Our family just returned from Disneyland Paris. We had a great time. As a doctor, however, I just couldn’t ignore the many health problems clearly evident in the thousands of images I saw of the world’s most famous mouse.
I can say with confidence that this will be the first and only time that I publish the health record of a patient without his/her consent. But then again, I’m not even sure this little rodent was my patient at all. Furthermore, I can’t vouch for my physical exam of our storied mouse – given his rather cavalier take on the idea of ‘physical’ – but I do believe we should all be alarmed at the probable health status of our big-eared friend.
Of greatest concern is what can only be described as HUGE feet. Unfortunately, this does not suggest enviable male endowment, as it is sometimes rumored in those with enormous paws. Rather, these feet are swollen. A close look at most pictures of this patient suggest that he in fact can’t wear shoes at all, but instead some sort of stretchy slipper.
The best explanation for feet this swollen is congestive heart failure. This is a situation where the heart has pumped against a dysfunctional circulatory vessel pressure for so long that the muscle fibers have becomes stretched out and weak. Eventually, the heart becomes incapable of pushing blood around the body effectively, causing pooling of fluids in the extremities, especially the feet. Judging by the thousands of pictures of him, most drawings were likely done after this patient had been on his feet all day. Let’s face it, an 80 year old mouse can only walk around smiling waving at kids for so long before problems arise.
CHF is progressive (meaning it just gets worse over time). Elizabeth Taylor just died from this, for example. Mick could use any of a number of meds to lower his blood pressure, and (arguable, these days) something to strengthen the contractions of whatever functioning heart muscle fibers he still has. He should also go with low-salt cheese, lean scraps and whatever else a billionaire mouse might eat.
The little guy also has disturbingly white hands. Leaving aside the perplexing question of how a rodent has human hands (and feet), what we’re probably seeing here is Reynaud’s phenomenon.
In itself, this is a circulatory system peculiarity that is not medically-concerning. However, it can be very painful. Mickey appears to be in the early stages of the process. Likely shortly after his portrait sittings, his hands turned bright blue, then eventually into a deep red. Throughout the process, he would be in quite a bit of pain.
Of course, I can’t be sure if he isn’t wearing gloves (assuming that garish white color IS his skin, frequent glove use makes sense). Gloved or not, we still have the problem of clearly HUGE hands, suggesting edema like that described above in his feet. Assuming, however, that we do in fact have Reynaud’s here, the concern is of an autoimmune disease in the category of lupus. “Lupus” is a reference to the facial rash often seen in the disease and how it mimics the fur-pattern of the red wolf. Given that wolves engorge themselves on mice whenever possible, this diagnosis is insult to injury for our poor little entertainer.
Furthermore, lupus typically causes joint and connective tissue pain. It can lead to heart problems, anemia, serious lung problems including emboli and hemorrhages, kidney damage and neurological problems. There is no known cure, although the disease can be managed usually to good effect with oral steroids (not of the Lance Armstrong type…we’ll get to that), but the Mickster here clearly needs to get them started.
Next, the rotund belly. This is the physical sign most associated with diabetes and other metabolic diseases (or could be another sign of his CHF). Termed by doctors as “central obesity,” this malady affects a HUGE proportion of American men, especially. To our knowledge, little else puts a person more at risk for big metabolic problems. Mickey lives at Disneyland, where he can expect to eat things like spun sugar, rock candy-encased apples (I presume of the sort that felled Ms. S. White) and shovel-fulls of sweetened popcorn. So, as a nearly 90 year-old mouse, he can be forgiven the “Gaston Gut,” as it were. Still, a strict diet is highly recommended.
Another thing: look carefully, and you’ll realize that Mickey’s head is larger than his entire thorax (body sans legs). Babies exhibit this phenomenon – watch a toddler reach overhead…only the hands extend beyond the giant head itself – but adults don’t. Mickey may have been born with something called hydrocephaly that was inexplicably untreated for 80 years. Maybe he was too busy as a child prodigy mouse, or maybe everyone thought it was “cute.” He may also be suffering from Cushings, an overabundance of the steroid cortisol. He has some other physical signs to support that diagnosis too.
But he also could be doping. By doping, I specifically mean HGH, or human growth hormone. Lots of athletes do (or did) it, like Barry Bonds (yep, I passed judgement…don’t care about some goofy trial) and probably Lance Armstrong. Here a note to Armstrong supporters: almost EVERY top-5 pro cyclist, and every one of Lance’s main competitors over his winning years, has been busted for doping of some sort. Except him. Savvy, not legitimacy, I say.
Anyway, HGH makes you huge, but it can disporportionately affect the bones, especially in the head. Of note, HGH isn’t bad in itself, per se. It stimulates muscle growth in a way that can be very helpful to geriatric patients, for example. And, as with many Hollywood elites, The Mickster shows his age about as much as Dick Clark who looks 40 but was actually personal friends with Moses. So, I think Mickey can be forgiven for taking a shot or two from the possible fountain of youth. But, unfortunately, that HUGE noggin gives it away…to me at least.
So, let me say that DisneyLand was a great adventure for our 4 kids. I, however, kept getting dragged into unnecessary endeavors like rides or shows even as I frantically searched high and low my latest, and sickest, patient. Sadly, I never had a chance to warn him of his predicament. So, the onus is now on you, dear SW101 nation. Find him. Tell him. He’s sick. He needs help.
Next Week: Goofy comes out of the closet and reveals that he has Marfan’s Disease…and everyone pretends to be surprised.