This time, Dr Pelzer took one of those plastic models you always see in medical offices and measured a length of mandible a few inches long. This, he explained, would be removed and replaced with a bone graft taken from the fibula in my calf— one of the bones we don’t need. Dr Neil Fine, an expert plastic surgeon, would do this and patch me up so that after healing there was every reason to expect I’d be back on my TV show.
That’s not how it worked out. All by myself, with nobody to blame, I found out about the work in neutron radiation being done at a handful of hospitals. It was much more powerful and narrowly targeted than gamma radiation. The leading specialist was said to be Dr George Laramore at the University of Washington Medical Centre in Seattle. “My equipment is made for your tumour,” he told me. “Of course you should have surgery first.” Harold Pelzer also recommended surgery first. So did Havey. But no. I became convinced there was a shortcut that would avoid plastic surgery and a healing period and have me back on the air much more quickly. I insisted. My doctors and Chaz advised the path of caution, but I cited reams of web printouts indicating what a miracle this neutron radiation was. Eventually, it was decided to give it a go.
The internet is said to be responsible for helping patients take control of their own diseases. Few movies are ever made about sick people courageously taking doctors’ advice. No, they get bright ideas online. I believe my infatuation with neutron radiation led directly to the failure of all three of my facial surgeries, the loss of my jaw, loss of the ability to eat, drink and speak and the surgical damage to my right shoulder and back as my poor body was plundered for still more reconstructive transplants. Today, I look like an exhibit in the Texas Chainsaw museum.