Goodpastures Syndrome

Too close for comfort - a near-fatal encounter, told by the patient

6. Diagnosis Pneumonia- Closer to Goodpastures Syndrome

(This is a true account of my experience with Goodpastures Syndrome, but a few people’s names have been changed, indicated by *.  My aim in writing this is threefold; first, that victims and families of people suffering from Goodpastures Syndrome can have some knowledge of what to expect in a serious event but also to show that Goodpastures is survivable, even in a case like mine; second, it would do no harm for physicians treating Goodpastures Syndrome or other devastating diseases, not to mention GP’s prescribing medication to patients, to read this as there are lessons here for some of them; lastly I am trying to exorcise the psychological after-effects of my experience with Goodpastures Syndrome).

Mosenthal was the pneumonia ward of the Provincial Hospital and was located in the older part of the complex, a large, high-ceilinged ward with a long row of beds down each side filled with people coughing their lungs up. Not a cheering environment. The first (of a very great number of) X-rays confirmed pneumonia in both lungs and for the first time I saw the snowflake appearance on the plates.

At this point I was in a state of shock. What had I done to catch pneumonia? I was not, however, too worried as I believed that the disease was no longer the great killer it once was except where the patient was enfeebled by age or where the pneumonia was a complication of another problem. Now that I had been properly diagnosed and was in hospital receiving the full treatment and under the care of a lung specialist, Dr L. Krige, I confidently expected to start getting better.

This was not to be the case. Over the next days my coughing kept me awake day and night and added to the fatigue. I was also finding it harder to think straight.  Twice I pulled the alarm cord in the bathroom in mistake for the light cord, creating a rush of nurses. I began to feel myself a nuisance above the average.

By way of variety, I was visited one evening by one of our Superintendents. He asked me if I would like prayers said for me. Actually I could not have cared less but, knowing him to be religious and under the impression that he would have prayers said in his church, I nodded. Whereupon to my horror he knelt down on one knee, spread wide his arms and at the top of his voice shouted “Oh God!” thereby immediately rivetting the attention of every patient and visitor in the ward. He then proceeded to state, at the top of his voice, that he knew God was going to make me better because he was praying for me. Alas, this was also not to be the case and he never visited me again.

Alan Stott, as my immediate superior and a workaholic with no apparent home life, visited me at regular intervals throughout my stay in hospital. So, somewhat to my surprise, did Sam and Estelle van den Berg. Sam was a fellow Senior Superintendent in the Sam and Estelle van den Berg in 2011department and Estelle was a secretary there. Sam was from South West Africa and had come to Port Elizabeth the year before me and must have found the change quite dramatic because, compared with South West where only Afrikaans and German were heard, in Port Elizabeth, despite a good mix of English and Afrikaans people, most business is conducted in English. We agreed to help each other with our respective languages and found we had a number of interests in common and so formed the beginnings of a friendship. These two kind souls visited me, on average, about every other day of my four months in hospital, at enormous inconvenience to themselves.

My medical file at this stage is dotted with records of my responses such as “I feel awful, I never closed my eyes during the night”.



Diagnosis Pneumonia- Closer to Goodpastures Syndrome             copyright 2011 Richard Binstead Goodpasture's Syndrome

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