Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

How Elizabeth Taylor Saved My Patient

March 27, 2011

Tags: AIDS, Elizabeth Taylor, early HIV epidemic, in memorium, Kate Scannell

By Dr. Kate Scannell
First Published: March 24, 2011

My 20-year old patient had been suffering a slow, painful death expected to occur within the next few days. Alone in his drab room on a county hospital’s AIDS ward in California in the mid-1980s, he had been praying to see his father and mother one final time. He fantasized about them rushing into the hospital, assembling around his deathbed, holding his hands and easing his transition from this world.

He had last seen his parents several years before at the family homestead in the rural south. Standing on the front porch where he had been exiled moments after admitting his homosexuality, he saw his father’s angry face behind the slamming screen door, his mother’s piercing stare through the front window.

But, in the end, he carried those final imagesof his parents to his grave. Neither of them had responded to his pleas for a bedside visit, accepted offers of airfare to California gifted by an AIDS advocacy group, or taken opportunities to speak with their son by phone.

And yet, days before he died, he had the experience of “being saved” by Elizabeth Taylor. He had seen her on television, witnessed her embrace of a gay man with AIDS, and heard her unflinching support for AIDS research to seek cures for people who suffered with HIV infections.

Without first-hand experience of the early AIDS epidemic, it may be difficult now to appreciate Elizabeth Taylor’s heroism back then. (more…)

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Sports on the Brain -- Assessing the Damages

March 20, 2011

Tags: sports-related concussion, head injury, dementia, sports, Kate Scannell, chronic traumatic encephalopaty, CTE

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated Columnist
First Published in Print: 03/20/2011

I AM IN DETROIT visiting family, and I’ve got sports on the brain.

Last night, we watched a local news report about former Red Wing hockey star Bob Probert who died last July at age 45 with a bad heart and battered brain. His celebrity on the ice rink had derived as much from his skill with his fists as with his stick.

Earlier this month, Probert’s brain was examined and found to exhibit “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” or “CTE” – a degenerative brain disease originally noted in boxers and, more recently, football players. Caused by repetitive or severe head trauma, CTE can manifest as dementia, memory loss, depression, aggression, and suicidal behavior. According to his wife, Probert had displayed problems with short-term memory and a quick temper.

During a commercial break, one of my sisters commented upon the increasing violence she’d witnessed during her own sons’ school sports activities. “But the parents are often worse than their kids,” she said. (more…)

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Requiem for A.

March 16, 2011

Tags: requiem

The flames were slow, steady, black.
All the long while you burned in such darkness
no one saw the consuming flames.

Peace of the deep earth to you, A.

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