SEVERE NECK INJURY NEARLY SEVERING HIS SPINAL CORD
Rep. Mark Neuman of Big Lake is not in Juneau. He’s only been able to make cameo appearances this session. Most of the time the voting board has him marked as “excused.”
Neuman is at his home on the sofa, trying to keep his neck from moving, and thus prevent his disintegrated vertebrae from severing his spinal cord. A neck injury like this will insist on all of your attention, he explained to Must Read Alaska.
Neuman has been gone for some of the 121-day regular session and has not shown up yet at the special session, but it’s not because he doesn’t care. In fact, being gone has his anxiety “through the roof,” he said.
He’s missing because over the years, he has worked too hard, for too many hours, even when in pain, and ignored the signals his neck was giving him: It was simply giving out.
Now, it’s bone-on-bone, and his spinal cord is literally being cut in half. So he stays in place, tries not to move, tries not to sneeze even.
Any jostle of an elevator ride in the Capitol Building feels like knives. Falling down stairs at the Capitol would end up as a catastrophic medical emergency.
But help is around the corner. Neuman is waiting for the permission from his insurance company and hopes to be in surgery within a week in Anchorage to repair the vertebrae in his neck. They’ll have to go in the front and insert a piece of a femur bone where some vertebrae is supposed to be.
Being away from Juneau is stressful for him, he says, but he has kept in touch with his colleagues in the House and has spoken to Gov. Michael Dunleavy on a regular basis; those two are friends.
Neuman wants Alaskans to know that the people in House District 8 want a full Permanent Fund dividend payout, according to the formula established by tradition, and with no changes to that formula without going through a public process.
“It’s the People’s Fund,” Neuman said. “Why not go out and ask the people?”
“I fully support the governor’s approach to budget, crime, and the Permanent Fund dividend,” Neuman said. He would not have been a “yes” vote on the current House budget. He would have voted with the Republican minority.
But after years of not allowing himself to stop working, after years of simply working through the pain, he has to take extra precautions now to not end up paraplegic or worse. And so he waits for an insurance company decision. And waits.