Archive for April, 2014

Week 25 (April 20)

Posted: April 20, 2014 in Weekly update
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The final week of medication was very smooth, as Kanako and I literally counted down the days each morning after my daily dosage. I’ve slid into the work rhythm as well, so the days are flying by and I’m finally on the last 100 meters of my 6-month round-trip journey through TB hell and back.

Nothing much to report this week except for the fact that I’ve only got one more day of medication and perhaps the trickiest obstacle ahead. Though I will have finished my treatment, it will take some time for my body to readjust and completely rid itself of the meds. Normally it wouldn’t be much of a big deal, but since I’m taking anti-coagulants I’ve got to keep my INR monitored and revert back to my pre-TB dosage. Fortunately I’ve got a check-up with the cardiologist this coming Friday, so I will know more about how my liver and INR are handling the transition.

This week I submitted the doctor’s note to one of my universities that had requested it. Since I had to fork over 2000 yen (around 20 dollars) of my own money for the form, I thought of a novel way of submitting the documentation but being able to keep the original in case someone requests it in the future. With the help of technology, I simply scanned in the document, saved it as a .pdf file, and e-mailed it to my boss, who said it was sufficient. Man, now why didn’t I think of that back in January when I got the original doctor’s note? It would have saved a lot of hassle and a bit of money too. Lesson learned.

The weekend brought more favorable weather, which meant another hike with my friends Paul and Mayumi. As you may recall, Paul was the first person I had done a hike with after being discharged, so it was only fitting that my last hike during my treatment be under the same companionship. We headed to the border of Shiga and Fukui Prefectures, not far from where Tomomi and I ventured last weekend. Despite the calendar declaring that we were well into spring, mother nature decided to bring winter back for an unexpected encore, and we were grossly underprepared in our light jackets and t-shirts. We kept pretty much on the move, ducking into the forest once we could take the arctic gusts no longer. The lungs held up just fine and while the nose did run, my allergies weren’t nearly as bad as just a few weeks prior.

Since my medication is coming to an end, so will the regular blog posts. I will do one more update next week, followed by posts at the 6 month and 1 year anniversaries. Thanks for sticking along through two seasons of medical trials and tribulations. I’ll try to make my final post a good one.

 

Trying to keep my mind off the frigid temperatures

Trying to keep my mind off the frigid temperatures

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Week 24 (April 13)

Posted: April 13, 2014 in Weekly update
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24 weeks of nonstop meds and the end is finally in sight. Only a little over a week before I can finally stop eating yogurt. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the stuff, but it gets old after 4 months of eating it every day. And now to recap the week:

The semester officially started, which meant it was an incredibly busy week. My body will slowly adjust to the new workout, but until it does, I expect to be hitting the hay at obscenely early times over the next few weeks. I did run into a few old students from last semester who were happy to see me and relieved that I am doing much better. I also got to meet one of the teachers who replaced me. He was a nice guy and seemed to handle my classes well after my sudden departure.

On Friday I headed back to Dr. Tamura for my final checkup. The blood test results were good except for the low INR again. I’m going to bump up the dosage slightly for about a week before reverting back to my regular pre-antibiotic dosage. I had another chest Xray as well. He said that it looked much better but to my eyes the ‘before’ and ‘after’ looked exactly the same! I’ve heard that TB will scar the lung tissue so I guess I’ll have cloudy X-rays from here on out. The next step in my treatment is an X-ray 6 months after treatment is stopped. That has been scheduled for October. If I have a relapse then they should be able to pick it up in the images and with blood tests. There’s only a 1% chance of that happening, but if it’s going to happen, it usually does within a year – hence the need for a follow-up X-ray in October and next April. After a year the likelihood diminishes greatly. Not sure what I can do to avoid a relapse of the disease other than to try to stay away from unwanted germs.

Speaking of germs, my body has finally kicked the nasty cold that took over my respiratory system. Though I do still cough a bit, it is much better than before. The only downside is that I gave my cough to Kanako and now she sounds really bad. Hopefully we’ll be back to normal by the start of summer.

Nurse Yohara came back to check on my medication and to make sure I had enough to last the remainder of my treatment cycle. She will only visit one more time after my treatment is complete. It was nice having that support from Osaka city but I look forward to not having to frantically clean the apartment once a week!

The weekend brought more fair weather, so I headed on another hike with my friend Tomomi. We rented a car and drove to northern Kyoto Prefecture for a walk in a virgin hardwood forest. There was still a bit of snow remaining, and fortunately the pollen counts were low. It was so great to finally be able to breathe in some fresh air with my actual nose instead of behind the fabric of a surgical mask.

This coming week is my final full week of medication. The home stretch to my long road to recovery.

Walking in the forest

Walking in the forest

 

 

Week 23 (April 7)

Posted: April 7, 2014 in Weekly update

The cold I developed at the end of last week blew up into a nasty affair. Although the nose has settled down a bit, the chest cough is still pretty bad, prompting more than one person to ask if my TB hadn’t come back for a second round.

Even though I spent the week hacking, it was off to some of my schools for beginning-of-semester meetings. It was good to see some of my old co-workers again, who were still in a bit of shock after my sudden exit in the fall. Fortunately, the teachers at my school were tested for TB but no one showed any positive results. Not sure if any of my students caught it but I am sure I would have heard by now if they did. Next week the teaching starts for real so hopefully I can run into some of my old students and explain my sudden departure in more detail. I still don’t know if the staff told all of my students that I had TB. There have been stories in the past of school officials lying to students when it comes to a sudden teacher disappearance. You can usually find these things out when the students start asking you about your grandmother’s health. I’m prepared to play along with that story if need be.

The remainder of the week was pretty low key, as I rested a lot and ate a lot of soup to help me beat this infection. A week on I must say that my body has done a relatively good job of bouncing back, but I’d rather have another week off to fully recover before running full steam ahead into my classes. It’s a shame that the cold is not caused by bacteria, because I’ve got enough antibiotics flowing through my veins to ward off a tsunami of infectious diseases.

April means that the flowers have started blooming. On Saturday I fought the crowds to get a glimpse of some of the cherry blossoms in the ancient capital of Kyoto. My lungs held up all right despite the hacking, productive cough. The following day saw some flower action right here in Osaka. With temperatures hovering around freezing, Kanako and I took a brisk stroll along the deserted riverside through a tunnel of white flowers.

The end of my TB treatment is now in sight, as I can now count down the days instead of months before my medication comes to an end. Well, at least I hope that this cough is not a remission of the disease. I will know for sure when I go back to Dr. Tamura this week. I’ll ask for some powerful cold medicine while I’m there, as this over-the-counter stuff just doesn’t do the trick.

Cherry blossom tunnel in Osaka

Cherry blossom tunnel in Osaka