The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The final (?) word on my fungus

Well, I continue to get better. My hips are the only joints that still hurt at times (the Celebrex helps) and my lower legs, though not perfect, are in much better shape. But I do get very tired very easily, and often feel fatigued. I'm back at work, but not taking on too much.

There was some question on my diagnosis when my blood test for Coccidioides (the fungus) was negative...but I had elevated antibodies for the bacteria Streptococcus! An extreme case of Strep could cause similar symptoms, but I never had the hallmark sore throat. Plus blood tests for fungal infections are notoriously inaccurate.

So I went to see an infectious disease specialist at Beth Israel, Dr. Stanley Yancovitz, who was kindly recommended to me by some former antifungal clients. I mention him by name because he was great and I highly recommend him to anyone who ever needs an ID; but I digress... I told him the whole sordid tale and he did an exam—and he concurs with the fungal diagnosis. The elevated Strep antibodies were probably from a previous illness. There are other tests that could be done, but he felt that the clinical evidence for Valley Fever was overwhelming and I am getting better, so there was no need for them. A few more weeks of taking it easy and eventually I will be as good as new (or at least as good as I was).

The one interesting caveat is that he said I should always report it as part of my medical history because the fungus can remain dormant in your body for the rest of your life. Under normal circumstances I’ll never have another acute attack now that my immune system has put it in check; but if I’m ever severely immunosuppressed (eg, if I had an organ transplant) it could flare up again.

So what did I learn from all this? Fungal infections suck. Sporanox sucks. Side effects suck. A lot of doctors suck. But my friends and family don't suck. And neither do Stella D’oro Breakfast Treats.

The best medicine of all...me and my niece Ashley on my first “day out".


PS: Karen "MBL" Landes has recent posted a few comments/corrections under the post from our trip to Vega$. If you wish to read them, scroll down and click "comments" at the end of that post!

3 Comments:

  • Doug-I was diagnosed this week with Valley Fever, after feeling like crap for weeks, among other things. As I was reserching VF, I came across your blog. I do live in Phoenix, as opposed to visiting the southwest like yourself, but our symptoms are identical, right down to the rash. I am writing most of all to tell you that I am glad you are feeling better, BUT also to compliment you on what an impressive writer you are. I thouroughly enjoyed your blogs. Thanks for the entertainment and information. Good health to you. Kathy

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:28 PM  

  • Hi Doug;
    Really enjoyed your humerous blog....I'm a Travel Nurse and worked in Tucson for 9 months....got "the fungus" after being there only 2 months! (and I'm not even outdoorsy!). My legs mirrored yours.....after 2 months on diflucan, went off it and so far so good. am now working in Westchester County....thanks for the name of the ID doctor....hopefullly won't need him, but good to know someone out here knows about this! As a nurse, I was at first angry that Arizona doesn't "warn" folks about this lovely "problem" they have....I started a Valley Fever survivor branch in tucson with another nurse who had VF....we handed out pamphlets telling visitors to the Gem Show about it (so they'd have some knowlege if they developed symptoms when they returned to their homes)....Anyway...glad you're improved and hope all continues well.....the VF website is a great resource....
    karyn

    By Blogger ks, at 3:01 PM  

  • Hello Doug,
    Glad to hear that you are on the path to recovery on this Valley Fever journey. Something you said struck a cord with me "Under normal circumstances I’ll never have another acute attack now that my immune system has put it in check"

    This has been my experience:

    I hate to burst this bubbble, but I must at least say... After being diagnosed with VF in October 2006, that diagnosis made it abundantly clear that I had VF for years prior AND it would always flare up after I'd had surgery. In 3 years I had about 5 surgeries (stomach, thyroid). Each time I would get various forms of pneumonia which wouldn't clear up without a couple rounds on antibotics. In Oct 2005 & Feb 2006 I had thyroid surgery and my lungs never fully recovered. After chest, CAT, & PET scans it was determined that it was VF in my lungs, not the spreading of thyroid cancer as was suspected. (as explained to me, VF flairs against antibotics because it requires antibodies to fight VF)

    So my point is that even when you are healthy & symptom free, just the stress on your body of basic surgery can trigger this fungus. Stress in and of itself can make you flare up. Lack of rest... etc.

    Until there is a cure for this fungus, you will always be aware of the affects on your body. Out of no where you will get tired, your lungs will become heavy, you will have coughing spells... this is your reminder that you have this illness and an acute attack is always lurking around the corner.

    I moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1996. In hindsight, I believe I contracted this shortly after arriving. I spent the first 2 years suffering from this and that with my lungs but just attributed it to the change in environment. (rainy wet Washington State to the dry desert). It took 10 years before my 'official' diagnosis and I live IN this epidemic area!

    By Anonymous Kerrilynn (Phoenix, AZ), at 11:17 AM  

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