“It’s not what you know, but who you know.”
Having seen the urgent care doctor not once, but twice…and having seen a vascular surgeon who told me my leg pain and dysfunction resulted from a “lack of exercise” for one week when I was sick with flu…I was determined to get a second opinion. Turns out I needed a third.
A friend from church contacted me. One of his colleagues at work was the son of an orthopaedic surgeon here in Albuquerque. He provided me with the contact information…and the assurance that this doctor could see me right away. I made the call and was at his medical office the next day. By this time, I was using the wheelchair at all times. Kirsten drove me to the appointment and helped me navigate the parking lot, sidewalk and main entrance. I was seen within minutes of arriving.
The doctor asked me to describe what had happened since all this began. He indicated that the swelling and pain in my knees and ankles were not the result of influenza…and certainly not from a lack of exercise. I work out at the gym three afternoons a week and hike in the Sandia mountains three mornings a week…at least I did before January 9 (read my previous post,”I cannot walk”). He then asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you describe the pain?” Without trying to exaggerate, I told him the pain was definitely a 30. He said that x-rays were needed so he could see what was going on. I was in the x-ray room moments later…and back in his office within 20 minutes.
“Bruce, your joints look absolutely great. If I did not see you in the wheelchair…and the swelling in you legs…then I would think these x-rays are from one of the healthiest 56 year old men I have ever examined. There’s something else going on here.” I was relieved and perplexed at the same time. I was relieved that the x-rays looked good…perplexed as to what in the world could be going on with my body.
Friends from far and wide had already been praying for me. Many of them worked in various medical fields. Some of them offered unsolicited diagnoses from afar…and I know they were offered in love and kindness. I was told that I should be checked for cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, lyme disease, lupus, reactive arthritis and septic arthritis. One friend, whom I had known since high school, told me about someone who had similar symptoms caused by fifth disease.
Fifth disease. Back in December my grandsons were sick with fever and congestion. They had the “slapped cheek” redness on their faces. The pediatrician told my daughter that it looked like fifth disease. They were better in a few days. Children usually bounce back from this illness with no problems. Kirsten and I are blessed to see our grandsons on a regular basis as they live in town. We worship together at church each Sunday. We had spent a lovely Christmas Day together before all this began.
I did online research on fifth disease. Turns out that while children get over the illness rather quickly and without complication, adults who never contracted the disease in childhood can have severe reactions if it infects them later in life. At the same time, another friend who lives far away suggested that I should find a doctor in Albuquerque who deals with lyme disease and other illnesses that are caused by inflammation. I was told to look for a physician who is a member of ILADS…the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society. As it turned out, the only doctor I could find in the area who is a member of ILADS has an office just two blocks from my office. In fact, I had seen her name a thousand times on the sign outside her clinic driving back and forth to work. Little did I know that her medical care and expertise would get me out of the wheelchair and back on my feet. I called her office and made an appointment for the next day.
My first meeting with this doctor was comforting and helpful. She said that I needed to get off the tramadol. She prescribed 800 mg ibuprofen…only to be used until the pain subsided. She indicated that most doctors would call for a cocktail of various antibiotics…what she referred to as “slop”…but that she would not be doing so. Instead, she put me on a strict anti-inflammatory diet…gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free and dairy-free. She wrote up an order for extensive blood and urine tests to be done. When the results came back, the levels of mercury, lead and aluminum in my body were abnormally high. So I was told to get rid of my antiperspirant and start using all natural deodorant. I was told to stop drinking tap water and consume only filtered water that is free of contaminants. I was also told that the only seafood I could consume would be wild caught Alaskan salmon…but no more than once a week.
And if you are thinking that this doctor is some quack…or that she clearly is some granola-hippie here in the “Land of Enchantment”…you need to know that she is a renown neurosurgeon who does brain surgeries two to three days per week at our local university hospital in addition to having her private practice near my office. She takes the best of western medicine and combines it with the best of non-traditional medicine as well. Unlike some who only embrace one school of thought and treatment, she looks for the wisdom to be gained from the larger body of information and research.
So I began this new way of eating and drinking on February 4. Since then, I have lost 45 pounds. I feel stronger and healthier than ever. As I post this, I just returned from a five mile hike in the mountains…which felt like a walk in the park.
I’m thankful…for the people I know who pointed me in the right direction when I was in a very dark and painful place. I have learned so much these past six months…about nutrition, prevention, prayer, hope, grace and love. I look forward to sharing this with you…next time.