No sooner than I announced that I was back, I was taken away again. This time for Pneumonia. After a week in the hospital and a few days recovery, I’m back. I’ll be moving slowly though. It will take weeks, if not months, to get anywhere close to where I was, but at least I am recovering.
One night, I was lying in bed. Everything seemed normal, but I had a bit of a cough. Every time I got up to go to the bathroom, I became cold: shivering and shaky. After returning to bed, I was winded and extraordinarily tired. I tried to shake that off, but even with my CPAP I was struggling for breath. Not terribly, but enough that I knew something was wrong.
In the morning, I arranged a ride to the ER in Corvallis (20 miles away). I live about six blocks from the hospital in Albany, but it sucks. Their ER looks more like the back-drop to a bad psycho murder mystery, whereas the Corvallis hospital is top of the line.
I expected to sit in a room for a few hours, see a doctor, give some blood, get a shot, and go home. Fortunately, they weren’t busy and I saw a doctor right away. Then I continued to see him and do more tests. Finally, they said they were taking me to the ICU. Well crap. So much for going home.
It seems that I had contracted a “para influenza”, which isn’t actually any sort of influenza, which caused the pneumonia. The only contact I had had with anyone for many days prior was in the clinic where I have to go to pick up my hydrocodone prescription and the pharmacy downstairs where I have it filled. If it weren’t for the ridiculous precautions surrounding opioids I wouldn’t have been there and never would have become sick. Thank you, so much knee-jerk politicians.
After a couple of days in the ICU, they got my 105-degree fever under control and released me to a recovery room. Fortunately, I was still considered infectious so I got my own room. I was ecstatic to see that I also had a bathroom! Peeing in a bottle, or using a bedside port-a-potty, is humiliating. Being able to get up and use a bathroom whenever I wanted was, at the time, about the best thing I could imagine.
My fever was down, I was breathing without supplemental oxygen, my blood pressure and blood sugar were under control, my lungs were clear, and I was sick of being in the hospital. Fortunately, I was able to convince my doctor to send me home before I had become so anxious as to leave “against doctor’s orders”. They hate when you do that, but it wouldn’t have been the first time. I’m glad it didn’t come to that.
Pneumonia is far worse than I ever imagined. I had no idea how many young, healthy people died from it, nor how many complications it could cause.
Sadly for me, it caused a rather serious complication. I have chronic interstitial nephritis (kidney disease). Diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease all go hand in hand and each make the others worse. My diabetes has been poorly controlled for some time. My blood pressure has been around 200/100 for a while. My creatinine was more or less stabilized around 2.0 (it should be 1.0). The pneumonia drove my creatinine up to 6.0 (that indicates less than 9% kidney function).
People with such poor kidney function (often starting around 30% function) develop constant nausea, vomiting, chronic pain, confusion, lack of mental acuity, and various other issues. I am lucky that I have not started suffering from any of these symptoms. But it is unclear as to whether or not I will ever regain any kidney function, so those symptoms are most likely in my future.
The one positive result from all this is that I met with a diabetes specialist who is otherwise nearly impossible to get an appointment with (I was told over a year wait last time I tried). We talked at length and she explained that the reason my slow-release insulin wasn’t doing anything for me, and therefore why my diabetes was so poorly controlled, was that it is mostly useless if your body can no longer produce insulin. It doesn’t work by itself; it stimulates your pancreas to produce more insulin as well. My pancreas is shot, so it wasn’t doing anything for me. We supplemented my meds with dietary (mealtime) insulin and it seems to be working to get my diabetes under control. At least that is one step in helping to prevent making my kidneys worse.
All the follow-up appointments are a huge time suck, but I guess I’m grateful for all the help I am getting.
I met with my Nephrologist yesterday and did some bloodwork. My creatinine is down from 6.0 to 5.2. That’s still terrible but it is definitely an improvement! Most importantly, it is not going up.