26 Dec 2007

Stupidity and miracles

The Express editorial here, and the news story that led to it, here, are both misleading... in my humble opinion. I'll explain why in a bit.. but first, let's cover a bit of background information.
Allison Rampersad began suffering with cramps in November 2005 and was first told that it was caused by muscle strain and was not serious. The leg began swelling and she began to drag her feet while walking as the pains increased.

A first operation was performed in January 2006. Internal bleeding continued after the operation and a second operation was done two months later but the bleeding persisted.

She remained in constant need of blood-a rare A Negative blood type.

It was around this time that she was told she would most likely have to lose the leg to live.

Now, the doctors diagnosed according to their expertise... fuelled by their training and experience. More on this in a bit.

She had been told that her left leg was acting like it had a malignant tumour and in order to save her life, the leg would have have had to be amputated. Rampersad, 30, refused.

With 70 pints of blood and three operations during a 19-months stay at the hospital, she was able to walk out of the institution on August 3 this year.

Allison Rampersad defied her doctors and because of that courageous act she is spending her first Christmas in three years on her feet.

Let's deal with the doctors who treated Allison first.

They did diagnose incorrectly, and yes they are at fault because of this. But perhaps there should have been more measures in place to avoid this misdiagnosis; better equipment and readily accessible tests. I know for a fact that doctors in Trinidad do not have some basic lab facilities and/or equipment, and do have to rely on experience to give a correct diagnosis more often than scientific testing. Therefore, I cannot totally blame them for any misleading conclusions... despite the fact that better might have been done.

That being said, this sentence sums up the stupidity of the situation.

Allison Rampersad defied her doctors and because of that courageous act she is spending her first Christmas in three years on her feet.

The forefront of the two stories I linked to highlighted the fact that Allison DEFIED her doctors.

Now, in this case the doctors were wrong in their diagnosis, but not every time or with every patient they will be. Therefore to give the impression to the national population that it is okay to defy your doctors' advice is rather irresponsible of the Express, both reporting and editorial staff alike.

The way I see it, Allison Rampersad had 3 amazing pieces of luck that allows her to be so critical and judgemental today.

  1. She was lucky to be in a country where the government was able and willing to foot her medical bills. Approval was given by former health minister John Rahael to have the blood shipped to Trinidad at a cost of $35,000.
  2. She was able to gain public attention and therefore the attention of the American surgeon who was able to assist... lucky for her he is experienced enough... or maybe he was able to do the necessary checks abroad... the reporter is a bit lax here. Lucky too that he was in the right place at the right time.. else she might have won a Darwin Award.
  3. She is indeed lucky that her condition was actually not as the first misdiagnosis said... else she really would have lost her leg or life. The fact that her condition could be helped is a significant piece of luck. In other words, she was lucky she had what she had, and not what the doctors thought she had.
To me, this woman displayed abject stupidity, but amazingly (miraculously even) lucked out. There is nothing inspirational in her story, (she was just stubborn in refusing the amputation) except to say that Christmas miracles may happen... no matter how dotish an idiot you are.