Stop the paranoia; let Johnson heal

Stop the paranoia; let Johnson heal
It truly is a miracle.

We should feel fortunate that Sen. Tim Johnson is still with us.

South Dakota's senior senator suffered a bleed in his brain last December caused by an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), or abnormal bundling of blood vessels in the cranium that eventually causes a vein or artery to rupture.

The morbidity and mortality rates associated with AVM rupture are as high as 53 percent to 81 percent and 10 percent to 18 percent, respectively.

But, wonder of wonders is the news South Dakota received on June 11.

Johnson's attending physician at National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) said the senator is doing well and will be able to fully resume his duties.�

The attending physician at NRH, Dr. Michael Yochelson, director of Brain Injury Programs, said, "In my discussions with Sen. Johnson, I am very well aware that he is interested in continuing his work as a senator and I am confident that he will be able to resume his duties.�During my last visit with him last week, he demonstrated physical improvement in his ability to walk across the room himself."

"I could also see continued improvement in his speech as it has become more fluid. With his improving language skills, the senator is able to express himself more clearly, which allows us to recognize the fact that he is doing well cognitively," Dr. Yochelson said. "He is reading the paper daily and talking with friends, family and colleagues.�His memory and processing skills are strong."

This news, will, naturally, not please everyone. We doubt that it has eased some of the rather unusual concerns cited by Randy E. Amundson, a Sioux Falls business owner, who evidently is a prolific writer of letters to the editor of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader

We haven't seen the letters. But evidently, they were received negatively by so many people that it inspired Amundson to write a very lengthy "My Voice" column in the Argus Leader last week.

Despite repeated news reports from Johnson's office since December, including photographs of him with his wife and daughter, and most recently, two more snapshots � one of him during a physical therapy session and another of the senator at work at home with his chief of staff � Amundson is still stubbornly clinging to his belief that we are being mysteriously misled; that the senator will never be able to return to work.

"Attempts have been made over recent weeks to ease our worst fears. In the estimation of this author, they have fallen short. Just let us know," Amundson said. "We're mature enough to handle whatever reality might be. We deserve the courtesy, Sen. Johnson, to receive from you (not your staff) some form of communication to help us know better your condition."

Heavens, how rude of Sen. Johnson to inconvenience all of us in South Dakota by becoming suddenly ill, by undergoing emergency brain surgery, by being in critical condition for a week or more, by undergoing months of grueling physical, occupational and speech therapy.

How discourteous of him!

Amundson wrote last week about the numerous photos that South Dakota have received of the senator during his recovery.

"The Webster's dictionary I use suggests that numerous means something other than one or two photographs. I thought that to imply that many had been released at different times wasn't as up-front as I would have preferred," Amundson stated. "Some would say it was misleading. One must remember that a statement can be true and still be misleading."

Our dictionary defines paranoia as "an abnormal tendency to suspect and mistrust others." Another definition of the word indicates that this condition is a personality disorder characterized by delusions of persecution and self-importance.

It seems to fit Amundson, and others (Amundson claims he's in good company) who somehow believe news of Johnson's recovery is just a big sham.

Our response to doubters is simple. Stop being paranoid. Let the senator heal.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at

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