How the Rockin’ Pneumonia Saved My Life
article and illustration by Lou Davenport
Betty Davis said, ”Getting older isn’t for sissies!” True. I’m 63 now. I don’t mind telling my age. I am still in pretty good health and I am very thankful. I take a few minor medications. I don’t move as fast as I once did, but I can still do my Tina Turner dance, well, for about two minutes. I have some wrinkles, but I’ve earned them.
One thing I do have to deal with are panic attacks. My first one struck while I was sitting in a theatre, watching a good movie. Suddenly, my heart was racing. I was cold, clammy and could hardly breathe. I thought I had to get out of there right then or I was going to die. Once out in the cold air, I began to feel better. My heart slowed down. What in the hell had just grabbed hold of me?
I had several more of those scary monsters until I had to go to the doctor. Thank goodness, I did, but the doctor also informed me, “You are probably going through ‘the change.’” Whoopee. Just what I wanted to hear, but, at the same time I was glad to know I was not going to die. I got a prescription for medicine to help in controlling those things. But….
LITTLE DID I KNOW, I WAS ABOUT TO BOARD THE CRAZY TRAIN!
“The Change!” Now, there’s a glorious thing that happens to us women. I read all the stuff I was supposed to be experiencing. I had symptoms, but, my change was not going to be normal! With me, nothing ever is.
Before I could make it to the gynecologist, I came down with “The Rockin’ Pneumonia!” I’ve had it three times in my life so I have earned the right to call it that. I was so sick and running such a high fever, I was delirious. Literally. Adam and Paige, my children, dragged me to the emergency room. I just wanted somebody to knock me in the head and put me out of my misery. They found I was anemic, had pneumonia and was almost septic. I was so sick and delirious, I hadn’t remembered that my health insurance was only good at another hospital, not the one I was at. I was too sick to care. Ah, just send me the bill, go away! Oh yeah, you know I was all outta my head.
My soul brother number one, Lenard, was up at that hospital in the wee hours of the morning, ready to kidnap me and take me to the other “covered” hospital. He really would have smuggled me right out of there. But, God works in mysterious ways. All the hospitals were full and they had to keep me. Our great escape was foiled. But, I know he loves me. I would have done the same for him, too.
I had all kinds of IV’s going and blood transfusions, too. They were concerned about my anemia. I kept telling them why I was anemic. I have female problems! It’s the damn “change!” Oh no, that claimed that was not it. Yes it is, I argued. They insisted on scheduling a colonoscopy. “No, not that!” I pleaded.
Well, you know what happened. “The Prep!” Hell in a bottle. I had to drink that vile tasting bottle from hell and then spend hours on the throne. Praise be I was one of the first ones to get scoped, because I am not a nice lady when I have not had a cup of coffee in the morning. It wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. They knocked me out with something good. And guess what? I was fine! I knew that. So next stop, the “gynny!’ Not one of my favorite places to go. How I hate the fate that awaits us women there.
This time my doctor found out the anemia was caused from, guess what? Just what I said it was! She ordered a D&C. More good drugs and I slept right through it! But, it didn’t help. What next? It was decided that I had the very beginnings of endometrial cancer. That one word, cancer, can make you fall to your knees quicker than any other word I can think of. Again, God was there. I was sent to the most angelic oncologist/gynecologist in Shreveport. I swear that man had a golden aura around his head! God let him give me that peace that goes beyond understanding. I knew I was going to be all right. God put me right where I needed to be.
My hysterectomy was scheduled for the next week. I call them “hystericals.” It just sounds better and makes me laugh. If you have to have one, you might as well give it a better name. Any procedure that ends in “ectomy” just makes me say “eeewwwww.”
I got my orders and went to get my prep supplies. A lady handed me a GALLON JUG with white powder in it. My eyes got big as saucers. “I HAVE TO DRINK ALL THIS?” She sympathetically told me, yes, I did and to mix it with something that tasted good. Nothing could have made that crap taste good. Even worse, it was called “Go Lightly!” Let me tell you something. I don’t know who named it that, but I would like to slap them real hard! There is nothing about “going lightly” about it. I’d drink some, almost throw up and well, you know the rest. It was one long, miserable night. By morning, there was nothing in that jug or me.
Somebody “passed some good gas” to me and I think I counted backwards to 99. I did not wake up, that I remember, until I was back in my room hooked up to a morphine pump. I know that you only get so many pushes on that button, but, I think it had a placebo effect on me. I loved pushing that button! I vaguely remember people coming to see me and I think I talked to them.
Then, the day came when I had to get up. NO! All my guts will fall out! I was only stapled together for goodness sake. I argued with this one old nurse in particular. She had to have been 80 years old and she was not going to let me get by with anything! She got my morphined butt up and on my feet. My guts didn’t fall out and I actually could get around a little bit.
I got great news from my angelic doctor, too. All clear! I almost cried from being so thankful. He was almost as happy as me. He told me in his profession, he didn’t get to give good news often. He even gave me a big hug and I sure hugged him back. That was nine years ago. I do not consider myself a “cancer survivor,” I had a “cancer scare.”
The grand finale of my “hysterical” was the ride home with Adam behind the wheel. I’ve named it, “The Blessed Hellride.” Racing down I-20, hitting every bump back to Monroe. I wanted my morphine pump back! Thankfully, I got home with all my staples intact. Paige was a wonderful caretaker. But, she had to go back to work and Adam was left in charge. I was getting around, but, I still needed help. I learned this. Adam Davenport should never, ever be in any kind of health care profession. He left me! He had “things to do!” He better be glad I love him a lot because at the time, I really wanted to put him in the hospital, stapled together without a morphine pump! Then, I would drive him home on Hwy 80, NASCAR style.
Getting older is not so bad! Panic attacks will not kill you. It’s weird to say having pneumonia saved my life, but it did! I survived “the change.” I survived a gallon jug of GO LIGHTLY. I survived my “hysterical.” My guts didn’t fall out. Thankfully, I only had a cancer scare. I forgave Adam for “The Blessed Hellride.” So, hit me James Brown, “I Feel Good!”