September 11, 2016

Battles With Pneumonia

Pneumonia x rayI've only had pneumonia once as an adult. It happened when I was in the middle of graduate school at what was undoubtedly one of the most stressful points in my life. Initially, it felt like I had a mild cold with a cough. I told myself that I did not have time to get sick and pressed on with my responsibilities, loading up on cough syrup and Advil. After a couple days, I started feeling a little better. The cough seemed to subside, and I just felt a bit fatigued. I did not think much of this since I nearly always feel that way toward the end of a cold. I wish I could describe what happened next, but I have no memory of it at all. I woke up in a bed in the campus health clinic with an IV in my arm. My wife at the time was standing beside a concerned-looking doctor.

I was told that I had been seriously dehydrated. This did not sound right, but the doctor explained how difficult it had been to get the IV in, and the bruises on my arm reflected this. Evidently, I hadn't been eating, some of the things I had been saying earlier in the day did not make much sense, and I had finally collapsed. I realized that I didn't remember anything that had happened earlier that day. That was the scariest part.

The diagnosis was pneumonia, and the doctor gave me an earful about how dangerous it can be to get pneumonia as an adult. She explained that the symptoms can be minor enough for some people that they do not realize anything is wrong until it is too late. She suggested that I had been pushing myself too hard and had been unwise to do so. They insisted on keeping me there for a few hours even though I told them I felt fine.

I was in my early 20s when this happened and in good health, so I have to imagine that the experience could be far worse for someone in their late 60s. I am not a supporter of Hillary Clinton, and I happen to believe that both she and Donald Trump are probably too old to serve as our president (although this has nothing whatsoever to do with why I do not support either of them). Still, I wish her a speedy recovery, and I hope that those who seem to be so ignorant about pneumonia might take the time to learn something about it. There are plenty of excellent reasons to oppose a Clinton (or Trump) presidency that do not rely on conspiracy theories.