A close up of NB black person torso with a magnifying glass looking at an abstracted representation of a kidney

A Kidney Infection or Something Else?

Last updated: September 2022

As we all know, when we're on treatment that suppresses our immune system, we will be at risk of catching infections more frequently. Because of this, the month of June consisted of many sleepless nights filled with pain and discomfort and a whole load of trips to the hospital.

Unusual back pain

I woke up one day with the most unusual lower back pain; it was pulsating and would get worse when I took a breath. I assumed it was a kidney infection since it was on both sides of my lower back. I have lesions on my lower back which means I can't empty my bladder properly which leads to frequent UTIs. But I had never had a kidney infection or this type of pain before.

Things kept getting worse

It was the weekend, so the GP practice was closed. My only option was to call the NHS 24 helpline to get some advice. I was worried if I left it too late it would get worse and harder to get rid of since my immune system is suppressed. They were worried as just a few hours after the pain started, I began to develop a fever and a cough. I was passing urine so frequently and it was getting stressful. They called me into the out of hours GP near my house, took a urine sample, and found some bacteria. I began to get chest pains too which was worrying, and my heart rate was unusually high.

A night at the hospital

The GP gave me some ibuprofen and an antibiotic, and then referred me to the main hospital in Glasgow to be checked properly. I arrived at the hospital and was told to give another urine sample and blood. My heart rate was still really high and the doctor decided I should stay the night.

Back home again

The next day I saw a different doctor. He swapped my antibiotics and my blood work showed my iron levels were extremely low, which could have contributed to the fast heart rate. I was referred for iron infusions even though the doctor the night before said I needed a blood transfusion. I was sent home.

I was mad at the doctor

The next few days I continued to take the antibiotics but there was no relief. I phoned my GP and they informed me the antibiotics the doctor swapped and prescribed me were for a UTI and not for a kidney infection. I was angry at the fact he changed my antibiotics for no reason and also the treatment plan the previous doctor had created for me. He knew I was high risk. I was given another antibiotic which was specifically for kidney infections.

I was letting things run their course

The pain began to improve, my fever was gone, but the heart rare hadn't settled yet. I wasn't worried, as I relied on the antibiotics to do their things and assumed it would take some time. I began to develop the same chest pain I had previously, but it came back worse.

Back to the doctor

A few days after the course of antibiotics finished, the lower back pain returned but ten times stronger. I panicked once again and phoned up my GP who told me to come into the practice to get checked. She said that the urine sample I gave was clear which meant there was no infection present anymore. She was unsure of what was causing the pain, but as my heart rate was extremely high again, she referred me to the hospital.

COVID, again

I waited at the hospital for hours until I was seen by the doctor. He said he thought it was a viral infection and that I should just go home and rest. I took a COVID-19 test and it ended up positive. The last time I had COVID I was bedridden for three weeks, lost 11 lbs and my hair fell out in bunches. This was when I wasn't on immunosuppressants and now that I am, it could be a million times worse.

How was I going to cope?

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