Friday, March 20, 2015

Julia: ONE Bacteria: ZERO

I'm not certain that Escherichia coli is the culprit this go-around, but it has been in the past. 

Well, guys. It's been a weird week, but things are looking up. I actually took a shower today.

Just when I thought I'd climbed up out of a deep post-travel fatigue hole, last Tuesday I found myself in my internal medicine doctor's office carrying on about my latest ailment.

I don't know exactly what's going on. I just know something's not right. I have a strange burning pain in my lower abdomen and I feel crummy.

Bless her heart; my internal medicine physician Dr. P., a petite woman about my age, has been so patient and resourceful with me over the past several months as she and Dr. Young Guy worked together to find some relief for my restless leg and peripheral neuropathy issues. And so she once again sat across from me and listened to my complaints with attentiveness and concern. After a physical exam which included a thorough palpation of my abdomen, she sent me for an abdominal x-ray, some lab work, and a urinalysis which meant just a quick walk down the hallway. After my tests were completed and I dutifully peed in a cup, I returned to my exam room. I was sitting there thinking that it was a real waste of lab time and money doing a U/A since I was certain that there couldn't be anything wrong there.

Dr. P. bustled into the room and took a seat on her rolling chair next to the computer. "Let's pull up your x-ray and take a look at it together. C'mon over."

I thought that was pretty cool that she wanted me to see my film first hand even though she was giving me far too much credit in my x-ray evaluation skills. I'd seen my share of chest x-rays way back when I was a dialysis nurse, but abdomens? Not so much.

"Look at this....and this.....and this," she said and pointed out various images. "I think your stool pattern looks very normal."

Yippee, I thought. I have an impressive stool pattern.

"I'm sure you know that means you probably don't have any kind of obstructive thing going on. I'll make sure this is reviewed by a radiologist but I'm pretty comfortable telling you that your x-ray is normal."


"Let's see if your U/A is back......"

I was about to say that I didn't have any bladder symptoms when she exclaimed, "Aha!"


"Take a look. Your leukocytes and nitrites are sky high. You, my friend, have a roaring urinary tract infection."

Whoa! But....but....I don't have any of the usual cystitis symptoms like burning or frequency or any of that stuff.

"Being immunosuppressed by your Cellcept and prednisone probably masked the usual symptoms. I wonder if the infection has actually moved past your bladder and is involving your ureters and possibly nearing your kidney which could account for your abdominal pain. I'm glad you came in when you did or things could have become far more serious."

Me too!

She typed a prescription for an antibiotic into the computer and gave me the usual instructions regarding increasing fluids and getting some rest, and asked me to contact her if I wasn't feeling better in a day or so. After thanking her, I left her office and headed toward the pharmacy feeling a strange mix of relief and uncertainty.

I was relieved because I had an answer to why I was feeling so crummy; but uncertain and frustrated because I thought I knew my body so well and yet I had completely misinterpreted the signals it was sending me. Great, I thought. Yet another example of how quickly weirdo stuff can happen when I'm taking these kinds of drugs.

It was a good reminder of my increase in susceptibility to infection when immunosuppressed.

So here I am chugging water and unsweetened cranberry juice (zowie - that stuff is tart) and marveling yet again how a bunch of teensy little microorganisms can wipe big old me out for a whole week. But I'm getting my revenge. Every time I swallow my Cipro, I think, Take THAT you lousy little critters. DEATH to you all! Bwahahahaha! 

It appears that I may have lost one battle, but I'm winning the war. Yesssssssss.


mcspires said...

Oh poor Julia! I hope you are feeling better. Thanks for sharing this. I never even thought about prednisone masking other symptoms, but it sure makes sense

Anonymous said...

I am on rituxan and had the same thing. No urinary symptoms except having to go more frequently and really feeling run down. It was nothing like when I had a prior urinary infection. I felt so much better after it cleared up.

Happened to an older family member as well with no immunosuppressants and no urinary symptoms. He was just really out of sorts.

There is a home test now that you can get at drugstores.