Rona Barrett

Rona Barrett

Well folks, I feel a lot like Rocky Balboa right about now. Out of nowhere I got sucker-punched by a formidable adversary – pneumonia. Yes, it jabbed, it crossed, it hooked, and it uppercut me to the point I thought I was going down for the count.

But let me start at the beginning of my own little movie. About four weeks ago I began to feel as if I were coming down with the flu. But I had gotten my flu shot, so I thought that couldn’t be it.

And I surely didn’t figure on pneumonia, because I had also gotten that shot. Yet I was experiencing severe chills, chest pain, and dry cough, which are not only flu symptoms but also pneumonia symptoms. Plus, my fever was low, which is typical for someone over 65. And I was feeling very fatigued.

Then there was a change in my mental clarity. I felt confused and disoriented. I also experienced the flu-like symptoms of nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. No wonder I didn’t know what was going on!

So I got myself to the doctor for an x-ray. I was actually going because I thought she’d rule out pneumonia, because again, I had the shot so I figured how could it be pneumonia?

In the elderly, bacteria or viruses is usually the cause. After my x-ray, listening to my lungs and a pulse oximetry test that computes the blood’s oxygen levels, my doctor pronounced my condition as bacterial pneumonia and prescribed antibiotics and bed rest at home.

But, apparently, because of antibiotic resistance, treating bacterial pneumonia has become more complicated. I guess that’s why it took two Z-Packs to finally knock it back on its heels.

Pneumonia is one of the 10 leading causes of death for those over 65. It seems that lately I’ve read or heard about someone I’ve known who’s passed on –and 90% of them had pneumonia.

That’s why, until the antibiotics kicked in, crazy thoughts battered my poor brain. Is my time coming? If I don’t survive, what will happen to my dear Daniel? And what about my responsibilities to the Foundation?

Then a bit of clarity punched its way in and I began to remember that vaccines do improve the odds, as does eating food that supports the immune system, hand washing, and coughing into a tissue.

Finally, I told myself, “You’re not done! Get off the ropes! You have to go the distance! You must finish your final piece of the Golden Inn & Village! Plus, you have too much junk to dispose of!”

I was “trying hard” to be a good patient and stay patient. I kept as busy as I could doing activities that didn’t tax my mind or body: I polished my nails, I played Scrabble, and I even ate the pie that I always felt was too fattening.

Like Rocky, I’m fending off this formidable foe – slowly, patiently. I’m looking forward to being able to say I “went the distance, now I’m [completely] back on my feet.”

For that, I’ll be so grateful.

Until next time ... keep thinking the good thoughts.

Senior activist and local resident Rona Barrett is the driving force behind the Golden Inn & Village (GIV), the area’s first affordable senior living facility. GIV strives to bring services to seniors so they may age in place. Reach her at info@ronabarrettfoundation.org. Visit www.ronabarrettfoundation.org for more information.

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