Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wondering Why After a Mild Cold

At some point I started noticing that when I get a cold, it goes away quickly. I don't seem to generate gallons of pflegm for days on end and wind up with a racking cough. I sneeze and sniffle for a day or two and then maybe wheeze a bit.

I also started noticing that paper cuts I get and work and nicks received from the kitchen knives don't seem to get as infected as much. They just heal over and that's that.

And then one evening a customer was asking me what might be in a specific wine that causes his wife to have an allergic reaction. (Allergies are a surprisingly common topic in wine departments, headaches are the most common symptom. No one suspects allergies when vodka or whisky is involved!) What was interesting here was that it was a specific vintage of a specific estate that was causing the problem.

The speculation was quick and wide ranging. P is a pretty smart guy, he's a Ph.D who's worked for a long time in the semiconductor industry. I mentioned my light response to colds and he proposed an interesting theory.

That the production of mammoth amounts of mucus is our immuno-reaction to the cold virus. Since my immune system is repressed by drugs so they won't attack my kidney, it doesn't have as much a response to the cold virus as a 'normal' system would have. 

I remember some horribly long asthmatic reactions previously to colds after my transplant, but those occurred during my initial levels of medication. When I encountered the BK Virus,  the dosages of immuno-suppression medications were radically reduced. The goal was to leave enough immuno-response to fight the virus, but not enough to fight the kidney. It was a tricky balance, but it seems to be working. 

And ESPECIALLY against the cold. And WITHOUT a huge, snotty, overly pflegmatic mess. Nice!

I then wondered if anyone else had noticed this same reaction, so I looked to the blog o-sphere and found a thread on a bulletin board named "I Hate Dialysis." The thread contains comments from a number of transplant patients who are surprised that they don't seem to get as sick as those around them.

The key seems to be finding the balance in the immuno-suppression medication. Which could be difficult. The doctors tend to over-medicate for obvious reasons. Under-medication results in rejection.

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