Two remarkable folks

I just drove two hours into France, and of course had time to think. One thing kept coming back very powerfully.

I kept thinking how much I hope Jules’ parents know and feel the support and energy of what are certainly hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of fans worldwide. That’s a lot of parallel processing. Sure can’t hurt.

And I kept thinking that I hope they understand how grateful we are for their courage in talking to us through an simple honest press release.


47 thoughts on “Two remarkable folks

  1. I read an interview given by Jules Bianchi and reported by the BBC today. He shows how it could have been handled for Schumacher. It is like night and day. Everyone else can learn from Bianchi’s parents exactly what it is like to have to deal with something like this. It is a very warm and open approach.

    With regard the approach taken in handling the Schumacher case it was a fairly cold and closed approach. Such an approach led to a huge amount of criticism when others like Massa and Hamilton made open comments on Schumacher’s condition or of their hopes and wishes for him.

  2. Gary
    Amen to that. Prayers, of course, for Jules.
    Regarding Michael – I, too, am holding off until info is confirmed. Prematurely, if it is true, I will be… well, let’s wait and see.

  3. Thank you for your comments. My whole family appreciates the updates, however small they may be. We don’t need all the details and don’t want to invade any privacy, but we don’t forget him, worry about him and pray for him, so even to hear something, anything is comforting in some way. It is easier to deal with something you know, than something you can imagine

  4. It would be nice to think that Corinna Schumacher or Sabine Kehm have been in touch with the Bianchis to offer private support. It does seem a strange small world. Jean Todt’s son, Nicolas Todt manages Jules Bianchi (plus Massa and Maldonado) and is there at the hospital and of course Jean Todt visited Michael Schumacher only last week.

    I know what you think about Jean Todt Gary but he must be learning an awful lot about severe brain injury this year and I wonder if this will affect his attitude to safety in F1 (and your helmet petition of course!). He has more of less confirmed that Schumacher is still in a minimally conscious state via his mistranslated interview this week.

    Another rather stage thing is that Michael Schumacher’s son Mick is now racing as Mick Jr rather than under his mother’s maiden name and has been pictured in the UK press a couple of times recently, coming second in junior go-karting. It’s almost as if he can be seen in public now that his father can’t, as has in some way inherited his father’s crown.

  5. Dr. Hartstein,

    Just wanted to say that I really appreciate your blog. As an Emergency Medicine physician and F1 fan I have had admiration for what you do since I was a med student watching the races at home. Throughout Shumacher’s ordeal last winter I was very impressed with your ability to provide concise information that was appropriate for both the layman and a those with formal training. Now I find myself looking to your website again for updates on Mr. Bianchi.

    Thank you for your efforts! You are appreciated.

  6. Think it depends on who we’re dealing with. I always got the impression that in Michael Schumacher’s case there was always a slight sense of resentment at having to share information at all. In Jules Bianchi’s case I get the opposite impression, reinforced by the voluntary addition of a bracketed technical explanation of what a Diffuse Axonal injury broadly is. It is like they are saying “we are sharing this with you and as his fans and supporters we really want you to understand what has happened to our son” It is a remarkable and extremely generous of them for which we are all extremely grateful.
    I think it’s also worth pointing out that it has been a long time since an injured driver (and let’s group Michael Schumacher in this, even if his injury happened off the track) was grievously injured but survived, albeit in induced comas and with a rather dismal prognosis.
    The situation in both Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger cases was very different as they sadly succumbed to their injuries within a sort period and so we are dealing with a relative unknown in terms of what information on a driver’s condition the fans should reasonably expect.
    Lastly let us also bear in mind Jules Bianchi’s girlfriend Camille. At the tender age of 24 years old she is having to deal with this dreadful situation, made worse by the videos of his accident being online. Her loving posts addressed to him on Twitter have touched me more than anything else ….

  7. Interesting aspect of possible contractual obligations to update on status of active drivers.
    Does anyone know more about that ?

    Let’s not forget SCHU had an accident as a private person in a private environment.
    Criticizing Kehm for not being a native speaker is a bit harsh, given her position now managing an EX-F1driver, where statements usually are prepared in a calmer situatuion.
    She could also stick to “German only please” and some people would be even more upset.
    Not too sure, all extremely multilingual armchair communication professionals here just met their relative or friend in coma 10 minutes ago. I guess the quality of recent statements has improved though and the frequency of updates imho is totally the families own decision. Not too sure they like JT speaking to the media like that givent the obvious risks of misinterpretion.

    Big thanks to Gary for the valuable information especially yesterday afternoon.
    It is sad you need independent knowledgeable people blogging, to enhance and adjust what you get in the mass media, who are still going about the (totally appropriate) green flag, the role of the marshals etc. without at least asking questions about speed, flag rules or other contributing factors.

    All the best to Jules and Michael and their families and friends !!

    • It is perhaps sad that world media is not a solid source of knowledge. What’s wonderful though, is that independent knowledgeable people have the opportunity through social media to make the voice of sanity heard. What’s even more encouraging is that Jules’ parents can sense the support they have all over the world. If they can feel it, surely Jules can also, and this must only be good news.

      Wishing all the best to all involved.

  8. I’ve often wondered if in these situations the families see us as morbid vultures demanding to know every gruesome detail or as supporters concerned about a member of their family as if he were one of our own.
    I’m glad with the Bianchis it seems to be the latter. Let us all continue to support them in whatever small ways we can.

      • In the case of the Schumachers I don’t thnk I would call it shame. I think it’s more a reluctance to allow people to see how far he may have fallen. They hide him because they don’t want gawkers which they they would get. I have to admire those who are upfront with it all saying it is what it is. We are dealing with it and you will have to deal with it too.

      • Gina,
        With your mention of “shame” you have addressed the very thought I had regarding the Schumacher family’s managing of information after Michael’s accident. I wonder if they have been, in effect, hiding Michael from the world as though, now shrunken and bed-ridden, he is an object of shame.

        Perhaps they had pictured Michael as some kind of superman, or wanted to maintain that celebrated image, rather than the more ordinary, fallible human being we all are in one way or another. For an icon to be taken out by a mere rock, and at apparently a slow speed at that, lacks the heroic grandeur befitting the demise of the Great Man. It makes his story unbalanced, unsatisfying at the end, and one is left thinking of Ozymandias. . . .

      • I’ve worked in inpatient and community-based rehab for traumatic brain injury and spinal injury. Most families I’ve met haven’t expressed shame, but have expressed frustration about how slow and unpredictable rehab can be. Some adults I’ve worked with take many months to relearn how to do very simple tasks, like holding cutlery or putting on a shirt. In a rehab setting, these can be enormous milestones to be celebrated. But at the same time they are a difficult reminder of how much was lost and how much is still to go.

      • God Emma thanks for that – this kind of information is SO useful and interesting for me, because once the patient is out of the acute phase, I as an anaesthetist never see them again, unless they come back for imaging studies by our Coma Science Group!

      • Mimi wrote: ” I think it’s more a reluctance to allow people to see how far he may have fallen. ”

        I agree with Mimi on this and that’s one of the reasons I found the treatment of the Schumacher tragedy so annoying. There shouldn’t be anything socially unacceptable about being injured. It’s simply very sad. The implication that Schumacher had somehow “fallen” reminded me of the way breast cancer was treated when I was a child…. a lot of silly embarrassment. The result back then was that the public was uninformed about breast cancer.

        The public & the media need to grow up about head injuries. They aren’t shameful– they’re simply tragic. Sharing medical information helps everybody. We all have human bodies.

  9. It was pretty powerful. The strength these parents have, despite the terrible hours until now, despite the grim news, to have updated us… Their family must be truly something else. Everyone on the medical family (myself included, being an ER doctor) have witnessed superhuman strength in families going through hard times with a loved one. The Bianchis just did that and for that we must be grateful, for they have shared something extremely intimate and painful with us.
    A warm salute for Jules’es parents.
    And from Chile, from this cold and rainy corner of the world, my thanks to you, Gary, for this kind words.
    Keep fighting, Jules.

    • By releasing that information, they have allowed them space and time to deal with the next hurdle. At first thought it seems counter productive and invasive to release that information but it isn’t as give the family the space that is required.

      Brave brave family.
      Keep fighting jules.

  10. Well said. I was very grateful to the family for releasing an update. Praying for a good outcome for Jules and the family get the support they need.

  11. I have read a report that has said “Schumacher ‘can live normal life again’ – Todt ” Has there been any further information given or is this maybe a hoax report . . .

    • It’s a mistranslation of something he said in French – ignore it, it’s garbage. He spoke to RTL and was asked something like ‘will Schumacher be able to lead normal life again’ and he answered ‘this is what we all must hope for’ which is totally different. I wish the press would use good old google translate rather than repeating garbage.

    • He was regrettably misreported or more likely mistranslated by both The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.
      The most positive thing he said was “one can hope things improve for him”

  12. The Bianchi family show great respect to millions of strangers tied to them through the affection and concern we hold for Jules. We are deeply touched by their consideration.

  13. So very refreshing to have an honest and clear press release from the parents ending any chance of speculation. I admire their courage in such a tragic time x

    • With respect, I don’t believe this is only the result of parents’ goodwill. Yes, a patient’s medical information is usually private. However F1 is a business, and businesses run on contracts. I would expect there are some very clear contractual obligations within the drivers’ contracts, and also teams’ contracts (e.g. with sponsors), regarding notification of significant events affecting a party’s capacity to fulfill terms of the contract. Also, good PR management in times of crisis is very important in business. Hence I’m not convinced that the two professors are there solely for the benefit of the parents (although their expertise is undoubtedly comforting).

  14. …. and handled professionally by the Marussia team who had the statement translated into coherent English, which is in stark contrast to the tortuous language at times given out by the Schumacher clan whose English translation seemed at times translated by a 6 year old.
    I see once again we are in a situation today where Jean Todt is wholly misquoted, in what he had to say about his visit to visit Michael last week, and so once again those of us that are interested are misled and given wholly false hope.

  15. Totally agree. I do, however have respect for the different approach taken by Sabine Kehm too. Different people, different approach. Both demand respect and support. What’s best for the family matters most.

  16. Here here. And I understand Richard Hammond had something similar and largly recovered, so there is reason to have hope.

    Are we entitled to know? No. Can we sympathise now we do? Yes. Different approach to Shumachers. Don’t know what I would do in same position.


    • For those who are interested the doctors treating Richard Hammond gave a statement predicting a good recovery for Richard Hammond on the Friday – he was injured on Wednesday 20th Sept 2006. Jeremy Clarkson and James May were with him in intensive care and Clarkson wrote his Sun column about it on the Saturday. He was there when Hammond sat up in bed and went to the toilet only the next day. Completely different injury.

  17. Well said, I totally agree there. Huge shame Corrina clamped down on the Schumi news. We don’t know if he’s sat in front of their TV reading the papers or in a vegetive state, not knowing anything or anyone. Forza Jules, Forza Schumi!

    • There is ONE family that concludes that it matters not what they tell the public because it changes nothing. And if they believe in prayer they have to know they are going to get a load of them.

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