Tuesday, 7 July 2015
Pneumonia diaries: day 1
It started with a crappy parkrun (a regular 5k race every Saturday morning) just over a week ago. I felt fit after a good couple of weeks of training, but I ran a personal worst of 21:38. Effort-wise, I felt like I ran hard, but I also felt like I had a cold. The next day, I wanted to do 10 miles on the trail, but was feeling beat, and didn't want to worsen my cold, so cut it to 7.5 miles.
On that Tuesday, I went for a run with my local running club, and struggled a bit to keep up.
Over the next few days, my cough worsened. I was at work, and getting things done, but felt grotty.
I went out for an easy four mile run on Friday after work, and experienced some tightness in my chest.
On Saturday, I woke with a headache after a broken nights sleep. I'd been up several times in the night coughing, and had moved to our spare bedroom, so that I would not disturb my wife.
Saturday night's sleep was also broken, and I was starting to wheeze.
Sunday night felt a little better, but in the morning I was somewhat breathless. My wife insisted that I see the doctor, and made an appointment for me.
I parked my car in the lot behind the health centre, and as I was a bit early, went across the street to donate some books to the nearby charity shop. This is probably a distance of 200 meters all in, but I had to sit down on a bench to catch my breath. In the shop the guy at the cashier couldn't quite understand my question ("Do you take donations?") because of my wheezing.
It was a sunny day, and outside the health centre a fairly overweight guy with tatoos sat on the bench with his shirt off.
It was warm in the waiting room, and I ran into the mother of one of my daughter's friend. She too had experienced a chest infection a few months ago.
The GP (general practitioner) asked me about my symptoms, and listened to my chest with his stethoscope.
He measured my blood oxygenation with a pulse oximeter that clips over ones finger.
Normal blood oxygenation levels are 96-98%.
My reading was around 91%, and dipped below this at times.
The GP seemed concerned. He indicated that I had a deep chest infection that was likely bacterial. In short, I had pneumonia.
Apparently, my oxygenation levels were on the border of requiring oxygen at the hospital. He prescribed antibiotics to fight the infection and a steroid to reduce the inflammation in my lungs. I was to come and see him the next day.
I went next door to the pharmacy to fill the prescriptions. The older woman behind the counter looked at my prescription and said "We'll take care of you love, you just sit down". Did I look that bad?
The mother I'd seen in the waiting room was also in the pharmacy, and asked if I needed a ride home. I thanked her, and indicated that my car was out back.
At home, I sat on a chair facing our back garden. I opened one of the sliding doors a bit, then sat and breathed the cool breeze.