Tracie Cone has always been a trailblazer. This award-winning journalist is the former California Newspaper Executive of the Year. She shares a Pulitzer Prize with fellow staff members at the Miami Herald for coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and has twice been nominated individually. She has focused her writing on helping the underdog and empowering those without a strong voice of their own. Now she takes us on the fight of her life.
Contact Tracie

It’s Not Pneumonia, But What?

Finally I feel well enough to report more fully what has been going on.

Chemo, as I said earlier, does not go lightly. The final tough round I couldn’t wait to end was prolonged by raging fever and severe body aches worse than any flu.

On Sunday my temperature rose quickly from near 100 to 101.5. At 100.4 my oncologists instructed me to get to the nearest ER. Having tried that before in Fresno and been told to get in line behind 100 other coughing, bleeding people, we opted for urgent care instead.

On the bright side, there was no wait at this office on the second floor of a commercial building. On the down side, we now know why.

When it came time to test my urine for a possible bladder infection (the reason for only two other temp spikes), the nurse handed me a cup and said “go down to the restroom by the elevator.”

“Are you serious?” I asked, unable to believe in my feverish state that there was no restroom in the office. “That’s so bush.”

Obviously I did not endear myself to them. I told the doctor about pains in my lungs when I breathed deep. He listened quickly to my lungs, and by quickly I mean all of 10 seconds in three places, never even asking me to breath. At least I got the prescriptions I told him I needed (ones I had had before).

On Monday my medical team at Stanford wanted me to go to my primary care for a better exam. They listened to my lungs, thought they heard something, gave me a breathing treatment and prescribed a chest XRay, which I immediately went to have at St. Agnes Hosptial.

By now it’s 4:30 and I’m back home. I called Stanford and reported my progress.

“What about the blood work?” asked Sylvia the triage nurse.

Uh oh, nobody did blood work.

Sylvia ordered me to the ER because my team feared I could have no white blood cells or ability to fight whatever infection could be causing my temperature. Pneumonia was a possibility. If I showed low levels, I would be admitted for IV antibiotics.

I spent the next 8 hours there, first waiting in the car to avoid sick people, then stashed in a hallway in the bed I refused to give up once I got it. Lots of tests, lots of waiting.

When the blood tests and X-Ray cleared me of pneumonia, the nice ER doctor said I might have a blood cot. He ordered a CT Scan. It showed no obvious clots, but perhaps one at the end of my port tube (my favorite thing). So I left knowing less than when I arrived.

So, what’s wrong with me? Why do my lungs hurt? Why did my temperature spike? Dr. Nice says it might be tracheal bronchitis, which is better than pneumonia by a long shot.

The bottom line is I feel a little better today. Lethargic but not achy.

In this process measured by baby steps, I’ll take it.

3 Responses to “It’s Not Pneumonia, But What?”

  • alejandro:

    Tracie- I wish… I do really, really wish… I could switch places… for at least a few minutes/hours… but all I can realistically offer my empathy and that it pains me to read your “low” days. Godspeed.

  • maria:

    whew!!! glad to hear it is not pnuemonia :) but what an ordeal you had to go through! poor thing….I’m just glad your Stanford team are there to make sure that everything is thoroughly checked. Hope your temp goes down and you feel better with each day that goes by.


  • Bryan:

    Warrior Tracie, whatever is causing this reaction is fleeting. Your body has been bombarded with (life-giving) toxins for months now. In my experience, two out of four grandparents, it’s always darkest before the dawn. You’ll beat this shit, I know it. Big love from me and Jon

Leave a Reply

Meet Tracie
Copyright 2010 by Tracie Cone. All rights reserved.