The Art of Diagnosing Illness.

From the Reddit site, discussing a rumor that was going around that Christopher Hitchens was taken off a plane on a stretcher, because of “breathing difficulties”:


Sounds like it may be a pulmonary embolism (PE). It is not uncommon to form clots in the deep veins of the legs during long periods of inactivity, such as transatlantic flights. The clot can break loose and travel through the venous system until it encounters small diameter vessels in the lungs and lodges there, resulting in symptoms of difficulty breathing.

For further info see:


You determined that from “breathing issues”?

F****g  internet doctors.


Well it’s not a certain diagnosis, but this sort of thing isn’t uncommon. It’s why you’re supposed to get up and walk around every three hours on long flights. It would be the most likely cause of developing ‘breathing issues’ on a transatlantic flight


Here’s the thing, this was clearly a domestic flight if it happened yesterday because Hitchens was supposed to give a talk in Cambridge, MA last night. We received word it was cancelled one hour before hand just as folks were starting to arrive.


I hope it’s not lupus.


Don’t worry. It’s never lupus.


Except when it’s lupus.




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