White House Scribe Gets Gangrene

Talk about yellow journalism.

This week Mediaite White House Correspondent Tommy Christopher was diagnosed with gangrene on his inflamed appendix. On Wednesday he had an appendectomy. The drugs are just starting to kick in. NJ‘s Major Garrett first diagnosed the scrappy media scribe. Garrett’s not a physician, but he first suggested to Christopher that he might have appendicitis.

One journo who heard the news asked, “How the hell does a big journo get gangrene in D.C.?! It’s like a chicken getting cold sores.”

FishbowlDC met with Christopher the day before his surgery.

When he came into Filter off Dupont Circle to meet Tuesday afternoon he was holding his side and complaining. This is typical Tommy — the sky is falling and maybe he’s trying out for a bit part in the remake of “Gone with the Wind.” “I have a lot of problems,” he confided. I noticed him wince a few times in pain.

Christopher is an earnest complainer. I asked if he was a hypochondriac. I was half-joking. Mid-wince he didn’t seem to find that terribly funny, but politely replied no. We talked briefly about him live blogging his own death. All joking aside, for three seconds I told him to please go to the ER if he didn’t feel better. He then began interrogating me about a gym class I was attending that afternoon and much of my compassion went out the largely windowless cafe. I told him it was a “barre” class which he took literally and tweeted about later and said I was going to a “bar” class (Note to self: Always say off the tweeting record before cafe meetings).

That night Christopher drove back to New Jersey where he lives and went to sleep by 2 am. He awoke at 7 a.m. and his life soon turned into an episode of TV’s “House.” He went to the ER and learned he had gangrene on his appendix. “Appendicitis with a gangrene kicker,” he told me by email in journalism lingo.

Soon they wheeled Christopher into surgery. He said on Twitter, “Surgery spooks me. When you go out, you never know if you’ll be back.”

A little after midnight he wrote with an update. He took me through the sequence of events: “So it started to hurt Monday around 2. I was in the breakroom, and absentmindedly downed a whole bag of Combos while I was writing. It got worse Monday night, friend wanted me to go to hospital. Tuesday I just gritted my teeth and hoped it would pass. Tuesday night I did the Thom Hartmann show and drove back to Jersey. On Wednesday morning I went to the ER.”

How is he feeling now? “Very out of it, glad it’s over with. The pain was a lot worse than I let on the past few days. I was hoping it would pass. Which is exactly what I said when I was having the heart attack, ‘No, don’t call 911, it’ll pass.'” As for the pain meds they have him on, Christopher remarked, “The Dilaudid was great, everything else, kinda meh. They only gave it to me twice before they switched me to percs.”

How long will he be resting and healing? “I should be home today, don’t know what the recovery time is,” he said. “But I will be back on Mediaite as soon as I can think straight.”

Looking back, what did you think the pain really was? “Honestly, I was pretty sure it was gonna end up being the appendix, which Major Garrett was the first to call,” he said. “Didn’t see the gangrene coming, though.”

August is a risky month for Christopher. It was around this time last year that he was live tweeting his heart attack. Will we be back here with him next year with the Bubonic Plague? Of course we sincerely hope not and wish him a speedy recovery.