Dr. Oliver Sacks passed away last week from melanoma of the eye. He was best known for awakening people frozen into catatonic parkinsonism by the Spanish Flu and forgotten at the Beth Abraham Home for the Incurables. All they needed to awaken into normal life was a bit of levodopa. It was Dr. Sacks who thought of it and put his professional life on the line to give it to them. If you haven’t seen “Awakenings” yet, the time is now.
Of course that wasn’t the first time he had gone out of his way for a patient. When a blind, paralyzed, terminally ill patient learned Dr. Sacks was an avid motorbiker, she expressed a wish to take one last ride with him along the twisties of Topanga Canyon (Cali 27). Dr. Sacks arrived one fine Sunday with 3 heavy bikers who all carried the patient out to Dr. Sacks’ bike and securely tied her in place to him and his bike. She loved the ride. Dr. Sacks was almost fired as a result for being “unprofessional” and “disruptive” but was saved by the patient’s staunch support.
That he was almost fired tells us all we need to know about those who occupy the higher rungs in medicine.
It wasn’t any better after he awakened the catatonic. “Professional” doctors from the big teaching hospitals, who had all condemned the patients as beneath their time, “publicly roasted” Dr. Sacks for proving they were uncaring wastes of space.
Things have gotten a million times worse thanks to Harvard’s Dr. Lucian Leape who has relentlessly campaigned against the likes of Dr. Sacks and through the American Medical Students Association has ensured future generations of American doctors will not be like Dr. Sacks.
Dr. Sacks represented everything Dr. Leape loathes and defames as “disruptive” – he cared totally about the individual patient, their lives, hopes, dreams, and humanity.
Unlike Dr. Leape, Dr. Sacks did not sit around telling other doctors that they killed 100,000 patients every year and that they needed to purchase expert consultancy from his LeapFrog Group.
Instead, he devoted his life to his patients and to reminding the general public that neurological patients were as human as us all, and sometimes a bit special. He loved it when they survived their deficits or excesses and thrived.
Never ever did Dr. Sacks look upon patients as a number or a means to an end, a stone upon which to step to falsely boost one’s “career.”
Meaning, he was never ever like Harvard’s Dr. Alice Newton, who crushes good families to build herself up as an expert in “medical child abuse” (whatever that is) without any evidence and even when the evidence clearly shows that the parents are loving and never harmed their child.
Harvard’s Dr. Alice Newton has finally been shown to be a total fraud three times in a row, first in the Justina Pelletier case, then the Wilson baby case and now this very week, in the Irish Nanny case.
In the real world, three times and you’re out is enforced, even in law. When it comes to Harvard teaching hospital doctors however, we can expect the law to be ignored.
After all, it is always the cold ambitious sociopathic fraud who climbs the ladder and receives the accolades, awards, research grants and gushing write-ups in the Globe. The kind that Ben Hecht termed “The Respectables.”
Dr. Sacks, as expected, had only 20 published papers to his name and none of the long list of awards “the Respectables” give each other. Other members of “The Respectables” did not fall over themselves to laud him to the stars. Her Majesty’s Sir Donald Berwick never called Dr. Sacks a fine doctor, for example, though Sir Donald gushed all over Dr. Vivek Murthy.
The people of Massachusetts would be well advised to choose the likes of Dr. Sacks over Dr. Leape or Dr. Newton for their own care or their loved ones’. Dr. Sacks’ own patients certainly did and remained under his care almost till the end of his life.
Choose a physician who lives for his or her patients, who values and celebrates individuals and their inalienable rights, someone who treats each individual as important, someone who is totally disruptive on behalf of his or her patient, someone totally your advocate.
The difference between Dr. Sacks and the standard teaching hospital variety could not be more stark.
Bharani Padmanabhan MD PhD is a neurologist who specializes in multiple sclerosis in the Boston area. email@example.com