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Don’t Get Pneumonia

December 17, 2011

Well, it’s finally happened, I’m sick. I had a nice long streak of being healthy. To be exact, 7 months free of colds! I knew getting sick was inevitable though; I just started the job at the hospital in September, am constantly around sick people and that with the cold weather setting in, well it’s a recipe for sickness! For the last 3 months of the new job all I have been saying to myself is, “just don’t get sick, whatever you do, don’t get sick!”

Unfortunately I did get sick, and no, it wasn’t a cold. I’ve got pneumonia. Pneumonia! What the hell is up with that?! Perhaps it was the worst, waking up at 5am with the chills even though I was wrapped up in my sleeping bag covered with a down comforter, and 3 blankets wearing a sweatshirt, pants and wool socks while my teeth chattered as loud as hail falling on a tin roof. After a minor anxiety attack over what was happening and a panicked phone call to my boyfriend at 5:30am who calmly explained that chills were part of infection  (he’s not a nurse) did my nursing voice come back into play and said, “Ok go get some Tylenol, drink some water, and wait for the fever to break” which it did, leaving me with an intense sweating situation, but we won’t get into that.

It was the above situation that made me succumb to the realization that I would need to go to the walk-in clinic at my place of work.  I was hesitant because after all, I’m a nurse; I know what’s wrong with me. Would they think I didn’t know how to take care of myself if I showed up to the clinic? Oh well, I had no choice I knew I needed antibiotics. Upon arriving at the clinic I refrained from telling anyone I was a nurse at the hospital. I didn’t say anything while they made me put on the hospital gown which was a bizarre feeling, took my vitals, and gave me a heated blanket. It wasn’t until the nurse rolled the COW (computer on wheels) into the examining room and began taking my medical history that I let on that I too am a nurse at the hospital. “Ohhhhh, you’re a nurse?” The RN said nurse with a sing-song tone, and sounded relieved as she said, “so you know all about this process then.” I could only nod. This was precisely why I did not want to mention the nurse thing. It felt so weird to be on the other end of the questioning and even though I was facing the back of the computer screen I knew exactly what cells on the computer the nurse was typing in.

After the doctor examined me and a chest xray confirmed that, yes, I do have pneumonia, I said, “why me?” desperate for an answer to put my mind at ease. “Hard to say” she said, “probably caught it from a patient. Take your antibiotics, get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids” she explained while I started to panic thinking, “Oh no! I can’t miss work!”

Despite the many lectures spent talking about pneumonia in nursing school and the many days spent caring for patients suffering the at times debilitating illness, I still find myself surprised by how much pneumonia kicks your ass. Little did I know that on my sick days at home, pneumonia would still require me to be a nurse…to myself.

Upon leaving the clinic and heading home the echoing, phlegm-filled cough continued and I found the nurse voice in my head asking, “How productive was the cough? What color is my sputum? Is the blood gone from my sputum?” And then came the chest aches where I found myself over-analyzing every ache and pain in every crevice of my chest cavity where the little voice said, “What are the characteristics of the pain? Is it relieved when the coughing stops, or does the pain persist? Oh my God, I must be having an MI (heart attack).”

Now as I continue to recover, I see the difference between getting sick as a healthcare professional vs. a non-healthcare professional. In one way it’s nice to understand everything that is going on, but at the same time, it’s absolutely exhausting constantly wondering about what complication I could be experiencing next! I’m told this is the curse of the new nurse and that the hypochondria will pass. But what I want to know is how you don’t freak out when you actually do have an illness. Nobody teaches you that. Ok, I know that I’m getting better day by day, and that, come on it’s only pneumonia, but I just hope that in the future I can leave my nursing analysis for my patients at the hospital and let the providers at the clinic analyze my illness so I can get some rest. Moral of the story, don’t get pneumonia.

Stay tuned for more entries once I recover from pneumonia and am back at work getting new material to write about!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    December 20, 2011 10:04 pm

    Feel Better!! Bob

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