Monday, January 27, 2014

On Fish Oil and Comas

     How unfortunate that some news reports are focusing on the idea that fish oil can "cure" severe brain injury, did in fact "cure" a teen's severe brain injury. I do indeed criticize the news media for the sensational titles given to many of the articles and reports about Grant Virgin and his awakening from a coma. 

In perusing the results, we learn [from the titles alone] that:
     Fish Oil Helps Son Recover from Brain Injury
     Fish Oil Heals Injured Brain of Teen
     Fish oil cures severe brain damage
     Teen recovers from coma thanks to fish oil
To report that fish oil helps, heals, cures is yellow journalism at the very least. To showcase the family's belief that the fish oil helped is sort of okay. To admit that we do not know is true journalism
[Sampling came from Google search:]

     Sanjay Gupta is a well-qualified physician. He is in fact a neurosurgeon and is associated with Emory University. Here is the link to the video he did for C.N.N.:
A second link [first video on the right side entitled fish oil saves boy's brain?] to the same video:
In reviewing his video, I cannot fault his presentation as one other blogger did. []. The story of a teen who was severely injured and whose parents did not give up on him is a human interest story. Sanjay Gupta did an excellent job in that respect.

     The need for medical research is dire in order to be able to gauge best practices in the treatment of people who are comatose due to serious head trauma. The research of course must be published in respectable peer-review journals, evaluated, and replicated by other research teams in evaluate the anecdotal evidence for the promotion of fish oil or some component in fish oil as a worthy addition to the arsenal for treatment of brain injuries. The research is being done. Until a later time, the Grant Virgin story remains anecdotal only in nature. 

sapphoq reviews says: It is not my intention to cast aspersions on the loving family of Grant Virgin. Families naturally want to do something to help their severely injured family members. It is certainly not easy for a parent to be told that nothing can be done at the present time for their child until a coma runs its course. [N.B.: I also would have challenged the doctor from the emergency room.] I was glad to know that Grant Virgin received competent and specific therapies for his traumatic brain injury after his release from the hospital. I wish him and his parents the very best.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Even Better

     The bird was hanging upside down from the feeder. He was almost frozen. He was not a happy bird. He was having a bad day-- no, not a bad moment-- a bad day. The weather had been miserably cold for a week. I found him there, removed him, and took him inside to warm him up. I set him free outside and he sang hosannas of gratitude.

     No. That's not how it happened. I saw him there upside down, his feet frozen to a metal part of the underside of the bird feeder. I wasn't sure if he was dead or alive or in torpor or what. After some hesitation, I wrapped him in a yellow towel and took him inside. He made no noise whatsoever. His legs were messed up and at odd angles. If he was dead, it would have been a mercy.

     I warmed him up by the radiator on the off-chance that he could be saved. The kitten came up and inspected him.

     I put the bird still wrapped in the yellow towel in a basket in a tree in the sun. He was not there the next morning. I figured that either he had flown away or that a desperate hungry hawk or something ate him. He was back in the thick of nature however it went.

    The fiction that I had definitely saved the little bird is preferable to what actually happened. We don't like messy endings in general. We don't like to read about little birds that might be dead or might have been eaten by a bigger bird. We want everything as it was before or even better than before.

     But life is not like that. Mother Nature is a real Muther. Nature is cruel and stalking and predatory. Nature does not give one whit about any of our wishes, desires, or dreams. Life happens and death happens. Those who are born do not in any way make up for those who die. Oh perhaps in population statistics but not in any other way.

     Even if the bird flew out of the basket, his life was not the same or even better as it had been before. His legs were injured. Even if they healed up, they were not "good as new." Even if he lived, he certainly was hobbled by his experiences.

sapphoq healing tbi says: Some well-meaning people want us to be like we were before whatever happened to each one of us that left us with damaged brains. They gush at us "Oh isn't it wonderful that the brain rewires itself?" We are beyond their gushing. We know that we are beyond magical yoga retreats and fish oil and stupid talk of brains putting themselves back together again "even better" than before.
     Think before you open your mouth to impart some fake cure or false hope. Chances are, we don't want to hear those lies. Tell us to keep working at those things that we are re-learning. Tell us that each of us has to be in charge of our own rehab. Tell us that our lives are different. Tell us that life is neither fair nor unfair. Life is sacred and nothing is promised to us. 

     No, I am not "better off" than I was before the day that my life changed forever. No, brains do not rewire themselves to be exactly the way they used to be. Yes, I certainly do have a life today. This is not the life that I signed up for but it is mine. I keep striving to work around my deficits. I keep challenging my brain. I keep doing the things that I learned that I must do for myself in order to have some kind of a life. It is easy to sit around and mope because I have brain damage now. It is better to force myself to participate in my life. It is even better to work for what I consider to be worth working for. And having a life-- even if it is a different life now-- is certainly worth working for.