An account of suffering from pneumonia

Tues 13th January

On my way to Aberdeen on business, I had a beer with AK. in “The Head of Steam” at Euston station, with a nice burger and pleasant conversation as ever. I note in passing that over the last few days I felt some slight aches and pains in my left upper back from what I thought was some kind of pulled muscle.

I took the sleeper train from Euston to Aberdeen. This train was heavily delayed. I was woken up by silence when the train should have been thundering along. As a former seafarer silence can often wake me up – sudden silence on a ship at sea, particularly a seismic survey ship, is always a serious matter.

Weds 14th January

I was not best pleased to wake up finding the sleeper train parked at Edinburgh Waverley and that the time was a little after 6a.m – the train was nearly three hours late. It should have been through Edinburgh well before 4a.m.

We were asked to leave the train, which had broken down. I went from being snug in bed, unshaven, in pyjamas, to being smartly dressed for business and hurriedly shaved, on the station platform, in less than 15 minutes. The time was 6.45a.m and I felt dreadful, like death warmed up.

However, feeling rough at an early hour is part of life for the business traveller, and it wouldn’t be the first time, so I shrugged it off. By the time I got to Aberdeen it was 11a.m, and I had started feeling rougher still on the train North, with an unshakeable headache and terrible weariness. I did some business but the flu-like symptoms worsened to the point that by mid afternoon work was no longer possible, and I cried off sick. I recall shivering hunched in my greatcoat in the foyer of an Aberdeen marine contractor, waiting for a cab to my hotel, feeling like a character out of Dickens – “I have the ague”.

I had a bath, and retreated to bed. During the night the hotel turned off the heating, and I needed to call reception to get it back on again, as I was shivering.

Thurs 15th January

I just managed a light breakfast (always a clear sign that I am not well). The snow was sifting down outside as I ate. I managed to do my job as secretary for a certain committee, the primary reason I was in Aberdeen. Back to London by air, feeling rougher by the second. I was blessed mightily by the lady in the BA lounge who (as a favour to my Gold card carrying boss, not to me) allowed me to travel back on an earlier flight. Answered prayers! Shivering in the taxi back to to my home, into the bath and into bed by 8pm.

Fri 16th  January

A day of unavoidable hard work which was shared by others in the community. I’d given warning that I needed assistance, being poorly, with the setting up of the Frost Camp. My wife helped, and WC, Mrs P and Mrs D. My strength ebbed by mid-afternoon but there was no escape. I was much blessed and encouraged by the presence and the prayers of Susan Hanson at home.

At Bentley Copse my Scout colleague and I worked ourselves silly putting tents up from 3pm til 6.30pm, at which point I could no longer stand.

I went to give team information to the Wardens up in the lodge, and the Warden’s wife made me a cup of tea and brought it to my hand. This caused me to burst into tears, at which point I knew that I was gravely ill and deeply tired as a consequence. (I am often very emotional when exhausted and in my last job sometimes I had to bite my tongue to prevent myself from crying when absolutely shattered. There would be no sympathy for mere tiredness on a seismic ship.) It was warm inside the hut and I was overborne with exhaustion and a sense of responsibility for all our youngsters.

I could not face staying up and went to bed early at 10a.m. I took a very rough night indeed, and slept not one wink, from pain and discomfort in my back primarily, from the noise of the Scouts and from the sound of wind and rain on the tent. On the plus side one of the few things I do enjoy is being snuggled up inside a tent on a rainy night.

After the fact I note that that from Thursday afternoon onwards I had the symptoms of pneumonia, but it really started to kick in on Friday night.

Sat 17th  January

I staggered to life in considerable distress with great pain in the side, upper back and chest. It made my breathing laboured and shallow. After breakfast I made my excuses and walked with difficulty, twisted and bent over, to the office, where I organised a doctor. I sat in the car wondering if I had the strength to drive; I certainly had not the strength to go back to the campsite and make a formal handover, and left all my gear where it lay. Much of my remaining strength was spent on the phone securing the assistance of another Permit holder.

Thence to Dorking to see a doctor, who prescribed “Augmentin”, and thence to Redhill where I was met by my wife who had been kindly driven through by Mrs C. My wife drove me home to a bath and thence to bed with a consolidated infection of the lower lobe of the left lung – pneumonia.

There was no measurable improvement in pain until after 10pm, when I’d had three doses of the antibiotics. Pain became ache. I was much troubled also with waking dreams, hallucinations and unpleasant visions of moving objects, swirling fantastic landscapes of outrageous, out-of-this-world colours. I slept poorly, and for the first time in my life, had to sleep sat up, because it was too painful to lie down.

Sun 18th  January

I had a slow day in bed starting the pattern of the next four days or so. Porridge in bed early, then a cooked breakfast in bed, a long hot bath and back to bed to drowse or read. I became feverish and started shivering violently at intervals, particularly after the exertion of a round-trip to the loo – perhaps eight paces there and eight paces back!

I was still troubled, more so, by hallucinations as soon as I closed my eyes. This induced nausea – as the visions were all of violently fast motion – and I reflected that if this is as bad as it gets, it could get a lot worse.

Mon 19th  January

Recovery continued almost imperceptibly. I managed a bit of email and stuff. Washing machine breaks down – what a time for it to do so.

Tues 20th  January

I watched a movie. I found that I could once again lie on my side for a short period without intolerable discomfort. I was still weak and felt particularly dreadful in the evening and around dinner time. The doc said this was usual – I was fortunate in that a doctor came to the house to see me – I could not have gone to the surgery at all and going to hospital is to be avoided at the best of times.

Ordered another washing machine on the internet – there goes our planned holiday to Lee Abbey at winter half term.

Weds 21st  January

It is becoming clear that the antibiotics are not prevailing against the infection – I am not getting better. The doctor prescribes stronger ones. Reading Scripture, esp. Isa. 38:17.

After a tough time of shivering feverishness, following my morning bath, I spent the morning drowsing and could hardly face some soup at lunch. But I rallied in the afternoon to a worrying degree. I remain ill but better than the same time yesterday. Towards dinner time feeling much stronger, but then rougher again as evening wore on. I was painfully hungry and had a big appetite for a good supper of chilli con carne. Later, another shivering attack after a visit to the loo. Did some leg exercises, as I was worried about the atrophy effects of being bed-bound for days on end. It made me tired – I am weak.

Thurs 22nd  January

An OK nights sleep. I had high hopes that there would be a dramatic improvement in health today, but instead, it has been much like the other days, with incremental, imperceptible improvement. More walking up and down in the bedroom to get my body going.

Fri 23rd  January

Last night I slept on my back for the first time since last week. However I did not sleep well; there were frequent dreams and discomfort woke me up frequently from 4a.m onwards.

After a bath, I went downstairs for the first time in over a week to sit and lie in the study, doing this and that, taking a slow day. I felt I did loads and had a full day. To bed for an almost “normal” nights sleep.

Sat 24th  January

Day nine of my illness proper.

Less sweats in the small hours, but still an uncomfortable night with frequent awakenings and nagging discomfort.

My wife and I sat in bed til 10a.m as if it was an ordinary Saturday morning. I had a shave and a shower rather than a bath, and actually got dressed! Following a hearty breakfast in the kitchen this time, I rested up in the study, though I was pottering up and down the stairs (slowly) several times during the day. By 4pm I felt quite worn out, and My wife bade me retreat to the bedroom. After another bout of feverishness I took a bath and so to bed after a relaxing evening at 10p.m. Too much too soon?

Sun 25th January

Properly convalescent now, but the weather is dreadful. Driving rain kept us indoors all day long. A day of pottering, planning aspects of Scout camp with my wife, and other stuff. I was very hungry. I needed a second cooked breakfast at noon, following my first at 10a.m. Nonetheless I have lost half a stone. At dusk my wife and I played Scrabble.

Mon 26th January

Feeling better at break of day, but still experiencing broken sleep in the small hours. Pain much lessened, now a dull ache under the left shoulder blade, without brufen. I did a little work in the study and went for my first walk out with my wife, to the end of the street and back. My wife wants to nurse me back to health as carefully as possible without relapse.

Scrabble at dusk, and a surfeit of energy in the evening. To bed, but not before 10.30pm – feeling almost normal.

Tues 27th January

Still waking up early, around 7a.m, but for the first time, without feeling the residual dampness from perspiration, coming from feverishness during the night hours. My energy levels are coming back up. No need for painkillers.

There is NO repaying what my wife has done for me as a wife this past two weeks; to say that I am forever in her debt is literally true.

Today a longer walk and a full and active morning. Remaining very hungry at intervals. I started feeling “bath-ish” and a little feverish around 7p.m. Later, at rest, I find I have pain in the left lower lobe at the rear, which feels like a step backwards. I do find more pain in the evenings.

Weds 28th January

A good nights sleep. Noting less and less pain and deeper breathing range. Nagging discomfort in left kidneys, otherwise feeling good.

As afternoon wears on, I feel less special. At 2pm I hit the painkillers again – Cocodamol and Brufen. Discomfort and nagging pain in the left lung, front and back. Feels like it is getting worse again. Feeling ratty, particularly as I find myself losing at Scrabble (itself not unusual!)

No lasting city here, but hope in the City that is to come – Hebrews 13:14

Thurs 29th January

To Westerham for a stroll and visit to a café – my first serious trip out. It was to be just coffee and cake but I was so hungry I ordered a Full English and the best pot of tea I have drunk in years.

Back home, some pottering and a relaxing afternoon. I was sketching and drawing. For some reason I am drawn to sketch, draw and paint.

At 4pm to the doctor, who prescribed a further course of strong antibiotics to finish off the remaining infection. Painkillers in the evening and cards, including a rare family game of Black Maria. And so to bed on this long road to recovery, at 10.40p.m.

A further week off is mandated by the doctor, and a trip to the Royal Victoria at East Grinstead, for chest X-rays. The doctor specifically suggested this hospital rather than the less reputable East Surrey at Redhill.

Fri 30th January

Up and feeling OK; to East Grinstead for chest X-rays. Then a sandwich whilst my wife shopped in Sainsbury’s and back home to rest up. Later, some easy work and a pleasant visit from those two affable buffoons DW and WC, which is a lovely gesture and welcome, even if I find I have little enough to say.

Later on, Anna made a nice supper, and my wife and I played Scrabble, then my wife went out. I felt very tired and had a bath, after which I flopped onto bed, exhausted. I find I have an annoying “crick” in my neck which only manifests when I lay myself down to sleep at night.

Sat 31st January – day 16

This period of illness has caused me to pray much. As I grow more accustomed to prayer, I find long-lost habits and tastes for silence before God returning to me.

Cooked some soup and made supper (Chilli) and then played Scrabble. Had a bath and then to bed – again with a crick in the neck.

Sun 1st February

Did not go to church. At 11a.m my son and I delivered the District mailing in bitterly cold conditions. Briefly saw TB at the Scout hut and discussed the new front door and its keys. Snow flurries at lunch quickly turned into a downpour which continued all afternoon.

Weds 4th February

A first day back at work – a leisured start, taking train only at 0923, but it was late! I did not get to 5LBS until 1040. I put in an acceptable day’s work and left still feeling strong – but was weak by the time I got home. My wife prepared tea for me. She had bought several shirts for me and we had a peaceful time together whilst I tried them all on. Then, I made supper, thence to the doctors and made a shopping list for the forthcoming curry night which I was doing for eight paying customers.

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