NOT MY NORMAL STAY

Mark Johnson
3 min readMay 21, 2022

So I would have to be admitted to the hospital. I’ve dealt with UTIs before. Usually, if I catch them before they get too wild, I can get prescribed antibiotics, and that’s that. On the other hand, I’ve never dealt with Pneumonia, but as a quadriplegic with already compromised use of my lungs, it can be trouble. So you could consider me concerned.

My next question was how I got it, and looking back at my actions of the past weeks, my trip to Willits was still a fond memory. It also seemed far back enough that an incubation time would have expired. I also thought it could have been a visit to a new church, greeting, hugging, and closely conversating with people I was unfamiliar with.

UTIs seem to happen occasionally, so I wasn’t looking for the event that would have triggered that. It was the Pneumonia that had me perplexed. They hit me with a ton of antibiotics intravenously in the hospital, so my appetite was affected. The antibiotics turned my entire insides on its ear as I was letting loose stool around the clock; I was a mess.

As the doctors told me, the onslaught of antibiotics was that with Pneumonia, there are multiple strands of it, and no one antibiotic would rid me of it, so they had to try multiple variations to see what took. With the UTI, you could now understand why my body was shook.

I was then prescribed breathing treatments, and steroids that helped my body battle, the growing levels of mucus and fluid in my lungs. At times a tickle in my throat would cause a coughing fit which then would cause me to cough out some of the mucus, so they encouraged me to cough as much as possible.

I was in a bad state for some time. I’m not one for prolonged stays in the hospital; I mean, previous stays were a matter of days, and as this began to look like that wasn’t going to be the case here, I tried to keep my mind at least right.

I soon became accustomed to the daily routine. Early on, my appetite, as I said, wasn’t there, so I missed several meals as my stomach turned when I thought of food. My left arm was plugged up with I.V.’s constantly dripping in antibiotics. I was a tragic mess. I was glad to have a window to at least see the skyline of treetops and what the weather was like. A few days I was there, it rained rather heavy and sounded nice as rain hit against the window.

Soon a new patient filled the open bed next to me. Three patients came and went before I finally did in my entire stay. The setup, of course, made privacy and getting some shuteye more difficult. The nights were the worst. During the day, there were CNAs in abundance that would come in and check even without me hitting the assistance light. The attention was helpful as I was still dealing with spitting up the flem and needing suction to draw it out.

At night was a different story as there were fewer CNAs on-call. I lay in bed with the suction tube at my bedside, fearing a tickle in my throat that would cause a coughing fit, which would spark the flem coming up. And it was thick, and if not suctioned out fast enough, it impeded my breathing.

A few times waiting on a CNA or Nurse, I got a little panicky, thinking I would suffocate in my bed if I didn’t get my airway cleared. After a few nights of no sleep and battling with keeping my air open, I began to fear the nights.

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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.