Do you know the first blog I read each and every morning? It’s not Pharyngula (sorry PZ). It’s not the Friendly Atheist (sorry Hemant). It’s not Andrew Sullivan or Greta Christina’s blog (sorry Greta).
It’s actually Dispatches from the Culture Wars, by Ed Brayton. Ed is perhaps the greatest political mind in the atheist movement and, in my estimation, by no small amount. His blogs contain a lot of information about what is going on in the world, particularly in the US government, as well as what religious leaders are saying. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on things. Aside from being a certifiable genius when it comes to politics, he’s an amusing and talented writer and an exceptionally nice guy.
Sadly, sometimes absolutely horrible things happen to good people. This last weekend, Ed had a pretty big scare that is not yet resolved.
A week ago (exactly last Saturday), I was experiencing some serious pain in my abdomen, near my kidneys. It was keeping me from sleeping at night, it was so bad. So I drove to the emergency room in Greenville. They ran some urine tests and didn’t find anything wrong with my kidneys, so they gave me some vicodin and told me to call my regular doctor on Monday morning. So I wait…
Fast forward to Sunday night and suddenly I’m having trouble breathing. I can’t walk 5 feet without feeling like I’m gonna fall over, my heart is racing a mile a minute and I keep waking up drenched in sweat. I decide not to wait to see my regular doctor and not to try to drive to the ER, so I call 911. The ambulance came Monday morning and they thought I was having a heart attack. I get to Greenville ER and the doctor there immediately decides to send me to Butterworth hospital in Grand Rapids, a world-class medical facility, especially for cardiac problems.
I get to Butterworth with my heart rate over 160. They did a heart catheter and found no blockages at all. They did a CAT scan and found the lining of my heart a bit thick and the right ventricle a bit stiff, but those things shouldn’t cause the problems I was having. All day Monday they did tests, also finding that my lymph nodes were swelled badly. Tuesday morning about 10 AM, my heart rate goes over 200 bpm and they decide they can’t wait any longer, they have to open me up.
So, Black and Decker to the sternum and they are shocked to find a ton of fluid in my chest, pushing down on my heart and lungs and making my heart go into overdrive to keep oxygen in my system. They do a biopsy on the lymph nodes, clean things up, install three chest tubes and sew me back up. Sometime in the middle of the night, I ripped out my ventilator tube (I told them that better not be on my bill, I did it myself). As for what caused all of this, that’s still not certain.
There are two possibilities left — a fungal infection and sarcoidosis, an auto-immune disorder that essentially has to be diagnosed by ruling out all the other possibilities. It’s treatable and should be able to be handled medically without long-term problems. Looks like I’ll be allowed to leave tomorrow, but I’ll need to stay with a friend to look after me for the first week or so before going home.
Good news is that Ed does have health insurance. Bad news is that, like Greta with her bout with cancer, Ed will be out income as he recovers. There are ways we can help (via Ed).
The good news is that I have health insurance, which I pay on a COBRA from my job with AINN (it runs out in six months and I’ll have to get my own insurance, which thankfully can’t be denied anymore because of the preexisting condition). But I’m still going to have some significant out-of-pocket expenses and loss of income during the recovery period (it’s going to be a couple months before I’m really back to normal). So you can certainly help out financially if you have the means to do so and it would be greatly appreciated. You can donate through Paypal:
Or if you’d like to subscribe to my blog and help out that way (I know, you get it for free anyway, right?), you can do that here:
Any help would certainly be appreciated, but it’s hardly necessary. More than anything, I thank my readers for sticking with me for more than nine years now and helping build this amazing community around the blog.
So if you can pitch anything into the hat, even if it’s ten bucks, please do. Otherwise, Ed might have to fake a near-death experience and become a millionaire, and we can’t have that.