Memories of My Three Walking Pneumonia Attacks, by J.D. Meyer

Watching Hillary Clinton cough during a speech and later stumble as she was leaving a 9-11 memorial service brought back memories of my three walking pneumonia attacks. I describe walking pneumonia as the “silent killer,” because you don’t know that you have it until it has gotten pretty bad and you end up in the E.R. of the hospital. Pneumonia is way different from noisy lung ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and COPD.

The first attack was in 1995 when I was an Adjunct Instructor of Developmental Writing at Mountain View Community College in northwest Oak Cliff. Some of my students noticed I’d been looking bad before I ended up getting my folks to take me to the E.R. of Baylor Hospital, which was near my centrally-located apartment in Old East Dallas.  I’d developed asthma eight years earlier, but only needed a rescue inhaler at the time. My other part-time job was as a construction assistant/groundskeeper for Medical Center of Mesquite. Plus, I played half-court basketball every weekend with my mentor prof friend, the late Lew Sayers, and his friends.  Immediately, I quit cigarettes for five years.

The second attack occurred in late 2005 when I was a full-time Instructor of Developmental English at Texas College, an HBCU in north Tyler. Strangely, I’d delivered a sermon entitled, “Best Practices and Biggest Challenges of Unitarian-Universalists,” and spoke way too fast that time. A few days later, I went to the doctor and discovered I not only had walking pneumonia but emphysema! By that time, I’d been using an albuterol nebulizer for eight years and Advair sporadically for a year or two.

The third attack was in 2011, and the worst of all of them as I was kept in the hospital for a few days after the all-too-frequent ER visit. By this time, I was on disability and waiting for Medicare to start. Fortunately, there was a computer for the patients to use. That’s where I met a middle school science teacher, who was there to visit an older relative. I ended up interviewing him about the Urban Gardens movement, and he knew plenty of websites. Later, I’d research the work of Detroit mayor and former NBA star, Dave Bing, for more information. There were some sites on urban vegetable farms from progressive Austin too. I ended up publishing an article on the topic, despite having an IV in my left arm while taking my first batch of notes! Now it’s on my website at https://www.academia.edu/1084754/Urban_Gardens

In conclusion, give Hillary Clinton a break. Walking pneumonia is sneaky, and it may not seem bad at first –even if you knew about it like her, unlike me. The important thing is making it to the doctor or hospital somewhat soon–instead of late. This article was delayed because of my hospitalization for COPD & hypertension, but no pneumonia!

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