Sick and Tired

I am sick.  All right, I’ll agree that I am always sick since I live with the chronic disease of Multiple Sclerosis, but I’m talking about a different kind of sick.  It has been a number of years since I have been what most people  would call sick.  Perhaps you are old enough to remember the commercials that talked about  the medicine that would take care of the ‘sniffling, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so-you-can-rest’ symptoms that come with an ordinary virus.

Don’t take that wrong – I am not belittling the power of the cold virus by calling it ordinary.  This can be one beast that will take us down for the count of a few days of misery;  sometimes even longer.  Right now I am entering day 19 of some variant of a cold/bronchitis virus that just wants to linger.  About three days ago a second bug descended and added a new set of symptoms that sent me to the doctor for relief.

I want to call a flagrant, technical foul on this sickness.  If there has been any bonus to having MS, it is that my immune system is overactive.  That means my immune system is easily stimulated to go out and destroy not only the myelin in my central nervous system, but also most wayward germs that try to take me down are quickly conquered.  Why isn’t my MS working overtime now?

I have not been sick from anything except an occasional MS relapse in at least 8 years.    It’s not because I am not exposed to germs – I work at a university and there is no group in our population that has more of the sniffling, aching, coughing, stuffy head germs than college students.  My immediate family has also exposed me to their germs more than once and I escaped unscathed.  My immune system has had many opportunities to fail me, but has not until this point.

Despite how many different ways I GOOGLE the question, I didn’t  come up with a strong connection between my current MS therapy, Tysabri, and the common cold.  Unlike the interferons (Rebif, Betaseron, Avonex) and Copaxone which are not  immunosuppresants, Tysabri is one, and I can’t help but wonder if the duration of this virus is due to my treatment.  I just completed infusion #24 and plan to stay on it since I am still negative for the JC virus.

I then tried Googling the simple question of Tysabri Side effects and went to the link for the manufacturer’s website.  Surprise!  Here’s the short list direct from Biogen Idec, the maker of Tysabri -

“Other possible TYSABRI side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Joint pain
  • Lung infection
  • Depression
  • Pain in your arms and legs
  • Diarrhea
  • Vaginitis
  • Rash
  • Nose and throat infections
  • Stomach area pain

These are not all the side effects with TYSABRI. Because it may weaken your immune system, TYSABRI increases your chances of getting an unusual or serious infection.”

Reading this list gave me another one of those commercial moments – this time the one where you smack your head and say “I could have had a V-8” and replace it why didn’t I think of looking at their information sooner?  I look at that list and nod my head in recognition of several maladies I have been plagued with, but I hesitate to blame everything on Tysbari. I will definitely discuss this with my neurologist at my next infusion. This leaves me wondering how my lingering cold experience might compare to that of other Tysabri users.

Alas, there is still nothing that can be done to cure a cold virus, but unlike MS, if I wait long enough, this sniffling, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever feeling will leave my body eventually and I’ll go back to just feeling like my usual wonky MS self. Until that time I will keep the box of tissues close and make sure I have enough cold medicine and chicken soup on hand.

wishing you well,


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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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