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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sometimes Knowledge Quells Optimism

Well I listen to the doctors on TV, day after day talking about Arizona congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. After surviving being shot in the head the doctors say they are "optimistic" about her recovery.

I have to think back over the past 30 years and remember some of the brain injuries I have seen. Sorry to say that brain injuries almost never result in a good outcome. The fact that Giffords survived I guess is somewhat a miracle and like most doctors, the ones taking care of her try their best to drop tidbits of hope to her anxious family and in this case an anxious public.

At last assessment the bullet traversed the entire left hemisphere of her brain from front to back (there was debate whether the bullet entered the rear or the front). In any case, some mighty important things go on inside here, thought, interpretation of speech and language, formation of speech and language, movement and sensation to the right side of the body, just to name a few.

I do remember a few severely brain injured patients making what I would call miraculous recoveries. My now deceased mother-in-law, Ruth, is one example. She suffered a massive hemispherical bleed in her brain. On the CT scan it looked like almost one whole side had been wiped out. I never thought she would survive in the first place, but a few months later she was walking and talking and was completely her old self. I could tell she had subtle differences but to the untrained eye, you'd never know she had suffered such a catastrophe.

Ruth was the exception. The vast majority of the time these poor folks are never even close to what they were before the event. Some have no mind or ability to communicate. Some cannot speak or interpret speech (aphasia). Some are paralyzed. Most are unable to take care of themselves for the rest of their lives. I would personally prefer death.

So as I listen to the pundits on Fox News jump up and down over a "finger twitch" or a "thumbs up" I just have to sit back and sigh as I think back about the realities of brain injuries and the many many sad outcomes I have seen over the past 30 years.

I have no idea what the future holds for Gabrielle Giffords. If she does make a "full recovery" and returns to congress it will certainly be a miracle. Unfortunately, the odds are not in her favor.

This whole thing is very tragic. Even more tragic are the idiots on the left running around trying to assign blame over the actions of a lunatic. For God's sake, people, give it a rest!


  1. I got the tail end of the neurosurgeon's report. he said that he was "100, no 101% sure she would survive" but continued that he could not guarantee "she would not be in a vegetative state". The media took this as extremely positive. To be there is a lot of room between 101% alive and vegetable. Like you I would choose death before vegetable.

    Right Truth

  2. I hope for the neurosurgeon's sake she does not die. If she does, then he will look like a pompous ass. I have always found it best not to make numeric predictions. There are just too many things that can go wrong that can change the outcome. Numeric predictions are best left to TV doctors where the outcome is known in advance by the writers.

  3. In reality that survives a shot in the head I think I should believe in miracles because only something like it would save