Barb’s Story- Hypothyroidism, Yeast Overgrowth
Health is never thought of as a fleeting commodity, until that moment when it is lost.
In one split second, my life changed forever. A date that is more memorable to me than my birthday is the 5th of October 1985. I was a success in my field as a research scientist on the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In a nano-second, I became a home-bound invalid. My body and ability to work were totaled. My life was shattered. I began the crawl of my life, to gain something back that existed before the wreck. For nine months and enduring multiple surgeries, I lived with 24 hours a day of unrelenting pain. Standing, sitting and movement of any degree increased the pain.
It took several years before the healing began. A good friend suggested that I volunteer at the charity where she worked. I began recruiting merchant donors for the thrift shop.
Over the next few months, I created a successful merchant donation program. Sales in the thrift store soared. It looked like I was gaining a part of my life back. I was offered a part-time position to expand the program.
Life was indeed looking sweet, acquiring a new career and being in command of my life again. But life can be fickle, capricious at best. In a dark storage room, while supervising the unloading of a large donation, I fell. My knee was smashed and I injured my spine.
Taking anti-inflammatory drugs and Medrol dose packs became part of my daily diet for eleven months. I told my orthopedic doctor that I could no longer stand the pain. He referred me to a physical medicine doctor. For the first time since my fall in December 1991, I was prescribed Flexeril, a muscle relaxant, twice a day for a month. I slept most of the time and hardly left the house. When I returned to the doctor a month later, he prescribed physical therapy consisting of heat, ultrasound and massage treatments with a few exercises. During the next nine years, I continued to see my physical medicine doctor.
My weight ballooned to 220 pounds. By the summer of 2002, nothing had changed; I still could not sit, stand or drive. I lived with chronic pain. When I asked my doctor, “when will I get better?” He said, “You will never get better, you will always have chronic pain”. Until this moment, I always thought that I would get better. Now, there did not seem to be much of a future for me. Since 1985, I had been referred to four orthopedic and physical medicine doctors and been treated by six physical therapists (PT) in different clinics. Each told me that they were doing all that could be done for me.
There is not a place where miracles are handed out, but if one is lucky, a miracle will find you. I was lucky. On a Sunday afternoon in August 2002, I was doing non-weight-bearing exercises in the pool. I had joined a health facility to start me on another step to regain my health. The pain was intense and kept me in tears. A woman came over, and in the course of our conversation, she learned where I hurt and the level of pain I was living with. She suggested a physical therapist, Cynthia Card, at Affiliates in Physical Therapy. She is one of only a few PT’s in Texas who specialize in manual orthopedic physical therapy. I called the next day and with the preliminary paperwork out of the way, I began one of ninety sessions. I screamed, I cried and many times would be black and blue. I turned my living room into a therapy room, ordering an exercise table. I worked 4-5 hours a day on the stretches and exercises she taught me. As the treatments progressed, I began to feel better and go on long walks. I stopped all of my medications. To control the pain, I would lie on a giant ice pack covered with a moist towel. My PT now attacked my diet. She observed that I was not building muscle, so I consulted a nutritionist and learned that my body needed a certain amount of protein each day. I realized that it was now or never to get my life back. To end the cycle of “my lost years”, I dedicated my days to my exercise program and healthy eating. No more processed food. Everything that I ate, I cooked. Slowly, my weight began to drop. Going on a guided tour of a Whole Foods store with Joan Ifland, the author of the book, Sugars and Flours: How They Make Us Crazy, Sick and Fat and What to Do About It, further educated me about proper nutrition. I realized that I knew nothing about nutrition.
I bought mirrors to watch myself exercise. The bathroom scale became my friend as my weight fell off. I began to like what I saw. Slowly, my weight dropped from 220 to 190 and then to 170, 160 and finally below 150 pounds. I felt better than I had felt in years but still had some issues to deal with. The chlorine and mold so common with indoor pools were not helping my lungs. And then another challenge was given. On July 15, 2003, I had an anaphylactic reaction while eating some English walnuts. I took a Benadryl, called 911, my neighbors, and my PT. Finally, after a second call to 911, my neighbors arrived and soon after, the ambulance. I spent the day in the ER. Late in the afternoon I was released with an order to see an allergy specialist the following week and large bottle of prednisone.
For two days, I was tested at the allergy clinic to determine what caused my severe anaphylactic reaction. The results revealed that I am highly allergic to all kinds of mold and various foods containing fermented products as well as English walnuts. Now, I give myself the weekly allergy shots and have an EpiPen at hand in case it is needed.
The last twenty years of my life, I have been on a journey to restore my health, putting together various pieces of the puzzle. However, I knew that something was still not right.
My internist ran a series of blood tests and declared that everything was fine, and for me to “get on with my life”. In May 2005, I read that Steven Hotze, M.D. would be discussing his new book, Hormones, Health, and Happiness. I was intrigued with the idea that bioidentical hormones might resolve some of my remaining health issues. I met Dr. Hotze. We shook hands and he said your hands are cold. I told him that they were always cold since my anaphylactic reaction. Also, my blood pressure and temperature are low, as well. Dr. Hotze smiled and said, “We can help you”. Several weeks later, I met Dr. Terry Simon for my consultation. For the first time in years, a physician listened to me. From the moment that I arrived at the Hotze Health and Wellness Center, I was treated with respect and sincerity by his team of compassionate, caring health professionals. I was impressed with the entire clinic and staff. When I received the report of the blood tests, I was amazed. I have low levels of thyroid hormone as well as an overgrowth of yeast. Several days later, I began taking the Armour Thyroid hormone and Nystatin and followed his yeast-free diet for several months. Dr. Hotze and his staff have completed the final piece to my health puzzle.
During “my lost years”, I corresponded with hundreds of extraordinary people, from astronauts and authors to presidents and sports celebrities. I assembled a collection of thousands of signed books. Now that I have my life back, I have begun to catalogue and list the items for sale. My career in the medical field is long over, but I have a new and exciting hobby turned potential business.
As I get up each morning, I think of all the folks who have helped to restore my health and give me my life back. Dr. Hotze and his comprehensive approach to health and wellness are the shining stars on my tree of health. For this, I am forever grateful.
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