Annie’s story

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, Other lung conditions

Avid gardener living with a lung disease who experienced multiple episodes of pneumonia before being immunised.

Avid gardener and part-time project worker, Annie, 64, Launceston has experienced multiple episodes of pneumonia. Given she also lives with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), Annie’s encounters with pneumonia have proven particularly life-threatening. Annie has experienced significant physical, emotional and financial repercussions of pneumonia. Over the past ten years however, Annie has managed to stave off re-infection, which she attributes to her vaccination against pneumococcal
pneumonia.

The strong advocate for vaccination against preventable infections urges those aged over 65, and people living with chronic medical conditions, to ask their doctor about how best to protect against pneumococcal pneumonia.

This is Annie’s story.

Since her diagnosis with IPF in 2007, Annie has worked diligently to protect herself against any respiratory infections that could exacerbate her disease.

“Contracting a serious respiratory infection that compromises my lung health can prove particularly life-threatening for me,” Annie said.

Annie has first-hand experience of pneumonia, having experienced numerous episodes of the infection both pre- and post- her IPF diagnosis.

“I can still vividly recall my first episode of pneumonia. Initially, I thought I had just caught a bad cold, so continued to work. But I soon became feverish, lacked energy and began to struggle for breath,” Annie said.

“That’s when I finally chose to visit my GP who subsequently diagnosed me with bacterial pneumonia.”

Since then, Annie has learned to act early enough to avoid hospitalisation for subsequent episodes of pneumonia. However her recovery from each infection has proven extremely arduous.

“Whenever I did contract pneumonia or bronchitis, I was forced to take extended leave from work. The infection carries a big financial, physical and emotional toll.

“The most serious episode of pneumonia left me dealing with physical repercussions anywhere between nine-to-12 months post- diagnosis. On one occasion, I developed sinusitis as a result of my pneumonia, which became so chronic, that I had to have surgery to rectify the condition,” Annie said.

Following her IPF diagnosis in 2007, Annie was promptly vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia to help protect her against re-infection. She received a fully government subsidised booster vaccination in 2012 – five years after her first vaccination – given her risk of re-infection.

“I’m confident the pneumococcal vaccine has protected me against re-infection over the past five-to-ten years,” Annie said.

“Anyone over the age of 65, and those living with chronic diseases, should ask their doctor about the free pneumococcal vaccine to help protection against the infection, which can be fatal.”

Sharing your personal experience with lung disease is a compelling and inspiring way for others to learn about and cope with their diagnosis. Your story may also encourage people to identify and act on symptoms they are experiencing, which may otherwise have been ignored.

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