When Michael Savage told listeners of Savage Nation he had talked to a “world famous neurologist he knows” who told him epilepsy medication had made Justice John Roberts unfit to render his vote on the healthcare mandate yesterday, I naturally wanted to give this person a call, or check his credentials. Conveniently, this physician is never named so that no one can verify any of this.
Having a sibling and a niece with epilepsy, and having organized a fundraiser on behalf of the disease, the most delicate way I can put this is that the information passed along by Savage’s anonymous neurologist are somewhat at odds with what I have heard from the literally dozens of others our family has dealt with during my sister’s lifetime. If said neurologists exists, he has already demonstrated wild leaps of conjecture that border on medical malpractice.
First of all, is Justice John Roberts epileptic?
Although the Justice reportedly had two seizures in fourteen years, that is unclear. According to named Dr. Laura Kalayjian, an assistant professor of neurology and co-director of the Epilepsy Center at the University of Southern California, the definition for epilepsy is two unprovoked seizures.
However, the episodes might not have been seizures at all, but have resulted from abnormal heart rhythms or low blood sugar. When Time magazine asked Roberts if he had epilepsy, he refused to answer.
Secondly, if Roberts did in fact have two seizures, and qualifies as epileptic, we don’t know that Roberts is taking medication. From The Hill: “The pattern suggests that Roberts might have epilepsy, some experts say. It is not clear whether he takes any medication to prevent seizures. [emphasis mine]”
But let’s say Justice Roberts had two seizures, that those two seizures have him meet the minimum definition of epileptic, and that he is indeed taking medication – we still have no idea what medication Roberts may be taking. There are literally dozens of medications with a vast range of possible side effects.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say Roberts had seizures, is epileptic and is in fact taking medication. Here’s the bottom line:
Even if Roberts has epilepsy, it shouldn’t affect his work, Kalayjian said. “The majority of people with epilepsy you wouldn’t know they had epilepsy,” she said. “About 70 percent of people with epilepsy do fine; they hold high level jobs, they drive. It’s only 30 percent of people that have uncontrolled seizures that need specialized epilepsy centers to get their seizures under control.”
For a physician to list off the side effects of an unnamed drug Justice Roberts might not be taking suggests either that said physician is engaging in some motivated reasoning and/or political hackery, or that Savage is using a very lax standard for what constitutes a “world famous neurologist.”Both of which would explain the choice of anonymity.