- 15% of COVID-19 patients will get pneumonia – I was one of those patients
- I spent 15 days in the hospital treating the pneumonia
- During that time, I had to focus on breathing and getting well
- Sadly, that meant pausing CopperState News temporarily
- Now, we’re back!
- Read more...
On February 4th, I was diagnosed with COVID-19
I had no idea what that would mean over the next month.
By February 15, I couldn’t breath on my own.
At first, my husband and I fared pretty well. We started immediate treatment, thanks to our family physician, Dr. Askari at Thumb Butte Medical Center. My biggest concern was for my husband, who has several pre-existing health conditions. But we both seemed to be managing the disease relatively well.
Dr. Askari told us to get a pulse oximeter so we could measure how much oxygen was reaching our blood. My husband was doing pretty well, but my oxygen saturation numbers were dropping below 90, which was not good. So, I was told to go to the Yavapai Regional Medical Center Emergency Room and get an x-ray and on oxygen. Despite my x-ray showing Covid pneumonia, and against the recommendations of my doctor, I was discharged by the hospital, although I was set up to use oxygen at home.
My oxygen levels did not improve while at home.
By the weekend, I knew I was in trouble. I simply couldn’t keep my oxygen saturation levels above 90, and I felt awful. First thing Monday morning, I reached out to Dr. Askari, and provided the current details regarding oxygen, heart rate and temperature.
We decided that I would go to Banner University in Phoenix for evaluation and treatment.
But, there was a problem. By now, I couldn’t breath without supplemental oxygen, and we didn’t have enough tanks to get me to Phoenix. Breathing was no longer something I did subconsciously, I had to work for each and every breath.
I was scared, to tell the truth. I had never experienced anything like this before.
So, my husband went and got the empty tanks filled while I prepared to go to the hospital.
When we drove up to the Banner ER, someone was outside ready to help. They got me a wheelchair with oxygen and set me up. I took my bags, and said goodbye and I love you to my husband. I had no idea what to expect.
I was evaluated immediately by a nurse, and it was decided I would be admitted.
Within 15 minutes I was in an ER room. They put me on high speed oxygen - 40L per minute at 100% saturation. It was really noisy - like standing on the end of a pier during a very windy day. I was moved to the acute Covid ward - just one step below ICU - about 10 hours later. And there I stayed, receiving high speed oxygen for nearly two weeks, plus a variety of other treatments. I was released on Day 15.
During that time, I was unable to make updates to CopperState News.
I am home now. I am still on oxygen (non-high-speed) while I recover from the pneumonia. I have very little energy reserves, so I am not very active yet. But, I am alive and for that I am very thankful.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, don’t ignore it. Start treatment immediately. There are at-home treatments that work for most people. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chance for recovery. Call your doctor. They say that 15% of people will get Covid pneumonia. Hopefully with immediate treatment, you can avoid that.
If your doctor won’t help you, look for a doctor who will. True story - my sister-in-law in California tried to talk to her doctor when she came down with COVID-19 but he refused to discuss anything to do with Covid. He gave her a phone number to a supposed “Covid expert doctor” who charged her $400 for a zoom call. She found this to be very unsatisfactory. You need to be in close contact with your doctor. I cannot stress this enough. Hopefully you will not need much care. But, if you do, you must have your doctor on your side. The difference can literally be life or death.
Talk to your doctor about warning signs of trouble, things to look for, and treatment options.
Get a pulse oximeter. It’s worth having anyway, and it’s not expensive - less than $20 on Amazon . You may have to order it online, because local stores are often sold out. The results can be pretty wonky, depending on how you’ve placed it on your finger, so be sure to doublecheck it if you don’t think the reading is accurate.
Optionally, and for a whole lot more money, get a Series 6 Apple Watch - it can read your oxygen levels and heart rate. It also has breathing exercise prompts. It must be a Series 6 watch, the others do not read your oxygen levels. But, in my testing, it appears to be very accurate. Since it’s the Apple Watch, it has many more uses than simply checking oxygen and heart rate!
Get a decent thermometer. My preference is a digital thermometer, but get whatever you prefer. This one on Amazon is discounted by $9 as of this writing. That could change without notice, of course.
If you go to the Emergency Room, get information. What is your oxygen saturation level? Do you have COVID-19 pneumonia? If they see Covid pneumonia, what are the odds that it will get better at home? Do you need supplemental oxygen at home? Ask lots of questions. If they do not want to admit you, ask them why? Remember that you can choose a different hospital if you feel you are not getting the care you need. Sometimes the drive to Phoenix is well worth it, and other hospitals may have more advanced treatment options.
Have a plan (that you discuss with your doctor) before going into the hospital. How do you feel about being intubated? Chest compressions?
Be prepared to work hard just to breath. Listen to the nurses, they’ve seen a lot of COVID-19 patients over the last year. They’ll give you breathing techniques and exercises to help you get better.