Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pneumonia

This will be a boring post, but I feel like I should write about my adventure yesterday, and mitchellkt wanted a history:

When I was two, I had pneumonia. I believe I spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, some portion of that in an oxygen tent. According to my mother, that experience left me with scar tissue in my lungs that has apparently been the root of a lifetime of minor respiratory difficulties ever since. After passing out while running laps in 7th grade off-season football training, I was diagnosed with "activity-induced asthma," but the medication did nothing for me, and I am currently and have periodically since demonstrated my ability to engage in activities like jogging without inducing asthma. I've at least twice since then been told by doctors that I have asthma, but the prescribed asthma medication has virtually no effect. My lungs, to me, do not feel constricted or inflamed, as TV commercials for various asthma medications describe the symptoms of asthma; they instead feel obstructed, or partially flooded.

When I was a teen, my mother told me that I should never smoke, because my childhood pneumonia experience had left my lungs in such a state that smoking would be very dangerous for me. So of course I eventually took up smoking. I was usually a 1/2 to one pack-a-day smoker. I quit for 4 years in my 20's, then let a single stressful day start me up again. I've now not smoked for two years and have no intention of falling back into it.

I've had occasional bouts of bronchitis in the intervening years, usually accompanied with pleuresy, the inflammation of the lining of my lungs causing them to press into various pointy parts of my skeletal structure and causing pain. That's what I thought was happening again on Sunday night. But while driving young Thumper to the playground Monday after lunch, I coughed up 4 or 5 bright red chunks of blood, so I turned around, took the boy back to his Mama, and drove myself to the hospital.

Ever since I started smoking, my mother's admonition has whispered in the back of my head, making me sometimes certain that I will end up with lung cancer. It was never enough to make me straighten up and fly right, but it was enough to make me now and again sure that I would get my just come-uppance for acting the fool. So for a few minutes, I thought the time had finally come. Of course! I'm finally a father. I'm working on improving my health and my weight. I'm trying to be a better person. Of course now I've got cancer! But then I told myself to stop being dramatic, and I told my wife that it was probably pneumonia.

So when the doctor talked about a chest x-ray and a blood test and a CAT scan and tuberculosis (probably not) and a blood clot (let's rule it out) and probably pneumonia, I actually chuckled. My mood improved dramatically. I smiled. I joked with the lady who came to take my insurance information. I suppressed the urge to make a joke of an inappropriate sexual nature when the nurse, looking for a vein from which to draw blood, exclaimed, "Wow! It's huge!" I chatted amicably with the x-ray tech and the CAT scan tech. I showed my nurse photos of Thumper and made her tell me how adorable he is.

So I dodged a bullet again, this time. But that little voice is still there, telling me I screwed myself through all those years of self-indulgent self-destruction. It's coming eventually, it says, and I'll deserve it.

5 comments:

anniemcq said...

Oh, Rodius. That must have been so frightening. And thank you for helping me feel not so alone - I do the very same monologue in my head (replaced with different illnesses, for color), whenever I get sick.

Sending you healing thoughts, friend.

Living In a Girl's World said...

Thanks for the history. It seemed odd to look for blood clots for pneumonia. Hopefully those drugs will kick things into gear and get you up and running (jogging, whatever) soon. With a horrible bout of vertigo last year, they actually did a CT on my head to make sure I didn't have a tumor. Try reassuring the spouse in the waiting room with 3 little girls that I'm sure it really isn't a tumor! (Needless to say my brain is intact and looks as normal as can be.)

Take care, get some rest.

suttonhoo said...

it is. but you won't. and I suspect you have a while yet.

but always good to be reminded how precious, idn't it. ;)

heal up, please. & take good care.

Lisa L said...

rodius - i'm assuming it was pneumonia. thank you deities. hope all is well and that you're feeling better now. the number one thing to send people to the ER? blood. unexplained blood. really hoping you're ok....

I, Rodius said...

Thanks, everybody. I'm glad I'm not the only one ready to believe I have horrible diseases. And yes, unexplained blood was probably one of the few things that would've made me turn around and go right to the hospital. One stereotypically male aspect of my personality is to put off the doctor as close to indefinitely as I can manage.

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