Sunday, March 1, 2009


I am recovering from pneumonia. I have had it before, I most likely will have it again. I never wrote about it before, however, except as a brief note to someone in email. I never thought of it as what it is.

Pneumonia is a murderer. It kills you. It has no mercy. It has no regard of agony, nor respect of stature, nor any other ethic. It just wants to kill you as quickly and thoroughly as possible. The only weapon in the battle against it is the very most powerful antibiotics known to man. If your immune system is weak and your access to these antibiotics is blocked, you are dead. There is no coming back from the brink. You must either kill the bacteria that fill your lungs or they will kill you.

A worse form of pneumonia is caused by viruses. Usually, even in today's high technology, there is no cure for that. You are just dead. It is only a matter of time. Perhaps some manner of draining your lungs of fluids -- but keeping the rest of you hydrated -- might buy some time, But for a virus to die, your own immune system must do the killing. Very few drugs can kill a virus without also killing the host.

So I feel lucky I only got the bacterial kind, some form that takes advantage of a cold or flu virus that brought you to your knees first. It then colonizes very rapidly, In just a few hours the disease can double and quadruple to the point where it begins to effect your oxygen. In a few hours more it can become hugely populated, beyond counting, to the point of clogging your lungs. Your immune system tries its best to fight it, but only makes things worse. Your lungs fill with liquids, which, unless you can cough that all up continuously, will drown you.

But you cannot keep coughing forever, and your exhaustion will spell doom.

Fortunately I began to feel the effects of oxygen deprivation. I know about such things from scuba diving and from having had pneumonia before. I went to the doctor on my own, as badly as I felt, knowing that something was very wrong. I made it on time. I was not beyond the critical stages. Antibiotics will work, this time. At least I hope so -- I'm not completely well just yet.

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