So I've been undiagnosed, or at least not properly diagnosed, for 12 years now. My main symptom is intermittent fatigue which is brought on by either prolonged strenuous exercise (lifting weights, etc) or by diet (I have, starting 12 years ago, developed an intolerance to greasy foods). I have a longer history which I'm pasting below for those who like reading. Overall my issues seem, to me, to almost certainly be hormone related. I have many symptoms of low Human Growth Hormone, low epinephrine, etc.
History and symptoms
During 1997 while in college (age 21) I spent a year away from aerobic activity under doctor’s orders to clear up shin splints. During this time I had kept active by lifting weights. At the beginning of 1998 I began once again playing pickup basketball games. It was during this time that I noticed I was becoming fatigued quicker than normal, but thought it to be due to my lack of activity over the past year. However, as I continued playing over the following weeks, the fatigue began to worsen. I also noticed that my hands were occasionally shaky, and slightly trembling. This trembling got bad enough that when holding with others they could feel my hand tremors as well. At this time food seemed to, for awhile, give me added energy when bouts of fatigue struck me. As a few more months passed I finally gave up trying to play basketball. I was weak, fatigued and unable to play effectively just 15 minutes after beginning. At this point, ironically enough, lifting weights was also impossible. Along with my fatigue came an increase in gas and indigestion which I thought could be due to my lifelong poor chewing habits.
I returned home for the summer with lots of indigestion and frustrated. Shortly after returning home I had a night of extreme weakness, this was followed in that same evening by some nausea and vomiting. That same night I passed out momentarily when calling for assistance. The next day I felt “normal” again. One week later the same thing happened overnight, without the passing out, and I felt “normal” again the next day. Since then this same thing has occurred dozens of times. Most times I can link it to eating dairy and/or greasy foods shortly prior, but sometimes I can’t.
I then visited our family doctor who seemed fairly confused and didn’t agree with my own self-diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. He reluctantly agreed to do a TSH blood test for me. The test results came back ‘normal’.
I worked the rest of the summer installing in ground pools, with fatigue and tremendous gas. Once the summer ended I returned to school. My symptoms continued to worsen. I was slowly learning to predict the things that would set off my fatigue. It seemed to be aggravated primarily by physical activity, but also somewhat by stress and excitement.
Over the next few months I visited several doctors. First I visited the family allergist. He again ran TSH tests on me and found nothing. He had me on a strict diet with no sugar, yeast, etc., and had me taking Nystatin to eliminate candida growth which he saw as slightly elevated. When that yielded nothing he recommended I see a neurologist and a gastrointestinal doctor.
This gastrointestinal doctor diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and said he thought it was also contributing to my fatigue. By improving my eating habits (i.e. chewing better, eating slower, etc.) my gas was reduced (not eliminated) and yet the fatigue persisted.
I then visited an endocrinologist with the knowledge that thyroid problems are often difficult to diagnose. This doctor ran a battery of tests and then actually insisted that my problems all stemmed from stress. Knowing that I’m not a stressful person and that nothing had changed this information was not helpful (no solution was provided).
Next I turned to the neurologist. This doctor was very helpful and said I should see another endocrinologist due to my symptoms.
I then visited a second endocrinologist who ran different tests and said “I don’t know what’s wrong” and recommended I gain 10 lbs. (I am 6 feet tall and weigh 140 pounds, the same height and weight as prior to my problems).
A third endocrinologist ran all the tests that she and her associate could think of. These turned up nothing.
I then visited a naturopath. This doctor had me try some adrenal herbs, with no luck. She referred me on to holistic doctor with much more eastern influence.
This doctor at first had thought I had an ‘inflammation’ of sorts from my past wisdom teeth removal and sent me to a specialized dentist for an oral operation and lots of B vitamins. When that didn’t help he then said the next layer was that I was iodine deficient and had me begin taking kelp pills. I took kelp pills as well as garlicin, silver, oil of oregano, capryl, acidophilus, selenium and psyllium husk for my possible candida (not by doctors orders). I was also on a strict diet with no sugar, yeast, vinegar, etc (again self-diagnosed). None of that helped. Since then the holistic doctor has had me undergo treatment for an adrenal infection, nervous system issues & a kidney infection. No change.
Since these doctor visits I have learned that by managing my diet, and not participating in prolonged physical work, my symptoms are greatly reduced. However, the symptoms still occasionally flare up which is why I am writing this now.
With my own personal research, I believe the problem to be hormone related. Many of my symptoms match low HGH levels (fatigue, slow healing wounds)…blood tests have confirmed low HGH although I know these tests are notoriously spotty. The best way to describe how the fatigue feels is how a person feels after giving a big speech or presentation (drained no energy or adrenaline) My symptoms are as follows:
• Fatigue during exercise or stress
• Trembling hands during fatigue and sometimes when I feel “normal” – This feels like when you wake up and have difficulty making a fist.
• Stressful situations (like near miss car accidents) lead to very shaky hands and weakness… my system seems to have low amounts of epinephrine. The same symptoms are often brought on my hard exercise. If I try to “push through” and keep working out, lifting weights, the fatigue gets progressively worse with each workout session.
• Cuts are slow to heal.
• The digestion issues which started at the same time as my other symptoms have been narrowed to the fact that I don’t tolerate dairy and greasy meats very well at all anymore. They seem to lead to indigestion, loose bowels and, ultimately seem to bring on fatigue.
Symptoms which may or may not be related to my main symptoms:
• I still occasionally (a couple times a year) have 1 night where I get very nauseous and throw up. That is usually preceded by a very distinct taste in my stomach (noticeable with the gas via belching).
• I have a persistent phlegm in the back of my throat
• Poor circulation (my hands, ears, feet get have always gotten cold quickly, when nobody else is cold and my blood pressure is often difficult to obtain)
• I have recently experienced almost total numbness in a single finger, or toe, in moderately cold conditions.
If I continue working out and pushing it eventually, after an hour or so, I feel “normal”. My fatigue at that point changes from shaky and weak to just tired, like anyone else who has worked out hard for an hour or more.
In summary: The problems I experience seem to stem from one main ‘symptom’ or problem. That problem is that by body either quickly runs out of, or produces too little, adrenaline. Situations that call for quick energy, such as sports, near fender benders, stress all cause my body to quickly react as if I have no adrenaline left. Someone can jump out and scare me and my body reacts as if I was just mugged. Shaky hands, weak muscles, no energy comes quickly and after a brief (i.e. 30-60 minutes) rest, I feel ‘normal’ again. I did not used to be this way. I am not suddenly a more stressful person. Something is wrong. Also, my moms’ side of the family has a history of fatigue and Candida problems and my dad’s side has a history of thyroid problems. My dad also has fibromyalgia.
Also of note, my daughter (3 years old) has a similar intolerance to dairy. So, that may or may not be unrelated. The one thing she and I have in common is an unhealthy amount of antibiotics at some point. I took them (as a fool) in high school for my acne. My daughter had a series of infections (ear infection, then urinary tract infection from diarrhea from the antibiotics, then another ear infection).