Partially paralysed craft lover living with asthma, Maree, 63, Bundaberg, developed a severe episode of the potentially life-threatening infection, pneumococcal pneumonia, in March 2016.

A member of the ‘Stolen Generation’, Maree spent most of her youth in the North Queensland bush, working on cattle and sheep stations, which kick-started a regular smoking habit, along with exposure to many noxious, outdoor fumes. At 23 years of age, she was diagnosed with asthma.

In 2014, Maree relocated to Bundaberg, following a near fatal accident that left her partially paralysed and unable to work in the fields.

In March this year, Maree developed a raging temperature (48 degrees celcius), which caused nausea and vomiting, and saw her hospitalised with the often fatal lung infection, pneumococcal pneumonia. After a 3.5-week-long tenure in hospitalised, Maree returned home on April 9, 2016, but collapsed once again, and was immediately rushed back to hospital.

Maree has now quit her nicotine addiction and is mounting a recovery from pneumococcal pneumonia.

This is Maree’s story.

“I never knew my family because I was part of the Stolen Generation, so I’m not aware of any family history of pneumonia,” said Maree.

From the age of 13 to her mid-30s, Maree worked on cattle and sheep stations in the North Queensland bush, during which she was exposed to fumes and developed a regular smoking habit, which she attributes to her “late onset asthma,” diagnosed at 24.

In 1982, a few years after the death of her husband, Maree was on a 4WD holiday, sightseeing on the Narrabeen plains, when the driver of her car collided with a “big red kangaroo”, causing the vehicle to flip nine times.

“It was a shocking incident. The driver was dead when I woke up, and the accident left me partially paralysed and heavily dependent on a wheelchair,” Maree said.

No longer able to work on the fields, Maree relocated to Bundaberg in 2014, to start a new chapter of her life.

In March, 2016, Maree experienced a sudden and severe onset of pneumococcal pneumonia, including vomiting, nausea, fever and exhaustion.

“Initially, I had no idea that I had contracted pneumonia. I just felt exhausted, had a fever and was vomiting intensely,” said Maree.

“Although I can’t remember what happened in between contacting the ambulance and arriving at hospital, I do distinctly recall the doctors having organised a bed for me in ICU prior to my arrival, due to the severity of my pneumonia.”

After being hospitalised for a few weeks, Maree was released on April 9, 2016. However, after returning home and promptly collapsing, she was quickly rushed back to hospital for further treatment for her pneumonia.

“I find it very difficult to live in Bundaberg, because there are many cane crops around and constant bush fires, so I find breathing really hard, and this cripples my social life,” Maree said.

Now one month post- hospitalisation, Maree has once again, returned home, and is making good progress, health-wise. She is scheduled to meet with her local doctor in the coming weeks to discuss vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia, to help ward off any further potential pneumococcal infection.

“Because I’m still recovering from pneumonia, I feel constantly exhausted and breathless. But I’ve starting doing my craft again, so I’m slowly on the mend,” said Maree.

“I was very close to death this time, and my lungs literally can’t take much more.

“So I plan to speak to my doctor about the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination soon, because preventing pneumococcal infection is pivotal to maintaining good health,” Maree said.