Sharon Has ‘Significant’ Stroke

“Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a serious stroke on Wednesday night and underwent emergency brain surgery in an effort to save his life, a hospital official said.” (New York Times )

As I read this, after Sharon’s first, much more minor stroke last month, his doctors found that he had a small atrial septal defect (ASD), a hole between the two upper chambers of his heart. This could have disturbed the blood flow enough in his heart that it caused a clot which circulated to his brain, causing that stroke by blocking some branch of his cerebral circulation. For this reason, he was slated for a procedure to repair the ASD.

Unfortunately for Sharon, he was anticoagulated (started on a “blood thinner”) to prevent recurrent clots; this is standard practice. But this new, massive stroke today was not an occlusive stroke caused by a clot but rather a hemorrhagic one, caused by a bleed into his brain tissue. One can imagine that the outcome was likely influenced by his being on an anticoagulant.

Toward the end of his life, my father had exactly the same sequence of events — an occlusive stroke from which he recovered fully; anticoagulation; and then eventually a more significant hemorrhagic stroke. In his case, he recovered fully from the latter as well, with months of intensive post-stroke rehabilitation. My father did not need neurosurgery to evacuate the hematoma (the accumulation of blood in the head) or repair the ruptured vessel that was the source of the hemorrhage. Sharon’s bleed was far more extensive than my father’s. I doubt he is going to be making executive decisions about Israel or anything else very soon, if at all…

Of course, I am not really a doctor, I just play one on my weblog (grin; some would maintain that psychiatrists are indeed not really physicians!). I have at least one neurologist friend who reads FmH and would be more suited to the role of armchair consultant and commmentator on Sharon’s course. I could never get my father’s doctors to talk about the possible role the anticoagulation had played in the brain bleed, for obvious reasons. I am sure Sharon’s doctors will be no more forthcoming on the point. How common a scenario might this be?

Update: (thanks to Dennis) neurological news analysis runs along the same lines as my interpretation above. (New York Times )

Vanity Query

My number cruncher reports that the busiest day of last year for FmH was 12/9/05 (stats here) with over 600 page views that day (as opposed to the more usual 300-400; I have posted before to marvel about the utter rigid regularity of that figure over FmH’s lifetime). Can any reader figure out why? Does anyone recall if someone somewhere on the net pointed to me that day or something?

It also looks to me from the chart that there was another day in early September right up there with over 600 page views, by the way. Oh well, these things happen, I guess…

On the Mine Disaster

I have been feeling for the families of the lost miners and reflecting on the insult added by the mistaken announcement that they had been found alive, which lifted their spirits only to have them dashed to the ground again. This has been explained by rumor getting ahead of facts during desperate moments, but aren’t desperate moments the last time we can afford a mistake about something so ‘up or down’ about whether people have been found alive or dead? especially when that was the sole crucial piece of information for which the entire world waited?

I am also having a hard time with the punditry I’m hearing all across the media which philosophizes on mining as an “inherently dangerous” profession, and the miners and their families accepting the level of risk for the financial payoff. We have all heard about the number of safety citations the mine had been subject to in the past year, and I have already posted the disingenuous comment of the unnamed International Coal Group official that the Labor Dept. could have closed the mine if it were deemed unsafe. Keep in mind that these mine owners are corporate raiders with no history in the mining business and no business owning coal mines. I expect that, as criticism of ICG mounts, we will hear ‘anguished’ company spokes and their defenders trotted out calling ICG heroes for providing jobs for out-of-work Appalachia and, of course, reiterating the workers’ knowing acceptance of the inherent risks. They specialize in buying up bankrupt companies and, I am sure, ascertaining that they are not troubled by pesky labor unions when they take over — labor unions that would have made made sure an issue was made of the safety conditions, a hedge against the desperation that forces people to take on unacceptable dangers to feed their families. These people buy in to make a quick killing on the spot market, and a quick killing is exactly what they have made. This is business as usual in the Bush dystopia, with regulatory authority gutted or turning a blind eye and no vestige of corporate responsibility. And the media rush in, thrusting microphones and cameras in the face of grief, cannibalizing the melodrama.

Millennium Music iPod Trade

If you have ripped your CD tracks into iTunes and have no further use for the disks, consider trading them for an iPod. I don’t known anyone who has used this service yet, but Millennium Music offers to give you an iPod (a different model depending on how many CDs) if you ship your CDs to their South Carolina location. Disks have to be in saleable condition with jewel cases and original artwork. They are essentially valuing your CDs at a little more than $2 apiece, e.g. giving you a 1 GB Shuffle worth $149 for 65 disks or a 60 GB iPod worth #399 for 175 disks. As I recall from my days of culling my collection and carting the surplus around to used CD stores, this is in the ballpark of what one used to get in that way. Big open question is how they assess the quality of your discs in crediting you.

Now’s the time

Revive your old PC with a little Linux: “Now that you’ve unwrapped and fired up that new Christmas PC (is it your third or fourth?), have I got a project for you: We’re going to fix your old PC.

Boy, are we gonna fix it. I can almost guarantee you it will run appreciably faster than your new unit. It won’t ever get clogged up with spyware. It will never crash. And it will come with all the software you’ll ever need, and if you need more, you can download it for free. A nice one-day project.” (NY Newsday)

I just happen to have an old extra desktop machine sitting around and think I might try this. I have never ventured very far from Microsoft OS’es until now but, from prior comments, I know that at least some of you reading this work under Linux. I would welcome any suggestions on which Linux/Unix to install.