Suffering from progressively worsening symptoms for 5 years
I'm a 29 year old male, started having odd symptoms that I didn't think were related when I was 25.
I'm former military and I think a lot of the symptoms started after Iraq, although depression, stress, emotional problems and insomnia started in basic training, when I was 23. I've always been a loud snorer, but I started suffering from sleep apnea around this time.
I don't have PTSD but I did start having minor panic attacks, increased depression and insomnia in basic that got worse during and after Iraq.
about 6 months after I returned from Iraq, I started getting dry, flaky skin, and acne on my upper arms, back, and forehead. I started getting muscle aches that eventually lead to bursitis and tendonitis in my left hip, a year later it spread to my right hip and lower back. My muscles always seemed to be stiff and sore, and I required (and still require) constant stretching just to mantain basic mobility. I haven't been able to run since I was 26, as the joint pain in my hips and muscles stiffness/weakness have made it impossible to even walk more than a mile a day.
In Iraq when I was 25, I was diagnosed as having intermittent high blood pressure, but that has since gone away.
Now I have extremely high cholesterol (higher than can be accounted for just from lack of exercise). I also have occasional hypoglycemic episodes, and although I've had them since childhood, now they are more regular and more severe.
During Iraq (again, when I was 25, deployment was from sept. 2005-sept. 2006), I noticed that my hair started growing thinner and that my hairline was rapidly receding. I also noticed my body hair was growing in thicker, darker, and yet more sparsely. The hair on my upper arms now grows in sparse patches, with individual hairs being thick, dark and long. I have kidney patches and the hair on the back of my neck and the upper part of my back also grows thick and long. I also have a dark patch of skin on the back of my leg where hair grows especially thick and long.
When I was 28 my abdomen began to feel sensitive. I suffered from clostridium(sp?) which went away with antibiotics, but after that my abdomen became even more sensitive. I began to suffer from frequent bloating and abdominal pain, as well as having irregular bowel movements. I now suffer from constant (and often severe) abdominal pain, bloating, irregular bowel movements (sometimes infreqent, but more often very frequent- 5-6 times a day), diarrhea and loose stools.
When I was 27 I started to get fat on my abdomen even though I had a regular workout routine and frequently ran and lifted weights. Ever since then I've been steadily gaining weight, but only in the abdomen, upper back, face, and neck. My arms and legs have no fat on them. In 2007 (when I was 25) I weighed a healthy 175. Since then my weight has steadily risen to a now-current 214. in 2010 (28 years old), I started what would be a 6 month long workout routine, but never lost more than 7 pounds. I had to stop when my abdominal pain and muscle and joint pain became to painful to work though.
Although I haven't lost most of my muscle mass, I feel very weak. Walking up stairs, lifting myself up from a sitting position, and anything that requires upper leg strength has become difficult. Sometimes it seems difficult to grasp and hold things, and my hands feel like they're swollen. I had rheumatic fever when I was nine (a case of strep throat gone undetected), and the feeling of swollen fingers I have now is very similar to what I had then.
I also have mild goiter (confirmed through a sonogram), and my thyroid frequently hurts, as well as the area under my jaw between my thyroid to below my earlobe.
I've had my thyroid checked about 4 times over the last 2 years, and although it was in the "low" range of normal one time last year, it's been regular for the most part. I've had basic endocrine tests done (checking for Hashimoto's, thyroditus, etc.) but each time the test results have come back normal. I did go to an endocrinologist who recommended I get what I believe was a cortisol absorption test (?), but never got it done do to the expense. I'm in the process of doing a urine test for heavy metals (in case I was exposed to anything in Iraq), although I anticipate the results will be negative.
Overall, in my humble non-medical opinion, this seems like an endocrine problem. None of my major symptoms were precipitated by physical injuries, and espeically the muscle and joint pain seem like they would go away if I could just get my muscles to relax (additional note on this- I've had steroid injections since I was 27, mostly in the bursae, but also one epidural. They helped in the beginning but later on they seemed to have no effect- sometimes, they seemed to make the problem worse. I've also been given muscle relaxers, these also seem to have no effect).
TESTOSTERONE,TOTAL,MALES Received -QuestHub 380
CBC (INCLUDES DIFF/PLT) Received -QuestHub Normal
COMPREHENSIVE METABOLIC PANEL Received -QuestHub Normal
T4, FREE Received -QuestHub Normal
TSH, 3RD GENERATION Received -QuestHub Normal
T3, FREE Received -QuestHub Normal
THYROID PEROXIDASE ANTIBODIES Received -QuestHub Normal
THYROGLOBULIN ANTIBODIES Received -QuestHub Normal
[ T4, FREE Received -QuestHub Normal
TSH, 3RD GENERATION Received -QuestHub Normal
T3, FREE Received -QuestHub Normal ]
- No numbers there. You need proper lab results, which they did NOT provide. Numbers with the ranges, as thyroid test ranges vary with the brand of machine used at the lab. Only then can you rule out thyroid. So, request to see the numbers, its your legal right in the U.S.
There is all kinds of proof from people really messed up that have T3 very low but still "in range". Degrees of illness are sometimes not black and white, its not a light switch. Thyroid falls into this area.
Thanks for that info. There are actually nunbers, I didn't copy-past them as they are each on a separate page. I'll write them down here though. As for the lab testing equimpent I'll try to find out what brand they were using. It is worth noting that I've been tested for thyroid at the VA hospital in Leavenworth, KS, the VA hospital in Dallas, TX, and a civilian doctor in Dallas, TX. I can't pull up the results from the VA, but those have been "normal" too, witch one exception which was "low normal".
OK, your thyroid labs look pretty good. I see no conversion issue there.
People with Hoshimoto actually on thyroid med sometimes feel better in the top of the ranges, just the way we are, but for someone without Hashimoto you look good. The lab would have correlated the ranges with their brand of test instrumentation - no need to ask them.
The antibodie test have limits, not ranges, and you were less than the acceptable limit - good to know.
Since you mentioned you were low in range in the past, keep an eye on this in the future.
You might have several thing going on. Only other things I can think of is :
The body pain and digestive issues can / do have things in common with some people. Have you limited certain food groups for several weeks at all to see if you have any food in tolerances like gluten or lactose? Inflamed intestines from certain foods can wreck havoc on the whole body with some individuals, allowing the intestines to leak at the micro level (called leaky gut), causing body pain and general illness.
Have you had a vitamin D3 test called D-25 done? With B12 also? Red Blood Cell Magnessium *(RBM)? Western blot for Lymes?
It would be interesting to see if a very high quality magnessium glycinate taken before sleep would help with digestive/nerve/body pain as it does with many, and it cant do any harm. The brand is KAL for mag-glycinate. Magnesium oxide, very common, does nothing, its just a laxative..
I really appreciate all the help. You've given me a bit to go on. I am vitamin D3 deficient, I take 2,000 IU a day.
One thing I heard from someone is that I might have excess cortisol due to constant stress?
I realized after I posted my initial question that I didn't include a lot of the cognitive issues that have come up, as well as the general fatigue I've experienced (I had an especially bad 6-8 month period that hit 4 months after Iraq in which I would have to sleep 14 hours a day and I'd still feel tired).
These include; frequent headaches, very poor short-term memory,paranoia, increased depression, aphasia, and severe insomnia (I take 30 mg. of temazapam and 100 of trazadone a night just to get to sleep). It's impossible for me to fall asleep without taking these. It's also really hard for me to relax my mind in general.
Sounds like Gulf War Syndrome, which I'm sure the VA would tell you doesn't exist. You should really google The Institute for Molecular Medicine. I've had similar issues for over 40 years, believe me, you don't want to live with it that long. Mine began shortly after the AF gave us typhoid vaccines in the 1960's after a minor flood in my hometown. I was only 11 and things started soon after that vaccine.
I just got enrolled in the Gulf War Registry last month. I'm trying to get a referral to the WRIISC center but so far haven't had much luck. Gulf war syndrome is a distinct possibility, but I'm not really sure how to go about confirming that or what I should do to treat it. Besides the IMM, can you recommend any resources?
Oh, I forgot to mention; no food allergies have been found. I do have hypoglycemic episodes though, and these are precipitated by skipping a meal or having coffee.
I also forgot to mention that I had kidney stones over Christmas week 2011.
I believe you are on the right track LazyMoose by being in this forum and taking charge of your own health like you are! I wanted to tell you something non medical though, Thank you for your Service to our Country and its Citizens! I am going to say a prayer that you find the answers you need to be back in a healthy place again. You are a young man and once you get this all figured out, the wind will be at your back!
Continuous stress can elevate cortisol levels, its the natural instinct in us.
An Md will measure this with a blood draw in the AM and PM with corealating ranges that are different. Ins covers this, but it only detects extreme cases.
An Naturalpath Dr or Chiro that dabbles in this area will order what is called a 24 hr saliva adrenal test, for testing four times throughout the day. It is then sent out to a lab, results are returned in a week or so. Ins does not cover this, but it can be more useful in determining the 'gray' area that is termed adrenal fatigue.
Note : adrenal fatigue is not just low cortisol, its what happens when the adrenal glands are stressed and show unbalanced high and low levels opposite of what you should have for different times throughout 24 hrs.
Don't assume that if they find something wrong with your endocrine system that that's all there is to it. That may be just one part of your puzzle. Definitley read up on Garth Nicholson's work on Mycoplasma infection.
Look carefully at your family history for clues and ask to be tested for mycoplasma infection. If you are positive and if you also have autoimmune disease you may need to go on a longer than normal course of antibiotics. I have been on augmentin for a few months and feel better now than I did prior. Even though I have autoimmune disease, I aslo have Specific Antibody Deficiency - dx'd after weak response to pneumovax23 by a clinical immunologist.
I have autonomic nervous system abnormalities (look up dysautonomia), hormonal imbalances (cortisol, and other), autoimmune disease, muscle pain, joint pain, etc. etc. These symptoms have progressed over the years and I was not properly diagnosed until the last couple of years. Until then most of my symptoms were attributed to fibromyalgia. It wasn't until I went to a clinic for dysautonomia that I got refferals to specialists that ordered the tests I needed.
1 1/2 years ago I had to stop working for a few weeks when it got very bad that's when I tested postive for mycoplasma infection. Since then I was diagnosed with Sjogren's. My brother also has sjogren's.
Do your research, find Dr.s that listen and trust your gut.
God bless and good luck to you. It may take patience and perserverance to get answers.
They're a little bit better than that, but actually only PA's. It is next to impossible to get referred to a specialty clinic unless something is glaringly, obviously wrong. I've been trying to get them to send me to an endocrinologist for the past year and a half with no luck.
GWI is very likely, as mentioned earlier.
You have to find an LLMD or check with Dr.Garth Nicolson at immed.org.
There are not too many other MDs outside those that can treat this.
You need to get testing done with IGenex Labs only. They are the only labs that can do a complete Mycoplasma,Borrelia and co-infections Panel.
The rest are still in the dark ages in this field.
The sooner you rule this out the better, as a successful treatment requires your immune system's participation. A weak or compromised immune system, will keep you in limbo. There's a standard treatment with abx,however, they only have bacteriostatic action against the infectious agent, not bacteriocidal. While static only a strong immune system can eventually locate the pathogen, tag it and get it destroyed.
Just like war,-lol!- and the enemy is almost invisible!
Wishing you well.
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