Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I'm succumbing to the common Israeli habit of playing armchair doctor when a public figure falls ill, and feel a need to pontificate - perhaps prematurely and completely incorrectly - about Ariel Sharon's situation.

My understanding is that a few weeks ago he had a minor stroke caused by a small blood clot. Then doctors ran a battery of tests and found that he had a 2mm hole between two chambers of his heart - a finding that, so I'm told, can be made in about 50% of the adult population. Then his doctors decided to operate to seal this hole. They scheduled the operation for today, and in the meantime gave him a hard time about being overweight, and put him on blood thinners.

And what is the most common adverse effect of blood thinners? Brain hemorrhages. And what happened? First, so aides say, he was extremely stressed out about the surgery. Second, he felt chest pains. Third, lo and behold, he had a hemorrhage. I give more than 50% that if the doctors would have just left him alone, he would have fared much better...

On another note, I remember where I was and what I was doing when Rabin was shot, and I'll probably always remember the same for Sharon's stroke. I was in my car driving to my daughter's soccer game when I heard on NPR that Rabin had been shot and was in the hospital. It was pretty clear that he wouldn't survive. Sometime during the game itself he died. In this case I was taking an afternoon nap (sweet!), and when I woke up I found a cell phone message from my friend telling me that Sharon had suffered a severe stroke. He's still alive, but for all intents and purposes, it's the end. Rabin's assassination brought about a change in political leadership in Israel (from Labor to Likud). We'll see what happens this time.


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