This has been a week full of not so good stories. And 2006 is only in its first week.
The prime minister of Israel suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke (the accumulation of blood in the cranial vault) a few days ago. All of us who are in healthcare know very well the significance that a stroke has on the well-being of any individual.
Each year intracranial hemorrhages (www.strokeassociation.org) affect approximately 12 - 15 per 100,000 thousands individuals. It is more frequent in hypertensive patients (people with high blood pressure), especially in those over the age of 55. The symptoms develop from minutes to hours, ranging from alterations in levels of consciousness to seizures, and even death. Treatment options are limited yielding very uncompromising results.
There are many historical examples of how a nation reacts when its leadership becomes ill or incapacitated. Recent history let's us read about how the late president Franklin Delano Roosevelt's illness was kept from the public for the longest time. The late President Ronald Reagan also comes to mind, as the severity of his wounds from the attempted assassination were not completely reported for quite sometime.
Many leaders through their force of will have the power to set the mood of their nation, for good or bad, and thus have a profound effect on the world — short and long term. How will this event change the mood of Israel? It's hard to tell, but sheer sadness would be an understatement.
It is natural under the circumstances to ask, what becomes of the peace process? What about the elections to come? Let's see how the next few days, weeks and months play out at this very historical moment. History is ready to teach us. Are we willing to learn?
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Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.