The Terminator

I haven’t got time for a lengthy post, but I’m making time for this:

When my sister was here from New Mexico for Christmas, she brought the Cold From Hell with her. A week or so after she went home, my aunt came down with it, and a couple of days after that, my Mom caught it. She’s basically been laid up since last Thursday, though she’s feeling much better today.

Now, I haven’t caught a bad cold in—literally—years. I’ve had the occasional 24-hour stomach bug, but even when everyone around me was dropping like flies from the annual everybody-gets-it crud, I powered on. It’s been at least since 2003. I’ve thought for a long time that if there’s an upside to having a supercharged autoimmune system—one so hyped up it attacks the body it’s supposed to protect—it’s this. Your garden-variety rhinovirus simply hasn’t got a chance against my autoimmune superpowers.

I thought that when I started taking DMARDs for my rheumatoid arthritis, I might start catching colds again.  After all, DMARDs do suppress the immune system, which is how they work against RA. But since I started them in 2009, still no colds.

So. Even though I seem to be immune, since mom came down with the Cold From Hell last week, I’ve been guzzling down Airborne. Just in case. And for the last three days, I’ve awakened in the morning with had that odd, thick, swollen feeling at the top of my throat that heralds an oncoming bad cold. But it hasn’t progressed. Instead, that swollen feeling lessened as each day went on. My sinuses have been sort of clogged, too, but I have a grass allergy that pretty much stays active year-‘round, so I’m telling myself the congestion is from that, not the Cold From Hell. I feel like the Cold is trying to break down my defenses, but each time it manages to breach the wall, my brave, muskle-bound immune system fights it off and rebuilds the wall.

I’m not writing this to brag. In fact, I have a feeling that I will, finally, catch the Cold From Hell this time. It’s a doozy. I know from reading your blogs that many of you catch colds with frightening ease, thanks to the DMARDs and biologics (especially those) you take for RA. I feel for you, believe me. But is there anyone else out there like me? Whose immune system thinks it’s the Terminator?

Okay. I’ve got to run—my uncle has appointments today with the eye doctor and Blind Services at the VA hospital. Here’s wishing all of you a terrific day and an even terrific-er (!) weekend.

12 thoughts on “The Terminator

  1. Hi Wren —

    It’s so great that your immune system beats its chest against any onslaught of viral predators. You are clearly from hearty stock!

    Wishing you continued joy in the “benefits” from a hyperactive immune system! 🙂

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  2. Hi Wren,
    I hope your Terminator body keeps on terminating those nasty bugs 🙂 I very rarely get sick, and when I do, it doesn’t last too long. However, saying that, I did have an infection in my toe for AN ENTIRE YEAR, so yeah, that was fun.

    I like to compare myself to the Terminator due to the bionic nature of my elbow and soon to be hip. It tends to take the seriousness out of the situation if I laugh about being a cyborg 🙂

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  3. Good for you Wren! I am not from such hearty stock. Even before my diagnosis, I used to catch everything going around. Now, I stay away from folks with colds and get my flu shot every year. It helps that I work from home so I can avoid public transportation and crowds where those “bugs” like to flourish. Wishing I had your immune system…

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  4. I was just speaking with my dentist about this very thing. I have an infection and she asked what antibiotics I had taken in the past. I told her that I have only taken antibiotics maybe 3x in my life. She was shocked and then reasoned that maybe the hyper immune system had kept illness and infections to a minimum. I had never really thought about it. I just thought I was a very healthy person…other than the RA.
    Hope you fight off the cold.

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  5. My daughter had that cold from he_ _ also. I however did not get it 🙂 Yup I also have the terminator immune system. But I also think that is why I have an aggressive form of ra. Dang if I do and danged if I don’t…so to say. Let’s hope what you are doing keeps that bugger at bay. It IS a nasty one and that is for sure. Took my daughter over two weeks to free herself from it.

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  6. Entering week 2. Head and sinuses and ears exploded. Nose ran like a fire hose with sneezing every 5-10 minutes for first two days. Mucous production and resulting cough tamping down but still somewhat in overdrive. Trying to get it out of the lungs now and not drown from post nasal drip, especially when lying down. Mucinex DM since the start and still doing. Hadn’t had any colds since 2008. Think a prednisone burst started right before it hit made it double hell. Hoping you prevail!

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  7. Haha funny you should write about colds. Today i woke up with one for the first time in over a year. Very surprised, I’ve been battering off viruses left right and centre all winter. I work in an air conditioned office with about 300 people so you can imagine the bugs that fly around. But yeah..Terminator here too.. I get sniffles maybe once a year but I cant remember the last time I was actually really ill. This feels like the sniffles too so I’m sure I’ll be fine and dandy by the end of the weekend. I always say that my immune system must’ve been bored and that’s why it got RA. Hope you avoid the cold again this time!

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  8. Okay. I’m new to the RA world. Tentatively diagnosed last week, put on prednisone as a “bridge medication” as my rheumatologist waits for all of the blood work and x-rays to roll in, so he can make the final diagnosis and pick the right DMARD and/or biologic.

    For years, I’ve not had a cold, the flu, etc. Nope, not me. People around me can drop like flies this time of year. Not me…..until yesterday, day 7 of prednisone, which does damp the immune system.

    Hooo doggy am I sick with a cold from hell. AND I’m still flaring, which I think is a total rip off. If the my immune system is going to be cranked down, at least the stupid flares could stop.

    Anyway, I hope you can avoid this round of the “cold from hell.” It’s totally kicking my butt!

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  9. Thanks for the kind wishes, Catherine, but the CFH finally ambushed me. All that Airborne DID fend it off for about a week, though.

    Sorry to hear that you’re looking at an RA diagnosis, but I’m glad you’re hooked up with a rheumatologist. I hope whichever meds the doc prescribes will quickly get things under control and ease any pain and disability you’re experiencing.

    Thanks for reading! The RA blogging community is incredibly supportive and empathetic. I hope you’ll come back again soon. And be sure to check out the links on the left to many other great RA blogs.

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  10. Hi Kali! Thanks for the heads-up and the kind wishes. I’m feeling a lot better than I was, and I’m sure this cold is on the way out. I read the article on Airborne, as you suggested. Soze y’noze, I was very aware that the stuff is nothing more than vitamins, etc., and I’ve generally been a skeptic regarding most herbal remedies. The thing with Airborne is that I feel pretty confidant that it HAS helped me ward off colds in the past. I worked in a busy public office while I was a newspaper editor and was naturally exposed frequently to whatever cold was making the rounds. Most of the time I didn’t even notice any warning signs of a cold trying to establish itself in my body–my superstrong immune system kept the colds out–but on the few occasions that I DID feel a tickle in my throat or some other sneaky symptom, I drank a few doses of Airborne over the next 24 hours. The symptoms would disappear and I didn’t catch the cold. Maybe I wouldn’t have anyway, but since the Airborne was only composed of vitamins, etc., I figured I wasn’t doing myself any harm by taking it.

    As for the Vit. A issue: According to the Airborne tube on the kitchen counter, it has 2,000 IU of Vit. A per tablet–not the far higher IUs alleged in the article you linked to. At the three recommended doses per day, the total Vit. A dosage is 6,000 IUs, 4,000 less than the dangerous over 10,000 IUs of Vit. A the article rightly warns about. Since I take a prescribed multiple vitamin each day, drinking Airborne along with the MV does push me into a level of VIt. A dicy-ness I’d prefer to avoid. I’m glad to know that and will act accordingly.

    I believe the writer of the article was well-meaning, if mistaken about the amount of Vit. A in each dose of Airborn. Again, let me thank you for the warning. It’s NICE to know that friends are out there, caring about my health and wanting the best for me. Please know that your care and concern is reciprocated on my part. 🙂

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    1. Fair enough – if you’re making an informed decision, and it works for you, there’s really not much more to say about it, eh? My father swears by zinc lozenges, which have only slightly better evidence going for them. And for a while he was doing zinc nose swab thingies – ugh, those were evil, they BURNED like you wouldn’t believe. Vis-a-vis Airbourne, there IS one little bit of evidence for one of the ingredients – studies have suggested that having relatively high quantities of Vitamin C over the long term can slightly decrease the number of infections a person gets. A multi-vitamin plus a small cup of juice (or a serving of strawberries or a red bellpepper or any other of a number of produce options that contain Vit C) is supposed to be enough to get the boost (if it exists).

      And I do know that the care and concern is reciprocated – many times you have commented to my journal when I am not feeling well and offered helpful suggestions and a listening ear.

      I do apologize btw for my tone in that earlier comment – the process of treating my Lyme disease caused me to go through a week or so of…hmm, a combination of rage and sarcasm, I guess? which affected my tone even when I wasn’t actively upset.

      ~Kali

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