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Science Software Linux

Patrick Volkerding Battles Mystery Illness 675

sethadam1 writes "Calling all Slashdoctors! Pat Volkerding, maintainer of Slackware Linux, needs your help. This morning, he posted his very detailed account (mirror) of his battle with Actinomyces here on the Slackware FTP server. Patrick has given his blood, sweat, and tears to the open source community for years in Slackware, one of the oldest surviving Linux distributions. If you can, please help!"
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Patrick Volkerding Battles Mystery Illness

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  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:21PM (#10833660)
    That's the least all of us can do that believe in such things. He's done great work. Without his Slackware books and releases, I'd probably not be involved with Linux.
  • Proof (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:21PM (#10833668)
    Actions like this (trying to help another) are what really make a community. The fact that people pull together to help another person, whom they probably don't know, proves incorrect those who criticize this community as many takers feeding off of a few givers.

    At times, I can see their point. Many people download software/use manuals written by other people, while relatively few contribute actual code (guilty myself). But actions like this allay my concerns and show there really is a true community here.
  • by Delita ( 300714 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:29PM (#10833789)
    Something similar happened to me when I had an asthma attack in the middle of a case of pneumonia. I ended up sending my brother some IMs via AIM telling him to get help for me. Even if I were coherent enough to talk on the phone, my lungs were at less than 10% of normal capacity, and I couldn't make any sounds anyway. It's a strange feeling to know that something from AOL actually saved my life.
  • Emory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:42PM (#10834002)
    I might suggest a trip here to Atlanta. Emory University Hospital is located right next to the CDC here.
    On the other hand, finding an old country doctor might do the trick. I once had a gland or something under my armpit swell. Local hospital in Alabama at the time had no clue what it was. We were dirt poor in those days and a friend of ours drove us out to this old doctor's house. He looked at it, hobble back behind his counter and drug out a an old medicine bottle (remember when persciptions came in those old brown bottles?) and scowled, "Here. Give 'im this 3 times a day and put a heat pad on it!" My Mom said, "Okay, when do you want to see him again?" "See who?" he said. "My son, to see how it's doing?" she replied. "See how what's doing? There won't be anything to see!" he said. He was right. You can insert all the jokes about how hard it really is to stump an ER doctor in Alabama, but the old dude was right on!
  • Strange story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by InternationalCow ( 681980 ) <> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:47PM (#10834069) Journal
    As a qualified /. MD I can tell you that this is an oddnstory. Now, where the actinomyces bit comes from is a mystery because his letter doesn't mention it. The complaints he lists are not typical of anything but the consistently normal results of CT/Thorax and lab (the deviations he lists are not significant) suggest that some of it may be more mental than anything else. That said, some complaints can be consistent with a diagnosis of pleuritis/pericarditis or even pulmonary embolism. However, the additional investigations should have uncovered this. An infection is not very likely all considered. Why was nothing cultured? If Volkerding is expectorating, stuff can be cultured. Apparently no such material was available. In extremis, direct puncture of suspicious lesions can provide material for culture or PCR.
    Actinomyces species, to name one cause of infection that seems to be relevant to this discussion, causes lung abcesses that lead to spitting of blood and fever and such. It is also associated with immunosuppression, ie in HIV infection or when on organ transplant medication to name a few. In all, no convincing case for an infection.
    Lastly, I find this plea for help via the Internet rather odd. One might imagine that a well-educated person like mr. Volkerding should be able to find his way to proper medical care. The consistent failure of several doctors using pretty advanced technology to find any clear abnormality combined with the absence of typical symptoms suggests to me that mr Volkerding may not suffer from any physical abnormality at present.
  • by dcarey ( 321183 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @03:59PM (#10834249) Homepage
    I am curious about his "sulfur granuals" ... reason being that I have had something similar for about 10 years (but I've never had his other symptoms). What I thought they were called were "tonsil stones." [] That's a random link, but you can just google it and find much more. My tonsil stones look similar to what he has described - white yellowish, less than 1mm, sperical, foul smelling. But I don't have any other symptoms.
  • by MooseByte ( 751829 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @04:19PM (#10834541)

    Faith can be handy, but nothing speaks like preventative action. Good dental hygiene. Seriously. Dead serious. More and more evidence is pointing to poor dental health as a vector for disease [] including heart disease and stroke.

    This writeup [] on Pulmonary Actinomycosis (the possible disease in question here) reiterates that:

    Poor dental hygiene and dental abscess can predispose people to facial lesions and lung infections caused by these bacteria.

    So get to those twice-yearly dental cleanings and brush/floss. Plus with the thousands of dollars you save on not getting root canals and crowns, you can buy an awful lot of tech hardware....

  • by macrom ( 537566 ) <> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @04:29PM (#10834674) Homepage
    I was thinking the same thing. My tonsils were removed in February of 2002, and one of the driving reasons was excessive tonsil stones. I had to use a Water Pik on a regular basis to keep the crypts cleared out. Eventually they just permanently swelled virtually shut, so my ENT agreeded to remove them.

    I am definitely not a doctor, but the symptoms he describes sounds familiar. The tonsilloliths are easily rectified, and I don't know of any other medical condition that would mimick this. The chest pains sound like pleruisy to me. I had this once in college -- freaked the living daylights out of me. My roommates took me to the ER where I was on oxygen and an EKG machine for a while. The doctor said that the symptoms are similar to a heart attack from the perspective of an untrained patient. Since the infection of the pleura is viral, there's really nothing that they can do other than prescribe pain killers and a heating pad.

    The big thing that he needs to stop doing is suggesting to doctors what he has. Walking into the ER and telling them that you think you are suffering from an infection acquired from "lung plaque", while potentially correct, will just brand you a loon. Anytime I go to the doctor I do research into my symptoms, but I always tell the truth and let the expert decide. While you may have symptoms for months or years, you are still far from knowledgeable about medical conditions. There is a reason that doctors are in their 30s before they're allowed to practice medicine on the unsuspecting population.
  • by Abm0raz ( 668337 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @04:45PM (#10834901) Journal

    5 years ago, I had the same infection, but of the mouth variety. It was misdiagnosed 3 seperate times; first as strep throat, then as mono, then as a "mono-like virus that will need to run it's course."

    By the third visit (8 days after the first) I was running a 103 degree fever, hadn't eaten in 3 days. The swelling in my troat and mouth was so bad I couldn't even swallow water (it came out my nose) and breathing was beginning to be affected. My roommate (and fraternity brother and hockey defense partner) made a HUGE deal at the hospital when they told me to go home and get plenty of rest. I was too delerious to do anything myself. Eventually, they called a specialist that agreed to see me in his office immediately (even though it was 7:30pm on a Friday).
    Soon as we got there, he had me diagnosed from thhe sound of my voice: Peritonsilus Abcess. He prepped me immediately for emergency surgery. Most painful thing I ever went through. I'll not bore with the details, but he drained a LOT of puss, granuals, and blood from my mouth.
    45min later, I could talk and swallow (still somewhaat painfully). He gave me a perscription for Biaxin and Clindamyacin because he said the bacteria that cause this are one of 2 major types and each is unaffected by the other's medicine. Within 36hr I was almost back to normal. Withing 5 days everything had healed.

    I can't imagine it in my lungs, though.

  • by johansalk ( 818687 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @05:00PM (#10835155)
    This is a common misunderstanding; ER does not equal good treatment, in fact, quite often the opposite. People often have the idea that if they go to the ER they'll get the best treatment in the hospital, and that's just not true, in fact, I think a major part of the reason this thing went on for too long was that he seems to have relied on the ER "Slackware 2004 ER tour continues", where he was being constantly compared to those who fractured multiple limbs in road traffic accidents and decided he was not high risk enough, and then sent away. Patrick needs specialist care, and the ER is the last place he'll find that. Granted, if his condition deteriorates over a short period of time (hours) and he suddenly can't breathe and feels about to die, then yes, go to the ER, otherwise, no, wait for the specialist.
  • I just wrote Patrick (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @05:18PM (#10835429)
    I wrote Patrick to tell him that I personally suffer the same syntoms that he is going through.

    I've been to see a specialist and he told me that this is related to not taking care of your teeth.

    Below is a copy of the letter that I sent him:


    My god, I'm reading the post you post on Slashdot and by god if I don't have the same thing. I've had this problem for YEARS and I mean like 10 years. Just to let you know, here are my symptoms. I have a somewhat like hole in my left tonsel. It use to be about once a month I would have this pain on that side of my throat. Somethimes this yellow or green hard stuff would come out of it. If it built up to much it would make me feel like my throat was going to close and also me cough. Now being a smoker, I thought that maybe it was throat cancer or something. However I'm only 28 so the chances of that are highly unlikly. This went on for I would say about 5 years until I finally went to a throat specialist down here in Boca Raton, FL.

    Well here was the diagnose that he told me. This is a more common problem than you think. ALOT of people have this. What causes it? Not brushing your teeth, believe it or not. He told me that it is a bateria that builds up in your throat from food and what not. Brushing, flossing and rising takes care of the problem. You will never get totally rid of it and probably will have to live with it for the rest of your life like me. The thing is that ever since he told me this, I brush and floss on a daily basis. If I miss brushing my teeth for even one day, my throat feels and screwed up again. So naturally I make sure that I brush and floss at least twice a day.

    For stuff in my throat, he told me that while I'm in the shower to stick my finger down where the hole is and to squeeze the crap out of it at least 3 times a week. It's a little disgusting, but what the hell, I don't have that feeling anymore and no more pain.

    Personally if I were you I would do the same thing. Squeeze that crap out of your throat and make sure that you brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Make sure you FLOSS, brushing gets your teeth white, but flossing is what prevents all the diseases and what not that are gum related. You would be amazed it you did a search on Google for diseases that are related to people not taking care of their teeth. It's probably the easy way to prevent alot of the diseases that people have and they never do it.

    I hope this helps you out. Good luck with everything and again, brush and floss your teeth brother. Go do it now!
  • by runderwo ( 609077 ) * <runderwo&mail,win,org> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @05:54PM (#10835886)
    A lot of people are expressing their frustration with doctors and their apparent "incompetence" or "arrogance" with respect to following established medical procedure instead of accepting a patient's self-diagnosis at face value.

    The thing you have to remember about this is that doctors are being barraged with malpractice suits these days. The reason they follow established practices even when the patient becomes frustrated and insults them for it, is because if they deviate from that practice, then they have less defense in the case that the patient in question turns around later and files a malpractice suit when things don't turn out the right way, and if they are declared guilty of malpractice, their insurance company won't cover the losses if they were found to be deviant. Why would a MD invite trouble that way?

    Of course, if all the sue-happy buffoons would chill out a little bit, maybe MDs would be more willing to go out on a limb, but unfortunately that's not the state of things these days.

  • by zurab ( 188064 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:15PM (#10836161)
    Following your links, pulmonary actinomycosis [] may be more appropriate. In the writing, he mentions bad dental hygiene and an electric toothbrush that may have caused or contributed to the infection. The symptoms described seem similar too. He should definitely see the specialist in these types of diseases (ID?) ASAP; he should be able to get an appointment later in the day or next morning at the latest - many doctors do understand the urgent need and will accommodate them. This is important since complications of pulmonary actinomycosis sound pretty bad and you don't want to get to those. As I understand from reading the full story, he has not been proactive about treating the illness for several years, but what can you do looking back? Better take care of it ASAP.

  • Re:Strange story (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ylon ( 656206 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:22PM (#10836235)
    Aside from the French (pardon my colloquialism) this fellow hit it on the head. I almost went into medicine, but started my own computer consulting and programming firm (often hear that doctors often encounter this path sometime in life) and can say that Hawkeye4 is absolutely right. Doctors and programmers have some serious issues that they encounter during work. Doctors more especially as they have human lives at stake.

    Doctors, and programmers, also have a tendency to live in their own little world while disregarding the real needs or desires of others(often programmers worse than doctors, thus Windows as well as the pitiful situation of UI today, one of my pet peeves... :) Don't misinterpret what I'm saying here. I love doctors, as I said, almost was one, and my grand father was a D.O.

    Remember that people don't want to be sick (usually) and that you're best bet is to trust them that they're trying to help you to help them. Hurrah for Patrick. I applaud you and would do the same in terms of jumping around and researching if one of my family or myself were at stake. May our Father in Heaven bless you and my prayers are with you.

    PS - Go to a DO ASAP rather than any more MDs.
  • by geekotourist ( 80163 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @06:51PM (#10836515) Journal
    I'm not writing about Pat Volkerding-- he's been seeing doctors and seeking treatment, and I wish him well as he goes to the hospital today along with several friends or family members who do everything possible to keep him there. Hacking the medical system and insurance system is itself a skill we do all need. And, yes, we can do specific things to make ourselves healthier-- reprogram bad habits and all that.

    I'm writing in general, about engineers and computer scientists (guys especially) who think that the heuristics of their profession give them any extra advantage over the general public in self-diagnosing illnesses. Its the opposite-- your tools and knowledge, so good for your profession, can harm you when it comes to medical treatment.

    Yes, medicine itself is still primative, we've only just built MRIs that can see metabolism [] by imaging C,N and O on top of H20. Medical error is a leading cause of death []. Doctors can believe that real illnesses aren't just psychological - it took medicine a while to accept that bacteria caused ulcers. Sometimes unpatented, ordinary vitamins help with a major symptom of a major illness [] (and if you have or know someone with diabetes- read the research and go get some benfotiamine!). Medicine is like that.

    But the heuristics of medicine are far better than any other for dealing with illnesses. Non-medical common sense is orthogonal to medicine- if it gives good results that's just luck. But given how easily people are helped by placebos, how good are we going to be at telling if a particular treatment is working or not? Given how we can tune out outside signals when working on something (like the need to eat or drink), how often are we going to miss far more subtle clues? Given how personal psychology can make it hard to admit to feeling pain or to talk about body weaknesses (especially guys), how can we make sure that we're telling the doctor all relevant clues? Given how most medical research on the net is in the form of abstracts, not full articles, and given our strong abilities to find patterns (even where there aren't any), how easy is it to be side-tracked into thinking we've diagnosed ourselves when we haven't? Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments [] is an intensely applicable article to everyone.

    I recently had a relative who died []. With Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia your odds aren't good, but they're far worse if you don't know if you have the methicillin sensitive or the methicillin resistant version: the antibiotics for MRSA don't work very well on MSSA (the reverse is, of course, obvious).

    Very tiny differences in what illness you have can make big differences in what treatment you need. Only medical tests- not all the reading and self-diagnoses in the world- will find those differences. Making sure you get those tests- that's hacking the medical and insurance system. Thinking you can figure out on your own what you have or whether or not a treatment is working? That's trying to hack your own body, and our self-assessments on how well we do that aren't very good. Our own self-diagnosis system is worse than the one in Windows (and for spaghetti code without any comments see dna).

  • by goon ( 2774 ) <peterrenshaw@sel ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:14PM (#10836745) Homepage Journal
    '... By early September 2004, I was spending a good portion of the time I'd normally be working online flat on my back instead ...'

    one of the surest signs you have to do something about it. It is a problem that is stopping you what you normally can do.

    '... Being an ex-smoker, worries of lung cancer were starting to consume my thoughts ...'

    So you realise your mortal and you like living. Nothing wrong there.

    Now for the sermon: get someone to find out what is wrong. don't stop until your satisfied. get another practioner if they give you the bums rush or cant be bothered to solve your problem.

    repeat after me programmers, hackers: Look after the health of your system and yourself. I dont want to read another opensource contributor obituary [].

    Well Patrick - get yourself well. write it up and I'll promise to get a full commercial version of slack instead of the cheapscate versions I usually get :)

  • Re:Mayo Clinic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @07:58PM (#10837181) Homepage Journal
    I've been to Mayo. If I hadn't gone there, I would probably have been on chemotherapy for a long time for something that turns out not to be malignant. I might not have been able to father little Stanley (chemo can make you sterile). And three other patients in Berkeley would have been on chemo for too long, as well. They went off after my doctor at Mayo corresponded with my doctor in Berkeley.

    This is how I got there: I asked my doctor in Berkeley for a paper by the leading researcher on what I was suffering. I could also have found this at a library, or perhaps today on the web (not then), but the doctor did the work for me. The paper was by the doctor at Mayo. I called up and asked if he'd see me, and he agreed. It wasn't a lot of trouble to fly there. It was more trouble getting my insurance to pay, I think at the time I got 80% paid for and perhaps today I'd get less or nothing. But it was worth it. I got a lot of testing an an evaluation by the most experienced physician in the field. He gave me the benefit of research that wouldn't be published for another year. He convinced my own doctor to change his treatement not only for me but for his other patients with the same disorder.

    I shiver to think of what happens to people who have a bit less money, and who are tied to their desks at work all day. They would not be able to drive their own health care as I have.


  • by 70Bang ( 805280 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:06PM (#10837840)
    One of the biggest problems facing doctors (re: diagnosing problems) today are their patients. Patients tell the doctor what they think is relevant, leaving out what could be vital information presuming it's not related because it seems insignificant [to them]. My policy is to tell them everything and let them sort out what is|not important. Then again, I've got a physician & his partner who are pretty holistic in their outlook and aren't willing to shove a pill bottle in your hand and point you towards the door.

    Big tip - which would have helped in this case...once you've received some form of treatment, Rx, or anything there are two very important questions to ask: 1) how soon should I start noticing an improvement? 2) how many days should I wait before I don't feel better or feel worse?

    Some doctors will volunteer this information to you. But if they don't...

    When I went to an ER with an ACL blowout, I had a first-year Resident check it out and respond, "well, all of your external ligaments are tight. Here's some Tylenol-3. If you don't feel better in two weeks, see your doctor." My response to him was, "'Dr.' and I use that term lightly, I knew that before I came in, and I didn't go to medical school. Would you care to go get your Attending or should I start yelling until *everyone* within earshot wants to know what you're doing to your patient(s)?" He brought the Attending back and I told him what had happened - and what his prize student had done. The exchanged looks between Attending & toad told me there'd be some discussions later. After I told the Attending all of my suspicions & why, he asked me what my background was - where I learned what I knew and used the terminology. (I worked as an EMT from 16-21; 18 is the legal minimum but I got special permission because there weren't enough where I lived. I actually got to deliver three babies before I graduated from high school!)

    The bottom line is you are responsible for your own health. Otherwise, physicals would be manditory as part of insurance and you'd be required to meet with a trainer at a health club, be checked for nicotine in your system, etc...along with a bunch of other things...As such, you can't give up when things look crazy - he did right to keep pursuing solutions.

    I was in a severe car accident almost ten years ago. I have a "permanent headache" - constant pain - my companion with me when I wake up until I go to sleep. Occasionally it wants attention and wakes me up at night. So far, nothing has shown why this occurs but I still try new things on a regular basis. Eventually, something will come along and fix it.

    We all choose what defeats us.
  • by wobblie ( 191824 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:26PM (#10837993)
    A while back I was dealing with constant low grade fevers, nausea, dizzy spells and crippling fatigue. I didn't even realize I had fevers until I started monitoring my temperature and realized I was always around or just under 100. I went to two doctors, none of whom could find anything wrong with me; blood tests seemed normal (personally I think they rely too much on blood tests, it's as if they just give up when they don't give them an answer). This sort of thing came and went for about a year, until it finally became too much to bear, the fevers shot up to 102 or so and I'd get frequent chills.

    Then all of a sudden I got a terrible toothache. I had a wisdom tooth that had broken years ago and now all of a sudden it was hurting. I had it pulled ($200), took some antibiotics the surgeon gave me and within a week all these symptoms vanished. I did mention the tooth to the doctors I saw but they didn't think much of it. I don't know for sure if that was the problem but it seems that way to me.
  • by GrrlNrrd ( 322369 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:29PM (#10838010) Journal
    Let's face it, he caught something WEIRD! The real question is *why*?

    Something fragged his immune system. When a person's immune system goes haywire they can catch just about anything. The "popping and draining" that he described is prolly his overclocked lymph nodes.

    IANAD, nor do I normally play one on Slashdot but I'd hope that his doc would check for the following:


    Perhaps other folks, here, know more auto-immune ailments or diseases than I do.

    Anyone else think Volkerding ought to fatten up? He sound pretty skinny!
  • by FredFnord ( 635797 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:31PM (#10838018)
    That's clearly a nonsense. There's no way to use antibiotics "properly" without a previous correct diagnosis, which obviously is not the case. He is NOT using antibiotics properly. Full stop.
    Inaccurate. If it is impossible to make a good diagnosis of a clearly bacterial problem, for whatever reason, then throwing random antibiotics at it until it goes away is absolutely a superior treatment than one frequent alternative (dying of it) and is almost always superior to another alternative (major invasive biopsy surgery). That said, fine-needle biopsy and/or non-invasive methods of gathering a sample to culture are almost always superior to the random antibiotic scattershot approach. However, they are also more expensive, and frequently, in countries with no socialized medicine (such as the US), that is frequently the most pressing factor in the equation.
    And, as has been said, INproper use of antibiotics (as in *here now*) can be even disastrous (aka mortal) in extrem cases: antibiotics crushes compentency with both standard flora and the very pathogenic agent, specifically selecting the most dangerous among the bacterial individuals that then, due to the antibiotic itself, are free to grow beyond control.
    Absolutely. And ignoring the problem until it goes away can also be disastrous (aka mortal) in extreme circumstances, and if you don't have the money for a really good diagnostic effort, then you will frequently end up having spent a lot of money on diagnostics that come up with nothing substantive, and then spending a lot more on some spanking new drug to see if it works. This is what happened with me, and the result was that we couldn't figure out what I had, and the doctor kept telling me (as I was coughing up green mucous) that it must be viral, it must be viral, until it had been going on for three months and I had a constant fever of 102 and above.

    After that, he gave me amoxicillin (because it was cheap and I was a student.) Slight improvement, then relapse. Doxicycline. No go. Erythromicin. Slight improvement, then relapse. Sulfa. Allergic. Cithromax. No go. And, finally, Clindamycin, which, after five months of this, had me on my feet in less than 24 hours. Clindmycin is well-known for killing people by colitis upon occasion, but given that I was getting steadily worse at that point, I would say it was definitely worth the risk.

    It was some sort of anaerobe which was apparently very hard to get a culture of, but which was delighted to live in various portions of my anatomy.
    No, I am not a physicist, but I am a biologist with knowledge enough about micropathology to back up what I am saying: abusing antibiotics can really be a very nasty bussiness.
    Erm. I can only assume that English is your second language. I wouldn't presume to correct any of your other mistakes, but I think the word you wanted was 'physician' and not 'physicist'.

    Abusing antibiotics can be somewhat nasty. Not being given them can be just as nasty.

    I used to be prone to sinus infections. Each time I moved and got a new doctor, I would go through the cycle: go in, tell the doctor I had a sinus infection. Doctor would say, 'Oh, it's just a virus.' I would tell him he was wrong, and then be sent home. I'd come back in a week, he'd take a culture, and three or four days later I'd go back in for a followup and get my antibiotic. It usually only took a couple of repetitions of this with each new doctor to convince them that I knew what a sinus infection looked like for me. But for the first couple of times, I would be incapacitated for a week and a half or so, and the infection would have spread to my chest and that would linger for another week afterward.

    And that's just in a non-life-threatening situation. If something is getting really nasty and rapidly worsening, you throw what you can at it in the hopes that something will stick, because if you don't, then your patient ends up dead, and that doesn't help anyone any.

  • Re:Hey folks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RedBear ( 207369 ) <redbear@red b e a r n e> on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @09:39PM (#10838082) Homepage
    Remember that you can't check out an older version of yourself from CVS if things go wrong.

    Offtopic. Doesn't that phrase sound strange when you apply it to a person, yet sounds quite correct when applied to software? You'd actually be checking out a younger version of yourself, not an older one. For some reason we measure the "age" of software backwards from today while we measure the age of a living thing forwards from its birth. Yet software is a living thing, in a way, constantly growing and maturing. Would it not make sense to say that we check out a younger version of software from CVS? We still celebrate software anniversaries and say that Linux is X years old, for instance.

    English is odd, sometimes.

  • by Joseph_Daniel_Zukige ( 807773 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @11:34PM (#10838916) Homepage Journal
    Penicillin or any antibiotic should _always_ be taken with (natural, live culture) yogghurt.

  • Re:Oxygen (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @11:51PM (#10839046)
    My (at the time) fiance and some relatives had to drag me into a car and then into the emergency room. Years before, I had sufferred panic attacks and was sure of certain, impending death.

    (Anonymous, just because)

    I can second this. I had what I think were "mild" cases of panic attacks before, several years ago. A few months ago, I had a "real" one. It was out of nowhere, on my way home from work. All of a sudden, I couldn't swallow. I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was going to pass out. Luckily, I was close to home. Once I got there, I laid on the couch and just hoped it would go away. It didn't. I was absolutely certain I was going to die.

    I suspected what it was, but drove myself to the urgent care center around the corner anyway. Apart from my blood pressue being 200/120, I was fine. It hasn't happened since, and thankfully from what I read, many people have just one and never have one again. I sure hope I don't, it was the scariest experience of my life.
  • by Viewsonic ( 584922 ) on Tuesday November 16, 2004 @11:55PM (#10839077)
    After reading that, I want to say he is having panic attacks. Probably from too much stress. The yellow modules are from his tonsils, and it normal for the majority of people to have. A lot of people simply dont see them the first half of their lives and when they do they tend to think they've caught some disease because of the smell they make.

    Panic attacks and stress will and can cause all the other symptoms he described. I know. I had all of them. I had many doctors look me over as well. I had the "popping" feeling inside my chest and went to the ER room many times only to find out it was nothing. I've had my head feel like it was "popping" or I was having an annurism only to find out it was nothing. I've gone into cold shocks of shivering while sweating non-stop. I've been barely able to breathe and felt like I was about to die. In the end, I was prescribed Xanax and was told to take half a tab whenever any of these symtoms appeared. What it did was chill me out, because when your mind it racing, it makes you feel things that you wont normally feel, and then it only feeds into itself the more you think about it... Xanax basically makes you stoned and mellows you out .. It basically opened up my eyes that everything I was feeling was in my head. A few months later I stopped taking the Xanax and whenever I felt like my chest was "popping" or if my limbs went numbs, I'd just tell myself it wasn't real and it went away.

    Unfortnately, people who have panic attacks can't often be cured this easily. Many of them REFUSE to believe it is just in their head because those feelings are just SO REAL.

    He has probably been told this same thing many times but refuses to believe it. The tone on some of his doctors sounded less than respectful. I am going to guess this was why.

  • I had the same thing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GoMMiX ( 748510 ) on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @12:10AM (#10839173)
    It stayed in my jaw and lungs though.

    The worst part was at one point it had swollen up so bad it killed a tooth, it popped and some yellowish-white paste came out of the side of my mouth.

    It smelled worse then it tasted, which was.. well not nice.

    This happened three or four times. I never went to see a doctor for it.

    I also found, twice, what I thought of as being a calcium deposit in the back of my through. The skin around it was very red and irritated - and it made me cough. At times I would cough up what I could only equate to being really old cottage cheese - it was the right consistency and smelled like rotting milk.

    This went on for quite a while, and got pretty bad at one point.

    Eventually, largely because of the cottage cheese coming out of my lungs, I presumed it was being caused by my smoking habbit.

    So, I switched to Newports because they 'felt good' when smoking them. Not I felt good, but the smoke felt good on my through and in my lungs. I spent the next month or so coughing out tons of crap, but I kept smoking them as I figured it must be clearing it out.

    Obviously my problem was minor in comparison, though.

    Having the popping sensation under armpits sounds like it's in his lymph nodes as well.

    I certainly know this, if it comes back I'll treat it more seriously next time. I guess I never really thought about how long "I" had my problems - but it went on for atlesat a year before I even gave real notice to it. I equated the issue with a recent move and assumed it to be allergies, though, moreso I just really didn't care.

    Having read this, next time I'll care a lot more.
  • by fiber_halo ( 307531 ) <{fiber_halo} {at} {}> on Wednesday November 17, 2004 @03:04AM (#10839982)
    I'm not a doctor, but I know different people have different reactions and symptoms. As I was reading through Patrick's letter, I was thinking it almost sounds like the hanta virus.

    It's common in western states.
    It affects the lungs.
    It causes decreased oxygen in the blood (which may explain the elevation problems)

    It would seem likely that the first doctors in CA would have diagnosed it if it was indeed hantavirus. So maybe I'm off base. It's easy to map a number of diseases into common symptoms, especially if a common symptom is that you just feel bad.

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