I'm not necessarily asking any questions here; this is more of an overview so that I can gather my thoughts before my appointment on Monday. Although, if anyone has any advice, information, or anything at all to add, please feel free.
My first memorable symptom started about 3.5 years ago, right before my 23rd birthday. It was erectile dysfunction. I did not treat it as a serious sign of anything. I basically assumed it was my fault, like nervousness or something. Soon, I realized it had nothing to do with any perceived social pressures as the problem persisted even when I was alone. I tried Zinc and Saw Palmetto everyday for the next year or so, with no results.
Eventually, this condition wore my mind down and I had a very strong bout with anxiety attacks. After 3 weeks of barely being able to function I finally saw a doctor. Stupidly, I did not tell him about my ED. He prescribed me Zoloft with very few questions asked and I proceeded to take the drug for the next few months. Miraculously, my sexual function was restored, albeit with minimal sensation and a difficulty achieving orgasm. I did not mind. Suddenly, I felt like a young man again.
During those months, I started to notice lots of random neurological symptoms. My legs would fall alseep at the slightest bit of constriction. Pain in one eye. A general off-balanced/lightheaded feeling. Extremely cold hands/feet even during activity. Very painful pins and needles feeling on my chest after a shower or during a workout. Sharp, stabbing pains in isolated places all over my body. A mysterious injury to the heel of my foot, that resulted in a burning sensation when my leg was stretched.
Eventually, I made it back to the doctor who prescribed the Zoloft. He listened to my complaints, told me I had plantar fascitis and that everything else was just a side effect of my anxiety, and that "at some point you have to play the cards you are dealt." I left his office feeling so cheated. I believed I was being sent away because I didn't have health insurance. Now, I just presume he had made the assumption that I was a hypochondriac. I calm my contempt for this situation by blaming myself for starting the doctor/patient relationship off without being forthright with all of my symptoms on the first visit. Would this have changed anything? I don't know, but my own irresponsibility haunts me to this day.
After my initial anger, I decided to stop taking the Zoloft. If all of my problems really were in my head, I was going to fix that by getting back to the way things were when I didn't have any problems. No drugs, no side effects. My ED returned immediately, and no relief was found for the neurological symptoms. For several months, I was depressed. Summer came and I was feeling much better, as seems to be the case every year. Fatigue and pain levels always seem to decrease with the mild Pacific Northwest summer.
Around August of 2009, I started noticing urinary symptoms, as in a burning sensation before, during, and after using the bathroom. Tell anyone this, and they automatically assume STD. The problem with that diagnosis is the huge gap that occurred between my symptoms and the last time I had sex. A month went by and the urinary symptoms worsened. Feeling like I never wanted to waste my time/money/hope on a doctor again, I started researching the internet for what was wrong with me. Anyone who has been down that road before knows just how dark that place is. I settled on prostatitis. It didn't make sense for me to have BPH for no specific reason at such a young age, but I was 90% sure I didn't have an STD. Upon researching prostatitis causes that could potentially suit me, I stumbled upon the old Candida factory of websites. It scared the heck out of me enough to see a doctor, because I didn't want to believe that I had something seemingly so impossible to cure.
I started calling offices to establish a new primary care provider, only to get "We aren't accepting non-insured new patients at this time....blah blah blah" each and every time. I finally settled on Planned Parenthood, when I realized they do have a (very limited) men's health service and they could get me seen within a matter of days. So I was seen by a clinician and I made sure to tell her everything. I was not going to make the same mistake twice. I even mentioned my fears of a systemic Candida outbreak. She took a look at me and said it didn't look like yeast to her, but she prescribed me a cream anyways. Needless to say, it didn't work. I also got a general STD test which came back negative. With another failed doctor visit upon me, I delved deeper into the Candida abyss.
I was desperate at this point. The things I read said how difficult a yeast infection was to treat, especially in males. Diet was key. I went full bore into an anti-yeast diet. No sugar, no caffeine, organic meats only, extremely low carb intake. Immediately, I got sick, but that was a good thing, because they tell you that's just the yeast "dying off." So I stuck with it. I bought tons of supplements. Probiotics, natural antifungals, threelac, etc. My gut started working better than ever. After three months of depriving myself of every vice I ever enjoyed, I realized that I wasn't making headway in the areas that I initially set out to improve. I stopped the diet almost completely cold turkey. Just another in a long line of mistakes I have made concerning my health.
The urinary symptoms continually worsened. I decided to take a break from trying to cure myself. To see if I could free my mind of everything. Maybe if I stopped worrying about it, it would all go away. I started working on improving thought-processes, and not allowing myself to dwell on the way things were. I tried to start exercising more. Before these things started happening to me I was extremely active, and was always motivated to play sports and stay in shape. I knew that my levels of activity had dipped to an all-time low, but I didn't attribute it to anything besides the weak mental state I had been in for so long. As I started a routine, I realized that I wasn't just out of shape and depressed. There were major physical factors contributing to my lack of exercise. It started with pounding headaches as soon as I started to work up a sweat. Those calmed down, but never went away completely. Next, I noticed swelling in my legs. When jogging, my calves would get extremely heavy and if I tried to fight through it my feet would go numb. Thirdly, on days when the other two things weren't bothering me, my back was. Eventually, after 6 or 7 weeks of training I gave up my goal of participating in the 12k run my town puts on every year.
As the yeast experiment had died, I decided to return to Planned Parenthood. I knew yeast wasn't my problem, and an STD wasn't my problem. Could it be a UTI? I went back with this theory in mind. The symptoms matched, but she wasn't convinced because of my age. She did a culture anyways that came back negative. She gave me antibiotics that treat "some urinary problems." They did not work.