A spokesperson for former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) voluntary civilian medical team, Janice Chen (陳昭姿), said yesterday that she was prohibited from visiting the former president after an incident involving Next Magazine on Jan. 30, unless she signed a recognizance vowing to not disclose any information beyond what strictly pertains to his medical treatment.
The online version of Next Magazine, published on Jan. 30, featured 28 seconds of footage, provided by an anonymous reader, showing Chen Shui-bian’s right hand trembling, that his expression seemed vacant and that he had trouble talking.
The publication of the footage caused Taipei Veterans General Hospital, the current facility in charge of Chen’s medical treatment, to clash with Chen Shun-sheng (陳順勝), a member of Chen Shui-bian’s voluntary civilian medical team, with the hospital claiming that Chen Shun-sheng was not an expert in the field.
According to Janice Chen’s Facebook post, she wished to dispel rumors that she had been behind the magazine’s decision to publish the footage, claiming that the video had been taken by former Department of Health minister Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) and had been taken by reporters from Twu’s Facebook site after he had uploaded the file.
According to a report in the Apple Daily on Jan. 31, Twu said he had made the footage as a concerned friend, adding that he had felt that the footage should be shown to doctors to look over.
Twu further said that he had asked for and received the approval of Chen Shui-bian and his family before the footage was released.
Janice Chen wrote that when she visited Chen Shui-bian with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chie-ju (陳節如) on Tuesday, Chen Shui-bian said that he had almost fallen that morning, and that he did not hit the ground only because there had been a sofa on the side.
Janice Chen wrote that Chen Shui-bian had taken out forms listing his current and past medication, saying that the doses had become heavier and there were some side-effects that were starting to show, adding that Chen Shui-bian also said one of the medications prescribed in his current list was a drug to fight Parkinson’s disease.
According to Chen Chang-ming (陳昌明), the doctor in charge of Chen Shui-bian’s treatment, the hospital had already consulted multiple experts in the field of extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS), and it has already ruled out Parkinson’s disease, but Chen Shui-bian may be afflicted with Parkinsonian syndromes or Essential Tremor.
EPS is an umbrella term for multiple movement disorders, and Parkisonian syndromes refer to other etiologies leading to similar symptoms, as distinguished from Parikinson’s disease, the term used for neurological degeneration in the central nervous system without a known cause.
Essential tremor is also a neurological degenerative disorder that is progressive, and has been identified as a disorder caused in part due to genetics and also exposure to certain toxins.
“[Former] president Chen was highly commendatory of the voluntary medical team, saying that the numerous discoveries the team had made had all later been confirmed by the Taipei Veterans General Hospital,” Janice Chen wrote.
“I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, frontotemporal lobe atrophy and gastroesophageal reflux disorder by doctors that worked with the voluntary civilian medic group. The same diagnoses were later made by the medical team at Taipei Veterans General Hospital,” Chen Shui-bian said.
Janice Chen added that despite knowing that many were concerned for former president Chen, she and others would not be able to divulge any more information on the subject in the following days and urged people who are concerned to remain patient.