Monday, July 20, 2009

This Won't Hurt a Bit

Before I discuss what I promised last time, that is Dr. Paul Cheney’s paradigm of chronic fatigue syndrome, I wanted to first elaborate on one additional factor that I suspect might have contributed to my eventual 6-year sentence with chronic fatigue syndrome.

On May 6, 1997 I was preparing for my mission to Russia, and stopped by the immunization clinic on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM to get my required vaccines. On this day, I received a total of six vaccines in rapid succession – Typhoid, Td (tetanus-diphtheria), MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), OPV (oral polio vaccine), hepatitis A, and hepatitis B.

Though the attending nurse did his job with precision and a smile, I remember a wave of shock went through my body as I downed the liquid polio vaccine out of a disposable cup and a tiny needle was stuck in my arm, the final of 4 shots in that day. I nearly passed out, though I was experiencing neither fear nor pain. I also remember feeling feverish and weak for a day or two afterwards.

Why the strange reaction of a healthy 22-year-old female to something so “innocuous” as inoculations, something we routinely do for tiny babies and small children? I don’t know, but maybe it had something to do with the introduction of the following foreign substances into my bloodstream that afternoon:

  • (MMR ingredients) measles, mumps, rubella live virus, the antibiotic neomycin, the chemical sorbitol, and the animal by products hydrolyzed gelatin, chick embryonic fluid, and human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue.

  • (Td ingredients) tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, aluminum phosphate, modified Mueller-Miller casamino acid medium, modified Mueller’s growth medium, aluminum phosphate.

  • (Hepatitis A ingredients) Hepatitis A virus, the chemicals formalin, (AKA Formaldehyde), aluminum hydroxide, 2-phenoxyethanol, and polysorbate 20, and human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissues.

  • (Hepatitis B ingredients) genetic sequence of the hepatitis B virus that codes for the surface antigen (HbSAg), cloned into GMO yeast, aluminum hydroxide, and thimerosal (containing mercury).

And the following ingredients into my digestive tract:

  • (Oral Polio Vaccine ingredients) 3 types of attenuated polio viruses, the antibiotics neomycin, streptomycin, the chemical sorbitol, and the animal by products monkey kidney cells and calf serum.

  • (Typhoid ingredients) cell surface Vi polysaccharide from Salmonella typhi Ty2 strain, aspartame, phenol, and polydimethylsiloxane (silicone).

I also received a second round of both hepatitis A and B vaccines later that summer, and a flu shot later that fall. I opted out of the third round of hepatitis A and B after returning from Russia – a wise decision, in retrospect.

Of course, there is no way of knowing if any of these vaccines did any long-term damage to my system, or what good they may have done if any in protecting me from disease while I was in Russia.

There are a couple of points I would like to make, however, about chronic fatigue syndrome and vaccines in general.

First of all, it is widely recognized by physicians who work extensively with cfs-ridden patients that some people become ill immediately following a vaccination. My cousin, for example, received a flu shot while she was in college, and came down with cfs shortly thereafter. Further, there are accounts of individual fully recovered from cfs suffering relapse upon receiving a vaccine.

There are two things in particular about vaccines that concern me when it comes to chronic fatigue syndrome. One, the exposure to toxic substances such as aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, aspartame and etc… Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness involving severe toxicity and oftentimes heavy metal poisoning. It is not impossible that some of the toxic chemicals found in vaccines could remain in the body after vaccination occurs, contributing to the overall toxic load of the individual and increasing their chances of eventually falling victim to cfs (and potentially any number of other illnesses).

Second is the immune modulating function of the vaccine – and this is even more suspect to me than the cocktail of toxic ingredients.

Without getting too technical, there are two basic types of immunity in the body—cellular immunity, which takes place when an individual is exposed to a pathogen, and the body launches an attack of different types of cells that search and destroy the microbe. This type of immunity deals with T cells, which are the cells that are also designed to destroy any cancerous cells that form in the body. In order for the cell-mediated immunity to develop in an individual, they must be exposed to a variety of pathogens at an early age. Throughout the history of man until recently, cellular immunity has been dominant in the body.

With the advent of mass vaccinations, cellular immunity has taken a backseat to humoral immunity, which involves the production of antibodies that attach to the cell membrane of the microbe, or antigen, and flags it for destruction.

Vaccines, by their very design, stimulate humoral immunity. One is injected with a microbe or something akin to it (sometimes the microbe is attenuated or weakened, sometimes it is live, and sometimes toxins from the microbe seem to suffice).

An adjuvant, or substance that enhances the body’s immune response, is another part of the vaccine. Aluminum is a common adjuvant that, when combined with the microbe, send the body’s humoral response into hyper drive making anti-bodies against the microbe.

This response is designed to prepare the individual for a successful battle against any future infection with that particular microbe. As I mentioned earlier, it has also shifted the masses from a cellular-mediated dominant immune function, to a dominance of humoral immunity.

Humoral dominance, unfortunately for many, is also associated with such illnesses as chronic fatigue syndrome, where the individual first becomes sick oftentimes by exposure to some sort of pathogen, and an exaggerated immune response ensues, causing a cascade of many other unpleasant symptoms and problems. In fact, one of the important steps in healing from cfs for many people (myself included) involves shifting the body out of humoral or T2 dominance and its associated inflammatory responses and deficiency of T cells (I used Taurox SB from Allergy Research Group for this purpose).

I hope I haven’t either bored my readers to tears or caused others to be disgusted with my relatively simplistic understanding of immunology. Either way, let me make my point clear as I wrap up this week’s article:

There is both anecdotal and scientific evidence suggesting the possibility that vaccines may contribute to the development and/or exacerbation of chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as contributing to relapse in some individuals.

So when Uncle Sam, or anyone else suggests I get vaccinated for the swine flu, or for anything else at all, I will politely and emphatically decline.

Until next time . . .

P.S. Other illnesses associated with humoral immunity dominance include Lupus, asthma, autism, allergies (including food allergies), AIDS, eczema, multiple chemical sensitivity disorder, candida (yeast) overgrowth, viral hepatitis, Gulf War Syndrome, ADD/ADHD, chronic sinusitis, ulcerative colitis, chronic viral infections, and cancer.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Straws on the Camel’s Back

So, it’s time to get back on track! I have often been asked “what causes chronic fatigue syndrome?” There’s no short and sweet answer to that question, and truly it differs from person to person. But today I wanted to take a little stroll down memory lane to share the factors that I believe, once added up, led me personally to suddenly and quickly succumb to this most unpleasant, inconvenient, and life-altering illness in the summer of 1999.

Prior to getting sick with chronic fatigue syndrome, I had spent almost a year and a half living in Russia as a missionary. Even though we had super-mega water filters in the apartments I lived in, there’s no telling what kinds of pathogens, chemicals, toxins, and parasites I was exposed to during that time. To make it worse, while I was in Russia I was operating in hyper-drive in my life – being a missionary who works 60-70 hours/week, studies 7-21 hours/week, cooks most meals from scratch, and deals with rejection and even hostility on an almost daily basis – this is not exactly a low-stress lifestyle! And with my perfectionist tendencies on top of it all . . .!

Let’s take it back a little further now. I can’t blame Russia alone for setting the stage for my 6-year illness! Let’s see . . . oh, yes! This intense, hyper-achieving lifestyle began much earlier – high school was an ideal breeding ground for habits of pushing myself to my limits. I got up between 4:30-4:45 AM during my entire high school career. I had religion classes beginning at 5:45 AM, then 7 AM band practice even before school began. And I had to get up in plenty of time to curl, style, and plaster my hair with hairspray each and every morning. AP and honor’s classes, first chair alto sax in marching, concert, and jazz bands, a drive for straight A’s (with a couple of exceptions here and there), and participation in a smattering of clubs and etc… kept me plenty occupied and stressed. Too bad I didn’t hit the sack until after 11 PM most nights. That’s 5 ½ hours of sleep on average.

Then there’s the fast food. My lunch each day in high school consisted of a $2 meal at either McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, or maybe an occasional splurge at Pizza Hut. EVERY DAY. If you think about it, a cheeseburger and large fries is totally balanced nutritionally, right? You’ve got the bread group covered with the white flour bun, the meat group with the “beef” hamburger patty, the dairy group with that piece of American “cheese”, and the vegetable group with the wilted pickled slices, ketchup, and fries! Since I rarely ordered sodas with my meals, and I had cut back on my candy intake by my sophomore year, I felt no need for concern over my diet.

After that, we come to the liver-toxic prescription drugs, and the immune-wrecking antibiotics. In high school and college I took antibiotics on and off for acne – a classic western medical “solution” to fix a problem caused by poor lifestyle choices, which ends up causing even worse problems for the person in the long run – killing the beneficial bacteria leading to yeast overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, and a hampered immune system.

The summer after my freshman year in college I worked at a hospital, and when they tested me for tuberculosis exposure I tested borderline positive. As a result, I was put on a round of Isoniazid for 6 months – a drug designed to prevent a disease to which I had been exposed but for which I was at an extremely very low risk of ever developing, and that induces hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) in 1 in 100 individuals who take it (I had to have my liver enzyme levels checked every month while I was on it).

So when I was 21 and decided I need to take the incredibly toxic drug Accutane to eradicate my skin problems once and for all, I was unknowingly taking a gamble. Even though I started to have side effects after ONE PILL (muscle aches, dry and irritated mucous membranes, and loss of appetite), I continued with the drug for the next several months. It was giving me the results I wanted – no more break-outs! I faithfully went to have my blood drawn every 6 weeks or so to make sure I wasn’t going into liver failure. Again, I wasn’t too concerned – I didn’t drink alcohol, so I never gave a second thought to the drug’s potential effects on my liver.

I was between 22 and 23 years old during the time I lived in Russia. I got to eat some amazing and wonderful food while I was there, along with some pretty weird stuff! I had excellent health while I was there, even though some of the other missionaries around me were dropping like flies with vague complaints of fatigue, insomnia, pain, digestive issues, and etc… The only problem I remember having while I was there (besides one bout of food poisoning and the occasional headache, and always dragging in the morning) occurred toward the end of my stint. For a couple of days, I was doubled over with severe abdominal pain that left me lying in bed in the fetal position all day. But it went away as abruptly as it came, and things proceeded as usual.

Now we’re back in the summer of 1999 in Tallahassee, FL when I – a “perfectly healthy” 24-year-old – suddenly had the rug pulled out from beneath me and went from riding my bike around Tallahassee, to having the stamina of a sick 80-year-old.

The next strike against me was moving into an old cinder block house that had no direct sunlight (the same house my roommate Rebecca, my roommate, lived in who also got chronic fatigue syndrome at the same time. Suspiciously enough, we learned sometime in early 2000 that our next door neighbor whose house was similar to ours and who always seemed to be home ALSO had chronic fatigue syndrome!!) When I moved out of this house in the summer of 2000 and moved my bed, I discovered black slimy stuff all over the wall! Some kind of black mold, evidently. Not good.

A few weeks before I lost my health, I had a strange occurance. I ate a grapefruit, and an hour later I ran to the bathroom with great urgency. To my utter disgust (don’t read this if you’re squeamish), I found that I had passed the mostly undigested grapefruit. Along with wads of black stringy stuff that could have been nothing but worms.

By the time my roommate came home with a flu bug in July 1999, I was unknowingly a ticking time bomb for something to go amuck with my health. (In my blog entry entitled Drowning in an Invisible Flood, I shared how it felt for me in those early days of being sick.)

Stay tuned for more fun details on what cfs specialist Dr. Paul Cheney, MD defines as “Stage 1” of chronic fatigue syndrome, and tales of fun with doctor visits . . .