Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

April 6, 2002|

Cytomegalovirus (CMV); any of a group of highly host-specific herpes viruses infecting humans, monkeys, or rodents, producing unique large cells with inclusion bodies. Opportunistic infection with cytomegalovirus is extremely common in immunocompromised individuals causing clinical illnesses such as chorioretinitis, pneumonitis, esophagitis, colitis, adrenalitis, and hepatitis; the most common of these is chorioretinitis. Cytomegalovirus also causes cytomegalic inclusion disease, although a majority of infections are very mild, and it has been associated with a syndrome resembling infectious mononucleosis. (Miller-Keane Medical Dictionary, 2000)

Back in the Pen

While reading at Starbucks, I got the call. I knew there was a good chance it would come it was just a matter of when. “Art we need you to come in ASAP. You’ve got CMV and we need to treat it.” So my mom and I packed a few of my things and then promptly waited five hours in an isolation room in the Emergency Room at Sloan Kettering. So much for ASAP. By midnight I finally got into my 12th floor isolation room. I was back in the Pen.

Seventy percent of the population carries CMV. You just never feel its effects because your immune system is strong enough to keep it under control. As for me, right now, my immune system is in a weakened state, so the chance of CMV presenting itself was great. From what I have gathered from my sources, almost all transplant patients come back in the hospital for another stay. Typically CMV is why.

So I spent most of last week trying my best to make time pass quickly. I have never napped and slept so much in my life. By Friday I couldn’t watch another episode of “The Simpsons” or “Seinfeld.” (I can’t believe I just wrote that!) Twice a day for two months in and out of the hospital. I had seen them all. I could line for line quote most of the episodes. My parents are quite freaked out by such displays of memorization.

Making it more difficult, though, has been the room I currently reside in. It is similar to a prison. Freshly painted and redone, it is as bland as a salt-free saltine. The new TV and VCR aren’t hooked up yet. The old two-inch TV gets half a channel. I brought my slow-footed and low powered laptop instead of my desktop computer, thinking I would be out of here in a week. In the words of Homer Simpson, “D’oh!” No DVDs, slow Internet connection, no MP3s, it was a LONG week. The scary thing is that it can only get longer. I could be in here, with all of those enmities, for a month, if the CMV virus can’t be subdued with normal medication.

I apologize for not telling or writing about this sooner, but I really thought I would have been out a long time ago. This wasn’t supposed to be a big deal I thought. It still isn’t a big deal- well, it kind of is- but it is quite manageable. It’s just hard to feel genuinely good, to have your legs about you, to finally be eating food without yakking, and to be unattached to an IV pole while still stuck in an isolation room in the hospital. UGH! Character, Art, such moments as these develop character.

Finally, today, I was able to snag a TV and VCR. The movie nights that I planned for my earlier stay may come to fruition. Just today I watched “Braveheart” and “Chariots of Fire.”  No movie, other than “The Matrix,” gets a man more fired up to kick butt than “Braveheart.” Hopefully it will inspire my cells to kick butt and kill off the CMV. Let’s pray that happens.

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