I have been a healthy, athletic man for most of my life. I competed in multiple sports as a young man, excelling the most in track and field (shot put and discus) and competitive weightlifting. I had a chance to make it to the 1980 Olympics, but the Carter boycott eliminated that chance in the middle of my senior year in college.
I kept active despite a busy career with golf, weight training and some other sports when the chance arose. However, a car accident in 2002 where I was rammed by a distracted lady was the first time I faced a major health challenge, as I herniated a disc in my lower back. I also learned what it was like to fight for your health and medical justice, because the first two MRIs showed no herniation (“bulging disc, probably pre-existing”.) My EMG/NCV tests of my leg nerves were abnormal but they couldn’t say why so they ignored them. It wasn’t until my inner calves disappeared (the same place I had daily shooting pains and numbness), that they redid the MRI from a different angle and saw the herniation. It was a three year fight just to get the car insurance to pay for my three back surgeries and therapy. But that was nothing compared with what was to come.
Imagine waking up and not being able to move anything below your neck. After a few minutes, you can wiggle your fingers and toes, but still nothing else. As the minutes pass, your motor function slowly comes back, enough to grab your cell phone and dial 911. After six hours and a bunch of tests, you can move normally, all your tests are normal except your potassium was a bit low, and you are told you can leave the hospital…with a “probable” diagnosis of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. Your muscles ache and you never feel normal again, but you learn that this diagnosis is bad but not terrible…maybe 20 years before permanent paralysis.
Imagine living with this condition for five years, some days waking up with almost no weakness, some days just an arm, a leg, both legs, or even an arm and a leg on some days. Enough to make you think its all in your head. But then you learn your dreaded EMG/NCV tests are far worse, now showing a 20% decrease in nerve and muscle function in all extremities. But the genetic test for the disease they gave you was negative. What really is the problem?
Imagine that you’re a doctor and you are trying everything possible to figure this out yourself, and you know there is an answer, but it might be a bad one. Then one day your weakness doesn’t follow the usual course and is more persistent, and you see twitches. You go to your neurologist, and he sees these twitches called fasciculations and he looks somber.
Imagine then, hearing that you have ALS. Lou Gehrigs Disease.
This was my life, and initially I felt the neurologist was probably correct in diagnosing me with ALS. I felt hopeless, even suicidal. Amazingly, I refused to give in, even kept working throughout all of this. I thought the neuromuscular disease was all I could take, but then my heart started giving out, got a cath expecting surgery but none was deemed necessary. Kidneys went bad next. Immune system next…got Shingles, Epstein Barr, and every bug that came near me.
There had to be a single major illness here, a cause that had not been figured out, because there were just too many different problems crashing in on me without a definitive reason! I went through the online studies and textbooks and I kept coming across one thing that could cause virtually all of my problems. It had to be a toxin, and there were just a handful of toxins that could affect almost all of the different organ systems of the body. Heavy metals were at the top of the list, and I had been tested for these…and oddly enough I had had abnormal levels of five of them, but the elevations were deemed not high enough to be dramatic enough to cause such multiple diseases. However, the one heavy metal that often eludes proper detection is Mercury, and when I send hair samples along with blood and urine to a top notch lab, I found that I had literally 10 times the CDC upper limit of tolerable Mercury levels. Mercury can cause neuropathy, periodic paralysis, heart and blood pressure problems, kidney damage, and basically everything I had other than my orthopedic problems. I got the Mercury out of me as much as possible, through chelation, specific vitamins and supplements, infrared sauna, removing my fillings, and eliminating seafood from my diet.
Within six months I was given my life back. I have never had a morning attack of paralysis since. I have never needed my cane or wheelchair again. My health overall is 75% better, not perfect by any means, but considering I was essentially dying slowly over five years, my comeback is miraculous. I have resumed physical activity, and this in turn inspired me to do something so impossible, I take joy just in the quest for it. I am training to be a competitive Olympic weightlifter in the Masters competitions in my age group. If I can keep up the training, I could win the National competition, and maybe the World’s.
I have many goals at present, and only so much time and energy. In the future, I plan to help others who find themselves in similar mystery ailments or are not being properly helped by the medical system. If I was not a doctor, I would never have figured out my illness.