Note that I have broken this long post up into relevant sections, in a bid to improve readability.
It's rather difficult to know quite where to begin, however let me say that my life a couple of years ago was completely different to how it is today. Previously I was a healthy, energetic 28 year old who cycled 30km a day, practised yoga 3 times a week, swam, enjoyed going out dancing, being active, loved hot and sunny weather. I was heavily into raw food (had been raw for several years), and often prepared banana-oat smoothies for day-long cycling trips, with lots of fresh fruit (apples!) then would return home in the evening and prepare a big green salad with raw fish, egg yolks, avocado, and fresh juices. I was very happy with my health, and was considered 'Mr Healthy' by my friends and peers.
There was one secret problem I had, and that was gas/wind. I often experienced a bloated stomach and trapped wind. However, I found I could relieve this by getting down on all fours, and gently arching my back/bottom forward and back. This allowed me to pass all the wind in my stomach, usually in the morning, or before going out, and I'd be fine for the rest of the day.
I also had difficulties with bowl movements. I could defecate every day, however not 'automatically' - I would need to (and still do to this day) kneel down for a while to get things 'moving'. This wasn't such a problem as I live alone - I could just drink a cup of black tea and kneel in front of the computer each morning checking emails, until it was time to go to the toilet.
One more niggle that troubled me was puffy fingertips and two or three rather unattractive nails (fungal infection?) I saw several doctors/dermatologists for this problem who prescribed creams and ointments. One doctor prescribed a series tablets which I later found to be steroids, they helped with the puffiness a little, but the problem quickly returned if I stopped taking the medication, so I continued with the pills for 3-4 months or so - hoping it would eventually clear-up the finger problem. It didn't.
Despite the peculiarities above, I was still very happy with my health and fitness, and life in general.
Then one day I remember being on my bike, cycling to yoga as normal. It was a Spring day, not particularly hot, but I was sweating quite profusely, and the bike generally felt rather 'heavy'. I put it down to just being 'one of those things', and just continued as normal.
However, I noticed more and more that the usual bike journeys I had taken for years were becoming more and more taxing, making me sweat more, get out of breath etc. Similarly, at yoga, I was getting more tired during the class, and sweating a lot - dripping.
After several weeks of this I visited a local internal medicine clinic, explaining the loss of energy and sweating to the doctor. He suggested it was just because that year's summer was hotter than normal. I have lived here in Japan for almost 8 years, so am reasonably familiar with the hot summers, and didn't accept this explanation. I also explained the stomach bloating and wind, so he recommended taking a pill for IBS (I opted not to take it). We ran several tests, but everything came back normal, so I was encouraged not to worry and just get on with my life.
I continued the same routine but returned a month later, still concerned about the excessive sweating and energy loss. The doctor suggested I visit a hospital for a second opinion from other medical professionals. Again, lots more tests, ultrasound, endoscopy, etc. but no problems found. The doctors there eventually suggested trying yet another hospital. During this time my energy continued to deteriorate, I could no longer cycle the same distances so I reduced my cycling, yoga, and over activity...but was still sweating an awful lot and getting tied and breathless very quickly.
Fast forward to today. I've since been to three more large hospitals in the city I live in, each time explaining the situation from scratch, each time weaker than the last, each time taking tests which come back fine. I no longer have the energy to practise yoga, do not swim, and the only cycling I do is the 5 minute journey from my apartment to the office and back in the morning and evening (I arrive boiling hot, sweaty, and exhausted). On weekdays I go for walks during the 35 minute lunchbreak, and at the weekend walk along the beach. This is really the only form of exercise I get, it tires me out, but I feel I need to get the fresh air...otherwise I would just sit indoors all day. Given how active I was just a few years ago, this is a complete lifestyle change.
I had a chance meeting with a Chinese medicine practitioner six months ago, who believed my problems were diet related. He recommended I give up my raw food diet (too much cold), and switch to cooked foods. So I gave it a try, and am still steaming everything. In terms of calorie content and 'bulk' I'm eating a lot more than I used to, yet I still feel like I have no energy.
In addition to this, I am also receiving weekly Meyer's cocktail infusions at a private clinic and take a course of Douglas Laboratories supplements (B complex, C, Amino, Zinc, Hem Iron, Alpha-Lipoic, Probiotics) after the clinic found a number of nutritional deficiencies (low Ferritin).
I've also been seeing an acupuncturist once a week for several months, and drink Chinese herbal medicines/teas that he recommends. When I visit him he often pushes his hands deep into my abdomen and pushes around (it's quite painful). On several occasions he notes "You eat good food, but your body is still weak".
I have faith in this chap's knowledge and healing ability - largely because he acknowledges that my health is not good, while the Western doctors I have seen point at my test scores and claim everything is fine.
Here is a list of my current symptoms:
- Fatigue (most obvious), weak, tight, sore muscles.
- Sweating (excessively when doing any kind of activity, but also when just sitting)
- Gas, abdominal bloating,
- Breathlessness/tight chestedness
- Unrefreshed sleep when waking (I fall asleep easily, however)
- Poor temperature regulation (hot weather: get hot very quickly, cold weather: cannot seem to get warm)
- Tight/retracted testicles, usually in the morning (this is a mystery)
- Cuts/grazes that do not heal properly (I came off my bike 2 months ago, relatively minor grazes, but the skin has not healed - still puffy/hurts to touch)
- Body odour (minutes after a shower my armpits stink)
- Blood-shot eyes (i.e. the whites are not clear)
- White coating on tongue (my acupuncturist calls this 'moss', and believes it is associated with poor digestion)
After a couple of years of reading and research online, I have recently come to the conclusion that the cause of my fatigue and general problems is poor gut health.
Weather it's leaky gut, Candida, or a combination of the two, I don't know. The fact that I easily get trapped wind, bloating, and cannot defecate easily suggests that something is not right in my gut, and that this is bringing down the rest of my health. While I considered myself to be in great health a couple of years ago, it's possible that there have been underlying problems for a while, and that something happened (taking the steroids?) to finally make the problems manifest themselves clearly. Interestingly, when I do defecate, I often feel like there is 'something still there'...then shortly after, my abdomen will fill-up with wind/gas.
As noted above, I was raw-food pesco-vegetarian for many years, eating lots of fruit, banana smoothies, salads, olive oil, egg yolks, raw fish. I ate oats (soaked in water), but no other grains - no bread, cookies, pasta, rice...no processed food. I stopped eating oats in order to rule out Celiacs. Upon switching to cooked food I resumed and ate porridge for a little while, but have since stopped the oats altogether (not good for Candida?). These days I eat sweetpotato as my main carbohydrate, fish (salmon), and vegetables - everything steamed, and drizzled in olive oil. I also enjoy poached/scrambled eggs for breakfast at the weekend. I used to love my fruit - biting into fresh apples was a real pleasure, but have more or less cut-out everything sweet. I squeeze fresh lemon/grapefruit, and dilute the juice/pulp it into water..that's all.
At the moment, I am a little uncertain as to how to proceed. My diet is dramatically different (cooked, not raw...almost no fruit), and I am taking lots of supplements to make up for supposed nutritional deficiencies. None of the doctors I have spoken to here appear to be familiar with LGS or candida, so I am still 'formally' undiagnosed. I wonder if I should pay for laboratory testing overseas, outside of Japan (complete digestive stool analysis?), or perhaps take a completely different direction. I feel like I'm taking a scattergun approach - without any kind of formal diagnosis, I just spend endless hours reading articles online, hoping that I will find the answer. At one point, I read about ThreeLac healing a couple suffering from Candida, but further searching suggests that this 'Made in Japan' formula was just an elaborate scam. Earlier in the week I had another endoscopy, and an am booked in for a colonoscopy (my first) before the end of the month...although I am sceptical that the doctors will find anything.
Well, my apologies for this incredibly lengthy first post. I wanted to explain as much as possible in the hope that someone out there will be able to suggest a course of action. There are no doubt pockets of information that I have forgotten, so please do feel free to answer questions. And if you are willing to suggest advice, I will be most grateful.