The Pneumonia


Dear Bloggers,

Everyone's been sick from time to time, and by definition, it's never fun. No matter what you enjoy doing, illness invariably dampens -- or in many cases entirely eliminates -- the potential for good times. Of course, not all illnesses are created equal; some will interrupt your life a lot more than others, which is why I'm here today to tell you about my wife who had a recent bout of influenza that turned into full-blown pneumonia.

You Can Die From This. Yes, You Can.
Let's get the scary and dramatic part out of the way first. Anyone who gets pneumonia and either a) doesn't recognize what they have or b) chooses not to have it treated, can die. If you think that pneumonia can only kill the very young and very old, you're mostly right. However, if you don't seek treatment and follow your doctor's orders, you can be one of the people who have the prime of their life cut short unnecessarily. While medical science has come a long way, and conditions like pneumonia are very treatable in most cases, you need to take it seriously.


You Can't Fight What You Don't Know You Have
This is her second bout of pneumonia; the last one was about ten years ago, in April 2002. The first time she got it, I thought it was strange that the cold she had was seemingly getting worse and worse. She couldn't seem to shake it. She was also very fatigued, and would start running out of breath easily. Than I thought it is probably her asthma that is troubling her. Now I know better. The final straw that caused her to go into the doctor's office was a strange sound when she would take a deep breath. It sounded as if there was tissue paper in her chest that was crinkling, especially at the end of an exhalation. It also hurt quite a bit when she needed to cough. She did not, by the way, have a high fever that time, nor was she coughing up stuff. But the breathing sounds and the pains were pretty disturbing.


Diagnosing and Treating Pneumonia
The medical people are pretty good at diagnosing pneumonia these days. First they check your usual vital signs. Then they use a stethoscope and listen to your chest while you breathe.First of all they will give you a treatment with some antibiotics and you should be back on your feet in a week. If not you should go and see  the doctor again. If it seems to be a bacterial pneumonia which is likely, they give you a chest x-ray. Pneumonia is easy to see; there will be an area of the x-ray of your lungs that shows the infection.


In this case, She'd acquired influenza type a (aka, the flu) probably from a co worker a few days earlier. (Most likely scenario.) When you get the flu, one of the problems (in addition to the miserable fever and aching body) is that your immune system goes to hell, leaving you susceptible to other problems. This time, Lucky her, she was familiar with the sensation of pneumonia, so I called the Doctor for some advise as she was colouring blue in the face and her hands were pale, and begrudgingly we went to our local on duty MD on Monday evening. Everything seemed pretty good until they checked her O2 level, which was at 99%. That's strange and a lot better than I expected to see. The Doc laughed a bit and had his doubts about the pneumonia. But the bigger sign was when she started coughing... and dropped nearly to the ground in pain. So we were send of to the Hospital to get an x-ray to be made and to take some blood samples.
Despite the fact that her influenza was viral-based, the pneumonia is a separate disease that's a bacterial infection, and has to be treated with strong antibiotics. The first line of attack was an cure of humangous tablets Claritromycin. Side note: these tablets are so hard to swallow if you hardly can breath and they taste awful so it made her throwing up.... at first. Later on, it may feel like someone kicked you in the mouth while wearing steel-toed boots, though. The antibiotic parade kept marching; The Doctor was concerned about the pneumonia enough to treat it more aggressively, which is why he prescribed two different antibiotics after that. I have been taking both Prednisolon and Ciprofloxacin, and just a few days later, this onslaught of bug killers seem to be working well.


The Cure Hurts Too
While she appreciates the need to go in and clean house, so to speak, in her lungs, the problem with antibiotics (especially multiple strong ones as she is on) is that they tend not to discriminate in terms of which bacteria they kill. It's like going after a terrorist cell by setting off an atomic bomb; there's going to be some collateral damage. The downside of these antibiotics that it is also draining your condition level you feel like an old woman that has ran a half marathon without any form of practise. Out of breath and feeling like been ran over by a bus. Inside her lungs it probably looks like the aftermath of the bombardment on the city of Rotterdam during the Second World War. Or when the tropical storm Katrina left a trail of dubree. Everything that survived this big blow is standing but is it still strong enough for a second blow. So, all of the "good bacteria" that lives in your gut will also be eliminated, and you'll likely find that your ability to digest food is immediately gone.


It's Probably Going To Be Okay
The fact is that if you're older than 6 and younger than 65, you will probably be just fine after getting your pneumonia treated. One of the most difficult aspects of it for me has been keeping my optimism level high. Pneumonia tends to sap all of your energy, and it's easy to forget that things look a lot brighter when you have your health. In the practical matter it means that I have to fix all the work in the house, now my wife is ill not very good when you need to do a full time job and having trouble to divide my own power. You just need to trust the idea that as she defeats the bacteria in her lungs, her energy and attitude will eventually come around as well. And no I'm not the most patient person in the world, so this part is particularly difficult for me. However, I have too damn many things I want to do yet... more music, more films, more web sites, more family activities, more travel, more new experiences, more good times with friends, and more fun... that I know this mopiness is just a temporary side effect that will, soon enough, be gone. But at this moment we are like an old and sick couple that is tired and wants to sleep all day.

I'm looking forward to time she is getting better and I am getting back to my usual silly self. And I will.

The Old Sailor,

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