I Have Pneumonia – Post-Op Day 5

Today was really rough. I knew it would be from the moment that I woke up.

I had a headache more severe than I’d ever experienced, with blurred vision and vertigo. I wake up with a headache fairly often, usually when my CPAP mask hasn’t sealed very well in the night, depriving me of oxygen. But I also had extreme discomfort in my chest, particularly on my lower left side. There was a lot of tightness and shortness of breath too.

I knew I wouldn’t last very long feeling the way I did, so I popped a Lortab and tried to get comfortable and let the pain subside. By about 8am, it wasn’t getting any better, so I called the surgeon on call. It took almost an hour for Dr. McKinley to get back to me, and we discussed my symptoms. He said that my problems could be a variety of conditions, but I’d need lab work, radiology and a full evaluation to know for sure. He advised me to go to the St Marks emergency room right away.

The next few hours were a series of pokes and prods. I first got an IV in my right arm, but it wouldn’t advance in correctly. But it was enough to get my blood drawn and start me on fluids and main medication. I had a chest x-ray, then went to radiology for CT scans. I had to drink some nasty contrast fluid, which was basically radioactive Crystal Light. But because they were doing tests that needed a larger gauge IV, they sent me back to the ER for a new IV.

Little did I know they’d be doing an IV in my NECK! The nurse felt around, and the best vein option was in external jugular, calling it very “juicy.” I went back to CT, drank the radioactive Crystal Light again, and was hooked up to this witch doctory apparatus full of radioactive liquid. Through the CT, they did a chest and abdominal series, then a pulmonary series to rule out an embolism. During they pulmonary series, they pushed in the clear liquid into my neck vein, and it felt like my body was in an oven, inside and out. It was such a crazy and uncomfortable feeling, feeling like I was melting from the inside out.

After several more hours of waiting as doctors and radiologists evaluated my tests, it was determined that I have pneumonia. There is an irritated “solid infiltrate” in my lower left lung, which is likely causing all the chest pain and shortness of breath. After almost 90 minutes beyond my diagnosis, I was finally discharged. The whole process at the ER was about 7 hours.

I picked up my prescriptions, including a generous refill of Lortab elixir, went home and got in my jammies. After being required to fast from food and drink for the day, I was quite ravenous. I fudged my eating guidelines a bit through the evening, trying to get in adequate nutrition. I also added in a new food to my semi-solid food regimen – hummus! Oh, how I’ve missed hummus. It’s just a little strange to eat it straight off the plate with no veggies or crackers, but I gobbled up all 2 tablespoons.

Today’s food diary:

  • 1/4 cup egg whites with melted cheese
  • 3 oz soft serve ice cream
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 2 oz Simply Apple juice
  • 1 wedge of light Laughing Cow cheese
  • 1 sugar-free popcicle


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