I am a 19 year old caucasion male. I have always been athletic since I was old enough to comprehend any type of competition. I remember just over a year ago playing basketball and my legs tiring much quicker than usual. After a week or two the condition worsened and I was beginning to feel a constant pain in my calves. It felt like a charlie horse. It would hurt until i sat down and rested my legs, and after about 2 minutes the pain would go away and my legs would feel normal, until I began to walk around again and the pain would return within no less than 10-20 minutes.
I kept it too myself thinking maybe I pulled my calf muscles or came down wrong and strained some nerves or something thinking if I just rested my legs as much as possible they would heal quicker so I could return to my physical activities as usual. I rested for nearly 3-4 weeks. Good thing this was during the summer and school was out. I would barely go anywhere except walking around the house occasionally, or maybe running with my Mom to the store. Other than that I didnt even go out to see my friends, ***l I was too embarassed to let them visit knowing how athletic I was, I hate people feeling sorry for me.
All that resting did absolutely nothing except make me depressed and feeling anxious. I HAD to know what was wrong with me. I also failed to mention I have been a cigarette smoker and occasional marijuana smoker since I was about 11 years old, never smoked heavy though. I quit smoking anything about 8 months ago out of suspicion it might be playing a role in my leg dissabilities. Yet, pretty soon the pain/weakness spread to my ankles and soles of my feet. The worst pain was when it spread to my feet, I couldnt even sleep without taking pain killers and woke up in the night by my pain only to take more and try to get more rest. It also spread upwards to my thighs and waist.
After about another month went by I went to my family physician who was clueless but willing to do any test in the book. We did blood tests, x-rays, MRI's, even a Cat scan of my brain to make sure it was nothing mental. I started going to physical therapy, I am kind of flat footed and also was diagnosed with minor scoliosis in elementary school. I did physical therapy, got shoe inserts and this leg cast called a "moon boot." which I wore for about 2 weeks until I couldnt take it anymore. My physical therapy after 3 weeks was also helping nothing except wasting both my time and my parents. It seemed everything was useless and everyone was clueless.
Now after a while I started noticing, especially at night, My feet and ankes got pale and freezing cold. My toes looked like they'd been in black dress socks for years and never seen the light of day. I also noticed my feet were abnormally dry and even a bit itchy. My feet, especially the heels began to get completely numb quickly. This is on top of all the other effects I'd been experiencing so I hope you can try to imagine my predicament. I told this to my doctor and he said it could be something vascular so I went to see a local vascular doctor. After hearing my story he thought it could be a number of issues but was amazed it had affected me so young at the age of 18 at the time. I was the youngest patient he'd ever had complaining of the problems I was experiencing. This brought me no positive energy or security, in fact it depressed and angered me even more. I have been an active Christian my entire life, I prayed God would help me.
The next couple weeks I went through a series of different vascualr tests, usually performed on elderly people, but now an 18 year old boy fresh out of high school and recreational sports leagues. How could this have happened to ME? I've been healthy all my life, my biggest health issue had been dust/pollen allergies when I was younger and I'd been known to experience more intense headaches than any of my friends or immediate family, but thats it, almost 100% healthy and normal. Anyways, They did an ultrasound of my entire body. The doctor said, for my age, I had significant blockage in the arteries in my legs and capillaries from my toes to my waist. Everything else seemed to be flowing normally every where else so it was my waist and everything below that was wrong vascullarly.
He said it wasnt PAD which he was suspicous of and he ruled out various other vascular diseases. His strongest suspicion with the utrasound and the info he had gained of my past and my lifestyle was a progressive vascular disease called "Buergers Disease" which affects about only 1 in 50,000. So it is pretty uncommon, mostly because it usually goes undetected. It affects middle-aged to elderly smokers. The chemicals in ciggarettes have a very detrimental affect on the veins of people with Buergers Disease and can lead to VERY serious complications even death.
My doctor told me to quit smoking 100% immediately, eat healthy (low sodium and cholestorol and trans fats), and excercise regularly (Which is the hardest of all considering my pains and weakness).
So I quit smoking from that moment on, in fact stopped any type of chemical ingesting other than H20 and healthy foods. I also did some research and started taking different vitamins and herbal/mineral solutions which have been known to increase vascular health. I also began working out almost daily. We have a home gym so its not difficult, I lift weights, use the bike, walk on the treadmill, do push-ups and crunches regularly. But the treadmill and bike prove to be the most strenuous. Ive been on the excercise schedule for a good 8 months now and while much of the excrutiating pain is gone, I still have pain when I participate in physical activity, abnormal weakness, numbness and feet are still cold at night and pale. I believe the healthy diet and excercise is helping very slowly, but I cant be too sure.
I recently moved from Southern California to Northern Virginia and I went to see a different vascular expert the other day who isn't so sure its Buergers Disease. In fact he thinks the source of the trouble could be coming from my heart itself. Thats the scariest. I had another test done where they injected me with ink and scanned my entire lower half and the results were pretty much comparable to the ultrasound. Somehow I feel like this is all a huge scam for the doctors to get as much money as possible from my insurance company, but maybe thats just my anxiety from being pent up in the house all the time speaking. The doctors seem to be less knowlegable than I am on my situation, which is definately vascular. There is no genetic trend or anything except some minor blood pressure issues on my dads side, but nothing major at all.
I, My Family, My Doctor, My friends and boss at my job and coaches of my sporting teams all want to know what is wrong with me. Is it Buergers Disease? Is it endocarditis? I have had some dental surgeries about 2-3 years ago, one of which a root canal got reinfected and they had to re-drill through my gold cap to drain it. I know there is some kind of link between dental problems and endocarditis for some reason but its said to be rare. Then again my entire situation seems rare. I want to play sports again, I want to be a healthy young man when I go to college. Somebody please help me. I am getting pretty desperate and Im tired of dragging my family into it they have enough to deal with then me discussing problems they have no power over. Anybody???
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