Wednesday, March 09, 2005

I never thought I'd read about pleural effusion in the news; then again, there was a time when I would not have even noticed that term. But now that President Clinton suffers from it, it's big news. Yes, it's pretty much the same thing that Will suffered, but the similarities end there. While Mr. Clinton will have surgery to take care of some scarring caused by his heart bypass surgery and deal with a chest tube to drain any lingering fluid in his chest cavity, it is routine enough that he's able to golf the day before surgery and doesn't seem to anticipate much of a setback.

Will, on the other hand, ultimately died because of his pleural effusion. He was kept off of food for so long that his systems began shutting down. The tiniest nick in his lymphatic duct during his own heart surgery led to weeks of fluid accumulation, and weeks of being fed nothing. His liver started to fail as a result and that was more than he could bear. I won't go so far as to say that if there had been no pleural effusion for Will that he'd still be with us. Any number of other things could have gone wrong for him -- or could have been working in tandem with the effusion to cause his problems. And yet, for the President, "It's no big deal."

I certainly don't begrudge him for the fact that he'll likely recover just fine from this and continue with an active life of service, but it just strikes me as patently unfair that a little guy like Will could succumb to such a problem while for others it is an inconvenience. That's the case for premature babies, even. Most, as I reported often here, see such effusions disappear on their own after a few days or more. Not Will. He always seemed to want to do things the hard way, as if he had a choice.


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