I hope this doesn't gross you out, but yesterday I ran to the toilet 9 times and had nothing to show for it. Yes, another surprise, yet not altogether bad result of my Ampligen treatment. But one I actually was happy about. Let me explain.
I guess I'm now considered a veteran - because my twelfth Ampligen infusion went off like clockwork. Gwen found a nice vein the first try, adjusted the rate to take 40 minutes, and because by coincidence we were the only ones in the room that day, we chatted about her son, and life in general. She's a great nurse and I realize how much her kind and friendly personality makes the infusion process less dramatic for me. What I didn't know was that there was drama coming later.
Over the past 6 weeks on this drug, the side effects themselves have been unpredictable, but the timing of them pretty regular. They usually begin to appear at least 4 hours after the chemical is dripped into my body, and hit big time by the next day. I've had everything from headaches, extreme muscle aches, nerve twitches, to strong lower back pains - but never the same one twice in a row, and never all of them at once, and rarely repeated. It's almost as if the Ampligen is taking care of different areas of my body one at a time... and then moves on. For example, early in my treatment my glutes (buttocks muscles) would REALLY hurt me the day after my infusion - more sore than if you had done 10 sets of squats, then ridden a horse for half a day, and then had the flu. But I no longer feel that anymore. The side effects are moving to new places.
This week it was my stomach's turn to react. And react it did.
The Battle of the Bulge. I've never felt this situation before. How can I describe the contradiction in my gut? It was as if I was constipated and had the "trots" all at the same time, with turbulence and pain moving between my stomach, upper, and lower intestines at will. If you said it felt like a battle was going on in there, you wouldn't be overstating it. This was nothing like the worms, parasites or other stomach invaders I've had in over 30 years of globetrotting. I have traveled to many tropical countries. I am very familiar with amoebic dysentery, "Montezuma's Revenge" and traveler's diarrhea - trust me, this was not the same.
This was more like an army (my own immune system) waging war - rooting out insurgents or terrorists in a territory that they had long held hostage, and had called their own for a long time. Think of what it takes for American forces to find Taliban terrorists rooted into the homes and city-centers of the people of Afghanistan, and you'll get the picture.
Even in my pain and discomfort, I had the sense that Ampligen and my immune system were finally starting to turn the tide, and kicking some ass! That what I was feeling was like what one G.I. in Afghanistan said after too many years of losses and bad battles, and they finally mounted a drive into the heart of Taliban territory. After seeing four of his buddies blown up in roadside bombs, he and his squadron were finally given the green light to go after the murderers hidden in homes. He turned to the news camera with his night-vision equipped XM110 semi-automatic and said "we're not going to take this shit anymore. Time for victory. Say hello to my little friend."
I think the Ampligen was helping my defenses expose one of the invader's long-held comfort zones in my body- my stomach, and were going after them.
My gut was confirming what I had read recently, that researchers documented in some pretty well publicized reports in 2007; that while various viruses have been shown to trigger M.E./CFS, (including Epstein–Barr virus, Chlamydia pneumoniae, parvovirus B19, Coxiella burnetii, Borna disease virus, varicella zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, and human herpesvirus type 6 HHV-6), that the most common of all was enteroviruses -- viral microorganisms that reside in the digestive tract. These well documented reports, news stories, and peer-review Journal articles showed how almost all of us who suffer from this disease, have invaders in our stomachs. That the Ampligen was kicking up some trouble there in my body only served to confirm it. And apart from the pain, that actually made me kind of happy.
How Ampligen does this is still sort of a mystery to me. As an "experimental drug" you can't just go to the PDR or Drugs.com and look up the "mode of action" or "side-effects" that you can with an FDA approved drug. But there is some data out there, which I continue to collect and post as links on the left column of my blog The New Ampligen Diaries. Feel free to check them out.
Today, all is quiet on the western front. The turbulence in my stomach has subsided, and thanks to a little help from Pepto Bismol, I've been to the bathroom and had victory. OK, I can't resist. Guess I have to end with the Robert Duvall line here. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It feels like...victory!"