Whew…just the title seems like a mouthful, yes?
Earlier this week, I was devastated to hear the news that Alex Spourdalakis was dead, apparently murdered. When I learned that his mother and god-mother were found nearby, both unconscious, I knew what had happened. Needless to say, my heart sank, completely saddened by the needless loss of life of that poor young man. I tried to imagine his terror, his helplessness, as those he trusted most plunged a knife into his own heart. Even now, I still have tears at the thought…
What would make a mother do that? How desperate, hopeless, and depressed must someone be to come to that decision? I can’t even imagine. I’d like to think that there are always alternatives, that there is always some other way, than to take a human life. While I in no way condone what Alex’s mother and god-mother have done, I can certainly understand that they, at least, felt there was no other choice. That doesn’t mean I am any less appalled.
But to treat them with the hatred I’ve seen from Gorski and his mumbling meatheads, to call them monsters, is to dehumanize the tragedy. These are people whom, I believe, the system has failed.
What is truly appalling, though, is when Gorski and his drooling sycophants exploit tragedies of this calibre to proselytize his agenda on the evils of…well, anything he deems antithetical to his church.
Gorski’s latest dungfest, Autism biomed and the murder of Alex Spourdalakis, does just that. Observe:
Sometimes, in the course of blogging, I come across a story that I don’t know what to make of. Sometimes, it’s a quack or a crank taking a seemingly science-based position. Sometimes it’s something out of the ordinary. Other times, it’s a story that’s just weird, such that I strongly suspect that something else is going on but can’t prove it. So it was a few months ago when I came across the story of Alex Spourdalakis, a 14-year-old autistic boy who became a cause célèbre of the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. I first noticed it in early March when perusing AoA to see what the merry band of antivaccine propagandists was up to I came across a post by Lisa Goes entitled Day 19: Chicago Hospital Locks Down Autistic Patient. In the post was a shocking picture of a large 14-year-old boy in a a hospital bed in four point restraints. He was naked, except for a sheet covering his genitals. His name, we were informed, was Alex Spourdalakis. Further down in the post was another, equally shocking, picture of Alex that, according to Goes, showed severe dermatitis on Alex’s back due to the hospital sheets. The photos shocked me for two reasons. First, if the story was as advertised (something to be doubted always about anything posted to AoA), for once I thought that I might be agreeing with Goes and thinking that AoA was doing a good thing. Second, however, I was extremely disturbed by the publication of such revealing photos of the boy. Undoubtedly, Alex’s mother must have given permission. What kind of mother posts pictures like that of her son for all the world to see? Then there appeared a Facebook page, Help Support Alex Spourdalakis, which pled for readers to help the Spourdalakis family.
As I said, something didn’t seem right.
Note that he doesn’t have evidence of any wrongdoing here…it’s just a feeling.
As I read articles and posts about Alex Spourdalakis, going back to March, I had the distinct impression that there was more going on that met the eye. Lisa Goes might have been right. That has to be conceded. But while I occasionally looked at stories about Alex on AoA, they just didn’t seem to pass the “smell test” to me. Something, it seemed to me, was being left out. Neither did a lot of the claims seem entirely credible. At the very least, it was very clear that a highly biased, one-sided version of events was being presented. For instance, Goes claimed that Alex was kept in restraints 24 hours a day at Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC) for 19 days:
According to her, at 14 years of age, Alex has a diagnosis of severe autism and cognitive impairment. He is non-verbal. In October of 2012, Alex began to suffer neurological events that prevented a healthy sleep cycle. He was awake for many hours at a time. Agitation and aggression ensued as a result of sleep deprivation. During this time, symptoms and behaviors that were indicative of severe gastrointestinal distress developed as well. A cycle of constipation, diarrhea and formed bowel movements surfaced and became a chronic problem. On February 16th at 5:00 am, with the assistance of police and paramedics, Dorothy took her inconsolable and highly-distressed non-verbal child to Gottlieb Hospital in Melrose Park, Illinois.
Because of Alex’s physical aggression, he was placed in locked restraints. At that time, Dorothy did not know the ER would be their home for the next several days, as Alex lay naked, in locked restraints, suffering bouts of violent vomiting, severe constipation and diarrhea. Neither she nor Alex bathed for the next 13 days while hospital staff and administrators attempted to devise a plan to care for Alex. “He was given Colace for his constipation and sometimes it would take security staff and nurses more than 15 minutes to arrive to help unshackle him so he could use the bathroom,” Dorothy explained. “Alex would scream as best he could when he knew he was going to have a vomiting episode, but security took several minutes to respond so Alex would lay in his own vomit, waiting to be released by a representative of security. He would be wiped down and returned to the same restraints.”
Sure, it was possible that the boy was being abused so horribly, first at Gottleib Hospital and then at LUMC, but it seemed damned unlikely to me, although at the time I had no way of refuting or confirming the increasingly lurid stories being posted at AoA about Alex. Still, I knew that tere(sic) are very strict laws these days about patient restraint. The last time I ever had to order four point restraints was over 14 years ago, back when I moonlighted as a trauma attending in, yes, the Chicago area, the same metropolitan area where Alex lived and died. Before that I sometimes had to deal with the restraint of patients when as a resident I rotated on the trauma services at the hospitals where I trained. Sometimes patients with head injuries or severe intoxication would be violent and require restraint. There were always a strict protocol that we followed, even back then. My understanding is that the protocols have only gotten more strict. Restraining a patient, particularly a minor, is not something that is undertaken lightly, nor should it be. To believe the AoA account, we have to believe that a severely autistic teenaged boy would be kept in the emergency room for several days (also very, very unlikely) and put in restraints in an abusive fashion at not just one but two different hospitals, continuing after Alex was transferred from Gottlieb Hospital to Loyola University Medical Center on February 28. Actually, it was three different hospitals, because later Alex was shown in four point restraints at Lutheran General Hospital during his last admission in May. More on that later.
I know that’s a lot to read of Gorski’s nauseating drivel, but it’s important to read it in detail. The reason why is that Gorski is using anecdote as evidence for his “feeling” that something wasn’t right with the story. With no evidence at all, whatsoever, he dismisses the story of Alex’s hospital stay as “fishy,” as “one-sided,” because his anecdotal evidence says otherwise.
But he has no actual evidence to contradict their story. It’s just a feeling. Does that sound familiar?
Missing from these stories was a clear and cogent explanation of why Alex was ever admitted to Gottleib Hospital and then transferred to LUMC in the first place. It’s mentioned in some places that Alex was “inconsolable, highly-distressed and suffering bouts of violent vomiting, severe constipation and diarrhea.” I had to look for clues to explain it, and, I must admit, I still remain puzzled. Certainly, this Change.org petition demanding that LUMC provide what Ms. Spourdalakis considers to be “standard medical treatment,” which to her included gastroenterology. Peppered through various reports were indications that Alex had multiple allergies and GI issues. Having observed a fair amount of autism quackery on the Internet, these terms were huge red flags to me that strongly suggested to me the possibility that Ms. Spourdalakis was heavily into “autism biomed.”
Hmmm…Alex exhibited signs of severe gastrointestinal distress, a condition that is quite common in children with autism. But because they wanted a treatment plan to address these GI issues and food allergies, they must be subjecting him to autism quackery.
Because he has no actual evidence…he’s going off of a gut feeling. And because he says so.
No, they appear to have subjected Alex to biomedical quackery, which might even have led to the symptoms leading to Alex’s repeated hospitalizations beginning in February. Time and investigation by the authorities will tell. I reject the “logic” of such antivaccinationists such as it is, that only makes sense only if you accept the pseudoscience claiming that vaccines cause autism.
He bases his conclusion off of his feelings. He is presenting his opinion as conclusive fact that Alex’s caregivers were subjecting him to teh ebil biomed (insert horror music here) and were the cause of his behaviour problems and bowel issues.
He uses this tragedy to harangue his readers on the evils of those heretics who dare to defy the dictum of his church. He uses this tragedy to paint these parents of children with autism seeking a cure as evil, as monstrous.
I cannot put into words how horribly, horribly disgusting I find this man.
Hey, David? Could it be possible that the caregivers of Alex were failed by the medical establishment, by the very “Science” that you worship? All evidence I’ve seen points to “Yes.”
These caregivers were failed by the medical establishment. Their son was subjected to treatment plans that only covered the problem, not fixed it. It was clear that he had GI problems, but the medical establishment refused to address these problems, even though there is plenty of evidence that shows that children with autism commonly have GI problems.
While this is also anecdotal, I happen to be good friends of a father with a child who has extreme autism. He has told me on numerous occasions how difficult it is to get services for his son. How he has to drive three hours to see autism specialists. About how he cannot take his son to emergency care or hospital ER’s in his area because they simply do not have the resources or the knowledge to deal with children with autism as severe as his.
Instead of continuing to defend your pathetic church, you fucking imbecile, acknowledge that your church may be part of the problem.
I am saddened by this tragedy. Alex’s death was tragic, horrible, and my heart cries for the pain he has had to endure. I am angered beyond words at the way a…thing (I would say piece of shite, but even manure has a use…I don’t see a use for Gorski and his cretinous bumlickers) like Gorski could use this tragedy to push across his agenda.
That this man is someone in the medical industry, someone who is supposed to care for the sick and helpless, sickens me.
Is it any wonder why so many are turning to biomed? Is it any wonder why so many people are coming to distrust doctors?
Not to me…not when we have a simpleton like David Gorski in the medical industry.
If people like him continue to have their way, then I fear that we will see even more tragedies like this one.