Sunday, December 21, 2014

Let's hear it for antibiotics

The virus that began in our Washington household with my sister Alyx just before Thanksgiving had two outcomes. It led to a secondary bacterial infection, and it spread from Alyx to her husband Virgil, who carried it from Washington to Arizona to me and to my husband Art. Thanks to the miracle of antibiotics we are all on the mend - Virgil and Art from sinus infections, and Alyx and me from pneumonia.

Pneumonia used to be a very big deal before antibiotics were developed. It still is in the elderly population. It's been called "the old person's friend"; indeed, my mother had pneumonia five times in the last six months of her life. I call it the "don't give a shit" illness. When I woke up on Wednesday after six days with a cough and realized I didn't give a shit about anything, I knew it was time to go to the urgent care clinic in Tucson. The knowledge was reinforced when Art's blood work at the VA came back with a high white count. We picked up his prescription from the VA and drove directly to urgent care. I got two shots in the butt - cortisone and an antibiotic - and spent 20 minutes breathing in some formulation to open up my airway, then picked up prescriptions for z-pack, cortisone, cough medicine and an inhaler. The nurse practitioner told me I'd feel better in three days. I felt somewhat better within five hours. The coughing is minimal now, I'm breathing fine, and I can tell I'm on the mend. But my energy is low. So I'm resting a lot.

Here's what I learned this week in my adventure with pneumonia:

1. If you can hear your lungs bubbling when you exhale, you should go to the doctor.
2. If you have an HMO in Washington State with no reciprocal arrangement with an HMO in Arizona, you learn how to get your costs covered by reading the part of your contract called "out-of-network services." In the meantime, you keep your credit card handy at the urgent care clinic and at the pharmacy across the street.
3. If you have plans to drive six hours to San Diego to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with your daughter and son-in-law, you cancel them. You might feel completely recovered by Tuesday, but you probably won't be. And that's just you. You also have a recuperating spouse.
4. You feel pretty good when you get up in the morning, but after an hour or two of small household tasks you sit down or lie down. You do not go for a walk. You do not go to the solstice service you were looking forward to. You do not wash the outside windows. What you do instead is read or spend time with your computer or watch the birds around the feeder or watch the cat watching the birds.
5. Antibiotics are a miracle and you are grateful you live in a time that has them.

14 comments:

Perpetua said...

They are indeed a miracle and saved my life three times before I was 6, Linda. So sorry you and Art have been so poorly, but glad you're improving now. Take care of yourselves and have a quiet and restful Christmas.

Linda Reeder said...

I always love your lists of lessons learned. I'm sorry you are missing out on holiday fun, but I'm glad you are on the mend.

DJan said...

What they said. I am also glad to hear you are on the mend and that you aren't pushing it. Happy Solstice, which happens in less than an hour from the time I am writing this. :-)

dkzody said...

I've had pneumonia once, when I was younger, and the doctor told me i was to go home and go to bed for a week or he would put me in the hospital where he knew I would stay in bed.

Needless to say, I went home and crawled into bed for that week. Hopefully to never have pneumonia again.

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad you are feeling better and are not planning on spreading the wealth to others. I hear that fatigue is the last to leave with pneumonia so do take it easy and take good care.

Pam said...

One of the good things about being that sick is that when you start feeling well again, you're just so darned thankful. Sometimes we forget that antibiotics are, indeed, miracle drugs. They've saved many of us!! My guess is that you'll wake up Christmas morn feeling wonderful, and that will be the best gift of all! Best wishes.

Meryl Baer said...

Glad to hear you are on the way back to full, energetic health. Enjoy a quiet holiday together.

Tom Sightings said...

My mother had pneumonia several times, and lived to tell the tale ... but it is a nasty tale, so I hope you all are feeling better. They now do have a pneumonia vaccine (I got one this year) which comes recommended for those of us of a certain age.

#1Nana said...

I'm glad you're on the mend. I hope you have a peaceful and joyous Christmas.

#1Nana said...

I'm glad you're on the mend. I hope you have a peaceful and joyous Christmas.

June said...

Well, I'm sorry you got sick, but I'm awfully glad you're smart enough to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Getting well is aided by medication, but your body expends a great deal of energy doing the job, and we need to respect that.

I hope you're all better now, and
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Bob Lowry said...

Your approach to this problem is exactly what I would have expected from you: methodical, careful, and logical. So glad you and Art are on the mend.

Merry Christmas.

Madeline Kasian said...

Glad to hear you are on the upswing! Happy Holidays,though they were quieter than planned! Smart for you to postpone a trip--we have a few other friends who did the same due to colds/flu/back pain.. rest up and soon you'll be enjoying the new year...

Cindi said...

All along I thought I had the flu these past 3 weeks till I read your post. Got up this morning and didn't care about a single thing.
I went to my doctor and found out I didn't have the flu. I have walking pneumonia.
Am on antibiotics now.
Wish me luck.
Again, thanks for your post. It helped my life.