Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Continuation of Post-Tx Complications

Here is more information regarding post-tx complications. This post and the previous one about rejection, is more of an informative post. Please don't think I'm complaining about any of it. Like I've said many times already, I would NOT trade the post-transplant side for anything. It's worth it to go through some of these complications and be able to live a fairly normal life and to be able to BREATHE! So please don't get the wrong idea....Some people just don't realize all the stuff that can happen post-tx. (BTW: Tx=transplant)

OK...so I reviewed the rejection and it's possibilities. Another possible complication is infections. Because your immune system is highly suppressed, you are more susceptible to catching "colds." Getting an infection post-transplant is much different than before, with CF. With CF, usually the infection was related to CF and either oral or IV abx for 2 weeks would cure it. It wasn't infections like the normal person would get, and your immune system is much stronger prior to transplant. CF infections were called "CF exacerbations."

After transplant, CF still remains in your sinuses and digestive system. So you are still prone to getting sinus infections which can move into your chest if you are not careful. Usually, if you catch an infection soon enough, a round of oral abx can cure it. However, sometimes you might have an infection and not know it until things get a little more severe. For some reason or another, my body gets infections 4-5 times a year. A few times, oral abx are able to treat the infection. However, several times mine have turned into pneumonia (or maybe even started that way). Usually (not always) I will start running a fever and I usually don't feel too great. Because of the fever, my coordinator usually makes me come in and get evaluated. After that, my chest x-ray will usually show a spot on my lung (pneumonia). When I get pneumonia, I usually stay in the hospital for 1 week, then go home on home iv abx for another week. I will also get albuterol aerosols for a few days to help clear the pneumo up. And sometimes, depending on my breathing, I might use a little oxygen at night. Last year, 2007, I had pneumonia 4 times. It's not fun to get, but treatable if you catch it quickly. If you don't, it can be extremely serious and life-threatening. (which has happened once, but won't go into detail about that here). So....keeping your sinuses clear and paying close attention when you start feeling bad is VERY important, especially if you are prone to infections. You can also diagnosis infections by a high White Blood Cell Count. However, using that lab test doesn't always indicate an infection. For me, mine count is rarely elevated during infections. They usually say, once you get pneumonia once, you are very likely to get it again. And so far, that's proved to be true. I've had it at least twice every year since transplant, and have been hospitalized for all occasions.

Because CF remains in the sinuses, sinus infections can be frequent depending on the person. Usually, a CF patient has sinus problems anyway. However, for me, I never had trouble prior to transplant. Last year I began having major sinus problems (which once caused pneumonia) and ended up having sinus surgery last July. Since then, I've stayed pretty clear and have not really had any problems. Thank the Lord!

This post ended up being a little longer than expected, so I will do one final post summing up the remaining possible post-transplant complications.

One quick note: Although these complications are POSSIBLE in all post-transplant patients (mainly CF), that doesn't mean that every CF post-transplant person experiences them. I have many CF/transplant friends who are 4 and 5 years post-transplant, and have never had pneumonia. Most do have sinus issues and may get a very mild infection, but nothing serious like pneumonia.