CFS/GWI/CFIDS/PTSD. “OUTLAWS”. Getting Intimate with our Viruses and Pathogens. Part #2.

The Merriam Websters definition of an “OUTLAW” is 1) a person excluded from the benefit or protection of the law 2) a lawless person or a fugitive from the law 3) a person or organization under a ban or restriction 4) one that is unconventional or rebellious and 5) an animal (as a horse) that is wild and unmanageable.

It is the descriptions mentioned in numbers 1, 3 and 4 above that resonate with patients whom have been diagnosed with viruses related to GWI/CFS/PTSD and the Pathogens that piggyback with these Viruses.

We patients have been excluded from the benefit and protection of the Law by being denied the scientific, societal and medical confirmation that our illness even exists on a biological level. The external ramifications of these exclusions include economic, societal and psychological impacts that have created massive loss to our patient population who have been denied employee, disability and other social program benefits. We  Patients have been under a ban and/or restricted individually and as an organization because our illness was of unknown etiology and was categorized by many entities as  “Psychosomatic” instead of Biological.  As a collective whole; I consider every one of us afflicted with these Diseases to be an “OUTLAW” in the sense that we have adapted to become unconventional and rebellious in order to gain medical knowledge with our ultimate end goal to be viable treatment options  for CFS/GWI/PTSD.

In The Porsche Club of America, we commonly call it “an illness” when a member is bitten by the Porsche Bug. It is more than a passion, far from an addiction and for some an obsession is formed.  I learned how to drive these cars on rural back roads and up long treacherous dirt ranch roads until I could get my driver’s license at the age of 16. From then on, it has been one of my greatest passions. I drive them hard and I drive them daily. No weather is too inclement for me to take on in a Porsche. It is no wonder that I love to Rally Race.

I’ve been a Porsche Purist since the bug bit me. I like Vintage Cars, matching number cars with matching numbered engines and I pride myself on the knowledge I’ve gained by watching, listening and paying attention to top Porsche Gurus on the West Coast since the age of 9 years old. I’ve also learned allot about these cars by Trial and Error and through Breakdowns.  “Oh have there been so many breakdowns”. Through these breakdowns, I’ve learned to research, diagnose and fix some of the common and not so common problems that arise in the 912’s and early 911’s.  I like my cars fast and the mechanics in near perfect order, but I shy away from the Concourse or “pretty” category. I’ve always been an outlaw with my cars. Until Recently, I would never have considered altering a Vintage Porsche in body form nor would I consider deviating from their original engine nor technical specifications.

After touring the infamous Emory Family Porsche Facility a few years back during an emergency pit stop for a part; I was initially shocked and aggravated at their projects involving deviation from the Original Vintage Porsche to the creation of an “Outlaw Porsche”.  I was however, immediately struck by the incredible generosity of the Emory family, their incredible craftmanship work, their noticeable affability, genuine authenticity and their awesome Iconic Legacy of Porsche Greatness in this Family. At the time, I just could not wrap my head around what I thought was “destroying a Vintage Porsche to create what I perceived as a Monster.” I felt that Outlaw Porsches were irrelevant and not in alignment with what a “True Porsche” should be.

Recently something snapped in me and I changed my mind. Something pushed me over a mental edge that created a shift in my old thought patterns and paradigms about how my cars “should be”, how my life “should be” and how I “should” live my life.

Partly due to dealing with ramifications of my health over the past 30+ years from this illness and in larger part having witnessed and been caretaker for my son Blake with this  CFIDS  for the past 7 years;  I have found that I’ve become more accepting of change, progression and of  breaking out of “my” box.  This acceptance occurred through the knowledge I’ve earned and gained by way of a tough medical journey that has taught me to embrace my Outlaw Character.

What I once dreamed and imagined; I now realize does not exist as I thought it did. Having a gravely ill son or daughter does something to a mother’s heart, which can never be replenished. I needed to take some time to acknowledge this loss and grieve for the life that Blake and I  have endured and for the amount of time and quality of life we have “missed out on”.

 If we are to survive these diseases, I truly believe every one of us needs to gravitate towards researching, diagnosing and seeking treatment for themselves. Left unchecked, these viruses and pathogens  will not disappear on their own and no amount of band-aid medications will consistently improve the quality of the patients life long-term.

Shooting straight from the hip; our lives are at risk. With my future discussions of gram-negative bacteria, this point will hit the nail on the coffin even harder. We have at most, a decade to figure out these diseases, how to treat them and how to get every infected patient worldwide diagnosed and treated as well as work on prevention. We are in a race for time as the Viruses and the Pathogens which they fuel are going to be dangerously hard to treat. We are in a catch 22 in that we must get funding for Research Studies on a Biological Level in order to further our goal to get patients diagnosed and treated.

HHV-6A is a virus that is hard to detect in the blood. Since the only scientific published paper on the Link between treating high titers to HHV-6A and EBV  used Focus Laboratories as their testing guide for the study; then this is the lab (or their parent company Quest Labs) that can now be accurately relied on to provide the blood test results with proven measurements for diagnosing and treating this Virus.

It is believed that up to 70% of  CFS  patients have 3X or Greater Positivity of the HHV-6A virus and this viral reactivation cycle is not normal within the mass population.

 HHV-6A has also be linked to Gulf War Illness, Lyme Disease, Autism, MS, Lupus and some forms of Cancer. We need more  scientific research studies to be conducted to determine  the percentage of patients as well as to determine subsets affected by  HHV-6A , EBV and CMV in Lyme/Autism/GWI . We need more Research Studies to prove efficacy of antiviral treatments in these various diseases.

According to the HHV-6A Foundation, “HHV-6A is the strain most likely to be found in MS, CFS , AIDS and cancer patients. Most physicians do not realize that HHV-6 can persist in a subacute form causing CNS dysfunction. HHV-6 can also cause selective immune suppression and alterations in cytokines that make it more difficult for the body to fend off cancer, intracellular pathogens, viruses and mycobacteria. Finally, HHV-6  has potent transactivating properties that cause it to stimulate other viruses, such as EBV, CMV and HHV-8. “

HHV-6A  is thought to be Pathogenic and Neurotropic which means it is a virus that is capable of infecting nerve cells, hence the Central Nervous System Symptoms seen in patients. Symptoms range from headaches to extreme cognitive decline, speech impairment, tremors, heat intolerance, night sweats, insomnia and sleep disorders, anxiety, light-food-chemical-drug-mold & toxin sensitivities, depression, fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, muscle weakness, joint aches, Orthostatic Intolerance and unfortunately it seems to be targeting the Cardiovascular System as well. Reports of heart problems in patients with HHV-6A is becoming common.

EBV is a member of the herpesvirus family and one of the most common human viruses. The virus occurs worldwide, and most people become infected with EBV sometime during their lives. Transmission of EBV requires intimate contact with the saliva (found in the mouth) of an infected person. EBV can infect a number of different cell types, including B cells and epithelial cells. Under certain cases it may infect T cells, natural killer cells and smooth muscle cells. Infecting both the B cells and the epithelial cells is part of the viral normal cycle to persist.

As far as treatment goes; there have been no concrete scientific studies proving that anti-viral therapy will permanently reduce Viral Titers of HHV-6A and EBV. However, recently published scientific studies and past scientific knowledge tell us that we have a fighting chance to fight viral reactivation by using strong antivirals for a period of time; followed up by long-term use of milder antivirals.

Valtrex is an anti-viral used to effectively treat Genital Herpes. Valtrex has been used to lower EBV with spotty results showing patient titers dropping anywhere from within 3-15 years of constant treatment. Neither long or short-term efficacy  has  been scientifically proven for Valtrex on EBV and it will not work on the HHV-6A  or CMV Viruses.

Valcyte is a stronger anti-viral and has been proven to lower HHV-6A and seems effective in lowering EBV titers as well. Valcyte is the only known treatment for the CMV virus. Valcyte treatment lasts 12 months or longer depending on the individual.  Acyclovir or Valtrex are antivirals used long-term as follow up treatment after Valcyte.

All of us on Valcyte Treatment  understand that Initial findings show promising results for certain subsets of  patients taking Valcyte. Length of time to stay on the drug and long-term efficacy is Individual.

My son Blake had no choice in treatment options at the time that he started Valcyte. Faced with entering The Hospice Program and the realization that his body was rapidly shutting down;  his decision at 19 years old to begin Valcyte Treatment just shy of his 20th Birthday was his only ray of hope for life.

After 20 months on Valcyte, Blake is no longer in critical condition. His condition remains guarded with prognosis undetermined. His HHV-6A and EBV viral titers are lowering on the Valcyte Treatment.  He has regained the ability to attend college successfully part-time and manages small daily chores. Twenty months ago, Blake was completely bedridden. He has  now gained 20+ lbs. He has another 25 lbs to gain. Cognitively, vast improvements have been made and he no longer experiences the Orthostatic Intolerance 90% of the time and his heart condition is improving. Improvement with all symptoms are greatly noticeable; yet the recovery seems slow going to a young adult who wishes so much to participate in life at the athletic and cognitive level he had once maintained and was highly recognized for.

Many CFS , Gulf War Illness and PTSD patients are still coming out of the dark ages and searching for Doctors who can help them with viable treatment options. Patients are confused by Doctors comments about our diseases and lack of  biological knowledge. Mainstream Doctors are Flying  Blind as to what steps to take, when to take them and how to take them in order to diagnose and treat us. As a result, a majority of the patient population goes to extreme lengths to get medical care plus goes from Doctor to Doctor in an attempt to get answers, a diagnosis and treatment.

 I am appalled that it took over NINETY-NINE doctors visits and over 5+ Years to get Blake diagnosed and treated.  We are not the only ones to go through this, which makes this statement even more appalling. There are MILLIONS of us.

If you are a CFS/GWI/CFIDS/PTSD Patient and have not been tested for HHV-6A, EBV or CMV by Quest or Focus Labs and you wish to be tested for these Viruses; you have the right as a patient to request that your doctor orders these blood tests for you.

I’ve learned allot by being an outlaw with this insididious medical journey. It is with  an Outlaw Spirit that I traverse through this maze of Illness. I learned through trial and error that we did not need to travel across country and go to over 99 Doctors Visits to get Blake diagnosed. I learned that I have the right to ask my MD/GP to run the known blood tests for these viruses and infections if this illness is suspected and all others are ruled out. I’ve learned that our Endocrine System needs to be checked by a licensed Endocrinologist if you have any familial history of  Thyroid Disorders. I’ve learned that the joint and muscle pain that can go  hand in hand with these illnesses  needs to be diagnosed and treated by a licensed Rheumatologist.

 I’ve learned that I don’t need to tell my illness story at length to any new doctor unless they understand and are licensed to treat an infectious disease. I’ve learned that a Doctor who has experience in treating AIDS patients is a likely bet to help out with treating with Antivirals and Long Term Antibiotics for piggyback Pathogen infections such as Chlamydia Pn. and Micoplasma Pn.  in CFS/GWI/Autism/Lyme  patients. I’ve also learned that Roche Pharmaceuticals has a program to help  patients obtain Valcyte who would otherwise not be able to afford the drug.

I’ve learned that the first step in treating our  illness is to get your blood tested. I’ve also learned that these are  infectious diseases;  we must take precautions as to not infect those around us.

 Below is a list of blood tests commonly ordered to assist in diagnosing infected patients.

Viral Reactivation TESTS-

The following Tests are for Quest Laboratories.

HHV-6A, IgG,IgM Ab PNL, IFA

HSV 6 Ab IgG

HSV Ab IgM

EBV Nuclear AG AB

EBV-VCA Antibody IgG

EBV-VCA Antibody IgM

EBV Capsid Ab IgG

Comp Metabolic Panel W/eGFR

CBC w/differential (automated)

Cytomegalovirus antibody (IgG)

Cytomegolavirus IGM

Chlamydophila Pneu Abs

C. Pneumoniae IgG

C. Pneumonia IgA

C. Pneumonia IgM

 DHEA Sulfate

Micoplasma Pneumoniae AB IgG & IgM

Testo, Free and Total LC/MS/MS

Cortisol, Serum LC.MS/MS

C Reactive Protein

The Rest of these tests are FOCUS LABS  (Quest Draws the Blood then sends to their subsidiary Focus Labs.)

Coxiella Burnettii AB

Bartonella IGG AB, IFA

Borrelia Burgdorfgeri IGG AB, WB

LYME Western Blot, Serum

Brucella AB Serologies

Herpes Virus 6 DNA, QUANT, Babesia Serology

Herpsesvirus 6 AB, IGG – HSV ½ IGM & Type-Specific IGG

VZV Total and IGM AB Panel

Other Important Tests Include:

Tocoplasma gondii

HSV 1

HSV 2

Thyroid TSH

Free T4 (If Hypothyroidism is suspected)

 Whether you were born with an Outlaw Spirit or have been forced into such a mode by your illness, this journey can be powerful and inspiring. Often times, it is not the person that creates the challenges: But rather the Challenges That Create The Person. An Intimacy is formed within oneself during this process of overcoming the challenges that has been described as “life altering”.

An incredible example of getting intimate with his challenges against all odds is Erik Weihenmayer. Erik was the first blind person to reach the summit of  Mount Everest, on May 25, 2001. He also completed the Seven Summits in September 2002. Erik Weihenmayer is a supreme example of how a young boy handled going blind in his early teens and overcame any challenge put before him to become an Outlaw Spirit for which no Mountain was too High to Climb. Erik was captain of his High School Wrestling Team . Erik is an explorer, an acrobatic skydiver, long distance biker, marathon runner, skier, mountaineer, ice climber and rock climber.

I’ve heard it said by fellow climbers that only 1 in 6 climbers who attempt to summit Mount Everest succeed and that the remaining 5 will likely die trying. If Erik’s challenges could create climbing the most treacherous mountain in the World Blind; Then what can our challenges as CFS/GWI/Lyme/Autism  patients do for us?

JULIA HUGO RACHEL

VERY LUCKY GIRL ON VALCYTE

 

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