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  • Writer's pictureSally Kalksma

Germ Magnet - A New Mystery Illness 

So it's been a while since I blogged. Actually, it's been a while since I wrote anything at all. That reminds me—I still have to write out some thank you cards for some "get well" gifts I received! Yes, you read that right, "get well." And that's why I haven't blogged...I wasn't well. 


For those who follow me closely, you probably noticed more than my lack of writing, but also my lack of physical activity. In my last blog in May of 2023 I announced I would stop competing in Stair Climbing, but would still train to stay in optimal shape. Unfortunately, that plan didn't happen. Like anything in life, when an obstacle gets in your way you must find a way to either get over it, around it, or destroy it. But never back down from it.


When I'm not feeling my usual perky self I just can't get my mind to write well. I find that your mind is much like the rest of your body. If you don't feel well, physically or emotionally, you need some rest. My brain definitely needed to recuperate and process what was happening over the last few months.


7 months ago I was given a new diagnosis and I have not only been processing how to accept it, but coming up with a game plan on how to deal with it.


When I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (MM) in 2008 I came up with an excellent game plan that had worked well throughout all of my treatments. I was feeling good! However, in March of 2023 I became very ill again. 



A New Mystery Illness


For a while, doctors could only tell me that my new mystery illness had nothing to do with my cancer. MM is often referred to as a disease since you must manage it every day. My undiagnosed illness also did not have anything to do with my daily chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy treatments can make you more susceptible to other illnesses and infections but in this instance, was not the case!


For three months I was seen by various specialists who prescribed different tests. The final diagnosis was Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID), the lack of B fighter cells.


This diagnosis made me wonder; was my CVID diagnosis a result or side effect of the chemo I'm on now, or the three other chemotherapy treatments I previously had? No, the doctors studied my bloodwork from prior years and saw I had CVID even then, and possibly my entire life! It had been completely overlooked. 


Every day I thought I had allergies when, in actuality, I was sick. It all made perfect sense as to why I became very ill very easily, so often. I was fighting MM; which is the lack of healthy white blood cells, along with CVID; the lack of B fighter cells. I have been one big germ magnet for, possibly, my entire life.



Adjusting to The New Game Plan


The doctors put me on a bi-weekly treatment plan which includes infusions. I asked the doctor how long I would have to do these infusions and his reply was, "The rest of your life. If you stop you will die of an infection or pneumonia." Well, that answer was pretty blunt—I'm doing infusions for the rest of my life! His answer made me rethink how I was going to live a healthy and productive life going forward.

Continued >


Man preparing a medical infusion wearing medical gloves in a home kitchen.
Jett preparing my infusion for CVID

With the help of a good support system, I worked to adjust to my new lifestyle. Those around me had to make adjustments as well. Lucky me, my boyfriend became my caregiver. He has mastered my infusions so I do not have to go to a hospital bi-weekly to have them administered. Continued >


White box containing medical supplies with a fragile and rush delivery stickers from NuFactor.
My Medical Supply Delivery

It has taken me a while to fall into my new routine and I had to make changes and changes to changes to get it right. Life is a constant adjustment, whether it's a job, the environment, or your health. I had to maintain patience and get over the hump with this diagnosis!


Next time you're faced with adversity make sure you take time to yourself to adjust. Don't beat up on yourself if you don't succeed the first time. Try as many times as necessary to get it right. Just make sure you get it right.



— Sally Kalksma

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