The Smorgasbord of Symptoms and the Prescription Cornucopeia: Part 1
Road Signs, Schmode Signs
It may seem curious for someone with 18 years of experience in pharmacy (and a husband in acute cardiac healthcare) to ditch conventional medicine in the midst of an acute health crisis. I consider western medicine essential and I’m thankful to have access to it when needed, but when my life was at stake, natural healing did what man-made treatments failed to do.
Though I tried desperately to follow the prescribed path, it only led me further and further into the woods. So I ended up doing an about-face, and headed in the opposite direction.
I was a healthy 33 year old mother of two, working a full time job when my adventures began in 2005.
I did my best to keep things as normal as possible for the sake of these two:
Over a period of 7 years, the symptoms began appearing in worsening cycles. Without a diagnosis that made sense, I called each acute event a “flare up”. Here is the smorgasbord of symptoms:
- The worst: Unexplained rashes, lesions, and open wounds on my scalp, face, neck, chest, arms, and torso. They were both extremely painful and deeply, unbearably itchy:
I know. Weird and gross.
Here’s the rest:
- Almost total hair loss, including my eyebrows and eyelashes.
- Numbness and pain from my right shoulder blade and neck down to the fingers of my right hand; there were a few times I couldn’t even lift my head without using my hands to prop it up.
- Extreme swelling from head to toe. Sometimes I couldn’t fit my glasses on my face, let alone get into my pants; on occasion I would gain up to 10 lbs overnight in fluid retention.
- Extremely limited digestive function (this was ongoing for years). People kept asking me if I was pregnant because I looked about 5 months along. I experienced extreme pain any time I ate, even in small amounts.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but a big piece of the puzzle was my digestive system. When I began to notice an unwelcome change in my waistline at the ripe old age of 33, I thought it was just due to “getting older”. As you can see, I began without a clue. I’m now 44, and it is freaking
With that established, let’s move on…..
I went to a series of doctors over the course of several years, starting with general practitioners, then allergy specialists and dermatologists, each referring me to the next specialist. I ended up with the following list of prescriptions:
- Oral steroids (Methylprednisolone packs + extra tablets)
- Topical Steroids (Clobetasol ointment for body and Clobetasol solution on scalp)
- Valium (Yeah, I was a little upset)
- Lexapro (and depressed – took it once and hours later was crying and yelling at my husband for no reason; threw it out the next day)
- Antibiotics (Amoxicillin to prevent infection of all the open rashes and wounds)
- Trazodone (supposedly so I could sleep at night – quit this one after a month or so)
- Anti-histamine (Hydroxyzine – slightly better than Benadryl as I was able to stay awake while driving :/)
- And the very last prescription: Risperdal!!!???? (never took it; stay tuned to this blog and you’ll see why)
I initially trusted this cornucopeia of prescription drugs to save me. After repeated flare ups that began arriving closer together (instead of every few months they became almost constant) I realized that whatever “it” was, it was worsening each time I took another round of steroids. I became desperate. I was afraid that I would end up unfit to go out in public, or dead.
I turned away from the path I was on with only a seed of faith that I could make it out alive.
You can read all about it in my next blog post: The Smorgasbord of Symptoms and the Prescription Cornucopeia: Part 2
Thanks for reading!
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- Dannelle LeBlanc