Wednesday 23 October 2019


Yeah yeah yeah, I know I've been gone for over four months, and my Inner Egotist has been yelling at me regularly that my loyal readers (the few I may still have) have probably been missing me and wondering what may have happened. I have also taken several months off Twitter (as you may or may not have noticed), and when my brother recently asked me why, I replied simply, "Sanity". I realised that I was taking inordinate amounts of time writing, and that isn't fair to my family, and it isn't right. They deserve better.

Writing this blog isn't difficult, but it can be time consuming. Coming up with a patient to write about is easy, but making a blog post out of it can be cumbersome, because I don't want my stories to be trite, boring, or repetitive. So instead of putting out boring short stories, I consider it better to put out nothing and keep people wondering.

Well wonder no further, because the patient I'm writing about today was easy to come up with.

It is I.

No, I wasn't in a car accident, and I wasn't stabbed or assaulted, and no I didn't cut off my finger with my table saw or have any other kind of traumatic injury. But over the past few months I have seen three different doctors, including a specialist, a sub-specialist, and a sub-sub-specialist, and I now have an official diagnosis.

In the interest of my own privacy, I will not be revealing what the diagnosis is or the type of doctor that I've been visiting. I will, however, divulge that just this past week I was diagnosed with a very rare degenerative disease that is incurable, progressive, and potentially disabling, though it is not in any way deadly. It's not multiple sclerosis, and it's not ALS or any other motor neurone disease.

I'm not dying.

The good news is that this condition was diagnosed very early, and it was only found based on a hunch that the second doctor had. He very easily could have chalked up my symptoms to aging and let it go, but he decided to investigate further. Usually this disease isn't diagnosed until much later in life once significant and irreversible damage has already been done, but mine was found before any of that happened, so my long term prognosis seems to be good.

The bad new is that no one knows the cause of this disease because it is so rare. It was only first described about 30 years ago, but no one took it seriously until about 15 years ago when it was discovered that it was indeed progressive. Because of that, there is no textbook treatment. The disease is thought to be autoimmune, so I will be taking immunosuppression medication for the rest of my life to keep it at bay. Hopefully.

I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not interested in anyone's thoughts or prayers. Yes this sucks, but I have accepted the diagnosis and am hitting it with everything I can. Ignoring a problem like this won't make it better, and pretending it doesn't exist will only make it worse.

If you're looking for a silver lining like I was, consider this: if you thought I railed against antivaxxers before, just imagine how I'll treat them now that I am one of those immunosuppressed patients they put at risk with their bullshit.

You're on notice, antivaxxers.


  1. Glad to see you back. I'm glad that your blog didn't die. Breaks can be healthy sometimes. And I am sorry to hear that you have joined the ranks of the invisible chronically ill. It's not a club that anyone wants to join, but too many do.

  2. Welcome to the invisible chronically ill club,pull up a really comfy chair, a drink of your choice and your bingo card with a variety of symptoms which you can tick off as they show up, although i can guarantee you will get at least one symptom that is not on your card and will surprise everyone, including your doctors.

    How will this impact your work as a trauma surgeon?
    I hope will still be able to work for a long time to come as long as you don't end up in the bed next to your patient, that would be just embarrassing (and funny)
    Best wishes honey and big hugs xx

  3. I am so sorry to read this. I really value your blog and when I got the email notifying of a blog post today, I was "yay!"
    I am very sorry to hear of your illness (racking brains for rare autoimmune neuro thingos) and send my very best wishes to you.

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  5. Thanks for sharing. That's not the kind of news anyone wants to get but it sounds encouraging that it was discovered relatively early. Sounds like you've got your priorities straight and are taking life as it comes. That's the best anyone can do.

  6. When I was being treated for cancer, every single co-worker who made a POINT of getting the flu shot and double-checking their immunization status was my hero.

    I hope that people do the same for you. Glad you are diagnosed AND spending more time with the family.


  7. YES! a new blog entry from my favorite Doc i hope to never meet while he's working

    Crap! an blog entry I really really don't like...

    stay as healthy as possible, i really do enjoy reading about the idiocy and insanity that flows thru your front doors.

  8. WOW. Just... WOW. That really sucks. Will you still be able to practice medicine for a good long time? And is what you have hereditary, do you have to worry about having passed it on to the little Bastards? Well, for as long as you choose to keep writing, I'll be here to keep reading. Stay strong.

  9. *Disclaimer* This is my first, and likely my last comment on this page. I'm only doing so to express my appreciation and gratitude for the content of this blog.


    I just want you to know that my wife and I (and by extension, our little one) wish you the best. Instead of trying to guess what disorder you ended up stuck with (I've come to the conclusion we all get one, sooner or later), I would much rather inform you as to some of the indirect effects of your work.

    I was introduced to your blog through your first "Busting Vaccine Myths" post. I read it, loved it, and made it my goal to use your words as a firm rebuke against anti-vaccine (or pro-disease; the term depends on my mood). However, after reading through that post, I realized that I liked the way that you write. I even made a point of sharing some of your funnier stories with my wife.

    I then went back to the first post on your blog, and read it. Then, I kept reading. Your words served to entertain me for hours on end, even as I was drifting off to sleep. I loved hearing your perspective on various medical TV shows (House M.D. comes to mind), and I audibly laughed at your posts about The Resident.

    Simply put, you brightened my life. Even if you never post again, I humbly ask that you keep your website up. I, and others like me, can never know when we'll need a pickup from your words.


    1. Doc,

      I realized that I forgot to properly address the indirect effects your words had on me. In a nutshell, you made me a happier person overall, which has made my interactions with my coworkers better, and has helped with my interactions with my lovely wife (it's not her fault, I tend to be somewhat bitter and cynical by default).

      Like I said, even if you never post again, please take the time to realize that your words have helped people laugh at the absurdity that is the world we all live in.


  10. To answer several people's questions, I don't expect this thing to impact my professional life one iota. I still plan to keep doing this for the foreseeable future, and rest assured this will *NOT* stop me from saving the world one idiot at a time.

    Thank you all for the kind words, but please remember that I DON'T FUCKING WANT THEM. I'm not dying, I just need to take a few pills each day and hold out some measure of hope for the future. Geez, you people are fucking morbid.

    1. I apologize for sounding overly sappy. I get your sentiment though. You can't make me un-thank you though.


    2. Being grumpy is well in character. It's reassuring to us. I'm sorry you've developed a nasty illness. There. You can't stop me.

      I loved Unknown's post. Like seriously!

  11. Fine, I'll forgo the nice, concerned words.

    instead, i'll tell you the facts. I have waited (eagerly) for every post you have made since i started reading. it puts a smile on my morning, and better yet, usually teaches me something. I love your writing style. As an indirect effect of this, i'm now an active reader/commenter on SBM (But that's just so i have something to read when you're not posting).

    There are few more valuable resources than your Vaccine Mythbusting post(s). i keep that one on a bookmark for whenever the shadow of Antivax rears it's ugly head. i'm significantly pro-vax (i'd say pro Life, but that has already been claimed by a group willing to promote violence on the innocent), and you are my goto for information.

    Glad you're back!

  12. Reading your blogposts each week literally became part of my weekly routine. Daily for checking comments. Glad to see your back
    And out of respect to you i wont be trying to research what it is.
    So much stuff going on in my family
    Today wtih medical stuff. My aunt just had surgery for her breast cancer (shes fine now out of hospital today) but also my great uncle died today at the ripe age of 95.
    Also will we finally see the purging of the man many ad bots on past blogs that have arisen in your wake?

  13. Glad to know you're tackling this with humor and wit. From my long term immunosuppressant use, I found that I was a watch killer. Any watch with a battery died after contact with me, switched to non battery watches. Take care of yourself kid.

  14. "To answer several people's questions, I don't expect this thing to my professional life one iota. "

    I wonder though. Perhaps your experience as a patient will affect the way you relate to your patients and inform your understanding of the hoops everyone jumps through dealing with the administrative side of medical care.

    And see--no kind words.


  15. well, damn.

    I also frequently pull up your vaccine mythbusting post, and also routinely check for new posts.
    I also know more than a few people with mystery ailments. you're in good company.

    1. I never need to pull up those posts as i dont associate with morons of that caliber.
      Any time i meet an antivaxxer though i do have another solution
      Its called a shotgun, a shovel, and the mojave desert is only an hour and a half away....

    2. that seems vaguely inconvenient to me.

    3. Inconvenient? Maybe. Fun? Yes. Satisfying? Of course! Better for humanity that theres 1 less antivaxxer out there? Id bet my bottom dollar on it

  16. Watching the K-drama "Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung" right at this moment and the episodes relating to the attempt by some of educated Joseon populace to adopt certain Western medicine practices--most notably vaccines against smallpox-- are truly fascinating. (Nowhere else will I ever again read the subtitles "cow puss," I suspect, let alone with such frequency ...and offered with such solemnity...).

    Love me these K-dramas. Perfect escape from sucky Real Life(tm) stuff. Ahh, and the music from these dramas (e.g. .... so much sweet relief to be had in the form shedding tears ... even if you are not one to ever cry, in the norm.

    Doc, if you are reading this: hoping you can find many books, shows, movies, music, and other methods of emotive escapism whenever you need them these days (especially since your profession must prohibit you from finding any such relief).

  17. (bad paste in my comment above;...and the song is worth a visit, trust me).

  18. Good to hear you're back doc, now please abandon your sanity and give us some stories! Even short ones will work, just need more of your humour and writing style to look forward to. Wishing you all the best with this new diagnosis, go kick some anti vaxxer ass!

  19. " So instead of putting out boring short stories,"

    ...well why not? I've been reading you long enough to know that your stuff is NEVER boring, so why not do the occasional post with two or three short patient stories?

    I would rather have nugget-length Doc Bastard posts than no Doc Bastard posts.

  20. I'll keep my kind words to, "I'm so glad it's not deadly nor will it impact your professional life any time soon." I check this site regularly and love your style, welcome back!

  21. Glad you're back - I missed you!

  22. Hi Doc - great to see you back. Sorry I'm a little late to the party.

    I saw this, thought of you, and popped in to find you had been posting again! Yay!
    BBC: DR Congo measles outbreak

    In case the link doesn't work: "Measles has killed nearly 5,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019..."

    This is what happens in a country where there is little measles vaccination ... and people say that it's a trivial childhood illness.

    Great to see you back Doc - I'm sure you'll take this bump in the road in your stride.


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