My pneumonia is slowly going away and I am starting to feel better. The problem is that I feel better and then I try to do something – cleaning, yard work, exercise etc…. – then I am beat for most of the rest of the day after only a short time exerting myself. I also seem to be having coughing fits on a frequent basis. My first one was very scary as it lasted almost an hour and it was very hot and I was dripping with sweat by the time it was over. As I was home alone without any transportation I kind of freaked out and called the transplant center. After explaining my problem to three different people they got me on with someone who I had seen when I had been in the hospital with pneumonia. She explained that this is part of the ending of pneumonia that I would cough up the last of the infection that is in my lungs and have to spit it out. Today (Wednesday 7/15/15) I went back to the gym for the first time and did 40 minutes on the treadmill but after that I had a coughing fit in the locker room. they Called in the staff who almost called for an ambulance. I was able to explain everything after a I got myself back under control. Today I also took my last dose of the antibiotics they sent me home from the hospital with.
Both my pneumonia and my prior issues with my parotoid gland were caused because of my suppressed immune system which is a result of the intense treatment of immunosuppressant drugs and steroids that I am taking. Currently I am on Prednisone (a corticosteroid and an immunosuppressant drug), cellcept, and prograf both of which are immunosuppressant drugs. In addition I am taking some other drugs for specific issues related to the kidney transplant but they are benign and I will eventually stop taking them soon. The main three – prednisone, cellcept and prograf – I am on for life. The reason for the immunosuppressant drugs is that my body will treat the new kidney as a foreign body that should be destroyed, like a germ you might pick up, so they need to lower the ability of my immune system to fight foreign bodies so that the new kidney takes a firmer hold. This, unfortunately, increases my susceptibility to all kinds of problems and it is what helped turn my little cold into pneumonia. So far my new kidney is performing great but so are the immunosuppressant drugs, as evidenced by my two hospital stays in the last six weeks. This is a big concern to me as I go forward with my recovery.
Despite everything that has happened, the lowered immune system and the other side effects from these drugs (shaking in my hands, weight gain, intense sweats etc…) I am still very grateful to have had this opportunity for the transplant. I am especially grateful to my wife, Meg for everything she has done to take care of me, before dialysis, while on dialysis and since dialysis and for making it possible for me to participate in the paired exchange program that got me the kidney I needed. I am also grateful to the altruistic donor, Patricia, who just wanted to donate just because she felt the need to help someone. Without her efforts, none of this would be possible. I feel so much better than I did prior to the transplant and the improvement compared to how I felt prior to dialysis is incredible. The worst feeling I had during this whole time was right before I started dialysis. Going onto dialysis was a difficult decision but in the end it gave me some semblance of a life. It made a lot of things possible that weren’t before I started dialysis, my blood pressure came down, I had more energy, but I was now kind of glued to my machine. The problem with dialysis is that it is only temporary and while many people last a fairly long time on dialysis it is, in the end, a slow death. The transplant has totally saved my life. I feel like I am a new man. I am slowly getting back strength that I have not had in years and in time hope to get back to work. I am not sure how my decreased immune system will react and if I will be able to return to work but I plan to talk with my nephrologist to see what, if anything, we can do about it.