Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Shell Game

"It should be remembered that an efficacious treatment paradigm may turn out to be completely different from what has evolved for HIV. It may be possible to take antiretrovirals for a time to knock it back, clean out reservoirs, in conjunction with other things that are conducive to proviral latency."
* * *
This was my experience (though not with ARVs).  I got sicker and sicker until finally I got some effective sleeping pills.  After a few months of sleeping 8-10 hours a night instead of 0-2, I started to run a fever, which didn't go away.  A nurse friend's response to my concerned e-mail began "Congratulations, you have a functioning immune system again!"
Getting adequate, good quality sleep allowed my resurrected immune system to get the upper hand over the virus again.  Cured?  No -- a couple years later, after the clinical trial of the magic pills was over, I had a C-Reactive Protein test that was 10x what it should be ... and joked with the doctor if it was that bad when I felt so good, I'd love to know what it had been when I was thinking death was the next step. 
Now that I'm sleeping 5-6 hours most nights (which is about what I was getting while I was still employed), my immune system does seem to be keeping the virus down to a dull roar.  Not clearing it away entirely, but the CRP tests are not as sky-high as they were.
And this fits in with what my first specialist recommended: fix the sleep problem and let the body begin to heal itself.  Then you can see what remains to be fixed pharmacologically.  Things which were a daily problem are now down to an occasional annoyance, reduced in both frequency and severity.  I certainly wouldn't consider myself "cured", nor even capable of returning to work, but when I compare 2011 to 2001, I can definitely see a big difference in my abilities.  In 2001, I was horizontal almost all day.  Now I'm vertical much of the time.  In 2001, a 15 minute doctor visit 4 blocks from home had repercussions for nearly a week.  Last week, I spent a couple hours at the Capitol (a mile from home) for activism, and although I had to lie down when I got home, I felt decent the next day and back to normal-for-me after 48 hours.
As Dr. Jamie says, sometimes it just takes a little help to knock the virus back.

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