Sunday, 6 December 2015

Winter Viruses and Bugs

Like all transplant patients I've had some ups and downs since my transplant with health issues. Mine have mainly been related to white blood cells falling too low and becoming neutropenic, kidney failure, high blood pressure and high cholesterol  - all a result of the harsh immosuppressants that we have to take forever. My issues are being constantly managed though and are part and parcel of life as a post transplant patient. We are prepared for all this and accept it willingly as part of our new lives. 

I've been very lucky that in the last couple of years I haven't had to deal with any serious infections, but a few weeks ago I managed to pick up a nasty virus. What's the big deal some people may think - everyone succumbes to viruses at this time of year? For a transplant patient it truly is a big deal because we don't have much of an immune system so it's easy for a virus to take hold and your body doesn't have much to fight it with so it takes a long while to shake infections and viruses off.

I have transplanted lungs too and they are very vulnerable when it comes to bugs and viruses that cause coughs and colds and infections in the respiratory tract. I have little 'cough' reflex like a normal person because my nerves were cut during the transplant operation and I only have half of my own windpipe, that is narrowed now where it joins my donor's - I have problems with this daily even without a virus. If a virus takes hold in transplanted lungs it can damage them and lead to chronic rejection and loss of lung function. 

I've been so lucky to get so far without picking anything up and up to now although this virus has made me very unwell and grounded me to a complete holt, I've been lucky as my lungs are still clear. Because transplant patients are so vulnerable when it comes to infection, I've had to check in with my transplant centre regularly and tell them how things are going. I've been back to hospital and had x-rays and tests and a thorough check by the transplant doctor and then I've been under the care of my GP. I've been given the super antibiotics that vulnerable patients are usually prescribed for a week and then I have to check back in with my transplant team to let them know if things are any better.

At the moment, it's not for going anywhere, so it's keep warm, rest and enjoy being safe indoors for me at the moment. It's been a little disappointing to miss some special Christmas events that we'd been looking forward to over the last few weeks, but on a positive note, we've managed to decorate the house ready for Christmas and organise our Christmas shopping and cards. I'm not sure how we thought we'd manage all this, we've been so busy and had so many plans, so it's made us stop and slow down. 

Just before I felt unwell I'd also just managed to send off the manuscript for my book for it's final edit. It's gone off for it's final proof read now with a professional editor, who knows nothing about me, my transplant or pulmonary hypertension. I felt I'd done everything I could do on my piece of work now, but needed someone who doesn't know me or anything about my medical background to undertake a final proof read for me. I've had lots of offers from friends and I thank everyone for their kind offers, but friends are often too nice and probably know too much about my personal story to step back and offer some constructive critiscm. 

I'm usually very hot on my grammar, spelling and punctuation and so is Rob - we are the grammar police!  But when you are writing down thoughts, ideas and all those feelings and emotions that have accompanied you for years it's another matter totally I discovered. That and then after being totally immersed for a year writing, redrafting and editing a huge document of over twenty chapters and thousands of words - something I've never done before - it was truly getting to the point where I just couldn't see mistakes any longer. Maybe there aren't any? I'm sure there are and amongst all the advice I've taken from my fellow writers, including professional authors, the main piece of advice is to ensure someone independent proof reads your work and also offers advice on clarity and consistency. So being new to all this, I decided on balance it was very sound advice to follow. 

I'm very excited I've reached this point and it does feel strange to think that someone I don't know at all will be reading my work. If all goes to plan, I hope to launch my book early in the New Year and that's something really positive I'm looking forward to. In the meantime now I'm catching up on my own reading while I've got a good excuse to curl up on the sofa under a blanket! 

Don't forget too #itstimetosign! 

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