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Pneumonia after a Transplant

Posted Oct 01 2008 5:07pm
Pneumonia is one thing that we were warned about after the transplant. After surgery I was given a spirometer (sp?) and told to use it a couple of times everyday. It's a plastic thing with a movable piece inside a tube. You blow into a flexible piece of tubing that sticks out of the equipment and the movable piece is thrust up the tube depending on how much air capacity is in your lungs. This exercise causes deep breathing which helps prevent pneumonia while recovering from surgery. When someone becomes very sedentary (inactive), pneumonia is a real threat. We were told repeatedly to be on the lookout for signs of pneumonia because of our compromised immune system with the antirejection drugs. Low grade fevers, difficulty breathing, coughing being the biggest things to monitor. Unfortunately, I came down with a sinus infection just before Labor Day weekend and by Labor Day I knew it had gone into the dreaded pneumonia. First thing Tuesday morning I went to my family physician and a chest xray confirmed that I did indeed have pneumonia. The antibiotic Levequan was prescribed as well as a cough syrup that contained antihistamines and decongestant. The cough syrup seemed to work for me but I had to really make sure I got my fluids in. The decongestant drys up your nose as well as the other parts of your body. Blood work did show an elevation in my Creatine level while taking the cough syrup but interesting something else happened during that time in which it is still not certain if it is related. One of the tests they do with the bloodwork is check my Prograf levels which is an antirejection drug. High levels of Prograf can damage the new kidney and elevate the Creatine level. Originally I had been taking 6mg of Prograf 2x a day and after the first elevated test was cut back to 5mg 2x a day. Two weeks later the bloodwork still showed an elevated Creatine but was not as high as before. So now I'm on 4mg 2x a day. Today I went back for a recheck on the pneumonia and it is clearing but not gone. It has almost been a month now and even though I had the knowledge in my head that it would take longer to recover from illnesses, living through it is quite different. My expectations have been what they were in the past with illnesses. Seems like it has taken me longer to recover from the pneumonia than the transplant surgery. So for those of you out there with transplant on the horizon or in the near past or future, take precautions! If one of your family members gets sick with anything, insist they go to the doctor and have them explain the situation. I tried staying away from the family member who was sick which may have worked had I not been on antirejection drugs. Plus I was under the assumption that sinus infections aren't contagious. That all depends on what caused the sinus infection. Cotton fields surround our community and every year when the defoiliation process starts, sinus problems abound in the community. Bloodwork should be taken today and we'll see if the Prograf level has come down some more and what the Creatine level is now.
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