This has been a year that I will be happy to bid farewell! I’m sure that many of you are feeling the same! If you have been following me on Facebook or Instagram for any amount of time, then you already know that in addition to getting slammed pretty hard by Hurricane Laura, I have also been dealing with some strange, unexplainable health challenges since January, when I became extremely sick with what I assumed at the time was the flu. My doctors now believe that I am dealing with some long lasting effects of Covid-19 that have triggered an undiagnosed auto-immune disease.
Did I Have Covid?
We really don’t know for certain that I even had Covid-19. My daughter and I both became extremely sick in January. At that time nobody in our country had even heard of the Corona Virus or Covid-19. I just assumed that we both had the flu, and she recovered much faster than me. I was in bed feeling like I was literally dying for at least ten days, begging for any kind of nighttime medicine that would just make me sleep.
Once I stopped running fever and actually felt like getting out of bed and half-way brushing my hair, I thought things were beginning to get better, but they didn’t. For several months I was unable to even make it until lunch before needing to take a nap. And I am ashamed to admit to you how many times I almost fell asleep driving ten miles down the road to pick up my girls from school in the afternoons. To say that I was fatigued is an understatement.
A Long List of Problems
I later began experiencing some severe muscle and joint pain, and when I say severe I mean debilitating. I was unable to perform simple tasks such as reaching over and picking up a glass of water to take a drink, or even reaching up to brush my hair. Making it through a simple day at home was nearly impossible. And you could forget me even trying to cook supper, feed animals, or do laundry.
My doctor ordered a sleep study back in February, and by March I was diagnosed with severe Sleep Apnea. They gave me a CPAP machine to sleep, and that definitely helped me to stop falling asleep standing up, but I was still weak and fatigued. I just never felt well, and I was tired of not feeling well.
By July I was adding neurological symptoms to my growing list of problems. I began having ocular migraines which was accompanied by seeing flashing little lights in the corners of my eyes. I began experiencing foggy brain, slurred speech, and confusion. My eyes began darting from left to right, and I was having trouble walking because the ground appeared to be higher than it really was. At this points we are talking MONTHS of unexplainable health challenges that began to make me feel like giving up.
Blood tests showed that I had a high level antibodies present, but everything I was being tested for came back negative. I was negative for MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and whatever else they tested me for. At this point the list was long, and while I was thankful that I did not have any of these auto-immune diseases, I was getting frustrated that I still didn’t have any answers.
My doctor finally referred me to a Rheumatologist who had diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia before he ever even walked into the exam room to meet me. He prescribed me a prescription for Gabapentin which is actually an anti-seizure medication, and then sent me home. One week into taking this medication I began having severe side-effects and stopped taking it. I felt like my Rheumatologist dismissed my concerns before he ever even talked to me. It was very discouraging to say the least.
Somewhere along the way I began to realize that some of the foods that I was eating were making me feel bad as well. I asked my doctor to test me for Celiac disease, and when I got my results back it was a little confusing. One of the tests he ran came back positive, and one of the tests was negative. He then suggested that I remove gluten from my diet for six weeks and then reintroduce it to my system to see what happens. Needless to say I reacted to it immediately. Before I could even finish my meal my eyes were crossing, I had double vision and an ocular migraine, and I couldn’t speak without getting confused and losing my words. At this point we realized that gluten was a problem for me… or so I thought.
Removing gluten wasn’t enough though, so I kept going back to my doctor asking him to run more tests. What other foods could be causing a problem for me? Why were there such a high level of antibodies present on my ANA blood tests, but yet everything they tested me for that could be causing my body to react with an autoimmune response was coming back negative?
Turns out that I am pretty much allergic to every single thing they tested me for. My blood work showed a high level of antibodies to every single food they tested me for other than soy. I am allergic to corn, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat, beef, chicken, dairy, eggs, chocolate, apples, and oranges. Luckily only three of these foods scored high enough for me to need to pay attention to immediately. Wheat, dairy and beef were the three foods that I am highly allergic to. Everything else was lower on the list, so my doctors told me that I would probably be able to still tolerate them in small amounts.
Wheat, dairy and beef, however are the three that are most likely causing me problems. It may not even be the gluten at all, which is a good thing because that would mean I could still eat barley and rye. Luckily I do not have Celiac disease, but I am highly allergic to wheat. And I didn’t even know that someone could be allergic to beef. This one has thrown me a curve ball for sure. Being allergic to dairy (not to be confused with lactose intolerance because it is not the same thing) didn’t surprise me because my daughter Peyton is also allergic. She and I both have cut out ice cream and milk for quite a while now. We are still able to tolerate some cheeses and sour cream in small amounts thank goodness!
Wheat, Dairy, and Beef Free Diet
I am not feeling 100% myself, but I will say that cutting out gluten (wheat) has been much easier than I thought it would be. We have also found it pretty easy to cut out dairy because we have been able to find quite a few alternatives. But I have yet to begin cutting out beef. I know I need to, but I’m almost afraid that if I do I will never be able to eat it again without a major reaction to it like I had when I reintroduced gluten (wheat) back into my system. There is only so much chicken a girl can eat y’all. But that might be what I have to tackle next in order to start feeling better.
Undiagnosed Auto-Immune Disease
I’m not sure why my body is showing high levels of antibodies in my blood test results, but my doctor believes that my body is reacting to a viral infection that I had in January (most likely Covid) with an auto-immune response. I am definitely dealing with an auto-immune issue that is triggered by the foods that I eat, but so far we do not have an actual diagnosis other than food allergies. Unfortunately when I eat foods that I am allergic to, my body attacks itself causing mostly neurological symptoms rather than digestive symptoms. I have developed an undiagnosed auto-immune disease that is triggered by foods that I am allergic to… foods that I have eaten my entire life but am no longer able to. It is all so confusing to me, but I am learning to listen to my body and let my body tell me what foods are a problem for me. I may not have a complete diagnosis, but I have answers and a plan of action even if it did take me nine months to get there.
More About Covid
I want to point out that I have no idea if I truly had Covid-19 when I was sick in January. I went to the doctor several months later to have the antibodies test run because I had heard on the news that this test was available. My antibodies test came back negative. However… my doctor told me that it is possible that it came back negative simply because several months had passed, and the antibodies were no longer present. He also told me that “those tests were crap!” Those were his exact words, not mine. All I know is that if I had the flu, it was the worst case of the flu I had ever had in my life. I ran extremely high fever for days and days, and my cough seemed like it would never end. We are operating under the assumption that I did, in fact, have Covid in January. But since there was no way to get tested at that time, we may never truly know. Even if it was simply the flu, we know that for whatever reason, this time my body decided to respond with an auto-immune response.