Saturday, June 10, 2006

Fun With Pneumonia

Here are the fruits of my stupidity, what I get to eat for my meals these days till further notice:

Robitussin AC (with Codiene) Cough syrup, 2 teaspoonfuls every 4 hours.
Levaquin antibiotic 500 mg. tablets, 1 a day.
Amox TR-K CL antibiotic 875 mg. twice per day.
Methylprednisolone (Prednisone) 4 mg. tablets, 6 per day.
Albuterol 90 mcg. inhaler, two puffs every 8 hours.
Azmacort 100 mcg. inhaler, 4 puffs twice daily.

Most of this stuff is screamingly expensive (nearly $500.00), frighteningly strong and tastes like death. The inhalers flavor your every breath and swallow for hours, and dry your throat out so you COUGH MORE! I had to make myself a schedule, I was spending so much time taking medicine.

OK, so on Memorial Day weekend, I come down with a VERY nasty fever and a very slight, almost unnoticeable bit of congestion in my lungs. I figure I'm getting a cold and start with the OTC decongestant/supressant/expectorant cough syrup and Tylenol. After 5 days of 102 to 104 degree fever, which cheerfully shows no signs of being in ANY way affected by the Tylenol, the lung gunkies take a turn for the worse and become the worst tasting stuff I've ever experienced.

Now, this is saying a LOT.

It's foul. I can't even describe it properly--it was mostly bitter, with some salty-sickly-sweet-death taste mixed in, and it was STRONG. I knew that this was BAD, so I started myself on some Penicillin I had. I figured it was a chest cold gone awry, and spent most of my time trying to sleep/cough till I pulled muscles/sweat/freeze from chills.

No dice. The fever cleared after about 7 days, the lung gunk remained, evil as ever. OK, continue with cough syrup, slack off a bit on the Penicillin.

Until last weekend, when the fever creeps back and I start to feel really, dangerously ill. The kind where you want to turn to your spouse and say, "OK, call 911..." On Wednesday I give up and go see the doctor, resigned to having my ass chewed out for trying to self-medicate and avoid his office (he did, and I deserved it). Almost three hours later I'd had a chest x-ray (his reaction was, and I quote, an eye-popping "GOD--!"), a diagnosis of Viral Pneumonia (which I'd kinda figured out) provided him the sample of lung cookies he wanted, had a nebuliser breathing treatment, a HUGE shot of Roecefin (killer antiobiotic) to the hip and got the bad news that my blood O2 (oxygen) levels were only one point away from 'hospital time'. He gave me FIVE prescriptions to fill and told me to come back the next day for another breathing treatment and another shot of Roecefin, which I did. He also added another antibiotic to the pile of medications I was taking for a grand total of 6.

That night was scary as I got REALLY ill, and I realize that had I waited just one more day, or even a few more hours, hospitalization would have been the only option. It hurt to breathe, I COULDN'T breathe, I was coughing insanely and the high fever made a spectacular comeback. The next day I managed to drag myself back to his office for more of the same. My blood O2 levels had not changed and he stared at me long and hard, obviously trying to decide if he was gong to stick me in the hospital. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I felt a *tiny* bit better. OK, he says. If you don't feel *BETTER* by tomorrow, come in again for another breathing treatment and shot. OK.

So progress was made finally today, Saturday--I'm out of bed for the first time in more than a week, although I am 23 pounds lighter, still have no appetite and cannot eat, which to my surprise isn't bothering me in the least. I figure it's the negative side effect I'm getting from having to have three different kinds of high-powered antibiotics in me. Antibiotics kill off ALL the bacteria in your gut, the good AND the bad.

Which just makes for one more medication to be added to the routine: Imodium.

Life is a joy. Hopefully in another few days I'll be able to walk across the room without having to stop and rest and get my wind back.

In conclusion, DON'T BE ME. I'm an idiot. The nurse says this crap is making the rounds, and it's damned sneaky and nasty, starts out just like mine. If you start to feel ill, get to the doctor right away...


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