Home at last?

I’ve been missing in action for most of January. Following the blood thinner hassles around Boxing Day, I caught some bug that attacked my left hip on 7 Jan. So before I could blink, I was back in hospital.

The usual ED blood tests indicated my old friend staph epidermidis, also present last October in my right hip. The usual treatment is 6 weeks of Vancomycin, which began immediately.

Over the next two weeks, I was discharged twice, followed by two re-admissions due to more infection and for low HB.

(One excellent thing that happened during one of those snap home visits was that Julie disappeared and returned with one of those electric easy chairs. With the help of relatives and friends, she unboxed it, plugged it in and I’ve been nestled it almost every waking moment since. Now I’ve just go to work out how to stop the grandkids fiddling with the control – especially while I’m in it.)

Back in hospital, ultrasounds, scans, and eventually an MRI found several pockets of some kind of fluid in my hip (maybe pus?). However, no-one could decide whether to drain or cut open my hip to get rid of it. Eventually, I had a needle inserted to draw out the fluid (aspiration). Not much fluid. Next, I had a drain tube inserted to try a slow drip release. Again no joy, and it fell out after the second day.

Around now, at last, a senior Infectious Diseases Consultant decided to look hard at my history. She found that this was the same bug going back to 2012. It seems that while Vancomycin kills it in test tubes, it doesn’t in my body. So she changed to a new antibiotic (Linezolid) which should polish it off after 6 weeks. Once that’s done, I’m to take another antibiotic for the rest of my life as a prophylactic, designed to stop any further infection before it begins.

Once all this was decided, four weeks after I arrived, I was released home on Feb 3.

I can’t say I’m better yet. Still limping and collapsing after the smallest effort. But there is progress. Yesterday Julie and I went out for coffee (bliss). Who knows what madness could follow over the next few weeks?

Which is important, because the infection is just a sideshow. The main game is my heart and the 90% blockage in my right coronary artery. And for the last few weeks, my AF.

So far, I’ve had three plans for going forward: all involved two specialists grinding down the blockage and putting in a stent.  Each time this has been cancelled due to my infection: I must first be infection-free. This could take another 3-4 weeks. All the time taking blood thinners to get me ready for the stent.

However, just today, my Cardiologist called to say the plan has changed. I must still become infection free, but now I need to have my AF reverted first, and then perhaps my blockage can be dealt with “medically”.

First, fixing the AF, probably by zapping. Just before the zap, I’ll have a TransOesophaegal Echo (TOE) – an ultrasound taken of the heart from the oesophagus, via the back of the throat. They are worried about the possibility of a stroke if the zapping releases clots into my bloodstream. So, if there are no clots around, my AF will be zapped. If there are clots, they will block them off from the bloodstream first. In preparation, I’m to stop the blood thinner a week before, then 3 days before onto Warfarin.

So what about the stent? Medically, long-term Warfarin may be enough to keep my blood thin enough to get past the blockage in the medium term. So maybe it can be put off for longer, unless I get angina, or fail a stress test, etc.

Next stop the TOE and hopefully the AF reversion.

Dialysis and the Best Laid Plans

Firstly I want to mention a comment from Simon on the Dialysis, Fistulas and Fatal Haemorrhages post.  Read his comment, it is both dramatic and worthwhile.

But also it underlines the increased level of infection risk when you are starting to buttonhole. Why? Because it’s new to everyone, but especially to you. I think a key buttonhole training element should be a practical session on washing your fistula before use.  Before I used the technique, I know I had become a little careless about the BigD pre-wash.  Luckily the nurse training me watched my preparation and for a week or so, would not start until I had washed my fistula to her satisfaction.   (more…)

Dialysis and a week in the kidney ward

I know that all of this will be drearily familiar to many members of the BigD club.  As usual, the trip in hospital switches from boring to unpleasant, to satisfying, to tedious and back again, but the outcome is good.

I started to feel quite unwell last Thursday.  My heart had switched back into Atrial Fibrillation and blood tests at BigD showed raised infection markers.  My nephrologist ordered more tests and blood cultures.  Unfortunately the culture showed some kind of Staph, so he told me to go to the Emergency Department at the Austin, my usual kidney hospital, and he would arrange for me to be booked in.  (more…)

Feeling good on dialysis after a setback

Getting fit on the BigD can be a challenge, especially in the early days or after surgery or some kind of other medical or physical setback.  But there’s only one way: slow and steady exercise, letting your body gradually build up condition.

It’s been about four months since I’ve been to the gym, and I started again yesterday.  What a shock.  Talk about the guy who gets sand kicked into his face.  What a wimp.  I strain with tiny, girlie-sized weights and pretend not to notice when tiny girls pick up the man-sized ones. (more…)

Dialysis is Like Life, Only More So

The BigD is the original moving feast. One month life is sweet: my brain functions Ok; puncturing is easy, with both buttonholes working; I feel fit and well; my blood pressure is like an athlete’s; my blood work is mostly within the zone; I am sleeping well; I can get out of bed, jog and exercise like I did way back when. On these days I think: “This dialysis is a soda – can I handle it or what?”

Then the next month arrives. Suddenly (more…)