Friday, December 24, 2010
Staying alive is a lot of trouble
[Here is a Christmas video to make you smile. If you want to see it full-screen, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm3dm5J5r0A]
We were to spend yesterday with my daughter Cassie, her husband Chris, and our grandson, Otto - it was either that or the end of next week, since they are traveling to Canada Christmas day to be with Chris's family.
But Tuesday night I had a high fever. I felt okay Wednesday, even energetic, and decided I was over it. Wednesday night, the fever appeared again, and was there Thursday morning. Both days I talked to Beth, the poor post-transplant nurse who is on-call (while the doctors disappear), and both days she asked me some questions and thought I had a UTI - a common infection among kidney transplant patients. And that I should go to the ER, where they could collect and analyze a urine culture. Of course the transplant center is closed for four days. I have a whole rant about this kind of thing. Sickness does not take a holiday, but most of the medical profession does.
I've had many UTI's over the years of low kidney function; they are not in my bladder, but in my old kidneys, which are still in there. I told the nurse that; but they never believe you know your own body. I told them the post-transplant nurse suspected a UTI; they shrugged it off. So I was asked an array of embarrassing questions about my elimination system, same old questions by one person after another, until finally a junior surgeon came in. She assured me it was 95% likely I would be admitted so they could give me IV antibiotics; she had to check with her boss.
I didn't have too bad an attitude, had known they would be very cautious, and had brought my Kindle with me. Maybe, I thought, there would be carolers in the halls tomorrow, and cookies, though I am afraid of homemade cookies right now - in their own kitchens, people don't wear latex gloves like they have to in commercial kitchens. Maybe they cough on the food, or their children help out, bringing a swarm of germs from school. I am not paranoid: a transplant patient I know has had two seriously bad infections from what he calls "church food." Sad, but true.
This is the first "event" I've had in these ten weeks, and it was not a rejection episode: the blood draw showed creatinine and BUN were fine, yes! Laura's kidney has worked wonderfully, a miracle from start to finish. But it was an event. Meanwhile, I asked for blankets until I had on five layers, and was still cold. Tom draped my parka and fleece pants over me.
Five long, tedious hours of all this were marked by three sweaty failed attempts to put in an IV until they finally got one in my thumb - they wouldn't call the IV team, they never believe I know my own veins. The IV was never used - a nurse came in and briskly announced that they were sending me home on oral Cipro - lots of it, ten days. That makes three antibiotics I take on a daily basis, the other two intended to prevent things like this. Amazingly, a nurse was right in with discharge papers and the prescription. Amazingly, it was free at my Kroger's pharmacy.
"I am of the nature to grow ill," I reminded myself. "I cannot avoid sickness." (A version of The Five Remembrances is on the bottom of this page.) And, "A transplant is a treatment, not a cure." And I told Tom, "This staying alive is a lot of trouble." But at least I had gotten up a few decorations, including the beautiful evergreen swag for the door that our neighbor Cindy surprised us with.
Of course, all this medical had exhausted me. I was so happy to be home in our comfortable bed, under the electric blanket, finally warm enough. Who knows, maybe I'll feel up to the 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service today? Or church Sunday morning. Or not. Church or not, I remind myself that I don't hate the medical profession, that these are just human beings doing what they think they ought to do.