Monday, April 19, 2010

Teri Robert and Ali Sultaneh: What's Going On?

If you've read this blog before, you know that I admire Teri Robert a great deal. Teri is the author of Living Well With Migraine Disease and Headaches, a health writer, and a patient advocate in the field of Migraine and other headache disorders. If I were younger, I'd hope to grow up to be like Teri. As it is, I hope my daughter grows up to be like Teri. I could go on about why I admire her, but if you know anything of her work, I don't need to tell you more.

For several weeks now, I've been seeing some disturbing posts on a Migraine forum that I sometimes read. To tell you about those posts, I need to give you some background on someone who is a frequent poster on that forum.

Ali Sultaneh is a doctor in Syria who has been claiming for several years now to have invented a surgery that can "cure" Migraines. In the last couple of years, other surgeons have developed treatments that Sultaneh says are "stolen" from his surgery. Sultaneh persists in posting diatribes about this supposed theft to online forums that exist for Migraine patients to share information and support, which is fruitless as patients can't do anything about his problems. On one of these forums, Teri has repeatedly suggested to him that he contact a lawyer or that he contact an investigative reporter at a large newspaper. If his surgery is anywhere near as successful as he says it is. the theft of said surgery would be a HUGE story, one that a good reporter would love to sink his or her teeth into. I've seen Teri make this suggestion to him at least twice, but have never seen him reply to that suggestion.

Just one more piece of background, then I promise to get to the point. Dr. Sultaneh has attempted to post about his surgery to the forum on About.com (when Teri worked for them) and MyMigraineConnection.com (Teri currently works for them.) On both of those sites, it's a violation of their terms of service for anyone to post to promote goods and services. It's considered spamming. So, when she doesn't allow him to post, she's doing her job. I asked her about this via email. Here's what she told me:

"I have not allowed him to post for two reasons:
  1. On About.com, MyMigraineConnection.com, and HelpForHeadaches.com, it's against the terms of service to post to promote goods and services. In plain old Internet lingo, it's spamming, and neither the companies nor I tolerate spamming.

  2. There is no cure for Migraine disease yet. It's that simple. There are treatments that are very effective for preventing Migraines, but nothing that can actually cure the disease. Thus, I allow no one to post that they have the cure because they don't."

OK. Here's what's going on now:

For some reason known only to Sultaneh, he has decided to attack Teri, saying that she's a "killer" because she hasn't allowed him to post about his surgery on sites that she manages. He glommed onto an article Teri wrote about a young woman who took her life after being treated like a drug seeker when she went to the ER for help with an out-of-control Migraine. Now, he's claiming that Teri is responsible for her suicide because she didn't allow him to post about his surgery.

Yesterday, he also posted on a forum (not one of Teri's) that Teri had emailed him and invited him to post on her sites, but that he supposedly deleted the invitation. Teri says she did not email him and would never invite him to post to her sites. I believe her, and that makes Sultaneh a liar on top of everything else. Another Migraine blogger has written about this and makes a similar observation in the comments on his recent post, Ali Sultaneh and His "Stolen" Surgery.

Sultaneh has attempted to post comments here, on my blog, several times to talk about his surgery. I too consider his comments to be spam and have deleted them all.

I wanted to write this so that anybody who is coming across these ludicrous accusations about Teri could know at least a bit about what's going on. I don't understand what Sultaneh thinks he can accomplish by attacking her. Even if what he says about his surgery is true, there's nothing Teri can do about it. Even if it wasn't against the rules, and she had let him post about his surgery, it's not as if any of her readers could have gone to him for treatment anyway. He's in Syria

Sultaneh, if you read this, I address this paragraph to you:

If what you want is to stop the supposed theft of your surgery and use it to help Migraine patients, you're going about it all wrong. Attacking Teri isn't going to get you anywhere. It not only makes patients angry; it will make quite a few Migraine doctors angry too. You're directing your anger and frustration at the wrong people. Teri can't do anything about your problems with your surgery. Quit being a total ass.

It seems right to me to close with some comments from Teri. I emailed her, asking her about this situation and for comments that she would allow me to quote here. From Teri:

"I have no idea what Mr. Sultaneh's thinking is that's led to him repeatedly posting calling me a "killer" and accusing me of causing Migraineurs to take their own lives. He seems to think that if I'd allowed him to spam the forums I manage and post about his surgery, that here would be fewer suicides among Migraineurs. I can't figure that out. Certainly, the one young woman he uses as an example couldn't have gone to Syria for treatment even if she'd wanted to.

I don't know if his surgery has any value or if the surgeons he accuses of stealing it have based their work on his or not, and that's not something I could do anything about anyway. That's a situation that needs to be addressed by the courts and the medical community. That's not me, so I just don't understand why he's attacking me.

I did not recently (or ever) email him and invite him to post to any of my sites. Period. I'm sick and tired of his attacks, but I won't stoop to his level by saying negative things about him."

Namasté
Abi

10 comments:

Pen said...

Well done abi. Needed saying.
He has gone too far with this.

Pen said...

Abi, cant find a way to follow your blog.....am i being thick please?

Abigail said...

Thanks, Pen!

Sorry for the confusion on following my blog. I just added a link to the top of the right column to make it easier.

Thank you so much.

Namasté,
Abi

Parin Stormlaughter said...

When you wrote, "I emailed her, asking her about this situation and for comments that she would allow me to quote here" did you mean you were asking for on-record comments or did you mean that normally she disapproves of being quoted? Just sounds strange the way you worded it. Might just be me.

About the good doctor: He complains about theft of his surgery but still wants to write about the surgery on internet bulletin boards? Am I understanding his complaint correctly?

Brent said...

If he wants us to believe he is a doctor then he better conduct himself as one. I would expect a far more professional demeanor then I see in his psychotic ramblings

We all know Teri is a vast resource of info and has a solid reputation. He has absolutely no credibility on any blog or forum.

Snowbrush said...

What a sad and disturbing post.

My wife gets migraines at least weekly and mostly when she's at work--as a nurse in a hospital. Perfumes seem to bring them on, and she thinks that maybe fluorescent lights and carpet cleaning chemicals do too. What can she do though since she has to work?

Abigail said...

Parin,

Sorry for the confusion. I emailed her and asked for "on-the-record" comments about this situation.

Abi

Abigail said...

Snowbrush,

There are lots of treatments that could help your wife. Time for her to see a good doctor, maybe a Migraine specialist.

Abi

Parin Stormlaughter said...

Thanks Abi! :)

Myth said...

Wow, that guys sounds like quite the wackadoodle.