An ode to Pneumonia

So that, “we caught it before it became Pneumonia” spiel? Not so much. You see, they were looking in the wrong place. My pneumonia didn’t act as it should. Oh no. Instead of starting in the bottom lobe of the lung (right lung as 3 lobes, left has 2), mine had to start in the right top lobe (which has quite a bit of surface area) and spread into the middle lobe. It also had to ignore all types of antibiotics that *should* work as though I was having sugar pills.

So when I had a coughing fit that ended up with me seeing stars, I decided something wasn’t right. And went and saw my GP. Again. She looked bemused until she checked my oxygen saturation levels. Then she just looked panicked. And called an ambulance. So my saturation levels were 77. No wonder I was feeling very light-headed. I actually couldn’t get enough oxygen in to function.

So I had a fun ride in the back of an ambulance and two awesome paramedics poking me full of needles and giving me oxygen. To add to that 77 sat level, my resting heart rate was 115. 5 hours in ED isolation, another chest xray (apparently I looked too healthy to have pneumonia, according to one of the registrars), and a dogged theory that I had Whooping Cough TB, and I ended up admitted “for the night” so that they could do a CT scan in the morning. (My blood tests seem to contradict everything the doctors assumed. Amusing).

The nice thing about being possibly contagious (even though you really aren’t) is they put you in an isolation room. Private bathroom, relatively quiet. You can cough and doze without bugging anybody and having anybody bug you. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. Especially with the coughing and struggling to breathe and you’re far away from the nurses. Still, the doctors were adamant I had pneumonia and TB (I’m from Africa and why else would the medications not work?!) Finally, they were forced to concede that I did not, in fact, have TB, only atypical Pneumonia and that my body just isn’t going to do what they expect.

So that one night turned into 5. The isolation ward turned into a single room in a different pod. There was a stunning asthma attack (the spray disinfectant they were using in the corridor caused my throat to close up in spectacular fashion) – at least I gave the doctors something to do at 10am on a Sunday morning – more nebulisers, steroids, inhalers, chest xrays… It was all quite painful and a little exhausting. But the cocktail of antibiotics they put together started to work, and I managed to escape on Monday afternoon.

Mom’s here, which is a godsend. I’ve spent most of these last few days passed out. In fact, that is probably what is going to happen again today, and for the foreseeable future. I value my lungs so anything I can do to fix them…

It is frustrating talking to the doctor’s about what to expect. With pneumonia as widespread as this, it’s going to take weeks before it is all clear. And months before my energy and lung capacity is back to normal. I’m sure you can see my headdesking even now. So frustrating. Looks like it’s going to be a while before I can even make the 15 minute walk to work without causing damage. Baby steps.

In saying that, I can take this opportunity to actually work on my diving and swimming properly. From scratch. This is a good thing. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.

And the knitting and reading will get more attention then. But I just don’t have the energy now. All my WIPs are calling me. But I just want to sleep.

So keep yourselves warm. Look after your lungs. And stay tuned for the further adventures of Shelley the accident prone.



  1. Holy hell, oxygen saturation of 77, that is INSANE! I am glad that you are improving, and I hope that you keep getting better.

    1. It did explain the sparkles and halos I kept seeing… and the overwhelming need to fall over all the time. I did gasp at the GP that I couldn’t breathe, turns out I was right.

  2. Oh dear. I come to check in on you via Ravelry and find you in all sorts of bother. Hope you are on the mend and up to your usual antics soon.

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