Why I’m not around

You may have noticed I’ve been pretty quiet lately. My health has been doing a slow, painful nosedive and yesterday I got some crappy news that might explain some of that.

I’ve been diagnosed with an acute mycoplasma infection. You might remember I also have toxoplasmosis. So basically, my body is a mess and that’s making everything else a mess too.

It’s not a surprising diagnosis because a) Someone I live with has also been diagnosed, although they’re not effected like me because they don’t have my autoimmune disorder, b) I’m on immunosuppressant drugs, so even though these are the sort of bacteria that you can have for years without them causing a problem, my system can’t cope, and c) my intestines have never recovered from the original infection that caused my hospitalisation three years ago.

Mycoplasma is the smallest of all bacteria. 4,000 of them can fit inside one red blood cell in your body (only 10-15 of average sized bacteria would fit).

Mycoplasma is a master of manipulating and outmaneuvering the host’s immune system. Half of its genetic makeup is devoted to that exclusive purpose. It has little ability to cause direct harm to the host, but it can use the host’s immune function to its own advantage.

Everything that the bacteria needs for survival (vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids) must be scavenged from the host; it makes nothing itself. To gain access to needed resources, mycoplasma generate inflammation in the body by manipulating the signaling mechanisms of the immune system (called cytokines). Inflammation breaks down tissues and allows the bacteria to gain access to the host’s resources. Mitochondria are prime targets for energy; fatigue is always a factor in mycoplasma infections. Source.

It’s  such a weird mix of relief and horror getting yet another diagnosis. I mean, this could go some way to explaining why I have been so depleted the past couple of months. From what I’ve read, mycoplasma infections are a common factor in many autoimmune disorders, and could actually be right at the heart of things like fibromyalgia and lyme disease.

Obviously, it’s not a good thing to be told.

And the treatment for it isn’t much better. I have to take a month’s worth of doxyclene. I’m not excited about this, for several reasons. A) It’s an antibiotic I’ve had before, and it has a long list of lovely side effects. B) It’s likely that this the antibiotic that caused the c. diff infection that landed me in hospital. And C) I have to stop my immunosuppressant treatment while I’m on it.

I mean, I’m trying to stay positive. The month could be enough (if it’s not, I have to stay on doxycyclene for three). I may not have the same reactions I did last time. And if I do, I have a lot more knowledge than I had then, and access to medications that can help.

This is also a chance to measure how much benefit my immunosuppressant is providing. I need to track my Ankylosing Spondylitis symptoms closely over the next four weeks, and then compare that to how I feel when I’m on the weekly injection of Enbrel.

It all feels really exhausting, to be honest, as if I weren’t exhausted enough.

My mental health hasn’t been much better. I don’t want to go into detail, but I’m in a fairly intensive therapy program and my medication is going to be changed. As anyone who’s taken antidepressant medication can attest, withdrawing from and changing these drugs is… pretty much a nightmare. Adding this to the other physical challenges I’m facing is a really daunting prospect.

Basically, as much as I want to be positive, I have to be realistic, and the likelihood is that things are going to get worse before they get better.

So you want me… I’ll see you round xmas.