On Pneumonia Watch

I am not an alarmist. I think I’m pretty practical and level-headed. Even a realist when warranted.

With Robert, I do have to be on alert with his health since he can go from having a slight cold to the ICU with pneumonia and septic shock in a matter of hours.

Robert may look happy in the hospital but I'd like to keep him out of there!

Robert may look happy in the hospital but I’d like to keep him out of there!

Well, we’re at the “slight cold” stage.

Yesterday, he had a little bit of nasal congestion and a slight cough.

Today, he also had diarrhea and more nasal congestion but the cough stayed about the same.

He had an unusual seizure at Day Program so they called me. The seizure lasted about a minute but his breathing was labored and he trembled like he was very, very cold. The staff has had Robert for over two years so recognized this was an unusual seizure (I LOVE his Day Program staff!).

This is very similar to the seizures he had before his last bout of pneumonia.

Richard picked Robert up from Day Program since I was still at work.  Of course, that didn’t stop me from texting instructions to Richard (oh, my husband must love me so!).

“How’s his breathing?”

“Put him on his oxygen.”

“Please take his vitals.”

Robert had a slight temperature but it was non-existent by the time I got home. His breathing was labored even though Richard had put him on the oxygen as soon as they got home.

I took his vitals before dinner and they seemed fine except his pulse rate was super high. (That was a problem when he was sick last time.) He is still weak and talking like he’s out of breath but the pulse ox meter says his oxygen level is at a good rate.

Robert didn’t lose his appetite and still wanted his usual amount of food at dinner as well as a scoop of Rocky Road ice cream.  (How can I refuse when he’s sick?)

I don’t understand why he has had pneumonia twice in eleven months and why it appears he’s headed there again.

The doctors are looking into the causes but it is slow-going.

Robert doesn’t see his pulmonary specialist until mid-September. His Upper GI Endoscopy finally happened a couple of days ago and only showed slight inflammation. Per the doctor’s instructions we doubled up on his prescription strength Prilosec. She didn’t express any concern whatsoever.

I sent a note to his doctor to see if there’s anything we can do besides watch him like a hawk, regularly taking vitals and taking him to the hospital at the first sign of a downward slide. I don’t want to be too late in catching whatever is working on him.

(What’s odd is the hospital never seems to be able to grow any bacteria even though the x-rays show pneumonia. They call it aspiration pneumonia but I don’t know how or why he gets it and why it develops so quickly and immediately sends Robert into septic shock).

So we’re on pneumonia watch tonight but I’m hoping by morning, he has recovered and is feeling as good as new.

I may be practical, level-headed and a realist but I’m above all, an optimist.

(Also posted on www.robertssister.com)

Avatar of Trish

About Trish

I am Robert’s older sister and a freelance writer and am also a full-time Legal Administrator for a wonderful law firm (no, that is not an oxymoron). I am the caregiver for my youngest brother, Robert, who has suffered from uncontrolled epilepsy his entire life. In his late-40s now, he lives with me and my husband. I have somehow managed to navigate the maze of social services and government programs available to help Robert and continue to be amazed at the amount of time and persistence that is needed to do so. Robert finds happiness in simple pleasures like doing word search puzzles and watching his favorite shows (Family Feud and Jeopardy, of course!)

4 thoughts on “On Pneumonia Watch

  1. Avatar of KathyKathy

    ohhh I know you worry Trish.

    Aspiration pneumonia probably wouldn’t show up as a bacteria as it is my understanding that it is developed by inhaling a food or beverage into your lungs. A foreign object in the lungs sets off the pneumonia cycle. (That’s how I understand it but am known to be wrong on an occasion or two)
    I watch Hubby for that as swallowing issues can and most often do develop for dementia.

    Lets hope and pray that Robert recovers quickly and completely! he may need another scoop of ice cream to hurry the process ;-)

    Thinking of you all

  2. Avatar of PegiPegi

    @Trish, so sorry you’re in the midst of this. Hoping and praying that Robert gets through this as just a cold. You are terrific at being on top of things! He looks quite content in the picture, love it. In my thoughts.

  3. Avatar of TrishTrish Post author

    Thank you, @kathy and @worriedwife! I appreciate your kind comments. Robert woke up feeling better yesterday and the cough was “productive” which I think is a good sign. He loves to count things (sips of water, letters in the words in his Word Search, semi-trucks on the highway – you get the idea). I told him we were going to count how many times he coughs. I thought this might make him cough more and not be inclined to suppress the cough like he usually does. His vitals are good and I felt comfortable enough with them that I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night to take them last night (I did Friday night). :-) Still watching vigilantly, though!

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