So there’s been a little bug going around. Seems some people have a sore throat which then turns into a cold in some people if they haven’t fought off the sore throat part.
That’s what happens for people with healthy immune systems, that is.
Me, not so much.
I report this not for sympathy but because it could be of value to people assessing the response of their own post-SCT immune system.
I have been enjoying a pretty healthy last few years — I don’t think I’ve had a cold lasting more than a day or two in two years time. I attribute this to taking Tamiflu the second I feel a tickle in my throat. 90% of the time, if I feel this coming on and get in front of it, the feeling is gone the next morning. Maybe twice in two years (if that) it’s turned into a cold that has gone away in a couple of days. If I feel a tickle in my chest, I take an antibiotic (usually Amoxy-Clavicin) designed to wipe out respiratory infections. I do this because when I first had my SCT, any sniffle turned into six weeks of bronchitis. I spent my first year sick probably 60% of the time since it took so damn long to recover and as soon as I did, I’d get sick two weeks later.
Anyhow, through use of Tamilu, Amoxy-Clavicin and more importantly Purell, I’ve been pretty healthy for the last couple of years. Enough where I must have gotten complacent.
I flew up to San Francisco last weekend to celebrate my mother’s 91st birthday. I didn’t use Purell and came into contact with the germs of whatever parade of deranged, disease-ridden folks had used the airline seat before me. Without thinking, I probably ate peanuts or pretzels on the flight which means germs went from the arm-rest to my hand to the peanuts to my mouth. That’s how colds get spread.
Sure enough, Thursday night I felt a tickle. I sourced some Tamiflu from a local pharmacy and popped a pill. Friday morning I felt okay, maybe the same tickle. I figured worst case it would go away in a day or two.
Saturday morning I got up to have breakfast and after two bites of an innocent egg white omelette, went to the bathroom for some violent vomiting for about 10 minutes. I was supposed to meet an old college roommate for a lunch or a drink so I trudged along, sat down, had an innocuous mimosa (so I thought) and a small fruit plate. Bad idea. More violent vomiting.
Maybe some fresh air would help. I had a sip of water (no more food or anything else, I finally determined) and walked for a bit. Bad idea. More violent vomiting. On the street. I felt like a heroin addict.
Got a car back to my hotel. Went up to my room. You guessed it: more violent vomiting.
About the time that I realized this was stomach flu and not just food poisoning is around the time that my throat felt like it was being slashed with a straight razor every time I swallowed. I’d had that feeling before once or twice in my life…strep throat.
Yep. A simple bug that wouldn’t be anything went to town on me and manifested as stomach flu PLUS strep. I flew home and got into bed immediatley, and tried Levaquin — a carpet-bombing antibiotic — and that didn’t seem to help. I was having to take a strong Vicodin (the 10mg of the good stuff plus 325mg of acetominophen) every two hours just to take the edge off the pain. I was actually considering dipping into my remaining Dilaudid — the pain was THAT bad — and because I was worried about the amount of acetominophen on my liver. Before doing that, though, I called my PCP who told me that Levaquin is a great general use antibiotic but isn’t great for strep throat. He put me on Keflex and about eight hours later the pain in the throat finally abated. This was, lessee…Monday. I went from probably ten Vicodin on Sunday to two on Monday to none on Tuesday (I’m not addicted to opiates, thank God — was very easy for me to not take it). As of now, things are downgraded to a mild chest cold with no symptoms other than coughing and respiratory congestion that will clear up in a few days, I’m sure.
Not a lot of fun.
The moral of the story: be ever vigilant, and use Purell!