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Blog 16: A Pneumonia Patient

Posted by LeslieDavidSimon in The LLS Blog, 03 March 2015 · 81 views

By Leslie David Simon

This continuing first-hand account of Leslie David Simon's experience as a lymphoma patient will run throughout the next few months. Please check here frequently for new installments.

After two hours a nurse returned. She apologized for the wait and said the hospital was quite full. But finally, they had found a room for me on the hematology floor.

The room was a large private one for people with hematological disorders, including lymphomas, leukemias, multiple myeloma, and the myeloproliferative diseases, such as polycythemia and others.

Ruth and I waited in the room only a few minutes, when the nurse on duty, whose name was Dawn, came in and introduced herself. Like Anna in the Infusion Center, Dawn was a complete professional and an engaging personality as well. She explained to me the names of the different nurses who would be on duty that evening, along with her, and went over the routine in the hospital. As a pneumonia patient, I would have my vital signs checked every so often and I would also be hooked up to an IV, so that antibiotics could be delivered.

A doctor would be in to see me in the next hour or so to examine me, and sometime the next morning, one of Dr. Cheson’s colleagues from the Lombardi Center would be in to see me since he was away on vacation. With that, Dawn hooked me up to the IV and began a saline drip. This would keep me hydrated and also provide the means to administer antibiotics and other drugs, if necessary. It was getting very late and we decided that Ruth should return home. I was sad to see her go, but encouraged her to leave for the night.

In a few minutes, a young hospitalization doctor, a resident came in, and examined me, paying close attention to my chest sounds. Since I would need my normal medications during my hospital stay, she wanted to make a list of them. I had the list that I normally kept in my wallet with me and read them off to her. She also wanted dosages which I would not have remembered without the medical history card I always carried in my wallet.

At this point, Dawn returned to ask if I was OK and advised me to get some sleep. As anyone who has ever spent a night in a hospital knows, this is easier said than done. Between the normal hospital sounds of nurses, orderlies, patients and doctors speaking and moving around in the hallways, and the nurses waking you up to take vital signs and change drip bags, sleep is not easily come by. My Kindle kept me company though, and after reading another chapter of The Submission, I fell asleep for a time.

Early the next morning, Dr. Cheson’s colleague, Dr. Catherine Broome, doing her rounds, came in with a group of resident and fellows. Dr. Broome is assistant professor, division of hematology/oncology in the Lombardi Center. With her was the young Japanese hematology fellow with whom I had spoken on the telephone the day before.

Dr. Broome confirmed that I had pneumonia but that fortunately it was caught early before the infection had spread. The treatment for me was the antibiotics I was receiving and rest. The reason I was hospitalized was both to receive the antibiotics that had to be delivered intravenously and also to carefully monitor me to make sure things didn’t get worse. I also asked Dr. Broome if there was a way to prevent his from happening again after another chemotherapy round. She said that there were medications that could increase the number of my white cells and improve my immune system during chemotherapy. She said that I would discuss that with Dr Cheson at our next clinic meeting.

As it turned out, I would remain in the hospital for three nights and be released to go home on June 26. By this time, my cough was gone and I was feeling better, but tired. But as I was to learn, the cough, which had been very stressful, had apparently done some other serious damage. Over the next few weeks, the small bulge I had noticed in my abdomen had gotten larger, causing me new discomfort.

So four days after I had entered the hospital, I left the hospital and returned home. It was a great relief to me.

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Simon is a retired senior executive at IBM in Washington DC, New York and Paris, where he oversaw government affairs and communications. He also served as a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC and wrote two books about the Internet, public policy and democracy.

Read Leslie David Simon's full blog, as chapters are posted, by clicking here.

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