Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Need To Know

On December 15, 2019 Joe Biden's physician released "a summary of the medical and surgery history" of the former vice-president. The summary included quite a bit of detail, including the usual, as well as the prescription medication he is prescribed for "standard anticoagulation" and for gastroesophageal reflux, as well as the over-the-counter medicine for sinus symptoms.

Release of Biden's records may have been motivated by release of Elizabeth Warren's medical records on December 6, wherein Dr. Beverly Woo described her as being "in excellent health." Of course, when candidates for political office release letters from their physician or even full medical records, they are typically characterized by their doctor as healthy as an ox. However

Woo also disclosed Warren's "only" condition is hypothyroidism, a common auto-immune condition most often in women.

"She currently takes levothyroxine 0.88 mg per day, which restores her thyroid hormone level to normal," wrote Woo, who has been Warren's doctor since 1999.

Warren's Thyroid Stimulating Hormone level, released as part of her medical records, suggests her hypothyroidism is well controlled. Results of her blood test and vital signs were within normal limits.

Senator Warren also had received a flu shot. Whatever its benefit or risk for the general population, that was a wise decision. Were the Senator to contract the flu, she might be subjected to similar vitriol as faced presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who contracted pneumonia in September, 2016 and practically declared dead by some political opponents. Like Mrs. Clinton, Ms. Warren is a woman.

The New York Times conducted an interview of Bernard Sanders amidst its other interviews of presidential candidates leading to its endorsement of one on January 19. It could not avoid asking the Vermont senator "Now I’d like to turn to your health for a moment. Do you know when you plan to release your complete health records to the public?"

We hope to — I want to make sure that it is complete. So we hope to do that, the goal is by the end of the year. I won’t swear to you. It may be a few days later, or a week or two later, but we will release them fully.

So we hope to do that, the goal is by the end of the year. In an interview otherwise blasted by supporters as biased against Senator Sanders, the editorial board here conspicuously left the candidate off the hook. Next up was the puff question "what are you doing to take care of yourself now?" ("If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?")

Declaring something a "goal," of course, is a means to avoid responsibility.  Millions of boys and girls in the USA aim one day to become a rich and famous athlete, a goal probably fewer than 1% of them will attain. My goal is to live to be 100 and healthy until the end. Spoiler alert: ain't gonna happen.

Bernard Sanders is more likely to achieve his goal. And why shouldn't he? It's to release his medical records by the end of the year, which is, to those keeping score at home, approximately eight weeks after the presidential election. By that time, either Sanders will have been elected President and looking forward to being inaugurated roughly a month later. Or he will have been defeated in the general election or earlier, in which case few people outside of the State of Vermont will care about his health.

Given that The New York Times failed to follow up on Sanders' pledge to release his records (maybe) until after the election, it is not unnecessary to point out that this is too late.  The media must demand full medical records of all the candidates- and especially of the incumbent, obviously not a well man.   If they are not released- as in the case of Donald Trump- this should be made into a major issue. Because it is.

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