Older people spend a lot of time trading healthcare stories, because we spend a lot of time navigating health issues. I have been blessed with exceptional health except for a run of prostate cancer in the early 2000’s. If health tales are not for you, read no further.
On March 10, I felt out of sorts and expected a bout with bronchitis or maybe flu. After a couple of days of low fever, I went to my GP on March 12, who couldn’t be certain but prescribed Tamiflu, antihistimines, and (just in case) 7 days supply of azithromycin.
The fever continued and we could not control it with Tylenol, spiking to 103 F a couple of times, with bone-rattling chills. At 10:30 PM March 13, we trekked to the ER where the doc stopped all meds, started a 4-day “Z-pack” of azithromycin, also IV saline and magnesium and added Ibuprofen alternating with Tylenol for the fever. This regimen broke the fever in the wee hours. Since my general health and oxygen uptake was good, I was dismissed home to finish the Z-pack and resume the previous antibiotic after the Z-pack.
A midnight X-ray had shown bacterial pneumonia in my lower left lung. Pneumonia is contracted directly from inhaling the bacteria; external exposure to wet or cold or fatigue cannot cause pneumonia.
We understood the at-home fever treatment to be 1000MG of Tylenol every 4 hours PLUS 400MG of ibuprofen every 8 hours, and it did reduce the fever to a spike every night broken with sweats. After 2 days I was “stupid” from the fever meds and convinced I was overdosing Tylenol. Telephoned the ER nurse who agreed on the overdose and recommended reducing both meds to the strict label dosage. I stopped Tylenol at midnight March 19 and controlled low fever nightly with 400MG ibuprofen alone. Last ibuprofen at midnight Saturday, March 22.
My follow-up at the GP was Wednesday, March 19, over a week into this illness, by which time I had lost all digestive bacteria to the antibiotic and was able to eat only boiled pasta or rice, plus 50/50 gatorade water and a bit of probiotic kefir. The GP said it would be a gradual recovery, and issued an Rx for a broader-spectrum antibiotic, to be filled only if the fever returned in force.
I improved day by day but still had digestive symptoms, expected until the antibiotics were finished on March 24. On Saturday, March 22, a new complication: oral thrush, a yeast infection of the mouth and throat caused by the loss of friendly bacteria.
Not wanting to burden the ER with this minor condition, we went to a walk-in clinic, got examined after an hour of new paperwork, and received an Rx for ny-statin antifungal oral rinse, because diflucan tablets might interact with Azithromycin. The rinse slowed the thrush, but improvement was not expected until the antibiotic was finished on March 23.
Today is Tuesday, March 25, I have been fever-free for a few days, the oral condition is improving slowly, and we have another GP visit tomorrow. Reports from young and old indicate a slow recovery of tone and energy for several weeks.
Pneumonia is insidious and can be life-threatening if not treated or if the patient has underlying debilitating conditions. I hope this will be my only encounter with it, and I look forward to a better year after a nasty March, 2014.