I had pneumonia a few weeks back. It happened so quickly. One day I had a fever. The next I had what felt like a cold– runny nose, sore ears, a bit of a cough.
I woke up on the third morning with my chest feeling tight and my skin burning up in an attempt to fight off this bug. Breathing in, I could hear tiny popping, crackling sounds in the bottom of my left lung. I could feel it too– a low, weighted pain that I was sure would be exceedingly, achingly heavy by sunset that day.
So I went the doctor. I drove the fifteen kilometers to the surgery in my car, of course. I waited for ten minutes, saw a well educated general practitioner for another ten minutes, signed a form so the cost of the treatment would be covered by the government system that I whinge about a lot. I waited ten more minutes to have my script filled– three huge tablets that cost me $5.60, and worked within 24 hours. That afternoon I traveled another fifteen kilometers– again, in my car, air conditioned comfort that I completely take for granted– and had a chest x-ray performed, again with no cash exchanged, and the results had been emailed to the GP who originally saw me within the next few hours.
Three days later and, apart from a slight lingering cough, you wouldn’t be able to tell I was sick at all.
Now watch this.
Children die from this. Millions of them. Millions. Mothers have to hold their babies and watch the skin around their ribs suck in as they desperately try to force oxygen into lungs filled more with liquid than air. Parents have to hold their babies as they take their last breaths, ever, watching the pallid pain in their faces as the simple act of breathing becomes, psychically, just too much to do.
There was a baby who had a fever for five months. A fever for five months.
My kids have a fever, I buy a bottle of Nurofen over the counter for twelve bucks and we’re done.
I contracted an illness that was once called the ‘henchman of death’ and wasn’t even worried. My only reaction was a slightly baffled “Do people even still get pneumonia?”
Ummm, yes, Lori, they really do. And there are millions of mothers weeping for babies that couldn’t keep enough oxygen in their body to live. Because the nearest medical treatment is a fifteen kilometer walk away that their child may not survive. And when they get there, they might not have the money to pay for treatment anyway. (In case you’re wondering, treating a child for pneumonia in the Third World adds up to about seventeen bucks. Yes, that’s right. Seventeen freaking dollars.). And the medical staff they end up seeing may not have a clue what they’re doing, may have no idea how to treat something so very simple as pneumonia.
And I got a script for mass produced drugs, had it paid for as a number in the system, and didn’t even fucking think about it again.
Dead husband? Big fucking deal. There are plenty of women in Bangladesh with dead husbands, too. And they still have to walk fifteen kilometers for inadequate medical care.
My own sense of privilege and entitlement smacks me in the face sometimes. And it makes me feel like every bit the stupid, arrogant white woman I just don’t want to be… but I’m born into it.
If I happen to have made you feel like an over privileged western arse-hat too… apologies. But ain’t life a bitch. There are things that can be done. The easiest amongst them is simply Liking the Vicks FaceBook page. For every person who does, Vicks will donate a dollar to help Save The Children increase awareness and prevention of pneumonia in children under five in Bangladesh, as well as help provide better diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Obviously, I haven’t been paid for this post- while I get a lot of charity requests for blog space, I can’t take them all on… it’s just not possible. This one effected me more than most, for the simple reasons I stated above…. how I could have this and barely even think about it, when there are people literally dieing from it right this second?!
Simple. Really simple. If you don’t at least attempt to do this, right now, I doubt very much if I would sleep with you. If you’re as unscrupulous as I am, your FaceBook Likes may include things such as ‘God, give us Kurt Cobain and we will give you Justin Beiber’, so hitting Like for Vicks– on your computer, in your lounge room, with your TV going, all warm and comfortable and full of food, with ample access to cheap antibiotics whenever you need them– isn’t that much to ask.
* Don’t exhale just yet…. I wrote this post before Aussie blogger Eden announced she was going to Africa with WorldVision. Reading her blog this last week… mind=blown. I’ll natter more about her tomorrow. It must have just been the week for the Universe to kick me up the arse (again) and remind me of what I have, that I don’t even see- more than many people will have in a lifetime.