Monday, April 17, 2017


Easter morning, temperatures heading to the low 80's and the wife wants to sit outside for having been housebound and mostly bedded due to pneumonia for the past three days. The horse pills she is taking says stay out of the sun so we found a spot fitting to those instructions, with a warming westerly breeze over the porch. 

She had just finished a large bowl of late-morning homemade chicken noodle soup and had perked up. The first visible up-tick in the past three days from my perspective. And our golden just had to join us as she is well-tuned into daily motions of the home. The golden followed her outside, as did I and we enjoyed a most wonderful Easter morning. What could have been better, my wife on the mend, color in her face, a smile or two and our dog by our side surveying her kingdom. 

The yard above is a wonderful representation of post-winter, early spring lawn.   Matted down and pointing to all that we need to be getting outside to do. Thatching, trimming, picking up and first applications of fertilizer and weed control. We also add tick killer to close-in lawns as the dog spends a lot of time on them.

Priceless simple things.

On a more serious side of all of this is that pneumonia is nothing to play around with. We first self-diagnosed her with a cold/flu symptoms. Similar at the start. Some congestion, wheezing, stuffy nose and so forth. And then overnight it changed to outright knocking her down. Listless and in need of help. 

We have over the past several years found a wonderful healthcare option in the CVS Minute Clinic. A walk-in health clinic with the ability to go to the site linked here and make an appointment. I used it last year when I again found a tick bite with classic red circle around it. Diagnosed and meds prescribed. Same as if I had gone to my regular doctor w/o all of the added rigamarole of appointments, etc. The wife called CVS, made an appointment (within a two-hour window). I drove to town and was seen within a half-hour's wait. Walk-ins get in line and depending, most likely seen within an hour. We took a chance on our first visit due to the immediacy of the threat of Lyme disease so prevalent here in New England. Of course, it was on a Saturday morning when we discovered the bite mark.

The attending nurse practitioners we have seen have been articulate, professional, thorough and spot on. Detailed report given to patients and the same is mailed to patient's PCP (primary care physician). I followed up two months later with blood work from my PCP for the tick bite but I had to insist on the blood work and said I would pay if there was a problem within their system. Things are sometimes sticky in health care these days. Between lengthy waiting times to get seen, much less the increasingly intrusive questions directed by Obamacare, having a personal relationship with one's doctor is uncommon.  And there are still advantages to living in a more rural area like ours.

While we are fortunate to have doctors who always find a way for excellent care on their patients' behalf, it is the wait time that, more often than not, can be serious road blocks to immediate care.

So off to CVS we go.  My wife was immediately diagnosed with pneumonia, prescribed an inhaler and a 5-day course of killer horse pills for the infection. (Horse pills are our description of larger than normal pills) She was told she was already the second person seen with pneumonia that morning.  She was told to followup with her regular doc just to make sure it was gone.  Seems x-rays are a surefire way to confirm but something CVS can neither perform nor prescribe.

All said and done here, we found pneumonia was nothing to play with. It can kill you. I have never seen my wife go downhill so quickly and even she admits this is the sickest she has ever been. Suffice it to say, my awareness of this is elevated. Flu and cold symptoms from now on will be run by some type of health care professional at the on-set.  I think we both forget we are older and probably more susceptible to pneumonia and other sorts of conditions. But my advice here is to park this complication in permanent memory and err on the side of getting checked out at the onset of cold and flu like symptoms, regardless of your age.

There was a time young folk do not know about and that was when availability of a doctor and health care was but a phone call away. Wait times were hours on the day we would call, at worst. Walk-ins with serious cut fingers or hands were taken on arrival. Our doctors knew us and we them and quite often our paths crossed at grocery stores or community events. Always a moment to say hello and "everybody knows your name."

  • In my late 20's or early 30's, I was home slicing off bacon rind from a slab of bacon. I had just sharpened the knife to razor sharp and in the process of applying the same force slicing, went through the bacon rind and into my finger. Deep, clean cut requiring stitches.

    I was home alone w/o a vehicle so decided to walk to a nearby doctor's office. Not my family doctor mind you, just a doctor nearby. This was an old cantankerous doctor that had been the community forever. For sure, a no-nonsense kind of guy.

    He took me in, cleaned the wound and sewed me up w/o use of any local anesthetic. I think I winced at the first stitch and he asked me if I wanted him to finish. I did and he did and now it is a great story. Those were the days!!

    How would that play out today?

Now my question and fitting with YMATA: is pneumonia survivable without access to health care? Are there meds we should get our hands on to have here just for this? What else can/could we do? I think with pneumonia there comes a point of no return and it comes fairly quickly. Looking back now, we should have taken my wife in several days earlier. But years of having colds and flus programmed us to let it ride its course.  Never again.

It is the day after Easter now. My wife did lay down this morning after taking horse pill #4 as these are serious meds. Back again on a glide slope to health, an hour later she's up again much like her normal self, complaining only that "man, these are kicking my ass."  We presume they are doing the same to the infection.

For all that we have done here with plugging holes for the after, we have missed the seriousness of pneumonia and how easily a simple flu or cold symptom can turn into a dangerous medical condition. 

I welcome comments on this post regarding pneumonia. Helpful to all readers. Thanks.

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