CNN is reporting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been admitted to a New York City hospital after being treated for a blood clot. The blood clot follows and was precipitated by a concussion she sustained after a fall at her home earlier this month.
The clot was found Sunday during a routine follow-up exam, her spokesman, Philippe Reines, said. He refused to specify the location of the clot but said Clinton was being treated with anti-coagulants. He indicated that Clinton will be in New York-Presbyterian Hospital for at least 48 hours. "Her doctors will continue to assess her condition, including other issues associated with her concussion," Reines said in a statement. "They will determine if any further action is required."
Hillary Clinton is 65. She fell in mid-December and suffered a concussion. At that time, she was also recovering from a recurring stomach virus that rendered her severely dehydrated. The concussion prompted her to cancel a trip to North Africa and the Middle East.
According to Dr. Gholam Motamedi, a neurologist at Georgetown University Medical Center (not involved in the Clinton case), a blood clot’s severity "depends on where it is."
Clots in the legs are usually developed in people who are bedridden for lengthy periods. Apparently, after her concussion, Clinton was just that -- bedridden. However, Dr. Motamedi said that these types of clots are "no big deal." They are treated for six months with blood thinners which will dissolve and prevent further clots from forming, he said.
Clots in the lungs or brain are a different matter entirely. Lung clots, called “pulmonary embolisms,” can kill quickly. Clots in the brain may cause a stroke, Motamedi said.
Dr. Larry Goldstein is a neurologist and director of Duke University's stroke center. He explained that clots in the brain can cause blood to pool almost anywhere in the brain after a concussion. These types of clots would normally be treated with the blood thinners, as described by Clinton’s aide above.
Clinton abruptly canceled her Dec. 20 testimony before Congress following an “incriminating” report regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. That attack killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The report pointed to serious failures of leadership and management in two State Department bureaus, and were ultimately the reason security was so lax at the facility. Clinton had taken responsibility for the entire incident before the report was released. However, she was not directly accused or blamed for the debacle.
As might be expected, many conservative media types have suggested that Clinton faked her stomach problems and the concussion in order to avoid the congressional scrutiny of her and her department.
Just last Thursday, Reines reported that Clinton was expected to return to work this week. That, of course, was before the blood clot was found.
Hillary Clinton will step down as secretary of state on or before Jan. 20, 2013. Her replacement, Sen. John Kerry, has already been officially appointed and is awaiting what promises to be a smooth ride through the Senate’s confirmation process. He has wished the secretary a speedy recovery.
Back in the '70s, President Richard Nixon was diagnosed and successfully treated for “phlebitis,” a blood clot in the leg. I will never forget that the late, great poet and singer Gil Scot-Heron penned a tune with this unforgettable line after President Ford abruptly pardoned Nixon for any and all Watergate crimes: “Nixon got phlebitis.," Scot-Heron said. "Fleas bite him. Rats bite us. No pardon in the ghetto.”
As a paralegal for a personal injury law firm in Chicago, I occasionally dealt with cases of “deep vein thrombosis” or DVT. I learned that this can be a stealth killer. What happened in one case was particularly instructive. A man in his early '40s and his young daughter went ice skating. He fell down a few times, but suffered no bone breaks, sprains or strains -- just "slight" bruising above the ankle. He felt fine for the following two days, although the bruise seemed spread and grow darker. He went to a hospital where they found no problem beyond the bruising. Gave him some pain pills and told him to stay off the leg for at least a day. They sent him home.
Then, on the third day, at home, he suffered a massive heart attack and died on the operating table. The autopsy revealed the ultimate cause of death: A blood clot had formed in a vein in his left leg after being bruised by the repeated falls. The clot grew to the point that it finally broke off intact and traveled in the blood stream straight to his heart, killing him almost instantly. A Cook County, Illinois jury awarded his family one of the largest verdicts in the history of the court up to that time -- against the hospital and doctors (one personally) who had treated (or mistreated) him.
As indicated above, such clots may travel to the lungs instead, suffocating a person, or burst, causing one to basically drown in his own blood.
As for Secretary of State Clinton, she has spent her entire adult life in the public eye. She has nothing left to prove. Once she leaves office next month, let us shower her with all of the appropriate honors and accolades, and then allow her to gracefully step all the way down from public life – including presidential politics. She may then assume the role, much like her husband has done, of "eminence grise'", or "wise woman," to whom others come for direction and advice on negotiating both the triumphs and pitfalls of American political life.