Although not entirely rectified, the issues with my throat had at least dampened down enough overnight to allow me to talk. I still had the odd issue with my gag reflex, though.
Having rested and dressed in the morning, I was surprised to find the docs still willing to go along with their pronouncement that I could go home. By now Wednesday, I hadn’t planned on having this much time away from my desk, so it was nice to think I could go home, sleep a little in my own bed and rest up properly.
K arrived to shuttle me back and we made our break for it. Unfortunately, too soon.
Halfway through the hour-and-a-bit drive home, my phone rang with a call from the HeadDoc again. Apparently, they hadn’t waited for my biopsy results from the previous day before kicking me out. Which is when I heard the five words you definitely, definitely don’t want to hear as a post-transplant patient:
“You’ve got some acute rejection.”
For those unversed in all things transplant, here’s the skinny:
When organs (or tissue) are transplanted into your body you discover just how clever your body really is. It’s doesn’t realise that you’re doing it a favour, but rather notices that a large piece of itself has gone missing and been replaced by, well, a large piece of someone else. Not knowing what that large piece is (nor that it’s actually very good for you), any body will start to attack that foreign invader.
Hence the most important part of any post-transplant medical routine: immuno-suppressant drugs specifically designed to dampen your immune system to a point where your body can still fight off the everyday coughs and colds we all come into contact with, but where it won’t recognise the new additions to your system.
Sooner or later, though, the body won’t be fooled any more. At some point in the future – and it can be days, weeks, months or many, many years – the body will recognise the foreign objects and it will start to attack them. This is called rejection.
The Big R is something every transplant patient knows will happen to them sooner or later, but we all try to hide from. We all know we’ll face it, but none of us is actually willing to, you know, face it.
There are two types of rejection and, in that regard, I’ve got the good one. Acute rejection can be equated to a sudden flare up of an old injury, like when a pulled back gets “put out” on over exertion. It doesn’t mean the beginning of the end, but it does need to be treated swiftly and decisively to make sure it doesn’t escalate and your backbone doesn’t fall out entirely. OK, maybe that’s analogy’s a little stretched.
So, halfway home to a nice cup of tea and some chill time in front of the TV, I’m ordering K to turn around and racing back to Harefield with one single word bouncing around my head. I’ve had more enjoyable journeys, I have to admit.
To be continued…Part III tomorrow.
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