Setback

A minor head cold has turned into possible pneumonia, and I’m being treated with antibiotics. I’ve been completely incapacitated for a week, but luckily I am at home and not hospitalized. The other good news is I’ve lost about 6 pounds because of my lack of appetite! I also am catching up on a lot of TV: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, anything on Turner Classic Movies, and I discovered a new channel, Decades. It has blocks of shows from different decades, so the morning has Family Affair and Pettycoat Junction. I can’t believe I used to love those shows when I was a kid. (Tip: DO NOT look up what happened to Buffy or Uncle Bill. You don’t want to know.) My time is spent between my couch, my kitchen sink and my bed. Lots of time in my bed.

Ha, being sick has its advantages. But that could be the lack of oxygen talking. I’ve never coughed up so much disgusting crap in my life. My rib is bruised from the internal abuse and coughing is super painful. I have to build my courage up just to cough. Sort of brace myself over the sink and go for it. Then for about five minutes afterwards I try to catch my breath and stop feeling dizzy from the exertion.

Just writing this is really taking some time, so if it seems a little strange, it’s because my brain has been deprived of oxygen for the past week. Not being able to take full breaths is quite debilitating, and my controlling side is trying to suppress the urge to cough. So I end up sort of sounding like an accordion (whee, whee, wheeeeeewwww) until I finally give in to the cough. Most of the time it’s been productive, but not always.

I’ve never had anything quite like this. I’ve had bad colds before where I’ve hurt my ribs from coughing (on the same side, hmmm) but this feels quite different.

Last year I had asked for a scan to see how big my kidneys are and the scan revealed something else: minor atelectasis in the left lung. (Minor collapse.) Nothing was mentioned to me in our discussion of the scan, but I read my test results and look up words that I don’t know. I was shocked to see this finding, and not have my doctor discuss it. When I brought it up, he downplayed it. When I said I had noticed that I was having some difficulty breathing with some physical activities, like biking up a hill, he asked if I was regularly working out. Did I just say I was biking? I was pretty frustrated by that, but I really like my doctor because he tends to listen to me. And I thought perhaps I was looking for an excuse to remove that kidney at some point. Did you know that even though my PDK kidneys are huge and damaged they won’t necessarily be removed? My brother who has PKD still has his native kidneys, somehow they found space for his new kidney in there.

So fast forward a year and a half, and I have a serious infection in my left lung. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I truly hope this is an isolated incident, and I don’t experience anything like this ever again. On the other hand, I’m going to remind my medical team when the time comes to take a look at my lung and maybe other organs, to see if removing at least one kidney is a good idea.

I still am waiting for a kidney of course, and I’m not sure if this incident will move me up on the list. If someone steps forward to donate a kidney, waiting for a cadaver would no longer be necessary.

Anyone interested in donating a kidney (living donor) may contact susanna.gust@allina.com by calling 612-863-8886 to request a packet of information and to undergo screening. Living donors may be related or unrelated to the recipient, but type O is preferred. Donors who are not type O should ask about a Paired Donation.  Visit http://www.allinahealth.org/Abbott-Northwestern-Hospital/Services/Kidney-Transplantation/ 

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