McCain could be out for at least two weeks, delaying healthcare vote even longer
Senator John McCain is resting comfortably in Arizona after undergoing a minimally invasive surgery to remove a two-inch blood clot from above his left eye. (Good thing he had health insurance!) As for the rest of us? Well, we’ll just have to wait until Johnny is fully recovered to hear the final verdict on the fate of Obamacare — and whether we’ll be able to get, or even afford, health insurance at all — as the Senate has opted to wait until McCain returns to vote on the matter.
While original estimates and a statement from McCain’s own office put his recovery time at one week, The New York Times spoke with a handful of neurosurgeons who said that McCain could be on the mend for at least twice as long as that.
Dr. Nrupen Baxi, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at New York City’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said that recovery from a craniotomy — where an incision is made in the eyebrow in order to access the skull and remove a clot — “is usually a few weeks.” One major determinant of just how long it will take McCain to recover, and a possible cause for concern, is what caused the clot in the first place, but McCain has not disclosed that information. According to The New York Times:
A statement from the Mayo Clinic Hospital said that the senator was recovering well and in good spirits at home, and that tissue pathology reports would come back in several days.
But many questions have been left unanswered, including whether Mr. McCain had symptoms that prompted doctors to look for the clot. In June, his somewhat confused questioning of James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, led to concerns about his mental status, which he later jokingly dismissed by saying he had stayed up too late watching baseball the night before.
“Usually, a blood clot like this is discovered when patients have symptoms, whether it’s a seizure or headaches or weakness or speech difficulties,” Dr. Baxi said. “Generally, it’s not found on a routine physical because doctors would not know to look for it.”
Possible causes for such a clot could be anything from a fall or head injury to a stroke. Clots can also form as a result of changes to the brain that occur as one ages. (He may be feisty, but at 80 years old, McCain is not a young man.) Still, Dr. Philip E. Stieg, chairman of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine and chief neurosurgeon at New York-Presbyterian, told The New York Times the fact that McCain was released from the hospital so quickly is a good sign:
“I think the one possibility that’s of concern is that melanomas are known to go to the brain and they can bleed,” Dr. Stieg said. “They’ll have to wait for the pathology to come back. The good news is that five centimeters is a sizable blood clot, but in the frontal lobe, it should be well tolerated and hopefully he won’t have any neurologic deficits.”
The timing of McCain’s surgery, of course, could not have been better for the GOP — or more ironic — as the senator’s absence gives Republicans more time to try and swing the vote to appeal Obamacare in their favor. With two Republican senators — Susan Collins and Rand Paul — standing firm that they will vote no, a “yes” from McCain is the one shot they’ve got at moving the bill forward.
For his part, the president seems to be treating McCain’s recovery like an extended snow day. When he tweeted about the many important things he’d be dealing with this week, healthcare (or, in Trumpian: HealthCare) didn’t even merit a mention:
Heading back to Washington, D.C. Much will be accomplished this week on trade, the military and security!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2017
Come to think of it, neither did any well wishes for McCain. Then again, Trump likes people who weren’t captured.