Monday, 3 June 2013

autoimmunity - part1

For a very long time I followed the route of steroids and antibiotics for my own chronic health conditions moon-face for a year while taking cortisone based steroids for my arthritis but still had the arthritis.  I was lucky enough to change doctors in 2006 and what followed was a period of 5 years where I took penicillin for five days a month to combat and circumvent my body's exaggerated autoimmune reaction to the streptococcus virus.  Anytime I mentioned taking antibiotics on such a regular basis, for such a long time, people seemed very concerned and asked how the rest of my system was handing that. Well, it was a concern that of course I had as well... but at least I no longer got locked in rooms because I couldn't grip and turn a doorknob. Suppressing the strep virus worked and my hands didn't swell.  I was happy to remain a long-term antibiotic treatment patient, for as long as it worked and I could live a normal life without steroids, of which the potential side-effects were worse (and in my case, which didn't work anyhow).

Then in 2010 I got pregnant and my immunologist and I decided to suspend the antibiotics and 'see what happens' for a few months... in the interest of the foetus of course I was happy to have joint pain, fatigue and swelling... isn't that what pregnancy is all about for a healthy woman as well?

When you're pregnant the maternal immune system is modified in order to achieve immune tolerance toward paternal antigen expressed on foetal cells.These modifications, which occur both at the
foeto-maternal interface and in the systemic circulation, are driven by oestrogen and progesterone
whose blood concentrations increase during pregnancy.  This means that your immune system, triggered by the oestrogen and progesterone, takes a chilled out back seat during pregnancy in order to let the little baby survive in the womb.  Otherwise, half of the baby would be recognised as foreign to the mother (because it caries the DNA and genetic mapping of the father) and destroyed.  If this system doesn't work in fact, miscarriage is inevitable... as is the case in several autoimmune diseased where the natural immunosuppressant doesn't kick in in time (this may explain also why so many autoimmune pathologies have trouble 'getting pregnant' in the first place...  the embryo is rejected by the over-active system before it ever had a chance to register any hCG in the urine or blood).

In my case, pregnancy turned me into a healthy woman for the first time in 10 years. I had no more joint pain or swelling, was not taking any medication to control my symptoms and had a wonderful pregnancy with little discomfort, fatigue or dismay.  Yay for a suppressed immune system!

After Sera was born, it was a different story.  My joint swelling and pain came back with a vengeance in order to make up for my nine month holiday.... and what's worse, going back on the antibiotics didn't help at all.  My A-Streptosilinico levels were at an all-time high and the stress of a new baby, sleepless nights, breast-feeding and back pain didn't help at all.... what was a girl to do? My immunologist, with an apologetic face told me that I'd have to start injecting a stronger form of antibiotics into my buttocks on a monthly basis just to feel normal. There I was, nostalgic for the carefree, easy days of opening pickle jars and bending my fingers to make a fist that I had just experienced during pregnancy and he was telling me my disease had progressed... depression wasn't far away.

I asked about acupuncture, hypnotherapy, homoeopathy, osteopathy, massage therapy, changing diets, drinking more water, hormone therapy (hey, if it worked when I was pregnant)... friends even joked that I should become a surrogate, but after a traumatic birth experience, that wasn't in the cards.  I looked into everything and anything and the doctors' answers were always that it 'couldn't hurt to try'... but they weren't confirming anything.

When Sera was 6 months old, on a friend's passionate recommendation, we packed up the car and drove three hours to a doctor's appointment with a homoeopath who uses the MORA machine in Marina di Massa and I haven't taking traditional medicine since.

More on MORA, Marina di Massa and homoeopathy in a future post.

1 comment :

  1. This is fascinating and I'm on the edge of my seat for part 2! And how marvelous to hear how well pregnancy can treat some women. There's something so beautiful about that. Great post.