Pneumonia: Sixth Leading Cause of Death
By Michael Edison

March 23, 2012

After having my left lung cut to drain the fluids to keep from suffocating, and the lung collapsing after that, I wondered if I would make it for the ambulance ride from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Idaho Falls, Idaho.

I looked at my beautiful wife, Ana, as I was placed into the ambulance and thought of my children, Adrian (13) and Crystal (22).

Ana spoke to me just before leaving and said, “Don’t walk towards the light.”

Drifting in and out of consciousness, I remembered what had brought me to this point.

About 3 weeks earlier, I was working out in the gas fields near Pinedale, Wyoming, when I felt an abdominal pain which I felt was simply nothing more than gas. Painful as it was, it had left me before the end of the day, so I thought nothing of it.

2 weeks later, I was enjoying my days off and snowmobiling in the Wind River Mountains. Despite getting stuck several times and being a little winded, I felt great. Two more days had gone by and we had a good friend over for dinner. I had no clue of the mounting danger occurring within my body. By 10:00 pm that same night, the abdominal pains had returned. Within 14 hours I would hardly be able to stand and would be taken to the clinic in Pinedale.

At the clinic, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. I was given antibiotics, placed on oxygen and sent home. Within the next 24 hours, I was back at the clinic; this time to be transported to Jackson as mine appeared to be a more serious case, and the antibiotics did not appear to be working.

I was only about 24 hours in Jackson before being transported to Idaho Falls.

I was placed in the ICU in Idaho Falls. Later, they would perform surgery on my left lung and place more chest tubes to drain the fluids from my lung. I was hospitalized for about 2 weeks.

Unknown to me at that time was that pneumonia is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. More than 60,000 Americans die from pneumonia each year. Up until 1936 and the introduction of antibiotics, pneumonia was the number one leading cause of death.

Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites and it infects one or both lungs and comes with a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms of pneumonia are chills and fever, shortness of breath, and cough. Muscle aches and loss of appetite are also common. Treatment involves antibiotics and fever-reducing medications. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by blood tests and a chest x-ray.

Obviously, mine was a severe case in which I almost died.

Moral to the story: If you suspect pneumonia, don’t wait, get to the clinic.

Throughout this ordeal, I would like to express my gratitude for the love and support that has been shown to me by my family, friends and those whom I work with. And, to a greater extent, the communities in which we live and are a part of.

God bless all.

Other Links:

Pneumonia – The Sixth Leading Cause of Death in the United States