Last night I was looking at my cat, Sophie. She was curled up next to me and sleeping so peacefully. I found myself thinking back four years ago when she entered my life. Word was coming out of our local shelter that Sophie was going to be euthanized because she was so ill. She was only three years old at the time and had spent the previous two years in a crate in the medical quarantine trailer…she had never seen the adoption floor. A friend of mine put in a good word to the staff at the shelter to trust me since they don’t adopt out sick animals, and so I was permitted to see Sophie. She was covered in bloody sores from head to toe, her fur was falling out, and she was sporting a cone. Despite her awful appearance, Sophie locked eyes with me when they brought her crate into the main shelter area. As they opened the doors she never broke her gaze as she crawled out of the crate and into my lap. She looked up at me, and her little face just spoke to me… “Please save me, please…get me out of here”.
I asked what was wrong with her and was told they didn’t really know. She had been seen by four area veterinarian clinics and all they could come up with was she had an auto-immune disease as her ears constantly were turning bright red. They were continually applying steroids, and had since she arrived two years prior. As sick as she was, I didn’t care. I wanted to give her one last chance, and I had great confidence in my vet. I adopted her and took her home.
Unfortunately my vet failed Sophie as well, diagnosing her with a food allergy. After one week, a friend of mine agreed with me something wasn’t right, and offered to take her to yet another vet that another friend of hers used. I agreed and Sophie was seen that same day. In less than five minutes the new clinic diagnosed her with ringworm. She had contracted it in the shelter and had it so bad she lit up like a glow-worm under a woods lamp. All of the steroids tipped her immune system in favor of the ringworm. She was so sick she was literally only a few weeks from death.
Sophie in recovery at a Wildlife Rescue
Sophie spent the next six weeks at a local wildlife rehabilitation center receiving care that was above my knowledge. I visited her regularly and at the end was able to take her home, where she made a complete recovery. Shortly after that I discovered the redness in her ears, the initial problem the shelter spoke about and diagnosed as auto-immune, also presented on the pads of her feet. It didn’t take long for me to see this was happening every time Sophie was happy or angry. Sophie didn’t have an autoimmune, Sophie was filled with emotion!
None of the other vets bothered to check her for something so obvious. When I think about all of this I can’t help reflect on my own health history. I’ve been misdiagnosed as well, and I’ve spent several years of my own life left out of activities, sat at home, and felt like there was no hope. I’ve seen just about every type of specialist at some of the best clinics in the country. All of this with no luck.
I lost faith in western medicine and I turned to alternative medicine seeing a homeopathic M.D. and then an acupuncturist. The only improvement I saw was getting off all the medications the previous doctors had put me on. A huge step in the right direction, but still no improvements in my symptoms. Out of total desperation I turned to the internet and started doing all my own research, and that’s when I found my first person…Alison St. Sure.
After one of thousands of Google searches I stumbled on an article Alison had written about gluten and sleep. Alison has Celiac Disease and has a site, Sure Foods Living, devoted to Celiac, gluten and food related issues. She talked about sleep paralysis and until that moment I hadn’t realized one of my symptoms had a name. Intrigued I looked through her site from one end to another and found a section about her symptoms before a gluten-free diet. I had 98% of her 26 symptoms. It was at that moment I knew I had my answer. After researching gluten sensitivity further I found 10 more of my symptoms were gluten related. I had already been tested for Celiac and tested negative, so now I needed to find a doctor more versed on the subject of gluten.
My second person is now my good friend Matt. After we met, Matt quickly started helping me research gluten. One day he passed me an article about gluten sensitivity that was so good I had to track it to the source. The source was HealthNOW Medical Center in California. Much to my surprise, they had a portion of their clinic designed around treating patients from all over the world. I filled out a form on their website for a free phone consult and they called me not two hours later. Impressive! What they had to say about gluten was not only dead on for me, but they practice around treating the whole person. I was sold. I scheduled all my labs and made my final arrangements to fly to California not four weeks later.
My third person story is unreal. I was flying to California in less than two weeks when I received an email from my cousin in Indiana. We don’t talk very often but she knew I was struggling with my health. She had seen the movie Under Your Skin, a documentary about Lyme Disease. She urged me to check into it. She didn’t know anything about my symptoms so I figured it was a long shot but I also didn’t know anything about Lyme Disease, so I looked it up. I had all the symptoms of Lyme Disease but still had many more. It was a possibility but I knew there would still need to be something else to cover the other symptoms. When I arrived in California I spoke with the doctors about it and they were hesitant…until the last day I was there. They had a group discussion about my case and they agreed. They had already given me my lab results showing I had gluten sensitivity but agreed the Lyme test was still a good idea in addition to a test for Epstein-Barr virus. Both came back positive not four weeks later. Had my cousin not passed on that information I probably wouldn’t be diagnosed today.
Happy & Healthy!
So looking at sweet little Sophie I’m reminded it takes just one person to help turn your health around…I was Sophie’s person. I’ve had several people…so now I sit here wondering with excitement who will be the next person to move my health further in the right direction?