rounds on the patients that you'd operated on the day before, because you had to be in the operating room at 7:00, so you had to be there by 5:30, 6:00, so you could just check on everyone you'd done surgery on the day before. Then you might get home at 10:00 at night.

[0:23:31.7] KM: Then you've also got to figure in to see new clients.

[0:23:36.0] SC: That's right. Yeah. I had clinic days, which are days where you see patients in your office and you try to diagnose them, and not everyone needs surgery. A lot of folks, you need to prescribe physical therapy, medication, do testing, and that's what I would do on my days when I was not operating. Those were fun days too.

[0:24:00.0] SC: You'd like that all of it.

[0:24:01.1] SC: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

[0:24:01.7] KM: I would think if I was a surgeon, I would only like surgery.

[0:24:05.2] SC: Well, surgery was absolutely the most rewarding part of it. Plus you got paid better.

[0:24:11.3] KM: Yeah. Did you got nurses that you work with all the time. The same group, or they your nurses, or the hospital's nurses?

[0:24:17.5] SC: They were the hospital nurses, but they were assigned to me. For the last 10 years, I worked at Arkansas surgical hospital. I had tremendous nurses. They were awesome. I had tremendous nursing ethicists, anesthesia and circulating nurses and all that. It's all part of a team. You're not the only guy out there doing this. You got to lean heavily on your nurses and your anesthesia and your radiology techs and those kinds of stuff.

[0:24:49.4] KM: When you're doing a 12-hour surgery, you can't, not – don't you have to stop to eat? I've always wondered about that.

[0:24:55.2] SC: Always had to stop to go to the bathroom.

[0:24:57.3] KM: And eat.

[0:24:59.0] SC: No. Eating was not a big factor. You can look at me and tell that wasn't a big deal.

[0:25:04.6] KM: What does that mean?

[0:25:05.6] SC: I don’t know. Just, you know, food never really factored into it. You do have to take a break occasionally, because you start to go cross-eyed, staring into –

[0:25:16.4] KM: That’s what I would think. I would not want a 12-hour surgery. I would think you would only peak for a few hours in the day, and the rest of the time like you said you're taking the wrong –

[0:25:26.5] SC: I have never understood surgeons who will start an elective case at 7:00 at night. I don't really think that's fair to the patient. You've been working for 12 hours and now you're going to start doing a case at 7 p.m. I mean, I never thought that was a good practice. I never did that.

[0:25:45.8] KM: I don't even want to be after lunch. I want to be first –

[0:25:48.3] SC: You want to be that first person in the morning.

[0:25:49.5] KM: Absolutely.

[0:25:50.7] SC: You’re right, Kerry.

[0:25:51.4] KM: When they’re fresh. Unless they drink a lot, then I want to be maybe second. I always ask the guy if I have to go in for anything. I say, “Please don't drink the night before.” She said, “Oh, yeah. Whatever.”

[0:26:01.3] SC: You would not believe how often that question comes up.

[0:26:03.6] KM: Oh, it did? I always say, “No, you're not going to get drunk the night before.” They go, “No, just a little bit.” They always tease me a little bit. I know it is such a stressful job, and I know you've had to lose some patients, or been disappointed in your surgeries.

[0:26:17.9] SC: Absolutely.

[0:26:18.5] KM: How do you deal with that?

[0:26:19.8] SC: I had a case. When you mention that, one comes to mind. This patient had a vertebral artery aneurysm, which is a very rare aneurysm at the very base of the brain. An aneurysm is like a balloon on an artery in the brain, and they bleed. I had spent about 12 hours getting this aneurysm exposed and dissected and putting a clip on it. After 12 hours, everything going perfectly; it ruptured and the patient died on the operating table. It's just so – I mean, it really is the most frustrating, heartbreaking, you have to go out and tell the family, “Patient didn't make it,” and everything was perfect. I will say this, in over 30 years of practice, I never had a malpractice case against me.

[0:27:14.4] KM: That's good.

[0:27:14.8] SC: Yeah. I mean, I never – Well, I was never negligent, I'd like to think in treating my flock, my patients.

[0:27:24.4] KM: Your flock.

[0:27:25.8] SC: Yeah, they are my flock.

[0:27:26.7] KM: Do you just have to turn it over to the universe and say, “It was his time. I did everything I could do.” You have to let go, don't you?

[0:27:34.6] SC: You do. You do. It haunts you. I mean, you think about it all the time.

[0:27:40.0] KM: What if I had done – what ifs, the what ifs?

[0:27:41.8] SC: Absolutely. What if I had done this? What if I had done that?

[0:27:44.5] KM: How do you deal with that?

[0:27:46.0] SC: Well, you just move on to the next patient.

[0:27:48.8] KM: If you don't have any – well, I've thought about this this morning. If you don't have any what-ifs, then I don't think you're living your life full enough.

[0:27:57.1] SC: I think that's true of every profession; firemen, policemen. I mean, we all have things that we look back on and say, “Had I done this differently, would there have been a better outcome?”

[0:28:10.7] KM: You want to take another break? I think that's a great place.

[0:28:13.1] SC: We can.

[0:28:13.8] KM: All right. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with retired neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Cathey.

[0:28:18.7] SC: You don’t have to say retired so loud.

[0:28:22.4] KM: Okay. We’ll –

[0:28:24.0] SC: Retired.

[0:28:24.6] KM: - continue our conversation with retired neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Cathey. I have a feeling you’re going to be unretired within a year. I do know friends that do that.

[0:28:33.1] SC: Good possibility.

[0:28:34.2] KM: Yeah. In the next segment, we'll talk about the burgeoning science of brain research and get Dr. Cathey's take on it. Last, less than a year ago, Cathey wrote an article for Arkansas Medical Science publication. I guess, that's what AMS stands for.

[0:28:47.0] SC: Arkansas Medical Society.

[0:28:48.3] KM: Society. I tried to guess. Arkansas Medical Society publication called The Politics of Infection Disease. I'm very curious.

[0:28:55.9] SC: If you read that, you would probably one of the only ones.

[0:28:59.3] KM: Of course, I did not read it. I do not read anyway anything. No, I didn’t read it. That’s why you're here. You're going to tell us what it said. First, I want to remind everyone we're broadcasting live every Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Central time on both KABF 88.3 FM, the voice of the people and flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page. That after one week of every shows airing, a podcast is made available on all popular listening sites and YouTube.

We’ll talk more after the break.


[0:29:26.7] AM: Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community-minded Arkansans, listeners gained insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people.

Kerry McCoy, Founder and President of Arkansas Flag and Banner believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guests would likely go unheard if not for this venue.

Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life, mistakes, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories of prominent leaders in our state.

I am Adrienne McNally, Manager of the Arkansas Flag and Banner Showroom and Gift Shop located on the first floor of the historic Taborian Hall on the corner of 9th and State Streets in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

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[0:32:49.2] CC: Now welcome back to Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy.


[0:32:53.4] KM: Thank you, Chris. People do pledge to KABF. It's just a great community service. It's a wonderful group of people here and they just do – they do something that nobody else does, and they're a 100-watt. It goes all over. I think it’s got the largest wattage of any radio station in Arkansas.

[0:33:08.6] CC: A 100,000 watts.

[0:33:09.6] KM: I’m sorry. Keep me straight. 100,000 watts.

[0:33:11.5] CC: That’s okay.

[0:33:12.3] SC: Chris, I don't know if you know this, but –

[0:33:14.1] CC: What’s that?

[0:33:14.5] SC: In my college days, I was the voice of Southeast Arkansas on –

[0:33:19.9] KM: Oh, you were. On the radio?

[0:33:20.6] CC: Excellent.

[0:33:21.2] SC: KHBM Monticello. I did sports, play-by-play for the Monticello high school and for the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

[0:33:30.2] KM: You love radio?

[0:33:31.1] SC: Oh, I love radio.

[0:33:31.7] KM: You’re an audio follower.

[0:33:32.8] SC: I used to make promos and go to the station and had interviews. It was really fun.

[0:33:40.7] KM: These public radio stations are really important for educating and letting young people get chances to try to be on the radio, find out if you like it.

[0:33:49.1] SC: My daughter when she went to undergraduate school, she was at New York University. While she was at NYU, she did every day at 2:00, she was on the air for WNYU. Then she did the news and weather and all that stuff.

[0:34:05.8] KM: Is that how come she decided to be in broadcasting?

[0:34:07.5] SC: I think so. I think that's where she caught her appetite for broadcast journalism.

[0:34:12.6] KM: Well let me tell everybody, I'm speaking today to retired neurosurgeon and author, Dr. Steven Cathey. If you have a question, make a comment on flagandbanner.com’s page, or write this number down and call.

[0:34:24.9] CC: 501-433-0088. That’s 501-433-0088.

[0:34:32.1] SC: Chris has a great radio voice.

[0:34:34.6] CC: Well, thank you.

[0:34:35.6] KM: He’s a professional DJ.

[0:34:37.0] CC: This is my third week here. I don’t know when I’m done.

[0:34:40.4] KM: That’s true. It is your third week here. If you're shy, you can just creep on my weekly blog about life as a small business owner at flagandbanner.com, or as I said earlier, you can listen to our podcast. They're all made available next week at Flag and Banner. Before the break, we talked about becoming a neurosurgeon, that was the first break. Then the second break, we talked about the stress in the life of being a neurosurgeon and how you prepare for it and what a day is like seeing patients.

[0:35:13.5] SC: Let me just add this real quick. We talked about my profession and my specialty, but there are so many really great doctors out there; primary care, family practice, who that phone rings at 2:30 in the morning and they're up and they're going to the hospital and they're going to the ER. It's not just neurosurgeons that are committed. There are really, really fine physicians in the state.

[0:35:40.3] KM: There are so many physicians and nurses. When you go to the hospitals, I am shocked at what a huge business that is.

[0:35:47.8] SC: It is. It is. Good and bad. It has in some ways become a big-money business, which is a little bit not the way I think it should be that we focus on money, as much as we focus on patient care, but that's just the nature of the business.

[0:36:09.4] KM: Of the beast. Everything's about money.

[0:36:10.7] SC: Yup. It is.

[0:36:11.3] KM: Not just them. Everything is you got to pay for it. Even churches have to make money. Whenever I go to the church meetings and talk about money –

[0:36:20.1] SC: They always pass the plate.

[0:36:21.3] KM: They pass that plate, and I always try to make them do more things they had to do with money. They go, “We're a church. We're not business.” I'm like, “Yeah, it is. We got to make some money, or the doors aren’t open.”

[0:36:30.8] SC: Or the doors won’t be open.

[0:36:32.2] KM: I know. Let’s talk about past brain research. Correct me if I'm wrong, but prior to Obama, were we unable to do very much brain research? Were there limitations?

[0:36:43.5] SC: No. Again, it's a little bit out of my area of expertise, but there has been progressive advances in neuroscience since I've been in practice. I think the most exciting things and the challenges are going to be in the areas of Alzheimer's research and dementia and Parkinson's disease. None of the – it's not the sexy stuff like brain surgery, but it's vitally important, and the research is important. I believe maybe over the next 30, 40 years, you're going to see cures for Alzheimer's, and you're going to see cures for Parkinson's disease.

[0:37:27.0] KM: Do you believe vitamin E is helpful for Alzheimer's?

[0:37:30.3] SC: I don't really have an opinion on it.

[0:37:32.5] KM: No. No.

[0:37:33.9] SC: I would say no.

[0:37:35.5] KM: I have a girlfriend whose husband has it and she’s just feeding him vitamin E like crazy.

[0:37:39.2] SC: Well, I don't think it's going to hurt him.

[0:37:43.2] KM: I don't think. I thought I saw a special, where prior to Obama you weren't allowed to take the criminally insane brains and cut them open. Is that true?

[0:37:56.1] SC: I don't think it had anything to do with President Obama.

[0:37:59.0] KM: No, but I think it was politics for some reason.

[0:38:01.7] SC: When I first went into my training back in the early 80s, there was an area quietly discussed about lobotomy, where you would send a patient to a neurosurgeon who did what's called functional neurosurgery. They would resect a part of the brain to ostensibly to treat seizures. In all honesty, what they were trying to do was prevent the patient from being a sex offender, or being “criminally insane.” It lost a lot of its validity as time went on, and there were medications that were better suited to treat, if you want to say treat, to deal with these individuals.

[0:38:51.6] KM: Now I’m talking about dead people. I’m talking about people who's criminally insane, taking their brain and giving it to science and cutting it open to see if there was something about their brain different from other people's brain.

[0:39:05.3] SC: I don't know about that particular type of research. I know that you would have to have a lot of permission. Well, you'd have to have permission from families and what-have-you, to do that. I'm not really sure how much benefit would be gained by looking at the anatomical sections of a brain of “criminally insane” individual. I know that research has been done and it had nothing to do with politics. It was done.

[0:39:35.2] KM: It just happened to be in that era maybe that it was allowed.

[0:39:36.8] SC: Right, right.

[0:39:39.3] KM: This brings me to Einstein's brain.

[0:39:41.1] SC: Oh, my gosh. That's brain now.

[0:39:43.7] KM: That’s a brain. It’s not any bigger than anybody else’s. This is one of the things I love about the show, is that I hate the fact that I'm under this deadline to read all this stuff, but I love the fact that it forces me to read all this stuff. I have just been just reading and watching. There's so much about Einstein's brain, about –

[0:40:04.0] SC: Again, I'm thinking outside the box on this, but I think Einstein was a professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. He did donate his brain to science. What I know about brain size doesn't necessarily correlate to brain function. I know that Lord Byron, the poet supposedly had the largest brain of any known human being. Average brain is 2.5 pounds and his was like 10.

[0:40:35.2] KM: Wow. That’s a heavy head to carry around.

[0:40:39.5] SC: Again, I'm just speaking way off the cuff there. Lord Byron apparently –

[0:40:45.8] KM: Has the biggest brain.

[0:40:46.9] SC: Had the biggest brain ever recorded. Yeah.

[0:40:49.4] KM: Does the size of your head actually has to do with the size of your brain?

[0:40:52.7] SC: It does. There have been studies done on with regard to Alzheimer's disease, that people with big heads are less likely to contract Alzheimer's. I'm looking at Chris over there and he’s –

[0:41:08.0] KM: Chris has got a big head.

[0:41:10.3] SC: He’s safe.

[0:41:13.9] KM: You are too Cathey. I think I’m in trouble. I’m in trouble. I look pinched over here compared to you all.

[0:41:19.1] SC: Thank God, I'm not a neurologist on this show.

[0:41:21.8] CC: Absolutely.

[0:41:22.6] KM: Oh, that’s a good one. Let’s get one of those. All right, so this is what I read about Einstein’s brain. Thomas Harvey in 1955 did the autopsy.

[0:41:32.3] SC: Was it at Princeton? At Princeton?

[0:41:34.0] KM: I don’t remember, but I think you might be right. Seven hours after Einstein's death – Uh-oh. Whose phone’s ringing?

[0:41:42.6] SC: It’s not mine.

[0:41:44.3] CC: It’s yours.

[0:41:44.8] KM: It’s mine.

[0:41:45.6] SC: Uh-oh.

[0:41:46.3] CC: There you go. I got mine on silent.

[0:41:49.0] KM: Uh-oh. I’m the – fire me. All right, seven hours after his death, he took his brain out and he – I don't know if this happened seven hours, but over the next period of time, he dissected it into 240 sections.

[0:42:06.5] SC: Oh, wow.

[0:42:07.0] KM: He gave it to all of these scientists to see if they could find anything different about it. Chris, you're nodding like you knew this.

[0:42:13.2] CC: No, no, no. It's interesting.

[0:42:15.7] SC: I would be surprised if they found anything different about it.

[0:42:18.6] KM: I can't believe you don't know this, that you're not curious to find out about this. This is what's really weird, is in – so he died in ‘55. In 1978, a journalist Steven Levy rediscovered that it was in Harvey's possession and found it in the trunk of his car in a cedar box in mason jars that he'd been carrying around in the trunk of his car for 20 years.

[0:42:40.5] SC: Now that I did know. I did hear that the pathologist had kept Einstein’s brain.

[0:42:45.4] KM: In the trunk of his car, in a mason jar. In 2010, the Harvey family gave it to the National Museum of Health and medicine. If you go there – oh, and he took 14 photographs of it before he dissected it, which is good. They found out that he has, let's see. He has something unusual about it.

[0:43:05.1] SC: His corpus callosum was big.

[0:43:06.9] KM: What is that?

[0:43:07.9] SC: It's the –

[0:43:08.3] KM: Are you talking dirty to me?

[0:43:09.5] SC: No, no, no, no, no. It’s the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. I just threw that out there. I don’t know.

[0:43:16.2] KM: Okay. This is what it is. The missing part – he was miss his Sylvian fissure.

[0:43:20.7] SC: Sylvian fissure.

[0:43:21.9] KM: Was missing, which made another part of his brain enlarged, that was – I didn't write there what that part was, that would make him have not very good verbal skills, because he didn't learn to speak until he was very old, but he had great imaginary, and so he could envision what – he could envision relativity that he discovered.

[0:43:47.4] SC: Right, right. He could think in 3D, or he could think about relativity and those theories. I know that Einstein was basically a patent clerk in Vienna, and worked out the theory that stars that went extinct billions of years ago are still shining. I think that's an incredible leap for science that you could figure out that that star you're looking at has not been emitting any sunlight, or star light for billions of years and Einstein worked all that out.

You have to imagine, the guy was smart. The other thing about Einstein, he was apparently a very funny guy. Had a good sense of humor and his students loved him, and I think that's important too. You can be a brilliant man, but you also need to be a funny man.

[0:44:42.3] KM: I think humor is so important, especially if you’re teaching. It's how you keep engaged with your audience, I think.

[0:44:48.3] SC: Told you, that's why I went to neurosurgery. Those were the funniest guys and had the best-looking girlfriends.

[0:44:54.5] KM: If you want to see a part of Einstein's brain, it's on display in Philadelphia at the Mutter Museum, and they have sliced it up –

[0:45:03.0] SC: Really.

[0:45:03.4] KM: - and it’s under – yeah, you might like this. It’s under a microscope, and got there and look through a microscope at.

[0:45:09.4] SC: Do you know while you're talking about anatomical specimens, you can go to the National Military Museum in Washington and John Wilkes Booth who assassinated President Lincoln, they did an autopsy on him and that he was shot through the neck when the Union troops caught up with him down in Virginia. He was shot through the neck and was paralyzed when he died. They dissected his spinal cord where the bullet went through and you can go to this museum in Washington and you can look at John Wilkes Booth’s spinal cord. That's on my bucket list. I want to do that one time before I die.

[0:45:47.8] KM: Oh, wow. What’s –

[0:45:48.4] SC: Since we're speaking neurosurgery.

[0:45:50.4] KM: Yeah. I love all this stuff, really –

[0:45:52.4] SC: Yeah, it’s interesting. Absolutely.

[0:45:52.9] KM: It’s pretty interesting stuff. Another thing about Einstein's brain and then we'll quit talking about it.

[0:45:58.5] SC: No, I love Einstein.

[0:45:59.7] KM: It had, let me see. Okay, these are called Einstein's brain had more glial cells.

[0:46:04.8] SC: Glial.

[0:46:05.6] KM: Glial cells relative to neurons. What does that mean?

[0:46:09.1] SC: Okay. There are two types of brain cells, glial is the supporting cells. It's like, if you eat a steak, the part of the steak that the gristle for example, that's analogous to a glial cell, is to supporting fibrous tissue. The neuron is the – it’s the nerve cell. It's what allows you to smile, laugh, move your right arm, blink your eyes.

[0:46:37.5] KM: Send signals. Sends the signals.

[0:46:39.7] SC: It's the signal sender. The glial cell are the cells that support the neurons. Most malignant brain tumors arise from the glial cells, that's why they're called glioblastoma, or glioblastoma multiforme, because they begin in the supporting cells of the brain and they're highly malignant.

[0:47:02.2] KM: He's lucky he didn't have –

[0:47:03.5] SC: Yeah. Have he got brain tumor, he –

[0:47:06.3] KM: Why would that make any difference to Einstein's intelligence? It seems like it’d be a handicap.

[0:47:11.5] SC: I don't know enough about this information and this research to know.

[0:47:15.9] KM: Well, it’s conjecture. They can’t prove anything. They have no – I mean, there's nothing. It's just all –

[0:47:22.6] SC: Right. I'm sure, it probably is in 1957 when he died –

[0:47:28.5] KM: ’55.

[0:47:29.2] SC: ’55, I doubt that there was that much advancement in neuropathology to know. As you very aptly said, it's conjecture, but it is interesting and fun to talk about.

[0:47:43.5] KM: Let's talk about brain research. We've already talked about the fact that we don't have to – it's not as invasive as it used to be.

[0:47:50.1] SC: That's correct.

[0:47:50.6] KM: Is there anything else that's coming down the pike that you think is going to be really interesting about – that's going to affect Americans?

[0:47:56.3] SC: I think the next great advance in neuroscience will be gene research, where you can actually use stem cells to perhaps a patient that's got – who has a spinal cord injury for example.

[0:48:12.8] KM: That would be a good one.

[0:48:13.8] SC: They could inject stem cells to regenerate a spinal cord. I think that's coming. I don't think it's very close. I think it's going to be probably after our lifetimes, but –

[0:48:25.4] KM: It doesn't seem like it should be. Stem cells are already –

[0:48:27.6] SC: Well, yeah, I know, but it is – it really is going to be a ways off. I think that that's going to be a very brave new world when it comes to neuroscience research is stem cells to treat strokes, to treat spinal cord injuries, just to treat brain tumors and those types of things.

[0:48:51.1] KM: Let me just take a break.

[0:48:51.7] SC: Congenital abnormalities and suicide. Yeah.

[0:48:53.7] KM: Congenital abnormalities. I'm just going take a quick break and tell everybody you're listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy and I'm speaking today with retired neurosurgeon and author Dr. Steven Cathey.

All right, you've got to know the answer to this, when you're the one person that can know the answer to this; nature versus nurture. You know the brain.

[0:49:11.1] SC: Is it the chicken or the egg? Is that what –

[0:49:12.8] KM: Yeah. You’ve got to know the answer to that. You’ve cut enough brains. Is it nature versus nurture? Is it nurture versus nature? What do you think? What's your opinion?

[0:49:22.4] SC: Are we taking a break, or we’re going to answer this?

[0:49:23.7] KM: No, that already – that was the break. I just told everybody, that was a station break.

[0:49:26.6] SC: My opinion as a neurosurgeon, a clinical neurosurgeon and not a research neurosurgeon, my personal opinion is I think it's – I think it's nurture. I really do.

[0:49:39.4] KM: You really do?

[0:49:40.1] SC: I do.

[0:49:41.2] KM: Say, so when you look at all the brains, you think they're all the same.

[0:49:44.3] SC: No, not necessarily. I mean, there are congenital abnormalities, but I think if I took a child out of one environment into another one and changed the circumstances, I believe it's more nurture. That is just an opinion on the combo neuro –

[0:50:04.5] KM: More conjecture. More conjecture.

[0:50:06.7] SC: Yeah, it’s more conjecture.

[0:50:09.0] KM: I thought maybe you were going to say, “You know, no. You cut a brain open, they look so much different.” They all look so much different, but they really don’t, do they?

[0:50:14.7] SC: They really don’t. They really don’t.

[0:50:15.8] KM: They all look the same.

[0:50:16.6] SC: Except, I know Einstein didn't have a Sylvian fissure.

[0:50:19.1] KM: There you go. Who was that? Byron that had a 10-pound brain.

[0:50:23.3] SC: Oh, Lord Byron.

[0:50:24.3] KM: Byron.

[0:50:25.0] SC: Yeah, the poet.

[0:50:26.6] KM: All right. Well, you wrote –

[0:50:27.8] SC: Slept with Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein.

[0:50:30.8] CC: Frankenstein, yeah.

[0:50:32.1] KM: Oh, really?

[0:50:32.6] SC: Yeah. See.

[0:50:33.9] KM: You learn something on this show. I learned something.

[0:50:36.4] SC: I’m a renaissance man.

[0:50:37.9] KM: You really are. All right, let’s talk about the paper you wrote, the last one in ’73 – I mean 27 – ’73. 2017, you wrote a paper called Politics of Infection Disease. I did not read it. What's it about, but it sounds interesting?

[0:50:52.6] SC: When I was chairman of the medical board, we had two of absolutely the most knowledgeable informed infectious disease specialists in the country, not just in Little Rock; Dr. Joseph Beck who was the chairman before I was in the medical board, and Dr. Tom Bradsher over at UAMS. They had put out some guidelines about how we treat HIV positive, or how we deal with HIV positive physicians, specifically medical students, how staff at the school, how do we – do you reveal they’re positive for HIV, or do we reveal they’re positive for hepatitis C and this type of thing?

The politics came in, because their recommendations were the treatment is so good, it really doesn't, shouldn't matter. We don't really need to be telling patients that Dr. X, or Dr. Y, or Z has HIV, or has Hep C. However, the politics overrode it.

[0:51:58.0] KM: Transparency.

[0:51:59.6] SC: They wanted – they said you got to tell people this. My point was politics still influences how we deal with infections, just like during the polio epidemic when municipalities would close swimming pools, because there would be an outbreak of polio. It dealt with President Roosevelt being elected president four times from a wheelchair, and that would never happen today.

[0:52:24.6] KM: No.

[0:52:26.1] SC: I enjoyed researching that article. I thought it was pretty good.

[0:52:33.5] KM: What are you trying to say, come out of that?

[0:52:34.7] SC: What I was saying is that there's not any politics related to taking out an appendix, but there's a lot of politics related to infections, particularly tuberculosis.

[0:52:48.1] KM: Because you can catch it.

[0:52:49.5] SC: That's right. Absolutely, and it rightfully so.

[0:52:53.3] KM: It’s a public concern.

[0:52:55.3] SC: A public concern.

[0:52:56.5] KM: It’s a public concern.

[0:52:58.3] SC: For example, when I was a senior in medical school I had worked a lot at the VA, the old VA. Did you say retired? I'm old too. I worked down at the VA on Roosevelt, and I contracted TB. My skin test became positive. It's called a PPD test, where they inject you with the virus, the bacteria and you have a reaction. They said, “From now on, you never need to have another TB test, because you could really hurt yourself. It could be damaging to your skin.”

Now when the hospital would say, “You need to come in and do your TB test.” I'd say, “Well, I'm positive.” They’d go, “Oh, well then you don't have to have a test.” I was amazed that now that I'm positive, nobody cares that I have it. If I wasn't positive, they want to test me. They didn't do anything with that information.

[0:53:57.5] KM: That’s what I was going to say, what they do with that information.

[0:53:58.8] SC: No, nothing. They’d say, “Oh, you're positive. Don't worry about it.”

[0:54:01.9] KM: Nobody has tuberculosis anymore. Are you cured, or does it have a cure? It’s dormant?

[0:54:07.4] SC: It's dormant. My skin test would still be positive, but I've never manifested any of the productive cough, or weight loss, or chest abnormalities. I just happened to got it. I got enough of exposure to the to the bacteria –

[0:54:25.2] KM: That you tested.

[0:54:26.0] SC: That I tested positive. That made me wonder, why don't we have this test when you don't do anything with the information? Just tell –

[0:54:35.1] KM: Do you take precautions?

[0:54:36.2] SC: No.

[0:54:37.3] KM: For with your patients you don't need to, because you're not contagious?

[0:54:39.9] SC: That’s right. That’s what I’ve been told.

[0:54:41.4] KM: Yeah, that’s a silly thing then.

[0:54:42.5] SC: It’s a silly test in my opinion. That's what piqued my interest in writing an article about the politics of infectious disease, because there's no politics related to a hysterectomy, but there's a lot of politics –

[0:54:58.3] KM: Again, it’s not contagious. Tuberculosis is not contagious, so I’m not sure.

[0:55:01.5] SC: It is.

[0:55:02.2] KM: It is. But you said you're not contagious?

[0:55:04.2] SC: Well, I've been told by my friends, they're pulmonologists that I don't have to worry about it.

[0:55:09.3] KM: That's such an old-fashioned –

[0:55:11.0] SC: It is. It’s an antiquated test. That's why I wanted to write this article and just get people thinking about it a little bit.

[0:55:21.2] KM: You’ve brought up so many things that have to do with my family. My grandfather died from tuberculosis.

[0:55:24.4] SC: Oh, he did. Did he –

[0:55:25.4] KM: My daughter has Trigeminal neuralgia and my grandfather died from tuberculosis. What else can we talk about?

[0:55:31.0] SC: Yeah, we can talk about anything. Did he go to the sanitarium up in Boonville?

[0:55:36.6] KM: He was on his way to Arizona when he died. Or New Mexico, somewhere out there. That was so long ago. I was probably 30s.

[0:55:43.1] SC: The treatment probably is much different now.

[0:55:46.4] KM: Oh, absolutely. I don't even know anybody even still had tuberculosis.

[0:55:49.2] SC: Do you know the same bacteria that causes TB is related to the bacteria that causes leprosy? They're very related. It's hard to tell the difference between the bacterium producing tuberculosis and leprosy.

[0:56:04.3] KM: Interesting. 20 years ago, knowing what you know today, what advice would you give yourself?

[0:56:11.9] SC: I would have probably taken some prophylactic treatment for it. They recommended that I take this drug called rifampin for about nine months, but I didn't want to take it, because they said you couldn't drink and take it, so I took my chances. I'm here today.

[0:56:31.2] KM: You’re just fine.

[0:56:32.8] CC: Good call.

[0:56:34.4] SC: Yeah, good call.

[0:56:36.3] KM: What do you want your legacy to be?

[0:56:38.6] SC: My children.

[0:56:39.9] KM: That’s sweet.

[0:56:40.8] SC: I want my children to be proud of me, and I want them to succeed. So far, they have been exceptional kids and that's my legacy, as I've tried to raise two really tremendous kids. I hope that my patients will look back and say, “Dr. Cathey took care of me and took care of my family,” that's my legacy.

[0:57:03.4] KM: Because brain surgery often makes people walk again, doesn't it?

[0:57:06.3] SC: It does. Yeah, absolutely.

[0:57:08.7] KM: What is the most common brain surgery that you do?

[0:57:13.1] SC: Trauma.

[0:57:14.3] KM: From a head injury?

[0:57:14.9] SC: Mm-hmm. From a head injury, from a gunshot wound, or a depressed skull fracture, or someone hit me in the head. I'll take a quick story. I know we’re on the clock here, but I was leaving a Razorback football game one night over at Little Rock at War Memorial and I get a call from the emergency room and they called me and they say, “We've got a girl here who has been hit in the head with a beer bottle, and she's got a fractured skull.” I went straight to the ER. First thing I do is get an x-ray. She's awake, alert, talking. We get an x-ray, she's got a bullet in her brain.

[0:57:54.8] KM: Oh, my God.

[0:57:56.3] SC: I said, “I got some good news and some bad news. Good news is you didn't get hit in the head with a beer bottle. Bad news is you got shot in the head.” She did fine. We just took her surgery and –

[0:58:07.6] KM: It can change her personality.

[0:58:08.9] SC: She just assumed being, “Oh, something hit me in the head.” It was a straight gunshot wound.

[0:58:13.6] CC: Wow.

[0:58:14.0] KM: It can change your personality a lot though, can't it?

[0:58:15.8] SC: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

[0:58:16.9] KM: Permanently.

[0:58:17.7] SC: Absolutely, yeah. Depending on what part of the brain is injured.

[0:58:21.5] KM: Because sometimes we’re angry?

[0:58:22.8] SC: Well, some parts of the brain are more elegant. You talk about the Sylvian fissure, that's a very elegant brain tissue. It's where your motor speech center is located. Whereas, you can have a injury to the frontal lobe of the brain, particularly the right frontal lobe, because most people are right-handed, so that makes the left side of the brain dominant. Yeah, depending on where the tumor is, or the injury is determines the significance and the impact of the injury, or the insult to the neurological tissue. Yeah.

[0:59:01.7] KM: Do different races have thicker skulls?

[0:59:04.7] SC: You know, I don't know Kerry. I do believe African-Americans have thicker skulls and I think that's just part of the evolution of the African continent and that type of thing, but don't quote me on that.

[0:59:18.1] KM: I have a friend who’s a Native American and she said she was in a car wreck and that her boyfriend died from a head injury and she didn't. He said that –

[0:59:23.8] SC: That had to do with skull thickness?

[0:59:26.0] KM: Mm-hmm. She said she's a Native American and she said – he told me that, “I had a really thick skull.”

[0:59:31.4] SC: I wouldn't speculate on that, honestly.

[0:59:34.2] KM: I thought that was interesting though.

[0:59:35.9] SC: Yeah. I think that’s to quote you, conjecture.

[0:59:39.6] KM: That’s more conjecture. All right, I think it's time for me to give you your gift.

[0:59:46.4] SC: Oh, my gosh. I hope it's a car.

[0:59:50.8] KM: I do too. That would be nice.

[0:59:52.7] SC: Oh, thank you.

[0:59:53.3] KM: It’s a desk set with a US Arkansas and a Marine.

[0:59:55.5] SC: A Marine. Thank you so much. Thank you Chris.

[1:00:00.0] CC: Very welcome.

[1:00:00.9] SC: This is very thoughtful. I appreciate that.

[1:00:02.9] KM: You’re welcome. Thank you for coming on and get to stay –

[1:00:05.6] SC: Any time. Call me again.

[1:00:07.1] KM: All right. I will.

[1:00:08.3] SC: I won't be retired next time.

[1:00:09.8] KM: I think that may be true. Who's our guest next week?

[1:00:12.7] CC: That would be

[inaudible 1:00:13.8] and if you don't know who that is, he's the owner and manager of the Prospect Building, which is a high-rise and high-end apartment building in Downtown Little Rock.

[1:00:21.5] KM: Yeah. He's going to come on and talk about apartments in Downtown Little Rock.

[1:00:25.4] SC: Well, I'll tell you what, he's got a tough act to follow.

[1:00:28.0] KM: Why?

[1:00:29.8] SC: Just –

[1:00:30.0] KM: Oh, because of you?

[1:00:30.8] SC: Yeah.

[1:00:31.5] KM: Oh, I get it. It took me a while. I was like, “Why? What do you mean?”

[1:00:33.7] SC: What?

[1:00:35.3] KM: Oh, yeah. No, yeah. He’s gotten making fun of me. Yeah, he does. You're exactly right.

[1:00:41.3] CC: Thank you so much.

[1:00:42.3] KM: I know his mother Barbara and she has traveled around for years and years and years collecting art. She's just an amateur art collector. This building that her family owns and her son runs, the Prospect Building on the ground floor has a gallery. She sells – when you're a collector, you got to have some place to get rid of some of that, so you can keep collecting. They also sell art on the first floor of the Prospect Building.

I've enjoyed hosting with you today, Chris.

[1:01:04.7] CC: Absolutely as well.

[1:01:05.8] SC: I've enjoyed talking to you so much, Steve Cathey.

[1:01:07.3] SC: Thank you, Kerry. Thank you, Chris. I really enjoyed –

[1:01:11.0] KM: Being here?

[1:01:11.8] SC: Telling what I know.

[1:01:13.3] KM: You tell it good too. If you have a great entrepreneurial story that you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. Send a brief bio and your contact info to questions@upyourbusiness.org. Finally, to our listeners thank you for spending time with me. If you think this program has been about you, you're right, but it's also been for me.

Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring, or enlightening and that it whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.


[1:01:51.5] CC: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. All interviews are recorded and posted online with links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show. Subscribe to her weekly podcast whenever you like to listen.

Kerry’s goal is simple, to help you live the American dream.


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