Five years ago, I was a energetic mom of two kids, and a small business owner with two locations. I exercised every day and had a ton of energy.
In April of 2009, I took a… trip to a state south of Montana. About a week after I returned home, I experienced the worst illness I had ever had up to that point in my life. I had very high fever, chills, body aches and was bed ridden for over a week. This was the height of the “Swine Flu” epidemic, so I was sure that I had caught it from the airplane ride. After being down for a few weeks, I recovered. (Or so I thought)-
My husband and I had decided to have a third baby- so exciting! I had gotten pregnant very easily with the previous two so we thought this would be a piece of cake. However, within two months of my “mystery illness” I became pregnant and miscarried. And then a few months later, I miscarried again.
A battery of tests revealed I had Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that causes low thyroid levels. I was given a pill to take daily and told my problems were now solved.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy though. I still wasn’t pregnant, and I was now catching any virus I was exposed to. As soon as I would go off of the antibiotics, the symptoms would come back. The Dr would prescribe stronger and stronger meds, until I was taking Levaquin almost non-stop.
My doctor told me that owning childcare centers was making me sick and that the little kids were petrie dishes that my body couldn’t handle. After a lot of discussion, my husband and I decided to follow the doctor’s advice and sell. Anything to just get better. So after working in childcare for ten years and never having a problem before, I now walked away from the only career I had known as an adult because it “wasn’t good for me.”
With the business sold, I was optimistic that things were going to soon improve. Only they didn’t. I started developing asthma like symptoms and with that, anxiety. The doctors (I had seen many by this point) had me eating steroid pills, shooting steroids up my nose and inhaling them twice a day too. 40 lbs gained and a lot of money lost and I was still getting worse.
I repeatedly told my husband that I felt like I was falling apart and losing my mind all at the same time. I had been this vibrant, energetic person, and now it was a struggle to walk from the couch to the bathroom. Yet another trip to the doctor, and I was now diagnosed with depression and up to 14 pills a day of prescribed medications.
Somehow, in the middle of all this, I did manage to finally get pregnant and give birth to a beautiful baby girl. However, after the pregnancy, I started having severe heavy bleeding and cramping that would occur for three out of four weeks every month. Cue another trip to the doctor and a hysterectomy.
Even without a uterus, I still somehow managed to continue the bleeding- so yep, you have it, another trip to the doctor and a “hysterectomy revision”. They were positive with my symptoms that I had severe endometriosis, but once they had me cut open they found nothing. The doctor concluded I had “tired female muscles”.
I started developing blurred vision, and extremely painful joints. My legs would start twitching after the littlest exercise. I was given antidepressants, synthetic thyroid,allergy medications, steroids and now weight loss stimulants. I was now fat, tired and miserable at the age of 34.
Thinking this was just my lot in life, I tried to make the best of it. My general practitioner had told me repeatedly that things tend to go south once you hit your thirties. While in my heart I knew this didn’t jive, I couldn’t deny the symptoms I was feeling and the lack of a diagnosis or treatment to make them go away.
In May of this last year, my Dr. announced he was moving to another town. He had just run yet another thyroid test and made a change to my dosage, however I would need to find another Dr. to do the follow up test to ensure the dosage was correct because he would no longer be here at the required time.
By this point, I had been to over 13 doctor’s offices, made over six trips to the emergency room and even one trip to a specialist in Seattle. My health was not improving and the list of diagnoses was growing with every visit. I started my quest to find another Dr. to follow my care, although at this point I felt like it was more to document my deterioration than anything else.
After talking to a few friends, I decided to try an integrative physician. June 4, 2014 was my first visit to her and the day my life changed. She spent an hour and a half with me, going over my health records and symptoms.
After listening to my long diatribe about how I am just a mess and will never get better, she asked me the question that would eventually give me my life back. “Have you ever been tested for lyme?’ I looked at her like she was nuts…. “No, I don’t ever remember being bit, and besides, we don’t have lyme in Montana.” She said “Well let’s just get the test and see.”
I thank God every day that I did! The test results came back positive, (even by CDC standards) and I started treatment soon after. While I still have some symptoms, and there have been bumps in the road, like my PICC line having to be taken out due to incorrect placement,things will get better! I know this is a marathon, not a sprint, but I have answers now and hope for my future!!