Well, I’ve just returned from the hospital with a diagnosis of “walking pneumonia” and an interesting antibiotic.

Don’t Panic!

It isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’m not gasping and laying on the floor… More like a very bad bronchitis that wasn’t leaving as fast as I like. Oddly, one of the more common diagnostic “features” is a dizzy / disoriented effect from lower gas diffusion rates in the lungs (it is a bit harder to breath, so folks do it less. Me? I’m just upping the respiratory rate when I want to think more ;-)

The antibiotic full course is all of 5 days ( I think they use ‘the good stuff’ ;-) so this is expected to be resolving quickly.

The most likely point of contraction was wandering around in a group of “100,000 of my closest friends” down at the theme park in L.A. while being aggravated by the chemicals used in the hotel room to ‘clear the air’. At any rate, some bugs moved in, and I’m giving them an eviction notice.

So don’t be surprised if moderation is a bit slow or articles don’t come fast and furious. The last few days I’ve not slept well (coughing at night makes it hard to sleep) but after just the first dose of antibiotics I bagged 5 hours mid-day… So I’m likely to sleep more, do less, and only post something if I happen to be awake and feeling well. Even then, more likely to be a shortened version of what I usually do.

With that, we now return you to the daily insanity that is the product of the governments of the world and the ideologues that grasp after that power… Enjoy the show, since we sure can’t change the channel…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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37 Responses to Pneumonia

  1. adolfogiurfa says:

    You will be okay! There are several antibiotics which work quite well in that case. What bugs have you been breathing lately ? ( I do not mean those software bugs you know, of course)
    Excessive coughing may cause hyperventilation and fainting.

  2. BobN says:

    Only one thing to do — SHOTS & BEER!! (Taken as required)

  3. Yikes, feel better soon, and make sure those antibiotics actually get the job done. Walking pneumonia can be mean!

  4. Zeke says:

    I hope you get well soon!

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks! I will. I’ve had similar bronchitis like things in the past, and they have resolved on their own. This one was just not going as fast as I wanted (and the night fevers / coughing were getting to wear me down).


    Yup. Just ordinary bacteria cause it. Lots of choices. The antibiotic they have me on is already showing results (!) after all of 7 hours. Less coughing, less lung clog. Thinning ‘gunk’.


    I’ve known a lot of folks who can get better with things like “hot mulled rum” and “warm wine” and all. Not me. If I have a bacterial thing going on, any day drinking any amount of alcohol sets me back one to 2 days. I’ve tried it several times ;-) It’s a nearly instant reversal to getting sicker faster on even 2 glasses of wine… So I ‘go dry’ any time I’m remotely ill.


    Thanks! I generally get over most any infection “all on my own” anyway, but antibiotics can make things go a lot faster. This particular anitbiotic seems to be “big guns” and is already doing good things. 5 days total course, so they expect it to be ‘done quick’…

    I’m already feeling like breathing works better. ( Less labored, easier oxygenation)

  6. adrianvance says:

    Glad to hear you are not LYING on the floor as you are not equipped to make eggs unless things are very different in your part of California.

  7. Verity Jones says:

    Ugh. I’m all too familiar with what you are experiencing. I hope you feel better soon.

  8. omanuel says:

    Be careful, E.M, of pneumonia. It can be a killer.

    It took my father, when he was almost 97 but as spry as most men of 67.

    A close friend – who stood by me when all hell broke loose – died today of pneumonia at age 85.

    I will be traveling tomorrow, so I’ll leave the conclusion to Climategate for you to ponder:

    Conclusion: “We are connected physically and spiritually to the Creator, Destroyer and Sustainer of lives and worlds at the core of the Sun.”

    “Fear of that source of energy [1] persuaded world leaders to insert, on 24 Oct 1945, the UN between mankind and the Creator that endowed us with inalienable rights to establish governments to protect our Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    Now, E.M., lots of water, sunlight, bed-rest and vitamin C. I’ll check on you on Friday!

    1. Oliver K. Manuel, ”Neutron Repulsion”,
    The APEIRON Journal 19, 123-150 (2012):

  9. gregole says:


    Sick? What a drag! Get better soon.

    Have you been keeping up on your vitamin D? Get some of that good California sunshine and take some supplements. Check out the pros and cons of vitamin D…interesting stuff.

  10. John F. Hultquist says:

    Good news that you are getting better.
    It is said that having pneumonia is better than having a cold because something can be done about the pneumonia. I got a shot awhile back but how that relates to the “walking” type, I have no idea. It is a strange name in any case. Also, I’ve heard that once you have had it, it is more likely to come back than for a person that has never had it. My mother got it several times but was of an earlier generation with poor health care, so that’s not a good comparison.

    Meanwhile, in your honor, I’m sipping on a local craft beer. Cheers.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    “Walking Pneumonia” Means you are too tough to take it lying down. Yuk! I’ve done it several times, from different causes. The heavy duty antibiotics work well but will screw up your GI tract after 4 days of the treatment and sometimes connective tissue as well. Keep your temperature up with wraps or hot bath. At least you are not as dumb as I am and try to do field work while recovering. 8-) Not sure if computer stuff counts as work? Mite cause strained eyeballs or bowed fingers! If you got to the point of real respiratory distress, you were pushing your luck too far. Once you get pneumonia you become less resistant to it the next time due to scarring of the lung tissue and pulmonary dura , so be more careful to heed the warning symptoms. The world needs more “Wise Old Men”. pg

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian Vance:

    So, like to kick people when they are down, eh? ;-)

    OK, in my defense (other than just pointing out that symptom of mental impacts from the illness being one of the most common diagnostics):

    1. To cause to lie down: lay a child in its crib.
    a. To place in or bring to a particular position: lay the cloth over the painting.

    So “I’m not now ‘causing myself to lay down on the floor'” nor ‘bringing myself to be in the particular position of being on the floor’. Both pretty much what was my intent in what I said.

    3. Nonstandard To lie.
    5. Nautical To put oneself into the position indicated.

    Remember that I lived on a boat for a year+? That there are 3 generations of Sailor on Mums side? So I’ve not “put myself in the position indicated” on the floor. Exactly what I was saying. I also note in passing the nonstandard use. I’m very fond of non-standard use as it gores the ox of folks who are usage Nazis…

    Oh, and I have 700 years worth of “fellow travelers” in my usage…

    [Middle English leien, from Old English lecgan; see legh- in Indo-European roots.]

    Usage Note: Lay (“to put, place, or prepare”) and lie (“to recline or be situated”) have been confused for centuries; evidence exists that lay has been used to mean “lie” since the 1300s. Why? First, there are two lays. One is the base form of the verb lay, and the other is the past tense of lie. Second, lay was once used with a reflexive pronoun to mean “lie” and survives in the familiar line from the child’s prayer Now I lay me down to sleep; lay me down is easily shortened to lay down. Third, lay down, as in She lay down on the sofa sounds the same as laid down, as in I laid down the law to the kids. · Lay and lie are most easily distinguished by usage[…]There are a few exceptions to these rules. The phrasal verb lay for and the nautical use of lay, as in lay at anchor, though intransitive, are standard.

    So mostly I just use an implied object (me) and the transitive form. Get over it…


    Likely way short on D. It’s been cloudy and cold lately and I’ve been hibernating indoors. The spouse tends to S.A.D. and we have a “Lizard Lamp” for her, so I may take some time to sit under it myself.


    Why I was willing to ‘give it a week’ then run off to the Doctor and say “your problem”… As long as I’m clearly winning, I don’t worry. Once it is “off script”, I’m not bashful about getting an assessment and professional guidance. (Plus they have the drugs, so I can easily conclude “I need antibiotics” but still need to go to them to get it…)


    Well, I am already. (The particular antibiotic really is fast… Had a full dinner tonight and a long nap during the day. Coughing is slowing down while a thinner mucus is leaving the lungs without coughing so much as the cilia carry it out for ‘disposal’ with a minor swallow…)

    At this rate, I’m figuring 3 days to more or less normal again. Until then, it’s all bundle up, stay warm, drink tea and be happy. ( It raises some hormone levels that make you heal faster… so “don’t worry, be happy” is part of staying healthy… the opposite of the ‘fight or flight’ suppressing energy flow to healing and sending it to fighting / stress / winning…)

    So for all:

    Yes, I had the spouse get a tub of Vit-C about 5 days ago. I’m taking a couple of grams a day ( it does help, but more with viruses than bacteria) and I’ll take my time under the Lizard Lamp… and all the rest. But I’ve had more improvement in the 10 hours since I took the first (double sized loading dose) antibiotic pills than in the prior week. I looks like tonight will be my first good night sleep all the way through in about 10 days… so things are going well. Now.

  13. crosspatch says:

    I think this is generally going around the area. My son has been hacking with bronchitis for the past week and we live probably less than 15 miles apart. It’s going around through the schools here so everyone is likely carrying it.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F. Hultquist:

    Like P.G. said “Walking” just means you have the kind of attitude that says “Hey, I’ve got another leg, and it’s only a 2 mile walk… I can hop it…”… It is basically no different than the non-walking other than that the person in question is a tough old bird. My Mechanic had it last year. Went to a doctor who didn’t believe him and he had to badger them into taking an X-ray. After all, here was this guy who picks up car engines and moves them around for a living… just walking in. Now he makes me look skinny and I’m near 100 kg. I place him at about 300 lbs and about the same height. His arms are about the size of my legs… So him saying “I can’t pick up a 200 lb engine, I can only walk in and jump up on your table” is ‘a big deal’… He delighted in telling us how he only got 1/2 way home when a panicked Dr. hit his cell phone saying ‘get back here now’ and started immediate antibiotics. Turns out the X-Ray was convincing ;-)

    So I’m “walking around” fine. Don’t think I could run a block if I had to, and clearly my blood gasses were off (unless I deliberately did ‘over breathing’) but I don’t let that stop me.

    It isn’t so much that something changes in you to make a repeat more likely, as that there is a bug out there that you were not able to kill off. So until you develop that immune response, there is a risk of it returning. Also, as you age your immune response gets lessened. Eventually it just isn’t enough on its own to beat some bugs. Pneumonia being only one class of ‘that issue’.


    Not to the point of real respiratory distress, just minor difficulty unless I breathed more (mostly due to physical occlusion of the mucus). Not a ‘scarring’ issue as no bloody streaking. (Not willing to let things go that far…) More a matter of “not winning fast enough” than of “losing the battle”.

    I’ve had the “G.I. Screw Up” from antibiotics several times and learned (at about 20?) how to fix it. We have lactobacillus acidophilus capsules in inventory. Once the antibiotics run out, I usually do a few days of ‘very live’ yogurt varieties and some ‘ripe’ cheeses ;-) Oh, and kiss the spouse a lot ;-) I’ve also been known to pull a radish or carrot from the dirt, barely rinse off the big chunks, and eat it; just to get the ‘variety bugs’ that are not in the yogurt ;-)

    (There is an advantage to occasionally eating a bit of dirt. There is even a medical condition for folks who tend to do it compulsively. The theory is that it is a mineral deficiency that pushes folks to do it.)

    FWIW, also, one of THE major causes of death of bunnies is a ‘screwed up microflora in the gut’. They are critically dependent on it for vitamins and for fermentation (hind gut fermenters) so I’m probably more ‘in tune’ with that whole thing than just about anybody who does not have rabbits… In a real pinch I could just go play with the bunny and try for some ‘bunny licks’ ;-)

    At any rate, I like playing in the dirt in the yard, so I’m unlikely to stay ‘bacteria deprived’ for long… ;-)

    BTW, the antibiotic in question does not list connective tissue issues as one of the things to watch for. (It does list GI issues, some pretty strong). It is Azithromycin (for anyone terminally curious ;-) A drug I’d not heard of before, but that looks to be widely used, it’s a substitution on erythromycin. Has a long residence time and slow excretion, so a few doses last a long time.

    FWIW, I’m going to add yogurt about day 3 as a partial protection against too much of a gut bugs screwup.

  15. Power Grab says:

    AFAIK, I never had pneumonia. But most of my life I have had winter coughs that tended to wake up my dad in the next room. He used to wake me up and give me a spoon of foul tasting stuff from a bottle with no label. I had to take tiny sips and swish them in my mouth before swallowing. It took several minutes to get the dose down. Found out as a teenager that it was whiskey and honey. I was amazed. I had never seen alcohol in our house and thought my folks were teatotallers. I found out years later that both my grandfathers were alcoholics. Anyway, my dad knew what was in our homemade cough syrup, but wasn’t so sure about commercial products. He also would have me sleep on my tummy with my pillow under me. That would turn off the cough like flipping a switch.

    This winter I have had no cough. This summer I began swishing my cod liver oil like mouthwash before swallowing it, right before bed. Seems to have made a big difference.

  16. KI says:

    Yikes! Hope you feel better soon.
    Yogurt is not enough…At least when I went on the last batch of antibiotics my doctor told me to take a 10 billion probiotic pill 1x per day to help restore the old intestinal balance. That seemed to help alot.

  17. As far as I know, I’ve had antibiotics 3 times in my life – most things pass without need for them. It’s important, though, that if you do take them that the bug is 100% killed by it – don’t want to allow propagation of any antibiotic-resistant variety. I’ve seen reports that you can buy antibiotics on the net (no prescription needed, though the potency and provenance of such medicines may be a bit suspect) and that intensively-farmed animals are routinely fed antibiotics to make them grow faster – both these practices may lead to insufficient dosage to fully kill the pathogens and thus produce resistant bugs.

    When Penicillin was first used, I’ve read that other doctors tried using it and found it miraculous, but some doctors cut the dosage and length of the course (maybe it was relatively expensive?) and found that the infection came back stronger. Penicillin is now mostly not used because too many bugs are resistant to it. Maybe after a few decades of non-use it will again become useful, as the resistance to it is lost by non-use.

    EM, I hope the recovery continues. Getting the guts back working again, too. Seems like a while in the sun may be good; it’s nice and warm in Australia at the moment.

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, so far the “gut bacteria” problem is only a hypothetical. No symptoms of anything yet. (But I’m prepared!)

    Yes, antibiotic resistance is an issue (but one way to long for comments… use in cattle and other farm animals being way over done). This one already has a couple of resistant bugs in the list, but not the ones bothering me.

    Already breathing easier. (But not sleeping yet… my ‘nap’ has caused me to not be very sleepy…)

    In the beginning, penicillin and related were not well understood, so some experimentation was needed to find the bounds. It was also hand grown in flasks, so expensive. There is now a formal search for new base materials, so we will likely have some kinds of working antibiotics for decades to come. Even a few brand new approaches. So I’m not too worried. Still, we ought to be more careful with how they are used…


    Don’t even get me started on socialized medicine… it killed my uncle…


    Well, there are times when “not being too clean” is a feature… so I’ve been able to pick up enough bugs pretty easily. I’ve done antibiotics a few dozen times and have the process pretty well down pat.


    Lucky you… My Dad made me swallow Vicks Vapo-Rub. I’d claim to feel better just so I’d not have to swallow more!

    Laying on the tummy helps the cough a lot. I’m sitting up right now due to laying on my back causing a round of coughing…

  19. Chuck L says:

    Feel better! I find that ginger/licorice tea with lemon and honey helpful when I have a (for me, pretty rare) respiratory infection.

  20. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. P.G. says: The heavy duty antibiotics work well but will screw up your GI tract after 4 days of the treatment ..Doctors use to forget this side effect but it can be compensated by taking a daily yoghurt (of the kind with living lacto-bacyllus) every morning before breakfast.

  21. philjourdan says:

    @p.g.sharrow says: 7 February 2013 at 4:26 am Re: ““Walking Pneumonia” Means you are too tough to take it lying down. Yuk! ”

    My sentiments exactly,. But then I would expect nothing else from EM.

    Some of us just do not have time for the lay down variety of sickness.

  22. Power Grab says:

    The problems caused by messing up the gut flora are not limited to the obvious (cramps, diarrhea, ADHD, etc.) They are starting to see a connection between messed-up gut flora and food allergies. Here is a recent article:

    Long story short, my wheat/gluten/? allergy is not giving me problems anymore, since (1) I gave myself a six-week course of using Yakult probiotic and avoiding wheat and (2) started avoiding tap water. Spring water and well water are working fine.

    The article above talks about dichlorophenol, but when I called the folks who process the water for my town and school, they talked about chloramine. Two years ago (when I started really noticing problems with wheat foods and decided to adjust my eating habits to minimize wheat intake) was when my school switched from chlorine to chloramine. It doesn’t kill germs as fast as chlorine, but it stays in the water pretty much forever unless you really are willing to invest in $$$ and time and infrastructure to get rid of it. It won’t gas out. It won’t boil out. You can’t neutralize it with salt. It will kill your koi. It can’t be used in kidney dialysis because it’s deadly.

    The dichlorophenol? Think 2,4-D, the weed killer used so much on wheat. I know for a fact that my ex used it on his wheat. Also think Triclosan, the antibiotic in so much hand soap and other things.

    What if you have chloramine in your water and eat 2,4-D-contaminated wheat? Well, they say chloramine and dichlorophenol combine to make chloroform (a carcinogen). And when the body metabolizes it, you get phosgene.

    Forgive me if I’ve already done the brain dump on this subject before.

    Oh, my sibling who works at the water treatment plant LIKES chloramine. Says it makes them feel better about breaks in the water lines, because it will continue to kill germs even if contamination gets into the water. /eye roll/

    One more thing, the guy who runs the water treatment plant for my town says he, personally, uses well water. ;-D

  23. Steve C says:

    Ouch … I would say ‘you’re welcome to that’, but as somebody who routinely gets every throat and/or lung problem that’s going round, I wouldn’t wish one on anyone, they’re miserable things. You might appreciate the thought of something a pal of mine told me about, from his days on the ‘hippy trail’, though. Apparently, on one of his trips, a local pharmacy sold him what he reckons were tabs delivering something like 2 GRAMS of antibiotic per single monster tab. Apparently, you feel completely spaced out for a couple of days (on an antibiotic?!), then ‘whatever it was’ is gone and you start frantically trying to restore your inner ecology from scratch. They just don’t *do* medicines like that in our soft Western societies!

    Best of luck with it, anyhow. At least you’ve got the sense to complete the course of antibiotics, which is more than a lot of people seem to have.

  24. tckev says:

    Sorry to hear of your illness, get well soon.

  25. @SteveC, some antibiotics cause some people to feel drugged up. No one in my maternal family, not cousins, not nephews, nor me, can tolerate erythromycin. Does weird things to us. This made it complicated when I had pneumonia last; doctors wanted to give me large doses of erythromycin for it because it was the best for the job, and I told them that, no lie, erythromycin made me feel worse than the pneumonia. And I had four cracked ribs from coughing and eventually needed IV antibiotics, to give an idea of how bad I felt! It’s easier (though inaccurate) to tell doctors that one is allergic; they believe it more often and watch out for related antibiotics that might cause a bad reaction as well.

    Since I went to a mandatory meeting to get a job as a substitute teacher with the IV still in and looking like death warmed over, I think the description “walking” pneumonia counts, though I thought it was reserved for pneumonias caused by mycobacteria.

  26. DirkH says:

    Steve C says:
    7 February 2013 at 5:26 pm
    “You might appreciate the thought of something a pal of mine told me about, from his days on the ‘hippy trail’, though. Apparently, on one of his trips, a local pharmacy sold him what he reckons were tabs delivering something like 2 GRAMS of antibiotic per single monster tab.”

    Sounds like tablets for cattle. Guess they make a better cut when selling to hippy tourists.

  27. DirkH says:

    Power Grab says:
    7 February 2013 at 1:55 pm
    “What if you have chloramine in your water and eat 2,4-D-contaminated wheat? Well, they say chloramine and dichlorophenol combine to make chloroform (a carcinogen). And when the body metabolizes it, you get phosgene.”

    Thank you, very interesting! Reminds me of a Penn & Teller episode where they conclusively “showed” that bottled water is a rip-off – not the first time they have been egregiously wrong… and even without knowing the chloramine link I cringed when I watched it.

  28. Steve C says:

    @princessartemis – Sorry if I sounded a bit flip about those monster tabs, but my friend was one of those people who normally have no problems taking anything, hemce the glee with which he told me about it. I do appreciate that there are people sensitive to … well, almost anything, given the unknown quantities of all sorts of stuff in our environment and the fact that we’re still only talking about ‘tuning’ meds to the patient’s individual biochemistry. BTW, did you get that job?

    @DirkH – A better cut when selling to hippy tourists? What an uncharitable thought! And one that occurred to me … ;-)

  29. Espen says:

    Get well soon! But it’s a good sign when the antibiotics start working immediately. I had a strange pneumonia some years ago where that didn’t happen, but a second try with a “kill all” broad spectrum antibiotic removed it quickly. The doctor was a wannabe researcher, and was extremely frustrated that he never found out which germs I actually had in my lungs :-) (it was none of the standard bacteria and also not mycoplasma)

  30. Jeff Alberts says:

    Is that anything like Waltzing Matilda? ;)

  31. adolfogiurfa says:

    @princessartemis : Erytromycin is sensational for respiratory apparatus infections, it is one of the “natural” antibiotics, being fungi. Some synthetic ones do not work like the few natural ones.

  32. GAI says:

    Sorry to hear you are down with walking pneumonia. I am glad others mentioned the yogurt.

    I second the comment of be careful you will probably be more likely to get respiratory infections after a bout. BTDT.

    I am not happy to here something is making the rounds. Hubby has had laryngitis and a cough for several days and I just woke up because of a cough and sore throat.

  33. @SteveC, no worries. Given how difficult it can be to convince doctors that erythromycin makes me feel like a drugged up space cadet, sometimes I try too hard :) And yes, I did get the job. The mandatory meeting didn’t turn out to be so mandatory that they couldn’t just hand me the notes and send me home.

    @adolfo, yeah, I know it’s the best for that and why, it’s just not something I would willingly tolerate. Maybe if it was quite literally a choice between erythromycin and death. Otherwise, not touching the stuff.

  34. M Simon says:

    My experience is that if you have time for it to work massive doses of Vitamin C (4 grams an hour) is excellent. The effect takes about 3 days to fully kick in. And about a week before you can cut back.


    And as long as we are on medicine:

    Medical Marijuana prohibition is a crime against humanity and a violation of the religious precept – heal the sick.

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    @M. Simon:

    Anything over a few grams a day is just peed out rather quickly. I’ve generally found that about 10 grams a day is the upper limit. (For many folks, they develop overdose symptoms before that, which, IIRC, is mostly just ‘loose stools’…) But yes, I used ‘several gram’ a day doses of Vit. C.

    My only issue with Marijuana is that it clouds memory (or weeks to months depending on total dose consumed. Even one light evening can screw up the next couple of days) and leads to poor mental function. Not a problem if you shovel gravel for a living, very big problem for me.

    Basically, I don’t like being stupid and it makes me a bit more stupid. A little more every day for as long as it is used, and taking a couple of days to a few days to recover every one day of loss. Not a good deal, IMHO. (Other folks may not have that issue.)


    I seem to be mostly over it all now. Only remaining “symptom” is a bit of sensitivity to anything in the air and a tendency to make mucus in the lungs then and have it slowly leave over the next day. Cilia hauling it up the throat, not coughing. Just a lot of ‘throat clearing’…

    Energy still a bit low, but not bad, and coming up daily to near normal. Still want to sleep a lot, though… I think I’ve gotten lazy ;-)

  36. EM – sounds like what you need now is a good dose of walking in the sun (or in a hammock in the sun with a good book). Any sun around at the moment?

    Although I never noticed any slowing of mental capacity with marijuana around 40 years ago, could be it was the older (maybe less problematical) variety at the time. Could be I’d notice it more now, being both more aware and having less capacity to play with. I don’t doubt that for some people it can be very useful, though, and much safer than prescription drugs. Hemp in general has a lot of benefits/uses – seems like a shot in the foot to ban it.

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