24-2-2006

WBC : n/a
Neut : n/a
Hb : n/a
Plts : n/a

PCR : n/a

24th February 2006

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, TB aswell.

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.

At Home

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.