So what do you want first? The good news or the bad news?
Okay, let's go with the good news first. At Chris' appointment today, we found out the culprit behind Chris' constant night sweats and possibly his bladder problems.
Next, I will give you even better news. It is not a urinary tract infection. His tests came back negative.
But here it comes, the bad news. Chris tested postive for the Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Now, you may remember that I mentioned this virus earlier this week when I attempted to explain that Chris was more susceptible to infection because of his specific stem cell transplant. Well I spent the day learning a whole lot more about it.
So what is CMV? Well chances are at least half of you reading this post have this virus. Approximately 50 to 80 per cent of people have this virus by the time they reach 40. However, it normally presents no symptoms in healthy individuals. You can have it your whole life and never know. It is part of the herpes family, which includes chicken pox, shingles, mono and yes, herpes. Similar to all of these viruses when you contract this virus, you have it for life, but the disease can become dormant. It can be reactivated, and this can happen after a bone marrow transplant. It can also cause problems for people who are immunocompromised.
Chris either had this dormant virus prior to the transplant and it was reactivated after the bone marrow transplant or it is possible that I gave it to him as CMV is commonly spread by kissing. I have yet to rule out that Chris hasn't been secretly kissing other girls with CMV, but I will save this for another blog post.
A CMV infection may attack different parts of the body, such as the lungs, eyes, stomach, kidneys, and possibly the bladder. The common symptoms for CMV are: fatigue, loss of appetite, night sweats, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, and fever. For immunocompromized patients, CMV can attack the specific organs and cause a whole bunch of problems where it is at. This has yet to be determined for Chris.
Right now we don't have to worry too much. Chris tested positive, but his level of the virus is still not serious yet. His level was 630 and the serious level is 1000. I didn't think to ask what a normal or safe level was or what this level was measured in, so I am sorry if these numbers don't really shed that much light. All I know that at this point, Chris is now taking a new, stronger anti-viral ( Valganciclovir ) to try and fight the infection.
There are a few different scenarios that could happen moving forward.
1) My personal favourite: Chris' CMV levels will be down considerably on Tuesday (or next appointment) and we will conclude that Chris' immune system in addition to the new anti-viral drugs will have beat this virus.
2) Chris' levels will be slightly up next Tuesday. This could mean that the level had continued to rise since Chris CMV test this past Tuesday, but had been brought under control by the anti-viral. We will need to continue to have two appointments a week to monitor the virus.
3) Chris' levels will be much higher on Tuesday and possibly close or at the 1000 level. At this point Chris would need to have an intravenous anti-viral administed twice a day for two weeks. We could arrange to have this done at home, but this is obviously not the scenario we are hoping for.
This, of course, was a little unsettling to hear. Chris was a little relieved to find out he had the virus. It can be really frustrating to have symptoms, especially ones that keep you up all night, and not have an explanation. Having an explanation, a virus that has a treatment means that his doctors know why he is having these symptoms and also how to stop them. When you have MS there is always a fear that when you get a symptom that there is a chance that it may never go away. CMV may never go away, but at least it can become dormant and Chris may finally get a good night's sleep.