A little over a week ago, I got a call at the office around 10AM. It was my mother. It went like this.
“I’ve been having pain between my shoulder blades, and when I try to get up and do anything I get out of breath.”
I’m the family doctor-before-the-doctor, having done my Ph.D. work at Duke Medical School in the 80’s and absorbed a lot of medicine in the 70’s. This instantly sounded cardiac to me, and I responded “How long has this been going on, Mom?”
I was, shall we say, nonplussed. Skipping over a fair bit of drama, by 6PM Mom was in the Cardiac Care Unit at St Joseph’s Hospital in Denver being treated for congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema, largely brought on by spending four days following a (thankfully very minor) heart attack by not telling anyone about it. (She’s home now, in pretty good shape for a little old lady after a heart attack, and I’ll be writing a separate piece on women’s heart attacks and how they’re not like men’s.)
In today’s PJ, Roger Kimball writes, in passing, of his recent bout of appendicitis. He notes that his “free and frank discussion” with the emergency room physician didn’t commence until the appendix had already ruptured. While Roger doesn’t mention the technical details, the fact that it had ruptured meant that its removal was rather more complicated than had it not ruptured, his recovery was prolonged and the risk of major complications much increased. Again, he’s home and working again following his (thankfully uncomplicated) recovery.
One of the first things I told my mother in the CCU was that she was under strict instructions now: if she had another heart attack, she was not to wait four days to tell anyone. While, failing an anatomical wonder, Roger Kimball is unlikely to ever again be faced with appendicitis, there is still a lesson here that delaying too much when you have a lower-right quadrant stomachache is also ill-advised.
In general, ignoring symptoms and hoping they’ll just go away doesn’t pay off very well.
In today’s Clarice’s Pieces at American Thinker, Clarice Feldman tells another story: about the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which claimed Iran had no nuclear weapons program. This NIE was used by the Democrats in the election campaign to paint the Bush Administration as bloodthirsty warmongers; its authors were variously rewarded with promotion by the Obama Administration and prestigious academic appointments.
The only problem being that the NIE was utterly and completely wrong, as everyone — even the UN IAEA — now recognizes. That NIE was, however, the basis for initial attempts by the Obama Administration to “gentle” the Iranians into better compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Now, it’s been three years, and we know that the Iranians have made significant progress; what’s more, having seen the press coverage of the 2007 NIE, they’re engaged in hardening their nuclear facilities by spreading them throughout the country and placing them in deeply-buried bunkers.
Of course, there’s (thankfully) no analogy to be drawn here.