“You have the immune system of an eighty-year-old,” Dr. Brinkley said as she reviewed my labs. I was forty-two. My new primary care physician then diagnosed me with something called combined immunodeficiencies.
She gave several reasons for this diagnosis:
- My IgA (immunoglobulin A) level was low: 77 where normal is 87 to 352.
- My IgG (immunoglobulin G) level was near the bottom of normal: 749 where normal is 700 to 1,600.
- My CD57 panel—a group of natural killer (NK) white blood cells—was low: 18 where normal is 60 to 360.
As Dr. Brinkley explained, this means I have “low levels of antibodies to help fight off sickness.” She also said that people with low IgA tend to get “a ton of upper respiratory infections.”
I had to laugh at that. In the past, whenever I would say I had a cold, my husband would say, “You always have a cold.” Now I knew why!
Why Did I Have Combined Immunodeficiencies?
I knew both antibiotics and Lyme disease can weaken the immune system. Plus, I had read that IgA deficiency can be genetic. (Technically, I wasn’t IgA deficient: that would require a level of 45 or below. Still, I was ten points under low normal.)
I asked Dr. Brinkley what she thought was the cause of my CID: genetics, Lyme disease, or the antibiotics?
“It’s sort of a chicken and the egg scenario,” she said. “Most of the people I see with long-term Lyme have low IgA, low IgG, or both. Do they have low IgA and low IgG because they’ve had Lyme for so long? Or are they not able to beat the Lyme because their IgA and IgG are so low?”
Regardless, she said, “Your body needed the antibiotics.”
My labs also showed my vitamin E level and total iron binding capacities (TIBC) were low. Conversely, my A/G ratio was high.
Sometime in the past, I had Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes mono. After having that, Dr. Brinkley said, “You’re never quite the same.”
I thought back to the summer after my junior year of high school when I was really sick. Was that when I had the Epstein-Barr virus?
In addition, I tested positive for antihistone antibodies, a marker for drug-induced lupus.
Besides CID and drug-induced lupus, Dr. Brinkley diagnosed me with one more condition. Want to know what it is? Click here to continue reading my story!