Chirac leaves hospital after week
says the Beeb,
French President Jacques Chirac has left a Paris military hospital following treatment for eye trouble related to a “vascular” incident.
What makes this article interesting is the sub rosa content of statements like
The “vascular” incident, related to blood vessels, was described by one doctor as “a small haematoma”.
This “explains the isolated and limited character of the vision trouble,” said Dr Anne Robert
The terse phrases officially released have sought to play down the illness, but they have often sounded like a contradiction in terms, talking of a “little vascular accident,” and a “slight vision problem,” which nonetheless merited a week’s hospital stay.
A vascular accident means a problem with a blood vessel, which is almost always serious – or a signal of something serious to come. It includes strokes, torn blood vessels and clots that block vessels, causing damage to the eye or brain.
The most detailed official bulletin said only that Mr. Chirac had suffered from “a small-sized hematoma, explaining the isolated and limited character of his vision trouble.” It did not say anything about the location of the hematoma, a pool of blood that has leaked outside blood vessels, or the cause.
Experts said the details that had been released did not add up to a clear-cut diagnosis. “The whole story is hard to put together,” said John Pike-Spellman, professor of Neurology and Radiology at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.
But several neurologists agreed that Mr. Chirac had most likely suffered a small stroke at the back of the brain, as a result of high blood pressure, that is now slowly resolving. “If it was a small hemorrhage in that part of the brain it would explain the visual symptoms, that could be limited and settled down quickly,” said Dr. Peter Rothwell, professor of clinical neurology at Oxford University.
He said the main reasons for hospitalization were to run tests and to control the patient’s blood pressure in order to prevent subsequent incidents. After such strokes there is statistically a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of a second stroke in the next year, Dr. Rothwell said.
Dr. Olivier Simon, a neurologist at Bichat Hospital in Paris, said that when a brain vessel ruptured under the force of high blood pressure, the onset of symptoms was usually sudden, as it appears to have been for Mr. Chirac on Friday night. “We see this pretty regularly around here,” he said. “A small artery probably burst in the posterior part of his brain, which is mostly linked to vision.”
The political scene has changed,
An editorial in Le Monde newspaper yesterday described the secrecy that has enveloped the health of successive French presidents as “baroque”. “The debate about the health of Jacques Chirac shines a light on the fragility of our institutions. With the constitution of 1958, the Fifth Republic has established an omnipotent head of state without any real counterweight,” it said. “The republic must be modernised.”
Le Monde has a chronology of Chirac’s presidency (in French). The last slide, on the subject of the rejected EU constitution, says that Chirac insisted that the fate of his government should not be associated with the referendum results. Be that what may, Chirac fired Raffarin, his then-Prime Minister.
Sarko and Dom are at it,
In Mr Chirac’s absence, Mr de Villepin chaired the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday. But, according to several reports, Mr de Villepin’s authority was challenged by Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister, who urged the government to take a tougher line towards Turkey.
Mr Sarkozy argued that the French government should push the EU into offering Ankara a “privileged partnership” rather than holding out the prospect of full membership when it opens accession talks on October 3. On Wednesday evening, in his capacity as president of the governing UMP party, Mr Sarkozy also laid out his own plans for reforming the French social model, a week after Mr de Villepin had unveiled the government’s reform programme.
Mr Sarkozy said his three main aims were: to achieve full-employment within 10 years; to transform France into one of the most entrepreneur-friendly economies in the world; and to overhaul the public finances to promote rather than hinder growth. He vowed to reverse France’s economic decline, which has seen the country slip from sixth place in 1980 to 16th place today in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s league table of GDP per head.
The Economist has a cartoon:
It’ll be interesting in 2007 to see if, after so exhaustingly emphasized this “robust health” in the past week, Jacques does a Pinochet and claims bad health to avoid prosecution.
In other stories, last evening’s France2 coverage of the Katrina relief efforts was a complete disgrace, at least as lopsided as their coverage of the 2004 presidential campaign, when they repeatedly referred to John Kerry as “the upcoming president”. I fully expect the European press to repeat every word of it and skip the research altogether.
Update: Chirac ‘to miss’ UN world summit
French President Jacques Chirac has been advised by his doctors not to travel by air for six weeks, the Defence Ministry said.
. . .
The statement also said that Mr Chirac had to “get as much rest as possible.”
Or, as the Guardian puts it, Of course he’s fine, he’s the president