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College GERMS after transplant- 8 months post-tx

Hello everybody!

I am close to 8 months post liver transplant, so not quite a year. I decided to take the semester after my transplant off and to just take online classes. It would have been too much for me to go back to school immediately. Anyways, I am currently at university full-time and I have found it to be very challenging. It's not challenging in the knowledge realm (because I'm only a freshman so I'm just taking general eds at this point) but physically and mentally it can be exhausting.

I love school so I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than where I am right now, because it is such a privilege to go to school. However, some days I don't know how I'm going to be able to finish the day without falling asleep or freaking out from all the germs. I am on really high doses of tacro at this point, so I am far from being at "low-risk of infection". My coordinators did say it was okay to go back to college, just that I should be careful. It is hard though. I am not complaining, I just am having an extremely difficult time balancing my school life, my health-care (you all know what that involves) and my relationships. I find myself thinking obsessively about the germs surrounding me. I am in a whole bunch of pit classes (200 people) so there isn't always much space to move away from sick people. The flu and other yucky bugs are going around like wild-fire here in Wisconsin. A dude behind me coughs on my neck. A girl next to me tries to cover her mouth but some of her sneeze saliva escapes and hits me on the face. I don't want to live in fear; I can't live in fear. Fear is no way of living, I know that. I just have to be careful, but that's hard when I've been through so much. Does anybody have any ways to calm yourself down about the germs.I carry sanitizer around with me everywhere and wash my hands after every class.  I'm paranoid about going back to hospital for a bad infection. It hurts me physically when people don't cover their mouths. Of course they don't mean anything by it, but it frustrates me that they don't understand that they could hurt me and others who are immunosuppressed with their germs. I would have a really difficult time asking them to cover their mouth or explaining the situation to them. So I guess my question is, how do you all cope with the germs in a healthy way. Is there way of politely asking a person to cover their mouth?


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  • Sit in the back of the classroom or auditorium, or wear a simple medical mask. The world will not change for you and your health condition....ever. Always..wear a medical mask when you get on a plane, bus or any close quarters where there are germs circulating. Its the only way to keep from breathing the infections and viruses of others. Also refrain from shaking hands always. Knock fists, or a bow of hands together ..prayer like greeting...will save you from a lot of bad germs. It may seem uncomfortable..but it will better than being sick often. I have not had but one cold in 4 years. That is my best advice of 7 + years with a kidney transplant. Best!
  • The concern is real & legitimate. I'd rather be paranoid that lax. I agree with all comments re: germ juice & avoid people who 'appear' sick (easier said than done).

    I suggest what I do on flights / airports -- wear a mask. It's worth it for the comedic effect. People think you are Moses & part ways. If you have to do these large courses, use a mask. It says stay away. Most believe you are contagious, when it's avoiding them.

    An ounce of presentation is worth a pound of cure ....

    Enjoy your gift
  • I went back to work at a hospital and clinic two months post liver transplant.  I am not a patient care person, but worked closely with them.  I agree with Steve Pearson. Get a flu shot AND a pneumonia vaccination along with a TDAP if you are not current.  I also concur about the hand sanitizer and possibly using wipes on the desks. I am 9+ years out now and still move away from obviously sick people.

    I was somewhat concerned about going back to work for the exact reasons you are concerned about school.  I hope you are as lucky as me, because using those steps above, I have had fewer infections post transplant than before.  I have only one that was stubborn and required multiple courses of antibiotics to clear.  

    You will develop habits that will become second nature that will greatly reduce your risks of infection.  As my transplant doctor told me once, when I asked similar questions, "We don't want transplant patients to live in a bubble, we want them to lead normal lives.  We only ask that you use common sense and plenty if hand sanitizer."  ;-)

    • Joe, could not have said it better.  And I love the bubble analogy.  

      Katie:  You're going to do great. 

  • First: get a flu shot.  The "dead" flu shot.  

    Second:  Carry hand sanitizer and use it OFTEN.  You seem to be covering that base fairly well, but do it better.  Consider using a "hand-wipe" on every desk when you sit down.  Wipe that dude on all the spots your hands will touch.  Never put you fingers in you mouth, bite your nails, etc.

    Third:  If possible, sit away from sick peple.  Far away.  But for sure, not next to someone who is coughing and wheezing away ON you.  You might see if it's possible to have spot to sit in the pit away from them.  Can a "safe space" (hate that phrase) be available if you ask?  Just a thought.

    You could wear a N-95 mask.  Folks would get the hint.  But it might make you feel a little "obvious".  

    You're not paranoid.  It is a valid concern.  All you can do is all you can do.  

    Best to you and Be Well!

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