Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Problem with Doctors...

Robert S. Mendelsohn is credited with saying:

"The real reason doctors are so dangerous is that they believe in what they are doing."

I just came from a neurologists appointment at the world renowned Hospital for Sick Children.

To make a long story short:

I would much rather have someone gouge out my eyeballs with my own freshly torn off toenails than go to this hospital. I would even do the tearing and gouging myself. Someone give me some pliers, please.

The Reader's Digest compact version:

Niece was on seizure meds. New doctor decided that since no epileptic activity showed up in EEG scans niece no longer needed the medication. She is no longer on the medication. Niece is eleven years old and is having "issues" (I would elaborate here but some of her friends read this and I don't really wish to embarrass her. Too much). Apparently her mom and I are the only people who see these "issues" and there is no reason at all for them. Take her in for a psychological evaluation, we were told.

That's right. The answer we have gotten every visit for the last ten months is not an answer at all. It's merely them passing the problem on to someone else. Surprise.

In December the niece had a sixty-six and a half hour long EEG. A big fat ugly warning appeared on the monitor on numerous occasions telling us that seizure activity had been detected. One of those times was when she was reaching for the phone and experienced a period of light headedness. The explanation that we got, today, is that EEG's frequently mistake movement for seizure activity. I'm not a neurologist. There's nothing I can possibly do but take the doctor's word for it.

But according to my research - which I've done because I am the kind of person who needs actual answers to my questions - an EEG won't show activity unless it's happening during the scan. Any activity that does happen has to travel through bone to have the sensors register it (meaning that if it happens deep enough in the brain, you're SOL)...

Now don't get the wrong idea. If there isn't anything going on neurologically then that is awesome. But don't make a butt groove on your chair doing diddly while taxpayer dollars pay you to help children who are.. well.. sick... Do something more productive than tossing out a seven year old diagnosis because there is no technical evidence to support something as temperamental as seizures. What happened to the master plan - where you look at the symptoms and start treating them? When something doesn't work you try something else?

I'm either missing some vital information or there "something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Any thoughts?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Old Cases, Revisited

I've been sitting on this news article for the last few weeks. There was something about it that just stuck with me like a shred of food between flossings.

Toddler Disappearance

Last week I wrote about the Azaria Chamberlain case (you can find the post here) in Australia.

Lindy and Michael Chamberlain brought their nine week old daughter Azaria on a camping trip and she disappeared. Her mother claimed that a dingo took the baby. A week later a tourist found some of the clothes the baby was said to be wearing at the time of her disappearance. Several years later, during a search for a missing person, the jacket she was wearing was found in an area with dingo lairs. Her body has never been found.

Investigators believed that Lindy had killed the child and then ditched the body during the hunt. Her parents were convicted but the convictions were overturned when the jacket turned up.

To this day, the Chamberlains maintain their innocence but there are still people who refuse to believe that a dingo would harm a human - despite evidence to the contrary.

Which leads me to this case in New Zealand.

In 1968 a toddler went missing and was presumed drowned. His mother believed that the neighbor had something to do with the boys disappearance, but police ignored the claims. His body was never recovered.

A witness claims to have seen the man burying a package in the garden about two days after the search. Recent geophysical scans of the property have revealed an anomaly in the soil. Police are planning to investigate further.

This new evidence in a 44 year old case made me wonder: If New Zealand can pursue unsolved cases using up to date equipment, why hasn't this same scan been conducted in the area where Azaria went missing 32 years ago?

With the development of more accurate forensic capabilities, much of the evidence presented in the Chamberlain case was found to be incorrect, yet the case remains unsolved. A fourth inquest is taking place in Australia now, with the hopes of some closure.

The new evidence being introduced is based on dingoes attacking infants and children in the 32 years since Azaria went missing. Not much was known about dingo attacks in the early 1980's, and in fact, there are still some that are skeptical that a dingo would harm a child. This, however, is not the case, since the wild dogs are responsible for the death of a nine year old boy a decade ago.

But it is enough evidence? Dogs attacking children is not a new phenomenon, and just the other week in Alberta, Canada, a nine year old husky caused the death of a two day old infant. If the case is closed based on this new evidence, does a whole new series of excuses for people who are accused of murdering their children get opened up?

In 2005 a twenty-five year old woman claimed that she was Azaria Chamberlain, but DNA testing has never been done. Her story matches with one that was brought up during the initial trials in the early 80's -- that a baby was found by Aboriginals and later was fostered out to a family. She has scars that could be from dog bites. Azaria's family wants justice -- is not pursuing all avenues of what could possibly have happened to her actually giving her memory justice?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Dingo Case

In 1980 Michael and Lindy were camping at Ayers Rock (Australia) with their young family in Australia. Their youngest child, a nine-week old daughter named Azaria, was sleeping in the tent on the night of August 17th. Lindy claimed to see a dingo leaving the tent. She went to check on her daughter. The bed was warm, Azaria was nowhere to be seen.

What she cried in the minutes following has been immortalized in the media:

"A dingo took my baby."

Witnesses claimed that the wild dogs had been seen in the area that night. They also claimed that they heard a baby crying before the hysterical Lindy announced that her baby had been taken.

Lindy and Azaria
Forensics - keeping in mind that it was the early 80's and science was nowhere near as developed as it is presently - pointed it's damning finger at Lindy.

Blood was found in the car. Azaria's clothes were found with a slit in the throat area. A bloody hand print was found on her dress.

Azaria was never found. The coat that she was supposedly wearing was also never found. Lindy didn't portray the grieving mother well to the public. The family was Seventh Day Adventist - a religious branch that wasn't as well known in Australia during that time.

Lindy Chamberlain was sentenced to a life of hard labor in prison. Michael was found guilty of being an accomplice.

Some years later in 1986 a coat that proved to be Azaria's was found by dingo lairs. Her parents were immediately exonerated of all charges and released from prison.

As well as forensics not being in the best of shape, cases of dingos attacking humans weren't well documented at the time.

The case is being revisited again this year for what is now the fourth inquest

A decade ago dingo's attacked a series of human, and mauled to death a nine-year-old boy.

More modern forensic tests have torn through the evidence and proven it to be inaccurate.

In what some call "trial by fury", Lindy Chamberlain was convicted because, simply, she was the most hated woman in Australia. She dressed her baby girl in black, belonged to a wierd religion, and was accused of being a witch and sacrificing her daughter in some satanic ritual. The forensic work has been proven to be highly unreliable. Defense testimony was ignored...

This case is still a black eye on Australia's judicial system, and you can bet that the inquest will be followed closely. Azaria needs justice, even 30 years later. Let's hope she finally gets it.

A Nation's Guilt