Spending my holidays in hospital - My experience with pneumonia

(Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash)

My nights were like my days. Being woken up by a smiling face ready with a monitor to see if my heart rate had slowed or a syringe full of antibiotics, ready to be administered through a cannula in my arm in the hopes I would get better soon. A constant beep could be heard through the day and whirring of oxygen machines could be heard at night. This was the reality of my Christmas holiday, for I had gotten pneumonia.

For those who may not know, pneumonia is an infection in your lungs that varies in severity, meaning you could have it and suffer a phlegmy cough or you could get septic. I got septic. When I entered the hospital, my heart rate was upwards of 130 bpm and my temperature swung violently from normal to extreme fever. I was sent immediately to urgent care where I was monitored closely until I came down to a normal temperature and heart rate and it stayed there. That took 8 days. This meant I had to spend Christmas and new years in hospital.

Before it got better it got worse. I was fine with the temperature and heart rate; I couldn’t really tell these were going on until I was being shown it in my observations. What I was not fine with was the unrelenting pain shooting through my side when I moved. The pain so bad it rendered me unable to walk more than the few steps it took for me to get from my bed to the wheelchair on hand for when I needed to go to the bathroom or shower. Sleep was my only relief for a few days until the pain passed. When it did I had nurses clap as I walked through the ward to pee or get myself out of bed to sit on a chair.

A photo I didn't notice my mother taking. But she's adamant I was awake and aware when it happened.

Being the youngest on the ward it was interesting to watch as the patients who had been there far longer than I had interacted with the nurses like old friends. When the tea round came by the nurses knew exactly what everyone wanted, how they took their tea, if they preferred coffee. I was the only one they had to figure out. I opted for a simple hot chocolate. 

You may think that ending up in hospital over the holidays was the worst thing that could have happened to me. Having to spend the jolliest days of the year lying in bed on a ward of similarly ill people. But the experience was quite enjoyable, there were worse scenarios. 

Watching the nurses walk around with tinsel in their hair, singing carols under their breaths as they moved from patient to patient. Keeping the Christmas spirit alive and kicking amongst a group of people who would rather be out, at home with their families, made my heart warm. And contrary to popular belief, hospital food was not as bad as I had expected, they even served up a Christmas dinner, cracker and cake included.

Christmas day was quite fun, everyone’s bedsides were surrounded by family. Some families even bringing the nurses chocolates and biscuits for their efforts. It didn’t feel like I was stuck in a ward for most of the day, having my mum sat beside me all day, and my dad and brothers joining us later in the day made it feel like I was at home. The only thing that brought me back to reality was the checks they did to see how I was progressing.

New years just passed me by. I had been moved out of urgent care by then, but I was still on the ward. I hadn’t even realised it was new years until the morning of. A chorus of ‘Happy new years!” woke me up as the nurses walked around the ward greeting us all before the usual routine.

From my experience, I have learned a lot about the workings of hospitals and all I can say now that I am better is that my thoughts go out to all the hard-working hospital workers that are unable to stay home throughout the pandemic as they are the most valuable workers. If it weren’t for the 24-hour help I had whilst I was sick I could have lost a lung, or worse and to see people acting blasé about the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak just breaks my heart, knowing one of the more rare but lethal effects is pneumonia and they could be passing that onto someone unknowingly. It breaks my heart because I wouldn’t wish my physical experience on anyone else, especially at a time where healthcare is so thinly spread across many many people.

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