May 12, 2016

Animal lover who contracted pneumonia on three occasions

Emily, 54, Gosford, NSW, lives with the tracheal disease, bronchiectasis, which places her at heightened risk of contracting the potentially life-threatening infection, pneumonia.

EmilyFollowing the death of her mother in 2004, Emily spent the ensuing six years of her life in mourning, frequently overwhelmed by physical and mental exhaustion.

In 2009, she developed a consistent cough, but initially shrugged it off as nothing serious. However, after several days of continuous coughing and feeling like she had broken a rib, Emily visited her local GP clinic, where she undertook an X-ray to investigate the problem.

Emily was diagnosed with a severe bout of bacterial pneumonia, set to be the first of three episodes.

This is her story.

“I always thought pneumonia was an infection that only affected the frail elderly, and never realised it could potentially cause death. So when I first fell ill, I mistakenly suspected I had developed a bad cold,” said Emily.

“I was exhausted, still in mourning following my mother’s death, and wasn’t eating well. I just tried to shrug off my cold.

“My coughing eventually drove me to see a doctor. I had been coughing so much, and had so much pain in my chest, I thought I’d broken a rib,” Emily said.

When her coughing became so bad, Emily visited her GP clinic where she had an X-ray, which identified she had contracted pneumonia.

After being diagnosed with pneumonia via X-ray, Emily’s doctor advised her to attend hospital for treatment due to the severity of the infection. However, Emily was determined to avoid hospital at all costs, so her GP prescribed a course of antibiotics and she returned home, to battle the life-threatening infection for the ensuing three months.

“Whenever I would begin to cough, I would curl up against a pillow to reduce the pain,” recalled Emily.

“The hardest part was enduring the excruciating pain in my chest and ribs when I coughed. I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone.

“I completed my course of antibiotics and spent a lot of time resting and sleeping, which aided my recovery,” Emily said.

“It took me three months before I started to feel myself again, which is a very long time.”

After recovering from her first bout of bacterial pneumonia in 2009, Emily experienced another two episodes of the infection, in 2010 and 2013 respectively, which saw her bedridden for weeks at a time.

“Having pneumonia is extremely painful. I would rate the pain as nine on a scale of 10,” said Emily.

“Nowadays, I’m very cautious about contracting the infection, and at the first sign of any potential symptoms, I visit my GP.

“Everyone should be aware that pneumonia is not just an illness experienced by the elderly. If you don’t take precautions and look after your health, everyone is at-risk,” Emily said.

“Until I first contracted pneumonia, it just wasn’t on my radar. However, nowadays, I’m very much aware of how severe and life-threatening the infection can be.”