I spent a week in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. I have long known the fragility of health after transplant, but there's nothing like a good wake-up call to remind you of how far you've come.
There are a number of triggers that can cause health problems after a lung transplant. Viruses, bacteria, fungi and rejection are all possible threats that we patients can't do much to control.
Backing up a bit: I'd been on high alert for lung symptoms ever since we discovered that we had mold in our HVAC system at the end of January. I'd felt some junk rattling around in my lungs around that time. Not exactly sick but not fully well, either. But I was also doing "couch to 5k" with no problems, so I wasn't super worried. At my 3-month clinic appointment on Jan. 24, my lung functions were a bit down but everything else seemed alright, including blood work, breathing sounds and x-ray. I attributed the decrease in the cold, dry weather we'd been having.
Fast forward five days to Monday, Jan 29. I was dragging all morning, feeling oddly tired - so much so that I decided to skip my yoga class that morning. I was lazy for the rest of the day, but it wasn't until Tuesday when I woke up that I began to suspect I may be coming down with something. I had that awful "I might be getting sick!" feeling, so I took it easy. But I wasn't running a fever or anything.
I called my coordinator that afternoon because I knew how rampant the flu bug has been. She suggested I go get checked for the flu at an after-hours clinic and plan to touch base in the morning. I'd go into transplant clinic then if my symptoms were worse. By the time I left for the swab at 5:30pm, I wasn't even feeling well enough to drive myself.
The PA at the minute clinic was sure I was going to test positive for flu - the first in a line of folks, it would turn out - but she was wrong. I was negative. The pharmacy filled a script for Tamiflu to have on hand just in case.
All afternoon things had escalated and by 8:00 or 9:00 I went to bed early. I'd been battling a fever, but it stayed below 101 for the most part. I slept the restless, delirious sleep of fever, waking up every few hours for water, Tylenol and bathroom breaks. I was sore in the total-body way, and was waking myself up intermittently coughing, too.
I finally had a couple of hours of restful sleep, but then I woke at 2:00am. Something wasn't right.
Stay tuned for part II, trip to the ED.