Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Less Than a Heartbeat?


A lot of doctors and interested parties have been calling for a complete release of Senator John McCain's medical records. He claims full disclosure. And sometime back he did hope some 400 or more pages of his medical history to a group of reporters for 45 minutes or less. Of the 22 reporters only two had medical degrees. Would you know where to turn in a medical file to find relevant information?

Or know at a glance what is relevant?

I have a sister who is a nurse and speaks in that medical jargon that at times leaves me dazed. And due to a very serious accident I got to spend a lot of time review a lot of my own medical records. Doctors speak in codes. You need to know the language to understand what you are reading. I spent hours on the Internet looking through sites such as Med Line trying to decode my own records.

Dr. S. Gupta of CNN was one of the doctor/reporters that was present during this "full-disclosure." At the time he said he saw nothing to be of concern but the medical records did not address McCain's mental health. He has since spoken of worrying signs that all is not okay with this aspect of the Republican candidate's health. Dr. Gupta is a neurosurgeon. McCain has crashed five airplanes and been beaten in a POW camp. He has suffered brain trauma.

So maybe the four melanomas coupled with his age is not the only thing to be concerned about. Those two factors put him with a 1 in 6 chance of dying within the next five years on the actuary charts that insurance companies use. This alone puts Sarah Palin uncomfortably close to being president of the United States. She already thinks it is the Palin/McCain ticket.

But perhaps even more worrying is McCain's erratic behavior and mental slips. He has some classics that I am frightfully aware of because of my closed brain trauma (CBT) six years ago. His repeating of a tag line or information multiple times in a speech and not for effect, bad temper when being question, not finishing sentences and substitution of any word that begins with the same letter, and not being able to remember the make of his car or how many homes he owns are not just "senior moments." As posted on Firedog: A McCain Brain Watch site they are indications of failing short term memory and memory of memorized or frequently accessed memory.

Deficits in these two areas impair your ability to make decisions or to access all the information necessary to make an informed decision especially when stressed or tired. This is critical with that 3 a.m. call on the redphone at the White House.

I can fully relate. For the first few years after my head injury I could come up for appropriate plans to go away for another MRI only by putting each necessary task on a 3 x 5 card and then spreading those cards around my dining room table and trying to put them in the proper order. My CBT has gotten better. And obviously for a period of time so did John McCain's. But I would never subject myself to the stress of running for high office or presume I could be President of the United States. I am fully aware of my limitations. And the prognosis for the future.

CBT puts you at greater risk of stroke, cerebral bleeds, Alzheimers, dementia, and inability to function when stressed or exhausted. It makes you quick tempered when you cannot perform to your expectations of yourself. Coupled with melanoma and his age it is not a pretty picture. But that is assuming the lapses in McCain's memory are due to the CBT and not cancer which has spread into his brain as in the instance of Senator Ted Kennedy.

So maybe it is really a Palin/McCain ticket. It has me worried enough that I have been doing research on what happens if McCain dies before the election, after the election but before the Electorial College vote, after the EC vote but before the confirmation of the vote by the House of Representatives, after that and before the inaugration. Even if I was a Republican (and I have even worked for a Republican Senator in my past) I would be totally unwilling to take the risk of voting for this ticket.