Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Whats Up with George: Alcohol induced epilepsy?
Though I quibble over the details, I do think there is something wrong with him. I think it is interesting that he didn't show for a recent medical, and it makes you wonder about the two bicycle accidents and the Pretzel incident.
The first bicycle story was obviously not entirely true because the Bush PR department said it was due to rain when there hadn't been any. Maybe a small stroke? Epilepsy? Pre-Senile Dementia? The drooling and incoherence could be due to a heavy medication like those used to control conditions such as epilepsy. Many of the speculations overstate the case, but still, something ain't right.
Andrew Stephen pondered the question in the Observer at the weekend. He notes that Bush has become increasingly inarticulate over the last few years (as is demonstrated by this video):
...It is thus hard to avoid the conclusion that Bush's cognitive functioning is not, for some reason, what it once was. I am not qualified to say why this is so. It would not be surprising if he was under enormous stress, particularly after the 9/11 atrocities in 2001, and I gather this could explain much, if not everything.
But I have heard wild speculation in Washington that he is suffering from a neurological disorder, or that the years of alcoholism might finally be taking their toll on his brain.
...A senior Republican, experienced and wise in the ways of Washington, told me last Friday that he does not necessarily accept that Bush is unstable, but what is clear, he added, is that he is now manifestly unfit to be President.This, too, is a view that is widely felt, but seldom articulated and then only in private, within the Republican as well as Democratic establishments in Washington.
All the evidence points to the idea that Bush is cocooned and cloistered from reality, he only appears before the party faithful, he doesn't read newspapers, he rarely meets with the media. If there is something wrong with Bush, that might explain why. Its not hard to imagine that the likes of Cheney and Rove would do whatever it takes to protect George from exposure as unfit for office, their personal greed and power lust is staked upon him. They need him to sway the religious fundamentalists who think that God speaks to George. Even the most delusional nutjob would have trouble with the notion that God speaks to Cheney.
One can imagine that under the circumstances Bush must be easy to manipulate. Its fairly safe to speculate that Bush is on some form of medication, and is suffering at least from an inability to cope with the stress of his situation, at worst from some sort neurological condition (it wouldn't need to be very severe to affect his ability to give lengthy public speeches) or degenerative disorder. He thinks in entirely black and white terms, he doesn't need any evidence to support his views. All they need to do is pander to his concept of himself as the God-King of America. Not to suggest that Bush isn't as corrupt and self-serving as the rest of them, just that Bush's notions are simplistic, the likes of Cheney and Rove are responsible for their execution, which they are able to do more or less without accountability.
If I was forced to choose one line of speculation I would have to go with the idea that his current condition is connected with his past drug and alcohol abuse. His constant repetition of platitudes and catch-phrases really remind me of alcoholics I have known, one of whom was an epilelptic alcoholic on phenobarbatone - Really similar. Alcohol and epilepsy do not go well together (nor do cocaine and epilepsy). The seizures tend to occur 6-72 hours after the person has stopped drinking. It is nearly always the withdrawl that triggers the seizures. The sedative effect of epilepsy medicines is exacerbated by alcohol and even without alcohol can make people dizzy, unsteady and drowsy.
Alcohol abuse can cause epilepsy:
Alcoholism, or chronic abuse of alcohol, has been shown in recent studies to be associated with the development of epilepsy in some people. These experiments suggest that repeated alcohol withdrawal seizures may make the brain more excitable. Thus, people who have experienced seizures provoked by binge drinking may begin to experience unprovoked epileptic seizures ("alcoholic epilepsy") regardless of alcohol consumption.
Stress is known to be a factor in causing seizures:
Emotional stress also can lead to seizures. Emotional is usually related to a situation or event that has personal meaning to you. Often you will feel a loss of control. In particular, the kind of emotional stress that leads to most seizures is worry or fear. One study found that in some patients, anxiety—another term for worry and fear—led to (overbreathing) and an increase in abnormal brain activity and seizures.1 Other emotions that have been linked with stress and seizures are frustration and anger.
Epilepsy can also affect the sufferer's cognitive functioning both in the short term and cumulatively:
If happen over and over again (as they sometimes do), they can have a lasting effect on many of the brain's functions, from memory and language to planning and reasoning. It's possible that epilepsy may change how you relate to others, your mood, even your personality.
Epilepsy sufferers say:
"I just don't trust my short-term memory."
"I knew the word I wanted to say, but I couldn't get it out. Or I'd say another word that wasn't quite right."
"I am more irritable now; everything is an effort."
"I'd finish watching a show, and somebody would ask me what it was about, and I couldn't answer them. I didn't know, and I just watched it!"
Sound familiar? Following are some explanations of the mental functions that can be affected by epilepsy:
The main language problem caused by seizures is with finding words. Many people cannot think of the name of something, even when it is right in front of them. This is because seizures can damage the area where the word is stored, as well as the communication lines that carry or transport the word.Executive Function:
The frontal lobe has the final say in your social behavior. It regulates how you interact with other people. Some people claim this is where your personality comes from. It manages how you talk to other people.
The frontal lobe also helps you to stop unwanted behavior. For example, say something happens that makes you feel like laughing or yelling but you know it is not the right time or place to laugh or yell. Your frontal lobe tells you that you shouldn't do it. It also helps you to not laugh or yell.
Seizures that happen in the frontal lobe can cause your planning ability to become weaker. You may not be able to organize your thoughts or your actions in the best way. If you are making a shopping list, for instance, you may think or write the same item over and over.It may be harder for you to interact with people. Your attention may drift much sooner than before. Some people say their personality has changed after having seizures for many years. It also may be harder for you to stop unwanted behavior. You may say what's on your mind even when it's not the right time.
People with commonly report having problems with their memory. Some describe having trouble remembering names that they once knew. Others forget appointments or are unable to remember to take their medications. Many others feel that they can recall things from the distant past but cannot recollect events that happened in the past week. Many indicate that memory difficulties significantly hinder their functioning at work, in school, and at home.Psychosis
When affects you for long periods, you may notice changes in your behavior, your feelings, and in how you see the world. Feelings of depression or anxiety are especially common. A few people with epilepsy experience psychosis(losing contact with reality).Anything that causes mental excitability can trigger a seizure. Perhaps Bush's lump is some kind of neurological monitor? He may not have electrodes visible on his head, but the lump is on his spine, which is probably the next best thing. I'm sure Rove would want to intercede if it looked like Bush was about to have a seizure in front of 50 million people. The increased stress and excitability of the situation are exactly the sort of thing that can trigger seizures in the susceptible.
Check out this neurological monitor (this is the amplifier part):
Amongst the list of its key benefits are:
Changes in patient status are quickly identified
Detection of seizure activity
Instantaneous indication of functional brain state