Monday, May 26, 2008

One More Thing, part two

In the last posting three weeks ago, I expressed relief that so far this spring I had not yet been battling hay fever and wondered aloud if this might not be another of the several positive unexpected by-products of the transplant. Since then, I’ve had two or three days of being aware that my hay fever has not altogether vacated the premises, though I’ve needed to use a nose spray only once so far. Several friends, one of them a physician, have suggested that the main factor is not Nancy's kidney but the anti-rejection medication I'm taking.

Patricia Burton in Canada put it this way: "I just checked out your latest kidney story, and I think there is an explanation for the lack of sneezes. The effects of allergies are really attacks by your immune system on something it considers an intruder (like pollen). In severe allergies, it goes overboard and sometimes can kill the person it's trying to protect (like kids severely allergic to peanuts). I know this from arthritis, which is also an auto-immune disease: for unknown reasons your system starts to attack and erode your joints. In severe cases they prescribe the same kinds of drugs as are used for anti-rejection purposes: anti-inflammatories and the like. So maybe your immune system is not bothering with pollen any more but is concentrating on protecting you without rejecting the kidney. Such a balance is in itself miraculous. That's my theeeeeeeeeeeeory anyway, but I ain't no doctah."

Our physician friend, Hans van der Deure, suggests my thanks may especially go to a drug called Prednisolon. As I’ve lately reduced the amount of Prednisolon I'm taking, this may explain why these last few days have found me a degree more vulnerable to pollens in the air. Happily, the condition is much less problematic this year than it has been in a long, long time.

Other news: I was back at the AMC this morning for blood and urine tests. Dr Bemelman called a little while ago with good news re the results: normal renal function, creatinine level 98, no protein or glucose in the urine, indeed all negative indications of any kind.

Off to Rome: We’re now gearing up for our first post-dialysis vacation. (In our absence, Anne will be taking care of Lorraine.) Wednesday morning we fly to Rome where we’ll be staying for two weeks in a hospice -- Domus Nova Bethlem -- run by a community of nuns, Suore Bambino Gesu (Sisters of the Child Jesus). During most of those days, we’ll be part of a pilgrimage arranged by the Thomas Merton Society of Canada, the same group with which we visited Prades in the south of France two years. The focus this time is on visiting churches where one finds the ancient mosaic icons that so profoundly impressed Merton during his stay in Rome when he was eighteen, soon after his father’s death. (For more about Merton and icons, you might look at this essay: “Thomas Merton’s Journey to the Undivided Church” --

(photo: pollen under high magnification)

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