Low Natural Killer Cell Activity
I had my third appointment with Dr. W (ME specialist) today, and confirmed what we both already suspected: my natural killer cell (NKC) activity is low. What surprised me was exactly how low. Out of a reference range of 8-171, mine tested 8.
We all know that the medical community hasn't agreed on a set of biomarkers for ME/CFS, but most would probably agree that low NKC activity is one of, if not the, most common marker. Most of us have it.
So I have mixed feelings about my particular result. It was somewhat vindicating to confirm what I already knew--that I truly have ME/CFS. But it's also scary to see such a clear deficiency in an critical bodily function. Not only do NKCs keep viruses at bay, they help defeat cancerous cells--often killing cancerous growths without us ever knowing about it. Now, apparently, I'm more susceptible to cancer.
But you can't live life in fear. For as long as this NKC problem persists, I will simply make sure that I get regular cancer screenings. That's all I can really do.
Starting an Anti-Viral Drug
At my last appointment, Dr. W and I discussed the possibility of using an anti-viral medication to control the reactivated Epstein-Barr and HHV-6 infections. He mentioned that he normally prescribes either Valtrex or Acyclovir. I spent the intervening months researching these two options. As part of that research, I came to the conclusion that a third option, Famvir, was probably superior to these others. While all three are effective against EBV, Famvir is supposed to have a broader spectrum and be more effective against HHV-6 and other herpes-family viruses. Since my insurance covers all three medications, I came into today's appointment intent on coming away with a Famvir prescription.
Dr. W was reluctant to prescribe Famvir, to say the least. So this was the first time I gave him major push-back on one of his recommendations. He ultimately agreed, but admitted that he had no idea what dose he should prescribe. After the appointment, Dr. W researched dosage information and wrote the prescription for 500 mg/2x day.
I also mentioned that many PWMEs report having success with a combination of an anti-viral and an immune modulator. This seemed to perk up Dr. W, as if he'd been waiting to suggest it himself. He wrote a prescription for low doses of something called "Naltrexone." I've never heard of this drug, so I'll certainly spend a couple of weeks researching it before filling the prescription.
Candida Dies Hard
The biggest surprise was that my Candida titers had hardly dropped at all. They are still alarmingly high. This was after 2 weeks of Diflucan (I couldn't finish the full 4 weeks due to kidney pain), months of coconut oil, months of Pau d'Arco tea, and an absolutely unwavering commitment to a strict Candida diet. What do I have to do to kill these buggers?
Since I apparently don't tolerate Diflucan very well, Dr. W prescribed the next best thing: Nystatin. Nystatin is actually much less toxic than Diflucan and can be taken for longer periods of time, so I am hopeful it will be effective this time.
The Good News
The good news was that some of my vitamin and hormone deficiencies have been corrected...at least partially. My vitamin D3 levels are now optimal, and my thyroid levels are closer to optimal. I rarely get cold hands and feet any longer, so I know that the thyroid supplementation must be working.