I have Lyme. I’d like to not have it anymore. I also just want cake.
So… this is something I would do.
Surprised I am not.
My last post went into details about how absolutely smashing I was doing. Like super great and stuff being back in school, getting my 4.0 on, slowing shedding a symptom here and there over the months, enjoying adventures and trips and the what have you’s of semi-normal people. Up until a few concerns remained over my historically stubborn Babesia infection that is and the Babesia cavalry was brought back into my protocol beginning July. If you read that last post you know how that went.
Well I got crazy sick, in case you didn’t read it and are too lazy to go back and read it. I mean, you don’t have to read it. I don’t want to guilt my readers. But anyways, I was ordered to complete three rounds of that Babesia protocol, which put me at the end of September upon completion. And I feel it is important to announce that due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to complete the protocol in its entirety but that I also want to point to my track record of swallowing any bitter pill my doctor gave me – even if it meant throwing up all night or having a psychotic breakdown. Please, everyone, look at all my gold stars.
For whatever reason (well, I understand the reason, and you will too by the end of this post), I hit a wall with this medication arrangement and I had to drop Artemisinin from my schedule and just push forward with the other two babesia meds (and cocktail of abx). My summer can be summed up as follows… (after my initial temper tantrum about my predicament that is):
This was public me. Private me was far more pathetic.
After two rounds, I decided I would go for more gold stars and I added the Artemisinin back in. Technically, it was not the full cavalry the entire last round because I ran out of Mepron three days into the treatment cycle… but I finished the near-two weeks straight and guys… it was weirrrrddd. Let’s talk about my first full cycle back on Artemisinin since my IV days.
From Day 1 I became nearly narcoleptic. Which is supes unusual for me as my entire treatment I’ve needed elephant tranquilizers (is that a thing I think it’s a thing, I just know horse tranquilizers wouldn’t give enough omph to the point I’m trying to make here) to fall asleep. By Day 2 I was getting nosebleeds which I never get. The nausea was overwhelming… there was not a cell in my body that did not feel nausea that I swear was more intense than the levels that would lead a normal person to vomiting. I was stacking max doses of zofran and phenergen on top of Marinol and was hanging on by a thread the entire time. Imagine an old, stagnant pool of water on Fukashima’s grounds that emits a slight glow at night… now float my brain in it. Basically. It was tangibly poisoned, the feeling in my head. I will also neither confirm nor deny taking Marinol several times just to silence my psych symptoms and/or knock me out of my misery. A nasty case of what I was told by my immunologist was eczema on my hands flared to the point where I looked like I had 3rd degree burns – and it felt like it looked. My gut basically stopped moving and I refused to leave my house because even D’s xlarge sweatshirts did not hide what looked like my 8 months’ pregnant belly. It was worse “lyme pregnancy” (you know what I’m talking about… you know!) than I’d ever experienced before. I couldn’t pee. If I wasn’t a well-informed rational human being I would have begged someone to check my prostate. When I did pee, it was rusty brown and alarming. I mean there’s tons more weird stuff that I could delve into but I’ve gotten personal enough already. It was unusual let’s just leave it at that (except I didn’t, I told you about my pee, but whatever).
The second-to-last day of that treatment cycle the clinic called me to tell me the safety labs I had completed a few days prior showed abnormalities with blood sugar, kidney, and liver functioning. Being sufficiently weirded out by the weirdness of that cycle already, I just called it good and took it upon myself to stop and finish the cycle right then and there. I tapped out (first time ever).
A few days later I was taking inventory of my remaining meds to see what needed refills and…
“oh”, *shakes head* “classic Tara”… I discover I had been over-dosing on Artemisinin.
So a little info on Artemisinin…There’s various opinions on how effective it really is in treating Babesia. Some say it’s a heavy hitter, some say it’s worthless. I’m sure much of it has to do with something called host specificity and genetic diversity. And Babesia is really darn good at the first and impressive in its display of the latter. Through mutations and natural selection, Babesia will eventually take on a genetic profile that is most compatible with surviving inside of its specific host. Not like, Babesia becomes good at living in humans as opposed to cows, but like Babesia becomes good at living inside of you as opposed to your neighbor. Didcha know that? It’s kind of fascinating to be honest. The budding microbiologist in me loves it. The medical patient in me does not. Theoretically, what this may mean is my Babesia is genetically different than your Babesia, and while in small and subtle ways it probably is, this capacity in Babesia is most reflected in its outstanding ability to find ways to survive in new climates, in various hosts (i.e. various species), and so forth. And regardless of various opinions, we do know that Artemisinin can be quite useful against Babesia, especially when paired with medications that exhibit differing mechanisms of action to prevent resistance. However, obviously individual responses will vary.
Artemisinin works like many anti-protozoals do – that is through the use of free radicals to literally just damage the parasitic cells to death. Art (enough with the formality let’s just call it Art) uses oxygen and carbon and what is called a “peroxide bridge”, which few other substances on the earth are known to possess. This has a cleaving action when reacting with heme and iron(ii) oxide (peroxide bridges and stuff what? Oh, it’s been a while since you took a chemistry class? Not my problem, *smirk*). Since Babs primarily infects our erythrocytes (red blood cells) where iron is stored and digests our hemoglobin, Babs accumulates much heme and iron. Art, being drawn to heme and iron(ii) oxide, then reacts with those properties in babs and rips them and the cells they occupy up. As a sidenote, Art has a large relapse rate, but I suspect this is most likely happening when used alone. Much like Malaria, baby Babs in their “ring stage” form (what sciency people call baby babs) has not accumulated much heme or iron yet as opposed to those in later life stages. Therefore, Art is far more effective against adults. Art likely clears a decent portion of the adult parasite and provides relief, only to subject the patient to relapse when the youngin’s who survived reach adulthood and have been turning up the Drake and proliferatin’. Thus the absolute need for combination therapy.
New evidence is also finding that Art displays action against metazoan parasites like helmenth worms (nematodes, roundworms, flukes, flatworms, and others). And you know, everyone wants to deny they have worms. Maybe it’s because we associate worm infections with 3rd world countries, poor sanitation, poor hygiene habits, or making out with our dogs and we are far too civilized for that, but it just isn’t so. Nematodes especially, are everywhere. Don’t thoroughly wash your vegetables? That’s all it takes. What I’m trying to say is YOUHAVEWORMSACCEPTITANDMOVEON. Hey did you know that helmenth worms also suppress the immune system through T cell regulation? (source) Hey, maybe take some Art for that. Along with other meds. To prevent resistance. We went over this.
Standard doses of Artemisinin hover between 300-500 mg, 2-3 times per day. But like most of my bug killers, we go hard and I was ordered to take 800mg, two times per day. I accidentally doubled this and so basically the entire point of this post was to explain that I figured out the answer to the questions I posed in my last post, or why Tara got so sick.
She was taking 3.2 grams of Artemisinin a day guys. That’s all.
On the plus side, after finishing that last round all my labs went back to normal, my weird scaldingly painful eczema rash cleared up overnight, some of my food intolerances are suddenly getting better, the other weirdness subsided, I felt tons better and just generally feel like I’m on a big upswing. I even went camping in Capitol Reef National Park a week and a half ago and hiked many miles for two days straight. Thanks overdose*!
*do not be idiotic like me and try this at home. Art is neurotoxic in high doses or can cause liver abnormalities.
In other news, Babesia protocols continue (a little more ramped up even) through January with four more rounds… This time with the correct Art dose. It’s going much better and I am resuming my aquiring of gold stars.
Oh, and here’s me after my drug overdose. I know everyone loves a good come-back story.