My Chronic Fatigue Story

A young man, full of hope and life, I fell into 11 years of chronic fatigue syndrome. CFS officially has no known cause, and no known cure. After struggling to have a happy life, battling Candida Albicans and CFS, I made a startling discovery. I was not just ill, I had been poisoned! My story follows.

I moved to Portland, Oregon in 1983 after graduating from college in Montana. Financially, I had to struggle through school: food, books and tuition were my priorities, with very little money left for other life needs and wants. At graduation I was 23, and strapping healthy. There was only one exception to my excellent health, bad teeth. During childhood I had developed a large number of serious cavities, resulting in 13 teeth with major fillings. By the end of college many of these fillings were eroded, crumbling and falling out. The university health clinic dentist repeatedly did patch work, admonishing me that I needed to go get things fixed properly. I assured him, when I had the money, I would.

I started work at Tektronix, Inc. in Beaverton, OR in May 1983 . Six months later my dental plan vesting was completed, and I began having my teeth fixed. In a 3 month period, each and every filling was replaced. When it was over I was proud of my teeth. My dentist did excellent work. The chewing surfaces in my mouth were restored to great condition. Three months later I started having a sore throat, sniffles, and some fatigue, not unlike a flu. My new job produced stress because of the demands of meeting a product development schedule, and because of my own demands to prove myself in my career.

After about three months of this persistent flu like condition I went to see an MD. He looked in my throat and saw redness and a white coating. I told him that the condition had already persisted for some months. He gave me a 2 week course of antibiotics and said to check back if that didn't clear up the condition. A month later I went back with a sore throat that was worse than before the treatment. The second time he gave me a 2 week course of Amoxacillin, a broad spectrum antibiotic. By the time this second treatment was completed I had developed runny stools and diarrhea. For the longest time the sore throat still persisted, and slowly, almost imperceptibly, my strength began slipping away. I also began to notice inconsistent bowel movements.

By 1986 my symptoms were full blown CFS. I was having night sweats, swollen lymph glands, loss of memory, constant headaches, inability to concentrate, numerous vague aches and pains, extreme fatigue, a high level of anxiety and emotional instability. My life consisted of fighting through work each day, and collapsing on the sofa in the evening. Sleep, that refreshing friend, could not revive my energies, no matter how long I rested. Work was all I could muster. Off hours and weekends were spent attempting to rest and recover. My girlfriend, now my wife, Carmen, wondered how we would ever have a life together. We wanted children, and many other happy things. If all I had energy for was work, how could I help raise children ? have a home ? have a happy life together ?

I went to several doctors. Yes, there were Epstein-Barr titers, but no sign of active virus. Endocrinology checked out. Blood chemistry revealed a perfectly normal 26 year old. At some point I was tested for AIDS, even though my risk level was in the extremely low category. With no great surprise, AIDS wasn't the cause either. My doctor decided it must be stress, it must be psychosomatic, it must be in my head. He gave me the name of a psychologist on "pill hill", maybe he could help. I never went.

Of course I was stressed out. There was something drastically wrong with me, and no one could figure out what it was. I was a young man, I had so much life to live. I had to begin resigning myself to a life of chronic fatigue. I weighed in at a muscular 190 pounds in 1983. At the end of 1986 my weight was down to 150 pounds. Food didn't work for me any more. I ate vigorously, enormous amounts to retain weight. All of this eating just barely kept me alive, moving quickly through my body.

Carmen and I started to notice a pattern in my symptoms. Whenever I would eat something sweet, or drink a soda pop, all of my symptoms would go off together like a 3 alarm fire. This reminded Carmen of a girlfriend who had developed chronic yeast infections. We picked up the "Yeast Connection" book, and the name of a Natural Path who had helped the friend recover. This began my odyssey into the fringes of conventional medicine. There were some strong clues supporting the yeast theory. Eliminating all forms of sugar, and testing myself for food allergies helped to stabilize my situation. Some stool tests bore yeast and convinced us that somehow yeast had taken over my body. My illness gained a focus, it became a pitched battle with chronic yeast infection. The center of my yeast problem was my lower intestine. I became an expert on how to kill those little buggers in my gut, and it helped. My energies increased a little, and my symptoms eased somewhat.

In 1988 Carmen and I decided to marry. We had a life characterized by less than normal energy, and burdened with an onerous picky diet, but we had a life. My naturopath kicked me out because she couldn't see any way to progress me further. I was now in maintenance mode. Never giving up the desire for a cure, I tried a few more doctors. We found some MD's who would prescribe Nizoral and other prescription yeast killing drugs. A couple rounds of this stuff brought me up another level of health, but still didn't cure me. The only proof I needed of not being cured was to stray from my diet. If I were to have something sweet, I'd be very sick again. The drugs are not a long term solution, because they will destroy your liver if you keep taking them. When I went off the yeast drugs my symptoms would slowly ratchet up again.

In 1992 we had our first daughter. Gradually, by 1994, 4 of my largest dental fillings had been replaced with crowns, and my physical life was more stable. I was the best I had been since early 1983. I was not cured, but I was no longer desperate.

A friend heard a nutritionist speaking on the radio. This expert was talking about chronic yeast infections. The nutritionist contended there is an underlying reason for people not being able to shake chronic yeast. I hadn't been able to shake chronic yeast by any method, conventional or unconventional, after 8 years of trying. My attention was riveted. The nutritionist believes that heavy metal poisoning is the real culprit. Astonishingly, almost the entire baby boom generation, including me, has been systematically and routinely exposed to one particular heavy metal, mercury.

Mercury is 50% of the material found in mercury amalgam dental fillings, the most common dental filling material. Mercury amalgam fillings have been around for 160 years for those who could afford restorative dentistry. Our parents generation was the first to be wealthy enough to afford extensive "modern" dental care for their children. Consequently, our generation is the first to be almost completely exposed to mercury amalgam dental fillings. 98% of the US population between ages 35 and 44 has experience with mercury amalgam dental fillings in their teeth.

My mind went back to 1983. Could it be after all this time my dental fillings making me sick ?!

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Copyright ©1996 / 1997 / 1998 Jeff Clark