Craft 'n Coffee

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Pneumonia.  Ever had it?  I haven't it.  Til now.  It's just a light case, but with all my years as a medical transcriptionist and typing things like "clinical pneumonia", "atypical pneumonia", "hazy infiltrates", I never KNEW what pneumonia was like.  Last night I had a very strong feeling that God was trying to teach me, again, about compassion.  Some of us seem to require a little first-hand knowledge to be truly compassionate enough to care about someone you hear is sick, when someone asks you to pray, and you say "Sure, absolutely", and never REALLY pray for that person at all.

Pneumonia.   Pneumonia is fluid in the lung.  Fluid does not belong in the lungs.

This is how my case started.  Friday, I had severe stomach cramps, a little bathroom agony, then about an hour later I sent my daughter to the drugstore to buy a thermometer because I felt I was running fever.  Sure enough, about 1/2 a degree.  Within hours, I had started my weekend of fluctuating between 99-101 degrees, headache, body aches, nausea.  Saturday I started coughing.  Shaking chills/burning hot again.  Then clammy.  Then dripping wet. I was told I cried in my sleep throughout the night.

Side note:  I'm 44, and coughing hard has a side effect to the bladder. And all the ladies say, "uh, huh."  The things we have to put up with!

Saturday evening my entire family went to dinner without me, with another family, and I laid at home and cried because I missed getting to celebrate Marshall's birthday, and the fact that he proposed to our beloved Bethany.  My fever peaked out at 103.5  Saturday night. Shaking chills/burning hot again.  Then clammy.  Then dripping wet. I was told I cried in my sleep throughout the night.

Sunday I stayed home from church, back to running 99-101 degrees.  I'd try to sit here at the table and work a little, feel clammy, then find myself literally dripping wet.  Then suddenly I was shaking chills/burning hot again.  Then clammy.  Then dripping wet.  So I sat outside on the concrete outside my back door and let the unbelievably cool Louisiana breeze and warm sunlight drench me for a while.  The dogs did not mind that at all.

Monday, still running 100.1, so my boss told me to log off and lie down and rest.  At this point I was convinced I had the strain of flu my flu shot was not for.  A lot of people around here are sick with the same virus or whatever this was.  And I may be right.  I may have had the flu.

What causes pneumonia anyway?   I have noooo idea.  Tuesday I worked all day, since I do work at home now, sitting here at my table and laptop.  Tuesday night Marshall and Bethany came over for a while.  I was so tired, exhausted in an odd way, not the usual "it's late and I'm tired.".  I can't really explain.  Anyway.

Wednesday morning I got up and was sitting here at the table at 7:30.  When I coughed, it was not from the throat at all.  I felt a tickling, a fluttering, in the right side of my chest.  I didn't feel like mucous or anything.  This was different.  It did not hurt.  But I knew something was different, something was wrong.

So I called the doctor at exactly 8:01 a.m., got an appoint to see Dr. Screpetis at 1:45.   By that time the coughs were harder to control.  "Take a deep breath" threw me into a coughing fit.  He heard the rattling and wetness, and sent me up to get a chest x-ray.   I looked at it with him, and really, there was a little haziness in the right lung but NOT much.   Enough to cause concern, put on meds, and if I were still working up at the hospital I'd have had to take sick leave.  He did say I was smart to call and come in the moment I realized it had moved lungward, if I had tried to wait it out a few more days I might end up in the hospital.

Then.  Wednesday night I had my first "spell".  Oh. My. God.  Now, I have a "light case" of pneumonia here.   So I'm learning a lesson in compassion, right?   Yes, yes I am.  Definitely.  Definition of spell:  After sitting quietly on the couch reading whilst Jason is sitting in his recliner watching a movie, I think I took a breath to say something.  And lost control to a horrible fit of coughing.  I scooted to the edge of the couch for better control of continence, and with my knees apart and my head hanging down, the coughs came from deep inside my lungs. Deep.   Not my stomach. When you can actually FEEL your lungs ...... And there's no mucous, no phlegm, just a bubbly feeling inside your lung.  Deep.  No throat scratchiness.  Deep.  There is pain, pain in your lung and in your chest wall.  And above all, there is terror.  You're in a fit of coughing you can't stop, you are fighting to breathe, you can feel the fluid in your lung.  It's very frightening.  It's very serious.  When I finally got it under enough control to breathe and not give into the coughs, I found my facial muscles twitching.  I found that very curious, but other than pressing my lips tight, and noticing that I was not drooling, I concentrated on breathing.  In.  Out.  Smooth.  Keep it smooth.  Keep it gentle.

Jason was a little freaked.  At least I think he was, it seemed to me he kinda went dead silent. He   rubbed my back and prayed.  And that felt real nice.   Dara ran to Google to see if it had any advice as to how she could help me.  Aside from wanting me to stand on my head to get the fluid out (just kidding, but she did suggest lying on the couch with my head/torso going downward to the floor, but all I could think of was if I went into another fit, I'd never be able to control the other problem and that would be an embarrassing mess), all she really found was information on what pneumonia is, and knowledge is never wasted.

After that I drank a little spearmint tea to relax my neck/chest muscles.  It may have had too much sugar in it, I never went to sleep.  I found some amazing music on iTunes, but I'll save that for another blog, I'm very enthusiastic about what I found.

Micaela was not home last night when I had my "spell".   But she was home today, and she got her opportunity to be a bit freaked when I had my second "spell", which was worse than the one last night.  Again, not productive of sputum or phlegm, no mucous, nothing to spit out.  Pain, fear, out of control, fighting to breathe, and resultant weariness.

A half-hour lie-down, and right now I feel pretty normal.  I'm breathing shallow, keeping quiet, keeping still, and when I feel the need for a deeper breath I think first, pay close attention, listen to my body, feel my lung, analyze my throat's reaction to the next breath.

And I have a "light case" of pneumonia.  I will never again shrug off or be blase' when I hear a prayer request for someone with pneumonia.  It's far more serious and scary and painful that I ever knew.  And now I do know.

And now .... so do you.  What will YOU do with this knowledge? Pray an earnest prayer for someone else, I sincerely hope, because there's a lot of people we know with serious illnesses.  And if WE won't pray earnestly for them, not just off-the-cuff quickie prayers, but earnestly, then who will?


  1. Valarie,

    You are so right that we often times do not take folks requests for prayer to heart. I am definitely going to make a conscious effort to not offhandedly say I'm going to pray and not do it. Thanks for the personal story! I sincerely hope you feel better soon and am praying for your speedy recovery!!