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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

What I've Learned Walking with Pneumonia

Robert Manni - Thursday, September 14, 2017


I was working on post about losing ten pounds in ten days naturally when I realized there was a problem.

I was finishing up my weekly eight-mile run when I tripped and fell headfirst on the boardwalk in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. This was unlike me. I rarely lose my balance, but it was the second time in a month that I fell down at the end of my run. I thought about it as I walked along the beach towards my cooling off dip in the ocean. For some reason today the water and breeze was cold. After my swim I did a little energy work while standing on the shoreline. I breathed slowly as I ran energy into my left hand, throughout my body and finally out my right hand into my crown. I felt chilled as I walked to my beach house, now recalling how my runs had been shorter than usual over the past month and how rare it was for me to trip and fall twice during that time. Something was wrong.

That afternoon the cough I had been experiencing over the past week became more persistent. And that night I felt cold as I hacked while propped up in bed like Doc Holliday. I woke up in the middle of the night cold, yet drenched in sweat and feeling awful. Yep, something was wrong. We stayed at the beach for one more day, but I felt like crap, experiencing more coughs, a hot forehead and loss of appetite. Over the past few weeks I’d begun cleaning up my diet and stopped drinking alcohol. I was steadily losing weight and assumed my body was going through machinations of a detoxification program. But, this was something more. I paid close attention to my body. It told me to get back to New York. So I did, but I was still not well. No matter how much I took it easy I maintained a fever, a now brutal and persistent cough that gave a vicious headache. It was so severe I felt like I was in the NFL concussion protocol. Whatever was happening to me was far more than a few side effects from a detox. I was sick and now I unsure if I could work my way through whatever it was that had taken hold of me.

When we returned to the city I spent the next few days climbing in and out of bed with the same, now escalating, symptoms. I foolishly maintained hope that I could regain my health this way, but my symptoms continued getting worse. Finally I contacted my doctor, but had to wait two endless days for an appointment. The afternoon I headed off to the doctor’s office I was a mess. I stumbled along the streets of Manhattan, couching and wheezing uncontrollably. After discussing the situation with my doctor, he checked me out, took my temperature (I had a fever) and ordered a chest x-ray. A few hours later to my surprise I found out that I had a case of walking pneumonia. WTF!

Thankfully, now I knew what I was facing. Armed with prescriptions for two antibiotics, I began taking the meds immediately. Pneumonia is a bacterial infection of the lungs. It’s not something that your body can easily seek and destroy. In this case meds were necessary. It’s been close to a week now since I was diagnosed and started the meds and each day I have experienced a major improvement. I did not stay in bed all day. I cut back on my schedule and did a modified version of my usual routine and activities at a slower pace. Nothing matters when you are really sick except getting well. It really puts your priorities in order. So, I had no booze, no exercise, no big meals, etc. I began sleeping better and after five days stopped waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat on cool damp sheets. I dialed things down and kept it simple and as a result am slowly, but steadily getting better. I’ll finish the meds in another few days and go for a follow up x-ray next month. Things are looking good so I thought I would share what I have learned from the experience, Guy’s Guy style.

1. Don’t be a hero - If you are like me and live a holistic lifestyle, you make good choices in your diet, and for your mental and spiritual well being. That keeps me healthy naturally and aids life extension. But, random things happen and you can get sick at any time. My surprise bout with walking pneumonia is a prime example of how no matter how well we take care of ourselves, shit can still happen. I live in a big dirty city and I take the filthy subway almost every day. Maybe some random person coughed in my direction or sneezed on the subway car handle I was holding. Airborne bacteria is everywhere in this dirty town. I was very healthy yet I contracted pneumonia.

While I was feeling like death that week I asked my guides for help and I got it. I realized I needed to see a doctor and get some good old western medicine and drugs. I waited too long, but eventually I came around and got checked out before thing got worse. Now I am on the mend. Regardless of my steadfast belief in prevention as the best defense against illness, I made the right decision to see the doctor and take the meds. There’s a reason that people died at thirty-five a hundred years ago.

 

2. Take time to heal – After I fell on the boardwalk for the second time I knew something was wrong. Upon circumspection it registered in my mind that my daily ritual of 75 push-ups, my runs and my cardio workouts had been tougher than usual during August. I chalked it up to age, but now I know it was something else. Once that reality kicked in, I shut down all physical activities until I get back to my usual robust health. I have been working out consistently for decades so the break will do me good. When I return to them hard work I will be recharged and I’ll take it slow until I reach my usual peak level of boomer fitness. One step at a time. amigo.

 

3. Consider the spiritual meaning of your illness - Believe it or not, there is a strong connection between your spiritual and emotional states and your health. The root of sickness transcends the physical body. Each time I’ve contracted a serious illness I’ve checked out a few websites and books that explain the connection between specific issues and their manifestations in the physical body.  Apparently pneumonia is a result of unresolved emotional issues and some underlying feelings of desperation. I have been working diligently to raise my frequency, and it is no easy task in our crazy world, especially since I’ve taken the leap and pointed my career in an entirely new direction after decades on the corporate track with well-paying jobs. I have a wife and a kid now too, so at times the pressure feels stifling. Nevertheless, I will persevere and create the life of service that I have chosen to experience.

 

4. Use your down time to make changes – I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick, I’m not that hungry. My usual daily intake consists of homemade soups and lots of water and organic tea. After a week of this diet, I hopped on the scale and had lost five pounds. Yay! I cut out junk, booze, pizza and ice cream and am sticking with fresh fruits, organic smoothies and maybe some fish or a light snack for dinner. Pretty soon I had lost twelve unwanted pounds. So, instead sitting back and taking it on the chin all day and night, I found a way to be creative and get something out of being sick. It’s not always easy when you fell like shit, but it can be done.

 

5. Ask for help. Show gratitude – The day after my diagnosis, I knew I had to acknowledge, thank and love my pneumonia before asking it to leave me. It might sound crazy, but love works better than engaging in battling an illness. Illnesses are signals from your body and spirit that something is wrong and it needs to be addressed.  I’m not suggesting that you allow an autoimmune illness eat away your body. What I am suggesting is to recognize that something is wrong, showing love for the illness (yes, I now it sounds crazy but it works), and then thank it and ask it to leave.

This is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned about health and it has always worked for me. And it’s a practice that ninety-nine percent of people ignore. We are trained to “fight” our enemies instead of loving and learning from them before releasing them. If you consider yourself spiritual or a follower of a major religion, love is a core component of their foundation, and that includes love for your enemy. It does not mean that you don’t defend yourself. No, it means you recognize the divinity in every person and everything your encounter in this life. Only then you can release it from your realm and send it back to God or the Universe or whatever you believe is out there. Love your sickness, look for the teaching, and ask it to leave.

Am I one hundred percent better now? Not yet, but I’m on a steady path back to health. I no longer have a fever, night sweats, chills, and that ceaseless hacking cough. And I am breathing a lot better. Who gets the opportunity to appreciate something as easy to overlook as breathing? I did, and now I’m more thankful than ever for each and every breath I take.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is yours truly. Looking beyond the fevers, chills, unbearable bouts of coughing, intense headaches, and shortness of breath, I’ve learned so much from my bout with walking pneumonia. I learned about my body, my faith and spiritual developmental needs, and how to blend an eastern-based preventive lifestyle with the technology of western medicine as necessary. I am on the fast track to recovery and thankfully my family has been supportive and thankfully they have remained healthy. Who would have thought I could learn so much from a random bout of pneumonia?
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