Transplant Athlete
Friday, September 29, 2006
  Rollin' With Jim Henson

"Guess who's going to be checked into the hotel with Pneumonia?" I asked my wife over the phone from the Reston Hospital Emergency Room.

Earlier in the day, I had described my symptoms to Joan, a nurse at Metropolitan Nephrology. She briefly put me on hold to talk to Dr. Howard. "The first words out of Dr. Howard's mouth were 'Emergency Room'," She said when she got back on the phone. She described another option, but it also required a trip to the hospital.

So I called Adrienne, who had a tough deadline at work coming up in a few days, and told her I needed to get to the hospital. She immediately dropped everything to come home.

You know the drill: you show up at the ER at 2:30 and wait to get a room, then you wait to be examined, a dozen doctors and nurses ask the same questions over and over again. I wasn't shocked by the diagnosis, I'm immuno-compromised, I get sick. I was shocked when the hot(Sara Silverman look-alike) doctor said, "We need to admit you overnight at the least, maybe for two to three days." When she said 3 days, I must admit the first thought that crossed my mind was "3 days without the kids, Yes..." Adrienne is referring to this as a 3 day spa vacation.

While I was in the ER, Cardio Pulmonary arrived to administer a peak flow test to determine what my lung function was like, then they would administer a nebulizer treatment and re-administer the test to see if there was any improvement. So take a deep breath and blow. I buried the needle. The woman looked at me thought for a second and then walked out of the room. After a few minutes she came back in and told me a nebulizing treatment wouldn't help me and then walked out. Its not my fault that the test is calibrated for the average american male. It really felt like there was no resistance in the test, so anybody might have been able to max it out, but according to the package, no healthy average male or female could max out the test.

So, they admitted me and somewhere near 10 or 11pm I was upstairs in a bed getting more IV Antibiotics.

So when should I have gone to see a doctor? When I got a cough? By itself, not a huge indicator. Should I have gone on Thursday when I spiked a 100.6 degree fever? That's not very high. My transplant manual suggests that a fever of 101 degrees is worthy of seeing a doctor. I like to think I go to a doctor when I have a problem. Shingles, awfully painful, worthy of a doctor visit. Cough, annoying, but not painful. Gradually, my condition was getting worse, but slowly enough that there was no need for immediate help. Well. Lesson Learned.

"My Hope Is Still To Leave The World A Bit Better Than When I Got Here."
- Jim Henson creator of the Muppets, Sesame Street, etc. died of Pneumonia in 1990.


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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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Warning Signs for Kidney Disease:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Burning or Difficulty when Urinating
  • Frequent Urination at Night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cola or tea colored urine
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  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity

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