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Kingston, Massachusetts, United States

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011

Well it finally happened.  I knew it was just a matter of time.  But like most, I guess, I was hopefully trying to put it off as long as possibly could, and now realizing I wish I could have put it off for good.  It was inevitable, especially since my immune system is pretty much shut down now so the anti-rejection meds can do what they are suppose to do, and that is protect my new kidney.

What happened was, I got my first cold since having the transplant back in June.  No big deal, right?  Or so I thought.  Now, I know we have all had colds.  Most of the time colds are harmless, they just make us miserable for a couple of days, three, maybe four days, tops.  Then we feel better…no sniffles, no headache, no more achy feelings, no more itchy, scratchy feelings in our eyes or throat…it’s all gone, almost as if it were never there in the first place.  Only that didn’t happen in this case.

Nope, that didn’t happen at all.  I did everything I was suppose to do…I called the transplant center at the beginning of the cold to see what over the counter medications I was able to take that wouldn’t mess with my anti-rejection meds.  Then the cold lingered and lingered and lingered.  Then at about day four, I called the transplant center again and said that I was feeling better, overall, but I just can’t shake this nagging cough.  I then suggested a chest x-ray because of my history over the last five to ten years.  I said that I am probably just overreacting since this is my first cold or respiratory event since the transplant.  Betsy, the transplant coordinator, said it is better to be safe than sorry.  She then asked if I could get the x-ray done with my primary, Dr. M., that way I wouldn’t have to come all the way into Boston for what would be a very quick appointment.

I called Dr. M. and she put the order in for a chest x-ray…the x-ray was done, and sure enough, what was once just a simple cold had turned into a small spot of pneumonia on my right lung.  The Radiology findings report read as follows:

“There is mild accentuation of interstitial markings as compared with prior chest x-ray of 5/11/2011.  May represent mild fluid retention.  There is some question of some focal increased density in right third anterior interspace.  It raises the question of super imposed infiltrates.  No other interval change since prior 5/11/2011.”

I contacted the transplant team and told them of these findings and said that Dr. M. suggested a shot of Rociphin and follow that up with an oral antibiotic.  The transplant team ok’ed the shot of Rociphin and said that they would consult with Dr. P., as to how to proceed beyond that.

Dr. M’s office was open late on this particular day (Thursday), so I didn’t have to wait until the next day to get this course of treatment started.  After I checked in at the desk, I was then called to go into an exam room.  The nurse followed me in, and with her she had the syringe filled with the medication and an alcohol swap.  So as the nurse was verifying my name, date of birth, etc., I begin to roll up my sleeve so I could get the shot in my arm.  She then turns to me and says, “Oh, no…DROP ‘EM !”

Inside I’m saying to myself, “OH SHIT!”  Now, I have never had a problem getting a shot or giving myself a shot, after all I have given myself  somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 injections of insulin before I went on the pump.  But if there is one thing that I hate, it’s getting a shot in the ass…and this particular shot hurt like hell !!!  It still hurt two days later.  You know the type of shot I am talking about…it’s not shirt and thin like most normal shots.  No, no, ney, ney…this one is like the size and length of a javelin, and it feels like a javelin jabbed into your ass.

Needless to say, the following day, the transplant team also suggested putting me on a ten day course of Levaquin.  And that is where I am right now.  I will have a follow-up chest x-ray later this week to see if the pneumonia is resolving, which I hope it is.

I guess the lesson that I have learned here, is that in post-transplant life, everything that was once simple, such as a cold, may not be so simple, which I am now more than sure that most post-transplant patients are well aware of.

If you, or someone you know is interested in organ donation, please contact: www.neod.org; www.donatelifenewengland.org, www.organdonor.gov; www.unos.org; www.donatelife.net; www.organtransplants.org; or  www.thewaitinglist.org, or, by all means, speak to your own physician, or feel free to send me an email.

1 comment:

  1. You've had a rough time Michael. It's good that the pneumonia was caught early and will probably not amount to much of anything worse than you have now. I know about those horrible shots too. Yuck!

    Don't forget that part of your problem is probably the fact that your system is still allocating resources to recovery from the surgery, which leaves you a bit more defenseless than usual. As an aside - your immune system is not shut down, it is simply somewhat lowered. So try not to be too paranoid about this stuff. Are you using your hand sanitizer religiously? Don't touch magazines in docs offices, and use it after touching anything public - bank machines, door handles, shopping carts (are the worst).

    The bad news is that it could have been nicer to have had your first infection later, the good news is that now you are getting over it, will get better soon, and will have one more "first" under your belt. My first infection was Norwalk virus obtained from the hospital. I ended up in the hospital for a few days because of the vomiting and dehydration. Not fun. But I got over it and all was well. As it will be with you.