May 5, 2017

Leon, Adelaide

Married grandfather-to-six & great grandfather-to-four who has survived three episodes of pneumonia, ADELAIDE

Married for 56 years with three sons, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, Leon, 77, Adelaide, has been hospitalised three times for cases of pneumonia over a span of 20 years.

Experiencing pneumonia and severe breathing difficulties forced Leon in to hospital. His chronic residual Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD ) contributed to his breathing difficulties.

Each episode of pneumonia has reduced Leon’s breathing capacity and physical activity. For Leon, who has had a lifetime of sport involvement, this compromised his ability to maintain an active lifestyle.

Having now recovered, Leon is acutely aware of how serious pneumonia can be. His experience has left him wanting to convey a message to older Australians; to not take chances with their quality or longevity of life and get vaccinated against pneumonia.

This is Leon’s story.

“I’ve had three bouts of pneumonia in the last 20 years.

“I was in hospital each time after attacks of breathing difficulty. Two times by ambulance and one by my wife taking me there,” Leon said.

When Leon had pneumonia, his symptoms manifested as severe breathing difficulties.

“I felt that I wasn’t getting any benefit from the breaths I was taking. I have COPD as well. You can imagine the panic factor, as pneumonia exacerbated my normal restriction in breathing and caused me to try and breathe quickly to ease the panic.

“I was put on antibiotics and they gave me a steroid. This, along with the oxygen, improved the situation markedly so that at least the panic factor fell to acceptable levels. Further steroids and antibiotics were given to me as part of the treatment,” said Leon.

As a result of his pneumonia-induced, sudden shortage of breath, Leon felt as though his life was at risk. He was previously unaware of the potential severity of pneumonia.

“I was aware that people quite often died from pneumonia in hospital, but didn’t associate that with me until my COPD took hold. Then I was more than aware of it,” Leon said.

Three episodes of pneumonia have left him with long-lasting health repercussions.

“I’m very wary of a repeat. Each episode seems to have reduced my blood oxygen levels and has further restricted my breathing capacity along with physical activity. I have now got oxygen at home which I was reluctant to do for some time,” said Leon.

Leon has been vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia since 1998, and also has a flu shot each year. He believes that vaccination is a key aspect of keeping healthy as you age.

“You need to be able to live and not just exist. There are things I would like to do including travel, meetings with friends, family involvements, but it’s made difficult by my breathing issues. These would be considered normal for someone my age without breathing difficulties.

“Don’t mess with your quality or longevity of life, get vaccinated. Pneumonia can happen so rapidly you may not get a second chance like I have,” Leon said.