Do Voters Have the Right to Know the True Medical Conditions of Political Candidates?

Younger Democratic candidates take caution in raising the age or health conditions of the three (3) leading contenders for the presidential nomination race. All three candidates are years past the full retirement age of 66. Former Vice President Joe Biden is 76, Senator Bernie Sanders is 77, while Senator Elizabeth Warren is 69. Political strategists are of the opinion that one way or another, age will likely come up as an issue.

After all, any voter who has reached old age knows for sure that at that stage, health problems already exist, often limiting their ability to move around with ease or to endure long hours of stressful conditions. Whether or not those candidates disclose their true health conditions, many believe that voters have a right to know as part of their decision making processes.

Senator Sanders contends that age is a mere number. He argues that when one is to look at people, whether they are old or young, one should look at the totality of the person. Still, based on the senator’s statement, the premise of totality includes the real medical condition of a person; especially in health matters that could affect one’s ability to handle the stress and rigor of a position as important as that of a U.S. president.

Take the case of former Texas governor Rick Perry, who holds the record of having served the governorship position for the longest time; from December 2000 to January 2015. In July 2011, he underwent spine surgery that involved spinal fusion and nerve decompression, but did not disclose that he underwent experimental stem cell therapy.

Doctors gave advice that he will be able to recover within two months, which gave him the confidence to announce his candidacy for the then forthcoming presidential nomination. However, the governor’s recovery period took longer, which caused him to withdraw from the preliminary presidential competition by January 2012,

Although he did not cite his back injury as the reason for his withdrawal, Perry’s campaign strategist later disclosed that the former governor’s campaign run was a struggle. His back pain was said to be so severe, he suffered from sleeplessness, and a lot of discomfort that made studying for his campaign difficult.

Take note that spinal fusion and nerve decompression or spinal decompression is a surgical treatment for an age-related disease called spinal stenosis.

What is Spinal Stenosis?

Spinal stenosis as an age-related disease is normally caused by wear and tear changes occurring in the spine as a result of osteoarthritis. Doctors recommend spinal decompression surgery for severe cases, in order to widen the space for the nerves and spinal cord.

To alleviate back pain, doctors recommend pain killers for short-term relief, or nightly doses of antidepressants to help ease chronic pain. If the condition includes damaged nerves, some anti-seizure drugs may be prescribed to reduce the pain. In quite severe cases, drugs containing codeine-based drugs (opioid) may be recommended as long term treatment; but this type of medication runs the risk of becoming habit forming or addictive.

If you wish to know more about spinal disorders and treatments, an excellent resource is the Central Texas Spine Institute

Jackalyn Feliks

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