Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Transplant for the Cure - A Fungus Among Us

Karen Luehrman is filling out paperwork and waiting to
review the CT scan with the pulmonary physician.
Our first stop on Monday morning, October 19, was at the University of Kansas Hospital/Office Building.
Karen had been suffering from a persistent cough for several months, so her doctor ordered a CT Scan of her lungs. The pulmonary physician showed us a picture of the recent scan and pointed out a filmy-looking white area in her upper left lung. He then showed us a scan from several months earlier. There was a noticeable difference, even to an untrained eye.

The pulmonary doctor said they needed to find out if this was a virus, fungus or bacterial infection in her lung. He scheduled Karen to come back on Wednesday so they could put a scope into her lung and get a sample of the tissues. This issue in the lung was the reason the stem cell transplant was postponed.

We then went over to the KU Cancer Center and checked-in at the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic. I had a series of appointments for my pre-donor tests and Karen had other appointments on her schedule.

I was required to repeat the same medical tests that I had in May. The following tests are required of a stem cell donor:

Chest X-Ray
Labs (Blood Tests)
Health & Physical/ Consent Appointment

The first three tests were routine and uneventful. The "consent" appointment was an opportunity to meet with one of the transplant oncologists and discuss any questions or concerns. The doctor was a pleasant young woman with a British accent (I am not good at accents, but it sounded British to me). She began our conversation by saying;

"Your stem cells will help Karen so much. They will do her so much good".

I was happy to hear that the doctor was still quite optimistic that this transplant was going to happen. There had been several delays, but the doctor seemed  hopeful and optimistic about the entire situation. Sometimes a few well-chosen words can change everything for the better.

The doctors suspected that Karen had a fungal infection in her lung. They would not know for sure until they got the results of the scope procedure being done on Wednesday. However, they started her on an anti-fungal drug that had to be administered intravenously.
Karen Luehrman was receiving her first dose of
anti-fungal medicine with an intravenous injection.

Karen would have to take this anti-fungus medicine for at least two weeks, so the doctors scheduled a surgical procedure for a tri-line to be inserted in her chest so she could give herself the IV treatments at home.

I would be extremely squeamish about giving myself IV treatments at home. Karen didn't have a moment of hesitation about doing whatever it took to get well. She would not surrender to the disease.

Tuesday would be another full day of medical procedures. Karen would report to a day surgery facility to have the tri-line inserted into her chest and then back to the BMT Clinic to receive her IV treatment. The day ended with an unexpected challenge and a little help from a friend.
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