Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Transplantiversary-- What Happens When I Get Sick Post Transplant

The Transplant-iversary

Nobody said the journey would be easy.  But after being healthy for even just a few months and having people tell you how healthy you are, and how great you look, it’s not hard to let to the thought consume you that maybe you are out of the woods; that this challenge has been pretty easy.  

From May until December, the remainder of 2013,  I never fell ill, even after watching several coworkers, my dad and Ben latch onto colds and flu-like illnesses as the temperature dropped.  I felt like my dad’s kidney had not only given me more energy and better blood levels.  The kidney had also seemingly given me some kind of invisible force field that kept me from getting even the weakest sore-throat-inducing virus floating around in the air.  It was nice, for a while to imagine that I, the girl who technically had the most suppressed immune system among my friends and family, was actually insusceptible to congestion and mucus-filled coughing. Obviously, me having a kidney transplant meant that the antidote to every infirmity, disease, illness, sniffle was in my blood. YES! Superman status, achieved, I thought.


January 2014.  My perfect months of not really rigorously washing my hands like I was supposed to and only using hand sanitizer some of time seemed to come back and bite me.  One day I was fine, living the dream of being in perfect health. The next day, nasal congestion and mucus had arrived, jamming a flag into the middle of my sinus cavity and screaming "We're HERE! We HERE!"  It's not like I had never had colds before.  Perhaps me being overzealous about "doing things the natural" way actually made it worse. I stood in front of the stove with my head drenched in steam and my nostrils getting singed, imagining it was actually working.  I'm still not sure if it was working. I found out from my nurse coordinator that I could take sudafed it turned out.  So I drove out into the midst of a snow storm and bought a box of store-brand decongestant and slept for the first time in four days during that time.  Recovery:  one weekend of Sudafed, sleep and trash TV.


March 2014.  I blame Vegas.  I was touching all kinds of hand rails and drink glasses. As well as those little chips they give you when you actually win money while playing black jack.  I want to say that's how I contracted CMW aka the virus that everyone, except for me and like 10 people, has had at one point in their lives. At the start of my symptoms,  I'd woken up with a fever.  I rode the bus into DC to cover a conference for work...standing...hauling purse, lunch box, and laptop bag...half a mile uphill from Dupont Circle Metro...with a fever. The runs came soon after that.  Recovery:  8 weeks/ongoing sort of, Valcyte, and moving really slow.

April 2014.  I stayed home from work after feeling horrible and waking up with a bit of a sore throat and a headache.  I took my temperature and I had a mild fever.  Nothing I didn't think I could sleep off. Then I vomited.  Twice.  My next course of action was to call my doctor, who suggested I go to the E.R. and once there he suggested I admit myself to the hospital where I had my transplant surgery for overnight observation. To my surprise, what the doctors observed via numerous vials of blood taken from my body was that I kind of had no immune system.  The medicine that I had been taking to resolve the March 2014 incident, combined with the medicine I was taking to suppress my immune system, had weakened my bone marrow production SOOOO MUCH...that basically it wasn't making white blood cells or red blood cells or much of anything else at the moment.  Meaning...I had no immune system.  Yeah.  That happened.  Recovery:  four days in the hospital, two blood transfusions, two IV sites, a lot of blood drawn, a lot of prayer, 90 seconds of crying, and one full length movie (Pacific Rim).  

Things were going well for for so long after my transplant!  I felt indestructable.  And then January happen, and since then I've been sick almost every month except for February.
BUT...I've also been HEALED and RE-HEALED in every month...except for February, I guess because I wasn't super sick then.
Every time I had a fever or felt a little off, sinceI hadn't felt that in a really long time, I just assumed my kidney under attack.  That it would be rejected soon. That I tried my best, and we all hoped for the best, but that it just wasn't going to work.

But I was healed and re-healed. 
I was healed and re-healed.  
I was HEALED and RE-HEALED!!!  
Superman status, achieved.

“Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side."
Isaiah 58:8