Hank Williams had a back condition called spina bifida. His condition would appear to have been the mildest form of this deformity called spina bifida occulta.
In this condition the spinal cord emerges slightly from the protection of the spine itself. Many people live a whole lifetime hardly being aware of this disorder.
In others action must be taken. Today surgery for spins bifida occulta is performed on the fetus long before birth.
In Mother’s Best Hank Williams mentions he could hardly stand because of the pain.
in December 1951 Hank Williams has a spinal fusion operation at Vanderbilt.
Early in 1952 Hank had to record an apology for missing a show. In that apology he truthfully and honestly described the horrors of his disease and the operation.
Hank mentions in his speech that the doctor told him that riding “several hundred thousands of miles in these automobiles” made his condition worse. This is exactly what would happen to a person with spina bifida occulta who continually bruised his exposed spinal cord by driving over rough old 1940’s roads.
Recently Hank fan Robert Blair wrote a comment on that post.
“For all those who seem to know better maybe Hank should have written a song called “Walk a Mile in my Shoes.” Hank’s last year on earth must have been a
Living Hell. And I understand his surgery left him with incontinence for the
rest of his life. So much for MINOR surgery!
I’d rather be related to HANK WILLIAMS than any of the Presidents.
Lifetime Hank Williams fan.”
Here’s my reply:
“Thanks so much for your comment Robert. The official and unofficial big name Hank biographers have ignored the seriousness of his spina bifada and subsequent open back spinal surgery, a spinal fusion performed in the early days of this surgery.
They have ridiculed the “Apology” statement which in retrospect sounds exactly like the pain of a spinal fusion as we now know it.
If you research spina bifida and spinal fusion you find incontinence is a common side effect.
It has always sounded to me that alcohol was the only pain-killer available that worked.
But the biographers say he was ONLY a weak, lazy, alcoholic unable to perform a mere few weeks after the surgery. Today even with our sophisticated drugs months would be allowed.”
Here’s 4 minute simplified little review of what spina bifida actually is.