Monday, June 16, 2008

Tim Russert, Part Deux

I'm mad that Tim Russert is dead. He shouldn't be. And it pisses me off.  Some nutritionist went on a rant about how his face clearly showed signs of impaired kidney function and he needed to eliminate meat from his diet. His point was that pharmaceuticals lull us into a false sense of safety. And that might have contributed to his death too.

Everybody has a take on it.

Apparently a defibrillator might have helped Tim Russert while they were waiting for the paramedics. Shock the heart into a better rhythm. Any rhythm. Except when you've got a clot and the blood can't get through the vessel that's blocked, how does that work? I guess it keeps things going well enough in the short term.

Dr. Oz was on the Today Program talking about the portable defibrillator. How it can save lives. But only if you can find it. Even though most businesses have one these days, nobody seems to know where it's located. Dr. Oz demonstrated as much this morning by asking lots of people where it was at NBC and practically nobody knew.

Personally, I think Tim Russert just needed a different doctor. Not someone who could get him to stop drinking or change his diet, because I don't think anyone could have done that. But a doctor who could have ordered some more conclusive tests on his heart instead of relying on a stress test. A stress test? That's it? The guy's 58, working in one of the most high stress businesses in the world, and the doc orders a stress test?

In my humble [okay not humble], layperson's opinion, the stress test is probably the most useless diagnostic tool there is for determining a bad heart. Give me a nickel for everyone who has passed a stress test and had a heart attack soon after, and I would be eating caviar out of a Waterford bowl in my Aspen hideaway.

Stress tests are so low tech, you can take one at your health club. They're also easy to misread. Doctors have many more accurate options for finding out how your ticker is ticking.

I bet a million dollars Russert wasn't on aspirin either. Since he had already been diagnosed with heart disease, I'm surprised he wasn't on it every day. In fact, if he had recognized his symptoms ahead of time he could have taken an aspirin before he passed out. It might have broken up the clot.

About that clot. I still think long hours on a plane didn't help. Now that I have discovered he was diabetic, I'm sure it didn't help.

I also don't think he was asymptomatic. He just gutted it out. Denied any symptoms at his physical. No doc, I'm fine, really.

A guy Russert had just interviewed about an upcoming book said to his co-author that he didn't think Tim was feeling well when they were leaving the recording studio. Shortly before Russert died.

He probably wasn't feeling well at all, but since he didn't have sharp, staggering pain, only a nagging something, he just kept pushing through.

I think you tend to ignore vague symptoms. when you're in a job that makes enormous physical, mental and emotional demands on you. There's no time to stop. So he was probably thinking he'd take care of whatever it was later. He was also thinking that maybe later, the problem might even be gone. No doubt, the same thing had probably happened before and whatever it was had passed.

I'm one of those people who has to dissect everything when something goes wrong. Especially when it shouldn't go wrong.

I'll get over it.

His son, Luke, talked about his father on TV today. What an articulate, smart young man. Clearly a good father has passed his legacy down to a remarkable son.


frankandmary said...

Having run practices for some very cracker jack doctors, I'll say lots of times you do everything the patient will let you.  You do take clues from the patient, because a "macho buck up" guy not only isn't going to do a bunch of "girlie tests" he is going to switch doctors.  Now when that is John Doe, I think it happens more often than when it is Mr Celebrity.  We don't want to piss off Mr Celebrity or God Forbid have him leave us for a different doctor, thereby implying a BETTER doctor. I once spoke to a patient who said:  Oh, please, spare me. I am not going to die I am(very famous name).
Oh pleeze, spare me...... ~Mary

mosie1944 said...

The basic stress test, I agree, is useless.  Cliff had one a couple of years before his bypass surgery.  No problem was detected.

The nuclear stress test, however, the one that diagnosed his problem, worked just dandy.  I'm still angry that the heart doctor two years earlier didn't do a nuclear stress test.

mosie1944 said...

Oh, and Cliff had ignored his vague symptoms for months before I made his appointment with our family doctor.  A friend told me his "indigestion" might be something more.  Thank God for that friend.

screaminremo303 said...

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between a heart attack and the simple urge to choke your boss to death. They feel alike. Trust me. The first time I went into the academy we had finished a battery of fitness tests and were standing in formation at parade-rest. My vision started to get blurry and then it was as if someone was holding sheets of purple and black cellophane in front of my face. Within three minutes I was stone-blind. I must have started hyperventilating when an instructor came over and made me sit down until my vision came back. Go figure.

Remo takes no-flush niacin, aspirin, folic acid, saw palmetto and enough alphabetic vitamins to write a book. When I fart it smells like a Walgreen's.

The visual is free.

salemslot9 said...

the black/blind thing happened to me once
I was at an amusement park standing in line
remember Bob-Lo, anyone?
it was over 100 degrees
I think it was heat stroke

suzypwr said...

Many generic people also die from heart disease who can't afford what Tim Russet could as far as medical care. Many would be alive had they had his options.


cberes1 said...

My husband had sixteen (yes, SIXTEEN) separate visits to his doctor over the span of a few years for vague symptoms known as headaches.   His doctor never even ordered a test but chalked it up to stress, blood pressure meds, eye problems and the like.   The rest is history as you know.  By the time the right test WAS ordered, the thing was too big to remove.   I can see why people avoid going to the dr.   And don't get me going on hospitals.    I feel badly  about Tim, too.