We have a date, Tuesday 11 November, 5 PM UTC

I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) this coming Tuesday, 11 November.

Pretty sure all you have to do is navigate to http://www.reddit.com/r/formula1. I guess you’ll have to set up a (free and hassle-less) account, which is simple and should be two-step secure.

Starting at 17h, 5 PM Coordinated Universal. That’s 5 PM in the UK, 6 PM on the Continent, 11 AM Eastern time, and god knows what time elsewhere.

You all know how much I LOVE interaction with fans and readers and followers, and how much I love the diversity and passion of your questions. This will be another way to interact with you, and I am really really excited.

Talk it up, pass on the word, and most important, come on over and ask me anything you want.

See you Tuesday!

91 thoughts on “We have a date, Tuesday 11 November, 5 PM UTC

    • Quite shocked. The cricket ball seemed to hit him on his helmet at the back and low. He was dazed, collapsed after about twenty seconds, then stopped breathing. The actual incident is caught on camera. People around him seemed confused as to what to do. Hope he pulls through. A good cricketer, unorthodox style, was hailed as a potential new Donald Bradman when he broke onto the scene, but then they changed his unorthodox batting style to something more orthodox and his game at the highest level fell away. He was building back up again – finding his old style and the runs. They sent an air-ambulance which landed in the cricket ground but decided to move him by land ambulance. When he arrived at the hospital he was already being ventilated and was unconscious.

    • He seems to have been hit below the helmet but on the head (so maybe no helmet protection). In the following there is a picture of the ball appearing to be directed towards the unprotected part of the head. The helmet covers the top and top middle parts of the head but not all the head. Scroll down to 3.22 pm. Maybe the ball hit the side of the head towards the back but below the helmet. Doctors say it will be 24 to 48 hours before they can assess the situation. The brain surgery was to relieve cranial pressure (something we have all learnt about from this blog)


    • Seems we are back in the realm of helmet design again.
      Gary, your appeal to the FIA for a coherent and co-ordinated response to the problem of helmet design (if I understood it correctly) seems to have gained another candidate … Motor racing, skiing, equestrianism and now cricket. Seems a highly worthwhile cause.

    • Looking at a series of images the ball seems to have hit Phil Hughes just below the helmet and just behind the ear – so there was zero protection from the helmet. The picture in the above links appears to be just after the collision with the ball falling down onto his neck, and then over his shoulder as he swings around – which means all the energy of the ball after bouncing on the pitch was deposited into his head. This is why it had such an impact on him and why it is so rare (but need to look at improvements in helmet design).

      When facing bouncers one is told to always face the ball and look where it is going. The front part of the helmet has a grill but sometimes the ball wedges into the grill and hits the face with reduced speed. Some helmets have visors and some helmets have grills with a space around the eyes.

  1. One thing I have learnt from reading Gary’s blog and other information about recovery from prolonged disorders of consciousness is that there are fairly easy pointers early on to how things are going to turn out. For instance most people are fully conscious by 1 month after injury – this is good and they usually do quite well. If people are fully conscious by 2 months after injury they still could do quite well. By 3 months doctors used to believe that recovery chances were already quite poor ie vegetative state was already permanent but quite a few patients have proved this wrong. However, after 6 months it gets worse and worse. Beyond 1 year we are talking miracles ……..

    Just thought it might help – it’s like steps along a road and if people get to a minimally conscious state by 1 month it is better than being in a vegetative state at the same stage. I didn’t know anything about this at the beginning of the year. I’m hoping we will get regular bulletins about every month from the Bianchis.

  2. My comment about Phillipe Streiff was wrong … I myself was guilty of taking his comments about Schumacher and Bianchi out of context.
    If you listen to the interview on Europ 1 as a whole, in French you realise he does know what he is talking about and is also clearly a sensitive and intelligent man.
    You need to understand French to understand what he is saying on the general topic of handicapped people in the workplace … his comments about Schumacher and Bianchi come at the end.

    • I’m glad you think he’s a good guy now. I’ve been researching his accident and found this which is nice about F1 – it’s not all corruption and politics. And hooray for Lewis and the UK today – just been texting result to my son who has gone to see England v Germany women’s football at Wembley. He is a great Jenson Button fan and we always say that Button drives like a gentleman unlike some of the other modern drivers now……

      It was a phone call from Frank Williams that proved to be a crossroads for Streiff’s future. Instead of pursuing legal actions for compensation – as Sarkozy had suggested – he was persuaded by Williams to remain part of Formula 1′s fabric.

      “Frank told me that I could have a good future,” recalls Streiff. “He said, ‘It is not easy Philippe, but you have to be strong and my advice is to keep in contact with the F1 family. Keep working in racing and it will help you focus and achieve again.’

      “So that is what I did, and I started to work and organise events like the Elf Bercy karting. It was a great success and with the support of the F1 family it all came together.

      • I seem to remember there was a problem getting Streiff to the right hospital from the track which added complications to his already severe injuries. Sad story, but he seems a brave man and seems to have come to terms with what happened to him.
        Yes, nice for Lewis …. a good guy I believe. Just a shame Schumacher wasn’t on the pit wall to see him come in. He would have been so pleased.

    • I have no idea how accurate this account of his injury is but it does confirm that he believes Gérard Saillant saved his life. There is a big gap in his memory so who knows what the truth is. It’s an interesting story, especially as he is also a founder member of the Brain & Spine Institute (ICM) and is clearly still very close to Saillant, who was called in to help by Saillant’s wife because she didn’t trust the Brazilian doctors.

  3. For Seany….are you done? Talk about being a bully. You have no idea what any of us have suffered. So don’t tell us what we can and can’t say or do. To damn bad about the Schumachers. They loved the limelight when everything was peachy. They wanted the adoration. Now the tide has turned and they have to live with it and owe those who adored. No one said life would be easy all the time.

    • Mimi, Teri, please read the context of my comment.

      It is directed at Jane A – it is in reply to her comment in which, referring to the Schumachers and Sabine Kehm, she said their actions “make[s] me lose all sympathy for them”. This is, in my mind, way beyond the pale, completely unreasonable, and yes, shows a distinct lack of empathy on her part.

      I made no presumptions about, and no accusations at, anyone else. I stand 100% behind my comment, in that it was directed specifically (using the “reply” button) at Jane A and her comment.

    • Sorry but… What do you want them to say now ? I think it makes sense if they wait until his status is judged definitive .
      For example, if he is in a minimal conscious state, they have to wait at least a year before telling it’s his permanent status..

      • This is what I would like them to say now
        ‘Michael is very slowly emerging from his minimally conscious state and we all hope that he will be fully conscious soon. We know that there is now very little chance of functional recovery but we are very grateful that Michael is still alive and we would like to thank everyone for their continuing support. We will of course let everyone know if there is any good news.’

  4. The Parents are quoted as saying Jules is out of “artificial coma” so I assume he is sufficiently stable for them to have stopped giving him the “drugs” and has sufficient brain function to be breathing on his own and perhaps other things such as certain reflexes.

    Unconscious could also mean being in a certain sleep state or maybe some “natural form of coma”. Anyway he is sufficiently stable to have been moved and now that he is no longer being given coma inducing drugs there must be a better chance for seeing improvements with fingers crossed.

  5. Great news from the parents of Jules Bianchi confirming that Jules is breathing unaided and transferred to a French hospital! It really is amazing that these people have shared so much intimate information with us. No need for speculation or false hopes just a human connection.
    By contrast and not confirmed by Schumacher Camp is news that Michael is in a wheelchair and unable to speak adding to more speculation x

    • The contrast between the two families couldn’t be greater. The Bianchis radiate warmth and concern for everyone in their statements whereas the Schumachers appear to go out of their way to be as obstructive and difficult as possible.

      Sabine Kehm’s ridiculous reaction to Philippe Streiff’s claims that Schumacher is getting better but everything is relative just makes me lose all sympathy for them.

      Streiff said ‘It’s very difficult. He can’t speak. Like me, he is in a wheelchair paralysed. He has memory problems and speech problems.’

      However, Sabine Kehm said Streiff’s comments were ‘his opinions’ and she therefore did not want to comment.

      She added: ‘He did not have contact with us.’

      • In a wheelchair? Are they nuts. He has to be tied in it. Did you ever see a quad in a wheelchair? Not saying he is one but basically the situation would be the same. Strapped in and heads tilted. What satisfaction or encouragement does that give anyone?

      • Well you’re certainly not showing warmth and concern for the Schumacher family, are you? You can’t take into account how horrific it must be for a very close loved one to be paralysed, in need of constant care, and unable to communicate? And all the while not only being reminded of it in the national and international media, but also having everyone bugging you for his status, even though it just doesn’t change, and the prognosis is really terrible. I, for one, would find it very difficult to admit the hard truth to myself, never mind having to announce it to the world.

        Please learn to show some empathy. Your suffering from not knowing what’s going on with someone you’ve only ever known through the media is NOTHING. These people, including Sabine, are involved a real-life personal crisis. Stop the bullying.

      • What really annoys me about this now is that by perpetuating the myth that Michael might still make a functional recovery, the Schumachers may be encouraging other people (who have far fewer resources than they have to deal with the long-term and almost inevitable health problems) to refuse to listen to doctors like Gary who know what they are talking about. Maybe even now some families in this heartbreaking situation are refusing to allow treatment to be withdrawn because their loved one might make a miracle recovery just like Schumacher might …..

        Unless we have been in the situation how can we possibly know more about this situation than the professionals?

      • Whatever the rights and wrongs of the handling of the Schumacher case (compared to Bianchi) it did lead to a hostile environment, it did lead to the stealing of Schumacher’s medical notes, and it did lead to the suicide of an air ambulance health worker. One path leads to hostility and death. The other path leads to calm and understanding.

    • Can’t agree. Phillips Streiff has a track record for shooting his mouth off in, frankly, a rather attention seeking manner. Having read the French articles what he says about Schumacher seems little more than conjecture, and what he says about Jules Bianchi in the same interview was utter rubbish as Bianchi is both out of his coma and back in France.

      • Do you know anything about his accident in 1989 Peter? I’ve just been reading about this and wonder if he had any brain injury as well as being paralysed in the accident. Sounds a really nasty accident and his wife blamed the poor care and facilities in Brazil at the time for making things worse (disputed on the old forum I’ve just looked at). He was flown back to France and treated by Gérard Saillant which may mean he is still in touch and has got some information from him about Michael Schumacher.

        I know he was criticised for speaking out when he visited Schumacher in intensive care in January and I did think it was unlikely that Schumacher was well enough to be in a wheelchair at the moment. I just wish the Schumachers would give everyone some real accurate medical information.

    • Seany – I think your outrageous presumption that people, myself included, show no empathy, warmth or concern for the Schumacher family is ridiculous. I think that since the tragic incident, people, the world over have showed a staggering amount of concern for Michael and the Schumacher family, to the point, that almost a year after the accident people are still concerned and still hoping and wishing nothing but the best for The Schumacher’s.
      I also know firsthand the terrible heartache of being in a similar situation as Corinna Schumacher. I understand the uncertainty, denial, sadness and the loneliness that comes with caring for a person suffering a TBI and long term coma. I also understand , however frustrating it was initially , that many well meaning caring people will want to know how the patient is doing and expect to be updated. Unfortunately, I did not have the luxury of spending countless hours at the bedside of my husband as I worked 18 hour days (2 jobs) to pay for house, medical care and look after 2 children however in the few spare sleep deprived hours of grief, I set up a site that had updates weekly for those interested in his progress. Those updates were often brief but went a long way in helping those that cared and had expressed concern to feel connected. The amount of support and care that people(strangers included) gave during that period of my life was truly amazing and later inspired me to work closely with many charities for people in need.
      As for showing no empathy for Sabine Kehm, her professional capacity is as a media liaison/spokesperson/manager. She has always previously been a consummate professional…. I suppose I just expected a warmer delivery or communication strategy to those millions that had expressed concern. X

  6. Again thank you to the parents of Bianchi for keeping us informed (no need for stolen documents or suicides of health workers):

    Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi is no longer in an artificial coma and is breathing unaided, his parents have said in a statement. … The Frenchman has been flown from hospital in Yokkaichi to intensive care in Nice, where he arrived earlier. … However his condition is still “critical” and he remains unconscious.

    “Almost seven weeks after Jules’ accident at Suzuka Circuit, and following a challenging period of neurological intensive care, we are able to announce Jules has made an important step,” his parents Philippe and Christine Bianchi said. …

    • It’s great to get news direct. However, I don’t really understand if this means he is now in a vegetative state but breathing alone or still in a coma. Gary – how can he be still critical and yet breathing by himself? Also, I know there were rumours that he was paralysed so would a possible broken neck explain this?

      Still, it’s really good that he is breathing alone already and better than Schumacher who is still supposed to be on a ventilator.

  7. You are a pistol, Lulu! ROTFL!!! And I would love someday to come to your house for dinner. And yes, bananas and persimmons will do nicely.

  8. Hi Gary,

    Please will let me know why a minimally conscious patient would still need to be on a ventilator nearly one year after injury. Every other patient I have followed appears to be able to breathe alone via a tracheostomy at this stage and the very detailed medical report yesterday on MS (in Mail Online it is true!) insists he still can’t.

    An airways management and ventilation therapist is on hand to regulate the machinery he still needs to breathe for long periods of time, particularly during the nighttime hours. This respiratory therapist (RT) is responsible for setting up the ventilator, doing the daily checks, changing ventilator settings based on physician’s order and performing general ventilator maintenance.

    This seems odd to me especially as I have been following the very sad case of the brain dead teen Jahi McMath, who is being kept alive in US on a ventilator because the family refuse to accept that she is dead. She had an operation which went wrong just before Christmas and fits the standard brain death criteria.

    PS If Mimi wants to see detail of the 15 people supposed to be treating Michael it’s all there!

    • It’s entirely conceivable that a patient in a minimally conscious state need, intermittently, ventilatory assistance.

      Remember that the damage to the brain occurred both directly, from the blow to the head, as well as from the secondary processes triggered by the injury (mainly the reduced blood flow due to elevated intracranial pressure). Some of this “randomly” distributed damage could easily affect areas of the brainstem that control ventilation. In fact, damage to some areas of the brainstem can produce what’s called “Ondine’s Curse”, when the patient’s respiratory drive just stops during sleep.

      Obviously the dramatic muscle wasting that accompanies not only the lack of movement, but also the lack of “maintenance” nervous input from the brain, is also a diffuse phenomenon. This means that the respiratory muscles, including the diaphragm, are considerably weakened. Under certain circumstances, for example during an upper or lower respiratory infection, or when the patient is just tired, ventilatory assistance can be provided.

      Clearly when one speaks of his return to normality one is talking rather . . . optimistically.

      • ‘Obviously the dramatic muscle wasting that accompanies not only the lack of movement, but also the lack of “maintenance” nervous input from the brain, is also a diffuse phenomenon. ‘
        I’ve read several translated-for-the-layman articles about how, in a healthy brain, there is ongoing growth, input TO the brain, from the daily experience of living. The more complex the life, the more complex the brain. Seems a logical inference. But, a brain in a minimally conscious state is receiving . . . what? Distant noise from voices and medical machinery? Where is the complexity needed for growth? If without growth there is atrophy, then what remains for the minimally conscious patient after a year?

      • I think we’d be surprised, and fascinated for hours, by how experts would approach an answer to the details of your questions.

        Interesting that you bring up the obvious “amplification” mechanism, whereby the damaged brain, by receiving less input, loses a tonic “trophic” influence.

        There are such fantastic tools available now for exploring the FUNCTION of the nervous system, I think the things we will learn in the next very few years are going to be incredible.

      • Thanks Gary and Lulu for really fascinating responses. I googled ‘Ondine’s Curse’. The more I learn about the state Michael is in now the more I understand why the family might wish to keep his true state secret.

        Lulu – our brains should be getting plenty of input on this site using the good old ‘use it or lose it’ principle.

      • Jane A,
        This has been an interesting trip, has it not? I just read some of the initial post-accident posts and many were quite prescient. Though some wanted to deny what appeared to be the facts of the case, it appears the initial analyses were basically correct.
        I think we’ve entered new territory where the question is: what is medicine and what is marketing? And what, exactly, is for sale?

      • Gary, you are being generous by saying returning to normal is being optimistic.
        IMO, and I have been around folks on respirators etc., this is as good as it will get for MS. It seems he is withering away….
        Have any of you read the article about him called “the long goodbye”?

      • Mimi – I’ve read the long goodbye and it seems an apt description of the whole sorry situation. It seems to me that they are now just trying to keep the myth alive for whatever reason. Have you seen the new website? It is a kind of celebration of his life and achievements, with a few marketing opportunities added on. Realistically, the chance of functional recovery is now very close to zero.

      • An excellent question. And your ultimate conclusion would also appear to be spot on. Not sure about the “respect” thing, though.

        A newspaper owes its readers factual correctness in what it prints. It certainly owes the subjects of its reportage to not publish with the intent to harm. While there are perhaps a few more constraints, “respect” for its subjects is not really one of them. Is it “respecting” a politician or industrialist when a newspaper (factually correctly) reports on an episode of his or her corruption?

  9. Michael Schumacher’s website to relaunch for fans to pay tribute 20 years after his first world championship (so the Telegraph announces to the world!)

    Such entrepreneurial zeal! How can one help but applaud? If you ferret out the Telegraph.uk you can see an article announcing the Schumacher site is back online and with it a special tribute to his shunt of Damon Hill in Adelaide, 1994. Great stuff. Scroll down the site to the button that says Buy Now. When you click on it you’ll find several objets d’art celebrating Herr Schumacher. There are the usual plaques, shirts, coffee cups, Styrofoam trophies, replica driving suits and helmets, but I found the most intriguing were the plastic forms of various parts of the Champion’s body. Apparently, they are to be filled with a freezable substance and, once frozen, the part can be used as a centerpiece. Not unlike an ice swan at a dinner party. I bought several.

      • Mimi,
        A couple of months ago I read an article by Raikkonen’s girlfriend/fiancée/baby mama that shone a light on what it is to partner a Formula 1 driver. She lives alone, for most of her days, in his enormous, empty house, while he follows the circuit and the demands of team and sponsors. The public rarely sees this side of drivers’ lives. As with most couples where one partner is consumed by his/her career, the other must create a life that is both supportive and separately fulfilling.

        Throughout their 20 year marriage Mrs. Schumacher has spent thousands of hours away from her husband, during which she has raised two children, kept a home, and pursued her own interests. I think she realizes that Michael is gone in every meaningful way, so now she has to focus on the children’s and her own futures. I doubt that as a far more private person she will need to live as large as before. The jet, perhaps the estate and other properties, may be scuttled in favor of her whole new world. It’s not easy. I wish her well.

      • I looked at the giving back section on his website Mimi – he is a founder member of a brain research charity called ICM Brain and Spine Institute. Gary has given me background about how this charity was started by Gérard Saillant at the Paris hospital where he used to work. Jean Todt is the other founder member.

        I’m hoping that they will now use some of the money from this charity to help Michael and other such paitents in the future. I think the devastating accidents suffered by Michael and Jules might motivate them to invest some money in useful research (it must make a difference that Jean Todt and Gérard Saillant have both seen the effects of terrible brain injuries now.)

  10. I tried but being the computer illiterate that I am I failed. I did see some of the transcript and didn’t recognize one name. Was any of this group there? Please raise your hands.

  11. Gary,
    I missed your Reddit appearance today, seeing only Heikkis’ encouragement to tune in. (I’d signed on at 16:00 Zulu) My question: I see ‘keep fighting Michael’, ‘keep fighting Jules’ painted on signs and F1 cars and equipment in the pit boxes and embroidered on jackets, and wonder what it means. If one is in a MCS, is the concept of ‘fighting’ possible? I understand the ‘will to live’, but is that ‘will’ available to a severely damaged brain? (I think people do it to cheer up by giving themselves the illusion of hope.)

    • I think the will to live pretty much expresses that force deep within the DNA that pushes us on. And I assume it’s to that force, not only in Michael and Jules but in every one who says it, that people are referring.

  12. I love that you’re doing this, however, 11AM EST on November 11th is when a good number of us that live in the Eastern Time zone will be at Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) services. Will your event be longer than one hour so that we can join in afterward our services?

    • It will last at least one hour, and I’m not aware of any limitations. Other, of course, than energy and consciousness. But you raise a good point, so I’ll make sure provision is made for this!

Your turn to speak - write here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s