April 30, 2009
By Bryce Jenson BRONZE, Elkhorn, Wisconsin
Bryce Jenson BRONZE, Elkhorn, Wisconsin
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I will never forget the time I had pneumonia. It was a horrible experience. One morning, I woke up at 4:30am with a temperature of 103.6 degrees. My mom called a clinic and they just said it was the flu and to give me Tylenol. After that I started to have horrible chest pain. I went to the emergency room at Lakeland Hospital to get x-rays. The doctor still said it was just the flu. The next few days I was in so much pain that I couldn’t stand up. We went back to the hospital to get x-rays, but this time they said that I had “significant” pneumonia in my left lung.

Pneumonia is a disease when fluid fills your lungs. I had to stay in the hospital. I got an IV put into my arm so that they could give me antibiotics and a liquid that kept me from getting dehydrated because I wasn’t eating or drinking anything. After a few days I was getting worse and it was getting harder for me to breathe. They had to give me Tylenol and something else because I was in so much pain. They actually had to put me on a type of steroids to open my airways so that I could breathe better. I was still in a lot of pain and it was getting worse.

My parents made the decision to have me transported to Children’s Hospital by ambulance. My mom, a doctor, a nurse, a driver, and a respiratory technician were all in the ambulance. I don’t remember much in the ambulance. We arrived at Children’s Hospital, but I started to eat less and less. Later, I needed to get a pick line surgically put into me, about an inch above my heart so that the doctors could draw blood easier.

A lot of my friends and family came to see me. I also made friends with a lot of the doctors and nurses. One was “smiley” nurse, Katie. We called her that because she was always happy and smiling. She watched SpongeBob with me when she could. There was also “want to be” doctor Steve. He wasn’t quite a doctor, but he wanted to be. One of my favorite things was to play with coins. Steve gave me a lot of cool coins.

My left lung was full of infectious fluid that we needed to get out. All of the fluid actually pushed my heart over to the right side of my chest. I had to have surgery done so they put me to sleep. I went into surgery and they put a tube in my lung to suck out the fluid. The first one they put in wasn’t draining anything. So they had to take it out and put in a different one. The second one was put in to close to my diaphragm so they had to put in a different one. The third one was draining well, but it stopped after a while, so they had to put in one more. These all took place during separate surgeries. The tube was attached to a big machine on wheels that held the fluid that came out of my lung. I remember that whenever I coughed a big blob of brown goop came out of my lung, through the tube, and into the machine. I had to go for daily walks through the hospital to keep up my strength. When we walked the chest tube sometimes dragged on the floor. Sometimes my mom would accidentally step on them. It felt like she was ripping out my lung.

The antibiotics they had me on weren’t working so they put me on the strongest antibiotics they had. It helped, but it killed all of my white blood cells. So they had to put me on something to bring up my white blood cell count.

It got pretty boring in the hospital, but I found things to do. One thing I liked was to go to the game room and play pool. I also loved to go up to the 7th floor to see the Flight For Life helicopter take off and land. I would also collect change and coins and play with them. I remember at Easter there was an Easter egg hunt and I found nearly every egg.

One of the doctors said the chest tube was draining to slowly so he wanted to cut me down the middle of my chest, break my ribs, cut open my lung, and remove the fluid. Of course, my parents said no. Eventually, the tubes worked and sucked it all out. I was so happy when they finally took me off of the machine.

When we finally left it was the first day I had been outside in 26 days. I was finally home. A nurse had to come to my house to remove the pick line (the tube going in right above my heart.) It was stitched on, but since it was in so long, my skin had formed over it. The nurse just took a scissors and cut the skin away. I was screaming because it hurt so badly. Then she just yanked out the tiny tube. I had to go in for three weekly blood tests. My mom kept a notebook or my hospital experience. That’s where I got some of my information. One line struck me. It said: “Coco didn’t like it that we shut Bryce’s door when he went to bed. She seems to fear he’ll disappear again.” (Coco is my dog.) After about a week and a half I got to go back to kindergarten. I was 5 at the time. The doctors said if I had been older I would have died. All in all, I know how lucky I am to be alive.

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