April 12, 2012
i’m a few days past my last appointment with dr. j. and this is the first chance i’ve really had to write about it. the travel to dc is exhausting, in part because post-appointment i become militant about going shopping at whichever place i’ve pre-screened as the retail therapy session that will distract me. i’ve promised my partner that i will eliminate this aspect of our trip next month. we’ll see if i can deliver on that promise.
each visit to the clinic now consists of an in-office infusion of a new medication. i have to have a full dose of the infusion in front of them to make sure that i don’t have an allergic reaction to whatever the flavor of the month is. this month’s new medication, clindamycin, leaves a terrible taste in my mouth. after a few minutes, i felt like i’d chewed a giant mouthful of the bitterest pills in my box.
everyone was pretty nonchalant about my inability to follow directions on my first round of iv antibiotics. then as we talked about the babesiosis protocol for this month, we discovered that i hadn’t just screwed the pooch on one the antibiotics but had also added in artemisinin, also known as cortem, a month ahead of schedule. luckily, mail order being what it is, i didn’t get the plant extract until recently, so i’d only taken it for a for a week.
the next three weeks will target one of my co-infections, babesiosis, the malaria of the northeast. when i tested for all the lyme co-infections, the one test that came back with the highest positive result was babesia, a protozoan infection that attacks red blood cells by multiplying rapidly until the cell bursts, releasing more babesiosis into the bloodstream. infect, explode, repeat. this is likely the source of my chronic anemia and an one of the culprits of my extreme fatigue. i have tried unsuccessfully in the past to treat the infection with a two-component pharmaceutical cocktail of azithromycin and mepron. my physical reaction to this treatment was so severe that i genuinely started to fantasize about inducing a coma until i could come out on the other side. each time i tried to add the mepron, an anti-malarial liquid the color of yellow road paint, my herxing hit a point where i had to discontinue treatment. understandably, i’ve been dreading this course of treatment. dr. j helped put some of these fears to rest. “in the past, your system was not equipped to handle the treatment. we have you at a better place than you’ve been. it won’t be as bad as before.” i’m also taking the mepron on treatment days- monday, wednesday and friday as opposed to 7 days a week, like i did before.
this month has two different iv antibiotics, the meropenem i used last month and clindamycin. i’ll be taking septra ds, a combination of two drugs that create an antibiotic. after one week of that, i’ll add in the mepron and two weeks after starting this, i’ll add artemisinin and flagyl, an antibiotic that targets certain bacteria and parasites. after that, i get a whole week off of treatment and return to dc to find out what round three will look like. right now i’m on an antibiotic holiday, though last night i accidentally took the flagyl and spent the better part of the night nauseated with horrible stomach cramps. dr. j said that this reaction is likely a good indicator that the medication is killing biofilm, a dense colony of pathogens. i tried to keep that in the front of my mind while squirming around in pain.
i feel like i’m finally getting the feel for how all of these treatment blocks will work. each week adds new medications to the base protocol, which makes for a lessened reaction to the bug die-off. after the third week, i get a break from the iv antibiotics and most of the target specific drugs. even though i’m off right now, i’m not feeling great yet, but i’m hoping that the latter part of the day will bring a break in the clouds. i feel a little less scared of how this will unfold. i’m glad that i get a week off to allow my body, mind and spirit to recoup from the stress and pain of all of this. i need that.
i never got around to decorating vulgar easter eggs. i imagine everyone was waiting for pictures of my edible works of dirty art and you’ll just have to keep waiting. i hear that easter comes once a year so it seems i’ll have more opportunities in the future.