I’m about as far from a hypochondriac as one can get; assuming that whatever ails me isn’t serious and will go away on its own. Fortunately, this has mostly been the case, until recently.
On Jan. 23, a high fever and severe cough sent me to bed. As usual, I assumed it was only a virus that would clear up after a few days. When that didn’t happen, I dragged myself to the doctor. A chest X-ray indicated pneumonia, for which he prescribed a course of antibiotics. They didn’t work! Feeling even worse a week later and struggling to breathe, I made another appointment. The doctor took one look at me, then sent me downstairs to the emergency clinic, where they administered treatment. Apparently, I was suffering from a severe asthma attack, something I’d not experienced before, despite having been diagnosed with the condition 12 years earlier. The treatment didn’t help much, so I ended up in the hospital for nine days.
Although not my first experience as a hospital in-patient, it was the most harrowing! I spent the first three days in isolation, hooked up to oxygen, as they did test after test and bombarded me with both oral and intravenous medications. Switching to an actual room was a welcome relief. Although the fever had subsided, I still couldn’t breathe well on my own. The doctors were concerned about this and suggested that I might have a heart problem. Wait! What? How could that be? I was “Ms. Invincible”! Another theory was a possible blood clot in my lung. By now I was completely rattled! Fortunately, the subsequent pulmonary angiogram quelled that fear, although there was still a lot of grunge in there from the pneumonia.
Side comment to former smokers: They can tell, even if you quit long ago!
I kicked the habit in 2003 but was asked if I still smoked.
Next up was a coronary angiogram. It also came back negative, much to my relief! At that moment, I resolved to become more mindful of my health. Another point to ponder is that age is becoming a factor. I may be 35 in spirit, but in reality, this old broad is 61! It takes longer to recover when you’re in your seventh decade.
They switched me from a full-face mask to one with nasal prongs and reduced the oxygen level, but I was still struggling. Even taking a shower required a prolonged rest period so I could catch my breath. One of the doctors opined that I might have COPD. Another shocker! Back in 2004, the diagnosis had been asthma, not COPD, which had been my main worry at the time. I’ll be visiting a respirologist next month for the definitive answer.
I started taking short walks up and down the hall and still had some trouble breathing, but was otherwise feeling much better, so they discharged me with a prescription for home oxygen. That was two and half weeks ago and I’m happy to report that I no longer need it. Some weakness lingers, but I’m well on the way to a full recovery. It’s been a long haul!
This has been a hard lesson and I hope it will drive home the point that we shouldn’t take good health for granted. I’ll be getting a pneumonia shot this spring, plus I’m trying to make better food choices and exercise more. Maybe I’ll live to be 100!
Have you had a recent health scare?
Did it change your perspective on life?
Looking forward to your comments!
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