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Day 124 and fighting cold for 3 months

Can anyone help , my father in law is now day 124 of donor stem cell transplant , at the moment he is really struggling with trying to get better and fight a cold , which he has been fighting since about November, he has been in and out of hospital . Saturday he was taken back into hospital with a temp of over 38 , they have said he has a virus and there is nothing they can do or give him , they have said keep and eye on him and if he becomes clinically unwell phone them . Can anyone suggest anything that can help , he has loads of catarrh which is making him cough so much , and both him and my mother in law aren't sleeping well due to the coughing. Can anyone give any ideas of what can help him get over this cold faster .


  • Hi Michelle,

    I've had coughs and colds at times during my recovery and they do take a long time to shake off. I'm assuming that your father in laws medical team are happy that he isn't at risk as it sounds like he's at home. Keep a close eye on him and if in any doubt get in touch with his transplant team.

    My only suggestion would be to try the usual cough and cold remedies to treat the symptoms, such as cough syrups, throat sweets or the like to try and loosen the catarrh or ease his cough. I'm guessing you've tried things like that? To my knowledge there aren't any that would conflict with his medication but again, if in doubt check with his transplant team.

    I've found that things like the strong 'flu-plus' type tablets seem to have helped me a little but it does seem to take an eternity and much longer than pre-transplant to get over such bugs. I've had a cough since early December which was really irritating and I was coughing almost to the point of being sick in the early days. Even now it's still lingering on and I don't seem to be able to shake it and I'm 3 years post transplant.

    Has he also tried a hot steamy bath? For me that helps clear the airways especially if you have some sort of bubble bath with vapours in it to help his breathing. I also swear by Olbas oil on my pillow to help me sleep at night. Once I'm asleep I seem to be OK but it can be hard to get to sleep when you're coughing so if he can find something to ease his breathing that might help.

    I hope he gets over it soon and is able to continue his recovery unhindered. How is he doing otherwise?

  • Thank you for responding , he has been told he can have paracetamol to bring the temp down , but he is very very weak , he went in the bath the other day and didn't have the energy to get out of it, my husband had to go and help him , he is coughing until he is sick , and it just doesn't seem to be shifting at all .
  • It sounds as if things are really tricky at home. As Steve has said, suggesting medication is tricky because each transplant is so individual. What I can help you with is what support you should be getting at home. He should never be in the position of not being physically able to get out of the bath. That must have been incredibly scary and sad for you all.
    Have you had a home assessment by the community rehabilitation team? Get in touch with his nurse specialist at his transplant team and ask for an urgent physio and occupational therapy assessment in his home. It may still be some time before he starts to recover so he needs all the support he can get to keep him safe at home.
    It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job so keep us updated and if there is anything we can do here at Anthony Nolan then don't hesitate to get in touch.
  • Hi Michelle

    Sorry to hear about your father in law suffering with a cold/virus.

    Good advice above from Steve and Chiara, don't let things get worse do keep on at the transplant team. It's a real shame he can't be offered some relief. I'm approaching 4 years in May and I still worry if I get a cold or flu like symptoms. I have just had my first cold/flu free Christmas for 3 years and not been admitted over the Christmas period. I must say when I have been diagnosed with a virus I have always been given anti viral drugs which combined with antibiotics have helped. I was once given an inhaler which helped me a little but may not be right for your father in law, obviously we are all different.

    There is no escaping that things do take longer to recover post transplant but things will get better in time.

    I hope you get some improvement soon, give him all our best wishes and keep in touch if we can help.

  • Hi, just an update , my husband phoned the transplant team and as we are in Wales there is nothing they can do to help . They told him to take my father in law straight to hospital , he was fine when he went in even thigh very very weak , he also collapsed in the night to , and my husband had to go down and help . Whilst in hospital his temp went up to 40 and he has a chest infection also rigours whilst he was in there too . I can't believe there isn't any help out that for my mother in law , she is really struggling to cope in her own .
  • Hi Michelle,

    I know it probably feels tough for him to go back into hospital but it is possibly the best place for him as they can keep a closer eye on him and give him the round the clock care he needs, which may be easier on your mother in law.

    I went through a spell when I was really weak, largely because I wasn't eating well rather than a bug. I was admitted for a week and had every test under the sun without them really knowing what was causing my problems. It felt like a big step backwards for me but I realised it was best for me as it meant I was being cared for by the right people and wasn't being a burden on my family.

    Is your mother in law struggling emotionally or with practical things like getting to hospital etc? Perhaps your father in laws medical team can arrange some assistance, either through having someone to talk to or arranging help for her. There was a support nurse attached to my medical team who was there to give advice and arrange assistance where necessary for me and my family. If your family has the same I'd recommend discussing the situation with them and see what they can help with, and of course don't forget the Anthony Nolan team who may be able to offer advice.

    Best wishes to your father in law and I hope he gets over this hiccup quickly.

  • Update from the hospital today is that he has phenomena , I can't help thinking that if the hospital had taken him in on Saturday when he went down there , and was told it's just a virus nothing we can do , it would never have got this bad . To be honest. My mother in law is exhausted , she isn't sleeping right as she is worried about him , he has been coughing all night for the past 4 nights , I know it is a break for her whilst he is in hospital , and that he is in the best place . Also it seemed like everytime he would go to the hospital for his check up and appointments, a couple of days later he would be ill . I think he has had a cough and cold for about 4 months now and it has dragged him down , not getting out of bed , not eating properly . All of this is so hard to deal with , we have an amazing family that is always there to help , but we all work and can't be there 24/7 to help out
  • Hi Michelle

    Sorry to hear this latest news but hopefully they can get on and treat the problem now and things will improve.

    This is exactly what happened to me about 3 months post transplant, I felt very poorly and with similar symptoms but an initial X-ray didn't show any problem, it took a second X-ray about 3 days later to identify pneumonia. Then the treatment started and eventually all was well. It is a case now of being patient and being there to support you father in law and mother in law as you are all doing.

    This is a good opportunity for him now to build up his strenght with rest etc. The first few months are difficult but he will be fine honestly, I'm speaking from experience. I will be 4 years post transplant in May.

    Now is also a good time to get some help and support from the hospital support services, is it occupational therapy? The nursing staff should help to put you in touch.

    Best wishes to you all, if I can help in any way please ask.


  • Dear Michelle so sorry to hear your news, it sounds like you are all having quite a time of things. I must say that i can only admire the way you have been pulling together as a family to support your parents in law through this challenging time. Not sure where in Wales you are but in North Wales they have some highly effective inter-disciplinary ( (nurse, physio, occupational therapist,support worker) community ' extra care' teams. They seem to focus on re enabling individuals who have been in hosp to recover strength etc whilst providing support for carers, keeping the whole situation safe. Perhaps a ref to a similar service when your father in law is discharged this time would be useful ?
    Kind regards

  • We live in South Wales , he has come out of hospital yesterday , is moving around a bit today , not much , but it really takes it out of , we haven't been offered any help or support at all. Thank you for your kind words , we are a very close family , but we can't be there 24/7 unfortunately
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