Ed Brayton’s Recovering From Open Heart Surgery and Could Use Our Help

Ed Brayton’s Recovering From Open Heart Surgery and Could Use Our Help December 23, 2012

My good friend Ed Brayton was my boss at Freethought Blogs. It was thanks to his and PZ Myers’s graciousness that many of you ever discovered Camels With Hammers in the first place and that I had the traffic and notoriety that made it so that Patheos was willing to immediately sign me when I inquired with them. So I am really grateful to Ed for such support. I am also really grateful for the upstanding and gracious way that he ran Freethought Blogs behind the scenes while I was there. I was always very proud and happy to work for him. And it has been a delight and an honor to get to become friends with him in the last year and a half, as I have long admired the commitment to principles, irrespective of parties, that guides his work at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. In an internet glutted with political blogs, Ed’s is among the small handful that I deliberately make sure to check out nearly every day. So, I was distressed to read of the health ordeal he went through this past week:

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.

Now he can use some help as he recovers from this surgery. Here’s what he needs and how we can pitch in:

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…just go to and the email address is

There are also donation buttons on Ed’s post, if you cannot donate directly in that manner.

Blogging is not very lucrative. Even Ed’s relatively high traffic blog does not pay him nearly what it’s worth for all the people it reaches and informs everyday. Please make this one of those rare times you actually pay back a blogger for those countless hours of enjoyment and provocation that you get from him, for which he is normally hardly paid. If you’ve got it, please donate to Ed. He’s a great guy, a good friend and an invaluable watchdog for American civil liberties and the 1st Amendment.

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