Dr. Walter Palmer…

Dr. Palmer 4Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire stated, “I am not a hunter; I have never intentionally killed anything bigger than a hornet, though I have been absolutely ruthless with houseflies.”  Dr. O’Connell commented that this Dr. Walter Palmer brouhaha is getting out of hand.  The crowds outside his private dental practice in Milwaukee were calling him a ‘murderer’ for killing a popularized lion on a recent safari to Zimbabwe, Africa.  One of his guides had apparently lured the lion out of a protected park so the killing could occur.  Given that lions are a protected species due to dwindling numbers, and the notion that he should have checked things out much more carefully before he pulled his bowstring, I think he should have been heavily fined, and he probably will be.  But jeez, extradition, a murderer?

Do these protesters understand the realities of the life and death struggle playing itself out every second, in every corner of our world?  Have these naive people ever seen videos of lions making a kill on a zebra or gazelle?  Ripping the flesh of a still alive and trembling prey?  It’s ugly stuff to watch.  But it’s life.  Have these folks watched that now infamous Planet Earth video in which a killer whale leaps out of the water to grasp a frantically fleeing seal in its huge razor-tooth maw?  THAT is murderous stuff.  Do these same folks concern themselves with the millions of slimy but unidentified bugs that smear their windshields on a warm summer night?  Do they rue the ants they themselves put to death with the malathion powder they sprinkle along their home foundations?  Or the benign appearing ant “cups” that invite the insect to carry poison back to their colonies?

I want to be very clear.  I am much in favor of outlawing hunting everywhere in the world, except in those regions where wild game is plentiful and proteinaceous calories are needed.  But, my rationale does not include that it is cruel and unusual punishment for a lion to accept an arrow to the heart for its demise.  How could it get crueler than what nature stages?  To have your neck crushed in the jaws of a lion.  Give me a break.

Is it addiction or dependency?

Addiction vs dependency5Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire commented that the distinction between addiction and dependency is constantly mangled by the press, lay people and even many professionals.  The difference between dependency and addiction is not withdrawal.  Withdrawal is a phenomenon common to both.

Addiction marks a transition into pathology; the chemical, activity or behavior to which one is dependent (oxycodone, heroin, alcohol, THC, sex, eating, extrovertism/introvertism) becomes harmful…physically, psychologically and/or functionally, to the individual.  Withdrawal or craving is not necessarily a pathology and therefore not necessarily an indication of addiction.

One would be hard pressed to declare a weekly snorter of heroin or cocaine an addict.  If a person dreams much about food, craves certain tastes or dishes, but lives a functional work and social life and is not obese, this can hardly be defined as an addict.  If another has elevated liver enzymes, presence of abdominal fat in an otherwise slender body, is thinking about drinking alcohol much of the day, has a couple DUIs, occasional blood in the stools, and yet persists in drinking alcohol, this is most likely an addict.

If a chronic back pain patient has had a laminectomy and then fusion, still requires pain meds but goes into intense withdrawal with sweating, shakes, diarrhea, and piloerection, when away on a trip forgetting meds at home, this is dependency, but unlikely addiction.

Dr. Michael J. O’Connell Donates $250,000 to CVHS Capital Campaign…

CVHS2Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire has generously donated $250,000 to support Cocheco Valley Humane Society’s “Bring Us Home” capital campaign to build a new 11,000 square foot animal shelter that will be located on the grounds of the Strafford County complex in Dover. His leadership gift will name the surgical suite at the new facility.

Dr. O’Connell has been a steadfast supporter of CVHS for many years; regularly underwriting events and providing financial support to enhance the quality of care for thousands of abused, neglected and abandoned animals the shelter serves each year. In addition, he has served as a tireless advocate for CVHS and has worked to champion the shelter’s mission by authoring letters of support encouraging his peers to join him in making a difference in the lives of the animals at CVHS.

According to Dr. O’Connell, “As I reach the twilight of my career, and as CVHS approaches its momentous rebirth, I have decided that my plans to include CVHS in my will are far too conservative, not anywhere near as helpful to my favorite charity as I would like and as what CVHS deserves. The old saying “you can’t take it with you”, is particularly germane for me. I dearly wish to see with my own eyes, in my own lifetime, a vibrant, robust home for CVHS. As the caretakers for the truly innocent, I can’t imagine draining my retirement funds now for any more lofty or noble purpose. The employees and volunteers at CVHS are to be commended for an awesome, yet too often thankless job in face of recurring challenges. I hope with my assistance and that of many others, CVHS can realize a long held dream.”

With 12 locations throughout NH, Paincare is the leading medical practice in the northeast dedicated exclusively to pain management. Salmon Falls is a comprehensive family health care practice treating newborns, children, and adults of all ages. The practice has been serving the tri-city area of Dover, Somersworth, and Rochester for over 20 years. The mission of the R.O.A.D. To A Better Life program is to provide therapy and treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in a safe, respectful and friendly environment that is focused on recovery, relapse prevention, and a return to normalcy.


Medical tourism…

Thailand Medical Tourism 3Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire commented that Morgan Spurlock, roving special reporter for CNN, recently spent a great deal of time and resources exploring “medical tourism” in Thailand.  Turns out it was less an investigation and more an anecdote reporting on his single personal experience.

Spurlock embedded himself as a patient at a large hospital there.  A wealthy US developer has created a slick niche system which as Morgan discovered provides high quality focused care, easy access (once you have flown to Thailand), but of course cash only.  The hospital targets upper middle class Americans who may have no insurance by design, or high deductible insurance (as with Obamacare and catastrophic policies).  Morgan sprinkles his piece with repeated price comparisons between this Thai facility and those same services if one paid cash in the US.  He undergoes a colonoscopy using a ‘swallowed’ camera, fairly extensive blood work, EKG and an MRI.  For every service, the Thai price is considerably lower, and Morgan’s workup is all benign.

This piece is grossly unfair for several reasons:

  1. Those insured by more typical low deduct policies in this country could access these services at a US hospital for far less than the ‘cash price’ he indicated in Thailand.
  2. He doesn’t compute the risk of flying to Thailand – not inconsequential.
  3. The swallowed camera ‘colonoscopy’ technique is available in the US, but is seldom done here (except on unhealthy patients) since many scientific studies indicate that it misses many polyps. And of course if a polyp is found, it cannot be biopsied or removed; a colonoscopy is therefore eventually needed.
  4. What would have happened if something had gone awry in the course of his care? What if Morgan had suffered a heart attack?  Does this hospital have cardiac services, stenting or bypass grafting?  Simply a CCU?

This unfortunately simplistic and naive piece on medical tourism should not serve to discourage such competition, but rather encourage a fair and detailed analysis of that competition.  Else Morgan Spurlock could be accused of mimicking that famously unscrupulous ‘documentarian,’ Michael Moore.

2015 Academy Award nominations…

Academy Awards 2015 2


Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire, commented that many late night TV show hosts are apparently outraged at the ‘whiteness’ of this year’s academy award nominations; in a tizzy that the Oscars are not going to reflect ‘racial diversity’.  I entirely agree with the last part, blacks constitute 12% of the US population, but will definitely be vastly under represented, in every category, come Oscar night.  To which my response is…so what?

  • First, these are MOVIES folks! MOVIES!!!  Who cares about the Oscars except a few million folks who have nothing better to do than idolize celebrities?
  • Second, the Oscar selections are votes by individuals. A group did not get together and conspire to exclude an entire race of filmmakers.  CouAcademy Awards 2015 6ld it be that the individual academy members voted their conscience, how they really feel?
  • Third, will anyone squawk when next year (or the year after) two of the five nominations include leading black actors or directors?  But wouldn’t such a result just as readily reflect a lack of racial diversity?  An under representation of whites?
  • Fourth, politico-racial correctness has no role in Oscar nominations, just as it has no role in the color of our president or the race of our police officers. Winners should be chosen, freely based on merit.

Rather than being criticized, the Oscar nominations should be lauded for reflecting what they are supposed to…honest opinions of the best the industry could produce during the previous year.  To do otherwise is to delve into the nether world of racial absurdity.  How tiring that persistent drumbeat…



Cuba 6Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, PainCare, New Hampshire, commented that the recent diplomatic overtures to Cuba, with the probability of normalization of relations soon, makes me think back to Michael Moore’s very snarky documentary re healthcare, “Sicko”.  Moore’s point was that healthcare in the US is undependable, unequal and unaffordable.  But despite being a third world country, in Cuba healthcare was ‘free’, fair and accessible for all.  For these reasons opined Moore, healthcare there was far superior to the US.

Nearly all of network TV brought their evening news from Havana last week, highlighting the shift in policy, potential lifting of the embargo, and also to reveal the current economic status of the country.  Third world it barely is.  The buildings are decaying, infrastructure absent, internet servicing less than 5% of its population.Cuba 12

Whatever charms the Cuban healthcare industry held for Michael Moore, it’s hard to believe he actually gave it a whirl himself.  Medicines, needles, scalpels, sterile supplies, sterilizers, all cost a lot of money.  Would the Cuban government have somehow found the means to fund healthcare yet neglected everything else in their totalitarian economy?  And, why is it that Cubans with money procure their surgeries and cancer care outside of Cuba?