Ask Richard is on Sick Leave November 11, 2010

Ask Richard is on Sick Leave

I came home from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear with some kind of bug. Extreme weakness and the highest fever I’ve ever had knocked me down like Mike Tyson hitting me with a George Foreman electric grill. After a few days I felt better and got active, resulting in a relapse that left me like Wile E. Coyote after the boulder falls on him from a mile up. A trip to urgent care rendered a diagnosis of pneumonia. Never had that before. Antibiotics made me feel better, so after a couple of days I got up and started doing things, which resulted in a relapse that had a similar effect on my skull as the two swinging logs on the Ewok planet coming together with the small Imperial Walker in the middle.

Okay, okay! I get it. This is going to take a long time. I can occasionally tap out a brief, trenchant comment from my laptop in bed, but then I have to take a nap, or start coughing and holding my head again. Anything requiring careful thought and lots of time typing is out for however long this will take.

I apologize to all the people who have written to Ask Richard. The letters come in two to three times faster than I can respond, privately or publicly, even when I’m healthy. Many of them are several months old, and I probably will never be able to answer all of them. I suppose that some writers have either given up or forgotten they wrote them.

It’s important for me to say that I read every one, and I care about the real people behind the words. My silence is not from not caring, it’s from being overwhelmed. This illness will only add to that.

I intend to resume the column, but it may be a little at a time. Writing this little 327-word post was exhausting. I have to lie back down now.


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  • Danny Wuvs Kittens

    Sorry Richard! I’ll pray to valve that you get better, as well as my stuffed dragon!

    Lots of love, hugs, kisses, and fluffiness to you!

  • I’ve had pneumonia a few times in my life and can attest to just how fun it isn’t. Hope you have a speedy recovery!

  • exe

    Hope you rest and take care of yourself. You give such good, sensible advice. I enjoy reading “Ask Richard”. But the least we can do is give you some time to recover. Hope you feel better soon!

  • Heidi

    Ugh. I had relatively mild walking pneumonia once and it sucked a lot. I can’t imagine how much worse yours is. I wish there was something I could do to help. 🙁

    Feel better as soon as possible.

  • A Portlander

    “Extreme weakness and the highest fever I’ve ever had knocked me down like Mike Tyson hitting me with a George Foreman electric grill.”

    Yes. This is exactly what total immune system rebellion feels like. Our findings concur, therefore it’s SCIENCE.

    Best wishes for a thorough recovery.

  • Brian

    I feel I should point out that the Ewoks live on a moon; Not a planet.

  • mikespeir

    Foreman vs. Tyson–that would’ve been a good one.

  • Claudia

    Poor thing, take care of yourself! Also though I hope your doctor already told you this; even if you feel better, you have to finish the course of antibiotics as directed. Best avoid the risk of a MDR strain, m’kay?

  • J. J. Ramsey

    I’d like you to get well soon, but it seems that pneumonia bug has other ideas, so all any of us can do is be patient and hope for the best. Still, I’m looking forward seeing you around again, whenever that may be.

  • get well soon! and take advantage of technology! we can help, darnit! publish a few, or have Hemant publish a few, and we’ll give some answers. sure, they won’t be as thoughtful as yours, but we’re ready to pick up the slack! we’re all freethinkers here.

  • sarah

    get well get well soon we want you to get well!

    i had pneumonia pretty bad a few years ago, thanks to an inept doctor that twice insisted that i didn’t have it. always trust your own instincts when it comes to your health. especially if your symptoms are very high fever, constant coughing and general weakness. the ineptitude of some doctors is astounding.

  • Hitch

    All I can ask Richard is to get well.

  • jenea

    Feel better soon, Richard!

  • Mel

    Feel better soon Richard!!!

  • Hmmm. I could have written the same post (with the exception of the letters part. Nobody want MY advice). So many folks I know who were at the rally can tell similar stories that I find myself wondering if that black helicopter overhead wasn’t the RNC spraying us with so kind of biological weapon.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • flatlander100

    Your assignment is to re-read Claudia’s post above. Daily. Do not copulate around with pneumonia. For Flying Spaghetti Monster’s sake, take all the time you think you need to recover.Then take all the time your doctor thinks you need. Then take a little more. Please. We can and will wait as long as need be.

    PS Did I mention rereading Claudia’s post above daily?

  • SarahNaut

    Wishing you a speedy and restful recovery!

  • Get well soon!

  • JulietEcho

    I hope you feel better soon and get all the rest and relaxation you need. You’ve helped me enormously, both through answering a letter of mine and just by writing all the other amazing answers I’ve read.

    You’re a hero, and with your powers come responsibilities, and your main responsibility is to take as much time as you need to get better so you can go back to using your powers!

  • Revyloution

    Take care of yourself Richard. I always appreciate your column, and really appreciated the advice you gave me on my unique situation. Get well soon.

  • Anna

    Get better, Richard. Take it easy, really. Let you body fight the infection now instead of using it’s energy on anything else. Yea, sure, new posts of your column will be missed by all of us for some time, but we better eventually get you back healthy and ready for more:)

  • mike

    Take er easy Richard. I alway enjoy your thoughtfull responses. Take care.

  • Richard,

    Take a couple of weeks off from your column and get back to full strength. People will understand. Then cut back to just one letter a week if you need to. This should be fun for you. Don’t make it a job. As for all the letters you haven’t gotten to, remember that they had lots of therapeutic value in just writing down their thoughts and sending it in.

  • MP

    I hope Richard gets better soon, but my real reason for commenting here is to say this:

    Ask Richard NEEDS to be compiled into a book and published. This must be the best advice column in the history of advice columns. It is the only good example of one I can think of! Seriously, some people here must know some potential publishers.

    Who agrees?

  • gwen

    I hope you feel better soon. Sounds like a visit to your local MD is in order. I hope you have done so by now.

  • @MP,

    I had the same thoughts….

  • Please, please, please – don’t play with this. Stay in bed, get your rest, take your medicine. People DIE from pneumonia, it isn’t anything to take lightly. One day you will feel better: That day is -not- the day to get out of bed; stay in bed a couple of more days, then take it easy once you do get out of bed. It will bite again if you don’t. Please get better; a lot of people out here depend and enjoy your commentary and advice.

  • prospera

    This should be fun for you. Don’t make it a job. As for all the letters you haven’t gotten to, remember that they had lots of therapeutic value in just writing down their thoughts and sending it in.

    Jeff P makes a great point. Get well soon, Richard, and keep having fun.

    And I also agree with MP about the book! 🙂

  • oh man, can we pray for you?


    *giggles and runs off*

    (no, seriously, take care.)

  • I’ve had pneumonia three times in my life. It can be really debilitating. Surprisingly debilitating! Fortunately, there are better antibiotics for it now than there were back the first time I had it.

    I’m sure you’re getting advice on how to deal with it from all corners. So I won’t bother offering any of my own. Your doctor and nurses and whatever other professionals you’ve seen, have likely given you all the information you need, so there’s not much I can add that would be helpful.

    Except this: Take care of yourself. Only you know what you can do and how much of it you can handle. You’re doing the right thing taking a breather (pun intended!) and I wish you the best as you get well.

  • Dan W

    Hope you get well soon, Richard. I always enjoy reading your advice.

  • Rest and fluids. LOTS of rest and fluids. Especially rest. Did I mention fluids?

  • Stephen P

    Slight misunderstand there: we thought it was the Rally to Restore Sanity, not the Rally to Rest in a Sanitorium.

    Best wishes for a swift recovery.

  • Endor. The Ewok moon is Endor. I know you’re interested and you would have researched it yourself so I thought I’d help out a tiny bit. I suggest watching the movies on DVD while you recuperate.

  • Korou

    Hi Richard,

    Sorry to hear that! Take lots of rest, and take care of yourself. When you get back, we’ll be very happy to see you again, but don’t rush yourself.

  • gribblethemunchkin

    Get well soon Richard but take care not to put yourself into relapse. Pneumonia is a bugger on your back.

    Best Wishes.

  • Owch, sounds like you’ve gotten quite the dose of awful there, Richard. Take care of yourself, and hope you feel better soon.

  • Greg

    Get well soon Richard – wish I could do something more useful than just saying that.

    Oh! I know – maybe I can ask my invisible friend to help!

    *looks around*

    “Oi! Scott! Get over here, I know someone who needs your help…”

  • Beijingrrl

    Please take care of yourself. You’ve helped make this website a place I check daily, but there are plenty of other reasons to visit until you’re well again.

  • Drew M.

    I’m sorry to hear about this. I hope you get well soon, Richard. Take care and don’t strain yourself trying to get back to work too soon.

  • Richard, to join the chorus, take the time you need and rest and relax for a good long time. No one wants you ill. We will miss you while you’re healing but the main thing we want is for you to recuperate fully. Take however long is necessary for that. Don’t push yourself. Experiment tried and failed twice now so listen to science and rest, rest, rest. And start slow when you can come back, which means slowly taking care of the shit we all have to do in life before you even consider coming back to the column.

    Then by the time you post another ask Richard, we can have you back full-time. Not just your columns but your comments are priceless. When you’ve rebounded fully, you should consider MP’s suggestion. That book would help a lot of people. There’s got to be a publisher that would go for it.

    But for now, rest, relax, and know that our thoughts are with you and you’re not going to lose any followers by taking all the time that you need.

  • Robert W.

    As one of the Christians who post here, I have and will continue to pray for your health and well being. Take those prayers as good wishes if you like. Get well soon.

  • Robert

    Get well soon, Richard. I was wondering where all those Ask Richard columns had gone just yesterday… now I know. Post when you get well!

  • Do not screw around with this, Richard. Pneumonia is no joke. I had it myself a couple of years ago. It’s weird, isn’t it: on one level, it just feels like an unusually nasty cold… and yet it totally kicks your ass, with even the smallest exertion completely exhausting you. Take heed. Breathe lots of steam, drink lots of fluids (especially hot tea), take whatever meds the evidence-based doctors give you. And for the sweet love of Jebus, REST UP, for as long as you need to. We will miss you, but we want you better.

  • Gliewmeden

    Be well Richard! We need you!


  • MTran

    I just stopped by and saw that my favorite advice columnist is ill!

    Please take care of yourself, Richard. As others have said, “We need you.”

  • Bob


    As caring and helpful as you are to the humanist community, and those struggling with questions of faith, now is the time to take care of yourself.

    Get better soon.

  • John

    Do take care of yourself. I know that you are concerned about those who write you when you can’t respond, but I also have the feeling that there are so many respondants that no one could keep up.

    Perhaps Hemant could put you in touch with someone who could help you organize your responses into categories that we could access when we have particular questions or problems (coming out, family pressure, et cetera). An FAQ list and links would provide an ongoing service to those with questions – many of whom might find what they need via advice you’ve already given.

    This could be done as an adjunct to or in place of the excellent suggestion to combine your columns into a book.

    Again, take care.

  • awesomesauce

    I hope you get well soon Richard. Your column helps me as an atheist and also as a budding counselor. I look forward to seeing you back in good health.

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