Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Early thoughts on infection and rejection

. . . and my new less-crazy lifestyle for awhile.

Well, my lifestyle has been pretty non-crazy for a year, but ... whatever. This post is part PSA, part blather blather blather. I am preparing to leave the hospital (!!) and realize that I have never taken the time on the site to write about the two big words in transplant medicine:

infection and rejection.

After one gets a new set of airbags, they have to suppress their immune system severely to encourage their own body to accept an organ from another body, regardless of he matches in blood, tissue, and immunology. So, right now, I am the MOST immuno-suppresssed as I will likely ever be (other than, say, the first week after the surgery).

At the same time, the body is vulnerable to all sorts of infections from the outside world due to the surgery, from the donor and her/his immunology (disease) history, and the stressors of recovering, in my case, from a 30 year pnuemonia. In fact, my body harbors all the infections that used to live in my old lungs, so we have to make sure my new lungs do not get any sort of infection.

The result is that I take a carefully calculated chemistry of immuno-suppresant drugs, while taking anti-infective drugs like antibiotics, anti-virals, anti-fungals. There is even a mouthwash!

That is the medication side of the infection/rejection balance. The practical side of it is to limit other ways that the body can develop rejection or infection. The first topic is easy to understand once you start to think on a germy level. Avoiding infection: avoiding germs from infected people, food, surfaces and, well, air! Of course, all people avoid germs. But, post-tx, if you are immuno-suppressed you are more likely to get severely ill from the smallest cold bug or skin rash, and your body is like a sponge waiting for these germs.

Here are some practical things that I will be doing to avoid infections-

From People:
I can't go in crowds at all, and a crowd is defined as a place where you can't control how close people are to you. Standing in a line, shopping at a busy mall, going to a restaurant at peak hours- these are to be avoided.

Limit germs entering my home. My house is gong to be like a little CG Germ World, and I won't be having many people over to my house, because they bring all their germs into my air space, furniture and etc. So no big keggers for me anymore (?)

Limit contact with sick people, people who were just sick, people who are incubating a sickness, people who just got off a plane. This means that I DO NOT want to see anyone who has felt sick, had a sore throat, fever, cough or sniffles in 3 straight days. Similarly, if a household member has been sick- I don't want to see anyone from that household. You have to live in a well-house for 3 days before I want you breathing by me.

Mask! You've seen my sport the surgical mask before. I will wear it when situations arise that are germy. For example, if I have to go clothes shopping, I will mask-up. If I go the the grocery, mask-up (grocery stores are the Mecca of germs). If I end up in a crowd, have to take an elevator, or etc. - mask it up! This is most important in the first 6 mos- 1 year.

Hand washing and anti-bacterial - I already sport the anti-bac, as you know. You will see even more of it, and I will encourage you to use it to.

Closed air places- With other people in a car, I will want to crack the window, and I can't ride on a plane for a year.

Hugging and lovey-doveys: I am usually an affectionate person, but I am not going to be huggy or kissy or cuddly for at least a year. Don't take it personally, but I do not want to hug you or get any kind of kiss on the cheek or forehead from you.

Random making out with strangers- apparently this is a hobby I have to forego. just kidding

Ok, enough for tonight, more TOMORROW, TOMORROW, I LOVE YOU TOMORROW.!


  1. TOMORROW IS LESS THAN A DAY - A - WAY!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. No keggers and making out with strangers? That is just a major downer.

  3. What about partying with a Fox? I don't think you can catch anything from Vulpes vulpes, can you? Hmm, strike that. Perhaps, you could if you . . . fell in love . . . wink, wink, which could happen. Yes, it could.

  4. don't forget people who have had live vaccines ;)

    sounds like you have a good list. i think you're going to do amazingly well post-tx (or at least in terms of the stuff that you can control to some degree). so so so beyond happy to hear that you're going home soon.

  5. Oh my goodness, home home home!

    Also, you made some of the better jokes ever. About making out with strangers and kegs. Even though kegs are nothing to joke about; they are a serious business. :)

  6. Your list makes me rethink my actions....was that a cold sore she had or somethingmore, guess I should't have kissed her....lol....seriously, a good list and one I know I am very lax on now, have not been masking up hardly at all but purrell is a constant.

  7. No cruises. Don't forget--no cruises. Those ships are just full of germs.

    Is cuddling cats okay? Or at least a cat?

  8. Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!
    So glad that you are going home, even if it means no more keggers, wild parties and making out with random strangers. Life. Is. Good.

  9. O.K. for the next year, only cyber hugs for you! XXOO


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