Friday, February 03, 2006


This is a true story of what happened between a Neurologist and his Patient on January 24th of this year. The Senate Judiciary Committee had just approved Alito’s nomination by a 10 to 8 vote and the Neurologist had kept his Patient waiting over a half an hour because he wanted to watch it on TV.

But the Patient knew none of this when she was told by the receptionist that the doctor would see her now. This was a follow up visit. On the initial visit, the Patient had presented with dizzy spells which persisted following a short ataxia* attack.

The Neurologist had given her a short examination and had appointments made for her to receive an MRI, EEG, EP’s and Ultrasound tests. He told her there was nothing seriously wrong as it was a labyrinth problem that could be treated and that she would be back to work in no time.

This second visit was to hear the results and the diagnosis and the 78 year-old Patient brought a Friend along for support. The Neurologist sat behind his desk and handed a sheet of paper across to the Patient. He directed her attention to two check marked sentences.
#1. Small vessel ischemic* disease and age related cerebral atrophy.
#2. No evidence of a CP* angle mass or IAC* mass.

Following a comment and question from the Patient’s Friend, the Neurologist demanded the paper back and circled a line, and then he handed the paper back to the Patient. She read, “There is moderate small vessel ischemic disease present.”

The Patient tried for more information including the meaning of some terms on the paper and this obviously irritated the Neurologist who responded grudgingly, telling her that the good news was that there were no masses or lesions and she was not in danger of death from the small vessel disease.

Questions about how she might go about managing the dizziness brought the answer that it might go away in time. He told her to take an aspirin, walk 15 minutes a day, cut down on animal fat - all things the Patient had already told him she did. Actually she stressed that she walked for nearly 2 hours every morning before the dizziness took over and now used a treadmill in her home.

Now the Neurologist, plainly out of patience, got up and told her she would be fine and to see him again in July as he moved her toward the door. Once there he apologized for being late and said it was because he was watching the Senate Committee confirming Alito.

The Patient turned toward him and responded, “Now, I really am sick. He’s a menace to the country.” Immediately, the Neurologist shut the door and began a tirade, haranguing the Patient with what a wonderful, perfect man and judge Alito was.

He would not hear any rebuttal or argument although the Patient got in a word or two on Alito’s judicial record of always finding against the disadvantage and human rights and for corporations. “How can you say that”, the Neurologist blustered, “you are not a lawyer!” Seemingly unmindful of the fact that he was not one either.

“Because Alito’s rulings on cases are posted on the WEB”, she responded. “Any person can read for herself how he has consistently found for corporations and against women, old people, worker’s …

Waving that away and loudly drowning out the Patient, the Neurologist continued nearly non-stop saying that when “his personal friend”, Justice Scalia, came to Vermont, he got a standing ovation. He insisted that “this was because Scalia was a GOOD man, just as Alito is a GOOD man”.

The Patient was unable to make him hear that a captive audience will do that, which is why Bush has screened his audiences.

The Neurologist bashed Senator Kennedy in the most damning terms along with others on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said he should have talked with “Patrick” [Senator Leahy] for his stand on the vote. He said he knew him personally.

The Patient and her Friend had more than enough of this harassment and opened the door to get away from the non-stop bombast from a doctor that seemingly had no time to discuss the concerns of his patient but was determined to force his political views on her.

In the parking lot following this experience, the Patient asked her friend what she thought of it. Her Friend replied, “I heard and saw the absolute refusal by this man to consider for a fraction of a second that the opinion of a person who disagreed with him could possibly matter, could possible touch him in any way.

“Self-righteousness is the name of his game. He revealed himself to be a bully (he's gonna give Patrick - because of course they are on a first name basis- an earful). He's on cloud nine because his stars are aligned with people in positions of supreme power. And like those people he uses his power in an abusive way. This was amply demonstrated by the good doctor's treatment of you. The irony cannot be missed.”

Nor can the threat to everyone now that Alito is on the Supreme Court. The Patient will NOT go back to that doctor, not now, not in July and not ever, but which Doctor should she go to?

How can she know the breadth and depths of the Neurologist’s influence? Religion in politics is terrible but how does one confront religion in medicine? She experienced first hand a physician’s hatred of women, his distain for the elderly and those in the lower class.

* ataxia - failure of muscle coordination
* ischemic - A decrease in the blood supply to a bodily organ, tissue, or part caused by constriction or obstruction of the blood vessels.
* CP - cerebellopontine angle
* IAC - internal auditory canal
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Politics does not belong in medicine. The good doctor needs to decide what career he's in, and whether the people he sees are patients or political opponents. It makes me wonder: if he's more concerned with politics than his patients, what is he doing in medicine? For a statesman, he makes a lousy doctor.