As a progressive, I am looking at the photos of Dick Cheney at the inauguration and cheering the cosmic justice that turned Darth Vader into a latter stage Mr. Hyde. Those who speculate that, in a wheelchair, he would have been a lesser target for flying shoes certainly make a good point. There’s no question that much of the day’s audience was cheering both Cheney’s and Bush’s departure one way or another.
And, the unusual extended leg position Cheney had in the chair mimics the diagnostic straight leg raising test--which would actually aggravate lower back pain, especially if caused by a herniated disk. Again, if Dick had to sit, why would he not opt for bending his knees to reduce the strain on his back?
We’ll probably never know the answers to these questions. Was it vanity that drove our Dick to avoid walking stiffly to the inauguration site? Or perhaps a cardiovascular or respiratory limitation that prevented him from ambulating, especially in the dry, freezing weather? Heart failure, COPD, asthma, thrombophlebitis—the possibilities are endless. The risks of angina and heart attacks increase with exposure to cold weather and physical exertion in the cold. And, leg elevation can reduce edema (swelling) of the lower extremities and help return blood to a less than ideally functioning heart.