T + 773 Not Quite So Normal After All

Posted by raetsel at Friday, October 29, 2010

After feeling proud of myself or more specifically my immune system for coping with a bout of Man Flu all by my/itself I had a little reminder that I'm not yet back to normal after all.

After a week of working from home I went back to the office for the next four days and worked from home as usual on last Friday. I had a bit of an annoying cough and maybe a sore throat though nothing like it was. I took a few strepsils and things were ok. I figured this was just the death rattle of the cough as it gave up the fight.

Over the weekend I did feel rough and had a couple of bouts of having no energy but a nap seems to set things right. In my experience a nice nap in the day can fix most things.

Monday was ok but tiring and this Tuesday I went down to Hewlett Packard's Disaster Recovery facility in Rugby where I have been several times for work before and where we practise recovering our systems from just backup tapes on the basis of some disaster like fire or flood destroying our main systems.

It was a busy day and quite stressful but a positive sort of stress if you know what I mean. The pressure you get in a sports game maybe ( let's face it this is as close to that analogy I'm going to come in my life at the moment). By the end of the afternoon I had this regular dry hacking cough and felt lousy, tired, no energy and slightly woozy headed if I moved around too much.

I made it home and collapsed on the bed a couple hours once I got in. My temperature was a little higher than normal but nothing near what medics would call a fever so I knew it wasn't emergency level serious but I needed to get it checked out so I gatecrashed the usual Wednesday morning transplant clinic the next day though my next scheduled appointment wasn't for several weeks. Gareth offered to take me in rather than having to ask my Dad. This was very good of him especially as he has something of a phobia of all things medical. ( Not ideal when your partner has cancer.)

I saw a newly appointed consultant who was very good who had come in from another region. He gave me a thorough exam and sent me for a precautionary chest X-ray though my lungs sounded clear through the stethoscope. He said it was probably a common secondary bacterial infection that sneaks in on the back of a viral infection like the cold I had had. I was given two types of antibiotics Augmentin ( or Co-amoxiclav to give it a generic name ) and Ciprofloxacin and told to rest up.

The timing was lousy for work as the Disaster Recovery test was a busy one but I wouldn't have been in a fit state to work on it when one slip can mean having to go back to a tape recovery that takes several hours. So I've spent the rest of week at home taking it easy.

The antibiotics do seem to be working. I still have the cough though not as frequent and overall my energy levels are better though I still feel a little woozy headed now and then. Hopefully by the end of the seven day course of tablets I'll be back to how I was before the cold.

I've had secondary infections after colds a couple of times long before I was diagnosed with lymphoma and just either shrugged them off or had antibiotics from my GP to help. I might have been able to do the same with this one but I couldn't take the chance so went up to the hospital. At least they didn't think it was serious enough to keep me in.

All in all another frustrating episode on the road to normality, though I am starting to think I am going to have to revise what I think of as normal. Despite everything I have learned about my condition and its treatment over the last three years it seems a part of me thinks once I get off the ciclosporin and its immunosuppressive effects have left my system then everything will be back to how it was before I was diagnosed.

Can't blame that part of me for being optimistic but I'm going to have to sit and have a heart to heart with myself to manage my expectations.

I'm booked in for my flu jab at the GP's on Monday so I just have to make it through the weekend without catching flu.

T + 758 Normally Sick

Posted by raetsel at Thursday, October 14, 2010

Last Wednesday I went to the clinic hoping to have my ciclosporin stopped but the cunning haematologist found a way to prolong the taper. Instead of having 10mg twice a day it is down to 10mg once a day. However my next visit, in six weeks', well five weeks' time now, will be when I stop as long as the GVHD behaves in the meantime.

I also saw the endocrinologist and he said my hormones were all fine apart from a slightly elevated prolactin level. However he said it was only just over normal. The top of the range is 300 units and mine was 350 this was not a concern to him though, as he sees people with a figure of 300,000 units and that really is elevated but for men it still has no real consequences.

I asked what prolactin does and in women it is involved in the immune system and breast miik for babies. Hence the "lactin"/"lactose", but in men they don't really know what it does. He said he would test the levels this time round and if they had not increased significantly then he wouldn't need to see me for a full 12 months. If they have increased he'll call me back in just to check the pituitary is working ok as that controls prolactin but he expected it would all be fine.

After clinic I went to a music gig at the HMV Institute in Digbeth, Birmingham to see Kate Nash. She was great but before the gig I noticed a tickle in my throat and when I woke up on Thursday I had a definite sore throat. This developed over the day along with feeling generally crap so I left work early.

Handily I had asked the haematologist at clinic about just seeing how things went if I got a normal cold as long as my temperature was ok. He said yes that was fine as long as my temperature was not up and I did not have a "productive" cough i.e. one that produces stuff e.g. green or yellow phlegm. I didn't think I would be putting it to the test quite so soon.

However my temperature was fine for the most part over the weekend, it had a little blip Sunday morning when it was 37.8 , near the magic 38 that means I have to call the hospital but it went down quickly over the next hour or two.

I took Friday and Monday off sick from work and have been working full time from home the rest of the week. This is partly to give me more time to rest instead of 90 minutes travelling each day and also to avoid spreading the cold at work, something I hope my work mates will appreciate and return the favour if they get sick over the upcoming cold and flu season.

Folks it's not big and it's not clever to drag yourself into work coughing and sneezing just because you feel you have to make an effort. If you have the option to work from home then do that if you must but better yet take the time off to recover properly if you are not well. I know I have a selfish reason for this but spreading a cold even amongst healthy people is not a good idea and costs the UK thousands of lost work days.

I still feel a bit rough in the mornings and a bit snotty with an occasional cough but it makes a change to be able to be just "normally sick" and not go off to hospital.