Pink Floyd provides soundtrack for Shoshoni man’s brain surgery

(Casper, Wyo.) – When Shoshoni rocker Norm Moore heard his neurosurgeon was a rocker at heart, he knew which album he wanted played at his surgery: Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” It had a certain metaphorical ring to it.

Moore, 56, has been a musician his whole life. He is the drummer for the Lost Springs Band which plays “both” kinds of music – country-and-western and rock-n-roll. Early this year, though, the music was losing its luster. He felt stressed and down, attributing the depression to the pressures of caring for his aging parents. At a gig this winter, he sat down at his drums and realized he’d forgotten how to play.

Then, In March, his step-daughter, Jessica Bedsaul, brought his grandkids to Shoshoni for a visit. His 7-year-old granddaughter looked him in the face and said, “Papa, you’re drooling.” His face was sagging to the floor, his step-daughter told him. They thought he was having a stroke.

Instead, a CT-scan showed a tumor the size of a tennis ball in his brain. A doctor told him he probably had a week to live. He was flown to Wyoming Medical Center on Sunday night and scheduled for surgery Monday morning. In the OR, staff hooked him up for a Stealth MRI – a system that creates a 3D image of the brain so the surgeon can more precisely pinpoint the outlines of the tumor. Moore and his daughter, Christine Kaczorowski, struck up a conversation with the computer technician.

You’re a lucky man, the technician told Moore. Everybody fights to be in the operating room with Dr. Penney because he likes to listen to music, especially the Rolling Stones.

“When I heard that,” Moore said, “I knew that everything was going to be fine.”

A radio DJ once dubbed Dr. Don Penney the “Rock-n-Roll Surgeon from Atlanta” after a photograph of him in his surgical cap made the national news wire. The cap is emblazoned with the iconic Rolling Stones logo, and when Mick Jagger saw it, he sent two second-row tickets to the Stones’ upcoming concert.

“In the operating room, we have music playing all the time. There is a good, positive vibe,” Penney said. “I tell my patients that before I operate, I want positive thinking. I always say the same thing: ‘You are on the beach in the Caribbean. The sun is coming up, the waves are rolling in.’”

Penney’s team told him that Moore had requested Pink Floyd for his operation, scheduled early for March 24. When Moore rolled into the OR, “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” was playing from the music box.

Remember when you were young, 
You shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s a look in your eyes,
Like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond. 

“I’m playing Pink Floyd for you, so happy thoughts,” Penney instructed.

After the surgery, Moore recovered slowly. Glioblastomas, like Moore’s tumor, are fast-moving brain cancers, doubling in size every six weeks. He struggled with sleeping because of the steroids and didn’t bounce back as quickly as Penney had hoped. But since then he’s recovered well, and the Shoshoni community rallied around him to help payoff his medical bills.

“I am a rocker, and so was Dr. Penney, so it’s fun to talk about those things. He tells me that I am going to feel better than I did before. I told him I was going to hold him to that,” Moore said. “He is a wonderful human being.”

Moore looks forward to playing with the Lost Springs Band again. He’s already designed his new rocker T-shirt and his daughter had it made for him. It says: “Papa, you’re drooling.”

Neurosurgeon Dr. Don Penney poses in a WMC operating room with his rock and roll surgery cap. Photo provided by WMC.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Don Penney poses in a WMC operating room with his rock and roll surgery cap. Photo provided by WMC.

–Provided by Wyoming Medical Center. Read the full story here.