June 2, 2008

"Awake and aware, lying perfectly still for hours, while surgeons methodically slice out bits of your brain."

Teddy Kennedy.

65 comments:

k said...

Oh, come on. Hundreds, thousands of patients have done this. But now that KENNEDY has done it ... it's some sign of courage? Some badge of honor?

What would Mary Jo Kopechne say?

Ron said...

Enough Bass ale produces the same effect...

Simon said...

It's the sort of thing you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. I'm glad he's past hurdle one.

Palladian said...

""Awake and aware, lying perfectly still for hours, while surgeons methodically slice out bits of your brain"... ...and cook them up at the table? Huh?

GiggleGirl said...

His bravery is legendary? To whom? For what?

Until he says, I left Mary Jo at the bottom of a pond for hours and hours and never gave a thought to her or her family because I was a selfish jerk whose only concern was for himself, he is a coward.

reader_iam said...

Simon's attitude is closer to my own, on account of my closest cousin (in heart and age) having gone through that something like that five or six years ago, having been diagnosed with a brain tumor closing on to a decade ago, at which time her prognosis, initially, was measured in months. But she's persisted. And here she is.

In no way will I pooh-pooh this, and under no circumstances. It IS quite a deal of thing to undergo, and no matter whether it's hundreds or thousands, it IS rare, in the range of human experience--and statistical incidence. And it does take guts--because so many within the pool of people who might benefit can't deal with that, or are deemed as not being able to. (To be clear, in NO WAY imaginable do I denigrate those who can't, or are deemed as not being able; I have no idea, for myself, whether I could since I've never faced that).

All that said: Medical technology continues to amaze, as it has all my life (and particularly, coincidentally, within my lifespan).

And I am grateful, and in awe. But mostly? I. Am. Grateful.

Assumpsit said...

...now that KENNEDY has done it...it's some sign of courage...

Or a sign of inebriation. Considering the patient, you decide which is more likely.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

Examining Kennedy's brain cells"
"Oh look, we found a live one!"
But seriously, good luck to him. My b-i-l's father lasted 6 months after diagnosis.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Palladian beat me to it. I had posted a link to the movie clip....but thought better of it.

Brain cancer or any cancer really isn't a laughing matter even when it is with someone as destible as Kennedy.

Revenant said...

I'm glad he has come through the surgery ok, but calling it "courage" is a bunch of horseshit. How is taking the action which is most likely to preserve your life "brave"? That's called "sensible" where I'm from.

I'm amused, though, at how much Kennedy butt-kissing there is in what is ostensibly a "news" article. Must be that famous AP "accountability journalism" at work.

The Drill SGT said...

I personally wish him well in his retirement...

The three bullets I took away from the evening news were:

1. Surgety apparently succesful
2. Nxt steps likely intensive regime of chemo and radiation
3. Probability of cancer recurring= 100%

Summer Anne said...

Wow, reading the comments on this post certainly made me question my philosophy that people are good at heart.

How is taking the action which is most likely to preserve your life "brave"?

I guess you'd protest to any cancer survivor being called brave or courageous? These are words that are used a lot when it comes to anyone pulling through a life-threatening disease -- and especially choosing treatment as traumatic as this. A lot of people just give up, actually, especially at TK's age.

I know you guys 'hate' him and all, but maybe now is not the time.

rcocean said...

Summer Anne,

Teddy is gutless coward who left a women to die. He is no hero. He's never shown any courage in his long life except maybe "Dutch Courage".

Don't try to defend him by bringing up other cancer patients.

Zeb Quinn said...

The Kennedys, Teddy in particular, have always been among my least favorite politicians on the planet. That said, I take no pleasure, satisfaction, or any kind of comfort at all in his suffering. Any of that is just not healthy for one's own head, psyche, and soul. I say if you can't feel compassion, it's best if you feel nothing at all.

Hoosier Daddy said...

How is taking the action which is most likely to preserve your life "brave"?

I guess you'd protest to any cancer survivor being called brave or courageous?


Yeah sure I will. Let me tell you something sweetie, Dad just went through 4 months of chemo and radiation for lung cancer and he's doin fine now. Was he brave and courageous? Nope. He was a pain in the ass, I know cause he lived with me for the four months he was having treatment. He did what he had to do cause the alternative was ...lets see...DEATH. Rev was spot on, we equate bravery and courage with selflessness and acts of self sacrifice.

Now does this take anything from my Dad? Nope. He toughed though it like I knew he would because he's a tough sonofbitch. Perhaps my definition of bravery and courageousness is different from yours. Self preservation will make you rise above and beyond the call of duty, opposed to say, jumping in a frozen lake to save some stranger.

Peter said...

I think people are mostly reacting emotionally to the idea of singling out the senator as being uncommonly or uniquely courageous in the face of what, while unfortunate, is something that many other Americans face every year without dewy reports of how they're redefining the very meaning of bravery. It's excessive.

And even in the abstract, yes, it is possible to hold the opinion that a patient following the recommendation of his doctor is not being courageous in the usual sense of the word. It's just a cliche. For a good example of highlighting this cliche, as always, turn to the Onion.

Loved Ones Recall Local Man's Cowardly Battle With Cancer

Trumpit said...

There is so much hatred for Ted Kennedy expressed in this comment section by the usual revolting suspects during what has to be the most trying time of his life. What can I say to counteract all the ill will ineptly deposited here like so much rancid refuse? To be nice, I'd simply say that your hostility is malevolently misplaced. Transference is the psychoanalytic term, I believe. Just look in the mirror and the repulsive reflection ought to be enough to cause a catastrophic cancerous calamity capable of resinking the entire Spanish armada. Surgery and radiation won't be of any use on your tumorous brains; you all should be buried deeply in a hazard waste dump, far far away from civilization.

rcocean said...

-Ted Kennedy's Remarkable Courage
-Chooses Surgery over certain Death
-Surgeon's marvel at his ability to stay still and be operated on.
-Thousands inspired by Ted Kennedy set new trend - surgery over death.

Theo Boehm said...

I'm with reader, above, on this one. I've known three people with this type of brain cancer, and, unfortunately, they didn't survive more than 18 months or so, unlike reader's very fortunate and persistent example.

My grandmother may have died of a glioma back in 1931 at the age of 28. But of course they didn't have diagnosis or x-ray technology to differentiate it well in those days. All we know is she died quickly of some brain tumor when my mother was a little girl.

Like reader, I am in awe of modern medical technology, of which I am to a certain extent the beneficiary. And like reader, I am unwilling to denigrate anyone's courage in the face of such horrors as Ted Kennedy has no doubt already endured.

Even though I live in Massachusetts and am not a huge Teddy fan, I do keep in mind his many accomplishments and services to the Commonwealth and the country, and will keep him and his family in my prayers during what may ultimately be his fatal hour.

Michael said...

I was diagnosed with heart disease at 43, almost a year ago, and walked out of the hospital with two stents.

Since then, I've been through cardiac rehab, quit smoking, drastically changed my diet (and really stick to it), take some pretty expensive drugs, lost a bunch of weight, and I ride a bike 20 miles almost every day. In winter, I ride indoors.

My friends and family are awed by the drastic adjustments that I have made in my life, and my will to stick to them.

But I am no hero; I'm just scared shitless of dying. It's not bravery that keeps me going, it's cowardice.

I suspect it is much the same with Teddy. Vaya con Dios, señor Kennedy.

Revenant said...

I guess you'd protest to any cancer survivor being called brave or courageous?

I am kind of sick of it, yes. But in everyday conversation you let those little white lies slide for the same reason you nod and smile when parents talk about how smart and good-looking their kids are.

But this is a news article from the medical section of a wire service, not a supportive speech from a friend of family member. Pointing out the factual errors in it is fair game, and "Kennedy's bravery is legendary" is a pretty egregious factual error to make about "the Hero of Chappaquiddick".

A lot of people just give up, actually, especially at TK's age.

Opting to die takes more courage than opting to live.

Palladian said...

Dear Trumpit, it is you who I see consistently expressing hatred in the comments section of this blog, hatred and contempt for anyone and any idea that runs contrary to what you and your "team" believes. You can drop the preachy pseudo-psychoanalytic bullshit and the over-wrought metaphors about our "tumorous brains" and pick up that fabled mirror and gaze upon your own ugly self. Just because some people here refuse to sentimentalize Senator Kennedy's illness and treatment and refuse to accept the media's ludicrous Oprah-like hagiography about the Senator's special "bravery" doesn't make people hate-filled. In fact, many commenters who I respect have gone out of their way and way overboard (to use an unfortunate Chappaquiddickesqe metaphor) wishing Kennedy, a man probably none of us has met, good luck in the ordeal ahead of him. Other commenters see in Kennedy a man who let a young woman die and made no attempt to contact authorities or seek other help, and who from accounts spent the next morning casually discussing the previous day's regatta. I can forgive those who choose not to extend sympathy to a man who seems to have none of his own to offer.

But that doesn't matter, does it? This is a game you're playing, a tiresome game that gets played whenever someone political dies or is taken ill. That person's partisans scour the web for seemingly "unfeeling" comments and then use them as a political cudgel to score cheap political points. "Look at how evil are [republicans|democrats]!" Of course there will be nasty comments, this being the internet. But trying to extract larger political points from those, or trying to implicate every non-sackcloth-and-ashes comment on the basis of a few is disingenuous.

I have no special positive feelings for Ted Kennedy, nor am I particularly upset at his illness. But I certainly wouldn't wish it on anyone and I do feel sympathy for his family. I watched a close family member die from 52 metastatic brain tumors, after months of chemotherapy and decline from the originating cancer and then enduring seizures and a week's worth of fruitless radiotherapy for the brain lesions. He was no more or less brave about it than Senator Kennedy, and no fawning AP stories were written about his ordeal. He endured it because he wanted to continue being alive, which is a situation many of us will face at some time in our lives. Death is something that we will all face. Would that everyone facing it could do so with the support available to Kennedy.

My point being: save your self-righteous moralism, which has nothing to do with Kennedy or the ill and everything to do with yourselves.

Trumpit said...

You're a bunny rabbit eating miserable ungay man, Palladian. You of all people need to look in the mirror to see how ugly you really are. I read your dumb recipes and you should be cooked yourself. You are a miserable worthless turd and you know it. Don't address me anymore or I'll resurrect Jeffery Dahmer to make a meal out of you.

Btw, you are sick and perverted, and it has nothing to do with your sexuality. EAT BUSH!!

Palladian said...

Yikes, the psychological issues run a lot deeper than I suspected. There's really nothing hurtful that I can say that would equal the extensive psychological torment you currently suffer. Hell, I feel worse for you than I do Kennedy.

God bless.

rcocean said...

Finally, Trumpit adds a note of sanity to this thread.

Bring us together Trump, in the name of Rev Wright and all that is Holy.

Palladian said...

PS, the rabbit wasn't my recipe, it was Clarissa-Dickson Wright's. But I'll happily take credit for it.

PPS: Carnivore meat isn't good. Don't eat any more people, Trumpy, unless they're vegetarians.

Debra Jo Fondren said...

Who is this "Summer Anne" and why does she post here?

If she done come here lookin' for a husband, I can tell her, the guys on this site want Pam Anderson look-a-likes. And, that means long blonde hair, 36-25-36, stunning, glamorous, and able to turn every head in the room.

Either you're Playboy material or you're not.

If "Summer Anne" doesn't meet those requirements, then she's simply wasting her time.

Theo Boehm said...

Oh, for the love of God, give it up, Maxine.

This idiotic routine has long outworn its amusement value. You have become the Garrison Keillor of trolls.

Methadras said...

May God have mercy on Ted Kennedy and shine the light of healing on him. He's an unmitigated Marxist and he's anathema to everything I believe in, but he's still a fellow American, like it or not and therefore my brother in that regard. However, the article was a little overreaching in it's accolades for his enduring courage and bravery with a surgery like this, which is all well and good. But to me courage and bravery in the face of insurmountable odds is something like that guy who got his arm crushed by a falling 20 ton boulder and took a pocket knife and amputated his own arm off above the elbow to save his own life. That is courage and bravery.

Methadras said...

I wonder considering that this is an election year why Ted didn't go to Canada for his treatments since they are touted by the Marxist Left political machine currently in Congress as the epitome of the system we need here. Maybe this will shut them up about it once for all. Nah.

Cedarford said...

Palladian -

Oh that 8:48PM was a good one! Reeled me in wanting to know if heating the tumor cells was the surgery - then I got smacked right between the eyes when I saw the pic. Luckily I wasn't drinking anything at the time or it would be all over the place.

For those upset with good humored (in the classic black humor sense) about Teddy, mordant humor is our own armor against the inevitable confrontation(s) with our mortality though the lens of others experience - not generally schadenfreude - though there are assholes out their that DO get their jollies from Tony Snow's cancer, Teddy's, dead US soldiers.

They are just like the assholes that cheer when a star from the opposing team goes down with an injury and don't understand why people stand and applaud or have a moment of silence if the injury is serious as the athlete is carried from the field.

Some of the Teddy jokes have him coming out of the hospital after the tumor is removed and admitting Reagan was right, affirmative action is wrong, and apologizing for wasting so much taxpayer money on his stupid causes.
Others say no anesthesia was needed because Teddy has been self-anethesicized since the early 60s.
A slightly more savage one has Teddy waking up from his surgery with the medical staff dressed up as minions of hell reminding him of his many sins, as a practical joke.

******************
The talk of heroism and not applying it to someone purely on Victimhood grounds or because they are simply members of a job field that has risk and "helps others" is appropriate.
In surgeries that require patients to be awake, that are delicate and stressful enough that patient panicking is a possibility, the surgical team evaluates the patient continuously and before that in pre-surgery with interviews on their reaction to say, having an eyeball cut open under local, or spinal work where nerve function is hecked while the patient is still cut open and made conscious.
No one can predict who is going to be stoic and calm and who won't. And the same person who flips out on one surgery may not have on previous surgeries.

So typically patients get a tranquilizer that blocks a panic reaction emotionally numbs them out, but otherwise keeps them aware and awake. And if a heavy dose is not given unless needed because of possible complications, it is ready and waiting to be squirted in the IV line at the slightest indication that the patient is suffering from an onset of fear and panic.

Given that, in Teddy's surgical case, it is unlikely that he was put in a position where he was ever challenged to respond "heroically" in the course of his operation.

(A friend of mine was conscious after a motorcycle crash as surgeons repaired a compound fracture of his arm, drilled plates to bone and jammed blunt pins against various parts of his hand and wrist to check nerve damage during and after his operation. He said he was loaded up on enough demerol he had no emotions at all just watched, didn't care a lot, and moved and said yes or no when asked to.)

And while you don't need a local for the brain, you do for all the other head parts cut open or surgery on other organs like eyes....

Teddy will have plenty of anxious moments and probably some pain given his diagnoses - but it is unlikely he had either during his operation itself..

John Stodder said...

I have a different take on all this.

I am very glad Teddy is rich. He will spend whatever it takes to survive this fatal tumor, including expensive, delicate, painstaking surgery -- twice a week if necessary.

If it works, he will have blazed a path that eventually will become a commonplace, insurer-approved surgery that will save thousands of lives.

He did take a risk, you know. There are things worse than death when you're messing around in the brain.

As someone who lost a wife to cancer, I can tell you that for her sake, I sure wish a Kennedy had had mesothelioma in, say 1995, and in a relentless drive to survive, spurred the medical community to find a way to cure him.

reader_iam said...

Well, sh*t. I'm sorry I said anything here, on this thread--as, by the way, I am sorry I said anything on the " 'McCain in '08! McCain in '08!... No-bama! No-bama!'" thread. What an f'n waste of time, pretty much all the way 'round.

reader_iam said...

(Theo: Thanks.)

Joan said...

I guess you'd protest to any cancer survivor being called brave or courageous?

I am kind of sick of it, yes.


Rev's not the only one. (Linked post is a few years old but just as relevant today as ever.)

Chip Ahoy said...

The thing is, when they go poking around your brain, who knows what that touches off later on? I'm speaking from experience here, because I had it all wrong and an oncologist acquaintance straightened me out on it. When surgeons removed an unsightly lump on my head, they went through my cranium to pull and cut at something which left an unsightly dent. Lump, dent, little difference from my point of view. The removal of the foreign thing that was sent off to be biopsied tugged on something central that left me feeling like I was severely sunburned in specific patches on my chest and around my waist. Patches that moved, from day to day. For a good full nine months. It was most disconcerting and uncomfortable. I mentioned this to that oncologist friend and added that now I understood why anesthesiologists are so often sued. He goes, "What?" "You have it all wrong." It was the removal of the thing inside your head that touched off the new sensation, not the anesthesia." I go, "Oh. That makes sense" I wouldn't wish that discomfort on anybody, no matter who they left to drown whilst drunk, nor whatever misguided political power they pull for however unendurably long. But I wouldn't consider surviving such an ordeal particularly heroic either, not in the sense of say, the nineteen year old Ross McGinnis recently awarded the Medal of Honor for throwing himself on a grenade to save the lives of four of his comrades, or the Federal Reserve Bank employee who way back in 1982 spontaneously leapt into the freezing ice-encrusted Potomac river to save the life of the struggling woman, a perfect stranger, too weak to hold on the Mae West thrown to her from a helicopter following the crash of Flight 90 leaving Washington National, a televised event seared indelibly into my impressionable mind as a youth.

I do hope the man recovers. I'd prefer he retire.

Ralph said...

a televised event seared indelibly into my mind as being in 1981, but you are correct. About a year later, I was anxiously awaiting my first airplane takeoff, headed to Miami, on the same runway when the lady in front of me said "Air Florida" to her companion. Thankfully, it was June, or I would have completely freaked.

Pogo said...

I have mixed feelings about this. I don't like to speak ill of the dead, or the ill. And brain cancers are a particularly nasty way to go. It seems the better part of rancor to step aside here and let this fawning piece slide.

The Kennedy family has engendered much ill will in its decades of tenure, from the 1930s to now. Many, including my son's high school history teacher, consider Camelot the apogee of existence, and worship the entire clan, including cousins and all sorts of hangers-on. Others find them a reprehensible bunch, for conflating naked ambition with community service and sacrifice.

Ted was the last brother, and final hope. But he did something quite terrible back in 1969, and despite evading punishment, he has never been able to bury it. It even cost him the presidency. His devout leftism led him to find Reagan such a hindrance to peace he contacted Andropov to help the USSR counter Reagan’s “propaganda” and improve the Soviet's public image in America, an act that in other times would have been called treason.

So how should one respond to the misfortune or passing of a man who is reviled by some, but lauded by others? How to respond to a news article whose obsequiousness pricks, knowing full well that the media will continue to churn out increasingly sycophantic stories as he declines?

It sets one's teeth on edge, to be sure, when one hears praise for a man one finds most undeserving. I cannot wish suffering on him, and take no comfort in marking this sort of end for him. Neither will I praise him, nor permit praise to escalate unchecked by reality.

He is a man, and it's possible some good will come of this, but I remain unable to muster support for him even while I resist a desire to see some justice in this.

I am nothing if not flawed.

MadisonMan said...

My wife and I had the same reaction: He's having this done at Duke? What a kick in the gut to Mass Gen!

Roger J. said...

I do wish Senator Kennedy a full recovery--he isn't responsible for the press coverage, and yes, most patients who undergo brain surgery go through the same procedure. It doesnt make him brave; it only makes him prudent to take advantage of all medical options.

While I do not like Senator Kennedy's politics, he is still a human being, flawed like all of us, and seems to me at the least deserves the public's best wishes for a full recovery.

Tibore said...

I don't like Ted Kennedy much either, given that his philosophy is the epitome of taking liberal dogma and driving it smack into the realm of socialism. But laying into him for the careless, overly fawning words of a writer is too much. People should blame the writer for the overly obsequious phrasing, not the subject.

George said...

God have mercy on us all.

Tibore said...

And Roger J is right: Regardless of any political disagreement, or of any opinion regarding Kopechne, Kennedy is still a human being that deserves at least a modicum of compassion for his cancer. Just because I'd like to see him voted out of office doesn't mean I'm unfeeling for this specific circumstance. Brain tumors are not a curse I'd wish on anyone I don't like.

Tibore said...

"3. Probability of cancer recurring= 100%"

Yeah, Drill Sgt. I did some reading on gliomas. I hate to contemplate this, but for Kennedy's age group, the survival rate is sadly and painfully low: 4.9% (scroll down to the "Survival" section at that link for that figure).

That hurts just reading it.

JDAXC said...

Question: Senator Kennedy, now that you are out of the hospital and appear to be recovering, do you think that the level of medical care you received could be achieved 10 years from today if the Universal Health Care you champion would be enacted?

The Drill SGT said...

Tibore, I think your 4.9% was overly optimistic.

look at the next chart down at the survival rate for the specific cancer.

I read it as 28% survive 1 yer, 8% 2 years, 3% 3 years

now factor in your age curve.

course he can afford the best, so his numbers go up some.'

The Drill SGT said...

particularly that like the UK NHS where they forbid all but the free care.

knoxwhirled said...

I can't forget that Ted Kennedy left a woman, alone and terrified, to die in one of the worst ways imaginable. With that said, I can't bring myself to wish the same for him. I can't imagine how frightened he must be right now and I feel bad for his family.

Joan said...

MadisonMan:My wife and I had the same reaction: He's having this done at Duke? What a kick in the gut to Mass Gen!

Mass General isn't a top-tier cancer treatment hospital. Those would be Sloan Kettering in NY, M.D. Anderson in Houston, and a few others. With something like brain cancer, you go to the best-regarded surgeon, and have your treatment wherever he works.

Kennedy's age does factor heavily in his prognosis. With any cancer, the later the age at which you are diagnosed, the fewer the years you are likely to survive.

Who to blame for this fawning article, Kennedy or the press? The press has been fawning over the Kennedies for decades, why should they stop now? I have no love lost for Teddy, but I still wish the old lion well.

Trooper York said...

Yesterday, President Bush awarded a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor to PFC Ross McGinnis of Knox, PA. He was a 19 year old soldier who was in the gunner’s hatch of Humvee who dived on a grenade and saved the lives of four fellow soldiers on December 4, 2006. The story was on Page 38 of the New York Daily News. I don’t read the New York Times so I don’t know if they covered the story. He was a hero.

I have nothing at all to say about Senator Kennedy.

vet66 said...

Sounds like my last colonoscopy...

Tibore said...

Vet, if you were in for a colonoscopy, and they were working on your head, I think you should find a new doctor.

Just sayin'.

;)

Trooper York said...

Not necessarily. If it were Freder I could totally understand it as he always has his head up his ass.

chuck b. said...

After a post title like that you owe us fish-eye views of flowers and trees.

Pogo said...

You can reach the head via colonoscopy, but only after a running start.

MadisonMan said...

By the way -- how is awake and aware lying perfectly still for hours any different from a normal day in the Senate? The aware part?

Palladian said...

lol

Tibore said...

"By the way -- how is awake and aware lying perfectly still for hours any different from a normal day in the Senate? The aware part?"

No. It's the fact that, in the end, something is accomplished.

Michael_H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael_H said...

Will all of you who insist on posting your hatred for anyone with whom you hold the slightest disagreement please take your load of shit to the Daily Kos? Your invective will pass for chipper and thoughtful conversation over there.

The Althouse neighborhood sometimes becomes so infected with hatred that it is no longer a pleasant and enjoyable place to visit.

Revenant said...

Who are you talking about, Michael?

Michael_H said...

Rev - They know who they are. Neither is one is you.

Paco Wové said...

Neither is one is you.

But I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Paco Wové said...
This comment has been removed by the author.