Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Story: Poisoning & Illness

The story of my chronic health disorders, and why I no longer have them.

As a newborn baby...

When I was just a few months old I developed a rash. My mother believed it was serious and took me to the doctor. I hadn't had any rashes previously, but the doctor proclaimed that I was fine, and that it was "just a rash."

When I still had it two days later, my mother went back. I began running a fever as my mother waited for hours.

Finally, I was seen again after I'd had the rash for four days. I had rheumatic fever. The nurse who saw me was appalled -- "She should have been treated immediately!" Well, my mom had tried, it was the hospital's fault I wasn't treated immediately.

I was put on antibiotics as a baby.

According to Dr. Mercola:

"Antibiotic-resistant infections now claim more lives each year than AIDS."

"Every time you swallow antibiotics, you kill the beneficial bacteria within your intestines. When you do so, you upset the delicate balance of your intestinal terrain. Yeasts grow unchecked into large colonies and take over, in a condition called dysbiosis."

"In addition to possibly causing leaky gut syndrome, I believe that parasitic yeasts can also cause you to change what you eat in that they encourage you to binge on carbohydrates including pasta, bread, sugar, potatoes, etc. So, it should come as no surprise that weight gain counts as one of the telltale signs of antibiotic damage and subsequent yeast overgrowth."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The damage started as a newborn.

As a toddler...

When I was young my mother often liked to tell others about a particular incident that occurred when I was toddler. The incident is as follows:

When I was around four years old my mother had a friend whose sons I played with. We were going trick-or-treating for Halloween. The boys were crazy with energy and excitement, but I was nonplussed. After walking only three blocks I complained that my feet hurt, and that I was too tired. I had no interest in the candy or frolicking with the other children.

I just wanted to go home and rest.

Despite the motivation of having other children to keep my company, and despite the motivation of candy, three blocks of walking and I was already too tired to go on.

And these were not three large city blocks like some cities have. Buffalo's city blocks tend to be smaller than other blocks in other major cities of the united states.

As a toddler I didn't have energy for trick-or-treating.

Day-Care, Age Four

At some point during the year I spent in day-care (before kindergarten)...

I was sick with a fever and wanted to go home. The caretakers were skeptical and put a glass thermometer in my mouth and told me to hold it under my tongue. I vaguely remember the event mostly because I looked back on it so many times, but all the faces are a blur.

It was difficult to hold the thermometer under my tongue. It made my tongue uncomfortable. I kept moving it around, trying to make it less uncomfortable, but it still stretched my tongue in an uncomfortable way no matter how I moved it.

And then I bit the damn thing.

I don't remember biting it. I do have a vague memory of what it feels like to have glass picked out of my teeth by some instrument shoved in my mouth. My mother tells me that I had my stomach pumped due to mercury poisoning.

About Mercury Poisoning:

Mercury is a silver-white poisonous heavy metallic element. It is highly toxic. Exposure to mercury in large enough amounts can cause serious damage. A report published by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on mercury compounds reveals that "Chronic exposure to elemental mercury also affects the kidney in humans, with the development of proteinuria."

1. Psychological disturbances
Angry fits, short term memory loss, low self esteem, inability to sleep, loss of self-control, sleepiness.

2. Oral Cavity problems
Inflammation of the mouth, taste of metal, bleeding of gums.

3. Digestive tract problems
Cramps, inflamed colon, GI problems, Diarrhea and other digestive problems.

4. Cardiovascular problems
Weak pulse, blood pressure changes, chest pain, or feeling of pressure in the chest area.

5. Respiratory problems
Weakness and problems with breathing, Emphysema, Coughing persistently.

6. Neurological problems
Headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, shaking in various areas of the body (eye lids, feet etc)

7. Coordination & muscle problems
Muscle weakness, coordination loss, disturbances in sensations ("pins and needles" feelings, numbness) usually in the hands and feet

An interesting symptom is that it makes cilantro taste bad to many people. Cilantro helps you detox from mercury, but as it does so and the mercury is exposed within the body, it causes the cilantro to taste metallic. I've always hated the taste of cilantro with a passion. I didn't discover this tidbit about the herb until January 2011. Now I'm adding cilantro in small amounts to my smoothies and soups where it's taste is mostly covered. We'll see if it's flavor improves for me over time.

I've read that mercury poisoning can last eighteen years, even if you're trying to rid yourself of it with detoxification. Since this happened at the age of four, I can expect that it has affected me my entire life up until now. (I'm writing this days before my 22nd birthday.)

I also conceivably was affected by mercury in the womb. My mother has a number of amalgam fillings in her teeth.

Bleeding Gums

My gums bled even at this young age. The dentist said that I needed to brush more often, and then it would stop. Another dentist said I needed to brush with a softer tooth brush, and then it would stop. I tried those things, and other things as well. None of it worked.

My gums continued to bleed at least once a week (usually every time I brushed) until the age of twenty-one.

My diet as a toddler...


Mustard on white bread with a slice of American's singles cheese
Lima beans
Hard-boiled eggs

As a child...

My mother used to say to me when I was young that she thought I was born constipated. I knew what the word meant when I was only four or so years old, since I had already experienced it a number of times.

If you've never experienced it, let me tell you; it's very, very painful.

Age 7

I remember one time, around the age of seven, I was in a bathroom at an after-school program and a "teacher" was waiting for me. I kept insisting that I was going to take a long time, but she wouldn't leave.

I told her I was constipated and she seemed incredulous: How could I even know what that word meant at that age?

After about ten minutes she accused me of faking, and demanded I leave the stall. I told her angrily that I wasn't faking, although I don't remember any of the exact words that were exchanged.

Mostly I remember being angry that she was accusing me of faking, and angry that she wouldn't leave me alone when I was doing something private.

Muscle Cramp

I vividly remember my first muscle cramp, which also occurred when I was around seven.

I was at my grandmother's house at the time. This was a place where I constantly battled my relatives against various candies and sugar cookies. They were pressed on me as though it would be absurd not to eat them.

I declined, time and time again, following my mother's cautioning words seriously. As I grew older however, there were occasions where I faltered and accepted the treats. I believe this was one of those times, although I can't be certain.

Looking back on it, it's not even relevant if I had any of the candies or not: everything at grandma's was unhealthy, from the mints, to the gum, to the cooking.

The pain was intense and sudden. I can still vividly recall the throbbing spreading through my elbow and down my forearm: molten fire flowing through my muscle. I clutched my elbow, tears welling in my eyes, helpless to fight against the invisible terror.

I complained to my mother after a minute or so. She seemed unconcerned and told me it would go away. I held my arm and cried. It didn't go away. It hurt the rest of the day. The fifth or sixth time I asked my mother for help she became exasperated and told me there was nothing she could do.

I remember feeling betrayed that nobody could help me with such an incredible pain. I felt such a sheer sense of disbelief that such pain was possible. Without any visible cause and with no viable solution! I felt as though each moment were an eternity.

It was also around the age of seven that I began to have habitual intense headaches. I'm unaware to this day if any of my headaches have been migraines or not, but light sensitivity has been acute throughout the greater part of my life.

Where my life seems to have begun...

Most of what I remember about life begins when I was nine years old. I was becoming interested in both art and writing, although I wasn't yet reading books. I was capable, but disliked reading because it gave me a headache and I found it difficult to follow unless I was being read to aloud. (These headaches, like so many things, were disregarded by doctors.) My mother, being loving and warmhearted, read to me often up until I was thirteen or so to encourage me to like books. Her tactic won out in the end.

Self Awareness

At the age of nine my own weakness became apparent to me. My life seemed to take on a new level of reality, and at that new level I was no longer able to deny my own serious problems. I was becoming aware that it wasn't normal to spend weeks out of school sick with strep throat every year. Nobody else was absent for so long except on a rare occasion. Perhaps once a year there was one other student who missed as many days as I, if that.

Poor Circulation

I also became aware of my poor circulation when I was nine. When I stood for a period of time my legs would turn red and itchy. My heart was not strong enough to pump the blood back out of my feet while I stood. My red and itchy legs were so incredibly uncomfortable that I rarely stood in place for a solid minute.

Itching Legs

The itching made me prefer laundry to dishes because carrying clothing back and forth meant my circulation stayed up enough to keep the unbearable itching at bay. Whenever my mother tried to force me to do some dishes I stopped every thirty seconds to wet my legs and then scratch them vigorously. After ten minutes my legs would be beet-red and I would be sitting on the stool in the kitchen scratching madly unwilling to stand back up.

Burning Lungs

I was the slowest runner in gym class when we ran a race. I was the last to return when running or walking around the field during recess. My lungs burned when I tried to run for more than few steps.

Side "Stitches"

Whenever walking I would get burning aches up and down both sides. I asked five different doctors about this before one of them explained to me that this pain was caused by gas. I believe I was eleven at the time I finally got that long-awaited answer. And the answer didn't give me a solution.

Fatigue & Lack of Stamina

I was constantly falling asleep on my desk. I was tired, tired, tired.

I remember in particular during the fourth or fifth grade (when I was nine or ten), the teacher decided we should go on a walk. I don't recall exactly how I felt when we set out. I don't recall how far we walked exactly, but I do recall feeling more and more nervous as we walked further away from the school building. Each step we walked was a step we needed to take on the way back. I had become very familiar with the misery that accompanied short-sightedness. If I didn't turn back before reaching half my stamina, then I might be in tears before I made it back. Or worse, I could be sick the next day.

I felt as though I had reached the full limit of my stamina before we turned back at all. I walked slower and slower, and the teacher at first tried to get me to walk faster. Eventually she gave up trying to make me walk faster and simply tried to encourage me by telling me that I was fine and that I would make it. The other students became frustrated with our slower pace. When the school building came into view the teacher told the other kids they could go on ahead and run if they liked. Most of them set off at a run, and the rest just sped up.

She stayed behind and walked with me. I was pissed off at her for having pushed me way beyond my limit and didn't feel that her staying beside me was anything other than annoying. When we finally reached the classroom I leaned against the wall beside the door and then slid down it to the floor where I sat for a good long time before I could be persuaded to move.

Sleep Disorder

Yet despite having such low stamina, despite the fatigue, at the age of nine I began to have difficulty falling asleep at night. I had a black alarm clock with red digital numbers, and I can remember it's exact shape and button configuration because I spent so much time being angry that I couldn't sleep while staring at that clock.

I remember clearly that I had to be outside for the carpool to pick me up at exactly 7:05am. It was an hour drive to the school. I was part of a carpool for fourth and fifth grade. The handful of kids that went to this school from the city all took carpools to save gas and time.

I was generally so tired in the mornings that I prepared for it by putting all of my clothing and items to go with me the next day out on the previous night and got up only five minutes before I needed to be outside. Just enough time to get dressed, brush my teeth and walk out the door.

I would lay in bed calculating how many hours of sleep I was going to get each time I looked up at the clock. I went to bed between nine and ten o'clock but it was rare that I was asleep before two o'clock in the morning. Often I was crying at four o'clock in the morning because I was so tired and exhausted but couldn't sleep.

I tried natural sleeping aids such as "sleep-aiding" teas, and dissolve-in-the-mouth tablets. Such things worked the first and second time, but then stopped working after that. At only nine years of age I was behaving like a desperate sleep-deprived adult in many ways.

My diet as a kid...


French Fries (especially from Burger King)
Lima beans (cooked for an hour and slathered in butter)
French Fries (especially from Wendy's)
French Fries (baked at home in the oven with olive oil)
Steak Fries (deep fried on the stove in olive oil)
Steak (slathered in A1 sauce)
Baked Potatoes (Filled with butter)
Curly Fries
Various sweetened yogurts (including Cream Savors)
Sunny-side up eggs with bread to dip in the yoke
French Fries (from McDonalds)
Hamburgers on white buns with mustard, onion and a slice of conventional tomato
Cheerios (plain or honey-coated with whole milk)
Shredded Wheat (plain or frosted, often mixed with whole milk)
French Fries (with lots and lots of salt!)


At the age of nine I got mono for the first time. I didn't spend just a week or two out of school. I spent months out of school. My mother was afraid for my life. I had no energy to leave the bed. My glands were the size of golf balls. They jutted out from my neck and were clearly visible and appalling to see.

My spleen hurt. I became familiar with where my spleen was and exactly what a spleen pain felt like.

Many days I was too tired to leave the bed to do more than roll out of bed and use the bathroom across the hall. My parents brought me meals in bed.

I was tested and diagnosed with mono. I was told to sleep a lot. I did. I slept, and slept and slept. I slept much of my childhood away.

October 3rd 2010
Edited & Added Information

October 5th 2010
Edited Formatting

October 6th 2010
Edited Formatting & Added Information About My Sleeping Issues

October 12th 2010
Edited Formatting

January 28th 2011
Added the story of my rheumatic fever as a baby, did a lot of editing to improve the flow and clearness of what I'm relating, and added the banners/buttons. It's not an easy task, but I think the added spiffiness is worth it.


  1. Thank you for your childhood story about your illnesses, it has a happy ending, the only stories I like. I am very happy to know you are feeling better now!

    It would be nice to hear other stories of raw food diets. I'm a beginning novice raw food enthusiast but, do notice a general improvement in energy levels and breathing.

  2. I'm glad you've enjoyed this post. There will be four to six of these posts when I'm done, since my health complications I remember in more detail and are more complex in my teen years, and also I'll be including everything that's improved in the past four years; age 17 to now has been improvements, unlike the first 16 years which were nothing but one health setback after another.

    I wish everyone blogged about their health issues and how they overcame them, because science is just not giving us the answers or the reality that people need. A scientific experiment has a basis for us to learn from, but it does not have the complexity of a human being's experience within it.


What brings you here? What are you thoughts? Do you consider yourself a raw foodist? Approximately how much of your diet is raw? Do you consider yourself healthy? What would you like to see more of on this blog? Will you be back? Is this too many questions?