Tag Archives: pneumonia

Pneumonia is no fun

So, to be fair… I had a good reason for falling off the face of the earth in May.

Right around my last post, I came down with what was the beginning of an aggressive drug-resistant pneumonia just before visiting Kay in Singapore for the weekend after he switched to INSEAD’s Asian campus from France, which made the flights to and from Singapore some of the worst, most painful ones I have ever endured. After two weeks trying out three different kinds of antibiotics and suffering from 40ºC fevers daily whenever my fever meds ran out, I was finally admitted to the hospital.

I really, really, really did not want to go to the hospital with Kay in a different country. I cried a lot about it. I prayed for the antibiotics to work and for myself to stop coughing into vomiting. But the fact was, the pneumonia was beating me. I was sleeping for up to 20 hours a day, I had excruciating back pain (from the muscles around my lungs, as I later found out) that made it hard to breathe at times, and  I didn’t want almost any kind of food. It was all just… disgusting, aside from fruit, fruit juice and Sprite, and sometimes cereal. But even those would come back up again when I coughed enough, and I couldn’t control my coughing, yet it was a seemingly harmless unproductive cough. I lost a lot of weight pretty quickly, which put me down to around 123lbs, a weight I haven’t been since I was around 13.

So, feeling quite alone in the world, I packed a bag up one Sunday, dried my tears, and took a tram to the hospital to check myself in, in German, not knowing how this works with insurance. Kay, six timezones away, was traveling in Bangladesh with friends for the weekend, and was beside himself with worry when he found out that I had to be hospitalized. It was all pretty freaky. He wanted to know if he should fly home, but I told him not to miss his classes and that I would be in good hands with the doctors. I’m basically a saint. 😉

The doctors took an X-ray of my lungs and were horrified to see how large the fluid in my right lung had become. While they thought they might not have to admit me, they ended up doing more tests to confirm that I had a huge “thing” in my lungs and I needed intravenous meds ASAP. They also were concerned that there was a slight risk I could maybe have tuberculosis (that’s something fun to hear!), so they immediately put me in isolation in the emergency ward before finding me a private room to isolate me. Suddenly being masked and isolated (all auf deutsch) was kind of surreal. Kay was asleep by that point and after a visit from my FIL, I was all alone again, kind of freaking out.

When they finally found a room for me, which normally I wouldn’t qualify for on my insurance, but they needed to isolate me, the nurse settled me in for the night, and before she left, I asked her what my room number was. “17”.

Kay’s special army number. Somehow, I felt like it was my MIL acting from above, and letting me know that everything will be alright, even if Kay was so far away. It reassured me some as I spent the first night in that dark room terrified.

I ended up staying for ten days in the hospital. My case was apparently of great interest to the doctors for how extreme it was, but I started feeling better, and eventually was released to spend another week at home before going back to work after a full month away.

The meds at home were still pretty nasty and made me feel very ill and nauseous, but back at work, I slowly started getting better. I looked terribly gaunt and unwell thought. My skin was sallow, my cheekbones were hollow, and I had dark, exhausted circles under my eyes. Ain’t no makeup gonna cover up some unhealthy skin like that… I wasn’t fooling anyone!

Kay and I also had to spend almost 2 months apart, because I was too unwell to travel and visit him anymore. We didn’t see each other again until he flew home for my birthday in July before starting his summer internship in Germany. It was really hard being apart so long, but since then, we’ve managed to see each other every weekend in the summer and not longer than 2-3 weeks apart for the rest of the school year.

I’ve had several follow up appointments to check up if the pneumonia and my lungs are healing well, with almost twice the time to check for healing as with normal pneumonia cases. I was surprised how many people in the hospital have heard and discussed my case… it makes it sound like one of those Grey’s Anatomy cases where the doctors say, “Hey, look how crazy this is! Have you ever seen anything like it??” In fact, for happening in May, I still have to go for a lung panel next week to test if my lungs are working properly. But considering that I continued my training for a half marathon after the pneumonia and successfully ran it in September, I am not too worried. 🙂

As things stand now, Kay is almost done with classes, finishing up later this month. I have traveled SO much since then, and have lots to fill you up on. We have a lot of exciting plans for next year and I know I will have time to update the blog! More soon. 🙂