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Misdiagnosed, Like Many Sufferers: Kathleen W. Zuckerman, Bakersfield, 67

 Kathleen Zuckerman, 67, who was misdiagnosed with pneumonia, is slowly recovering from the disease.

My valley fever story started with a constant cough that I assumed was related to my asthma. But on June 8, 2012, I woke up around 2 a.m. in extreme pain. I had coughed so hard that I bruised several ribs and was having trouble breathing.

My husband took me to the emergency room. They diagnosed me with pneumonia and sent me home. I kept getting worse. By the time I finished my antibiotics, I was so sick that I could hardly get out of bed to go to the bathroom.

My husband was at work so I called an ambulance and went back to the hospital. I was admitted around June 15 with pneumonia. When I was admitted, I asked the nurse if I could be tested for valley fever, something my husband had been researching. After two days of not getting better, they called in a specialist who quickly diagnosed me with valley fever. The next eight weeks were spent mostly in bed.

My recovery has been extremely slow. I still have a chronic cough and I am a bit short of breath. I tire easily, I’ve lost 20 pounds, and I have dark circles under my eyes. The valley fever seems to have settled in my muscles, so I am in a lot of pain. So far, this is my story. I hope to feel better soon.

I went to the town hall meeting on valley fever, and it confirmed my concern. People that got really sick were often misdiagnosed. It all comes down to a lack of knowledge and proper training. To me, that is really scary.

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