Pneumonia, Severe Asthma, & Substitute Doctors
Last updated: April 2021
When you know your own body, it can be so frustrating to deal with doctors who do not know your detailed medical history. During the holiday times, many doctors take their own vacations and have ‘substitute’ doctors who are meant to fill in for them while they are gone. Occasionally these doctors do not care as much as the specialist you regularly see. Unfortunately for my husband and myself, this is an issue I ran into this holiday season when my overall specialist was out of the country for Thanksgiving. My pulmonary doctor for my asthma was supposed to be talking to my specialist but we still ended up with an extremely frustrating nightmare.
I have asthma and extreme lung damage that has not yet repaired itself from a round of pcp pneumonia that almost killed me in October – November of 2016. This hospitalization kept me in ICU on a ventilator for 15 days and then in a regular room for another two weeks. Since then I have kept this specialist and anytime anything goes haywire, he puts everything into taking care of the infection.
Apparently, while organs like your heart recover quickly from damage other organs like your lungs takes much longer because despite trying to recover from the damage they are dealt, the encounter a continuous amount of work by filtering out what you breathe in every day.
Lacking in substitutes doctors
So once my primary care realized she was in over her head and that my specialist was on vacation, she reached out to the pulmonary doctor in order to have her take over. The pulmonary doctor gave me a steroid shot and sent me for a ton of cat scans, and discussed doing a bronchoscopy (which apparently was specially requested by my specialist).
The pulmonary doctor specifically told my husband and I that the scans showed nothing and despite my systems, left me on my own, miserably sick, until my specialist returned. As soon as he did, I made an emergency appointment with him. His nurse was instantly worried by just looking at me and went to go get him right away. When he came in and caught up on everything that had been going on and what was and was not done while he was gone, he wrote direct orders for me to be admitted to the hospital.
The chest x-rays and chest cat scans showed my lungs were completely infiltrated with pneumonia. This was another case where I knew my body and knew I was sick yet my primary care and pulmonary doctor could either not figure out the problem or did not want to take the time to accurately diagnose and handle the situation.
The battle of treating pneumonia with asthma
The pneumonia cough can trigger the asthma lack of air flow. I can honestly say there is a fear that sets in when you are coughing but cannot get enough oxygen in on your own. I ended up finally getting them to approve the nebulizer breathing treatment scheduled like I do at home, use my own rescue inhaler from home, and was put on two liters of oxygen while I was at the hospital.
After I was released, my oxygen still remained low at 93 and is only now at about 95. Even coming home was complicated because a conversation or a shower would take my breath away. While the recovery was not as bad as last year, it still has not been an easy journey and once again ruined the holidays.
I definitely think the next time my specialist plans to go out of town for any kind of vacation, he is going to have to give me an alternative doctor to turn to that is on his team of partners, since I no longer trust my regular primary care and pulmonary doctor who treats my asthma to handle any severe issues that may arise while he is gone so that this case does not occur again.
Has anything like this happened to you when your regular doctor was unavailable to you or your doctor did not believe your symptoms?
How often do you experience a shortage in your asthma medication?