What's going on?
In the latter stages of the afternoon following a lung function
test, a nurse walks into my room wearing a mask. It didn't take
a genius to realise that something was up. My fiancée was
also asked to put on a mask, and shortly afterwards to doctors
entered my room also wearing masks.
The slight marking on a chest x-rays a couple of weeks before
had grown and the phlegm samples had grown a nasty bug that looked
very much like TB!!! Great, so in addition to GVHD of the lung,
Atleast someone had managed to figure out why I'd been feeling
so lousy. Apparently, it's quite difficult to diagnose TB as it
takes a long time to grow the cultures. Second, in it's early
stages of culture growth it also has the same appearance as Aviam
TB. This is an 'environmental' TB, meaning it is caught from the
water supplies of from the environment. It is caught by people
whose immune systems are suppressed, and cannot be passed from
person to person like the real 'TB'.
As the cultures weren't old enough to point to either one of the
TB's all precautions were taken. I was transferred pretty much
immediately to an isolation ward. This is ward with negative pressure
so nothing can get in and out of the room. This is clearly important
when dealing with highly infectious diseases like TB.
This means all visitors and anyone entering the room have to wear
masks when entering the room. Psychologically one can't help thinking
they're a bit of a pariah with everyone wearing masks.
I was immediately started on a heavy cocktail of anti-TB drugs.
Since I was no longer on any IV drugs, I didn't have to have any
more needles in my arm. Within a few days I began to feel better
within myself with my temperature stabilising. However it didn't
help with the feeling of fatigue and breathlessness when I would
do simple things like showering and drying off as I found myself
breathing quite heavily. Over the next three weeks I would be
checked daily, have numerous chest x-rays and ct scans as well
as plenty of discussions with the medical teams. My parents flew
out to visit and fortunately my mum was still around when I finally
went home on 22nd March.
It wasn't easy returning home. In the hospital room the food is
brought to you, and the bathroom is a few steps across the room.
You don't get much exercise. The one time I had tried to go on
a small stroll outside with a friend, I found myself gasping for
breath as if I was suffocating. This was after walking less than
200m at a slow / medium walking pace! Recovering wasn't going
to be easy.
Meanwhile at home, one naturally uses a more energy than at hospital
and has to make a much greater effort to get around the house
as the distances are greater and there are stairs to contend with.
Whilst at hospital sitting around I felt normal, at home I was
exhausted. Thankfully my mum was still there so she could prepare
the meals and do the washing. It's the small things that you take
for granted that become really taxing tasks.