More speed bumps since my surgery, although unrelated. (speed bump is my turn for a medical issue that I face, deal with, and move on, as opposed to looking at it as a problem that consumes me; it’s all in the approach).
Through the Spring, I had been having a subtle increase in numbness/tingling, tremors, and loss of fine motor skills in my hands. Right after my April hospitalization, it noticeably worsened, to the point where I was having significant burning pain as well, and the one day, I wasn’t even able to get my key into our front door. I racked my brain, and then figured it out. I had a dose increase of my Leflunomide back in January; this is the drug used to treat the BK virus in my transplanted kidney. I looked it up, and sure enough, one of the side effects, although rare, is neurotoxicity. Paired with my existing hereditary peripheral neuropathy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth, this explained my symptoms. I notifed my Transplant Coordinator, and she referred me to a Neurologist but told me to CONTINUE the Leflunomide. The symptoms worsened, though, so I stopped it.
It took 3 months to get in with the Neuromuscular Neurologist, but I finally saw her (for the first time) in mid-August. My suspicions were confirmed-it was the Leflunomide, and the symptoms were mostly irreversible. So she started my on Inderal LA for my hand tremors (my new wonder drug), and did a bunch of labs to check several of my vitamin and mineral levels, all of which were good.
I had my routine transplant labs this past week, and got a call from the Transplant Coordinator; the BK virus level in my urine has skyrocketed since going off of the Leflunomide. In June, the number of BK viral copies in my urine was 2300, and this past week, I have 733,000. They told me to go back on the Leflunomide.
Of course, I refused to do that, given what I went through. I was a bit annoyed when the response to that was “don’t you want to save your kidney?” Yes, of course I do, but I also want to be able to be able to use my hands, so that I can continue to function. While we were talking, she still continued along the same “save your kidney” path, so I finally asked her, for the sake of argument, that if Amoxicillin was effective against BK virus (it isn’t, but Cipro is), and I was allergic to it, would she/the doctor still put me on it? She got my point (I think).
So, she went back to the doctor, and later called me back, telling me that the doctor is “very concerned” (and I’m not?), and he wanted me to get blood work to check for BKV in my blood (I’ve had BKV in my blood before, so I suspect it will be positive), and is considering other treatment.
That treatment would most likely be Cidofovir IV every 2 weeks to try to “clear” me of BKV (which I’ve had for 3 years, albeit controlled prior to this).
The problems are that 1. there is no set treatment for BKV, as it’s discovery has been very recent and 2. IV Cidofovir is potentially toxic to the kidneys.
So it’s come down to this: use of my hands and feet, or saving my kidney.
I’m hoping that I can save my kidney and prevent further damage to my peripheral nerves, and have confidence that I will, but it would be really easy to to let this consume me.
In between all of this, I was in the Emergency Department last month for a foot cellulitis. Every few months, I go to the Podiatrist when needed so that he can pare down the recurring callous I have on the outside of my foot. The callous occurs due to the way I walk-with most of the pressure of each step on the outside of my foot. This is a result of the CMT, which causes gradual loss of nerve conduction, and thus shrinkage of the muscles that keep the foot in a natural position. I wear a padded hard plastic orthotic, but still get a callous. It took a month to get in to the Podiatrist, and 2 days before my appointment, my foot became infected due to an ulcer underneath the callous (much like last year, which led to a bone infection in my other foot and then surgery). However, this time the ulcer was not deep, and it is just about healed now.
So, it’s wait and see for now in regards to the BKV. I hope to blog much sooner to keep you all updated on what happens.