Candid with an "A"

I've been working on this post for weeks. This may be alot of info to read, but I really want to share it in case it helps someone else. Since being diagnosed, I've found two other women who also have my condition. And my friend Andrea and I have marveled at the likeness of our symptoms. Both of our homeopathic doctors pretty much gave us the same diagnosis. She has been able to visit a rheumatologist, and you can read that info here. We're assuming a rheumatologist will give me the same info.

As I've mentioned in a few posts, I've had some health issues over the last few months. Actually, the issues have been going on for several years. But no doctor could piece my symptoms together into a diagnosis. A brief recap of the last few years....we discovered through visiting a GI, rheumatologist, general practitioner, and homeopatic doctor that I had developed a high gluten intolerance, adrenal gland fatigue, and random occurrences of blue hands (suggested to be Reynaud's Phenomenon). I am embarrassed to admit that I ignored the gluten intolerance because I didn't think I ate that much wheat.

Well, fast forward to summer and fall 2011. In an effort please Caroline's palate, I was making all sorts of asian noodle dishes. And I was eating them too. And within a month, I could tell that something was not right. My immune system seemed to be shutting down. Scott and I even thought I might have lupus. Here are just a few of the symptoms I experienced:
  • bloating and digestive problems
  • mouth ulcers called "thrush"
  • yeast infections that would not respond to treatment (often one of the last symptoms to appear)
  • puffy eyes and eye infections
  • chronic fatigue that was worse than ever
  • sadness and depression (which had surfaced in May)
  • joint pain
  • peeling nails
  • brain fog
  • memory problems
  • unexplained weight gain (due to underactive thyroid)
  • various other issues that would pop up
I couldn't get into the rheumatologist without seeing my general doctor first (which I didn't have time to do). In the meantime, I got an appointment with a highly recommended Christian homeopathic doctor (Dee Baudoin) who scans your body with a hand cradle scan that sends data to a computer. She was the first person in years to put all of my symptoms together into one diagnosis. I knew it all had to be connected!

The conclusion? I have a severe form of candida albicans called candidiasis...essentially an auto-immune disease. All men and women have candida albicans (yeast) naturally in their body. Sometimes it gets out of balance and you might develop a yeast infection or thrush (happens alot when nursing babies.) However, sometimes the yeast can begin growing too rapidly and begin causing major problems .Growing mostly in your intestinal track, it can trigger food intolerances, most commonly to gluten. As your body begins failing to properly digest the gluten, it ferments into toxins, causes microscopic tears in your intestinal linining, and leaks out to your body (nicknamed "leaky gut"). The main toxin is akin to formaldehyde and is the toxin that decomposes bodies after death. So essentially, your body begins breaking itself down! Hence the immune issues. Candidiasis, if left untreated, can lead to multiple organ failure, and is detrimental for people who already suffer immune issues (such as HIV patients, etc.)

How does this disease develop? It can happen after pregnancies, extreme diets, bites from ticks or insects (lyme disease), overuse of prescription antibiotics, diabetes, birth control use, etc. There has also been a connection to previous users of Acutane.

Many doctors are not educated about candidiasis or how to diagnosis it, mainly because there is no pharmaceutical drug to treat it. And medical research is driven by pharmaceutical companies. However, our obgyn specialist said that there are some theories that candida is the root of many diseases since it causes the immune system to be so vulnerable.

How to cure it? Unfortunately, this is the tough part. You can take anti-fungal antibiotics for a time. But in order to get rid of the yeast overgrowth, you literally have to starve it. So here is the list of items you must cut from your diet:
  • gluten
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • fruit
  • sugar
  • dairy
So you CAN eat meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds. But of these, you can't have:
  • potatoes, carrots, mushrooms,
  • peanuts or peanut butter
  • cured or smoked meats or deli meat
In other words, I am starving!! And as you can imagine, it is doubly hard to eat from this limited menu when I have pregnancy cravings and aversions. Sometimes broccoli and hummus just don't cut it. On the occasions when I have cheated, I have a yeast infection within FOUR hours (and this is an ailment I've never struggled with before) and often experience other consequences as well. Pregnancy hormones actually encourage growth of yeast, so that's one strike against my healing. I am still in awe that this baby is thriving in my toxic wasteland of a body!

Here are a few links if you want more info. Many individuals feel like hypochondriacs because they experience such a vast array of symptoms. If what I've written about here sounds familiar, if numerous doctors' visits have proven no answers or relief, rest assured that you're not crazy! And there's something you can do about it.

So this is probably WAY more info than you ever wanted to know about me. But based on my reading and research, there are tons of women (and even men) who suffer from this disease and don't know about it. Feel free to email me if you want to discuss more. I've been discovering lots of great gluten-free products and recipes and would be happy to share!


The Mom said...

If you have a Whole Foods anywhere near you, I suggest you run there immediately. They usually have an in-house nutrition consultant who can direct you to a whole array and host of foods, fresh and frozen, that you will be able to eat. They will also have Gluten Free recipes and products galore. My friends who have suffered from severe Gluten allergies have found Whole Foods to be a great blessing; it has opened up culinary horizons for them. In some areas Whole Foods even has online shopping. I usually do not promote a grocery store chain, but these folks specialize in working with dietary issues. Glad that you are listening to your body...may the Lord continue to lead you into His complete healing.

Eileen said...

Oh, I'm sorry. That sounds so hard. I thought for sure you were going to say Addison's Disease. First, because of the "A" in the title and second, because a dear friend of ours, who also has suffered with gluten intolerance, became gravely ill and was finally diagnosed with Addison's. Apparently there's a connection with the gluten issues.

At any rate, glad you got a diagnosis. Best wishes with the rest of your pregnancy.

Brooke said...

I am blog friends with a lady name Kim from 3peanuts.blogspot.com- She does a very high gluten free diet and I'm sure would be willing to offer you some advice or yummy recipes. I'll be praying for you and your sweet family! :) xoxo Brooke

Georgene said...

I love your blog and just wanted to comment. My daughter had systemic candida and was put on a wonderful product called CANDEX. You can purchase this at many health food stores or purchase online. She also cut out white flour and white sugar products. It worked like a charm and very quickly too. Hope you find relief. Your family is just beautiful.

Paige said...

Wow, I am so glad you shared this. My neighbor has been suffering symptoms like this for the last year and her doctors can't quite figure out what to do. I am going to call her in the morning to share. May the Lord bless that precious miracle growing inside of you as you handle the medical side of things. You have a beautiful family. God bless.

Penny said...

Kelly, buy the book "Gut and Psychology Syndrome" by Natasha Campbell McBride. The "GAPS diet" is specifically for people with leaky gut and yeast overgrowth issues (which includes many kids with autism, the focus of her book, but the info will be helpful just the same). Also, visit pecanbread.org and westonprice.org .

christindeas said...

Hi Kelley, I was catching up on your blog and came across this post. This is what I first got diagnosed with when I got sick so I feel your pain. Finding out was a relief in the sense of I wasn't going crazy. It takes awhile to adapt to the diet--but is now more second nature. Love to you in the process. And you're expecting..congratulations!!

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