Wall chart in the ICU.
Wall chart in the ICU.

On Monday, July 25th, I circled the drain.

Tuesday: I wondered, “Whose feet are these?”  I stared at bloated flesh topped with stubby sausages for toes.

Then, I fell in love with a girl named Maureen. No, that’s not right. Her name was Morphine.

By Wednesday morning, we were going steady.

Accomplises delivered her to my room. All I had to do was ask.

On Thursday, perceptions improved.

The ICU: a catheter drained my bladder. IVs taped to each arm fed antibiotics and saline to my body. A nasal cannula delivered oxygen to my lungs. The dread of breathlessness lay like a lead blanket across my chest.

Cloudy memories prevail, like the x-rays of my lungs: two bellows clogged with the sand of bacteria. I swear to no degree of accuracy.

Yet, I remember:

Asking my wife to call an ambulance.

Six men crowded in my bedroom, adept at EMT tasks.

A needle poked into my left arm that drew blood.

A full mask of forced air, blessed oxygen, covering my nose and mouth.

Radios that growled and squelched; voices communicating with the hospital.

A gurney arriving to wheel me through the house.

Outside, several men lifting me into the ambulance. Me, extending an arm to my wife. Her, reaching out, holding my hand for a reassuring moment. Letting go and the doors closing.

At the ER, my doctor plucked me from the whirlpool.


I’d screwed up … bad.

Patients with Multiple Myeloma know that one of the ways it “gets” you is through opportunistic infections. MM is a cancer of the immune system. Vulnerability to the bacteria in our environment means we must assert ourselves when symptoms appear. I didn’t. The result: seven days of hospitalization.

I am home. I improve. I am walking the waterfront again. It may take weeks, but I’ll recover.

25 thoughts on “Pneumonia

  1. JS, I am sorry that you’ve had to endure this battle within the bigger battle, but overjoyed that you are on the rebound. I appreciate your wise counsel to remain vigilante.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your metaphors (or are they similes?), and your humor while telling us of what must have been a terrifying episode. Love picturing you walking on the waterfront.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John, Chuck (Oliveira) and I (Grace C) are sending healing thoughts and prayers. love your writing… we want to come to Hood River and walk with you again… so get well and strong big hug

    Myoki = Wondrous Joy

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, no. I’m so sorry to hear of your horrific ordeal, but I am relieved to hear that you are well enough to walk along your waterfront again. Wishing you a fast recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. TY Jay. Not likely there is a direct cause and effect with the new meds. However, some of my passivity can be attributed to my favorable response to recent treatments. I am reminded “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”


  6. Powerful writing John, you took me along with you on the ride down the whirlpool, with your girl Maureen providing a perfect amount of humor ~ and happiness that your doctor plucked you from the abyss of the whirlpool… I hope you are feeling as good as you are writing/thinking, as that would be a great sign. Of course, walks along the water tend to be a great remedy as well. Wishing you the best ~ keep strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey big brother – quite a scare you gave all of us. I know those colds bug the heck out of you, and unfortunately can get out of hand like this time. I wish I could be there to take walks to the waterfront with you, and Savvy. Will get out there sometime soon. In the meantime, I’m taking a class on blogging. Who better to learn from than you! Pointers?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very timely advice. I am mourning the loss of a dear friend and fellow MMer, she had just changed meds, got pneumonia, family thought she was on her way to recovery, and she had a cardiac arrest. Over a month in hospital/skilled care..never made it back home.
    So your post hopefully can help another get treatment ASAP. It is a very sad day here, she was there for my first transplant, and we did our second transplants together at Mayo in 2015. She lasted over 12 years with MM, but still wanted more years for her. She was a gentle, loving, special soul.
    You are wise to share this warning with all of us. God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John–Susan alerted me to your post, which I hadn’t read until now, and it left me breathless. (Sorry, but we get to have gallows humor, don’t we?, if the outcome turns out well.) Seriously, it is a caution for all of us. I fought off strep pneumonia twice in the spring, so I definitely empathize. But the caution is this: I take you (and everything that is in the present) for granted. Even as a former hospice nurse, and having been on hospice myself just after being diagnosed with MM, I sorta don’t let thoughts that someone could die at any moment infiltrate the front of my mind much. That said, I would profoundly miss you and the gentle, thoughtful, elegant writing you share so generously if you go away. I’m glad you’ve stuck around. David

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you David. Yes, a close call. The bacteria had entered my bloodstream. I continue to improve. Soon, I hope to have enough strength to resume treatment.


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