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UPDATE mystery unraveling

Posted Nov 15 2012 4:13pm

Pulmonary came yesterday to remove the catheter from my lung. It started out with an amusing moment when the pulmonologist asked me how much pain can I handle. He is known for his dry sense of humor, so I said, what kind of question is that to ask a patient before you are about to perform a procedure. He did not seem to see that it was a funny question to me.

The removal went smoothly with no complications. When he pulled it out, though, it was a weird sensation of suction inside my lung, not painful, just weird. But it was quick and over in a few seconds. They cut off a piece of the catheter and prepared it for culturing, and the three of them left.

Maybe thirty minutes later I had a vile cough and trouble breathing, and I developed chills though my fever had not yet risen. When it did, it spiked right up to 102.9. This lasted a few hours and demanded a lot of attention from my medical team, Up till then I was expecting to go home, but instead they said I would not be leaving yet. More blood cultures both from the port and peripheral veins and a trip in my bed to get chest x-rays. At least the woman who came to do the peripheral cultures was a skilled phlebotomist and got a vein quickly and efficiently. The previous night they did a peripheral draw in my wrist that was so painful I cried. It felt like he hit a nerve. I think I will request only a phlebotomist to do my peripheral blood draws because the state of my veins is so poor most nursing staff are unable to get a vein without a lot of trauma to me.

Now, after all the previous suppositions that the lung catheter was not contaminated, it looks like it had a gram positive (staph?) infection. When they pulled the catheter, it ended up spreading the bacteria into my lung, which went into my system, which is the reason for my body’s reaction. Again, it makes me think that our bodies are quite excellent at detecting these kinds of bugs and acting upon them immediately, which is exactly what happened to me.

The infectious diseases team is following me again along with my medical and oncology teams. They have prescribed two additional antibiotics, Vancomycin® and another that I have to look up. I am supposed to be resting and sleeping as much as possible, though that is nearly impossible with the number of people coming and going from my room.

For now I’m following the doctors’ orders, taking my breathing treatments and so many pills I can no longer follow which is which. I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday, and so far I have not had a fever. This seems like good progress under the circumstances.

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© 2004–12 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

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