Floating Voter / Be Well, Arik

When I took it upon myself to write this column, I did not imagine I would have to renounce my limited political expertise and enlist my broad medical expertise so soon. The stroke our prime minister suffered forces me to put my experience as a patient at the readers' service.

I read in the papers about the "moment of confusion" Ariel Sharon experienced and it reminded me, of course, of my moment of confusion more than a year ago. My wife, Dorit, is the one who noticed my momentary embarrassment, after failing to clearly recognize a short essay I had written two hours earlier. And Dorit was very worried.

A moment later I recovered and tried to calm her down: "I see so many confused people around me, and not just for a moment, either, chronically confused - they don't know, they don't remember - and they don't even dream of going for a check up" - I told my wife. She replied: "That's true, you're right, but you've never been confused, even when you were wrong you did not get confused."

When they reported now about the prime minister's MRI test, I remembered again how I emerged from it: "Well, you have a brain tumor, a large one, and as a result of the tumor you have edema, which has apparently spread a lot recently and is endangering your life" - the doctor informed me.

Sharon does not have a tumor in his brain, and there was no need for an "invasive procedure," i.e. surgery. But a head is a head and a brain is a brain, and a thick, mysterious darkness cloaks every event in our skull - mystery and primordial, existential anxiety. And that, apparently, is the common denominator between what happened to Sharon and to me.

Because neither of us, at present, has an alternative brain, and without one we would have difficulty managing, and we have no intention of leaving it in the storeroom, like that MK who recently told us he left his "brain" in the Knesset storeroom. Even if we jest with our doctors, it is still a serious business, all the more so with the prime minister.

Even before they wheeled me into the operating theater, Sharon telephoned me and wished me speedy recovery. I deeply appreciated this phone call from a sworn political enemy. Now I am calling him, by means of this essay, wishing him speedy recovery; be well, Arik.

In retrospect, it transpired that the prime minister's wishes did indeed help: I was up on my feet quickly, gained strength and today the brain is the best functioning organ in my body. I hope my wishes will help him, and prove just as successful.

For the public I have two announcements - a good one and a not-so-good one. According to all the signs and testimonies, and on the basis of my layman's proficiency in medicine, one could say Sharon's stroke was indeed a minor one and in a few weeks, in the midst of the election campaign, it will be forgotten as though it had never occurred. That's the good announcement.

The less good one: what luck that the "cerebral event" passed safely; had Sharon, God forbid, been injured - we would not have known it, don't kid yourselves. The prime minister's close environment - family, advisers and aides - is known to be protective and when these people ferociously shield Sharon, they know how to keep things quiet and cover up telltale clues.