By Larry ShortThis Saturday (Nov. 12) is World Pneumonia Day. I thought I would share the story of my own brush with this global killer of children, and also share this great, short educational video made by the people who sponsor World Pneumonia Day:
I would encourage you to share it with your friends. And if you would like to get more involved in fighting this killer disease, you can do the following:
- Read my factsheet on pneumonia
- Lend your voice to advocate for an end to preventable childhood diseases
- Donate to World Vision's "Child Health Now" campaign
I remember one cool morning, standing in the tack barn, and thinking, "I just don't feel right? What is wrong with me?" I felt weak, and feverish, and had a nagging cough.
I went in and went to bed. My mom took my temp and called the school to tell them I wouldn't make it.
Over the next few days the hacking cough turned much worse, and the fever wouldn't break. I could barely drag myself out of bed. Soon my lungs were so full of fluid I was struggling to catch a breath.
My mom bundled me into the Ford Fairlane 500 and we were off to see the family doctor. He took one listen and immediately sent me to get my lungs x-rayed. Afterward there was a hurried, hushed consultation with my mom. When she spoke with me, I recall how frightened she looked. "They are saying you have pneumonia," she told me, "and they want you in the hospital -- now." She didn't even take me home; indeed we went straight from there to Circle City Hospital in Corona.
The next two weeks in the hospital were a blur. I remember lots of antibiotics, needles, an oxygen tent (which spewed cold, medicated mist) and a very unpleasant roommate whose normal home was the juvenile detention center. (He would sneak out of his bed when the nurses weren't looking and come over and slug me. When I complained, the head nurse came in and lectured us both sternly on how we were making life hard for the nurses by arguing.)
But at least that provided a great motivation for getting better and getting out of there as quickly as I possibly could.
I survived my pneumonia (as did several other members of my family, including my mom, who came down with it after I did). My wife Darlene (whom I didn't know at the time, of course) has also survived a bout with pneumonia. So we are grateful for all the options we have, as middle-class Americans, for getting care when we are very sick.
But there are millions of children throughout the world who aren't so lucky. Millions are malnourished, which means they don't have the strength in themselves to fight off killers like pneumonia. And their families (if they have families) can't afford, or don't have access to, the medicines and the technologies they need when they are in a crisis like the one I was in, when I was in the 7th grade.
So I'm grateful for World Pneumonia Day, and hopeful that we can all pull together to give that many more kids a fighting chance against this deadly disease.