The day after Christmas I started to feel feverish. I didn’t think much of it because I am immune compromised and the Christmas season puts me around a lot of people. So, after returning home from watching the new Star Wars (a Christmas present from Santa) I went straight to bed and slept until the next day. I woke up feeling better, which was a good thing because that day we were driving twelve hours to Valle Crucis, North Carolina to celebrate the New Year with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their family.
Once in North Carolina I went through a period of feeling sick and tired to feeling better and then back again for the next week. Upon my return home I called my doctor and he wanted to see me. When I went to see him he put me in the hospital for 48 hours of observation. Turns out I have a virus called Cytomegalovirus or CMV for short. CMV is a common virus that infects people of all ages. Over half of adults by age 40 have been infected with CMV. Most people infected with CMV show no signs or symptoms because of their “normal” immune systems. Since I am immune compromised the CMV took hold and made me sick.
Apparently I was part of the half of adults that had never had CMV. But my donor was in the other half of adults. Among the many wonderful gifts that my new heart has given me, I received CMV. My doctor knew this and I vaguely remember him telling me about it when I was being prepped for surgery. After my surgery I was on a special anti-viral medication for six months for this very reason. If I had CMV originally I wouldn’t have needed the medicine, but since this was newly introduced to my body, via my transplant, I needed to give my immune system some extra help. I stopped taking the medicine on December 13 and by December 26 I was sick. My doctor assumed that this was why I was feeling sick, but he needed to make sure by running some tests that took 48 hours to cook. He wanted me to stay close by in the hospital during this time, just in case it was something else. So, now I am back on the medicine until my blood tests show that the CMV is managed. This means a number of 200 or less in my blood tests. I will never not have CMV but the hope is that my immune system will be able to keep it at bay. At that point, I will stop the medicine and pray that it doesn’t rear its ugly head again in 13 days.
It is amazing to think that half of you who are reading this blog right now have CMV swimming around in your body, but you don’t know it. The body is an amazing creation. So many systems all functioning together at one time. Many of them functioning behind the scenes. How a healthy immune system can keep a virus inactive is incredible. Makes you think about the power of the coronavirus that is ripping through China right now. We would all be up the creek without a paddle without a healthy, functioning immune system. Every day there would be another bug, another virus, another infection that would knock us down and possibly even end our lives.
Combine all of this with the fact that God has given us the ability to develop new medicines to fight off that which challenges our immune systems. This coronavirus is a scary thing right now, but very smart people are working day and night to come up with a medicine that will support our already powerful immune systems. Just like some very smart people developed the medicine that I am taking right now to fight off CMV. Make sure you take the time today to appreciate your health and to thank God for your immune system. Also, a prayer to help us develop a medicine for coronavirus would be appreciated!