A comment about comments

As you’ve all noticed, I don’t get very involved with the comments on my blogs. I get an email when each comment is posted, and make a point to read every one. I’ll say something when a comment has been particularly vicious, gratuitous, and personal. My theory being that if they stab you, you shoot them, if they shoot you, you burn their house down . . . that kind of idea. Or I’ll say something when there’s a clear misinterpretation of what I’d posted, or a clear need for some medical information.

Remember, this is my first, and only, blog. Having comments at all was a surprise. That people would take the time to think about what they wanted to say, then actually TYPE it and send it was quite amazing to me. And of course, I had to think carefully about how was I going to deal with this unexpected phenomenon – was I going to be interactive, chatty, available, or rather a bit removed.

As you can tell, I chose the latter attitude. Besides not having the time to continually interact, the great majority of comments express opinions, or ask questions, that either just need to be stated, or don’t require answers, or are answered by subsequent commenters.

Stepping back just a tad, in order to grab some perspective, I think it’s useful to point out that what brought the vast majority of my readers here is my slant on what’s been happening with Michael. So it’s pretty inevitable that sooner or later this kind of situation would lead to people, already very involved emotionally with the shock and unexpectedness of this tragedy, to express their thoughts about some VERY deeply personal issues. The nature and limits of privacy, the meaning of respecting a grieving family’s wishes, the nature of fandom and how that exchange works when it’s not all about fireworks and Ferrari tee shirts anymore, right down to advanced directives and end-of-life decisions. At risk of sounding trite, what we have in common is our humanity, our concern for all victims of seemingly random life-changing events, and a desire to learn and understand more. This has sure pushed me into exploring an area of medicine with which I was only indirectly involved (persistent disorders of consciousness; I’m usually only really involved in the acute phase of head injury, not this less “medical” phase).

It’s normal and expected that the powerfully held, deeply felt, and strongly expressed opinions jostle each other, bang against each other, sometimes even crash into each other.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m as cynical, sarcastic, and “noir” as anyone I know. Actually a damned sight more than most people I know. That said, I’d love it if we could get back to making the comments section an enriching, respectful place, where opinions can be challenged without the holder being attacked. A place where even the most seemingly difficult statements are considered in their context, and if necessary, clarification sought . . . before the Uzis come out. By trying to keep in mind everything we have in common we might just be able to take the edge off the things that make us each unique.

I’m going to start a series of posts reprising something I did when I first started tweeting – the sequence of events starting with an accident and ending with the patient being evac’d from the circuit Medical Centre. This format (a blog) gives me the possibility to do so with a few more than 140 characters! Aiming at a first installment later today, but that depends on how wrathful the Gods of the ER prove to be.


52 thoughts on “A comment about comments

  1. “I think it’s useful to point out that what brought the vast majority of my readers here is my slant on what’s been happening with Michael”

    That may have been the way that many of us discovered your blog, Doc, but I think a lot of us will stick around in future. I’ve greatly enjoyed what you’ve written, including the medical response information you’ve been revisiting in more recent posts.

  2. “…the family will do whatever it takes to protect him and his image.”

    Hi Mimi,
    Good point. We are also being spared. I speak from experience that seeing family members and close friends in coma or after death, is an image that never leaves one’s mind. When I think of my father my brain has to plow past his yellow, shrunken body, to the tall and handsome man he was.
    I don’t think it is difficult to imagine MS in his coma – there are many photos online showing coma patients with little variation – but until we actually see HIS image with our eyes we can continue to “see” Michael in his glory years. I prefer being spared seeing him now and have to thank the family for that.

  3. Of course, his progress and treatment will be completely private if and when he goes to a rehab facility. It’s not going to be pretty as you saw in that CBS clip and the family will do whatever it takes to protect him and his image.

  4. ‘Signs of progress’ for Schu -from Sky Sports website… http://m.skysports.com/article/formula1//9264868

    Michael Schumacher is “showing small signs of progress” as he slowly recovers from devastating brain injuries suffered in a skiing accident. “There are short moments of consciousness and he is showing small signs of progress,” Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm told German broadcaster ARD. “There are moments when he is awake and moments when he is conscious. “Of course I am not a doctor, but medically, there is a distinction between being awake and being conscious, the latter meaning there is an ability to interact with his surroundings. “I don’t want to disclose details out of respect for the family, but we have no doubt at all in the abilities of the doctors treating Michael, they are experts in their field.” Kehm stressed that any interaction with Schumacher is “on a very limited basis” and added that “a medical prognosis is not possible” due to the nature of his brain injury. Schumacher has been in a medically induced coma in Grenoble, France, since being badly injured in a skiing accident on December 29 in the French resort of Meribel. Kehm said Schumacher’s family have been touched by a deluge of tributes and support from fans of the Formula One legend, but constant media speculation, particularly in German newspapers, has caused the family some anguish. “What upsets the family most is media quoting doctors who are not treating Michael and untruths are constructed from these,” said Kehm. “It has been a problem when outsiders comment and it means we have to set the record straight, even when we don’t want to.”

      • Hi Jan S, going by the above, it reads that the moments are short so I suppose what we need to hope for is the moments becoming longer over time and more meaningful. As the Doc had mentioned previously, there is a distinction between ‘conscious’ and ‘awake’ which Sabine has addressed further with regards to the understanding of the words. I do wish I understood German as I would like to have seen the programme instead of relying on the edited highlights being published on the internet. From what I understand, the programme was more to do with how the press deals with these things and not about how MS is currently, ie the ‘media intrusion’. I do think that the family and medical team have done very well to keep as much private as they have, especially in the face of overwhelming worldwide interest.

        It does seem that SK did elaborate a little more but in no great detail. Something I did read this morning was that SK did also say that if and when MS goes to a rehabilitation facility, there will be no more press releases regarding his progress and his treatment from thereon will become completely private.

  5. Günther Jauch http://daserste.ndr.de/guentherjauch/

    When I read the name Gunther Jauch I assumed he was a prominent German neurologist leading a panel of other prominent German physicians who would present an analysis of Schumacher’s condition and prognosis. After 3 1/2 months with almost no information coming from the family, it seemed a generous thing to do. So I went to the Jauch website and see that he is a talk show host and the panel are journalists, a TV producer, and sport photographer. In other words, Ms. Kehm is going to lead a panel of Speculators. She must have a great sense of humor!

  6. Please someone let us know what SK had to say. I just read that she said he is still in the wake up phase and to dismiss all other reports that we may have read. Does that mean he is not in and out of consciousness etc? Maybe that was an old briefing. It was dated the 12th.

    • You wait and see Peter, I bet you she says nothing more then its none of the fans business concerning Michael Schumacher. I certainly hope someone here will translate the proceedings.

      • …. what I am uncomfortable with is her statement that once Michael goes into rehab there will NO more statements forthcoming.
        I stick pretty much by what I have already said – in particular the prickly nature of the Schumacher family (father and son) – but I do feel if they will try and write Michael out of history and try and make us forget him they really will feel a backlash from fans which will only serve to drive them further into a bizarre confrontation with Michael’s legacy.
        I say again … Sabine is just there to say what she is told to say. I think it is the Schumacher family that are pulling the strings.

  7. Could still be reasonably good news if obeying commands by 6 months. Keep hoping – in recent study patients anaethetized 3 weeks after injury had better prognosis at one year than those in natural coma or veg state. Crucial time points are 3 weeks following injury, 3 months following injury and 1 year following injury. After 1 year prognosis pretty bleak.

    • Yes Liza, you did take it upon yourself to speak for Michael..I didn’t misread your comment and nowhere have I ‘ran’ my mouth off..there is certainly enough of that taking place by certain other commenters here. No need for you to continue to fan the flames. Thank you for ‘centering’ me out. Using the correct word in what you are trying to say may help you express yourself more accurately. Just a suggestion 🙂

      • I take it back DanF1. You are definitely NOT an intelligent guy. Pray tell, what would have been the correct word? You obviously have some sort of cognitive impairment when it comes to reading & understanding English. I NEVER MEANT TO SPEAK FOR ANYONE BUT MYSELF. I apologise to all who felt I spoke for them.
        If you don’t like what I’m saying, will you please TRY to muster some maturity, just enough to ignore my posts, since you can’t comprehend what I’m saying. Or are you just trying to get a rise out of me? Its clear that you don’t like me or my opinions, so why don’t you just leave me alone? Or are you a trouble maker? I think you are, so go ahead, prove me wrong.

  8. Looks like this blog is going to turn into a circus just like the previous one with certain posters. Time everyone stopped with the bitchiness, this is supposed to be about Michael, no one else, if all this nit picking carries on I wouldn’t be surprised if the good Dr stopped his blogs and I cant say I would blame him and if that happened it would be a damn shame.

    • Why can’t you just let it go instead of ragging on it constantly. Just say what you need to say and move on. You know we all hang on your every word. Try it, you might like it.

      • Mimi, who the hell do you think you are? as you said to one other Poster “time to put your big girl panties on”. You sound like a very spoilt typical Yankee child, Don’t you think it is time to GROW UP. Do us a favour and be on your way.

      • Instead of policing comments, and dictating to others why don’t you try to contribute to this blog without being a condescending nag? Try THAT, you might like it!

      • DanF1 …. with all due respect, why don’t you take your own advice? May I suggest you lead by example. I’m only centering you out because You accused ME of speaking for Michael in a previous post. You completely misread my comment and ran your mouth off. Stop policing comments yourself. You’re an intelligent guy, don’t throw grease into the fire. Please & thank you.

  9. No need for apology, Liza!!! My post was not directed to you. And, honestly I’m not angry. Well, no more than usual. ;)))))))))

  10. I’ve been reading that Mimi said this and that….if you want to know what Mimi said or meant, ask Mimi.
    To me this all boils down to quality of life. Is living in any capacity more important than quality of life? That CBS clip was a real eye opener for me
    None of us have anything to guide us when we write…it’s all heresay, conjecture and someone surmising the situation when there are no facts to go on.
    I’ve said before, time will tell. I wish only the best and a speedy recovery for MS..

    • Hi Mimi ….. I have always agreed with you, so I’m at a loss as to why you are so angry. It seems your post is directed at me, so I will apologise. It appeared to me the comment Jason was grilling you about was self explanatory. I was merely pointing that out. Once again, I am sorry.

  11. Peter ….. I hope there was a hint of sarcasm in your post to Jason. You, my dear, have nothing to apologise for. It wasn’t you who posted that inappropriate morbid phrase in the first place. You are far from stupid. IMHO, Jason is the one lacking some basic understanding of language at times. If only he had read Mimi’s next sentence. Therein lay the answer to his question.

  12. “…what we have in common is our humanity, our concern for all victims of seemingly random life-changing events…”
    I’m so glad you said that because we all share a commonality with the Schumacher family in that we have family members and close friends who will die. We are helpless in the face of this reality. The best we can do is hope there is a minimal amount of suffering in the process. Mimi posed the question : would [Michael] want to live like that [in vastly diminished capacity]? Would any of us? We can’t know his options, nor can we know our own. I do know one can complete all the Advanced Directive forms, give clear orders to friends and family, and yet still be stranded in a hospital room somewhere hooked up to god knows what tubes. Much has been written about this, but there are no assurances last wishes will be respected.

  13. Many people, thousands, now know more about head injury through reading your blog, Dr Gary. Many people now presumably know not to overlook head injuries, if they occur, I think, during sports events or otherwise. Think this is important.

  14. Actually, I think there are a lot more people who now know what and who FormerF1Doc is and what its is about. But that said I also foud it very strange that those lot of people did not go and read directly what Doc said in all that posts… All of my friends know I love F1.. So they often asked me, in the lack of info regarding Michaels fight, what are oulooks for him.. So I simply said, go to FormerF1Doc site and read for yourself to see what is the mans opinion, don´t read the oder media ” quoting ” him… To my general sadness, none of them has not done so. Funny, but sad…

  15. Do you have any data about how widely your blog is read? Simply based on the number of references to it that I have seen (post MSC’s accident) in motor sport groups and the numbers of people I have personally advised to read it (and I suspect the similar actions of others), your views have attracted a very large audience. Central to that has been your ability to create a very valuable awareness of the risks and frequency of acquired brain injuries, as well as the measures that should be taken to prevent and mitigate such injuries, and the preferred post-event actions that should be taken. Thanks to the (I think) extensive awareness that you have created through this blog, MSC’s tragedy and JT’s patronage his of mates may have both led to an unexpectedly good outcome which may not have happened in the absence of either. Thank you for your efforts.

    • Hi Leon. Thanks for your kind (and encouraging) words.

      So far, and as of 12:47 PM CET:
      569,455 total views
      1372 views today.

      No idea how that compares to some “real” bloggers, but kinda blows me away thinking that a half million pairs of eyes have read my posts!

      Not sure anything concrete will come from any of this. At this point, all I can do is say HERE what I’d normally say at a Medical Commission meeting. And hope someone’s listening.

  16. The truth is, I know s*it about this mumbo-jumbo happening right now. I got some understanding from Gary, but only to the point that non-medical person can process. I too got excited about MSC assuming that is better and can only get better from now on. Don’t get me wrong, this is better than anything happening before, but… I want to know where we go from now on, so Gary, if you got time or even patience…
    Now, as for the comments- being too personaly involved in all this, hurting just like it was someone from my own family and having read every single post from Gary’s blog- I was wounded when he wrote worst case scenario or when worst case scenario was about to happen, but I was thankful he took the time to explain everything. I didn’t like it at all, but I surely can’t blame Gary for the things that he can’t control. He writes from his point, I say ‘ok Gary, I heard you’ but thats it! I still have my own thinking about it, as probably wont accept it. Everyone has their own thinking, but don’t you think Gary is also extremely glad he wasn’t right?

  17. Study Joe’s blog. You post there sometimes, he gets a huge range of comments from sycophantic, to vicious, to pig ignorant, to amiably dumb. I often act as agent provocateur (what spelling?) Joe manages to dispense the right level of admonishment or agreement and shows an extended degree of tolerance for all of the above, which is admirable if a little too accommodating at times. Why he spends quite so much unpaid time on the blog is a mystery, but one for which we are grateful.

      • Great blog indeed !! No Fish Oil and pillow smothering comments on him…! On the whole short and to the point …. Lucky fellow!
        If I understand “rpaco” correctly, I agree ….you should maybe consider whipping us into shape just a BIT more!!
        Free speech was hard won and should after be exercised responsibly ! 🙂

      • Aside ……..

        Peter: It is interesting how you have in several comments now repeated the phrase “pillow smothering” without making any effort or attempt to place the comment in which it first appeared in the proper context that it was mentioned. Specifically, as should be clear from any intelligent person willing to make an effort, and as can be checked by going back to the comments: it was in response to the following comment of Mimi which was:

        Mimi: “just watched the clip from CBS. Sorry, but to me that is not living. Do you really think MS would want to live like that? Do you think he would want to go out in public? If that is going to be as good as it gets….my heart just breaks for the family and him. He will need constant care…24 hours. What’s the answer?”

        Please explain to me Peter or anyone else for that matter what Mimi is implying by asking the question “What’s the answer?”. Is that a real question or a rhetorical question. If it was a rhetorical question what was the implication?

        It was in response to this comment of Mimi, that my comment was made – in order to try to draw out from Mimi what exactly the logical implication of her statement was. It was part of a specific dialogue. Mimi avoided the question while some others, including you, have seized upon it in isolation in order to project your own spin on my contributions.

        Look, I preferred to remain quiet and to let the matter rest – but you have now repeated the phrase “pillow smothering” several times when you had the opportunity to let it rest. It is in the context of your insistence in using this phrase out of its original context and as an excuse to stop a previous line of dialogue that I felt needed balancing in this comment.

        I bear no ill will to you or anyone else I just work in an environment where there are certain expectations in regards to discussion and quality of debate. I am interested in what people say rather than the people that are saying it.

        End of Aside

      • Jason
        I hope I am putting this in the right place.
        Thank you for your comments. I have noted what you have to say.
        Something along the lines of “2 wrongs don’t make a right” would seem reasonably appropriate here as well as saying the staggeringly graphic pair of words “pillow smothering” would seem about the last expression you would expect to see on a blog ostensibly about Michael Schumacher.
        But you seem to be insinuating I am not very intelligent. I am afraid you are perfectly right, which is why I shall decline to say any more on the subject.
        I apologise for having distracted your attention from weightier matters..

  18. Hello,
    I write you because I don’t know how to go to anymore. I have tried the hole F1 and not only. It is about Michael Schumacher. I know you get thousands of messages from fish oil tips to sorcerers advise, and you can’t read all, but I hope that my message is different.
    I’ve recived the only positive answer from Support Corinna Schumacher and the family facebook, and I don’t know if my message made it to Michael’s family or to Sabine Kehm. In the end of the message I send you my message to them. Please read it. I would like you to help me so that the message get’s to who it needs the get to. I don’t want anything in excenge, just to help Michael.

    Thank you,
    Adrian Vatafu


    Thank you for your answer, a little later than I expected, but this is good also. I’ve sent you my message in English ans German so it would be better understood. I wanted my message to get to Michael’s family as soon as possible. I still don’t know if it did. I am convinced that prays help a lot but in a spiritual way. Michael needs help now, not in heaven…

    The message is simple. In Germany there is a person (Eva Negyessi) That is a Prananadi Master and can help Michael very much, through energetic methods which have nothing to do with regular medicine. It has cured worse cases than Michael’s. If she can’t help him she will ask her master for her or maybe a master from Nepal. Nobody guarantees anything but it is an extra big chance for Michael and it would be a shame to miss it.
    This is Mrs. Eva’s site: http://www.prananadi.de/index.html
    I would like to ask you that this message gets to his family or to Sabine Kehm. After that it is their choice. As soon as possible!
    Please send me a message if you were able to do this.

    Thank you,
    Adrian Vatafu

    • Adrian …… I suggest you send the information directly to Corina Schumacher at the Grenoble Hospital, as I understand she does read the letters sent to her. At this point I think she might appreciate any alternative medical possibility.

    • Hi Peter
      It’s good to see you back. Here is a hyperlink re: fish oil aka Omega 3’s which I know you know: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23363551
      As in the utilization of Ambien for TBI, no one ever thought…. and now the folks in the know are really looking into drugs similar. If you are willing to take a moment and Google TBI and Omega 3’s, I believe that you will find more than enough early information that may persuade you to reevaluate your earlier posture. Then again, so many ideas in/for medicine have been chuckled at until they proved their worth. All I am saying is that apparently it worked once as did Ambien. Then the studies, which I believe started over two years ago progressed – and who knows from there.

      I do know that when others say that there is nothing that we can do, someone refuses to quit. Sometimes the impossible occurs…

      It’s all above my pay grade. Anyway, again, good to have you back.

      • Thanks for your kind words again KC.
        As for Fish Oil …. I am afraid I feel that if the eminent surgeons treating Michael, at the very top of their profession, felt the use of Fish Oil might benefit his situation, they would use it.
        If they felt it might not benefit his situation, they would not.
        I would not be so presumptuous as to pass comment, judgements or make suggestions as to what they, or other surgeons in their situation should or should not do.
        Also, I have in 60 years never “experienced miracles” nor have I witnessed ‘the impossible’ happening. But that is not to say others haven’t.
        Sorry. 🙂

      • What I missed out in my reply was to say that either way, Michael Schumachers surgeons will certainly have heard of Fish Oil … There are shelves full of it in supermarkets (Waitrose here in the UK even have heir own branded packages of it) – I did once check the labeling and have to admit I failed to notice the instruction which says “super effective in the treatment of TBI when all else has failed”

    • Its a brilliant idea Peter, unfortunately I fear some folks lack the cognitive comprehension & thusly will interpret “140 characters” to mean 140 words or more, 🙂 as is already apparent by the ” Aside” post below. With the exception of Adrian Vatafu, who’s heart is in the right place.

      PS. Sorry Doc, sometimes just can’t control the little devil inside.

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