Listeria Part 2.

Listeria: Part 2

As stated in my last blog, by July 4th 2007, doctors thought I had Listeria, a bacterial infection that had manifested in my blood stream for eight weeks. The infectious disease doctors had a hunch that it was indeed Listeria that was causing havoc on my body, so they decided to start me on Ampicillin. Ampicillin is a strong antibiotic that is given intravenously. The orders from the doctors were that they would keep me in Abington Hospital and administer the medicine every six hours. They were very concerned that the infection would travel to my brain, causing meningitis. The next step was to order a CAT scan of my brain, and they had to do it quick!

There was only one problem: I was using the bathroom so much that I could not lie in a machine that still for that long. I told the doctors that, but they insisted that this test needed to be done. The next morning (July 5th) the CAT scan team came to get me to take me down to get the test done. I told them, “No, I can’t do it.” They said they would come back later in the day to give me time to think about it. I was embarrassed and all-out scared. So the CAT scan team arrived back in the room later that day, and once again I said, “No.” I knew that I needed the CAT scan, but I was so afraid that I would have an accident right there in the CT room.

Finally, the next day I had to give in. It was a matter of life or death. When the staff rolled me down to the CAT scan room, they were emphasizing how important it was to lay still. Once they got me into the machine, I immediately said that I had to use the bathroom. They canceled the test.

The doctors had to figure out a way to see if I had meningitis. So they decided to do a spinal tap on me. The spinal fluid would determine if the infection was in my brain. Once again I was told that I had to lay still or else I would get a spinal headache. A spinal headache is caused by the imbalance of fluid when moved around during a spinal tap.

Well of course I got the spinal headache, because within ten minutes of the procedure I had to go to the bathroom, resulting in me having to move. My gosh, what a headache! I had this headache for five days! The headache was so intense that I was bedridden the whole time. I was glad that the spinal tap came back negative, but I could not shake the headache. The doctors then decided they would reverse the spinal tap, which would put an end to the headaches. Once again they took me into the procedure room and added spinal fluid back. The headache went away!

Since there was no meningitis, the plan was to put a PICC line into my arm, and send me home. A PICC line is an IV access port that goes into the arm. I would administer the IV medication to get rid of the Listeria. Abington Home Infusion was scheduled to come out to my house so I could be taught how to administer the antibiotic correctly, and keep my port site clean. I felt like I was becoming a nurse! I had to administer the antibiotic four times a day, every six hours. The medicine was refrigerated, and hung from an IV pole for about thirty minutes. I remember having to do it in the middle of the night. Another hard thing about having a PICC line was that you had to treat it like a cast. We know that we can not get a cast wet. So that meant I had to wear a cast cover and couldn’t do many activities that would cause much sweating.

A nurse came out to my house every other day to clean and change the dressing. She also checked the PICC site for signs of infection. Three weeks later I finished my last dose of antibiotics via PICC line. I was so happy. I did a blood test and cultures to find that my WBC had returned to normal range, and no growth on the cultures.

I never knew what Listeria was. Now I hear about it on TV all the time. I do take caution with the food I eat, and make sure it is cooked very well.

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