Getting sick can cause a cascade of issues for CAD patients

Even minor illnesses can lead to weeks of symptoms for this columnist

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by Mary Lott |

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Pokey, my constant companion and cohort in crime, let me know that he had to go outside immediately. I am at an age where this is perfectly understandable.

It was just 5:30 a.m. However, Pokey is a creature of habit. He has never understood the human concept of “sleeping in.” So, while keeping my eyes closed, my breathing calm, and trying not to start thinking about anything, I made my way to the back door and let the dog out.

If I followed the above plan, I might be able to get back to sleep. Alas, it was not to be.

My husband noticed my return and sleepily asked, “What was the score?”

A white and brown dog lies on his side, on what appears to be a bed. His eyes are closed and he looks like he's sleeping peacefully.

Pokey, in his natural habitat. He manages to go from “dead to the world” to “death to intruders” in about one second flat. (Photo by Mary Lott)

At that, my thoughts automatically went into high gear. I reached for my iPad so I could check. “We won! War Eagle! SEC champs.”

At this point I began my weekday routine. I got up, poured my morning drink, and returned to bed to peruse the headlines of various news sites around the world. Yes, it’s true. I am a news and internet junkie. I do this for about two hours every morning before actually starting the day.

But today, the euphoria of Auburn University’s basketball victory lasted only those two hours. When I got back up, I began to feel bad. Mild abdominal aches and pains were accompanied by general malaise. I was sick — again.

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Lack of protein that reins in B-cells may underlie cold agglutinin disease

Managing illness with CAD

I am often sick. I don’t get very sick, but I seem to catch many little bugs and don’t get well quickly. I blame my cold agglutinin disease (CAD). However, not everything is caused by CAD.

As Sunday progressed, things got worse. In the afternoon, I complained to my online CAD discussion group. “I have a low fever that only I can detect, frozen hands and feet, nausea, diarrhea, weakness, and brain fog. Nothing specific enough to call a doc, but enough to really discourage me, too.” The supportive group quickly reminded me that CAD can cause a lot of symptoms.

It was noted that there are many underlying symptoms that we experience and respond to in individual ways. Perhaps this is one reason diagnosis is so difficult.

Our expatriate community here in Papua, Indonesia, has an online chat room set up. So I inquired as to the current condition of the community. Specifically, what germs and bacteria were afflicting us now? I received a lot of helpful feedback and a reminder that I should have my blood checked for malaria. That is an ever-present possibility here and should always be considered.

Monday morning dawned bright and clear. Yet I remained in bed with a clear line open to the bathroom should I need to avail myself of the possibilities within. It became clear to me by mid-morning that this was the abdominal malady currently affecting our community and not malaria.

It did not mean, however, that CAD wasn’t involved. I have a mantra: Not all things are caused by cold agglutinin disease, but all things are affected by it. I recently learned that, for me, any infection or anything that starts an immune response triggers the complement cascade. That, in turn, begins hemolysis, which results in anemia. Finally, anemia means I will be fatigued for approximately the next six weeks while my body produces new red blood cells to carry oxygen.

It is now Thursday night. I get tired after carrying dirty clothes to the laundry room and placing them in the machine. I run a fever just by cooking supper. I am sitting in bed with my keyboard on my lap typing because I don’t want to sit at a desk. Pokey is being Pokey at my feet.

I’ll get better. It will take time. This is CAD.

Note: Cold Agglutinin Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cold Agglutinin Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cold agglutinin disease.


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