Long story short, I currently am being treated for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease), a Bartonella henselae infection, and leaky gut syndrome. While my health has never been great, my journey with chronic illnesses really started as a 15-year-old with a sore throat. Years later, as a college student, I am finally being treated for what is likely the cause of that sore throat and numerous other symptoms that have developed over the past few years.
If you are here for the long version, keep reading. Just a heads-up: weight loss is one of my symptoms and is discussed.
As a toddler, I had repeated ear infections and several rounds of antibiotics before ear tubes were placed. Throughout my childhood, I experienced GI issues and stomach pain. Allergy testing at age 11 showed slightly raised numbers for gluten and casein (a protein in dairy products), and the doctor said not to worry about it, but a nurse suggested (off the record) to remove those items from my diet for a month and see what happens as it couldn’t hurt. I never went back and have been gluten and dairy free for close to half my life now. While the changed diet helped, it never solved the issues completely. At age 13, I tested negative for Celiac disease.
During middle school, I had been treated for scoliosis, which peaked at 24-point-something degrees. The only practical route for me, due to a variety of reasons, was routine therapy and chiropractic visits, which helped for a few days. Bills were piling up with no long-term improvement, so at age 13, we stopped treatment entirely for a while.
At 15, I had a chronic sore throat. My tonsils were swollen and had whitish spots, so the ENT was willing to remove them but was uncertain that would resolve the problem. After two rounds of antibiotics and several doctor visits, we ultimately decided to go with the tonsillectomy. There was no signifcant change to the pain.
Around that time (age 14 or 15), I started seeing an eye doctor who wrote a note to my mom immediately when I entered the room. My mom told me afterward that it read, “Does she always hold her head like that?” My mom nodded to indicate “yes.” I had a fairly noticeable head tilt that was accentuated by certain activities, such as reading and completing homework. He prescribed glasses with prisms, which did clarify my vision significantly, but after slowly increasing the prism strength over a period of time, he acknowledged that there was little else to be done without eye surgery. We wanted to wait. I saw a chiropractor (DC) who adjusted my atlas, the uppermost bone of the vertebral column, and when my glasses were returned to me, I felt dizzy and nauseous, so I didn’t wear them. Upon arriving home, I tried on my old, spare glasses (which did not have prisms) and I could see things pretty clearly. After working with that chiropractor for a while, my scoliosis is essentially gone. My atlas rarely comes out of alignment, and my head tilt has never returned.
At age 16, I really started to get sick. With a height of 5’5″ (165 cm), I went from 125 lbs. (about 57 kg) to 110 lbs. (50 kg) in less than a month. Two months later, I weighed 104 lbs. (47 kg). I was definitely underweight, and my activity levels and diet had not changed. Most nights, I slept for 9-14 hours and always woke up tired. By 3 pm every day, the little bit of energy I had was nearly gone, and all I wanted to do was sleep. At 17 years old, I was told more than once that I was “too young” to be that tired, to have pain with no identified cause. From 16 to 18, I worked with three or four general practitioners, a GI specialist, and a nutritionist or two. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, leaky gut syndrome, pancreatic insufficiency, hypoglycemia (non-diabetic), fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, and a yeast infection (Candida albicans).
At 18, my health had improved significantly but then plateaued. Switching to a naturopath resulted in help for the next year, as well as the diagnosis of low cholesterol, which was determined to run in my family. At 19, I switched to an integrative psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with Chronic Epstein Barr Virus and treated mental health issues I had been experiencing (long story for a later time) along with my other diagnoses. She considered the possibility that I had been born with the Chronic Epstein Barr Virus. With her, I was taking 40+ pills each day, at 7 times throughout the day, which was unmanageable, and I needed a new protocol.
So, after working with her for only a few months, I switched doctors again to a chiropractor trained in nutrition response testing. In addition to developing a manageable supplement protocol, she has given me some chiropractic treatments, and I hold them pretty well. She referred me to her friend, who is an osteopath (DO), as I needed a general practitioner to continue my prescriptions, and I now work with both of them.
I continued to have eye issues, particularly with tracking while reading (meaning my eyes would jump from line to line or from word to word within the same line). This has always been a problem but increased when I got sick at age 16. This past January, I was referred to an eye doctor who does therapy. Thankfully, I did not require therapy, but she did prescribe progressive lenses, which are like bifocals, except there is no lens line as the prescription strength transitions gradually. Reading is much easier now, thankfully!
This past summer, the possibility of a Bartonella henselae infection was briefly discussed, and I recently brought that up with my DO. She recently started treating me through a clinical diagnosis.
In terms of current symptoms… Still have a sore throat pretty much all the time. My weight still fluctuates a lot and stays well below where it should be. I have lost a lot of muscle mass in the past few years and a few recent diet changes from my last appointment should help stabilize my weight. Vision issues pretty much resolved. Chronic fatigue is the biggest concern, as I sleep way more than your average college student and have to manage my limited awake hours effectively to complete my assignments.
This was pretty long and a bit confusing, but I wanted it to be out here, especially as a backdrop for future posts. Future posts should be shorter and more straightforward!