Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Amazing Story of Mark McEwen

Amazing Story of Mark McEwen

Mark McEwen

I am not a fan of CBS Early Show even when I was here.. but for some reason, I watched it today and glad I did.

I have known Mark McEwen as the weather guy of CBS but didn't know he was out of circulation since last fall. He was a popular guy who has interviewed almost everyone, from Bill Clinton to Mohammed Ali. There was touching story on him today in CBS today that left me moist and rang closer to home for more reasons than one.

Mark McEwen (50+?) had a devastating stroke attack and took ill gravely last fall. He was on Coma for 4 days with bleak prognosis. "The diagnosis of basilar artery thrombosis is a very, very poor prognosis," His neurologist Dr.Medary said. He survived, but that is not what resonated with me. What stuck close to home was the fact that he had to start basically at ground zero and relearn everything, from speaking, to walking to everything else. "Boy, I was in bed, I couldn't walk. I could barely talk. I talked slower and higher," he told CBS.

Today, Mark McEwen has made an amazing recovery. He is now walking, talking and doing most of the things he used to do before. Yeah, he is little slower (than before the stroke stuck him), but it is good to see him completely mobile and independent. He attributed it to

1. Immediate attention

2. Excellent medical care

3. Good post care physiotherapy

Above all, I would attribute his excellent rehabilitation to MarkÂ’s fighting spirit. Couple of things he said that made really think...

"People come in here and say, 'Gee, you've had a great life,'" he said. "I say, 'I have a great life!'"

"All this, is an illusion," he said. "The house, the fame the fortune, what we do. What is important is family and friends. That's what I know."

Today, he has a new mission: He says he wants to do for strokes what Lance Armstrong did for cancer.

"I want people to know that this doesn't discriminate, but I want people also to know that you can come back," he said.

So, why does ring closer to home for me? His amazing fighting spirit is definitely inspiring, but more than that his story rung close to home because of what my father is going through for over 3 years now. I wish he was able to get timely medical attention and a good rehab program. But, many things went inexplicably wrong for him and he hasn't walked by himself since then.

  • CouldnÂ’t get timely medical attention: My parents were in Madambakkam (near Tambaram) when my father was stuck with the stroke in the wee hours of night. He couldnÂ’t get immediate medical attention in the first 3 critical hours. Forget the ambulance, he couldn't even get a taxi to transport him to Tambaram to get some decent medical attention.
  • Money First: On the advice of a local doctor, my mother wanted to get the scan done before taking my father to the hospital. The 24hour Scan service was fast asleep when my mother knocked on them. The Scan guys were disturbed to be disturbed (from their sleep) and wished my mother would just go away. They wanted exact cash remitted first before they would even touch my father.
  • Indifferent Hospital: When my father did finally reach the hospital, he just laid there for several hours before a neurologist showed up. By then, I reached the hospital and when I requested take my father to a city hospital, every antics was used to scare us shifting him (which we eventually did anyways..).
  • Care in the city: It was better than Tambaram, but then the damage had already been done. Most of my father's faculties were damaged and my he had to start basically from ground zero like Mark McEwen and hasn't regained many of his lost faculty.
  • Quackery and Physiotherapy: After few weeks in a hospital, my father came back home unable to do anything on his own. The only recourse for my father was continuous and aggressive physiotherapy and even here we had our share of misfortune. They therapist who came home to work with my father was a rookie and hadn'’t worked with a stroke patient before (which we didn'’t know at that time). She did lot of things incorrectly leading to development of myositis (muscles hardening to become bone like) which has basically made his leg irrevocably immobile.
  • Good Physiotherapy: It took us over 2 years and several therapists to find a therapist who is doing decent job with my father. But it is going to take lot longer than few months to undo the damage done the earlier therapist and we are afraid some of the damages (done by the neurologist & therapist) may be permanent.

Being rather to close to my father's sufferings, I was moved to see the amazing recovery of Mark McEwen. At the same time, I also felt angry that my father is still bedridden and will never be mobile again.

India is making tremendous economic progress and wants to be a super power. By some accounts, medical tourism is picking up in India with Chennai being the capital. But, what good is medical tourism if India can't provide decent medical care to it own citizens. If ordinary middle class citizens can't get paid quality medical care, I shudder to think the plight of countless poor who depend on the government to provide free medical care.

Story in CBS