Chronic Disease Politics

Day 199 and Vaccination

I’m not vaccinated against covid-19. It’s not a political stance. I’d very much like to be vaccinated and have it work. But I’m in the small category of folks for whom vaccinations do not produce antibodies. And to make matters worse, the only way I could “potentially” produce the antibodies in response to a vaccine is so destabilizing my doctors don’t want me to pursue it right now. So before being super smug about how this is a pandemic among the unvaccinated and it’s a “choice” for a small portion of us it isn’t.

I take immunosuppressants because my immune system has gotten some dumb ideas about attacking my body. I have had anaphylaxis a dozen times and allergies aren’t even my primary medical issue. That would be swelling in my spinal column. It was bad enough at one point that I couldn’t walk.

I’ve tried a lot over 2 years since it was diagnosed to keep it controlled. I was on chemotherapy drugs for about six months (I don’t recommend methotrexate at all and not just because it’s mustard gas). I was on high dose steroids long enough to develop a chemical dependency on them that required supervised titration down. Plus it made me fat as fuck and that annoyed me. Eventually my doctors settled into the suppressant category known as IL, or interleukin, inhibitors.

These drugs fucking rock and gave me my life back. Thanks to them I can live basically like a normal person with the exception that I need to be careful as I’m more susceptible to infection. We are quite literally suppressing my capacity to develop immune responses. You kinda need immune responses for vaccines to work.

Immunosuppressants and vaccines don’t really mix. I had to go off them to get a flu vaccine and I relapsed so badly my doctor was like well I guess it’s going to be masking for you in the future during flu season. About 5 months later the pandemic hit. Fucking hilarious.

If I go off my IL inhibitors eventually I’ll relapse. It’s possible I can make myself less prone to inflammatory responses but it might all be bullshit. I go to a stupid amount of trouble and money and engage in a lot of woo to make the rest of my health as strong as possible so I am not as prone to inflammatory responses. Maybe it will work. But quite frankly I’m not interested in finding out right at this moment if I can live without the drugs that saved my life.

Why does all this matter? Because you need to be off of immunosuppressants in order to have a vaccine work. And I’m not fucking going off my suppressants. Nor is it recommend except in stable cases.

It takes three weeks to dose them out of my system, three weeks off them before a vaccine of any sort would have a chance of generating an antibody response, and then another 3-6 weeks of injections get back to a baseline of stability. (their effects tend to be cumulative). And that’s because I would only be able to get one stick J&J as I happen to be allergic to the PEGs that stabilize mRNA vaccines, so I have to do one and done. But that’s an aside.

Basically I’m looking at 3 months of intensive inflammation that will cripple me just to get a vaccine. Because of a host of other complicating factors my primary caregiver physician and rheumatologist have recommended against me getting the jab. It will be hugely destabilizing to me (which is its own risk) and even if I get it, we just don’t know if I’ll produce enough antibodies while I’m on the suppressants. It could be for nothing.

It’s basically lose lose for me. It won’t work if I’m on the drugs and if I’m off the drugs I’ll be so sick it’s a crap shoot if I need to be hospitalized for going off them. Which ironically would put me at even higher risk of covid exposure. My doctors do not love this.

With the Delta variant on the rise I don’t know if it’s actually worth destabilizing me or if it’s a risk worth taking. It’s a crap shoot. I isolate. I mask. We didn’t want to fuck me up. It feels damned if I do and damned if I don’t. And I feel super alone in this status as everyone is acting like it’s a choice. And yes it is my body and my choice. But what choice would you make? My doctors aren’t sure either.