Your death of ammonia / Tu muerte de amoníaco

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

When I was a kid and someone’s mother (not mine) would lecture us for going out in the winter improperly attired, I thought they were saying: “You’ll catch your death of ammonia.” It made me seriously afraid of ammonia. One day, I learned the real word— pneumonia. I never told anyone what I had first thought. (Come to think of it, it’s possible some of those mothers actually did say ammonia and not pneumonia.)

I’m home after spending 3-1/2 hours at the medical center. I arrived during peak time, got the last (momentarily) parking space, and was there long enough to reach siesta time when everything completely dies, but not in a bad way. I met my new doctor (amazing), had a chest X-Ray, met with my doctor again, made four appointments for April (two sciatic nerve related… hallelujah), and learned I had pneumonia.

I just checked the paperwork to verify it wasn’t ammonia. Anyway, I didn’t catch my death, and it’s gone except for a hint of what had been there. I was pleased when the doctor told me the best thing to do now was to get active again, which will help clear my lung of residual phlegm. I’ve been having a difficult time spelling phlegm. In Spanish it’s flema and I just tried to write it in English with an “f” instead of a “ph.” All I knew was that it didn’t look right. I’ve got flem from my ammonia.

San Geraldo made me lunch when I got home at 3:30. I want to go out for a walk but I’m exhausted. It’s now after 5 p.m. Maybe a siesta is in order.


Cuando yo era niño y la madre de alguien (no la mía) nos sermoneaba por salir en invierno mal vestidos, pensaba que decían: “Te vas a morir de amoníaco” [en inglés, amonia]. Me hizo temer seriamente al amoníaco. Un día aprendí la verdadera palabra: pneumonia (es un “p” muda). Nunca le dije a nadie lo que había pensado primero. (Ahora que lo pienso, es posible que algunas de esas madres realmente hayan dicho amoníaco y no neumonía).

Estoy en casa después de pasar 3 horas y media en el centro médico. Llegué en hora punta, conseguí el último (momentáneamente) espacio de estacionamiento, y estuve allí el tiempo suficiente para llegar a la hora de la siesta cuando todo muere por completo, pero no en el mal sentido. Conocí a mi nueva médica (increíble), me hice una radiografía de tórax, volví a ver a mi médica, programé cuatro citas para abril (dos relacionadas con el nervio ciático… aleluya) y supe que tenía neumonía.

Acabo de revisar el papeleo para verificar que no era amoníaco. De todos modos, no capté mi muerte, y se ha ido excepto por un indicio de lo que había estado allí. Me complació cuando la médica me dijo que lo mejor que podía hacer ahora era volver a activarme, lo que me ayudará a limpiar mis pulmones de flema residual. He tenido dificultades para deletrear flema en inglés. Es phlegm con “ph” exactamente como “f” y con “g” muda. Todo lo que sabía era que no se veía bien. Tengo flem de mi amoníaco.

San Geraldo me preparó el almuerzo cuando llegué a casa a las 15:30. Quiero salir a caminar pero estoy exhausto. Ahora son las 17:15. Tal vez una siesta está en orden.

• I’m in better shape than our orchids. They weren’t flowering but the greenery was thriving. Then I watered them and placed them on a table on the terrace for 10 minutes to let them drain. I forgot them until the next day and they were burned to a crisp. I’m now feeding and nursing them, and hoping they’ll forgive me.
• Estoy en mejor forma que nuestras orquídeas. No estaban floreciendo, pero la vegetación estaba prosperando. Luego las regué y las puse en una mesa en la terraza durante 10 minutos para que escurrieran. Los olvidé hasta el día siguiente y se quemaron hasta quedar crujientes. Ahora los estoy alimentando y amamantando, y espero que me perdonen.

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Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

32 thoughts on “Your death of ammonia / Tu muerte de amoníaco”

  1. Oh, get better soon Mitchell from your “ammonia!” When I was a kid, there was an orthopedic doctor living on our street. All the other kids referred to him as “the bone sturgeon.” And when I took a sign language class as an adult, our instructor told us that kids often called a deaf person “that ‘death’ guy.” It’s a wonder any of us know anything. 🙂

    1. TexasTrailerParkTrash:
      Still dragging although a bit less each day. I’ve been looking for some good boneless sturgeon.

    1. Bob:
      It was especially good to know I’m on the mend with no meds needed. It was a long day. But what a great doctor… finally.

  2. Oh not to worry….I’ve heard orchids are very forgiving!
    Happy you know what you had and how to get rid of it.
    Did the doctor suggest pneumonia shot? May be good idea. We got ours when we turned 60…..just a thought.

    1. Jim:
      I had the pneumonia shot at the same time as my flu shot late last year. Ah well.

      1. That’s okay, puddin’, I’ll give you some of mine. Heck, you can have all of mine!

  3. That explains it. Pneumonia! I’m glad it’s almost gone now. I agree with Jim about the pneumonia shot. I got mine when I turned 60 (along with the shingles series).

    1. Kelly:
      Ironically, I had the pneumonia shot along with my flu shot a few months ago.

  4. Ammonia! Yikes! I’m glad it’s almost gone, at least. I remember getting those words confused too when I was young.

    1. Steve:
      As I now remember, it didn’t help that my big sister, Dale, was always lecturing me on bundling up so I wouldn’t catch my death of ammonia. She was all of 6 perhaps. What a relief to understand why I felt so awful and to know that it’s gone.

  5. Hope you cough up your ammonia soon!

    As for the poor orchids, they’ll probably be OK as long as they’re warm and sprayed a lot out of the sun. A long while ago, we had a pash for growing Streptocarpus, but they never used to get enough light in the back bedroom of the house we were in at the time, so I had an idea that they might like a little venture outdoors, in the little plastic greenhouse we had at the time, with the flap open, on a grey but warm May morning. Then I went off to Kew Gardens for the day… [You can guess the next bit] …the “grey day” turned into a searing hot and sunny scorcher! And we lost the lot. Hey ho. Orchids are tougher. Jx

    1. Jon:
      I watch each day for new leaf growth on the orchids. That will make me much happier. Your poor primrose. They have no pain tolerance.

  6. Glad you got to meet your new doctor and get some appointments scheduled for your sciatica. Pneumonia! Well, at least it’s almost gone now. There’s a lot of it going around along with covid. I’ve known several people who had it over the winter.

    1. Debra:
      There were moments I wondered about pneumonia — I even googled it. But then I was wondering about everything at some point. SG had it when he was around 12. And a friend of ours had it several times as a child and an adult. This was my first… and I’d be happy if it were my last. So pleased with the new doctor. I had two other doctors over the years I’d talked with about the sciatica. One shrugged. The other told me to try pilates. Finally, a doctor who listens and takes action.

  7. No wonder you felt awful! Get well soon!
    And remember, don’t combine pneumonia with bleach.

  8. Wow, pneumonia, when I was nursing that was what ‘old’ people got. Now, we’re old and these things creep up on us. Every day now is a given at our age… 60′ ish and we have to go with the day. Be blessed that you are given another day and thank you again for all that you give ‘us’.

    Love, Karen.

    1. Karen:
      “Old people.“ You’re skating on thin ice! Everyone else tells me stories about having it when they were kids. Ironically, I even had the pneumonia vaccine late last year.

  9. I’m glad you found out what was wrong and now apparently are on the mend.

    As a child I too confused ammonia with pneumonia. Also, when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, said invisible instead of indivisible.

    1. Kirk:
      That reminds me of a story of a man from Mexico who went to his first American baseball game. He could only afford a seat in the nosebleed section and was overwhelmed when everyone in the stands stood up and sang out, “José, can you see?”

  10. I’m glad you finally have a doctor who listens. A treasure. Be easy on yourself in recovery. DH had pneumonia (in his early 50s) and it absolutely knocked the stuffing out of him for weeks afterwards. I had it in my 20s. So not just old folks (see, that makes you feel better already). It is likely the pneumonia shot helped reduced the severity. Be well.

    1. Mary:
      Thank you! One of these days, I’ll have to own up to being ”old.” I figure I’ve got at least another 25 years. Of course I’m still really rundown and not happy about it, so thanks for the reminder to ease up on myself.

  11. Although I am a regular patient at several doctors’ offices on a regular basis, I still loathe going, even though I appreciate the medical attention tom my health issues. Because I go to so many so often, the rare occasion I’m waiting to see someone beyond 1 hour really pushes my buttons. I feel like I should get a “VIP”pass to be called first every time.

    1. Sassybear:
      I complain if I have three different appointments in one week because it’s that annual thing. You SHOULD have a VIP pass… and be served a martini when you arrive.

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