General chatter - Pneumonia, what fun!

View Full Version : Pneumonia, what fun!

04-23-2009, 04:03 PM
After feeling so lucky to have escaped winter without my annual bout of bronchitis, I caught some nasty respiratory virus that settled into my chest. It turned nasty, really fast, and now is crossing into pneumonia. I woke in a panic last night because I couldn't breathe and the whistling wheeze in my lungs sounded like a pipe organ (well, at least a very weird pan flute).

I've got my first dose of everthing in me (prednisone, a medicated inhaler, antibiotics, and codeine cough syrup). I have never had a cough that codeine didn't tame at least a little, but I might as well have taken tap water.

I'm exhausted, because I can't lay flat without feeling like I'm going to drown in my own goo (TMI, sorry)

Every time I breath it feels like shards of glass down my throat and through my chest. My ribs feel bruised from the monster coughing sessions.

I'm sure hoping the prednisone does it's job fast, because this is just so horrible. I thought my asthma was gone when we found it was being triggered by NSAIDs, but the nurse practitioner said that even if my asthma was drug-induced, it didn't mean that I didn't have real asthma, or that the asthma "went away." She has two children with asthma and her oldest daughter just had a very bad asthma attack after being symptom free for almost two years.

The virus probably triggered the asthma, which triggered the bronchitis, which started to become pneumonia. Fun, fun.

The (sort of) good news is that I can't taste anything, and I can't take more than a few bites without getting exhausted, so I'm only eating when really hungry.

I feel better upright than laying down, so I guess it's going to be trying to sleep in the recliner (then my arms go numb).

Yeah, I know I'm whining, and ranting, but it's distracting me from the panicky sensation not being able to breathe right is causing (I hyperventillated for the first time in my life this morning, because I was so panicked, luckily hubby recognized what was happening and got me a paper bag).

Hubby is "I told you so"ing, because he wanted me to go in to the walk-in on Tuesday, but on Tuesday it still seemed like a normal respiratory or sinus infection - the kind that usually, for most people, clear up on their own. Actually, mine never clear up on their own, but if I go to the doctor before I've been sick at least a week, they send me home to wait and see. Which then means two office visits, and being on medicare I try to avoid that if I can.

Looks like I didn't this time though, because I need to have a follow up appointment with my family doc early next week to make sure the meds are working, and this isn't sinking deeper into pneumonia.

Just venting.

04-23-2009, 05:12 PM
So sorry to hear about this, Ms Kaplods. Breathing that is so very painful, like inhaling glass doesn't sound like very much fun, and I hope you can take it easy, get things under control with the proper meds, and recover soon!
And you aren't whining and ranting at all -- you feel pretty crappy right now so you are entitled...
Take care of yourself :hug:

04-23-2009, 05:39 PM
Thanks Kira,

I just got word from the hospital that the radiologist looked at my xrays and confirmed that it is actually pneumonia. It's just so mind-boggling that pneumonia can come on so suddenly (I felt kind of sinusy last week, but didn't feel really ill until Sunday).

I am feeling a little better with the meds in me. I'm just really looking forward to being able to breathe normally - talk about a thing you take for granted. It's such a claustrophobic feeling, and so difficult not to panic.

I am much calmer now, which is good, the panic was only making it worse.

04-23-2009, 05:45 PM
I can just imagine how panicky it would be not to breathe. You may have had a walking pneumonia for a while, and then it just flared up. You'll get through this -- just make sure you get the medical care you need no matter what time of day it is...keep us posted and keep your chin up!

04-23-2009, 06:02 PM
Yikes! Lots of fluids, take your meds, and feel better soon!

04-23-2009, 06:54 PM
I hope you feel better real soon Colleen!

04-24-2009, 07:00 AM
That sounds absolutely awful!
Vent by all means if it helps, and take good care of yourself.
Sending healing vibes you way.

04-24-2009, 09:41 AM
I was wondering why I hadn't seen any of your posts! I've had pneumonia once....NOT fun!! Lots of fluids and lots of rest, young lady! :)

04-24-2009, 09:46 AM
I hope you feel better soon! My pawpaw went in the hospital on Wednesday with it and my step-mom has it too but is at home :(

04-24-2009, 10:03 AM
Emailing virtual chicken soup, kaplods, hope you're breathing better soon.

04-24-2009, 10:26 AM

Kaplods, I hope you are feeling at least a teeny tiny bit better today. My mother had that kind of pneumonia that came on radically fast- sounds very similar to your experience.

BE WELL. :goodvibes vibes coming

04-24-2009, 11:00 AM
Colleen, I'm so sorry to hear you're sick. Once the Prednisone kicks in you should have some relief. Did the doctor think a nebulizer (breathing) treatment might help?

Try to get some nutrition into you when you are able and feel better soon!

04-24-2009, 12:04 PM
awww, I hope you feel better soon!

04-24-2009, 12:20 PM
Praying for healing & Sending Hugs!

04-24-2009, 01:41 PM
Ick. I had pneumonia once. Thought I was going to die.
Hope you get to feeling better soon!!!!

04-24-2009, 02:51 PM
Thanks so much everyone. I really appreciate the prayers and well wishes. It makes my day, really!

Colleen, I'm so sorry to hear you're sick. Once the Prednisone kicks in you should have some relief. Did the doctor think a nebulizer (breathing) treatment might help?

Try to get some nutrition into you when you are able and feel better soon!

Yes, the doctor did tell me that the nebulizer would be the best treatment, but because I'm on Medicare, I can't get the nebulizer until the albuterol treatments are unsuccessful or insufficient (my doctor would then have to fill out a form to Medicare stating that the albuterol inhaler wasn't enough to treat my symptoms). That's one thing I hate about medicare, is that you can't get the most effective treatment, you've got to try cheaper treatments and only if they don't work can you step up to treatments that are more effective. In principle, I understand why Medicare has to do this, there is no need to go to an expensive treatment, if a less expensive treatment is as or even nearly as effective. However, in this case it's pretty clear that the nebulizer would be the smarter way to go, but I'll have to jump through their hoops. I see my doctor on Tuesday, and if I'm not a lot better, he'll be able to prescribe the nebulizer, but for now it's 4 puffs on an albuterol inhaler every 4 hours.

I think the prednisone is already kicking in some, as I have a bit more energy and the ribs are a little less sore.

It is scary how suddenly it came on, though. I don't think it was brewing for a while, because I'd been feeling better and stronger than I had in months (which I attribute to a change in meds and the spring thaw). Hubby and I were even remarking on how much I had been up to, as I'd gone from leavng the house once or twice amonth to two or three times a week. It was really ironic, because I specifically told my husband that my lung capacity seemed to be improving significantly and then a couple days later I had the first mild symptoms (that felt like just mild allergies) maybe around Thursday, and I didn't feel actually ill until Sunday.

I think my sheltered immune system just got an intense workout, because I hadn't been used to being around people and germs for most of the winter, so that when I got sick, I really got sick.

04-24-2009, 10:09 PM
I sure hope you'll be on the mend by the time you go back on Tuesday. It's a good sign if you're feeling a bit more energetic and the ribs are hurting less. Prednisone to the rescue!

It is really scary how quickly a few symptoms can morph into pneumonia into someone with a compromised immune system.

Take good care of yourself Colleen.

04-25-2009, 12:01 AM
Yep, I keep "forgetting" that my immune system isn't up to par, because on good days, I can feel really good (and yet be bed-bound the next day).

On one hand, the autoimmune disease is hanging over my head (my doctor's all agreeing that I have autoimmune disease, but it's progression hasn't been typical, the tests have all been suggestive but not definitive, and the pattern and degree of organ damage hasn't been specific enough or severe enough for a definitive diagnosis). Prednisone is the standard course of treatment, but because the medication can be worse than the disease, I don't get regular courses of prednisone, just when I'm in some sort of physical crisis.

And on the other hand, I'm grateful that the progression seems to have halted or at least slowed, ever since a sinus surgery to remodel my unusual maxillary sinus structure, and to remove a large mass of fungus that was growing there. The surgeon said the autoimmune disease could have allowed the fungus to grow (because my body didn't fight it off, like it should have) or the fungus could have caused the autoimmune disease.

Since they got rid of the fungus, I've been hoping that the fungus was the cause, not the effect of the autoimmune disease, but there are little signs every once in a while (like the pneumonia and the bouts of seborrheic dermatitis on my face, not just scalp) that it's still lurking.

I know there's no rush to add prednisone as a more frequent medication, but darn if I don't feel great on it. Like superman or the energizer bunny, but I know that energy comes with a hefty price tag, so every time I'm prescribed it my first thought is "Oh, yeah! I'm going to be feeling really good," and the next is "Oh, darn, I know it's not good for me."

I didn't realize how sleep deprived I was, though until today. I've spent most of the last five or six days in bed, but today is the first day I slept more than an hour at a time. I layed down for a nap today at 2pm and woke up at 7.

Sometimes I wonder if I hadn't gone through the crash diet/binge roller coaster all of my life, and then added further abuses of double shifts, crazy work and student hours, 24/7 on call positions, comprising more than two decades of significant sleep deprivation (not to mention a tangle with a semi in a rainy day car accident, and a bad staph infection as a result), whether I would be where I am, now. I don't know my bio-family's health history, so for all I know, the autoimmune disease is just in the family tree, and I would have gotten in at any weight and lifestyle, but it's hard not to wonder.

The 1960's weren't the dark ages, it's ashame that the adoption agencies didn't give adoptive families more information about the family health history.
Maybe they felt that it could jeopardize the adoption, but it sure would have been good information to have. I don't know that it would have changed anything, but it does make me wonder, sometimes.

04-26-2009, 04:26 PM
Colleen, I'm wishing you a speedy recovery. I've had pneumonia and since I also have an auto-immune disorder, I know how hard it is. You are right though, long-term daily use of prednisone is no picnic either (this coming from one who has been on daily prednisone for at least 7 years).

Get well soon and vent all you want, you deserve it.

04-26-2009, 09:50 PM
Thanks again. I am starting to feel better, like maybe now, I've "just" got bronchitis. At least my ribs and chest don't feel kicked in, anymore. I'm both impressed and impatient at the recovery time. I was really looking forward to being more active (the spring and summer are usually my best months).

Today was another power nap, but hubby seems to be sick with whatever I had that started this mess - but so far it isn't sinking into his chest at all - he says it's all in his head and sinuses, and his lungs are clear. Everytime I have so much as a sniffle, there's about a 50/50 chance (higher in the winter) that it's going to get in my lungs, and stir up bronchitis (I hate that infernal tickle in the back of the throat). So, I know that there's almost no chance that hubby will get pneumonia, but I'm still a bit worried. We can't afford to have both of us down and out (the house is scary messy as it is - hubby makes me swear not to work on cleaning the mess while he's gone, every time he leaves the house).

Thanks lilybelle, it's so weird isn't it, to know your immune system just isn't functioning, the way it's supposed to be. It seems it's either fighting things it shouldn't, or not fighting things it should. I know I'm in the early stages of dealing with this invisible dragon, and I certainly don't want to borrow trouble I haven't encountered yet, but the suspense aspect can drive me mad. I want to know what I'm in for, but that's just not the way autoimmune diseases usually work, they can move fast or slow, they can respond to treatment or not, and getting it into and keeping it into remission is a goal with no roadmap. Even most of the doctors just shrug and (if they're honest) say, "we have no clue."

I am lucky though, I do have to remember that, because my autoimmune disease destroyed much of my septum, creating a quarter-sized hole. After ruling out flesh-eating bacteria, cocaine use, and shoving sharp implements up my nose, the autoimmune disease was diagnosed. The only autoimmune disease known to do that is Wegner's granulomatosis, which is a very nasty, usually fast-moving autoimmune disease that is universally fatal without treatment (you can imagine how worried I was then, when they withdrew the prednisone). My doctor's have ruled out Wegener's, because they would expect to see more severe and more rapid damage (so that is good news).

It's just the darned invisibility of the disease that makes me so darned frustrated. I can think it's under control, and it's just silently destroying tissue. I just learned for the first time LAST winter, that I've got actual scar tissue on my lungs. Last winter they misdiagnosed me with pneumonia because of the scar tissue, then when the radiologist compared the x-ray to an earlier x-ray, he or she declared it scar tissue. Now that I know what pneumonia actually feels like, I probably won't make that mistake, again.

I don't know why, but going into the "gorey details," really helps me calm down. I think it's like painting the dragon - when I can see him, it isn't nearly as frightening. It reminds me of my coworker whose five year old daughter was having panic attacks, and the school would let her call Daddy at work and ask him to tell her "bad stories," about all of the dangerous and painful things he endured and survived as a child. So, he would be talking into the phone, talking about a vicious dog attack he endured at 7, a cousin nearly killing him with a farm implement...... all sorts of insanely, gruesome childhood events, and she'd feel better and safer because her dad had survived them, and she would too.