Sunday, November 25, 2012

Undiagnosed...Until Now

Each year, many people are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all for symptoms that are simply caused by foods or other easily treatable ailments. I truly feel that we are partially to blame as many of us are (most likely) brought up to trust their Doctors and what they represent. Doctors are here to help you, to treat you, to make you feel better when something is wrong. Why question them as they are scurrying out the door to hurry on to their next patient? Why think twice when they are telling you that you are in perfect health when you feel like crap all of the time? Luckily, one person did go against the grain and she decided that it was time to question what they were telling her.

The following is a personal interview of someone who went through a myriad of odd symptoms that were shrugged off by numerous medical Doctors only to find out that it was a not all in her head.

How many years were you feeling "sick" or unlike yourself?
It was just over two years.

Do you remember what began the chain of events?
I do, yes. Our family took a vacation to Disney in Florida and when I returned to my workplace, it all began. First, it was a simple cold that would not go away but then it progressed to a horrible sinus infection that also lead to my left ear being constantly blocked. I would get worse, then get better for a few days. It was a cycle that went on for about two months. Then, I began to have tingling and muscle spasms in my neck, shoulders and left arm. I began to get light-headed and I was afraid I was going to pass out, which (of course) lead to anxiety attacks.

What do you think it was attributed to?
Looking back now, I realized that initially, I was in a bad environment, I think people would refer to it as a "sick building". It was an older building with dust, mold, dead bugs and there had been an issue with the heating system that had leeched some type of allergen into the air. My work schedule was 3 days on, then not returning until the following week a full 7 days later. I finally started to notice that then days that I was not there, I would start to feel better and when I went back, I would have even more symptoms than before.

 Did anything else happen?
Yes, it escalated to me missing a lot of time from work, I was getting odd looks from my co-workers as I would call my husband in a panic because I thought I was having a heart attack when my left arm would go numb. Eventually, I wasn't even able to drive myself anywhere. I began to loose my hair and I could not function on a day to day basis other than the bare minimum. I would sleep all day because I had no energy at all. I had muscle spasms in my lower legs, I was hungry but when I tried to eat, it would go right through me and I was afraid something was very,very wrong.

What were the Doctors telling you during all of this?
Lots of things but nothing that seemed to help me figure out how to feel better. Most of them continued to tell me that all of my tests were within normal range and that they could not do anything else to help me.

What type of Doctors did you consult?
I think all of them! Over the two year period, I went to my primary Doctor so many times that my file was overflowing. I went to two ENT's, two neurologists, an OBGYN, an orthopedic Doctor as well as a physical therapist and chiropractor.

That must have been a stressful on you and your family.
Yes, it not only caused problems with my husband and I but my children started to be affected as well. My parents began to question if I was really not feeling well or if it was all in my head. I felt guilty because I was not able to give my children the time that I usually did and I felt as if my husband was taking care of a person that I hated becoming.

Did the Doctors recommend any prescriptions?
Yes. Actually, that is an understatement! I went through allergy medications, nasal sprays, pain killers, muscle relaxers, ibuprofen, mega amounts of Vitamin D, two MRI's, physical therapy, several trips to the emergency room, an anti-seizure medication and two anxiety medications. Over the span of two years, I spent about $6,000 out of pocket on the Doctors visits, medications that were tried an thrown away and other things that they all had me try.

Why did they try so many?
I kept having new, strange symptoms and with each symptom, the Doctors each had a new medication. With each new medication, I had even stranger side effects or reactions and I felt even worse. I was so desperate to figure out what was going on that I was trying whatever they suggested.

How did they make you feel worse?
Well, now I understand it was because the medications that they were trying were not for what was going on with me. But when I was taking them, I had bad reactions to everything. My body was hyper-sensitive. Allergy medications and nasal sprays gave me horrible, pounding headaches and made me unable to do anything. I was given muscle relaxers for my spasms and I would be sleepy, dizzy and nauseous. The ibuprofen started to do a number on my stomach. The anti-seizure medication made me feel worse (they tried that for the numbness) but the the anti anxiety meds were the worst.

What happened with those?
I tried these because it was my last resort. I had Doctors that were giving up on me and they began to reason with me that I might be causing all of these symptoms. I knew deep down that it wasn't that but I also knew that unless I tried, I could not prove them wrong either. They gave me Pristiq the first time. On the second day, I woke up at 1 AM with my heart pounding, I was sweating but cold, I couldn't breath, I had to throw up but I could not even walk or move and my hands and feet were numb. My husband helped me to the bathroom and I asked him to call 911 because I truly thought I was going to die. It was like the worst panic attack ever times one million. It eventually passed but it was not something that I would ever want to go through again. When I called the Doctor later that day to tell them, their response was that I had no proof it was from the medication and that I should try taking it again. I was floored! I told them there was no way in hell I would ever take it again and I suggested they take it before I promptly hung up on them. The second medication was Zanax. It was literally half of the tiniest dose that they make. My Doctor asked me to try it for one month just to see if the panic attacks went away. And although I knew my panic attacks were caused because of the other symptoms and not the other way around, I did as she asked. I got even more tired and my panic was still there.

So what did you do from there?
I decided that I had to find a Doctor that would help me. I made up my mind that Google would be my best friend and that I would not give up on myself because everyone else had. I happened to stumble across a term called "Adrenal Fatigue" and everything matched. Then I opened a local magazine and there was a local Doctor that specialized in that very same topic. It was as if I asked for help and it was finally handed to me.

What happened with this Doctor?
He was very different from the others. He was an Integrative Medical doctor, meaning he is a Medical doctor but he also considers alternative approaches for his patients as well as traditional medicines. He listened to everything that I told him and the first thing that he said to me was "First of all, you are not crazy and it is not all in your head." He also told me that my blood pressure was very low which is what was causing me to feel as if I would pass out, because I might have! My cortisol levels were too high which was the cause of my anxiety. But he understood that all of symptoms were causing my anxiety and not the anxiety causing my symptoms.

So what was your actual diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue and a Candida allergy. Because of my Candida allergy, most of the foods I was eating and the conditions of the moldy building I had been in were exacerbated. I knew that this Doctor would help me and I knew that I had a long way to go but at least I had hope again

What was his treatment for you?
After we did a lot of blood work, it was mainly a huge change in diet and many supplements. Because my body was not absorbing the necessary nutrients, I was very deficient in a lot of things. He made sure that he saw me every few weeks at first, then a few months in between and now just yearly to monitor my blood work to prevent me going back to where I was or getting too much of anything.He also had me try each new supplement at a very low dose, slowly and by itself so that I would not have the same reactions that I had from the other medications.

What supplements do you take?
I take DHEA, thyroid, vitamin D3, vitamin C, a probiotic, fish Oil, a really good multivitamin and a digestive enzyme. I also limit my caffeine, dairy, gluten and I eat a lot more protein and vegetables with healthy snacks in between, mainly protein. I also use sea salt to maintain my blood pressure to make sure it doesn't dip down too low and cause me to feel as if I am going to pass out.

How long did it take you to feel better?
Ha! That was my first question to him- how long would it take. His answer was 6-8 months, if you are lucky. I can honestly say he was right on target. Right around the six month mark, I began to notice that I could do things that I wasn't able to do the past two years like go for a walk with my kids and not be on the couch for the rest of the week. It was difficult to be patient because I wanted to much to feel better right away. But I just took it as it came and I was grateful when I did get every ounce of energy back.

Were you able to pinpoint any specific foods to some of your symptoms?
Yes. When I began sticking to the Candida diet, my left ear unclogged- FINALLY! I was so afraid I would never hear again clearly. I also noticed that when I stopped eating gluten, my constant dizziness went away as well as my left arm tingling.

Any words of advice for other people going through a similar situation?
Foods really do impact your overall health. You have to be true to yourself and not give up. If you know that there is something else going on that the Doctors are not catching on to, keep digging until you get an answer that makes sense to you. I know my body more than anyone else and I knew it wasn't all just in my head. Listen to your inner voice and if you are dealing with people who are not willing to help you, continue on until you find the ones who will.

Ready for the kicker? I wrote this interview for myself and to share what happened with me personally ~ Tracy


  1. wow!! Thank you for this post..It really gives me a lot of information..

    1. You are very welcome. If I can be of any help, please let me know.
      ~ Tracy

  2. Thank you so very very much for posting this! I have shared this on facebook and twitter. This is so very important for people to realize - that the food we eat does cause very debilitating and frustrating symptoms, but to never give up in pursuing health and a diagnosis - no matter how many doctors you have to go through first! We had to see three allergists before we hit on the perfect one for my almost 6 yr old daughter, and even though it is a 5 1/2 hour drive one way every six months, the healing and understanding that we are finding is worth everything! Good luck as you continue your journey!!!

    1. Thanks for the wonderful comments Jen! If I can ever be of any help, please ask me :)

      ~ Tracy