The following excerpt is from a blog I wrote back in May of 2007. I had just returned to undergraduate school after spending 3.5 years in a horrific nightmare. There is definitely more to the story now, but this was written in my early days of recovery. I hope that you will find hope in this story—in the ups and downs, ins and outs. Today, I am a PhD student at the Florida State University and the founder and CEO of Prognosis Hope, with a little family of five by my side (a wife, daughter, and two giant dogs).
From my heart and hands to you...
I am telling this story (or at least some portion of my story) so often now. Because I hear it all the time, I forget that other people are not present within my cranial cavity to hear the reverberations of my speech coming back to me.
It goes like this: I was a senior at Mercer and was set to graduate in the fall. However, while on Christmas break, I became ill (deathly ill) because of accidentally ingesting, breathing in copious amounts of microscopic particles of lead, mercury and other heavy metals at a construction sight. I was trying to help my oldest brother restore an old farm-house. Little did we know, the paint used on this century old house was laced with toxins. My contact with these particular, deleterious particulates destroyed my immune system and caused me to be susceptible to everything and anything. I came down with a devastating form of pneumonia, three immuno-viruses(like mono), accelerated heart rate (up to 169), extreme wasting of muscle tissue or cachexia (lost around fifty pounds), was confined to complete bed rest for 3.5 years.
Because of the medications and the persistent cough, I developed a hietal hernia, which would not allow me to even lay down for about 3 of those 3.5 years. Excruciating neurological pain!!! Sometimes I experienced pain so badly that I would just lay there and pull my hair out. I had a radical form of insomnia, also due to the medication. What hair was left from the pulling...fell out. My face was paralyzed on one side(other wise known as bell's palsy). I could not do anything! I went from being a physical master-piece to a barely surviving patient.
I was in and out of the hospital so many times that I can't even tell you the actual number. How many times I almost died...only God knows, but it is somewhere in the hundreds (probably). Everyday was relentless fatigue and weakness-loss. Everyday I lost...lost friends, weight, muscle, my degree(because I was unable to complete my last semester), memories, ability to concentrate. At times, I would look at a simple math problem and could not even begin to comprehend it. I went from playing collegiate tennis and making straight A’s to being spoon-fed and unable to think!
I was diagnosed with having an auto-immune disorder, namely Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Doctors lumped me in this category because they could not find the etiology of the disease. Doctors knew that something was causing every system of my body to shut down or over-react, but they did not know what that something was. I have seen almost every kind of doctor/specialist known to man. For years, my parents would load me(like cattle only much more gentle) in the back of a van and take me to hospitals or doctors that thought they could help. We were pretty much at the end of our ropes when the mayo clinic rejected me as a patient because i had “too much wrong” with me? “What?? Are you kidding me? You can't see me because I am too sick?”
I wanted to live so bad! However, it did not look like I would ever get my life back. I was told that generally people don't really get "better"...and if they do it can just come right back! Needless to say, my prognosis was not good. I could fill pages with details of needles and tests and trips to the emergency room-but, God!
God brought to me... answers! It took a while to formulate it all, but they came. Sounded like science fiction to everyone, but the answers came. I had to submit a specific tissue sample for testing. The tissue sample came back with very conclusive evidence of heavy metal exposure- a diagnosis that could have been made in the beginning!
I had a procedure done in March to help remove the greatest source of the problem. Then, I was put on a chelating agent, which helps remove heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic, bismuth, etc. from the body. It was two weeks of intense ...intensity. I could barely hold my eyes open. I went from not sleeping to doing nothing but sleeping. I was afraid that I was getting worse and not better. Later, I was informed that this was fairly common and should resolve itself in a matter of weeks. It did!
One of my dearest friends is a physical therapist; he told me that for every week you are bed-ridden that equals one month of physical rehabilitation. Essentially, that means I would need about 180 months of rehab! God has performed for me a special miracle-not instant but much greater, I think. Now, I would be a terrible liar if I said that everyday was easy! Every once in a while, I have what is basically a side-effect to the detoxification of these heavy metals. When they(the metals) are released back into my blood stream in great amounts...it feels like re-intoxication. It is, merely, the natural process of the body ridding itself of these hazardous materials. It is somewhat nerve-racking when this process occurs because it is like a flash-back. There is no warning sign, either. It is a sudden boom, followed by a sensation that I would liken to that of a truck hitting me.
Today, the difference is that I know what is going on. It is my bone marrow making new red blood cells and cycling out the old ones. You produce new red blood cells about every 120 days(I think that is what I was told), so as that cycle occurs it makes me feel awful. After it is over, though, I feel even better than I did before. God never gave up on me, even though I gave up on myself many times.