I always wonder why one particular person gets something, be it a winning lotto ticket or an autoimmune disorder. In the latter case, i sub-wonder why different variations of that disease induce yet more tertiary responses. An autoimmune disorder is where your body’s immune system falters and decides to attack everything. Rheumatoid Arthitis is one of the most common. However, there are many more. In my case, with the HCV, my rogue Jedi immunity system has decided my liver is the enemy and is mounting quite an attack on it.
People generally bore of reading about another’s panoply of ailments so bear with me. Imagine two years of “exposure” to Agents Orange and Blue. Exposure is a relative term. First of all, Blue is not nearly as obnoxious as it’s other 5 cousins. I never had them sprayed on me. The Hmong children, usually under 9 years old, used bleach bottle scoops to spread it around the runway, parking aprons and taxiways at 20 Alternate (Long Tieng). By 10 years old they were expected to shoulder M-1 .30 cal. carbines and become soldiers.
AO was designed to be diluted one to one with kerosene or some kind of diesel/petroleum product. The children were using it full strength and usually got it all over their hands and legs. Ne problemo. Wash off in the creek. I ingested it with my fellow Vets every time a Huey or a BUFF came in or departed and “taxied” down an apron 8′ off the ground. The red clay dirt was nasty until Monsoon season started in August. It got into everything -like your nose or the gas tanks on the aircraft. I even coughed blood occasionally until August of 1972. I figured it was the Marlboro Reds, so I smartly switched over to Marlboro Lights, which were new on the market. I was going through my health nut phase back then.
The autoimmune thing popped up in 1995. I started losing weight (165 to 130) and got horrible stomach cramps. I collapsed on the 4th of July 1996. They whacked out 30 cm. of my small bowel and the ileum. Diagnosis? Crohns disease. A healthy 44 year old man coming down with Crohns disease in mid life is like a woman getting pregnant at 69. The surgeon was convinced it was going to be some kind of cancer and was both relieved and puzzled that this happened. He came in to see me several days later and asked me if I’d ever worked in a chemical plant or been around industrial cleaners like toluene or MEK. I mentioned Agent Orange because I now had Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT) diagnosed several years earlier. Bingo. He explained that developing an autoimmune disorder late in life had to have a reason. No one in my extended family had had anything like this. Then my son came down with Ulcerative Colitis.
Ulcerative Colitis is the same thing as Crohns except it occurs in the large intestine. The repair order is prednisone until you need to have it (the large intestine) removed and a colostomy bag installed. Ugly. Scientists have come up with Azothiaprine (Imuran) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000602/ and now Remicade (mouse DNA) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000267/ to suppress the immune system. Of course, a suppressed immune system leaves you open to every little bug or virus that crawls the earth. You have to become Bubble Boy and shun your grandchildren. My son has to use Remicade to keep his UC under control. He’ll have to do it for life or until they figure out how to turn it off. Each infusion costs $5400.00. He does it every 70 days. Our medical insurance company hates us and hopes we miss a payment so they can drop our whole company. This explains why I won’t be buying the waterfront cottage in Bermuda and the little 90-foot pocket yacht.
Because I am not a doctor, I will not opine, but rather theorize. If AO and some of the worse ones like Purple and Green, influenced your genes, this would produce the same in your offspring. Since there is now ample evidence of spina bifida in the children of AO exposed Vets, it’s obvious your genes can be warped, too.
What sparks this soliloquy is twofold. First, my autoimmune system has accidentally been switched back on by something and second, WGM’s jetgun documentation records which referenced autoimmune disorders in HCV positive people. Bingo#2. While it most certainly could be that those with excess exposure to AO may be more susceptible to incurring autoimmunity, it can definitely be said that it is a distinct probability it will occur in those infected with HCV. The enigma is how my son could come down with it via some HCV etiology. As I say, I’m not a doctor, but I observe a lot. Can it be that HCV warps your chromosomes?
The major side effect that may tip you off is an exorbitantly high IgG reading on an Immune blood assay. If you live in a cold place your hands or feet will hurt when you go outside. It’s even more painful when you come in to warm up. This is known as Reynaud’s phenomenon or disease. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynaud’s_phenomenon
So those of you with RA, have yourself tested for Lupus, MS – and especially keep track of your ANA and ASMA blood test results.
As a final note, I wish to say that for those of you who have done IFN treatment, keep an eye on DM2, deteriorating eyesight, cognitive brain dysfuntion (brain fog) and anything like numbness and tingling in the extremities (peripheral neuropathy). There are obviously other presents like AI, so be proactive.
For those of you who are considering it, study the side effects versus hoped for remission. The new Vertex regime is more successful but it is in addition to the regular cocktail of Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin. Most who have tried it would rather go to a bar and ride a mechanical bull @ 78 RPM for a year-sober.
I’m sorry if I make a lot of jokes about all this, but dying is sooooo depressing! Jokes and April Fool’s day are far more important in the scheme of things. Besides, it takes your mind off all those dufus depression things that require serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Sounds like something Klingons used in Star Trek to prevent Scotty from beaming them up… Look! NCC-1701! Ugh! Garth! Take Serotonin- and be quick about it!