MISSED DIAGNOSIS, NBA PLAYOFFS

May 21, 2009

 John Shea and Henry wrote about a serious problem that might grow into a big deal in the coming weeks. The SF Chronicle sportsers wrote about Noah Lowry who has undergone several surgeries to correct differing diagnoses. They wrote: “Noah Lowry and the Giants are at odds over how the team has handled his medical condition. On a day Lowry underwent another surgery – a rib was removed Tuesday – his agent and the Giants traded barbs, leaving the pitcher’s future with the team in doubt. Agent Damon Lapa said the Giants misdiagnosed Lowry’s ailment, possibly leading to two wasted seasons away from the mound because of a previous surgery that wasn’t necessary. On Friday, Lowry went to Alabama to see a specialist in the practice of Dr. James Andrews. The specialist diagnosed Lowry’s condition as thoracic outlet syndrome, a circulatory disorder. “The Giants were very diligent in having him see a variety of doctors, but ultimately it’s based on results,” Lapa said. “Regardless of how many doctors he saw in the organization, none of them was able to diagnose the root of the problem. They tried a variety of treatments with no symptomatic relief and left Noah in a situation where he’s worked himself into the best shape of his life and he still had symptoms and pain. “It’s a happy day in the sense that we’re excited the cause has been found. Noah has been working diligently, and he’s been frustrated for the past 12 months or so of, without a clear cause or diagnosis, not knowing why he’s not able to do what he enjoys. There’s nothing worse than robbing a guy of what he loves to do.” The Giants responded in a statement, saying, “The Giants’ organization and its medical staff have always treated Noah Lowry’s condition appropriately and with the utmost care. We have never performed any medically inappropriate procedures on Mr. Lowry. … Mr. Lapa’s accusations against our organization are factually inaccurate, intentionally misleading and irresponsible.” To which Lapa said, “Clearly, they’re on the defensive. We all know the facts, and they’re probably frustrated. The bottom line is none of this needed to happen.” Lowry first felt numbness and weakness in his left forearm in August 2007, the last time he pitched for the Giants. In March 2008, he was diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome, a condition that causes pressure on the nerves in a limb, and underwent surgery to cut a sheath around his muscles and nerves to relieve the pressure. Lowry’s comeback from that surgery was met with many setbacks – plus, he had arthroscopic elbow surgery in September – and Giants doctors attempted many forms of rehabilitation and pain relief. At the Giants’ request, according to Lapa, Lowry sought a second opinion on the circulatory disorder from Dr. Greg Pearl, who confirmed the diagnosis late Monday and performed the surgery in Dallas on Tuesday. The first rib on his left side was removed to relieve compression in the area. Both doctors believed the newly diagnosed condition caused the original numbness, according to Lapa. Lapa wouldn’t say whether Lowry’s career with the Giants is over, but the pitcher’s contract expires after this season and he won’t be able to do any type of baseball work for roughly the next three months. Lapa said he expects Lowry to be “reasonably close” to 100 percent by next season’s opener.

It’s time to start paying attention to the NBA playoffs. The rest of the games won’t be spent on hype or positioning. They WILL have the better teams winning, moving on, and removing the chaff  from the grain. Bruce Jenkins gave us some things to look forward to seeing: “It had been little more than playground domination to this point, the Cleveland Cavaliers storming through the Eastern Conference playoffs without a care in the world. They came up against the Orlando Magic’s bizarre combination of explosive force and risky finesse. The fact that it worked in Cleveland, against LeBron James, left the promise of high intrigue for this series. It seems highly unlikely that a team could rush to the NBA Finals, perhaps even win it, casting off from three-point range. Measured against long-held standards of excellence, that’s a lazy, almost careless way to go. That’s how the Warriors flamed out against Utah two years ago, and it’s why few experts figured the Magic could win on the Cavs’ home floor. Except the shots keep going in. In the wake of Orlando’s impressive Game 7 win in Boston, Rashard Lewis came through with devastating efficiency Wednesday night, including the winning three-pointer with 14 seconds left in a 107-106 decision. And here’s the thing: That explosive force, Dwight Howard, is reaching the point where he can be trusted late in the game. Howard can’t accomplish that if he fouls out, as he did in the waning seconds, but his game to that point had been a vision of the future. The Magic rely on outside shooting in times of desperation because Howard, outside of his earth-shattering dunks, doesn’t have an authentic low-post game. Suddenly, there it was, a nice assortment of close-range shots with either hand. As soon as Howard refines this repertoire, and gets his teammates to believe in it, Orlando could be unstoppable. This was a pretty inexcusable loss for the Cavs, who looked so dominant in the first half, but it didn’t dim the luster of James, who scored 49 points and showed why he so richly earned the MVP award. When Kobe Bryant makes a point of getting his teammates involved in the offense, it comes with a certain disdain. He’d rather score 70-80 points – totally feasible for him – and soak up 100 percent of the credit. James actually thrives on unselfishness. It’s what brings joy to his heart. It was a quality he showed in high school, on those grainy home videos, and it’s something he’ll have for life. So his teammates have their moments, one by one, while LeBron leaves indelible impressions. On a chills-up-your-spine sequence in the first quarter, he threw down a flying slam-dunk, covered 12 feet in two steps to shockingly block a Howard dunk, then hit a three-pointer. At the break, TNT’s Craig Sager asked Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy what he could do against James’ multifaceted onslaught, and Van Gundy replied, in part, “It’s not him.” Actually, it is. But it’s also Dwight Howard and a team hitting three-pointers like a racetrack bettor on a hot streak. There’s no telling where this series goes from here.”

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