For decades Eric S. Raymond has been one of the open source movement’s staunchest supporters. He co-founded the Open Source Initiative, and was the author of the influential book The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary .
Tuesday the 61-year-old super-geek posted a dramatic story to his blog:
Today I had to — literally — crawl from my wife’s car to my house. Because I couldn’t walk. Life is what happens while you were making other plans. About six months ago I sprained my right ankle in kung fu class. It gave me occasional pain, mostly in cold weather, but I thought it was healing and I could just let it heal. Until about two months ago when I was out with friends on a chilly evening and my ankle folded up under me, just lost the power to support me entirely…
A couple of visits to doctors and an MRI scan later we determined that I had developed one of the more unfortunate possible sequelae of a sprain, a thing called an osteochondral lesion. This is what happens when an area of bone in the load-bearing area of the joint erodes away, so the cartilage above it is no longer supported. If the unsupported cartilage is then damaged, the long-term result can be crippling arthritis of the joint. In my case, it seemed I had gotten lucky. The cartilage seemed undamaged in the MRI images. The indicated procedure is to go in with an arthroscopic probe and squirt synthetic bone into the lesion. Once it hardens it can support the cartilage so it doesn’t take additional damage.
Then two weeks ago, while waiting for his scheduled surgery, Raymond collapsed again in his kitchen, leading to an emergency room visit, another MRI, and three head staples where he’d hit his head on a chair leg:
Home again home again. It’s nice that even at 61 I’m a physically tough person with a high pain threshold and a thick skull who is actually rather difficult to injure — my school name over at the kung fu kwoon is “The Mighty Oak”. And I like that I can be self-reliant and stoic under stress. But thank you, I’d prefer not to have this confirmed by repeated injuries…
I had that surgery about eighteen hours ago. And ended up crawling from my car because none of the medical people talked about or planned for my post-operative problems until after I was out of anesthesia. Pain management was as far as they got… So now it’s oh-dark-thirty the next morning, I’m writing this because the anesthesia and the four hours or so of shut-eye after I got home have left me all slept out for the moment, and I’ve learned from experience that quietly coding or writing until I’m tired enough to sleep again is better for me than tossing and turning.
By Wednesday he’d posted a reassuring update — that “The post-op pain has stabilized at a level where the occasional Tylenol will handle it nicely.”
But the Tuesday blog post reminded readers that he’d been scheduled to give the main keynote at South East Linux Fest on June 14th. “Part of the reason this is a public blog post is as my subjunctive apology to everyone who was expecting to see me at SELF, in the all-too-likely event that I can’t be there.”
Posting stoicly about the details of his recovery — at one point he writes “Improvise, adapt, overcome!” — Eric Raymond added one final thought:
If you’ve ever thought that you might join my Patreon feed, now would be a really good time. This… adventure… has blown a $6000 hole in my budget and the expenses aren’t over yet. There’s that post-op check at minimum, and probably physical therapy afterwards, and that’s if all heals well; otherwise it’ll be much, much more expensive.