Campylobacteriosis and CVID: Another Story About a Boy and His Dog

I finally bit the bullet and scheduled a endoscopy and colonoscopy with my new gastroenterologist here in NY. It was a really good move. At initial glance, she said that my inner workings are in good shape. I have a few diverticula in the old colon but this is normal for my age. Apparently you get them from straining too much when you are on the pot. Nothing to worry about. Oh, and the serious GI issues I have been having are related to a chronic campylobacter infection. Apparently, this is quite a common infection for CVID folk. Something like 30% will at one time or another get it.

I am still awaiting the results of the numerous biopsies that my GE pilfered from me while I was under sedation. I assume they show nothing serious since she hasn’t called me in two weeks – either that or they are so oddly pathological that she needs to send them out to other specialists for interpretation.) I feel relieved knowing that I don’t have colitis, Crohn’s or colorectal cancer.

This particular journey isn’t over yet, though; I took a  5 day course of erythromycin and after a couple of days of relief the symptoms have returned. I understand that “campy” is becoming resistant to antibiotics. Interestingly, my dog has come down with a suspiciously similar affliction. He is now on antibiotics as well. We look at each other each night while watching the late news and silently commiserate…I am confident we will both be in top shape soon.

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August 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm 3 comments

A Long Slow Slide

Well, for the last 6 months I have been more sick than I have ever been in my whole life. I began IVIG treatments here, in New York, in early February. Since then, I have had 5 colds and 4 bouts of stomach virus/food poisoning. Right now, my colon is twisting itself in knots…I have horrendous gastrointestinal issues. The immunoglobulin doesn’t seem to be doing much good. Granted, everyone else I know has been quite ill this winter/spring and they all have healthy immune systems. But I feel like my GI tract is really malfunctioning.

Now I don’t produce any IgA, the most common protective antibody for the colon, so I guess this is to be expected…but it really sucks.

My health really seems to be in a serious state of decline. I have an appointment scheduled this week with my immunologist to discuss diagnostics and next steps. I will let you know what she says. I’m afraid I may have colitis.

 I am having a hard time dealing with this decline. I have an image of myself as a rugged outdoorsman, backpacker, camper, swimmer, etc. Now I feel like that life is permanently over. I don’t ever forsee being healthy enough to even go to the gym. I’m even thinking about quiting my job, I just don’t have the energy anymore.

I watch my 15 month-old daughter scamper around the house and I doubt that I will ever be able to coach her softball team, teach her to ride a bike, show her how to pitch a tent.

I’m only 44 but I sit here with no answers, with no success, waiting out a long slow slide.

Into what?

There is nothing attractive about that future.

June 30, 2008 at 6:08 pm 11 comments

Ch Ch Ch Changes…

Well, I made it to New York. Traded in my 1200 sq. ft. apartment on the west coast for a 600 sq. ft. hatbox in Brooklyn. Lots of changes. It has been four months since my last IVIG. I had to find a new immunologist; it took a long time to get approval from my new insurance company; I was given a crappy project at my new job that required working 14 hour days and weekends for 3 months and it just ended… I finally got a really bad cold and norovirus all at the same time.

My wife tied me to the bed and told me I wasn’t leaving the house until I was 100% better and had an infusion appointment. I go in Thursday, I hope they have wireless internet…

January 28, 2008 at 6:32 pm 4 comments

The Four Types of Normal Immune Responses

this video susinctly shows the four types of immune responses. I would love to see a similar animation demonstrating autoimmune responses.

October 2, 2007 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

Healthy Antibodies at Work

I just found this spectacular animation that shows how the immune system should ideally work. It’s short and follows an antigen from its introduction into the blood stream to its final demise.

October 1, 2007 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

Rituximab as a Possible Treatment for Chronic Hives

It looks like I was on the right track. Rituximab is now being studied in a clinical trial as a treatment for chronic hives. I can’t wait for the results. Keep in mind that this is just a phase 2 safety trial so even if it works on-label insurance coverage is probably 5-7 years away. 

September 30, 2007 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

When does Idiopathic = Autoimmune

From a recent comment:

“I was diagnosed with ITP – Ideopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura in December 2005 and then CVID in October 2006. I’ve been on IVIG for 12 months (started out 5 days per month – now it is down to 3). My trouble is the ITP which causes the platelets to destroy themselves – and in between IVIG I must still take steroids. My hope is to get rid of the ITP and of course if I didn’t have CVID they would have removed my spleen.”

It seems that a number of conditions that are labeled “idiopathic” are actually thought to be related to autoimmunity. It seems likely that the guest above has antibodies to her platelets. The antibodies wrongly destroy the platelets and thus make it difficult for her body to stop bleeding. My immunologist is reluctant to make a diagnosis of autoimmune urticarial (hives). This is frustrating because I have be getting them every day now for over a year. I get the sense that a diagnosis of autoimmunity is considered by her to be a diagnosis of exclusion. And there does seem to be a test to determine if I have an autoimmune response. I’m not sure why all the reticence to declare a condition autoimmune. Perhaps the tests are of questionable validity, perhaps the options for treatments are relatively ineffective or maybe doctors want to look at every other possible option first.

The question is how many of us who are diagnosed with idiopathic conditions actually have wonky immune systems.

September 30, 2007 at 9:18 am 2 comments

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