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Jun 11 2010

Unexpected Bump in the Road

June 2009 030

The Panel of Experts

Okay, this may be a surprising update for some of you who haven’t heard the latest.

The motorcycle trip was fun as always. We actually made it to our destination in one day, despite budgeting two. This gave us a little more time in Hot Springs, NC along the banks of the French Broad River with a view that never disappoints. I will share some additional details about the trip later, but for now I’ll get to the point. On Sunday morning, we took down our campsite, which never seems to be nearly as much fun as setting up the campsite. The process was met with the usual grumblings about camping equipment growing larger during our stay, and everything being slightly damp (none of which EVER outweighs the fun of the trip). We hit the road late in the morning Sunday, and I knew right away I was feeling achy. I quickly dismissed this as little more than the usual aches and discomforts that accompany any relatively long motorcycle trip, but by mid-afternoon I began feeling like I might have a fever.

We had decided in advance that we’d be riding just over half-way on Sunday, so we pulled off at Meadows of Dan near Stuart, VA where I almost immediately began checking my temperature which was rising rapidly. When it reached 101, I contacted the transplant team and Curt (my donor’s husband) called an ambulance since it was unrealistic to expect that I’d be riding myself out of this one. The ambulance’s arrival was followed by some negotiations over where I would be taken. Naturally my preference was to go to MCV, my transplant “home” in Richmond. The ambulance team preferred any place close. We finally agreed that I’d be taken to Carilion in Roanoke and Curt would ride with me in the ambulance. Thanks to a combination of numerous medications and temperature of 103.5, I have only sketchy recollections of the ambulance ride and the events in the Carilion emergency room. Thankfully Curt was there to speak on my behalf since I was in no condition to do so. Otherwise I think this whole story may have gone down a very different, far less desirable, path. I do know that in the very early morning hours on Monday, I was loaded into another ambulance and taken to MCV.

My arrival on the Hume Lee Transplant Unit here on the 9th floor brought a quick measure of comfort as I returned to the same unit where I recovered following the transplant, and as I began to see the warm familiar faces of the All Star nursing team that would help get me back on my feet just as they did in February. Monday was full of diagnostic tests in an effort to identify the source of an obvious infection. I fully expected to be leaving on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday at the latest — boy was I wrong.

Since Monday, each day has looked very much the same: fever and body aches throughout the day, each worsening significantly during the night, and very little definitive information about the source of the infection. I do have a sinus infection and that’s causing a part of this, but not all of it. I’m being pumped full of a never-ending stream of IV antibiotics, and the multitude of cultures that have been taken have not grown anything that might point us in a more definitive direction. Each day we do it all over again, and until I’ve been fever-free for 24 hours, there’s no chance of being released. The good news is all of this is that it was clear by Tuesday that this was not rejection. That was a huge relief.

It’s Friday at almost noon now, and there’s some promising news. Although we still don’t have a clearer diagnosis (and we may never have one), I have had a normal temperature since about midnight last night, so I’m catching a glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel. If this continues and the temperature doesn’t climb up, I might be home this weekend.

This has been a difficult lesson about just how slowly my suppressed immune system is going to bounce back from even the most basic of infections. Live and learn. Fortunately, I get to do both.

6 comments

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  1. Theresa's friend, Janie

    Whew; scary. I’m glad it’s turning out well, but who knew that taking down a campsite can be so dangerous? Ok, I know that wasn’t really the cause, but it sounds like a good excuse to me and I think you should use it.

  2. markchatterley

    Blimey. Just read that with my mouth hanging open in shock. I really hope you are feeling better.

    Just rest, out your feet up and watch your favourite movie while eating your favourite meal.

    Just relax.

  3. Martha and all

    Sure hope you are out of the hospital and home with family! Ed headed to lake – worried he may be getting a cold – should know in a day or 2 but I am on the watch for signs..so far so good for us….hope so for you as well…

  4. clay leonard

    Bill,
    You are definitely a fighter, sorry your trip got interrupted, but it sounds like you’re keeping a good mixture of things you WANT to do with things you HAVE to deal with, this is all any of us can ever do, keep fighting and keep enjoying life! We will cross paths in the mountains someday! Best wishes to you and your family.

  5. Molly

    Glad you had a good trip, but more glad you-r getting better now.

  6. Al Paulsen

    Bill,
    I haven’t been keeping up with my email and I just read your blog with a great deal of alarm that you experienced this setback. I hope you have fully recovered and are doing well now.

    I’m looking forward to getting another message saying you are back to riding the motorcycle and enjoying camping tris again.

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