Wednesday, February 24, 2016

When An Allergy is a Good Thing

When last I left you, I was hopped up on narcotics, trying to ignore my post (2nd) surgery pain by writing.  Something about cleaning out infection and then washing my innards with saline and antibiotic wash left my body feeling a bit ... oh ... bitchy. 

Bitchy as in "just breathe and sit, no, stand, no walk, no sit" bitchy.  I kept focusing on just getting through the next hour and, roughly 24 hours after surgery, I finally felt relief.  That's the beauty of the phrase "nothing lasts forever."  For as many times as it signals the end of something that gave us happiness, it also signals the end or a change in something that makes our life painful.

As I explained before, my doctor sent off my "lots of stuff" to the lab to be cultured.  Rather than picturing Julie Roberts being taught which fork to use, picture your favorite hero smacking the shit out of a bad guy while yelling, "Tell me where she is!" or "Give me the antidote!" or "Where's the bomb!" I spoke with Dr. App on Friday long enough to be assured that the preliminary results of the lab interrogation meant at least that I wasn't infected with MRSA - a particularly nasty form of staph infection that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics. 

[It's the bugs that'll get us in the end, people!]

*insert heavy sigh of relief*

So when I received a call from Dr. App the next day - on Saturday - I ... well, honestly, I immediately wondered what the hell my doctor was calling me for on a Saturday.  I didn't expect good news.  And I certainly didn't get great news.

The good news was I had an infection of a type of bacteria that really does live all around us: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a very common type of bacteria that can be found in the soil, in water, on our skin - really generally in our environment.  In healthy people, it might cause an ear infection or skin rash (think of that nasty rash you got in a sketchy hot tub).  Great, right!  Common is good.  Oh, but, see, when you get this bacteria in the setting of a hospital, it can be particularly nasty.  1) You're immune system is already under attack from either an illness or wound, i.e., surgery and 2) the strains of this bacteria found in medical settings are - you guessed it - becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics

Dr. App was letting me know that while the culture showed this to be the culprit of my infection, she was having the lab perform sensitivity testing on my particular strain to see if the antibiotic (Levaquin) she'd put me on back on February 12th - five days before my surgery - would be effective against it.  Obviously, if not, I'd need to switch to something else and any leftover bacteria would likely be recuperating after the surgery battle of February 17th.  I still had five pills left and I continued to take the rest of them.

Now, normally, she would have given me a drug related more to Amoxicillin to battle this infection.  But, see, this one time in Law School, during finals, I got struck with Strep.  Yep.  Because Tax Law isn't nasty enough.  [I can't actually remember which year, which final, or which stress-inducing subject I was studying at the time but it totally could have been tax.]  I also had a skin rash at the time (law school is completely bad for your health) and noticed that it was getting much worse after the Amoxicillin doses began.  My doctor switched my antibiotic, the rash went away, and I now have to list Amoxicillin as an allergy every time I encounter a new doctor.

Cue the nurses in Dr. App's office trying to decide what to prescribe me on February 12th when it was apparent that the hole in Frankenboob had become a condominium to millions of bacterial foreigners.  "What about ______."  No, she's allergic.  "How about ______?"  I think that's related to Amoxicillin.  "Let's call Dr. App."

Levaquin shouldn't trigger my allergy to Amoxicillin and it is good for skin infections, i.e., wound infections.   And thus my antibiotic selection was made and my single-handed monetary support of the yogurt business was born. 


FYI:  Yasso makes a kick ASS frozen yogurt bar with live cultures to replace that good bacteria that your antibiotic is mass murdering.  Try the Sea Salt Caramel.  And you're welcome.


I saw Dr. App for my 1st post op appointment this Tuesday and *knock on wood* everything seems to be healing well again.  Granted, my 1st post op after my 1st surgery seemed okay, too, so I'm being overly careful this time around.  Plus, the sensitivity testing was complete and my infection is "sensitive" to my current antibiotic, i.e., Levaquin is kicking ass. 

I see Dr. App again next Tuesday and, barring any setbacks, she'll give her approval for my chemotherapy to begin March 4th.  That's just one of the crazy things about cancer:  It has me hoping for something that will cause me pain and the loss of all of my hair because of the further hope that it will kill every cancer cell and I'll not have to do this over again later in life.

So, again, the odd part?  I asked and, had I not been allergic to Amoxicillin, Dr. App would have put me on a different antibiotic ... and it would not have worked on my version of pseudomonas.  Who knows if the infection would have taken hold again, if I'd be looking at another clean-up procedure, and another delay from chemotherapy.  But now I have a better chance that such a delay won't happen again.

All because of an allergy.

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