Pneumonia, the Old Man's Friend

If you want to know why I’m not posting, in part it’s about my father, but also I’ve been working on the German language post. Lately I have been working often 11 hours a day on that post alone. So, though I’m not employed, I am certainly working! I don’t know why I’m not writing other blog posts.
My father’s condition has improved, but he is still in critical condition. I assume that ICU means critical condition.
He had a crisis on Tuesday and had to be intubated and placed in the ICU, otherwise he was going to stop breathing. They didn’t think he was going to make it there for a bit. But he got better and his condition improved. An attempt was made to take him off the ventilator yesterday but he could not breathe without it for even five minutes. The ventilator sort of pushes on your lungs in addition to giving you oxygen and his lungs just don’t seem to be able to do the exercise on their own.
People asked how you get pneumonia in the hospital. Well, in part it is because hospitals these days are full of some very nasty germs, including superbugs. Now, I have been exposed to those very same pneumonia bugs from my father. However, I am younger and healthier, so I am not going to get pneumonia.
Another problem is that you are lying in the hospital on the bed and you can’t get up. They are pumping you full of fluids all day and night. Imagine your body is like a sponge and the fluids are like water. This is like putting a sponge on the counter and pouring water on it.
Your body has a mechanism for “wringing out the sponge.” It does this by moving around. If you are not moving around, the fluids are just going to pile up in your body. That’s a recipe for pneumonia, especially in an older person with a weak immune system.
He fell and injured his leg and the leg quickly became infected, possibly due to age and a weakened immune system. The infection was horrible and he was hospitalized. He was released from the hospital before it was cured, went home and it got worse. He had to be rehospitalized and upon rehospitalization, he got pneumonia.
He was released from the hospital with a bit of pneumonia in one lung and after about a week at home, it progressed to the point where on Monday morning a week ago, he was turning blue and near death. So he was hospitalized a third time. Do you see a pattern here?
Hospitals in the US, all for-profit of course, release patients before they are even well or able to really make it on their own. What’s it all about? I guess it’s about saving money, but maybe there are some other reasons. It’s clear to me that operating most US hospitals on a for-profit basis is completely insane, not to mention immoral. If there’s a litmus test for a socialist out there, this ought to be one.
So yes, most hospitals ought to be non-profit. Should there be for-profit hospitals? Possibly, as an alternative for those who don’t want the nonprofits. I admit that I am confused about health care reform, so anyone who has anything to offer, go ahead.
The upshot of a for-profit hospital system and hospitals filled with bugs and superbugs is that in my opinion, these places are death traps. Nice to visit, but if you enter them as a patient, watch out. Going to the hospital in and of itself, as a patient, is surely enough to make you worse and probably even kill you. Message: Do yourself a favor – stay out of hospitals!
Last Sunday he was experiencing tremendous anxiety and he was shaking a lot. What’s that all about? Is he terrified he is dying? No. He has pneumonia. I’ve never had it, but the experience of pneumonia is one of drowning and being unable to breathe. Imagine feeling like you are drowning underwater. That’s what it feels like. Pretty damn scary.
Someone suggested that he knew he was dying and he had a poor reaction to death, that reaction being anxiety. I’m not sure what reaction you have towards death really matters as long as it’s on its way anyway.
If you are dying, you can be peaceful, angry, depressed, anxious, or ecstatic, and let’s face it, you are going to die one way or the other anyway. What difference does it make what attitude you take towards it?
I think most of the time, the dying do not even know that they are dying. They probably just think that they are ill, and the thought of whether they are dying or not does not occur to them. We are naturally optimistic (or at least I am). If I were really ill or injured, my thoughts and dreams would probably just be about being sick or hurt and that experience.
You don’t really know you’re dying unless someone tells you, like a doctor. Otherwise, you just know you are hurting physically and you are just thinking about that.
People who are informed that they are indeed dying take many different reactions to it defending on the characteristic defenses and stress symptoms displayed in healthy life. Those who reacted to stress with an anxiety reaction tend to get a lot of anxiety. Those who reacted with a depressive reaction tend to get depressed.
Pneumonia was a disease known even to the ancients. This was noted by the earliest Greek physicians. It has been referred to as “the old man’s friend”, but I don’t think drowning to death sounds very friendly to me. I would not my friends to drown me, would you?
Like predators in an ecosystem, nevertheless, the pneumonia top level predator serves to cull the human herd of the very old, the very young, the weak and the sick. It’s not unusual for a cancer patient, for instance, to be finally killed not by the cancer but by pneumonia. This happened to my aunt, who tragically died at age 32 of breast cancer.

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7 thoughts on “Pneumonia, the Old Man's Friend”

  1. Robert, I am just curious: How many hours have you put into your German Language Classification post (in total)?
    Nice post BTW.

  2. Hey, Robert
    I stumbles on your site when I googled “pneumonia, the old man’s friend”.
    I am sorry to hear about your father.
    I first heard the expression today, when my sister, who had taken my father to the hospital from the assisted care facility where he lives, told me that the nurse had told her the expression. My father was diagnosed with pneumonia today.
    When I looked it up, I found that it was because the person “experienced a reduced state of consciousness and slipped away painlessly in their sleep, giving a dignified end to a period of often considerable suffering”.
    I suspect that my father is in a state similar to your father’s, and it is very difficult (tears on the keyboard). I personally find some comfort in the idea that he can die in a fairly painless manner. He is fighting so hard against the indignities that his frailness has brought on.
    When my mother died of cancer 4 years ago, my sisters and I had taken her to the beach, because she and my father had lived on a sailboat during the summers for several years. She died being able to see, smell and hear the ocean. It is of great comfort to me to know that we could bring her some level of joy during her dying days.
    Again, I am sorry to hear about your father, but it is of some comfort to me to read your thought on this. I wish you and your father the best in this difficult time.
    Jim Pearson

    1. My mother died of COPD in a hospice, under the help of morphine, which kept her from distress. My father was in a medical facility that was not prepared for him to get pneumonia, so he died, drowning, frightened and aware of his situation for five hours. Hospice would not come to this facility. The difference in the death of my father and mother was polar opposite. One died peacefully, the other in utter distress. My dad died three days ago. I was not able to be with him, but I spoke to him over the phone two hours before he died. I was his primary caregiver for five years and had to send him to my sister’s for the last nine months. My heart is breaking.

  3. I am a caregiver for an elderly man who was reasonalilly realesed from the hospital had pneumonia and was in hospital for one week realsed been home for 5 days will not sleep or eat and complaining of not being able to breath I am taking him back to er to have him checked he’s 89 why would they realses him if he ain’t better

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