Many years ago, I was in the coal-mining business, in West Virginia. It was there that I had an interesting conversation with a grizzled old coal-miner, who had once been trapped deep underground, after a cave-in.
“When I heard the rumblings of that cave-in getting closer to me,” he said, “well … that put me to thinking.”
When suddenly assaulted by an intemperate crisis, most of us are thrown into a state of fear, which inhibits any thinking. But perhaps, the old miner was simply calling the fear he must have felt – “thinking.”
Today, historic dangers are at hand for Americans, from almost every quarter, from our federal government to the pharmaceutical/medical combine, throwing some of us into a paralytic fear, with still fewer of us able to give our precarious situation much thought at all. The despotic triumvirate of the federal government, international banks, and multi-national corporations have made life much like trying to transverse a mine-field, without many of us knowing where the land mines are, and many more not even knowing they are in a mine field; such is their desire to avoid being fearful or inconvenienced with thinking.
From personal experience, I know the way I’ve tried to avoid fear, or being forced to think, is to look to “authorities” or “experts” to answer my questions. After all, isn’t that what they’re paid to do?
But, in more responsible moments, I’m nagged by the words of Albert Einstein who said, “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
I was reminded of Mr. Einstein’s words when recently reading the sad story about the promising, young, Boston Red Sox outfielder, 26 year old Jacoby Ellsbury.
On a Sunday afternoon (April the 11th, 2010) Jacoby collided with third baseman Adrian Beltre, severely injuring Ellsbury’s ribs. Two sets of chest x-rays had show no fractures, but after a week and a half Ellsbury was not recovering. So eleven days after his injury, the Red Sox medical staff had young Mr. Ellsbury under go a CT scan (CAT: Computerized Axial Tomography), which Sox manager Terry Franconia said was standard protocol.
“You treat the symptoms, ” said Franconia, “and once you’re not able to play, go back and do the CT scan.”
A CT scan is a computer linked to an x-ray machine that takes hundreds of x-rays in one scan. Informed people avoid CT scans, if at all possible, due to the enormous amount of radiation CT scans emit. And if it’s truly standard protocol to administer a CT scan for merely broken ribs, Mr. Franconia, someone in the Red Sox organization should be held accountable for criminal negligence.
But perhaps, Franconia can be forgiven his ignorance, as medical diagnostics are not his area of expertise. According to some, Mr. Franconia already struggles enough with his supposed knowledge of baseball.
But, the same tolerance cannot be extended to the Boston team doctor, Thomas Gill, as medical diagnostics are an area I’m sure the good doctor is being well paid to know all about. It’s an understatement to say Dr. Gill should have known better than to give Ellsbury a dangerous and frivolous CT scan for merely fractured ribs.
The only remedy for injured ribs, no matter what the x-rays show, is rest and time. Even Gill, himself, said the course of treatment for Ellsbury would have been no different even if the hairline fractures, shown by the CT scan, had been detected earlier in the first two chest x-rays.
“Whether something is a rib contusion or a hairline fracture, or a mainly displaced fracture of the ribs,” said Gill, “all those injuries are treated the same way.”
If the treatment would be the same, why the perilous CT scan, doctor? Do you not know that a CT scan can radiate a human body with the equivalent of 100 to 1,000 full chest x-rays?
A more conservative estimate of the dangers of CT scans comes to us from Yale University. Dr. James A. Brink, professor and chairman of diagnostic radiology at Yale tells us that one CT scan is equal to 100 to 250 chest x-rays. Can you image what even 100 chest x-rays could do to your own body?
Dr. Joseph Mercola has written, “CT scans deliver far more radiation than has been believed, and may contribute to 29,000 new cancers each year, along with 14,500 deaths.”
But still, CT scans in the US have leaped from 3 million in 1981 to 63 million in 2005. The Internet Journal of Radiology reports that, “Despite the advent and development of MRIs, a technique that is sophisticated and non-invasive, without exposing patients to radiation, the CT scan still remains one of the most commonly performed procedures in diagnostic radiology.”
Perhaps some medical doctors call for CT scans with such regularity because they increase billing totals. But for whatever the reason, irresponsible or ignorant medical doctors have so grossly subjected unaware Americans to so many CT scans that the total cumulated radiation exposure that an individual can suffer can be as high as that of a medium doze of radiation from an atomic bomb explosion.
Apparently such medical doctors were never taught that radiation accumulates in a human body, until a critical level is reached, at which time the body becomes afflicted with cancer. And the older one is the more radiation they’ve contacted from the ambient atmosphere through the years, until merely one CT scan can quickly kill them. Informed, responsible doctors, athletes, and patients avoid CT scans whenever possible.
We can only hope that if Jacoby Ellsbury comes down with cancer, as a result of his needless and criminally irresponsible CT scan, it will be many years from now.
J. Speer-Williams – Jsw4@mac.com