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Normal Sick…

 Babygirl is slightly less than 6 months out from the transplant.  At the six-month mark, we can be reasonably confident that all of the things they gave her to keep her from early rejection (you know, all but killing her immune system) are wearing off.  This means that her own immune system should be up and running at its normal? Umm, very sluggish? pace.  In plain English, she’s not as likely to get so terribly ill from a minor illness. 

To give a more subtle view of Before Six Months vs After Six Months:

Before Six Months: Don’t bother getting vaccinated with anything you need lasting immunity from (COVID, shingles, tetanus) because her immune system is unlikely to remember that it ever happened. Maybe hold off on the Flu shot as well. 

About 3 weeks ago we all had a cold.  Of the four of us (did I mention Curlygirl and her daughter Bean live here now?) I got the sickest, missed a day of work, and was generally miserable. I still have the cough.

I’ve come to call these episodes the “Grandma Flu” since it seems something like this happens whenever we spend time with the Grands, especially the littles. 

Four or five days ago, Bean got cold symptoms. Then Curlygirl. Then Babygirl. By Wednesday she was miserable: Cough, body aches, endless snot, chills. 

Yesterday the fever came. Fever strikes fear into the hearts of those caring for immune suppressed patients. While some diseases naturally cause fevers, colds typically do not unless the patient isn’t fighting hard enough by other means. Fever means you MUST be evaluated. However….fever notwithstanding, this is probably a cold. Of course, it could also be Influenza, and knowing THAT offers us an antiviral for treatment. There is a rapid test for Flu. We already did a rapid COVID test, which was negative.

Do we need the ER?  I think not. I scheduled an appointment at the walk in, bugged out of work (with the work computer, of course. I can tap into the secure network there).  We waited about 2 hours, and the nurse who took us back immediately sized up the situation. She came back with the Flu swab, a strep throat swab, a viral panel swab and a COVID swab and had it all ready before the provider arrived, about another half hour later.

He was clearly harried. We saw the ambulance getting loaded up while we were waiting.  I know how badly that kind of sick ruins the day of the walk in provider. But still.

“Why are you here with just an ordinary cold? I mean, I know you had a transplant, but you should call your regular doctor and the nephrologist!” 

Dude. We made those calls. Nephrology called us back while we were waiting for him and told us what to do about whatever of the various diagnoses they came up with, and what over-the-counter stuff was safe for her.

I let him wallow around for a few minutes. Babygirl got so intimidated that when he asked her if she had any symptoms in addition to the fever she said, “No.” Lordy.  I mean, not counting the cough, chills, body aches and the six gallons of snot she blew out of her head right in front of you, no, nothing.

I did my best to explain the Before Six Months vs After Six Months, as well as the overall concept of “immunocompromised.” He had no way of knowing that about 2 years ago she went from “a little sick” to “almost didn’t make it” in just a couple of days, but I filled him in.

To his credit, he took a step back, visibly reset his brain, and started over.

On exam her lungs sounded crappy, apparently. He didn’t want to expose her to unnecessary radiation, explaining that bronchitis or pneumonia are going to get the same treatment. He asked if we had inhalers? A nebulizer? And he left the room to research which medications would be safe for her kidney. 

You should be proud of me. I got through the whole thing without saying a single ducking bad word. I never even let him know what I do for a living. 

On our way out, one of the receptionists hollered, “Have a good evening, Dr D!” so I guess I didn’t actually need to tell him.

We stopped for dinner, and went back for the medications. She’s doing a bit better today, thank you.


PS I ran into someone today who was working the ER yesterday. She said that at dinnertime there were 30 people in the waiting room, 20 people in the ER waiting for beds for admission, no empty rooms and overflow was full.  Walk in for the win!