Thursday, August 05, 2010


They say that everything happens for a reason and it could be true or it could be bull that we use to comfort us in loss, I'm not equipped to determine that, at least not right now. I do think some things can be turned to a purpose. I also think I have a need to do that right now, whether it matters or not, so put up with it while I share a little, possibly useless, wisdom I've gained just in the past couple weeks.

If you're diagnosed with pneumonia, and it's not the first time, make sure it really is pneumonia. Whatever your age, though the elderly usually are less strong for the fight.

There are some bad bacteria out there. Tuberculosis is one but it's not the only one. Another, biologically related to TB, is called MAC and acts much the same, and needs pretty much the same treatment.

MAC is different from TB in that we all get exposed to it all the time -- it's a common bacterium in the environment, we get little bouts of it and our systems knock it out quickly.

But if you've got a vulnerable zone, as my mom had in her left lung since a bad bout with pneumonia in 1965, MAC can settle in and become chronic. Ordinary courses of antibiotics, for secondary bronchitis/pneumonia things, won't kill it.

Several chest X-rays, which revealed the colony of bacteria over the past 2-3 years, all were diagnosed as individual bouts with pneumonia. The same shadow appeared, over years' time, in the same place on the x-ray. And I guess it wasn't totally illogical to mistakenly think that she'd repeatedly get pneumonia in the same vulnerable location. But it was a pouch of MAC, and settled in over, the doc guesses, 5 years or so.

If .... if. The "if onlys" may be a very natural reaction, and I'm not inclined to either diss myself for having it, or to dwell on it and let it fester. My mom's doctors tried. We got her to better ones, but it needed to happen years ago.

She was ready, even happy, to stop the fight. It had been a harder, longer fight than any of us realized, circa 5 years of it sapping her. She'd had enough. None of us feel that, things being what they were, there was another outcome.

So maybe things have a purpose and maybe some that don't can, still, be turned to a purpose. Don't live with an infection like this for years. It's not necessary.


Ronnie said...

I have tried a couple of times to respond but don't know how to. I do thank you for this information but I am so very sorry that you had to learn it this way. We will certainly regard recurring pneumonia with grave suspicion. I still don't know what to say except thank you and I am so sorry.

Mike said...

I echo that. Don't mistake lack of commentary for lack of reading. Sometimes, there isn't much left to say except "hang in there."

ronnie said...

I had the same reaction as Ronnie and Mike. I'm just so sorry for your loss. This blog post taught me something, especially as my parents and my mother-in-law age. Maybe it will teach others too.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Thank you so much, everybody. I understand not knowing what to say. *I* don't even know what to say. I hope Mom's case is rare enough that no one will ever need to know about the possibility, but had to say it.

Here's to good friends.

Dann said...

Just want to add a 'me too' to the stack.

You mom's passing inspired a modest amount of reading on my part. Someday I'll share the fruits of those....admittedly limited....labors.

Warmest Regards,