Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Medical Mystery Solved...Sort Of

The authors of one of the oldest Linux distributions ("distros") is Patrick J. Volkerding.  He has made significant contributes to the open-source community, and now he is ill.  He also is having trouble getting the right medical treatment.  For an interesting story of medical detective work -- he found the probable diagnosis using Google -- read his letter here

This all began quite some time ago, perhaps as long ago as May of 2001. I was preparing Slackware 8.0 for release and working really hard. A pain developed in my shoulder, and (too busy to do anything about it right away) I ignored it and continued to keep working. It got to be pretty bad and one afternoon in early June I was rushed to the emergency room at a hospital in Concord, California. I was sweating, feverish, with a weak pulse of around 50, experiencing chills and seeming to be on the verge of passing out. The doctor who saw me did a chest X-ray and didn't think it was too unusual. I was told it was probably bronchitis and was sent home with a prescription for ciprofloxacin which mostly cleared up the problem. Still the pain in my shoulder seemed to vaguely remain. By mid October of 2001, I was in bad shape again. [...]
Mr. Volkerding thinks he has figured out the problem, and the treatment, but he appears to be having trouble getting appropriate medical care.  He's asking for help.