Wormless Solipsism

Man wearing dunce cap

If you know the definition of “wormless” and “solipsism” then kudos to you. They say the New York Times reading level is geared towards a 10th-grade education. Most of us got past 10th grade.

I am reading an article in the NY Times Magazine entitled: “Mirror, Mirror”. It is a convoluted, esoteric, diatribe about the concept of “relatability”. It employs words such as “wormless” and “solipsism” that most 10th graders would not readily know.

Lewis Carroll makes more sense to me than this article. Alice: Through The Looking Glass, commonly known as Alice In Wonderland, written in 1871 by Carroll, is as surrealistic and bizarre as anything written in the 21st century or by Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe, a tragic hero if there ever was one, died at the age of 40 in Baltimore under questionable circumstances. Whether his writings were fueled by drugs or mental illness is irrelevant. He left us an oeuvre of phantasmagorical allegory. And some very scary stories.

Read The Fall of the House of Usher on a dark, cold winters night and you will never be the same. He invented the American short story. Not by design but by default.

So what about “wormless” and “solipsism”? Wormless means stupid and dull. Solipsism means only the self can exist, which is the philosophical idea that only ones’ mind exists. The body is a construct of the mind.

Really? Who can argue with this, a specious discussion? Perhaps wormless describes most people’s thoughts about solipsism.

But let’s get back to the article “Mirror, Mirror” about relatability. It posits that relatability is a very positive thing. Popular people are easy to relate to. We are drawn to people who look like us or dress like us or speak like us.

If you are applying for a job and the person interviewing you is bald and dresses in a preppy style, should you shave your head and wear a tweed sports jacket, button-down blue oxford shirt, and wide wale corduroy pants? Maybe. If you want the job.

We like people like us. We are not always aware of the subtle dynamic but it exists. We all like vein disease. Or else you would not have gotten this far into this column. You would have given up at the first sentence or two.

We at VEIN bring you what we like with each issue: relatability pushed to the limit.

In this issue, we have a number of articles that most of us in the vein world can relate to.

  • Controversial vena cava filter placement. In Europe, they are hardly ever inserted, and in the US they are placed for a multitude of “soft” reasons. We can all relate to being asked by orthopedic surgeons, bariatric surgeons, trauma surgeons, oncologists, etc. to insert a vena cava filter. Wouldn’t it be nice if an option existed that we didn’t need to remove with a second procedure? Kush Desai discusses his thoughts about this and highlights a novel new filter concept. He has removed many a filter in his day.

  • Chronic deep venous disease. Suresh Vedantham, of ATTRACT Trial, and I discuss the upcoming C-TRACT Trial and the questions it is hoping to answer for those of us who relate to chronic deep venous disease.

  • Lymphedema management. Traditionally lymphedema has been an afterthought for those of us managing venous disease. Pay attention to the article by Dean Bender, et al. Lymphedema management is in the vein specialists scope of practice. No one else is taking ownership and we need to.

  • Lipedema management. The management of lipedema naturally follows from the discussion of lymphedema. We need to be aware of this entity. Thomas Wright educates us and patient Brooke Bayer tells of her experience.

  • Pelvic venous disease. If you can’t relate to the article about pelvic venous disease then you are not a true vein specialist. The roundtable discussion highlights the problems that we all face when dealing with pelvic vein disease: our own issues and those of referring physicians and patients with the problem. This disease entity has garnered a lot of attention as of late, but there are still many impediments. Read the roundtable and understand what experienced vein specialists think about how we can better help our patients with this problem.

Relate. Relate to the articles and to the patients with these problems.

Is Ken Griffin relatable? Maybe, maybe not. Ken Griffin is a hedge fund billionaire. He holds the record for buying the most expensive home ever sold in the United States.

Are you still relating?

He paid $238 million dollars for an apartment in New York City. He will use his purchase as a “pied-à-terre.” Really? His 24,000 square foot, four-story apartment complex is about 10 times larger than most of our homes.

“Pied-à-terre” is French for “a small apartment, house or room kept for occasional use” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. This guy has the you-know-what to state that he will use this only occasionally. And what will this supposed wormless person occasionally do with his occasional abode? Walk around laughing? Host homeless people? Give back to the community? Who knows.

But wait, there is more.

The backstory about Ken Griffin. He started trading stocks from his dorm room at Harvard in the early 1980s. He was 19 years old. He convinced Harvard to install a satellite dish on the roof of his dorm so he could get a better connection to the stock market in real-time. His net worth is $10 billion. Impressive. Not bad.

Can you relate?

Not me, but maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald could. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “ The rich are different from you and me.” To which Ernest Hemingway responded, “Yes, they have more money.” Hemingway—always practical. Fitzgerald—always the dreamer.

At VEIN we try to be both practical and to dream. A little bit of both goes a long way. No wormless solipsism in this magazine. Read on and enjoy.

Director's bio

Dr. Steve EliasSteve Elias, MD is the Director of Englewood Hospital’s Vein Center, as well as the Medical Director for Vein Magazine. He is a fellowship-trained vascular surgeon and is board certified in Phlebology and Surgery.

In addition, Dr. Elias is a member of The New York Society of Vascular Surgery and The New Jersey Vascular Society. He is a recipient of the Dardik Research and Education Award and The Fellows Education Award.