Holidays, Dreams, Illness and Love

As I look forward to the fast upcoming holiday season, a piece of me is excited. Fall is upon us, and it has brought a cool fresh brick crispness to the air. One one hand I am thrilled to see the cooler weather, and the holidays, yet on another I am worried and stressed over the fact, my illnesses tend to zap my energy each day. I am truly concerned about all that I need to get done to be ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My usual holiday season was all about every room decorated, a beautiful tree, the smells of cinnamon, ginger, and spices in the air. The taste of homemade fudge, and home made fruitcakes. Our Christmas puzzles that have become one of our traditions over the past couple of years. We usually do a new one or two to add to our collection. The fun over buying gifts, and knowing how much your loved ones will be surprised. Family, especially my daughter, her husband, and my 2 grandson's, who are James, he will be 4 in December, and Logan, who is now almost 5 months old. I don't get to see them very often since they live about 8 hours away, so that is a joy I know is a blessing. Jim and I have done a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner every year since our first one together. LOL, even though at times it is only us, and our two "fur kids", Tazz and Bubba Gump, my pug and chi-weenie, we cook like we are having part of the nation over for dinner. I love decorations in every room, like our Christmas bedspread, shams, and dust cover. I love making what I call a "yule log". I found some large enough pieces of our China Berry tree that I can take saw off in the right length, then I decorate them with holiday poinsettias', holly, little birds nests, etc to reflect the holiday we are in. They look awesome sitting on our table, and then on our heaters.
Yet, I also fear the holiday season. With each passing year, and especially this one, my physical health has failed even more. I see the hundred's of things I want to do, to be ready for the joy of the season, yet when I think about what I need to do, I go into overload, hoping and praying the Fibromyalgia, Lupus, CFS, and the rest do not get me so completely down in a flare, that I will be unable to enjoy the baking, shopping, cooking, decorating, and my family.

When you have something that is a chronic illness or chronic pain, even though you fight hard to not allow it to rule over your life, you come to find quickly, even with good stress, it can kick you down the mountain very fast, and leave you in a crumpled heap on the floor, until you can once again find the energy to force yourself back up the mountain. We have had a very difficult year in many ways, along with some good things also. My Lupus, and now Fibromyalgia has brought a whole new array of tests, doctors, and honestly new symptoms that are really at times getting me down and out. I find myself much more fatigued most days, I am slower at things I used to be fast at, and with the extensive and severe bruising all over my arms and legs, I feel embarrassed to go out in public, due to all of the looks and stares I get. I feel as if people think I have some kind of contagious disease like Leprosy or something, when I see the fear in their eyes. Now, the dermatologist seems to possibly think they could get much lighter, but it could be years, and even now, all we know it is it NOT skin related, but it is something to do with my blood vessels and it petechiae and purpura. Thus it is still a mystery, and between what the doctors have said and NOT said, Jim and I have a theory about the severe bruising. For one, we feel after much research, the Lupus itself is causing part of the issue. Lupus tends in some people to attack the blood vessels, causing them to weaken and "leak". Which makes sense, because the type of Lupus I have, can attack any type of connective tissue in the body, from the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin and of course blood vessels. Secondly, the very medications that are helping to try the "wolf" at bay (Lupus means wolf in Latin, since one of the symptoms is a "butterfly" rash across the cheeks and bridge of the nose, making it appear like the "mask" of a wolf.) One of the medications in particular can weaken the vessels also, but it also thins the skin, so I am easier to get scratched, easier to bleed, and it takes longer for me to stop even a small wound from bleeding.

But, as the dermatologist said, it is NOT worth possibly making my Lupus worse by getting off the medications. I need them to keep the Lupus from causing further health issues, and even at that I still could develop more organs involved.

So, after all of my year plus research, I am adding yet more pills to my daily routine. But, this time I am adding more Vitamins and Supplements to the mix. The 4 I am adding are highly recommended on many of the huge Lupus support foundation sites. None of them are harmful to me, so I want to take a chance to see if they can help. Also, after much research on Fibromyalgia, I decided to try the Fibromyalgia/Guaifenesin Protocol. For some reason doctors have found out that Mucinex DM (the Guaifenesin) helps to lessen some of the symptoms of FM and CFS. It also is not harmful, so I have added it to the mix also.

I am keeping a daily very detailed journal of what we have added, what changes I have made as far as lifestyle as of lately, what the doctors have said, done and not said, nor done. We intend on arming ourselves with several pages of everything I have been through as far as tests, doctors, blood work, etc. along with my medications, and everything I am doing, so we can take it to my Primary Care Physician, who by the way honestly is the only one that really seems to care about what is going on with me, and he is more versed in many ways about Lupus, FM, and CFS than he darned specialists! WE intend on sitting down and having a consultation with him, and see if between the 3 of us we can come up with some type of "game plan" as to what to take, don't take, do not do, and so forth. Jim and I feel since he is very willing to listen, then give his sound advice, that we may be able to fight these Chronic Illnesses much better, and get my flares more in control.
Okay, I shall stop for now.... I hope the feel of Fall and Winter bring you much joy, and anticipation of family, food, friends and most of all... Love...

Texas Governor's Crimes

and believe me, I feel he has committed more than one! Just his stupid remarks about Texas "succeeding" from the rest of the United States was more than enough to convince me this guy is nuts... and does not give a damned about our State or our people!

This one really is just something else. No telling what will come of it, if anything, but I am thrilled to see they are trying to bring out in the open the lies, the fraud, and the incompetency of this jerk.

It makes me ashamed to even say I am from TX!

Here is the URL to the article:

http://firedoglake.com/2009/10/02/texas-governor-rick-perrys-crime/

More Awesome News about the latest clinical trials for the new Lupus Medications!

I shall definitely write about this tomorrow. I am thrilled about all three URL's and what they could mean for myself and the millions of others that suffer from Lupus, other autoimmune illnesses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia!



More Good News for Lupus at the American College of Rheumatology Meeting

Human Genome Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline Report Details of First Positive Phase 3 Clinical Trial for Lupus

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Philadelphia, October 20, 2009—Drug company Human Genome Sciences (HGS) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today reported details of the first of their two crucial Phase 3 trials of belimumab (Benlysta™) in people with systemic lupus erythematosus at the American College of Rheumatology’s (ACR) annual scientific meeting in Philadelphia.

“There is a lot of encouraging information in here for the 1.5 million Americans with lupus,” said Lupus Research Institute (LRI) President Margaret G. Dowd at the meeting.

HGS first reported on the clinical trial (BLISS-52) results this summer. If findings from the longer “BLISS-76” trial due in November are positive as well, the company can apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for drug approval in 2010—possibly the first drug approval for lupus in more than 50 years.

Specifics on effectiveness and safety

“The BLISS-52 Phase 3 results presented at ACR demonstrated that the efficacy of treatment with belimumab plus standard of care was superior to that of placebo [dummy drug] plus standard of care," explained David C. Stump, MD, executive vice president of research and development at HGS in a statement. “These data were statistically significant and were strongly supported across multiple measures of clinical effect and multiple time-points.”

The company shared these and other trial details on belimumab’s ability to significantly reduce lupus disease activity and the rate of lupus flares, as well as to lower the rate of flares and significantly delay the length of time to the first flare.

“Belimumab’s apparent capacity to lower the use of the dreaded corticosteroid, prednisone, is also notable,” said Dowd, who has heard from the thousands of LRI members that lessening the dosage of this often lifesaving but complication-ridden medicine is a priority. In the trial, a greater percentage of participants taking belimumab were able to reduce their prednisone use than those taking the placebo.

LRI Program Director Catherine Anastasia noted that the significant reductions in fatigue with belimumab would also come as particularly welcome news. “The fatigue of lupus can be draining and debilitating. A route out of the exhaustion would make a big difference in quality of life for so many.”

The company additionally reported that people taking belimumab generally tolerated the drug well.

Key trial design

“This is the first drug shown to be effective in ameliorating the signs and symptoms of lupus in decades,” said Daniel J. Wallace, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “It represents a breakthrough for finally utilizing a methodology that enables researchers to demonstrate disease improvement. This will benefit lupus patients and their doctors.”

BLISS-52 and BLISS-76 are the largest clinical trials ever conducted in people with lupus.

Dowd and other LRI representatives are among the thousands of attendees—physicians, health professionals, and scientists—at the Philadelphia meeting designed to advance rheumatology through programs of education, research, advocacy and practice support.

The new details of the trial are available here.

Fibromyalgia Breakthough -" A Case of Chronic Denial"

This is an incredible article and is opening the doors to more medications, research, and possibly a cure for the mystery surrounding Fibromyalgia and CFS. I am elated about the news...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/opinion/21johnson.html?pagewanted=1&tntemail1=y&emc=tnt

A Case of Chronic Denial


Published: October 20, 2009

EARLIER this month, a study published in the journal Science answered a question that medical scientists had been asking since 2006, when they learned of a novel virus found in prostate tumors called xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus, or XMRV: Was it a human infection?

Vivienne Flesher

XMRV is a gammaretrovirus, one of a family of viruses long-studied in animals but not known to infect people. In animals, these retroviruses can cause horrendous neurological problems, immune deficiency, lymphoma and leukemia. The new study provided overwhelming evidence that XMRV is a human gammaretrovirus — the third human retrovirus (after H.I.V. and human lymphotropic viruses, which cause leukemia and lymphoma). Infection is permanent and, yes, it can spread from person to person (though it is not yet known how the virus is transmitted).

That would have been news enough, but there was more. XMRV had been discovered in people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, a malady whose very existence has been a subject of debate for 25 years. For sufferers of this disease, the news has offered enormous hope. Being seriously ill for years, even decades, is nightmarish enough, but patients are also the targets of ridicule and hostility that stem from the perception that it is all in their heads. In the study, 67 percent of the 101 patients with the disease were found to have XMRV in their cells. If further study finds that XMRV actually causes their condition, it may open the door to useful treatments. At least, it will be time to jettison the stigmatizing name chronic fatigue syndrome.

The illness became famous after an outbreak in 1984 around Lake Tahoe, in Nevada. Several hundred patients developed flu-like symptoms like fever, sore throat and headaches that led to neurological problems, including severe memory loss and inability to understand conversation. Most of them were infected with several viruses at once, including cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr and human herpesvirus 6. Their doctors were stumped. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s presumed bulwark against emerging infectious diseases, dismissed the epidemic and said the Tahoe doctors “had worked themselves into a frenzy.” The sufferers, a C.D.C. investigator told me at the time, were “not normal Americans.”

When, by 1987, the supposed hysteria failed to evaporate and indeed continued erupting in other parts the country, the health agency orchestrated a jocular referendum by mail among a handful of academics to come up with a name for it. The group settled on “chronic fatigue syndrome” — the use of “syndrome” rather than “disease” suggested a psychiatric rather than physical origin and would thus discourage public panic and prevent insurers from having to make “chronic disbursements,” as one of the academics joked.

An 11th-hour plea by a nascent patient organization to call the disease by the scientific name used in Britain, myalgic encephalomyelitis, was rejected by the C.D.C. as “overly complicated and too confusing for many nonmedical persons.”

Had the agency done nothing in response to this epidemic, patients would now be better off. The name functioned as a kind of social punishment. Patients were branded malingerers by families, friends, journalists and insurance companies, and were denied medical care. (It’s no coincidence that suicide is among the three leading causes of death among sufferers.) Soon the malady came to be widely considered a personality disorder or something that sufferers brought upon themselves. A recent study financed by the C.D.C. suggested that childhood trauma or sexual abuse, combined with a genetic inability to handle stress, is a key risk factor for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Many people don’t realize how severe this illness can be. It is marked by memory and cognition problems, and physical collapse after any mental or physical exertion. The various co-infections that occur only make matters worse. Many patients are bedridden. And recovery is rare. A significant number of patients have been ill for more than two decades.





XMRV is a gammaretrovirus, one of a family of viruses long-studied in animals but not known to infect people. In animals, these retroviruses can cause horrendous neurological problems, immune deficiency, lymphoma and leukemia. The new study provided overwhelming evidence that XMRV is a human gammaretrovirus — the third human retrovirus (after H.I.V. and human lymphotropic viruses, which cause leukemia and lymphoma). Infection is permanent and, yes, it can spread from person to person (though it is not yet known how the virus is transmitted).

That would have been news enough, but there was more. XMRV had been discovered in people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, a malady whose very existence has been a subject of debate for 25 years. For sufferers of this disease, the news has offered enormous hope. Being seriously ill for years, even decades, is nightmarish enough, but patients are also the targets of ridicule and hostility that stem from the perception that it is all in their heads. In the study, 67 percent of the 101 patients with the disease were found to have XMRV in their cells. If further study finds that XMRV actually causes their condition, it may open the door to useful treatments. At least, it will be time to jettison the stigmatizing name chronic fatigue syndrome.

The illness became famous after an outbreak in 1984 around Lake Tahoe, in Nevada. Several hundred patients developed flu-like symptoms like fever, sore throat and headaches that led to neurological problems, including severe memory loss and inability to understand conversation. Most of them were infected with several viruses at once, including cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr and human herpesvirus 6. Their doctors were stumped. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s presumed bulwark against emerging infectious diseases, dismissed the epidemic and said the Tahoe doctors “had worked themselves into a frenzy.” The sufferers, a C.D.C. investigator told me at the time, were “not normal Americans.”

When, by 1987, the supposed hysteria failed to evaporate and indeed continued erupting in other parts the country, the health agency orchestrated a jocular referendum by mail among a handful of academics to come up with a name for it. The group settled on “chronic fatigue syndrome” — the use of “syndrome” rather than “disease” suggested a psychiatric rather than physical origin and would thus discourage public panic and prevent insurers from having to make “chronic disbursements,” as one of the academics joked.

An 11th-hour plea by a nascent patient organization to call the disease by the scientific name used in Britain, myalgic encephalomyelitis, was rejected by the C.D.C. as “overly complicated and too confusing for many nonmedical persons.”

Had the agency done nothing in response to this epidemic, patients would now be better off. The name functioned as a kind of social punishment. Patients were branded malingerers by families, friends, journalists and insurance companies, and were denied medical care. (It’s no coincidence that suicide is among the three leading causes of death among sufferers.) Soon the malady came to be widely considered a personality disorder or something that sufferers brought upon themselves. A recent study financed by the C.D.C. suggested that childhood trauma or sexual abuse, combined with a genetic inability to handle stress, is a key risk factor for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Many people don’t realize how severe this illness can be. It is marked by memory and cognition problems, and physical collapse after any mental or physical exertion. The various co-infections that occur only make matters worse. Many patients are bedridden. And recovery is rare. A significant number of patients have been ill for more than two decades.

Dr. Nancy Klimas, an immunologist at the University of Miami School of Medicine who treats AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome, remarked in The Times last week that if given the choice she would prefer to have AIDS: “My H.I.V. patients for the most part are hale and hearty,” she said, noting that billions of dollars have been spent on AIDS research. “Many of my C.F.S. patients, on the other hand, are terribly ill and unable to work or participate in the care of their families.”

Congress has appropriated money for research on chronic fatigue syndrome, too, though in far smaller amounts, but the C.D.C. has seemed unwilling to spend it productively. A decade ago, investigations by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services and what was then called the General Accounting Office revealed that for years government scientists had been funneling millions meant for research on this disease into other pet projects.

As public health officials focused on psychiatric explanations, the virus apparently spread widely. In the new study, active XMRV infections were found in 3.7 percent of the healthy controls tested. Roughly the same degree of infection in healthy people has been found in the prostate research. If this is representative of the United States as a whole, then as many as 10 million Americans may carry the retrovirus.

It is estimated that more than a million Americans are seriously ill with the disease. (Not everyone infected with XMRV will necessarily get chronic fatigue syndrome — in the same way that not all of the 1.1 million Americans infected with H.I.V. will get AIDS.)

Hints that a retroviral infection might play a role in chronic fatigue syndrome have been present from the beginning. In 1991, Dr. Elaine DeFreitas, a virologist at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, found retroviral DNA in 80 percent of 30 chronic fatigue patients. The C.D.C. went so far as to try to replicate her effort, but refused to follow her exacting methods for finding the virus. In addition, the centers’ blood samples became contaminated, and some people at the agency said that administrators ended the research prematurely. Rather than admit any such failure, the C.D.C. publicly criticized Dr. DeFreitas’s findings.

That episode had a chilling effect on other researchers in the field, and the search for the cause was largely abandoned for 20 years.

Now, Judy Mikovits, the retrovirus expert at the Whittemore Peterson Institute, in Reno, Nev., who led the recent study, has revisited the cold case. Not surprisingly, the institute is private, created by the parents of a woman who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. But Dr. Mikovits collaborated with scientists at the National Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic.

When she began her work on this disease in 2006, Dr. Mikovits, a 22-year veteran of the National Cancer Institute, knew little about chronic fatigue syndrome. But she was intrigued that an unusually high number of patients being followed by a Nevada doctor were suffering rare lymphomas and leukemias; at least one had died. And she was also impressed that the doctor, Dan Peterson, had built an extraordinary repository of more than 8,000 chronic fatigue syndrome tissue samples going back as far as 1984.

“My hypothesis was, ‘This is a retrovirus,’ and I was going to use that repository to find it,” Dr. Mikovits told me.

What she found was live, or replicating, XMRV in both frozen and fresh blood and plasma, as well as saliva. She has found the virus in samples going back to 1984 and in nearly all the patients who developed cancer. She expects the positivity rate will be close to 100 percent in the disease.

“It’s amazing to me that anyone could look at these patients and not see that this is an infectious disease that has ruined lives,” Dr. Mikovits said. She has also given the disease a properly scientific new name: X-associated neuroimmune disease.

For patients who have been abandoned to quackish theories and harsh ideologies about their illness for 25 years, the dismantling of “chronic fatigue syndrome” can’t come soon enough.

Hillary Johnson is the author of “Osler’s Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic.”

This is incredible breaking news for Lupus Patients!

http://lupus.webmd.com/news/20091019/genetic-link-to-lupus

Genetic Link to Lupus

More Than a Dozen Different Genes May Play a Role in Causing Lupus
By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 19, 2009 -- At least a dozen or more genes may help explain what causes lupus, according to two new studies.

Researchers have identified 12 genetic variants that are associated with an increased risk of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the disease commonly referred to as lupus.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s natural defense system attacks itself. The disease targets the joints, skin, and other organs of the body.

The exact cause of lupus is unknown, but researchers have long suspected that genetics play a role because the disease is more common in some ethnic populations than others and also tends to run in families.

Genetic Link to Lupus

In the first of two separate studies, published in Nature Genetics, researcher Vesela Gateva of Genentech in South San Francisco and colleagues compared genetic markers in 1,923 people with lupus and 4,329 healthy people.

They found five genes that were associated with an increased risk of systemic lupus erythematosus.

In the second study, Jian-Wen Han of Anhui Medical University in Anhui, China, compared potential genetic markers for lupus in 1,047 Chinese patients with SLE and a comparison group of 1,205 healthy Chinese adults.

Their results confirmed seven previously reported genes for lupus as well as identified nine new genes associated with an increased risk of lupus. Two of those genes overlapped with the five found by Gateva’s group for a total of 12 new potential genetic markers for lupus.

Researchers say the presence of these genes, together with environmental and lifestyle factors, such as sunlight, stress, hormones, cigarette smoke, and certain infections, may all play a part in what causes lupus.


Little Known Virus Could be the answer to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

This is a true breakthrough for the millions suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Those with it and related diseases such as Fibromyalgia have gone for years with little hope, very little explanation as to the cause, medications, research, and possibly a cure! I am thrilled about the thought of the possibility of some way to avoid or cure this life altering syndrome.

Plus, rather than make it appear it is all in our heads, now there is more proof it is truly a very real illness.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/health/research/09virus.html?ref=health

Stand up for Health Care Reform and a Public Option! Make Congress see what really is happening!

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/make-it-mandatory-congress-spends-time-assisting-in-our-ers-or-with-a-patient-dying-with-no

The above URL goes to a petition I created on Care 2 to make is mandatory for Congress, both House and Senate to go spend 2 twelve hour shifts in one of our busy, overwhelmed ER's, or with a terminally ill patient with no insurance coverage. They need to see the real world daily drama so many millions of Americans go through daily! Sitting at a desk on the Congressional Floor does NOT give them a taste of their own medicine! Can you say Reality Check!

Thanks for your time and support! Rhia