Fractured But Not Broken. CFIDS/CFS/GWI/PTSD

  Ruby

There is no crime in having CFS, GWI or PTSD. Yet grievous acts of criminal cruelty have been afflicted onto millions of patients that have these diseases. I have spent the past year reflecting on our journey with our illness. Although I have been deeply fractured by this battle of a journey; I am not broken. It is for the patients that have come before us and those that are yet to be diagnosed; that I have decided to devote the next 5 years of my life to further awareness  for these diseases. We intend to accomplish this through a national political campaign that is designed to shake up the misunderstandings, the misdiagnosis and the misconceptions about these diseases. The first step in the process to come will be our book, Viral Assault, to be published in December 2015. The collaboration of this book involves a team that is widely respected, internationally recognized and highly credible. I can promise you one thing. I will not stop, I will not quit and I will not go unheard throughout this campaign. You, the patients, deserve to have the funding for research and treatment centers. You will never get this without a political campaign movement and that is why I have chosen to undertake this project.

Although I have not been in the op-ed category with my past blogs, I feel a need to express to you my concerns for the path our diseases are on. I see some progress, I see more regression. I see deception and I see those that cater to causes that will never align our diseases with positive movement in the future. I see a political system in chaos and I see some groups trying to step into state or national politics without any experience in the field. Then, I see “the players”. The players are interesting to me as I think they have held up progress for our diseases for their own self interests. Be it incompetence, inertia or cover your own behinds; these “players” are bottom feeders aligning with folks that really do not have you as a patient in their best interest. I also see some absolutely incredible and amazing folks, whom I call the “Movers and Shakers” emerging in GWI, CFS and possibly PTSD. These folks are brave, highly intelligent, politically savvy and have excellent credentials. Most of these folks, happen to have served our country as well. I am excited to see what they do on The Hill and for the patients. I am excited to support them in their goals to serve patients.

During the writing of Viral Assault, a documentary will be made to reflect the journey of the process. The documentary and book will reflect on facts of our personal journey through this illness, past historical facts that have never been explored and future studies on a theory tying PTSD-GWI-CFS with a possible link to the unthinkable. We invite you to join us on this journey via you tube.

The book and documentary fuel and justify the platform for a political campaign. Political campaigns are best run by seasoned professionals.

The treacherous political process is no place for amateurs. Therefore, we have elected to have the most experienced, knowledgeable and expert navigators of the political process on our team.

For now, the primary avenue for communication for patients will be this blog. We look forward to providing you with additional media through a variety of avenues.

I know that so many patients have been fractured as have I through these diseases. I implore you to stay strong and look to a brighter future of better understanding, treatment and quality of lives.

It has taken me a year to circle to this point of beginning to write Viral Assault. The humiliation, shame and cruelty I experienced through our journey was nearly unbearable at times. To begin the book, I needed to come to terms with how badly I had fractured during the process. While facing the pain, I realized that although I was deeply fractured, I was not broken. I continue on a path of healing with Blake and I look forward to giving you an update very soon on Blake’s condition.

 

JULIA HUGO RACHEL

VERY LUCKY GIRL ON VALCYTE

Feel Free to Check Out my Complimentary Site: http://juliahugorachelmomentstoremember.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

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Watching Over Blake. Eyes on Progress. CFIDS/ GWI/TBI/ PTSD

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              “The flight of the owl is slow, silent and solitary”

 If I could give my son anything,  I thought I would give him back the 12 years he lost of his youth. Since I cannot do this, I am determined to give him a future of unlimited possibilities.

When experiencing a chronic illness, it feels as if time stands still. In actuality, time is moving slowly and the flight is silent. Silence envelopes ones life after the combustion of life halts to a stop with a chronic illness.

I have taken the role as an observer in Blake’s’ life. He began independent living in November 2012. Two weeks after the start of his new beginning, Blake was hit by a car in front of the University he attends. The hit was gruesome, yet Blake managed to hobble away with minor injuries.

I watched and slowly waited as he fell into a relapse that amounted to a vast drop in grades, weight and cognitive abilities. I watched as he fought to overcome the slide in order to slowly recover his abilities. It took 8 months to recover fully from the trauma.

Although 8 months seems like a long time, it is a drop in the bucket compared to 12 years of ones life being ripped apart. Especially for a 24-year-old.

This relapse was different on many levels. This relapse was caused by a physical trauma, not a setback from an unknown factor. During this relapse, Blake never missed a day of school as a full-time University student studying Physics/Engineering. Although his weight and grades declined, he used every tool available to him to methodically step back up the ladder to his peak.

Blake has now successfully attended University full-time (without missing one day for illness) for 6 consecutive quarters. He has now achieved perfect attendance for the past 16 months. His classes include upper division mathematics, physics, engineering, chemistry, biology and geology. His GPA before the car trauma was 3.66 per quarter. His GPA today is 3.25 per quarter.

Blake began a mild physical exercise program of walking and lifting weights 14 months ago. He decided to join an Army readiness program and started running 11 months ago. He had to halt running and physical exercise for 2 months while he was hobbling on a sprained ankle after the car trauma. He began running again in February and by June was up to 4 miles, three times per week. He has also participated in vigorous ruck marches and tactical labs in the field under extreme conditions.

Blake was put on Valtrex as a therapy after his Valcyte treatment. Post Valcyte and present Valtex treatment, the opportunistic infections are now gone. The HHV-6 levels are lowered. The EBV are still high. Anti-viral treatment is like good endocrine treatment in that the patient is treated on “how he/she feels” not necessarily on “what the lab values say”.

On a recent check-up with his infectious disease doctor, it was determined that Blake may be eligible for military service in 6 months. Until then, he will be starting an antibiotic for progressive treatment for inflammation in the eyes which is starting to be recognized in patients. The tell sign is red lines in the eyes. I have noticed strata looking lines in Blake’s  eyes and attributed this to the onset of his illness.

Blake was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder in March. He has been on thyroid medication for five months and notices a great improvement. His endocrine values were slightly off. His thyroid ultrasound showed a small goiter and a cyst. His familial history on the Irish side shows he is a 6th generation thyroid patient. Many physicians diagnose thyroid issues on lab values only. It is imperative to find an endocrinologist that diagnoses on;  lab values + ultrasound + familial history + how the patient feels = diagnosis.

At this moment, Blake is at 85% of cognitive and 80% of physical capacity. The goal of his treatment team is to get Blake to 100%. Blake hopes that will happen in the next 6 months. His goal is to join the Military and to serve his Country.

For a long time, I fought and watched over Blake at close range. Now I find myself watching from a greater distance. I wondered if Blake would be able to “catch up” socially and if he could find his way. We had  three prior attempts at independent living. This fourth time has proven to be exciting, yet not without a few hurdles.

Blake has a faith that is strong and complete. He is a strong young man  with  dreams and goals. It is a pleasure to see him play sports with his peers, to participate in ocean and lake activities, to attend social functions and to give to others through community service.

All of this would not be possible without Valcyte treatment. The alternative immune treatments he participated in look to be responsible for stimulating the energy to exercise; but only after primary healing had occurred. The Valtrex (or other long-term anti-viral) is a necessity for treatment to continue fighting the viruses after the heavy hitting Valcyte treatment. Clearing up any opportunistic infections is critical to success. A patient will never attain a moderate level of health if a thyroid illness is present and remains undiagnosed.

We have no idea what the next year will bring. We are certain that whatever this illness throws at us, we are willing to fly slow and defeat it.

JULIA HUGO RACHEL

VERY LUCKY GIRL ON VALCYTE

Viral Jungle Terrain. Navigating CFIDS/GWI/PTSD Diseases.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning; We will remember them.”

~ Laurence Binyon’s WWI Poem

“For the Fallen.”

When we experience great loss, we have a choice in how we respond. We can choose to follow our fallen or losses; or we can choose to hone our focus in order to move forward.  I respectfully choose to move forward in honor of those fallen and in spite of any losses  experienced.

Honing focus takes training, experience and the will to do so. If I lose or shift focus, my goals are not met. What are the common goals that link Autism, CFIDS, GWI, Epilepsy and Lyme? These diseases have been proven to be scientifically linked and associated through the same and or similar viruses, brain abnormalities, immune dysfunction, gut pathogens, heart abnormalities and genetic predispositions; amongst many other biological factors.

It looks as if  common goals for biological care include but are not limited to:

    1.  Diagnosis and treatment for viruses and pathogens associated in each one of these diseases.
    2. Get appropriate care for the brains of these patients; such as High Resolution specialized MRI’s and Medications that will help heal the brain and central nervous system.
    3. Diagnose and treat the dysfunctional immune system.
    4. Diagnose and treat the endocrine and rheumatoid systems.
    5. Diagnose the gut system; test for pathogens and treat these.
    6. Assess the reproductive system of patients and treat if affected.
    7. Test for nutritional deficiencies associated with cellular and gut malabsorption. Address these mineral and vitamin deficiencies with a licensed DO or Nutrition expert in order to add  high-grade supplements shown to be lacking by blood tests.
    8. Check for PON1 deficiency; exposure to Molds, Toxins, Chemicals and vaccine reactions.

Having said all of  this, it looks as if the entire physical operating systems of these patients needs to be addressed and treated. Treating only one of these systems will likely not return a patient to status quo and this methodology might not  be enough to save a patients life.

It will only be through a collective, combined and collaborative effort across a broad spectrum of specialties that patients of these diseases will heal. Too many systems of these patients are being affected and degraded. It would be nearly impossible to have one doctor capable of addressing so many different multi system dysfunctions across such a broad spectrum of specialties. Specialists from divergent fields are needed in order to treat all patient systems for optimal health.

Unfortunately, medicine alone will not prevent these diseases from escalating nor will it help to heal patients. Political action needs to take place in order to ensure  protection and progress for these patients. Progress in research and treatment has been backlogged, halted, diverted and prohibited in some cases due to the siloed factor. The only method to untangle this debri field successfully is through political action.

Epilepsy has not seen a new treatment drug in nearly 50+ years. Epilepsy is prevalent amongst patients across all of these diseases. Outdated, archaic brain surgeries are still being performed on some Epilepsy patients.

Autism is escalating at an alarming rate and is highly associated with families having CFS and GWI. Lyme disease is intertwined with CFS, GWI  and Autism. Ticks now carry all sorts of different types of pathogens such as Micoplasma plus tick borne pathogens that have not even been named as of yet. Lyme families experience higher rates of Epilepsy, Autism and CFIDS.

Gulf War Illness is flip-flopping all over the map. It looks as if there is absolutely no good treatment centers or forms of treatment for GWI. Soldiers and Veterans are left behind with no available treatment options in sight.

CFIDS has made some leaps and bounds but has also been thrown some horrendous red flags by agencies playing “referee” in a game they know nothing about; or pretend to know nothing about. Case in point; the name of CFS is completely wrong, the approach  for treatment is wrong, the image is wrong and the hysteria is correct.

Categorizing Autism and busting up ASD’s into segmented disorders is another example of  diverting a serious biological illness into a DSM category.  By deliberately  labeling ASD’s as psychosomatic disorders  instead of  factually categorizing these  as the proven biological  diseases they are,  is a violent disregard of human rights. Public safety is at stake  and the national economy is at risk by not treating these biological diseases.

The U.S. Government spent nearly 300 Million Dollars in litigation arguing that “Gulf War Illness does not exist”. The debate was settled in court. GWI exists and is related with CFIDS and Autism by infectious common denominators. GWI is now showing up in non-deployed soldiers and their children have higher rates of Autism.

Lyme disease communities have fought hard to get their disease recognized and labeled as a biological disease. Pathogens, viruses, immune dysfunction and brain abnormalities will continue to rise within Lyme disease unless all body systems affected are addressed. Lyme disease is no longer about “the tick disease”. Lyme now ranks in the neurological, infectious, and immunity specialties.

Autism, CFIDS and GWI hold keys of research and discovery that Lyme Patients need for optimal treatment and prevention right now.  New information is emerging that  tick borne pathogens are being carried by vectors other than ticks. Lyme is progressing to a new level; which translates to new sources of threats and areas of contagion.

Because these diseases are so strongly intertwined and scientifically linked, because these diseases each hold a piece of the puzzle needed to help one another progress,  because these diseases are deliberately being overlooked and separated from each other in a “siloed” situation; collaboration and political action needs to take place in order for immediate progress to occur.

Long time advocates like  Marc Iverson, John Herd, Pat Fero, Erik Johnson, Hillary Johnson  and all of the dedicated advocacy groups, 501C3s, Organizations, Websites and Facebook Pages have kept this ball rolling.

It is the combination of all of these Advocacy Voices and Groups (and more)  whom have ” held and lit the torches”  which continuously ignited the perpetual  REFUSAL to let this cause for action be forgotten.

Lest anyone think that our fight for research, diagnosis, treatment and prevention is in a “discouraging era”; you are mistaken.

Jungle terrain navigation is survived by fierce warriors. Inch by inch, tactics of the highest caliber must be learned, practiced and employed in order to survive.  Successful exit from a jungle takes skills, strategy, unconventional tools and wisdom. Navigating Autism/CFIDS/Epilepsy/GWI and Lyme will take the same sort of innovative tactics.

The only way to achieve progress for research and treatment on a viable scale, is through national political action. Our diseases need a game changer by utilizing national and international  political action with the goal to benefit medical progress for the justice of the patients of these diseases that have been oppressed.

JULIA HUGO RACHEL

Very Lucky Girl  on Valcyte

Blake Update: He has Gained 12 lbs this summer (that is a total overall gain of 35 lbs, with 20 more lbs to gain). He is off Valcyte and is now  on long-term antivirals (Valtrex). He is stepping up from Junior College Level to University Level. His major is in Physics/Engineering and Military Science. He is going to try to attend University 3/4 time with support from the disability department to help him with his cognitive issues. He has hopes of adding back physical exercise within 18 months. We now have hope for a 90-100% recovery. Without a doubt, Valcyte treatment saved Blake’s Life. We now work on Phase 3; the Immune and Nutritional and Lifestyle systems. “Inch by inch” we work towards healing and recovery with this illness. Blake still has days of being bedridden. I would estimate these run from 1-3 days per month. All Orthostatic Intolerance is gone after the Valcyte treatment. We keep an eye on his DHEA levels as he gets migraines when the DHEA is low. Blake has shown up with 5 different underlying pathogens. We will report on treatment for echovirus B, VZV, Chlamydia PN., etc on the next report.

I encourage everyone to get tested for the viruses and pathogens known to be associated with our diseases. (These are listed in our prior blogs.) Getting tested is a step that can be taken right now. More Doctors and Physicians across the country are prescribing antivirals and antibiotics to treat these infections right now. I have heard from New York, Texas, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Jersey, Florida, Washington State, Oregon, Virginia, CT, Washington DC,  Hawaii and many other States that patients are getting treatment for their viral and pathogen Infections RIGHT NOW. Although more phases of treatment are needed, this is a treatment avenue patients may take right now should they choose to do so.

Gaining a Perspective on CFS/CFIDS/GWI/PTSD. Exiting The Dark Ages of Our Illness.

GWI/CFS/PTSD  are known as  “Invisible Illnesses”. This means that on average, when out in public, the patient may look well enough so that doctors, family members and even friends do not think or believe that the patient is seriously ill. This is a trick of nature. A camouflage. Although we live with a covert illness, in no way do we as patients  fit into normal society. As a result, some of us learn to hide our illness, which makes for less scrutiny and criticism. This may be an invisible disease to the majority in the Medical, Political and Societal realms; yet it is truly a Visible War for the patients, doctors and caretakers whom are a part of this. Most patients are anything but “well” 50-100% of the time; and most Never get to “feel” better than a 3, on a scale of 1-10. Without Medical Treatment, Patients are left to endure a life of constant suffering.

Following the decline of The Roman Empire, Western Europe experienced a period of cultural and economic decline and disruption known as The Dark Ages. In the 1330’s, an Italian scholar named Francesco Petrarca, known as Petrarch, developed the concept of The Dark Age. The concept was intended as a sweeping criticism of Post-Roman centuries as “Dark” compared to the “Light” of Classical Antiquity. The times lacked of Latin Literature and contemporary written history, there was a general demographic decline plus limited building activity and material cultural achievements in general. The Dark Ages spanned the era between the Fall of Rome and The Renaissance. Petrarch said of the times “Amidst the errors there shone forth, men of genius; no less keen were their eyes, although they were surrounded by darkness and dense gloom.”

The CFS/GWI/PTSD Dark Ages have spanned the past 30+ years. When a disease is first noted, often times the etiology is “unknown” for some time. Thus, the medical and societal communities at large tend to discount some new diseases as “psychosomatic”, due to lack of understanding. It is human nature to “put down or discount” what is unfamiliar or uncommon. Society at large says, “How can one validate what they do not understand, cannot see or can not empathize with?” Societal Norms, Paradigms and our Belief Systems tend to lean towards concrete, substantiated proof based on scientific data. The average person cannot cope with the “concept” of the disease at hand, until the etiology has been determined. If the causation and etiology can not be fully understood; then there needs to be evidence based published scientific studies proving diagnosis and treatment protocols.

Looking to the past, we can find similar medical and societal nightmares that occurred for other patient populations of some well-known diseases. Before etiology was known, AIDS was originally called “Gay Hysteria”, Freud called Multiple Sclerosis “Female Hysteria”, as both were considered mental conditions; and certain types of Leukemia were once thought to be ”hysteria”. CFS has been discounted in cartoon strips as “The Yuppie Flu” and patients have been labeled as malingerers, psychotics and neurotics.

 It may be safe to say that any new disease with unknown etiology that affects the Central Nervous System may be labeled as a psychosomatic syndrome, instead of a disease that is affecting the central nervous system. I hope this barbaric attitude changes, not only for our diseases, but also for future diseases that appear. We are in the Age of The Virus; more serious diseases with unknown etiology are likely to appear. It is criminal behavior to discount patients with a serious, life altering biological disease.

Most of us are familiar with the Incline Village CFS Outbreak (1984-1989) involving 259 known patients. Prior and after that, there have been around 50 outbreaks recorded around the Globe. In addition to these smaller outbreaks, two large Outbreaks have been recorded as well and largely ignored.

The Los Angeles Outbreak (1934) occurred at Los Angeles General Hospital and was the 1st suspected CFS outbreak ever officially recorded. 200 members of the hospital staff contracted the disease and over 50% of them remained unable to work 6 months later.

The Royal Free Outbreak (1955) occurred in The UK and may be the largest scale CFS outbreak ever recorded in The UK. Occurring over a 4-½ month period beginning in the spring of 1955 with a few people. By July of 1955, the outbreak grew to over 300 members of the hospital staff and the hospital eventually was closed down until October of that year.

These recorded outbreaks were “not enough” to substantiate CFS as a biological disease. It would eventually take concrete scientific data to disprove the mental syndrome labeling. Eventually, it was scientifically proven that two factors must be involved for  CFS to occur:  1) a genetic predisposition PLUS  2) a virulent trigger.  These 2 factors alone prove this is a biological disease; not a  mental illness.

We now have scientific data proving that viruses involved and  linked with  CFS/CFIDS and possibly GWI and PTSD can  infect cells of the immune and neurological system and are capable of causing latent infections and reactivating under certain conditions. We have proof of increased allergies to food and medications, inflammation to the central nervous system, inflammation to the brain, immune dysfunction and viral reactivation; all of which are involved in part or together. Other proven factors/symptoms that can be present are Neurally Mediated Hypo tension (NMH) and Orthostatic Intolerance (OI), both of which are considered to be directly caused by viruses. Serious sleep disorders which cause lack of deep sleep that the body depends on to perform cell repair each night alters the body’s restoration process; directly resulting in insomnia, sleep disturbances, fatigue and physical and cognitive decline. Scientific data shows that certain subsets have cardiac involvement that can result in heart damage as well as heart failure under certain circumstances in certain subsets. Graded exercise was once a prescription for patients, but is now thought to be harmful or even fatal for those with certain types of cardiac involvement.

Exiting the Dark Ages of CFS/CFIDS  we have garnered enough information to begin to understand these diseases and to move forward towards targeted Biological Research that will move us towards Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention.

In CFS  alone,  Approximately 3  in 1000 people are afflicted. 47% of the diagnosed patient populations are disabled. It is 3-4x more likely to afflict women than men (similar to MS and Lupus statistics.) There are at least 1 million cases diagnosed in the U.S. and up to 17 million projected worldwide. It is Theorized that there are approximately 3-4 million  cases undiagnosed in the U.S. alone. Only 1-3% of patients recover fully without medical treatment. To go from CFS to the virally induced subset of CFIDS; it is believed that the patient experiences the original triggering event; then 1) immune activation occurs; 2) cellular dysfunction occurs; 3) viral reactivation occurs.

With the discovery of the viral links and involvement  of  HHV-6A, EBV and CMV plus multiple Pathogens to CFS/CFIDS and perhaps in GWI/PTSD,  we now  have an understanding of  what biological research to focus upon.  For certain subsets affected by these viruses and pathogens, treatment options may be more advanced and available than other subsets. For example, we know that there are at least two subsets. One is viral induced with chronic viral reactivation (approximately 60-75%) and the second subset shows no reactivation of viruses present (approximately 25-30%). Right Now, we know that the viral reactivation subset has the best chance for successful treatment using antivirals.

It is with our hard earned knowledge and scientific studies that have and will be conducted that we are able to move toward the Light and away from the Dark Years of CFS. Although we as patients are in the midst of exiting our Dark Ages with this disease, “no less keen are our eyes, although surrounded by darkness and dense gloom”.

What needs to be done and what will be done are yet to be seen. However, radical changes and the potential for progress are now set in stone for all  patients. It is only a matter of Time, Advocacy and Scientific Studies before we are completely out of our Dark Years and into the Light Years with our diseases.

Julia Rachel

VERY Lucky Girl on Valcyte