The Story of My Mystery Illness (and how I got my new diet)
You may have noticed that my posts have been a bit absent in the last few weeks. More than likely you didn’t necessarily notice…until now. 🙂 That’s okay, it doesn’t hurt my feelings! Anyway, here’s why I’ve been MIA: Starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I started to feel like I was coming down with something. Fever, achy muscles, fatigue…bummer. I did my best to stay hydrated and geared up to work through a cold or flu. For several days after I continued to feel feverish, tired, and achy (including headache), but I never developed any other symptoms. No runny nose, no sore throat, no cough, no nausea/vomiting, nothing. It was strange, but not too concerning at first.
After a few days with no worsening or improvement, I decided it might be wise to go to a walk-in clinic to get checked out. During the course of that appointment, the doctor brought up some concerns of pelvic inflammatory disease and/or toxic shock syndrome, so she sent me to the emergency room to be evaluated. At the emergency room, the doctor was not very concerned about me. He was confident that I did not have toxic shock syndrome. He also figured that pelvic inflammatory disease was unlikely. He took a flu swab and a urine sample (to check for UTIs, and of course, pregnancy and STDs – standard procedure) and sent me home. All of those tests came back negative, so I figured I just had some kind of wonky virus that I just needed to wait out.
I rested, I ate soup, fruit, and Haagen-Daas sorbet (heaven!), and I took Nyquil to sleep at night.
Three days later I was steadily getting worse (a week and a half with a 101-degree fever at this point) and I was starting to get concerned that I had some kind of more serious infection. I went to another clinic and they were, thankfully, able to get me in right away. The nurse practitioner I saw was definitely concerned about the possibilities, so she ran me through a gamut of tests. She gave me a complete physical exam, took my blood, swabbed for strep, and took more urine. Because, you know, pregnancy and STDs.
Three days later, I was feeling even worse and really starting to get concerned about my continued fever with no treatment of any kind whatsoever. I called the clinic, who did not yet have my results but they told me they wanted me to have an abdominal and pelvic ultrasound to check everything out. They also told me I could take a dose of antibiotics prophylactically, so I did. The next day I felt significantly better, as I did for the next few days. I completed the ultrasound and awaited the results of all of my testing.
When all the results came in, every single thing was negative and there was no explanation for my 2-week-long fever. I was floored. At this point, we knew that I didn’t have flu, I didn’t have strep, I wasn’t pregnant, had no STD’s, and theoretically had no infection whatsoever because my white blood cells (even those that respond to bacterial or viral infections) were normal!
I was totally baffled – why did that antibiotic make me feel so much better? Placebo?
My nurse practitioner was also at a loss, and offered to put me on the schedule of the most experienced MD at their clinic. Meanwhile, I continued to feel better but still had a 101-degree fever. I was started to get very annoyed with being sick. You know, sick and tired of being sick and tired. I hadn’t worked out (or hardly worked) for 2 and a half weeks and was just getting kinda done with it. I can only lay around and watch Netflix for so long before going nuts. What was wrong with my body?
The MD tested me for mono, ran a comprehensive metabolic panel (kind of an all-systems-check), and checked my thyroid. When the results came back, everything was negative except one thing – my liver enzymes were 8 times higher than they should have been. Now, for the most part, liver enzymes belong inside your liver and not in your blood, so if the liver enzymes in your blood are high, then your liver is leaking them for some reason. Your liver is somehow damaged, and that’s typically not a good thing. Since the ultrasound of my liver had come back normal, the doctor wanted me to have a CT scan to get a clearer picture to rule out stones (and cancer…eek!).
I happen to know that Nyquil (which I hadn’t taken for about a week at this point) contains acetaminophen, which can affect your liver enzymes for a couple of weeks. I asked my doctor’s office about that, but they said that based on the dose I had taken and how long it had been since I had taken them, it was unlikely that they would affect my liver enzymes SO much.
So off I went, back to the radiology clinic for a CT scan. I was reluctant to have the CT scan (radiation and all…) but I knew I needed to have everything checked out. The CT scan itself was super easy. Five minutes tops. Then came the waiting and the trying to not think too much about every possible thing that could be wrong with me.
Fortunately, it only took a couple of days to get the results back and everything was completely normal. While the doctor still had no explanation for why my liver enzymes were so high, the good news was that my liver looked totally fine.
Since all of that testing, I have been feeling basically back to normal energy-wise. I still occasionally feel feverish, but I’m back to my normal life. I even got to go back to (light) working out in the last few days! That was such a blessing and a mood boost, for sure.
The mystery of what was/is wrong with me continues, but here are my marching orders: as long as I continue to feel better, I need to follow a liver-friendly diet and come back to have my liver enzymes tested next month to see if my liver has healed from…whatever was wrong. So while I didn’t exactly plan on doing a diet feature right now, I figure if I have to be on a diet anyway, I might as well feature it! It is the Christmas season, so my posts may not be as frequent or thorough as they typically are during a feature, but I’ll do my best.
Stay tuned to learn more about what a liver-friendly diet is and follow along with me while I follow it for the next month!