Updated: Jul 11, 2020
The last five years of my life have been filled with pain, exhaustion, and confusion. My battle with undiagnosed chronic illness has led me all over North America, searching for a diagnosis and treatment for my inexplicable pain, fatigue, tinnitus, headaches, and more. What I have yet to discover is an explanation for my deteriorating health; what I have found, however, is an explanation as to why that hasn’t happened yet.
Living in northern Alberta, it was never easy to get to the countless medical and specialist appointments I had; often, it meant a 12-hour trip round trip to Edmonton. MRIs, blood tests, x-rays, nerve conduction studies, and other tests were all coming back normal; the specialists I was seeing could come up with no explanation for the symptoms I was having. Each symptom was a dot, and no one could seem to connect those dots together. My health journey led me next into a world of controversy and dissension, unlike anything I had ever seen before: the world of Lyme disease. After getting a positive test on a blood test from Igenix, my family and I traveled to Seattle to see a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD). The LLMD confirmed the diagnosis, and thus I started on intense doses of antibiotics. Finally, the dots were connected: for a bit, anyways. But Lyme Disease was a sort of a ‘taboo’ in the traditional medical system. I won’t get too far into it, but you better watch what you say about the disease and even more controversial treatment for chronic Lyme while around any medical professionals; there is extreme tension and judgment waiting for you if you let the wrong words slip.
After almost a year of antibiotic treatment, I had little to no change in my symptoms. This left me searching for more answers, this time with a different doctor: a naturopath from Victoria. I was tested for Lyme disease again, this time from Armin, and the results came back negative. It felt as if the air had been sucked out of me; I felt ashamed that I had let the treatment go on that long with no results; guilt that I had wasted my family’s money and resources on something I didn’t have; and defeated after being sent back to square one, with the dots spilled all over the page once again.
A few months later, I was tested for heavy metals, and I came back positive for mercury poisoning. This is another contentious disease to treat, with controversy arising from the proper way to test for it to anti-vaxxers chelating their children to cure them of Autism. After the first few cycles of chelation, I started to feel better. However, that was short-lived, and not long after, I was back to feeling my normal.
And now I am here, more confused than ever, the dots still far apart. I sit here wondering, what is the truth about the controversial diseases? Where should I stand? I wonder about how the traditional healthcare system could have missed something that prevented a diagnosis for me. What would have happened if the specialists had worked together instead of just being concerned about symptoms related to their own specialties? What if the alternative and traditional sides of medicine could have worked together? Or maybe, I am, and will continue to be, a medical mystery. However, most importantly through all of this, I have now found hope; hope that I will find a diagnosis; hope that both sides will be able to work together eventually to help those with complex chronic illnesses; hope that one day, I will be able to help kids like me connect the dots.