July 22, 2005
On the front page of the July 22, 2005, Chicago Tribune, a story appears about a stray dog who resides in sight of the attorneys and other employees who work at the Juvenile Court Building. The story also has not one, but two, photos of this dog, the second appearing on page 19, where the story continues one to let all of us know that she has been named ‘Gypsy Rose.’ While a touching story, which no doubt illustrates the caring and compassion nature of Juvenile Court attorneys and staff, at least for stray dogs, it makes me think what makes ‘news’ and further, what makes ‘front page news.’
While I admit that I am cynical, an attorney myself who has visited the confines of Cook County’s Juvenile Court a time or two, I have to think, “Was today a slow news day?”
With Chicago’s mayor working his hardest to defend his office regarding corruption charges and the second London terrorist attack just one day old, is this front page news?
As President of the ARDS Foundation I work my hardest to get some media attention for the hundred of thousands of humans I work with for a syndrome that is little known and little understood. Just one article in any paper, in any section and on any page, would help an extraordinary number of people who read that story, hear that news report.
It is not that I do not care about dogs, I have two basset hounds myself, but I really care about the 150,000 Americans, and countless others around the world whose lives will change completely after being touched by Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome this year. Half of those people will die. Their families won’t know what hit them when that happens. But we will be there to help them through it. We will be there to help survivors get much needed information and support.
Yes, I am thrilled that ‘Gypsy Rose’ has many people, even lawyers, looking out for her, trying to solve her problems, but I am concerned that so many wonderful people who suddenly find themselves in the hospital and on life support, do not have anyone looking out for them.
Why do I lament this front page story? Because ARDS is a life-threatening condition that leads to a dangerous loss in the functioning of the lungs. Although there are more than 60 conditions that can bring on ARDS, the most common are pneumonia, sepsis (an overwhelming infection in the body), aspiration of fumes, food or stomach contents into the lung, and trauma. These conditions cause the body to manufacture substances that may cause inflammation in the lungs. Once inflamed, the air sacs are then unable to perform the normal oxygenation of the blood.
ARDS is particularly complicated because no patient enters the hospital with ARDS as their admitting diagnosis. However, almost anyone who is admitted to a hospital is at risk to develop ARDS. It is because of this, and the sheer shocking numbers of people diagnosed with ARDS each year, that I try to illustrate this point.
Yes, some of you may think it a stretch to compare a stray dog to the plight of the families who encounter ARDS, but the fact of the matter is that if it is a slow news day, maybe a feel good story or two on a subject that can offer information and hope to a group of people who are largely ignored would be refreshing.