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Account of MRSA
October 30, 2007 7:40 AM   Subscribe

A LIFE or DEATH STRUGGLE with MRSA recounted almost real time. Best to start with the original posting, linked at the beginning, and then go back. Read from the bottom to get the sequence. It's a terrible story, made worse by the stupid accident that led to the struggle. I accidentally ran across this blog before the fight was over and am shocked by how things went.
posted by etaoin (177 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was there more to the blog prior to his walking into a door? It seems strange the blog starts and ends the way it does.
posted by chunking express at 7:47 AM on October 30, 2007


Click on the "go back" link, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and read upwards. Just reading the first link makes no sense.

What a gutwrenching story.
posted by desjardins at 7:48 AM on October 30, 2007


bah. you have to click on "older posts" when you get to the bottom of the page.
posted by desjardins at 7:49 AM on October 30, 2007


No, it does appear to begin with the original injury, which is odd. But it's not out of the realm of possibility that the family would pull down the archives, I guess.
posted by padraigin at 7:51 AM on October 30, 2007


Holy shit.
posted by billysumday at 7:51 AM on October 30, 2007


Start with the first entry, on the 9th, then scroll down a bit to the October calendar and click on the next highlighted day; that was the easiest way for me to read it, albeit a bit longer.

It will reveal this horrible story.
I'm pretty damn shocked at the ending, that's for sure.
I had no idea.
posted by willmize at 7:52 AM on October 30, 2007


I'm covering my entire apartment in foot-deep bubble wrap as we speak.
posted by Justinian at 7:53 AM on October 30, 2007


This literally took my breath away. Gutwrenching indeed.
posted by hecho de la basura at 7:53 AM on October 30, 2007


It's so hard to know what's real...to start off with a pirate's name, shortly before acquiring an eye-patch...I hate to say it, but I just don't know what to believe anymore.
posted by squasha at 7:56 AM on October 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


padraigin, one of the commenters references this man's "old blog" - so perhaps this one was started fresh after the accident.
posted by desjardins at 7:58 AM on October 30, 2007


The moral of the story is: don't go to the hospital.

.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:59 AM on October 30, 2007


Etaoin, I'm curious -- where did you find this link? Because the death on the blog is reported just after midnight this morning -- and then immediately the comments start pouring in (at 1 am, 2 am, etc.). And then this post goes up at 7 am? It all seems like a large and fast readership for a guy who started his blog a month ago. (Just after MRSA was suddenly all over the news.)
posted by TheWash at 8:03 AM on October 30, 2007


Very scary.
posted by agregoli at 8:07 AM on October 30, 2007


Yup, I'm skeptical too. When does the donation meter go up? Will they take paypal?
posted by simra at 8:08 AM on October 30, 2007


What's MRSA?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:10 AM on October 30, 2007


It seems like he had a web presence outside of his own site. But perhaps a skeptic could attempt to contact the family of the deceased and the hospital doctors, and write a more detailed story illuminating the danger of MRSA.
posted by billysumday at 8:12 AM on October 30, 2007


am I the only one who has a knee-jerk FUD reaction/view of this sort of stuff?
posted by ilovemytoaster at 8:12 AM on October 30, 2007


It was finally called MRSA on the 25th, but treatment still did no good. Perhaps it was the (even worse) VRSA (Vancomycin Resistant) which is Really Bad because Vancomycin itself is considered a "drug of last resort."

Welcome to the rapid slide back into the pre-antibiotic era. It's not going to get any better any time soon.
posted by chimaera at 8:15 AM on October 30, 2007


This reads like a good experiment in viral fiction. Nicely done.

If it is real, I apologize to the family, but too many things are too good and I am a skeptical man by nature.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:15 AM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not really all that farfetched a story, whether true or not. Hospitals are full of relatively simple accidents turning into deaths -- and MRSA crops up in the most benign seeming places. Bad luck abounds.

In short: if it is a hoax, it's not a terribly inventive one.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 8:15 AM on October 30, 2007


It seems most of the commenters knew him from some other site. This person's blog provided regular updates about the guy in addition to other content.
posted by desjardins at 8:15 AM on October 30, 2007


i had the strong sense of something missing from this account, and i suspect that that something is spelled m-a-l-p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e.
posted by bruce at 8:18 AM on October 30, 2007


i had the strong sense of something missing from this account, and i suspect that that something is spelled m-a-l-p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e.

Inferred from this part, I assume: "The staff has been very good to me, but my mother in-law thinks there is a reason behind it. That is something I don’t have the time or energy for to even think about right now."
posted by billysumday at 8:21 AM on October 30, 2007


The story is mentioned on this fairly well-known blog. Apparently the deceased was a regular commenter there.
posted by desjardins at 8:21 AM on October 30, 2007


In short: if it is a hoax, it's not a terribly inventive one.

Hoax? Even if it is not real, I am not sure I would call it a hoax. Hoax is usually taken to mean "something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage" (WordNet) and I don't see the advantage here, nor any malice outside of perhaps invoking unwarranted emotions (and Hollywood tear-jerkers are just as guilty). Beyond that, the most successful hoaxes are the most believable ones; alien abduction makes for a poor hoax.

I would stick to calling it fiction. All in all, it is just too neat and tidy, even down to the commenter's names, etc. It doesn't quite ring true. I could be wrong, but it doesn't smell right.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:23 AM on October 30, 2007


Alright, desjardins, I guess I'm convinced. But still, there's stuff that nags at me. Like this comment -- at 5:48 am! -- "I just started reading the blog days ago and was so interested in past posts and looking forward to him getting well so I could continue to read his great posts. He made me smile." Does this really make sense, given that the blog only had maybe seven posts, all relatively short and about the same subject? (God, the Internet has made me into a monster.)
posted by TheWash at 8:23 AM on October 30, 2007


The West Virginia Surf Report linked to him yesterday. He was a regular commentator on that site for a long while.

I think it's legit.
posted by Mick at 8:25 AM on October 30, 2007


I think y'all need to take a walk in the sunshine. There are certainly loads of hucksters online, but until someone asks for something from you, why not give them the benefit of the doubt?
posted by desjardins at 8:28 AM on October 30, 2007


Yes, a walk in the sunshine. Good idea! Off I go. (I will add, though, that I think the vast majority of Internet hoaxes -- and hoaxes in general -- are attempted not for money but just for attention. So I don't agree that one should be trusting until one is asked for something.)
posted by TheWash at 8:33 AM on October 30, 2007


Not sure how many of you were familiar with the Straight Dope Message Boards, but this reminded me a lot of the death of WallyM7- who no one is sure actually existed to begin with.

Not that this is any sort of "J'accuse!", just pointing out the similarities.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:33 AM on October 30, 2007


Shocking. From his about page:

"I decided to put to paper (or html, whatever) some of my past and a lot of my future. You are welcome to hop on your horse and come along for the ride. "

Very sad if true, which I find hard for it not to be. TheWash - MRSA has not really been out of the UK news for years now so i don't see that being a motive. Of course, I may be proven very wrong.

Don't see it being viral marketing. If it is, then an average of 4 comments a day until this weekend when it "exploded" to about 30 is not terribly successful.
posted by twistedonion at 8:34 AM on October 30, 2007


Hmmm found a link here about a Doctor Syn. It's wikipedia. Turns out that Dr. Syn is a pirate smuggler in a story. The person in this blog might have known this but for a person to call themselves a pirate and then end up loosing an eye? Also a hoax does not have to be for any type of gain either. I believe some lady started a 9/11 surviver club and said that her husband died in one of the towers. Turns out she wasn't even married. She was just doing it to have people feel sorry for her. Also someone asked what MRSA was: MRSA

Lastly I am no medical expert but don't you die rather quickly if you run a fever higher than 105? I don't think a drug induced coma would help that. They throw you in a bath of ice water to break it at that point.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:49 AM on October 30, 2007


An excellent, recent MetaFilter post about MRSA, detailing what it is as well as surprisingly numerous stories of MeFites who had near death experiences with MRSA and relatives or loved one who did not survive a bout with MRSA.

Worth reading.

My sincere condolences to the family of the man who died. I can only imagine how awful his wife must feel for having left the bedroom door partly open after his repeated requests for it to be closed. It's one of those classic living space things that happens, "I'll fix that later" and in this case was lethal. Sad and also a heads up about how extremely dangerous MRSA can be.

.
posted by nickyskye at 8:51 AM on October 30, 2007


Sorry TheWash, think I'm wrong thinking he's from the UK (could have swore I read it in one of his posts)
posted by twistedonion at 8:52 AM on October 30, 2007


He said he lived in Romney Marsh. Which is in the UK, unless there is a clone of every single place name in the US*.




*Which is quite likely, I guess.
posted by Brockles at 8:55 AM on October 30, 2007


I have no idea what this is, but it rings all sorts of bells for me. He had his wife make a second post on his blog the same day he made his first post, in which she details his emergency surgery. It is hard to imagine that keeping your one post blog updated is your most pressing concern following emergency eye surgery. Romney Marsh is the location of the fictional Dr.Syn
posted by Lame_username at 8:58 AM on October 30, 2007


mThought I had read that - thanks. Couldn't see it again. Now I'm getting a bit cynical after googling a bit...

Did this Dr Syn pick his username because of the stories and the fact he lived in Romney Marsh ("Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh is the first in the series of Doctor Syn novels by Russell Thorndike.")

Or are the locations and usernames made up. This is what I'm thnking as he talks about Bourbon and his wife hadn't heard of MRSA.

This is not to say the underlying story isn't real.
posted by twistedonion at 9:03 AM on October 30, 2007


Though I'm starting to seriously doubt it now.
posted by twistedonion at 9:04 AM on October 30, 2007


Well, given the people freaking out at the WVSR, I'm betting Real. Although I suppose it could be a gigantic conspiracy.

...probably put together by GSK at the behest of the Gnomes of Zurich. Maybe to foil the hideous plans of the Australian Mole King.

But I've already said too much.
posted by aramaic at 9:12 AM on October 30, 2007


It's not that there's really any evidence that it is false, it's just that there's no evidence that it's real. There are a couple of things about it that bother me (the timing, the fictional pirate persona, the fact that a couple of times he's "just about" to post pictures but circumstances intrude and all that ever gets up is a totally generic radiology shot of some type and a picture of an eyepatch that is so drastically cropped that any sort of identification would be impossible, and finally that the people who mention him online are of the "posted here a lot, never actually met him" variety. None of which means anything, it could all be bad luck and concern with privacy). It all seems a little pat, but then sometimes life is pat. Then again, he could certainly be some random guy or woman who decided they wanted to reboot an online persona and is killing off the old one.

I forget sometimes that people didn't all grow up with a parent who was constantly being called upon at all hours of the day and night to attend to the sick and dying. I never find stories like this shocking at all. While this particular disease is an emerging condition of medical significance, the idea that we've entered some sort of radically new era is alarmist and false. Stuff like this happens all the time and always has. Some things get worse, some things get better, some things get worse again etc. People never stopped getting perfectly ordinary infections that got out of hand and killed them. Assuming it's all real (and I see no reason not to), you know, bottom line, this guy died of a heart attack. "Complications due to..." Without knowing about his health otherwise, his age and the state of his immune system, it's hard to even say how surprising the outcome really was.
posted by nanojath at 9:21 AM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just went to a drug-rep dinner (read: drinking party) where they showed us results of a study where entire OR teams were swabbed for MRSA (their nares I presume). In one instance, of nine people (including the patient) one was negative for MRSA. Only two strains were identical, that of the patient and surgeon. We saw several similar examples. It would be interesting to know if this individual had any predisposing health factors, diabetes?
posted by rotifer at 9:22 AM on October 30, 2007


He apparently was also known as Blitz Kreig. The Snob Log was his according to reports on The West Virginia Surf Report.
posted by Floydd at 9:31 AM on October 30, 2007


...some random guy or woman who decided they wanted to reboot an online persona and is killing off the old one...

That seems to fit the known facts better than any other hypothesis, so far as I can see.
posted by Phanx at 9:36 AM on October 30, 2007


Does this really make sense, given that the blog only had maybe seven posts, all relatively short and about the same subject?

Man, the caliber of deputies in the MeFi Junior Detective League sure has gone downhill. This blog had entries prior to October 9. Here's a google search.
posted by turaho at 9:37 AM on October 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hi, I stumbled across this site after looking at the Hungry Girl site; that led me to the West Virginia Surf Report and the references to this guy as one of their regular readers. I suppose it could be fake but I have to say that assuming that something is false because it hasn't been proven to my satisfaction isn't my approach to life. If that were the case I'd have a lot of trouble believing in most science. And I don't.
posted by etaoin at 9:40 AM on October 30, 2007


“It should be better by now, just try and ignore it. Your eye looks just fine.”

Such Ominous Foreshadowing makes me suspicious.

Terrible thing, regardless.
posted by moonlet at 9:41 AM on October 30, 2007


This blog had entries prior to October 9

That's just what They want you to think. They're out there, waiting. Plotting. I can't decide which is the greater threat: Them, or the Australian Mole King.

If I wake up dead, you'll know it was the Australian Mole King, and that you should douse yourself with vinegar immediately.
posted by aramaic at 9:48 AM on October 30, 2007


I bet the wife still leaves the door half open.
posted by sanka at 10:03 AM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't see what's so farfetched about any of this. There's no indication he was killing off an identity - in fact this "Dr. Syn" seems to be a new identity. Why create it and kill it off a month later? The guy is known on several online communities by various usernames. Probably, so are most of us. Why not kill off one of the more well-known names instead of creating a new one?

Apparently, according to comments on Jeff Kay's site, here's the deceased's old blog.
posted by desjardins at 10:03 AM on October 30, 2007


bah, I haven't had coffee. Floydd and turaho beat me to the punch.
posted by desjardins at 10:06 AM on October 30, 2007


I am of course shocked by the progression from a relatively minor incident to his death - what an awful thing to contemplate, that it could happen to you or anyone - but overwhelmingly all I could think of was while reading how the situation got worse and then to the worst: his poor wife, how must she feel? My heart goes out to her.
posted by Melinika at 10:14 AM on October 30, 2007


Weird that people are so frightened of being scammed that they withhold the very idea of compassion.
posted by boo_radley at 10:18 AM on October 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


I will say this... I had a staph infection on my eye, made a joke out of it (I even made an eyepatch and ran around town showing it off) but I was scared shitless the whole time my eye was going to fall out.

I've had 5 very painful MRSA infections in the past 4 years. They are, like the internet, SERIOUS BUSINESS.

I feel horrible for this man and all families touched by this superbug. If you don't have a family doctor, get one. When I went to a Primacare with mine, I actually heard the doctors arguing about who would have to treat me because they were exhausted from so many staph infections. I felt like a dog left at the ASPCA.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:35 AM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


For what its worth, there is also a DrSyn.com website that mentions Romney Marsh, with a whois leading to one Julian Jones of Eastleigh, Hampshire, for what that is worth.
posted by TedW at 10:46 AM on October 30, 2007


It's real, people.

He was real.

I knew him as a friend. The circumstances of his accdient and subsequent illness may look odd to all of those who didn't know him, but rest assured he lived and breathed and walked into a door just as he was starting a new blog (named after the character he always was on Hallowe'en), and that he's left behind a family and many friends who will miss him.

He blogged as Blitz Krieg, as Lenny Harris, as the "Buerger King" and lately as Dr Syn, and had a small but devoted group of readers and friends. This is why there were so many comments - because the word got out that "one of our own" was not well. Word spreads fast on the intent, as you all well know.

If you have doubts or questions or want to know how this all happened or what this real live person was like so that you can stop doubting the veracity of this tragic tale, feel free to contact me. I'd be glad to dispel any lingering doubts you may have over this most unfortunate event.
posted by tiff2004 at 10:57 AM on October 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


I suppose I should mention that my e-mail is on my site , or you can ask questions here and I'll do my best to answer them.
posted by tiff2004 at 11:01 AM on October 30, 2007


So sorry for the loss. Infections can be very real and nasty stuff. My husband's infection was systemic and he did not survive. It's an awful thing. My condolences to all.
posted by mightshould at 11:10 AM on October 30, 2007


How awful... sorry for your loss, mightshould.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:26 AM on October 30, 2007


Oh my all these whispers of malpractice and OMG new killer bacteria is out to get you BOO!

The fact is 10-25% of the population have Staph aureus colonized in their nares or skin (particularly the groin area). Of those people, 10-75% of them have the Methicillin resistant strain. (MRSA). Most of the time, if the bacteria is contained to the nares it causes no problems.

Unfortunately, this gentleman suffered a trauma to the area, shattering the bone and driving fragments into the eye, effectively innoculating the area. ANY bacterial infection in the eye/brain area is trouble.

This is a tragic event but it appears the medical staff treated it appropriately.
posted by The Mermaid at 11:40 AM on October 30, 2007


Reminds me of an old Bloom County. They can't decide whether the war scene on TV is an old episode of Rat Patrol or a news clip, so don't know whether to get into it or be appalled.

.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:41 AM on October 30, 2007


Our son had a bout with MRSA a couple of years ago. It's fucking scary how quickly the stuff takes-over. It was literally a case of one day, okay; three days later, in surgery to save your hand.
Crazy.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:12 PM on October 30, 2007


I'm with Mermaid -- I've been in a sitch where I probably inadvertently gave myself a post-op staph infection in some pin sites on the tips of my fingers -- and damned near lost my entire hand to said infection. (I was supposed to keep those pins poking out of my fingertips clean and dry, but this was SC in a month without an "R" in it, so copious sweating was inevitable, and fingertips have a lot of staph on them anyhow.)

In other MRSA-related news, a lady friend of my acquaintance basically has a head cold -- no evidence of any bacterial infection, though -- but she's telling me her doc prescribed "antibiotics" anyhow. WTF?
posted by pax digita at 12:16 PM on October 30, 2007


The Mermaid: OMG new killer bacteria is out to get you BOO!

Ha ha ha, you are so funny.

More USAians die from MRSA than AIDS now. Still laughing?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:58 PM on October 30, 2007


I really, really hope that someone reaches the wife and talks to her about how this is NOT HER FAULT. It could have easily been another person, or Syn himself, who left the door closed. The important thing is the love and caring that she showed so clearly in the blog. She seemed full of pain and worry that this was her fault, even before he got very sick.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:03 PM on October 30, 2007


tiff2004, thanks for clearing that up... as I said, shocking and sad (but a true reflection of life) that his about page showed he was hoping there would be a lot more in the future to blog about than he actually got.

MRSA is terrifying.What has surprised me is how prevelant it seems to be in the US. I had thought it was mainly the hospitals over here that were the breeding grounds of infections such as this
posted by twistedonion at 1:16 PM on October 30, 2007


Its rotten that I'm now so cynical....but is there more evidence for the reality of this story? Not the case history of the illnesses, just this instance and this blog. Anyone?
posted by batgrlHG at 1:59 PM on October 30, 2007


(Apologies if you actually met him in the flesh, tiff2004, but people said the exact same thing about Kaycee.)
posted by batgrlHG at 2:01 PM on October 30, 2007


Particularly since tiff2004 only joined today. If it is fiction, I gotta give them that they were willing to pony up $5.

I have to admit, I do feel kinda crappy being so skeptical, but on the internet, no one knows your a dog, and that can be hard to get past sometimes.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:09 PM on October 30, 2007


err, you're, dammit
posted by Bovine Love at 2:10 PM on October 30, 2007


Well, the story doesn't seem that improbable, but it does seem very pat, especially with Halloween tomorrow.

But imagine a world without antibiotics, when all bacteria could cause this kind of damage. Without constant antibiotic presence, The antibiotic resistance genes will mutate and bacteria will eventually return to their natural, non-immune state.
posted by delmoi at 2:33 PM on October 30, 2007


"I still can’t help but hope I didn’t screw up again."

Her situation is one of the worst things I can possibly imagine. What a horrible, horrible story.

Also, tons of people have MRSA in their noses already?!? Horror! I did not know this. Is that stuff just especially resistant to drug treatment, or is it tougher for your body to fight off too?
posted by zebra3 at 2:43 PM on October 30, 2007


Reasonable, evidenced scepticism is not the same as 'withholding the very idea of compassion'. I can add a couple more to the reasons for doubt adduced above.

In one of the pre-9 October posts (there aren't many, and it is strange that just exactly the ones from then on, describing his illness are still extant) he talks about opening a fortune cookie. It'll be the last he ever opens, he says. Because it promises a long life, and you can't get better than that.

A slightly odd thing to say: it's quite possible that someone might have said something as extremely, relevantly poignant just before contracting a fatal infection, but how likely is it?

In introducing himself he says nothing about previous blogs (unless you read 'long-time blog fan' as meaning long-time blogger), but he does say the new blog will feature 'some of my past and a lot of my future'. Again a strange turn of phrase, unless perhaps your life was embarking on a new phase - or you were trying to ramp up the irony prior to your 'death'.

The doubt these points raise may be needless, but it is not out of place.
posted by Phanx at 2:50 PM on October 30, 2007


Without constant antibiotic presence, The antibiotic resistance genes will mutate and bacteria will eventually return to their natural, non-immune state.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work this way. It's a widely spread misconception, simply because it's so logical. Unfortunately, bacteria hold on to inactive versions of resistance genes for far too long for this to work.
posted by fermezporte at 3:04 PM on October 30, 2007


The man who died apparently also used the name "Lenny Harris". He was, according to another of his blogs, from the San Fransisco Bay Area. One of his favorite movies was The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, therefore the Dr. Sym name.

His blog profile here. His other blog, The Ramblings of a Mad Cartoonist, from 2005, with his cartoons, one that was drawn a couple of days after his surgery.
posted by nickyskye at 3:29 PM on October 30, 2007


Okay Nickyskye, the profile you linked to is not him at all.
He was not from the San Francisco Bay area.
He was not a cartoonist.
He was never on Blogger as "Dr. Syn", only Wordpress.

Do you feel even a little bit stupid now? If not, you should.

He doesn't say anything about previous blogs, Mr. Phanx, because he had someone threaten him with a lawsuit under his "Snob Log" blog if you really must know all the facts.

My friend is dead and if you had one ounce of respect, you'd take your sorry AND WRONG little "detective skills" someplace else where they MIGHT be appreciated. JERKS
posted by Brenda Love at 3:39 PM on October 30, 2007


If you look at this from an evolutionary medicine perspective (see Paul Ewald—here's a link to a PBS Q&A with him), what's happening here is that MSRA is that because4 predominately an iatropathic (health care worker transmitted) infection, it evolves toward increased virulence instead of decreased virulence.

Ewald's virulence theory is that the evolution of virulence of pathogens is very sensitive to its transmission vector. Simply put, when a pathogen relies upon its host to transmit the pathogens to other hosts, then the hosts mustn't be so sick that they are immobilized or die too quickly. His example of this is the common cold, which has very low virulence—we are not very incapacitated by it at all and this we are quite efficient at transmitting it to others.

In contrast, pathogens that don't rely upon its primary hosts for transmission, but instead use a third agent for transmission—such as another organism as in the case of malaria and mosquitoes, or contaminated water as in the case of dysentery—are not constrained in their virulence as long as that third agent is the transmission vector.

Iatropathic pathogens have health care workers as their third agents. They will often be pathogens that are not normally very virulent because they are normally transmitted directly. But in a hospital setting, for example, the evolutionary check on their virulence will be removed as their transmission vectors are externalized.

It's important to understand that in microbes evolution occurs at a rapid pace: mutations accumulate quickly in a single individual's infection with different, new strains competing with each other in that host. This is why pathogens are so environmentally responsive—they evolve right before our eyes.

Antibiotics are important and will always have their uses, but if it's simply a race between pathogens evolving resistance and our search for new antibiotics, the pathogens will always win. The only real solution to iatropathic infections of unusually virulent pathogens is to encourage them to evolve less virulence. That means changing the environment such that it pressures them in the less virulent direction. This can only be accomplished by comprehensive and extremely stringent practices on health care worker practice. If the role of health care workers as a transmission vector of these pathogens is greatly reduced, the virulence of these pathogens will be forced to likewise diminish.

On Preview: Brenda Love's angry comment isn't rightly directed at nickyskye, but otherwise is understandable. For every single case of Internet fraud of a supposed tragic death, there's a thousand which are true. Because, of course, tragic deaths occur all the time, no less to bloggers and other people on the Internet than anyone else.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:00 PM on October 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


Buy stock in alcohol gel. And turn on CNN for more on this "developing" story.

[sheeple]
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:06 PM on October 30, 2007


No, my comments were RIGHTLY directed, thank you. Here's this guy thinking he's a super sleuth, digging around the internet for any kind of reference to "Dr. Syn" he can find, just HOPING against hope he can uncover a hoax.
He's posting links that aren't even correct links to MY FRIEND THAT DIED. Yeah I'm mad.
posted by Brenda Love at 4:10 PM on October 30, 2007


"My friend is dead and if you had one ounce of respect, you'd take your sorry AND WRONG little "detective skills" someplace else where they MIGHT be appreciated. JERKS"

Once upon a time a lot of us would jump to the immediate compassionate response - and I do feel compassion for anyone who might have been though such an experience. But let me post the links again rather than hide them under the link I had about cynical.
Wikipedia's Kaycee Nicole
MeFi thread that questioned Kaycee's existance
After having been involved in that hoax and felt honest compassion for that poor girl - that then didn't exist - well, some of us naturally question something that's linked on the net, without any other supporting links.
Note that I'm not saying anything snarky about this, nor do I refute that the medical condition exists, or that this person has died. However, I've been burned before. It's certainly not your friend's fault, but thanks to Kaycee we do have a justifiable reason to question all blogs presented to us as fact. I don't think this is being done in a mean way.

If this person has other blogs, let's have a link to them, should they still exist. If he was a private person, fine, that's ok. But angry tirades are getting you nowhere in convincing us that we do not have justifiable questions. If you actually bother to go read the MeFi thread I linked you'll notice that there were many people who deeply believed in Kaycee who said hateful things to those who questioned her existance - and vice versa. I'm not going there with the rude. I've had close relatives die, I can respect grief. But this blog is something that I have some trouble buying as fact. (Again, NOT the medical condition. That needs as much factual, scientific press coverage as possible.)
posted by batgrlHG at 4:16 PM on October 30, 2007


Dirty British Hospitals
posted by A189Nut at 4:19 PM on October 30, 2007


http://thesnoblog.blogspot.com/

Is there anything else you need, Batgrl? Please let me know and I'll be glad to supply it!

I didn't ask for this info to be hosted here, but if people are going to call it a hoax, I WILL stand and fight and I don't apologize to you or anyone else. I think a bunch of you need to get a life.
posted by Brenda Love at 4:22 PM on October 30, 2007


I'm sorry if you're taking this the wrong way Brenda Love, I'm trying very hard to be polite. I understand being angry - but realize - of course you know this is real, you're involved.
I don't know if you followed MeFi during the Kaycee time, but if you haven't read the thread you might not understand why some of us feel strongly about questioning these things.
posted by batgrlHG at 4:29 PM on October 30, 2007


Brenda Love, please look at my previous response in this thread, "An excellent, recent MetaFilter post about MRSA, detailing what it is as well as surprisingly numerous stories of MeFites who had near death experiences with MRSA and relatives or loved one who did not survive a bout with MRSA.

Worth reading.

My sincere condolences to the family of the man who died. I can only imagine how awful his wife must feel for having left the bedroom door partly open after his repeated requests for it to be closed. It's one of those classic living space things that happens, "I'll fix that later" and in this case was lethal. Sad and also a heads up about how extremely dangerous MRSA can be."

When I read Dr. Sym's blog, linked in the original post of this thread, it never entered my mind to think this man was not real. However, when other members doubted his reality, that doubt was based on previous scams on the internet. So I tried my best, and failed, to find out if this man were in fact real. When you mentioned him on your blog, I thought to write you directly and ask your opinion.

Yes, some MeFites can be really juvenile. This is typical on the web. There are a lot of kids with computers. There's also a lot of cynicism and quite understandably. My intention was to find out the truth and post it here, not to upset you in any way. I am sincerely sorry if I did upset you and also glad you came to this thread to clarify the story for others. And my condolences on the loss of your friend.
posted by nickyskye at 4:30 PM on October 30, 2007


Brenda Love, nickyskye is the person who posted the thread in the first place and the link she posted in her most recent comment wasn't an attempt at sleuthing, it was trying to be helpful. If you read the comments in this thread carefully, she's not at all one of the people who are skeptical. If you must attack people for being skeptical, then choose someone who actually is.

And while I think that people should be less skeptical, and while I understand how their skepticism is hurtful to you, the truth of the matter is that is this is an unrelated web site and the people here are not people who knew Dr. Syn. Until you and one or two other people who showed up, the people in this thread weren't interacting with people who had a personal involvement in this tragedy and thus were under no obligation to avoid hurting your feelings by being skeptical. Now that you're here, I think people ought to be considerate. But talking about this and being skeptical about it here is not at all the same thing as going somewhere where people who knew Dr. Syn have congregated and being skeptical and insensitive around them. The skeptics in this thread had no intention of hurting anyone's feelings and, more importantly, until you showed up, had no reason to believe that they might hurt someone's feelings.

In any event, I am very sorry for your loss. It must be truly awful to lose a friend like this, so unexpectedly. My heart goes out to you. I wish I could say something that would help more than that.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:36 PM on October 30, 2007


No I didn't follow MeFi during the Kaycee time. And I couldn't care less. If people got taken in by something, then I'm sorry but it doesn't give you the right to rip into something just because you're scared it might not be real. But you have people commenting all over the web about Dr. Syn's death, on the WVSR for God's sake, that knew him, and you're still questioning whether he was real???

Why would you even bother if you think its not real?

You people have your links, you have the facts now. The guy was real and I'm worried to death his wife or kids are going to stumble onto this thread somehow and get really hurt.
posted by Brenda Love at 4:36 PM on October 30, 2007


For the record, here is my email to Brenda,

Hi brendalove,
On MetaFilter there was a post today about Dr. Sym's death from MRSA. a number of members think his blog is a hoax to gain attention. I came across your blog and thought I'd ask if you knew that Dr. Sym, "Lenny Harris" wasn't merely a fiction?

Here's the MetaFilter post:

http://www.metafilter.com/66036/Account-of-MRSA#1892918

"Account of MRSA
October 30, 2007 10:40 AM
A LIFE or DEATH STRUGGLE with MRSA recounted almost real time. Best to start with the original posting, linked at the beginning, and then go back. Read from the bottom to get the sequence. It's a terrible story, made worse by the stupid accident that led to the struggle. I accidentally ran across this blog before the fight was over and am shocked by how things went. "

If you email me back, would it be alright to repost your reply to that thread (unless you are already a member there)? My impression is that Dr. Sym was a real person and it seems sad his existence is being doubted. But also understandable that there have been other internet publicity scams, that people can, understandably, be skeptical.

Sincerely,
Nicky

posted by nickyskye at 4:47 PM on October 30, 2007


Nicky - feel free to e-mail me too.

Seriously, I get the skeptcism. It just hurts here because we hurt. Trying to superimpose a scrim of cynicism on the reality of the man and his public personna is like jabbing a knife inbetween unwilling ribs.....it hurts.

Can we just leave this be now?

Oh and yeah - I just joined today, because I heard about this thread. While I appreciate the visits to my site that my comments have brought, I'd willingly give them up for NO conversation about this dead man. At ALL. I am not a shill for some faceless ad agency, I am not a screen for some fact-finding thinktank, I am merely a person who is affected directly by the death of a friend. Sorry if the timing of my joining is offensive or suspect....
posted by tiff2004 at 5:44 PM on October 30, 2007


Trying to superimpose a scrim of cynicism

Cynicism is frequently confused with intellect.
posted by aramaic at 5:57 PM on October 30, 2007


Thanks for your comment. Glad you joined and welcome to MetaFilter.

It's not up to me to "leave this be", nor do I enjoy being shushed.

This isn't my post and I most respectfully commented in this thread, wrote Brenda Love respectfully and got a little tirade of bile for that consideration. I think people are entitled to their skepticism, even though that was not my initial feeling, to be suspicious. Sadly, I've learned the hard way that skepticism is a good thing and an essential tool with which to navigate life without being routinely suckered.

I still have seen no substantial proof anywhere on the web that this man was a real person, looked under the name that Brenda Love emailed me for Ohio obituaries and saw none. I didn't have doubt before but I do now.
posted by nickyskye at 6:08 PM on October 30, 2007


MRSA is awful but this is Kaycee 2.0. Flagged as other and move on is my advice.
posted by who squared at 6:18 PM on October 30, 2007


A slightly odd thing to say: it's quite possible that someone might have said something as extremely, relevantly poignant just before contracting a fatal infection, but how likely is it?
I dunno, life is (not) funny sometimes. A few months ago, I changed one of my passwords to "fullfathom5" (as in the line from The Tempest) out of the blue, and not two weeks later my father quite unexpectedly died. So .

posted by Hal Mumkin at 6:36 PM on October 30, 2007


Jesus, you people are mean. :(
posted by jammer at 6:38 PM on October 30, 2007


Flag as other if you must. The point won't change. The guy is real.

Sorry to have offended where no offense was meant. I understand doubt, I really do, but as someone who KNEW Blitz (or Dan, or Lenny, or whatever) I thought a first-hand "please stop" would have the desired effect.

That being said, feel free to rummage through the comments on mine or a dozen other sites for evidence of his existence.

Thanks for taking the time to read, be you cynic or sympathetic.
posted by tiff2004 at 6:38 PM on October 30, 2007


I'm sorry for your loss, tiff.

Some folks here are real assholes. A number of them have truly been burned in the past. But alot of them just like being cynical about everything because it makes them feel superior.

I don't comment here much these days, but I for one am willing to wholeheartedly put cynicism aside because, really, if people are hurting, what benefit is it to me to question their pain?

If this is a hoax, so be it. Believing in it won't have harmed me much. But if it's real, there are real people in real pain involved, and that, to any enlightened being, should be of primary concern.

May your grief be eased, and your memories long and sweet.
posted by jammer at 6:45 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


After reading MeFi off and on for quite some time, I finally had to sign up today. Posts like this one and the community reaction are the reason.

I think it's actually commendable that so many people have been not just cynical or skeptical, but respectful in how they presented it as well.

I can understand Brenda Love's emotional attachment to the situation, to some degree, but I don't think anyone here has been mean or disrespectful in the least. I hope she can calm down a bit and see that no one was intending any kind of harm or used hateful words... they merely questioned the validity of the post, and with *many* good reasons.
posted by vertigo25 at 6:52 PM on October 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


The thing is, in the Kaycee Nicole threads, people exactly like Brenda showed up to swear up and down that Kaycee was real and that anyone who said otherwise was a liar. These people had the best intentions but were blinded by their emotional attachments.

Absent some independent confirmation of the story (i.e., a news article or obituary), there is no real way for any of us to distinguish this story from Kaycee, no matter how adamant Brenda and others are. Especially if Brenda and the others did not meet this person in real life, which, unless I missed something, seems to be the case (happy to be corrected here).

I'm sorry if this is disturbing or insensitive, but, really, I don't see why it should be. If someone I knew died and random people on the internet seemed skeptical, I would either (a) not care at all, because who really cares what random people on the internet think; or (b) post verifiable information, like a real name or an obituary, to "prove it."

For example, my uncle actually died yesterday - no joke. I can't prove it to you (there's no obit yet), but I don't really care to either. Why would I care? This makes the vitriol from someone like Brenda all the more difficult to understand.
posted by Mid at 8:28 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think the account was interesting, and I'm sorry for your loss.

But seriously, lay off nickyskye. She's one of the more compassionate posters here on MeFi, and as she approached a possible fraud with tact and care.
posted by graventy at 8:42 PM on October 30, 2007


Hmm...didn't finish that thought. I think she approached a possible fraud with a lot of tact and care.
posted by graventy at 8:42 PM on October 30, 2007


“Why would I care?”

Well, if you found out that a website was talking about your uncle's death and a sizable contingent of people there were arguing that he wasn't a real person and that his death is somehow a scam, wouldn't that upset you?

Otherwise, though, I agree with what you said. We can't know, from just what we've seen so far, that this is a true story.

However, I don't really understand the desire or need in this case to be skeptical. It's not as if the story is unusual or that anything is expected of people in relation to it. No one is asking for money. The sequence of events is quite mundane and I don't doubt that people die every day as a result of similar, minor injuries. If the blog ended with “this is his wife, yesterday he died in a car accident” would people feel the need to be skeptical? Maybe the pirate and eye patch connection is what is setting people off—but that seems to me to be pretty weak substance upon which someone to make a mundane false story be an interesting false story. You'd have to “get” the Dr. Syn reference, in particular, which I certainly didn't until I read this thread. There seems little reason to be particularly skeptical. There's a small chance this story isn't true. Big deal. There's a small chance anything you read in the paper isn't true, as well. Life is full of falsehoods and uncertainty. You're not going to avoid them by going out of your way to be skeptical to the point of being cynical.

I would think differently if this story was sensationalist or soliciting some sort of response from others. It's not doing either, and so it just seems mostly mundane and very, very sad, to me.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:44 PM on October 30, 2007


Brenda Love writes "My friend is dead and if you had one ounce of respect, you'd take your sorry AND WRONG little 'detective skills' someplace else where they MIGHT be appreciated. JERKS"

And,

Brenda Love writes "I didn't ask for this info to be hosted here, but if people are going to call it a hoax, I WILL stand and fight and I don't apologize to you or anyone else. I think a bunch of you need to get a life."

In the immortal words of Holden McNeil I think you need to just let it go. More specifically:
Ah, let it go. Number one, they're a bunch of jealous little dicks who use the anonymity of the Net to insult people who're doing what they wish they were doing,
[snip]
First off, I don't know how good your names really are. Secondly, there's not much you can do about stopping this bile. The Internet's given everyone in America a voice, and everyone in American has chosen to use that voice to bitch about movies. As long as there's a Bluntman and Chronic movie, the Net-nerds are gonna have something negative to say about it.
To apply it to this case some users here are going to speculate whether this is real, as we often do when something rubs us as odd (and the removed postings to the blog are enough for that). That isn't a personal attack on your friend it's just us discussing a current event. Few if any of the cynical are going to be swayed by protests from a brand new account, especially when the user's first post calls the membership stupid and jerks. So again just try to let it go as you aren't going to accomplish anything here besides possibly raising your blood pressure.

For future reference (as it's way to late to put the first impression horse back in the barn) people will tend to listen more if the first statement you make to them isn't insulting.
posted by Mitheral at 8:49 PM on October 30, 2007


Well, if you found out that a website was talking about your uncle's death and a sizable contingent of people there were arguing that he wasn't a real person and that his death is somehow a scam, wouldn't that upset you?

Probably no, because as long as my uncle was anonymous to the 'net (as he is now, and as is Dr. Syn), what harm would it do? I know my uncle died. My family and his friends will mourn him regardless of some chatter on a website that doesn't even mention his name.

And that's really the part I don't get -- so long as this is all anonymous (my uncle, Dr. Syn) -- what right do I have to insist that anyone believe my particular anonymous and unverifiable story on the internet? If it's really your trust and belief that I'm after, then I'll have the guts to drop the cloak of anonymity and I'll give you some verifiable details. But I can't have it both ways -- I can't withhold all verifiable information and then get personally offended when people point out that they can't verify my story.
posted by Mid at 9:05 PM on October 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


aw, thanks graventy.
posted by nickyskye at 9:13 PM on October 30, 2007


When you cultivate a presence online one of the chances you take is of being discussed as an abstraction by strangers. There are a hell of a lot nastier places for it to happen than Metafilter.

As far as I can see nobody from Metafilter is going over to Dr. Syn's or Brenda Love's or Tiff2004's sites to talk a bunch of smack. The only place this thread is getting mentioned where anyone connected to him or his family is likely to see it is in the comments on Brenda Love's blog - so maybe you should go clean that up, Brenda Love, instead of hanging around here trying to tell us what we're allowed to discuss.
posted by nanojath at 10:26 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


(I see we're all over Tiff2004's comments as well. Jesus, do you people actually want to keep this speculation contained here or not?)
posted by nanojath at 10:34 PM on October 30, 2007


The "iffy" points I find in this story are, first of all, that so far no one that is posting seems to have ever met this fellow in person. Secondly, much like when Kaycee's "mother" reported her daughter's demise, she specifically asked folks not to mourn, not to send tributes, etc. I notice Dr. Syn's family has asked the same. And lastly, I'm trying to figure out how he walked into a door with that much force to splinter a piece of bone into his eye. The orbital socket is sunken into the skull to protect the eye, no? Was he running to the bathroom at a full clip in the dark? And on the same day of his first surgery, his main concern was giving his wife the proper instructions for posting an update on his blog?

Has anyone found an obit for Dr. Syn yet? With all the current media focus/hysteria on MRSA, it seems like his story would've made the local newspapers.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:55 PM on October 30, 2007


Pfft. Some of mefi's most prolific posters aren't real. Seriously, if thirteenkiller said pretty_generic died of some horrible infection, I'd be looking for an obit too. That's newspapers publish them, right?
posted by ryanrs at 12:01 AM on October 31, 2007


So if it is viral advertising, what's he selling? Eyepatches? Come on people
posted by A189Nut at 12:54 AM on October 31, 2007


All I have left to say is that is was well worth the $5 spent to join and say what I needed to say, and to stop some people from trying to make my friend out to be some kind of internet fraud. I dare to say he might would have done the same for me.
posted by Brenda Love at 3:14 AM on October 31, 2007


Perhaps he would be more amused than annoyed at the idea of 'Doctor Syn' becoming an internet mystery man? The power of the Internets bringing sceptics themslselves to join inadvertently in creating a not-unacceptable tribute?

Hail and farewell to the entity behind the mask.
posted by Phanx at 3:54 AM on October 31, 2007


Was he running to the bathroom at a full clip in the dark?

After the last few days I've spent with a stomach bug, this is ENTIRELY plausible to me.
posted by desjardins at 6:24 AM on October 31, 2007


So if it is viral advertising, what's he selling? Eyepatches?

Nothing so crude! The events outlined here will all be tied into the plot of an upcoming episode of House.
posted by billysumday at 6:43 AM on October 31, 2007


Kodee Kennings wasn't selling anything. Neither was Kaycee. And there have been other "suicides" on blogs that turned out to be fake. The lack of a profit motive (which no one has alleged here) does not equal verification.
posted by Mid at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2007


All I have left to say is that is was well worth the $5 spent to join and say what I needed to say, and to stop some people from trying to make my friend out to be some kind of internet fraud.

And you've done such a good job of it, too. Hearts and minds, hearts and minds.
posted by OmieWise at 7:05 AM on October 31, 2007


Here's the deal: if you or a loved one suffer an injury or illness or death and you are, understandably, devastated and simply want to mourn and recover quietly among your immediate, intimate circle, then don't post detailed information about it in a worldwide forum. If you intentionally expose what are personal, private events to a vast faceless public audience, then you need to accept that you can't stage-manage readers' reactions.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:52 AM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


One of Dr. Syn's fans purports to reveal his real name here.
posted by Mid at 9:45 AM on October 31, 2007


Quoting that site, "Like I’ve said in the past, anonymity is a coward’s best friend." Said by wordnerd and head nodded by tiff and Evil Twin's Wife. Hilarious if it weren't so sad.
posted by nickyskye at 11:43 AM on October 31, 2007


Yes, but they know who they are.

At an intellectual level, I understand the differences between "analytical" and "feeling" types, but when I see the extremes of feeling types I am always left somewhat at a loss; the chasm is large sometimes. I expect those are the kind of people who have occasionally called me a cold hearted bastard on occasion when I was younger and tended to wax analytical at times which were apparently inappropriate. Some of us take longer to become socialize then others.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:59 AM on October 31, 2007


Question: what's sad?

I realize that at this point I'm not going to change anyone's minds, and that's fine. Thanks for reading.

Oh, and I didn't really head-nod. I agreed that it was an unusual day, and that I was shocked to find out that folks didn't believe that Blitz is real. Heck, I'm not using my real name, so being a coward can be applied to me as well.
posted by tiff2004 at 12:04 PM on October 31, 2007


"Well, if you found out that a website was talking about your uncle's death and a sizable contingent of people there were arguing that he wasn't a real person and that his death is somehow a scam, wouldn't that upset you?"

It wouldn't make me angry so much as want to tell people more about my friend and then give some links to their online life (teachers, government workers, etc.). I don't think I'd react with anger as much as the need to tell people about the person I lost. I have many people that I know who don't want their real life name shared online - fine, but I can give you links to old blogs, to forum threads and forum user pages, and to various places they've been online. Rather than reacting in anger or name calling I would want to show that yes, here is the person I know, and here is an example of why they were beloved - here is their writing preserved in the internet for us to read and reflect on. I would want to share stories. But the only links I have to work with in learning about this person are Dr. Syn's blog and The Snob Log. Brenda Love seemed to indicate that the Snob Log would answer all questions - but when I click the archives I get the same single post about medicating inmates. I've done some cursory google searches with the various user names, but not found any forums - which is where I'm assuming this blogger did most of his communication.

But then, I could be looking in the wrong places, searching with the wrong terms. And things have a tendency to go away on the net - my own blogs are down (attacked by spam comments a year ago) so there's a chunk of my own history I couldn't really prove via the net either. I've got a melodramatic brain bleed saga of my own that you could call a fake - all I can show as proof are other blogs that commented on it at the time. When I was an instructor and had to deal with students that had a death in the family no one ever had a problem with bringing me an obituary or funeral program to show that they indeed had a loss - students understand that other students will indeed use a fake death. (And I should add that I was compassionate with them and helped them get that same info to other professors so they wouldn't have to go around proving it.) I've also had to show proof of the death of several relatives, to employers and professors I had classes with. So perhaps I've just dealt with this experience more than others.

Like I said, if you haven't read the Kaycee thread you may just not understand why some of us aren't going to put our belief in this. But if you read back on my comments I don't believe I've said anything that is other than polite (hopefully). Kaycee wrote a great deal of stories about her illness so that when she died I was very emotional about it - through her blog I had the feeling I knew her. Many of us did - and cried over her - and so when we found out it wasn't real, well, it changed the way we view the internet. Not necessarily in a good way. When I try to learn about Dr. Syn, I just don't have the same kinds of stories to go with. So again, my condolances, if you did indeed know this person in the flesh.
posted by batgrlHG at 12:23 PM on October 31, 2007


Sad because the person saying "anonymity is a coward’s best friend" and the people agreeing have themselves obvious, anonymous usernames. And so did Dr. Sym.

so being a coward can be applied to me as well

Having an anonymous username is not, imo, cowardly, it's a sane, self-protective choice. However, when trying to find out if a blog is not a scam, that anonymity makes it more difficult.
posted by nickyskye at 12:25 PM on October 31, 2007


Darnit the (teachers, government workers, etc.) is supposed to be after the part about people I know who don't want their names used online. Bad proof reading on my part, sorry.
posted by batgrlHG at 12:31 PM on October 31, 2007


I'm still missing something here.

Months ago, I wrote about my cousin's suicide in my blog. I've probably mentioned it in a few MeFi comments as well. No one's ever asked me for evidence that this happened. If someone said, "Prove it!" I'd tell them where to stick it, because my cousin has a wife and kids, and they don't need to be tracked down by anyone online. Plus, I don't give a flying fuck whether people believe me or not.

Even with his real name and date of death, his obit doesn't mention cause of death, and there were no newspaper write-ups, even in his small town, even though the SWAT team was called. He had a (minor) web presence before his death, but I suppose that could have easily been planted by me. Or whatever.
posted by desjardins at 12:35 PM on October 31, 2007


At least one obvious difference is that people here would be going on their knowledge and trust of you, desjardins, and the fact that you are talking about someone you are actually related to and intimately familiar with the details of his life and death. As far as I can tell nobody commenting on this who is claiming a connection to Dr. Syn is asserting that they have met him in real life or that they have any knowledge of the circumstances of his death aside from reading about it on his website.

Furthermore, people have discussed a number of odd details around this web persona and the announcements of an individual's passing, hence the discussion. Hardly anyone is particularly insisting it isn't true, mostly people have discussed in the abstract that there is nothing compelling to suggest that it is. And it isn't really so much a matter of people saying "prove it!" as people coming here, saying "I KNEW HIM! HE'S REAL YOU JERKS" and getting the response "well, that doesn't really prove anything." And it doesn't.

I'll say it again, nobody here took this speculation outside of this one little thread (with the passive and private exception of nickyskye emailing Brenda Love, which I frankly think was a mistake). The supposed partisans of Dr. Syn - Brenda Love, wordnerd and Tiff2004 - elected to discuss the "controversy" on their own sites, where people with a connection to Dr. Syn would actually see it. They could have just kept their mouths shut about it and it would more than likely have ended here.
posted by nanojath at 1:14 PM on October 31, 2007


IANAD, but this CT scan or X-ray of Dr. Syn's eyes and facial region seem closer in shape and size to this MRI of someone's thyroid area than to this person's CT scan of his eyes and sinuses. The "eyes" in Dr. Syn's picture seem too round and too far apart.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:42 PM on October 31, 2007


desjardins: Months ago, I wrote about my cousin's suicide in my blog. I've probably mentioned it in a few MeFi comments as well. No one's ever asked me for evidence that this happened.

Consider your situation: You have a blog with a long and relatively rich history (from my perusal). You mention the death of your cousin. This is not sensational.

Consider our site under discussion: The user, in essence, blogs their own death blow by blow and in detail. Quite sensational. Now that is not unheard of; whole books which accounts for the authors death have been written, but nonetheless it is quite sensational. It is the sort of thing that stirs up attention. The story is quite tragic, especially for the wife who would have survivors guilt pumped up a couple of orders of magnitude.

Now which one is going to irritate the nose right off? Which will make you wonder? One is a thing that sadly happens often and is given without fanfare. The other is greek-level tragic and quite sensational. Now that does not make it untrue in and of itself; tragedy certainly happens, and sometimes it happens "live", but when it is very very live -- a whole blog apparently dedicated to it -- it has to make one question. Combined with other details, it makes one particularly skeptical.

Now I will admit you have to be a particularly hard-core skeptic and have an unusually strong analytical bent to have such questions raised as soon as one reads such a story, but I think there are a lot of people that match that description here on Metafilter. It is one of the reasons I stay here and participate.

I think the discussion is healthy and respectful but would admit it could be quite shocking to those personally affected (whether they have been conned or not; it is really irrelevant to their feelings), particularly if they are not in the frame of mind to have dispassionate analysis of death.

And it isn't cynical, dammit, that is something different
posted by Bovine Love at 2:06 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was shocked to find out that folks didn't believe that Blitz is real.

Look, just for clarity. Nobody says Blitz isn't real. We never heard of Blitz. Nobody, I think, says Dr Syn is a money-making scam. Nobody says the person who set up that blog doesn't exist (no-one thinks it's a talk-bot or something). And no-one, including you, believes that Dr Syn, the scarecrow of Romney Marsh, is a real person - do you?

What sceptics here are saying (I think) is that we can hardly believe that the person who created the blog died in the way described. Is that unreasonable?

Now you know, it seems, that this character is your old friend Blitz Krieg, and you know for a fact that Blitz Krieg would never stage a stunt like faking his own death on the Internet, even if he had got tired of blogging or just of his old persona. We don't know that: I repeat, we never heard of him. How can we know that? So we're in doubt.

Is that reasonable? And if so, could you stop suggesting that we're somehow immoral?
posted by Phanx at 3:18 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


which I frankly think was a mistake

Would be interested in why you think that.
posted by nickyskye at 4:22 PM on October 31, 2007


Phanx: "I was shocked to find out that folks didn't believe that Blitz is real.

Look, just for clarity. Nobody says Blitz isn't real.
"

I do.
posted by who squared at 6:57 PM on October 31, 2007


We don't know that: I repeat, we never heard of him. How can we know that? So we're in doubt.

Is that reasonable?


no - the reasonable reaction is to not argue about it as if any concern you might have ended up feeling was some kind of awful violation committed upon you by an awful net.troll hoaxer

a perfect stranger has been reported to be dead - that is unfortunate and sad if true - if not, it is also unfortunate and sad for a different reason

i choose to believe the story - it doesn't cost me anything to do so and i can bear the negative consequences of being fooled much better than those who are mourning can bear the skepticism of those who refuse to believe

yes, i know all about kaycee - and a few other incidents you haven't heard of - that doesn't sway me

in a world of millions of bloggers, it's not unreasonable to suppose that one of them would meet an untimely end and blog about the conditions that led to it, unaware of what was going to happen - and even when the people are aware that what they have is going to get them, the end can come a lot more suddenly than they suppose - and they take the same kind of matter of fact, mundane, and almost banal tone and style to express themselves as dr syn did, as many of us do

but god forbid that ANY of you should ever be persuaded that a blogger has died and described that dying, even unwittingly, if there's a small, grasping chance that it was all make-believe

this thread has been ill-mannered and appalling and irrational - let's face it - the number of people who are attention getting hoaxing assholes is much lesser than the number of people out here who are going to die from something
posted by pyramid termite at 7:24 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


no - the reasonable reaction is to not argue about it as if any concern you might have ended up feeling was some kind of awful violation committed upon you by an awful net.troll hoaxer

That is a rather broad and unjustified characterization.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:45 PM on October 31, 2007


That is a rather broad and unjustified characterization.

what other reason do you have that could possibly make you care other than that of not wanting to be fooled?

why even bother expressing your skepticism if not to demonstrate that you're too smart to be taken in?

people could just ignore it, you know
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 PM on October 31, 2007


And so could you.
posted by Mid at 7:57 PM on October 31, 2007


It is interesting to me. Is that so complex? Does everything have to come down to fight or flight?

To me, it appears someone has played a game. Now games are very interesting to me indeed. And yes, I have heard lots of times that "life is not a game" but some of you need to learn that we don't all have the same approach or values and you shouldn't so casually project yours onto mine.

If I were to take your approach, I would say that the only reason you are dumping on the skeptics is to illustrate your moral superiority and feel like you were better then us. Is that an accurate characterization? It is pretty much the identical basis and conclusion.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:59 PM on October 31, 2007


I should add something though (helpfully reminded by my g/f): Regardless of whatever I might think about the facts, the pain felt by those who knew him is real and if I made that pain worse, I deeply apologize. It was not my intention to inflict pain.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:42 PM on October 31, 2007


Regardless of whatever I might think about the facts, the pain felt by those who knew him is real and if I made that pain worse, I deeply apologize.

because you preferred to think of it as "a game"?

and what did you mean "if"?

you're trying to callously dissect this in public and then turn around and be sensitive

no - you can't have both
posted by pyramid termite at 3:05 AM on November 1, 2007


you're trying to callously dissect this in public

But this persons life and untimely death was blogged in public. He even got his wife to carry on the blog while he was in hospital etc! People need to understand that the internet is not a private space.

You want privacy don't be so public. Make the blog members only, whatever.

Otherwise expect your stories/truths to be dissected in public. Whatever you write on the web... you need to expect that it may be viewed by anyone, and not everyone knows you or cares about you.

I've been on the web now for 10 or so years, in that time I've pretty much always used twistedonion. If people need to find the real me it's pretty damn easy. hide your identity and you have to be a fool not to expect people to be a bit skeptical.

You can't blame people for discussing an interesting (and very sad) story that is on the web. Fuck me, that's what metafilter is all about.

Unfortunately this is not best of the web or best of mefi.
posted by twistedonion at 3:58 AM on November 1, 2007


you're trying to callously dissect this in public and then turn around and be sensitive

no - you can't have both


Perhaps you can't, but I can certainly be sensitive and dissect something. Was sensitive lacking here? Maybe; I expect some more care could have been taken. But the "you mustn't dissect this" is BS.
posted by Bovine Love at 5:26 AM on November 1, 2007


Would like to agree with Bovine Love in saying I too think it's possible to analyze, "dissect" and be sensitive and caring. I do not think one cancels out the other at all. In fact, I think loving kindness needs to have an analytical thinking process as a companion, they enhance each other and are, in my experience, a healthy way to handle being in the world.

There are sensible reasons people have to doubt a sudden and dramatic blog about the end of a person's life, especially one that began and ended around this event, caused by a very scary infection, and nothing prior to indicate this person had a life. People make up all kinds of fictions on the web, for many reasons.

Wiki on hoax,

A hoax is an attempt to trick an audience into believing that something false is real. There is often some material object (e.g., snake oil) involved which is actually a forgery; however, it is possible to perpetrate a hoax by making only true statements using unfamiliar wording or context (see DHMO). Unlike a fraud or con (which is usually aimed at a single victim and are made for illicit financial or material gain), a hoax is often perpetrated as a practical joke, to cause embarrassment, or to provoke social change by making people aware of something. Many hoaxes are motivated by a desire to satirize or educate by exposing the credulity of the public and the media or the absurdity of the target. For instance, the hoaxes of James Randi poke fun at believers in the paranormal. The many hoaxes of Alan Abel and Joey Skaggs satirize people's willingness to believe the media. Political hoaxes are sometimes motivated by the desire to ridicule or besmirch opposing politicians or political institutions, often before elections.

A number of attempts were made to determine if this were not a fiction and, in fact, the truth. Nothing substantial was found to prove this man lived. All I can think of is that in time it's likely it will be determined if it is a true story or a false one.
posted by nickyskye at 7:08 AM on November 1, 2007


One of Dr. Syn's fans purports to reveal his real name here.

Nobody named Daniel Krieg, or even just anything Krieg, has shown up on Legacy.com. It isn't a 100% complete archive of all obits in the US, but it is used by a very large number of newspapers and funeral homes.
posted by dhartung at 9:58 AM on November 1, 2007


For lupus yonderboy, I was never laughing. I am an RN and I know full well how serious an MRSA infection can be. What I object to is the implication that ALL MRSA infections are transmitted by medical personnel. That mindset is deadly.

When people are told basically that they are safe from MRSA as long as they avoid any medical personnel they are less likely to seek medical help. Then when they wait until the infection is overwhelming and proper medical treatment can't save them, the word malpractice gets casually tossed around. The fact is medical personnel are more in danger of contracting disease from the patient than vice versa.

The focus here should be on teaching good hygiene practices and importance of timely medical care not on reinforcing the idea that the patient was fine until he went to the hospital then THEY KILLED HIM.

Yes, I know I sound defensive but actually what I feel is desperation. What is needed is education not scare tactics.
posted by The Mermaid at 10:05 AM on November 1, 2007


dhartung - the death only occurred the day before yesterday. I think most obits take longer than that to appear in the papers, and then who knows when they show up in Legacy's database. In my cousin's case, it was at least two weeks after he died.
posted by desjardins at 10:13 AM on November 1, 2007


Further note: I just confirmed on legacy.com that my cousin's obit was not published in his local paper until 5 days after his death. I don't remember exactly when it appeared on legacy.com - my recollection was that it was about two weeks.
posted by desjardins at 10:15 AM on November 1, 2007


I called shenanigans upon reading this the first time, that was over two days ago now... nothing has changed my skeptical mind.

I am still waiting.
posted by Duncan at 12:16 PM on November 1, 2007


I knew I could draw dhartung out with a reference to Kodee Kennings!

I ran a LEXIS search just now both on "Daniel w/2 Krieg" and "MRSA w/4 eye." Nothing. And while I agree with desjardins that an obit might take several days to show up, I think a story like this would generate a news story in its own right, somewhere.

Further, I have yet to see anyone who claims to have met this person or claims to know someone who met this person.
posted by Mid at 1:22 PM on November 1, 2007


But this persons life and untimely death was blogged in public.

some people would take that as a indication they should be better mannered, not worse

But the "you mustn't dissect this" is BS.

that's not what i said - essentially, i said that some people were perceiving those who questioned this as being dicks

play the "game", pay the price

bye
posted by pyramid termite at 2:12 PM on November 1, 2007


Sigh. pyramid, you just refuse to try to understand what I was saying and choose to call me a dick instead ("some people" isn't much cover). If you read my posts above, you would see that you are the first to be rude to me over this sort of thing, and I expect you won't be the last. I at least *try* to understand other people point of view and *try* not to be rude, even if I sometimes fail. Well, all this firmly falls into the category of Ad Hominem, so I guess it needs to be terminated.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2007


I should point out that in many cases obits don't make it online. And many people have died of illnesses that don't get reported in mainstream media. This person may simply have been the type who blogs but just doesn't have a "blog network" of other people that he follows and who may know him in real life. Not that many people who blog know a great deal of the folk who comment in real life, and vice versa. I should also point out that the blog has no advertising, nor is there any call for donations. These are all signs that yes, there may possibly be a real person here, and not some kind of scheme to drive up site traffic.

In short, there may just not be a way to verify this. But that's not a horrible thing. I have to admit what I am surprised at is that no one who has known this person has stopped by to say anthing positive about him, to tell stories and pass on jokes or fun remarks, something to show that this person touched them personally even if they didn't know him. I've read many comments on another site ranting that this isn't being believed (and saying some unpleasant things, not really in keeping with the sad situation) - but I have yet to read anyone who writes a moving tribute of more than two sentences about this person. Should I be worried that relatives would come upon this thread via google my first thought would be "I want to leave a long comment so that they will have a nice memory to take away." Instead such relatives may only find defenders engaged in name calling. Frankly, that makes me more sad than the death of this blogger being a hoax.

For those not familiar with the Kaycee saga and not bothering to read the links - girl who had cancer blogged and died and her mother continued posting on the blog and contacting people in email etc - only girl didn't exist and woman playing her mother made the entire thing up. Some people had even communicated with this person by phone - that's how real it was to them and how far the hoax went. But most people had never met this person in real life - only knew of them via blogs and comments. The internet we "live" in makes it such that just as we tell our children not to believe everything they read in here and to beware of certain kinds of people, so too must we make sure not to believe every sad tale, or take everything at face value. Frankly I can see this blog as an Everyman and still get as much from it - and if there was a real life person behind the blog, he might have actually found that flattering.

I don't believe that all of us are being mean or snarky about this issue. But living in San Diego - there are real people injured here, real homes lost, real deaths. I feel compassion for every family that has had to deal with MRSA. But I know that there are many living and breathing people suffering in my area - I'm probably a bit more focused on them. Not that Who Gets More Compassion is some kind of game - I just try to focus myself on things I'm sure exist.
posted by batgrlHG at 2:30 PM on November 1, 2007


This sort of thing makes me wonder a bit what would happen if I died, and it got blogged about on the internet. Would there be speculation as to whether I had ever existed, as a person instead of an elaborate hoax?

I'm going to go with 'no'. Because just a few too many people know me in real life. It really isn't that hard to figure out my real name; I've got a long history on usenet, the web, in various communities. Mefi is probably the only online community I'm a member of where I haven't met a significant number of the members in person, face-to-face. And, well, my husband is a member here too, so I'm pretty well known to at least one, who has also been knocking around for a while.

However, speculation up to the point of confirmation wouldn't bother me. That's just how the internet works. Scepticism is a valid investigative technique. *shrug*

I've experienced the deaths of those near and dear to me fairly recently, and I'm currently staring down the barrel of an immenient one. But if I blogged about it on the internet, and some randoms dissed their existence, I would probably just mentally flip them the bird and get on with my life. Or, if it was a community I deeply cared about, I'd provide some easily verfiable information.

Either way, getting my panties in a twist wouldn't be one of my reactions. If I'm grieving, randoms on the internet can shove their opinions wherever its most uncomfortable - they aren't worth my time or emotional energy.
posted by ysabet at 5:30 PM on November 1, 2007


“The fact is medical personnel are more in danger of contracting disease from the patient than vice versa. ”

This is not true. It's true in the sense that the cumulative risk for health care workers is such that they're more likely to contract something from a patient than any individual patient is to contract something from an individual health care worker in a single encounter. But in that single encounter, the patient is at a much higher risk than the worker.

If you are underestimating how much of a risk you represent to your patients in terms of transmitting pathogens to them, then you're likely not being as diligent as you ought to be in sanitary procedures before every patient contact. That makes you a much greater risk to your patients than you ought to be.

There is always going to be risk of iatrogenic infection and complications. Ideally, those are acceptable risks because not getting health care is a much higher risk. However, health care presents a unique environment for pathogens, greatly altering their normal transmission vectors and consequently creating a very differently evolutionary environment for them. The degree to which they are able to evolve more and more virulence is directly associated to the degree to which health care workers are sanitarily lax and act as disease vectors. Health care workers have direct responsibility and control over this environment and thus the degree of risk that patients face with iatrogenic infections, both in terms of simply contracting them and in terms of their deadliness.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:45 PM on November 1, 2007


So, still nothing on Lexis.
posted by Mid at 4:06 PM on November 5, 2007


No, nothing on Google either. hmmm.
posted by nickyskye at 4:32 PM on November 5, 2007


Which doesn't mean anything. One of the bloggers who as far as I could tell never actually met the person stated this was his name. The blogger could have got it wrong or the person could have used a pseudonym because they were fanatical about privacy, everything about the disease and death on the primary website could still be true. The writer was obviously a fan of pen names; given the pirate connection I wondered if the "Blitz Krieg" handle came from this. In the absence of a single person who claims to have actually known the person in real life or further developments on the website I think this thing is done, fundamentally unresolved.
posted by nanojath at 9:09 PM on November 5, 2007


(On the other hand, I did finally turn up this independent reference to a Dan "Blitz" Krieg, and what's stated there fits the self-identification as a "former Navy Nuke" and resident of Kentucky on the old Snob Log site).

Okay, no more. NO MORE!
posted by nanojath at 9:25 PM on November 5, 2007


There's a verifiable person with the right name listed in Union, KY -- both on Google and other databases.
posted by Mid at 12:04 PM on November 6, 2007


Is he dead?
(this thread is)
posted by ryanrs at 4:15 AM on November 7, 2007


It's a shame there's no obituary.
posted by Floydd at 8:16 AM on November 7, 2007


Another death recently discussed here in MetaFilter, which may well be part of the doubt lingering about a death with no verifiable facts... The Life and Death of Jesse Jubilee James, Featuring Harlan Ellison.
posted by nickyskye at 9:09 AM on November 7, 2007


Anyone still following: the blog archives have been deleted and replaced with a new message. No obit yet at any source.
posted by Mid at 4:04 PM on November 13, 2007


Interesting; speaking from the grave. Poignant. Or convenient. Interesting in any case, and I expect I'll never know which was which .... which, in the spirit of Dr. Syn, is OK.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:33 PM on November 13, 2007


Interesting; speaking from the grave. Poignant. Or convenient.

I vote for "convenient." I'd been checking back at that blog every now and then, and there were very few "hateful" comments, the majority of them were supportive and sympathetic. Why delete the whole saga instead of just the few nasty remarks?
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:54 AM on November 15, 2007


Well, now that's deleted too.
posted by Mid at 9:06 AM on November 18, 2007


Now everything has been deleted.... "The authors have deleted this blog. The content is no longer available."

The author isn't available either...
posted by Duncan at 3:43 PM on November 22, 2007


Guess the game got old. It must suck when your fake story sinks like a stone.
posted by who squared at 4:02 PM on November 22, 2007


Indeed!
posted by OmieWise at 8:09 AM on November 27, 2007


But it was a real fake story! I read it! You people are insufferable.
(Still no obit on Lexis or anywhere else.)
posted by Floydd at 12:59 PM on November 27, 2007


Was everything deleted on Novemeber13th? That's the same day one of DrSyn's online friends posted this blog entry, which seems to be the last reference anyone outside of this thread has made to the case.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:35 PM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a more recent reference on the "wordnerd" blog, but I'm away from my computer and can't get the link. Maybe someone else can link?
posted by Mid at 3:34 PM on November 27, 2007


Yeah, Lentrohamsanin, I totally don't buy that blog entry. It reads like a seventh grade drama lover's hoped for description of "events." It makes me believe even less in the whole thing.
posted by OmieWise at 4:11 PM on November 27, 2007


I'm confused by the blog entry Lentrohamsanin linked. Did anyone from MeFi call the home? Or were there other "trolls"?
posted by Locative at 9:25 PM on November 27, 2007


As far as I know no one from MeFi has even been able to establish that the guy was real. We would have heard about it in this thread. There may have been other trolls, and the MeFi detective squad wasn't exactly out in full force, but folks here usually do pretty well tracking down information on internet people. The blog entry is unbelievable precisely because it suggests that the dead blogger must have been real, else how could anyone have called his family. There's still no evidence that that is true.
posted by OmieWise at 5:32 AM on November 28, 2007


This is the most recent thing on the internet about all of this, as far as I am able to tell. The gist is that this blogger is saying that someone from the family of the deceased person contacted her by e-mail a few days ago to basically wish her well.

I thought this was interesting because (a) either you believe it, in which case all the doubters are wrong; or (b) it represents a real escalation of Kaycee Nicole-type behavior (i.e., impersonating other "family members" to further the ruse). I don't know which is true -- though there still is no obituary or other published indication outside of blogs that this actually took place.
posted by Mid at 1:43 PM on November 28, 2007


I'm leaning toward (b) because it fits all the known facts, facts which we seem to have only gotten from that particular blog, btw.
posted by Floydd at 11:48 AM on November 29, 2007


We paid tribute to a person that we’d never met face-to-face but yet had touched our lives.

It is a shame this will close in less than a day. I keep waiting for Dr. Syn to chime back in!

Oh well... Blitz, we hardly knew ye...
posted by Duncan at 2:41 PM on November 29, 2007


Well Matt made a few bucks anyways.
posted by Mitheral at 5:26 PM on November 29, 2007


The gist is that this blogger is saying that someone from the family of the deceased person contacted her by e-mail a few days ago to basically wish her well.

without linking to the blog or saying much of anything about it

this is so low-key and uninterested in getting dramatic attention from strangers that it's incredible that people could believe it's the work of a hoaxer trying to get more attention for themselves

and the reason that people couldn't find the obituary is that you guys probably don't know the person's real name, even if you think you do

As far as I know no one from MeFi has even been able to establish that the guy was real.

there's millions of people on the internet that no one from mefi has been able to establish as real - does that mean they don't exist?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:32 PM on November 29, 2007


Good point!
posted by OmieWise at 6:43 PM on November 29, 2007


I am 100% sure Dr. Syn was real; no bot can manage that. The question is whether or not he died.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:59 PM on November 29, 2007


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