Is Tom doing okay?

I know it was mentioned very briefly in another thread, and also in Tom’s twitter, but he was hospitalized a few days ago, hoping to get home that day, or the day after.

Well, it is a hospital, but I don't work here. I'm riding out non-covid pneumonia -- whee! -- and hopefully going home today or tomorrow. Nothing like a hospital to make you pine for the halcyon days of being on lockdown!

— Tom Chick (@Qt3) May 28, 2020

I hope I am not overstepping a boundery here, but since it was on twitter, and I was kinda worried, and this is my only line to mr @tomchick I figured Id make a thread on it.

Hope you are doing okay, Tom!

Tom posted today in the 20:20 movie thread. And I also saw news he had gone home.

But agreed, stay well Tom!

oh - awesome! thanks!


Great to hear.


Get better Tom.

Hi Tom,

I hope you’re well. I mean, it seems that you are, but I still want to convey the desire!

Thanks for this thread. I was wondering as well. Get well, Tom.

Gah, okay, I didn’t mean for this to be a deal, and I was going to post something about it later, but I’m happy to let you guys know what’s happened. So, rewind to five years ago: I get radiation treatment for throat cancer, it sucks, it does a number on everything between the bottom of my ears and the top of my sternum, but no cancer anymore! Awesome! Plus I never have to shave under my chin, because hair has stopped growing on my neck. Also awesome!

The fallout – heh, a little radiation humor – is that the mechanism that determines whether food and drink gets shunted down my esophagus into my stomach or down my trachea into my lungs is a little wonky. It gets increasingly wonky over the years because radiation has a way of doing damage that doesn’t heal. And the implications aren’t really tracked for a variety of reasons, including the way my treatment is fragmented among different doctors, including two reboots of my health care coverage, including reboots of some of my doctors that further fragments of some of the treatment, and including covid-19 putting some stuff on pause just as it was getting underway. It seems no one really notices just how much damage has been done to my lungs. I just take for granted that I get more easily winded. That’s what happens when you get older, right? Meanwhile, everyone’s looking at my throat where the cancer had been lurking.

Now, occasionally, I would get pain at the base of my lungs that I thought was from coughing. I cough a lot, whenever I take a sip of water even, and I figured it was a pulled diaphragm from more violent coughing episodes. The pain would flare up, but go away after a few days. Ibuprofen would keep it manageable. But the latest round, which started a while ago, wasn’t going away. Ibuprofen was doing bupkis. Acetaminophen even less than bupkis. Seriously, acetaminophen sucks. Why does it even exist? The pain started getting worse. Eventually, I made the rounds from trying to see my regular doctor, to urgent care, to an emergency room in the course of one day, because the shortness of breath was getting extreme. I had to choose between taking a shallow breath or taking a full breath accompanied by a stabbing pain in my side. Not a fun choice. Worst game of “Would You Rather?” that I’ve ever played.

So the ER noted that, yep, there’s an issue with your lungs, it doesn’t seem to be covid (I mean, duh, I’ve been on lockdown since mid-March), we aren’t sure if it can be treated with antibiotics, but here’s a prescription just in case, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can, and get thee to a lung doctor to more closely investigate these dark shaded areas on the imaging which seem to be fluid build up, but you don’t have a fever so it doesn’t seem to be pneumonia, so the scary implication here is that it could be cancer. That was right before the Memorial Day weekend, and I was all set to see my doctor first thing after the weekend, to start the process of getting authorization to see a lung doctor, which was part of the process that got put on hold when the covid-19 outbreak kicked in.

But the “Would You Rather?” game got worse in the next few days. The shallow breath got shallower and the stabbing pain got sharper. Uncool! Who’s balancing this game anyway? You can’t just make both choices more extreme! That’s bad game design.

So a few days later, back to emergency room, and this time I with a change of clothes and my laptop and a big long book because I figured I was going to be there a while. I was in more obviously dire shape, and the ER knew my particulars because I was just there a few days ago, and they knew it had escalated enough that they shouldn’t just send me home to wait on an appointment with my regular doctor. So I get admitted, then transferred to a different hospital, and I’m there for five days.

(And the stories I have about that hospital. The absolute worst. An administrative mess, probably terribly underfunded, some of the staff were clearly unqualified. It was basically a human misery mill. I cannot tell you how glad I am to be out of there. And I wouldn’t have made it without an emergency supply drop from from @fire, which included this, and this, and even, uh, this, which I can’t believe I forgot and I’m sure the other patients in my room were grateful for.)

Sure enough, fluid had built up in my lungs so I’m categorized as having pneumonia. The biggest concern, given my history, was that it might have been cancer. They pulled out a sample (ouch!) and took two days to get it through the lab work. Cancer was ruled out. Phew. It didn’t seem be living because nothing was growing in it, so no more antibiotics. In terms of what’s actually in there, the doctor just sort of shrugged and said it was probably a build-up of the food and drink I’ve been aspirating. Which makes sense. So they did a swallow test in which I eat foot with barium in it that tracks on an x-ray screen. I did one of those last January, and the follow-up on the results was put on hold by the covid outbreak. But this latest test confirms, again, that it’s basically a die-roll whether food goes into my lungs or my stomach.

So, basically, now to let my lungs heal. It’s all about letting them get better, and that’s great news, because I know what the issue was. I just got out of the hospital yesterday, the pain has been alleviated to where I can deal with it with ibuprofen, and the game of “Would You Rather” has become the choice between sucking in a great huge breath and feeling a stabbing pain, or not sucking in a great huge breath and not feeling a stabbing pain. Which is also a pretty lousy game of “Would You Rather?” because I’ve just been choosing “not sucking in a great huge breath and not feeling a stabbing pain”. However, I’ve discovered that yawning is like drawing a whammy. Yawning hurts. Note to self: don’t yawn. And in the meantime, just chill out and let my lungs heal.

My hope is that this has been a fundamental part of why I’ve been having trouble speaking. Because if a bout of pneumonia is what it takes to identify and address the thing that’s been keeping me from podcasting, streaming, and doing videos, then I’d say it’s worth it. So, to answer your question, @razgon, it’s been a lousy few weeks, but I’m okay now!


Oh man… Sending lots of positive energy your way. Hope the lungs recover quickly and finally get to the end of that “would you rather” game and move on to better ones! Take care & hang in there!

Thanks for the update Tom. Glad you’re home! Can I get you a cup of coffee?

Wow. That’s a lot to deal with. I’m glad your back and feeling okay, well ok… ish.

Two important things.

#1 I am glad you are home form the hospital, and I’m glad it isn’t cancer. It’s not fair that if I wanted to stalk you I’d have cover not only Qt3 and Youtube, but Twitter too. And here I thought Twitter was only the domain of bots and Presidents!?

#2 Your post made me realize I also wanted Onirim in my life. So I just bought that on Amazon when I was about halfway through your post. Priorities.

Awesome to hear.

Now you get rest. And chill. And just…heal up some.

Glad to see you doing well, Tom. OTOH I don’t suggest that you watch the film, Would You Rather right now. :)

Thanks for the more than indepth write up Tom, hope you heal up fast.
So what does the body do with the food/drink that does end up in the lungs?
Does it eventually get absorbed or coughed out?

Holy fuck Tom.

Glad you are doing your part to remind hospitals there are non-COVID patients :)

I hope you get better soon!

Glad you’re back home, Tom! That sounds rough but I, too, love the way you write about it. Now, if you don’t mind, heal up and breathe easier!