Sunday, September 30, 2012


Hey friends!

So, in the months since my last post (10 months - my bad!) a lot of things have happened. I finished school at GSC, started school at UGA, injured my knee, tried a raw diet (no fun), and had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. (Also… I've always thought that was called "Rocky Mountain Spider Fever." Hehe.) A few months ago, in July, I started going to a place in Atlanta called Progressive Medical Center that is known for treating chronic illnesses and other health issues. (It's also owned and operated by Christians - how awesome!)

Found this in the ladies room. So applicable. :)

During my first visit (7/2/12), I talked with Dr. Epstein, an osteopathic doctor who asked about my symptoms and decided which blood tests to run (I was also given a few tests to take home… if you know what I mean). He also talked to me about weaning off all of my medications (for everything from migraines to muscle spasms) because the combined side effects were harming me more than they were helping. 

In preparation for my second visit (7/10/12), I had to stop taking my GERD medication because it would interfere with a test I was going to get called a gastrogram. I also stopped my anti-inflammatory med (for my knee) because of suspicions that it was causing stomach pain. Unfortunately, my heartburn was back the next day and my knee began to ache intensely. By the time 7/10 rolled around, I had to do a 12 hour food and drink fast. Food fasts are ok, but drinking fasts are no fun. 

For the gastrogram, I had to swallow a capsule that sent signals to a monitor that then sent signals to the doc's computer. The purpose of the gastrogram was to check the pH of the stomach. The first few minutes were fine and uneventful, but then Dr. Wor had me swallow 5cc's of baking soda water to see how my stomach reacted to food. First off, baking soda is absolutely disgusting. I can't believe I put it in my baking! Ewwwww. Imagine fish and salt and lots of it. After twenty minutes, Doc informed me that my stomach doesn't produce enough acid (a condition called hypochlorhydria), which would explain some of my symptoms, as I couldn't absorb enough minerals or protein, and also makes me more susceptible to infections (including mono). Who knew stomach acid was so important? I've been treating that for the past few months with hydrochloric acid capsules. As long as I take one after eating, I don't have heartburn (woo!).

I talked to a naturopath, Dr. Fink, about my test results and found out I have a type of hypothyroidism called Hashimoto's disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where antibodies attack the thyroid gland. Apparently I wasn't diagnosed earlier because PMC has a different set of qualifications for hypothyroidism than typical medical practices. Dr. Fink put me on a lot of supplements, and since then, I've continually had my supplements changed and adjusted.

In between that appointment and my next appointment, I found out that I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I tried to treat it with cipro, as the drug of choice to treat RMSF is doxycycline, and I just so happen to be allergic to it. Unfortunately, the cipro didn't work, so I had to deal with a week of doxycycline. That was definitely a rough week, but I'm thankful that I was able to get that out of my system.

My next appointment was a month later, where I got the rest of my tests results. I found out that I have twelve food allergies (almond, artichoke, sodium nitrate, broccoli, cabbage, cinnamon, milk, egg yolk, flax seed, gluten (duh), grapefruit, cane sugar, swordfish, and whole wheat). A few of those are only mild allergies, so I should be able to consume some of them again in a few months. I also found out that my cortisol levels are WAY too high, meaning that my adrenal glands have been overtaxed and have been producing way too much adrenaline, which explains a lot of my fatigue. That is currently being treated with a few supplements, but I'm not sure how long it will be until I actually feel results. I also found out that because of this, any stress makes me feel a lot worse. Lame. I had a neurotransmitter test drawn that revealed that I produce too much dopamine and epinephrine, and not enough GABA. I have no idea how I'm going to get normal amounts of any of those, but I'm confident that the docs at Progressive have a good plan. :)

A few weeks ago, I went back for another visit and met with a new doctor (Dr. Burdette), who decided that I needed some antiviral IVs to lower the amount of epstein-barr still in my system. I had three sessions of something called MAH and three sessions of Myers. During the MAH, I would get 250ccs (about a cup) of blood taken out, had heparin and ozone added, and then it was sent back into my body. The Myers was basically just a vitamin cocktail. The IVs weren't too bad, except they always made me very tired (and I fainted on my last day of MAH - lame). Mom and I decided to spend a week in Atlanta so we wouldn't have to drive 3.5 hours everyday, and we took Bingley, so that wasn't too bad. :)

The part of MAH where they take out my blood.

During the same week as my IV sessions, I went to PMCA's pain therapy and had my knee and back treated with something called "Matrix" that would send electric currents through my muscles. It was supposed to retrain the muscles to hopefully stop my muscle spasms. After around 10 treatments, my back and knee were no better, so we decided to stop treatment for the time being. We might start it up again later, but we'll see. :)

After my last Myers, I met with Dr. Burdette again and she asked me if I was feeling any better. Unfortunately, I really haven't been feeling any better since July, and to be perfectly honest, I've actually been feeling a lot worse. My fatigue is really bad, and leaving that house has become really difficult. During my second week at UGA, I was so tired by the time I made it to class that I felt like crying and I felt incapable of even getting up out of my desk. At the end of my second week, I decided to withdraw from my courses with a hardship withdrawal. Thankfully my parents were totally on board, even if we couldn't get a refund for my classes. (We did manage to get a partial one. Woo!) Deciding to leave school was really hard, as I genuinely love to learn, but I really think it was the best option for me. Thankfully, Dr. Burdette was very understanding and actually asked me if I was frustrated with my progress. That's the first time any doctor has actually asked me that in 6 years. Dr. Burdette decided to draw a few more blood tests to see if my epstein-barr levels have gone down at all. I found out that most people generally feel better right after they have their IVs, but as I don't feel any better, I may have to get more before I actually feel any changes.

Speaking of my hardship withdrawal… I went to my primary physician to get the doctor's note required to withdraw. Unfortunately, that didn't go well at all. I saw an NP first, who told me that all of my symptoms were due to depression and that I was on far too many medications (despite the fact that I was only on 4 at the time). I left feeling pretty discouraged, and decided to go back in two days to see my actual doctor. That didn't go well either. First, she told me I was on too many medications (as it turns out, their records were very wrong), and she was under the impression that I was a drug addict. After she found out that I wasn't taking the medicine she thought I was, she told me it was all depression. Then, she decided that I should NOT take an anti-depressant. What? Anyway, I was finally able to get a hardship withdrawal letter and I probably will never go see that doctor again. Eck. I'm pretty sure I broke out in hives during that super fun session.

One reason I'm so thankful for the doctors at Progressive is because they believe me and take every symptom seriously. I have never once felt like my pain wasn't real. Also, the other patients there are SO kind. I met a guy with Lou Gehrig's (which is an incredibly difficult and deadly condition), but he was so kind of and so positive about everything. I also met a cancer patient who asked me about my "malady" and he was so kind. I actually saw him a few more times during my IVs and Matrix. (His name was Larry.)

Currently, I'm taking about 35 pills a day (most of them are supplements - I'm only taking 4 Rx medications - woo!), which is really overwhelming, but if it'll help me get better, I'll continue doing it for the rest of my life. No joke. Even though I haven't started feeling any better, I'm still hopeful that it'll happen someday. 

I have to admit that it's really hard to stay positive about everything I have to deal with, especially because not many people try to understand my condition. It's really difficult for me to explain what I deal with, and when I try, I usually end up making it seem like it's not a big deal. It means a lot to me when people genuinely want to know how I am and take the time to research my condition. I'm not asking you to run to my aid, but some awareness would be greatly appreciated. :) I love being invited to hang out or to go somewhere, but some days it's just a little too hard, and I never ever ever want my friends or family to feel like I'm neglecting them - some things are just a little too strenuous for me to handle.

In other news, I joined a small group at the end of August with some college girls from Athens Church. I'm still getting to know all of them, but I'm incredibly thankful to be developing some Christian friends and I look forward to the next few months and years with them!

As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read this! Love you all! God bless!


1 comment:

  1. I'd love to hear about your progress since your last blog!