Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"What Would You Do?"

A reader writes in and asks what I would do in her circumstance.

Hello Carla-

I am 34 year old mother of 3. I've been hypothyroid since I was 18.  I came down with an unknown virus in December that gave me severe leg muscle aches, 102 fever, and chills, followed by an itchy rash. I was given a steroid.  

I still had symptoms coughing up mucus. A "minute-clinic" doctor put me on an antibiotic. I started feeling better but at some point noticed my fingers felt like I had hurt them playing a sport.  I have  stiff feet in the morning and when I wake my feet, knees, and hands are rebelling. I saw my doctor Feb. 2 and she wasn't concerned but ran an arthritis panel, nothing came back abnormal except ANA. 

She said she saw no reason to send me to a rheumatologist if ibuprofen is working because she didn't see anything going on.  In other words, no other symptoms of any autoimmune diseases.  My family and I are now trying to cut out gluten.  I did develop psoriasis after the birth of my second child. 

We are working on my thyroid levels, and waiting to see on the ANA.What would you do?

Thanks for writing. I will attempt to be as helpful as I can.
I am not a doctor but I have 20 years' experience living with 4 autoimmune conditions and I have tried everything under the sun- mainstream and alternative, and some of it has helped tremendously.

Looking at the bigger picture, I do see autoimmune, as psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. And some forms of hypothyroid are also autoimmune. (Do you have Hashimoto's?) It is not uncommon, once you have one autoimmune disease for others to appear at some point.

You ask what I would do.
I would do anything for my health, and I have. I've got acupuncture, chelation therapy, had my fillings replaced, chiropractic, massage, lymphatic massage, energy medicine, psychotherapy, prescriptions, physical therapy- the list is long.. But in the end, the long-term things that helped the most (and cost nothing, except for the blood test) were doing chi gung and changing my diet: I cut out gluten and dairy (and nutrasweet, eggs and bananas) after having food allergy tests done. These were not pin-prick tests, which check for immediate reactions, but a blood panel that checks for delayed reactions. If I accidentally eat dairy (party/ restaurant) I know because my tendons flare up. If I accidentally get some gluten, I know because my joints swell and hurt. And if i want a migraine, give me MSG or nutrasweet. Just one life saver with nutrasweet, that'll do it.

I don't know where you live, but try calling/ e mailing Dr. Mark Hyman's office and see if you can get an appointment or a referral to a functional medicine doctor. That kind of doctor will look for and remove underlying causes of symptoms, rather than just relieving symptoms with drugs. Sometimes it's allergies, sometimes vitamin deficiencies. If you can't find a functional medicine doctor, try an osteopath. Ask around for a recommendation. Also try ACAM,

Call a yoga studio or health food store if you have to and look for some leads on effective knowledgeable healers. Decide if you want someone to get to the bottom of this. Once you get clear on that, then don't let up knocking on doors and asking questions until you're satisfied with the answers you get.

That is what I would- and did- do, and I got my health back.

I believe we were not meant to suffer. We simply live in an unhealthy environment and we have to learn to protect ourselves and be healthy despite some of the things around us that are working against that.

Well wishes-

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Speaker, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer - Carla's book "How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This?"