I have suffered from yeast/candida overgrowth as long as I can remember–at least since puberty. It used to take the form of vaginal infections but at some point in my twenties, about a year after child # 2 was born with a nasty case of thrush that lasted about six months, my candida overgrowth took up residence in my mouth. At first, the doctor’s fought it with liquid nyastatin, an anti fungal, which eventually triumphed over the thrush in my son’s mouth. For me, it never worked for long. Somewhere in my early thirties, however, my new doctor suggested trying Diflucan, an oral anti-fungal in a pill form. Whenever I took a Diflucan, it always seemed to knock out my thrush within 24 hours. But the thrush always came back. It got to the point where my doctor gave me a 12-15 count refill at the time of my annual physical so I could just go to the pharmacy and get a Diflucan whenever my mouth started to grow fuzzy and white (and sometimes itch). It was a good day when the pharmacy would allow me six pills at a time–not that I’d take them all at once but it kept me from having get to the pharmacy every time I needed a pill.
I even took Diflucan a few times during my pregnancy with J. I wasn’t cleared for the first trimester, but as soon as my second trimester hit, my midwife gave me the go ahead to take a Diflucan because I was convinced my out-of-control thrush was, at least in part, causing the crazy, awful morning sickness (that lasted all day and night), which I never experienced with my first two. All in, I took three Diflucan pills while pregnant. Not long after J. was born, Diflucan was found to cause some birth defects. As I understand it, it is no longer given to pregnant women. It is hard for me to now not wonder if somehow the Diflucan interfered with the proper development of J.’s middle ears and molars.
In the years following J’s birth, I began to notice that I would feel extremely run down after taking Diflucan. Perhaps this was merely a yeast die off reaction. (Lately, I’ve learned to not discount symptoms as mere die off reactions–not everyone is strong enough to detox). Overtime, my symptoms upon taking Diflucan were nearly as uncomfortable as just living with the thrush. I began to experiment with going longer and longer without taking the dreaded drug. Early last June I spent some time in a hot tub, which I’ve long known is a total “no no” for me, along with scented bath oils and soaps. Within days (or hours) I had total yeast overgrowth in my mouth and vaginal area. Fun times. I had been reading about the battle against yeast in one of the many “Kill the Yeast” type of books that I have in my library. This book instructed doctors to prescribe numerous rounds of Diflucan, day after day for weeks, to ensure that all of the yeast is killed. At that time, I had a small stock pile of Diflucan pills saved up from extending the time between doses. I decided to self-prescribe a mounted daily attack on enemy yeast (don’t stop reading here and try this same thing at home). So on June 6th I took one Diflucan and on June 7th, I took another. And on June 8th, I couldn’t get out of bed. I cannot really describe how bad I felt but it was likely the worst I’ve ever felt. Ever. I couldn’t tolerate light, I was so weak I could hardly stand, my head was in such pain I wanted to amputate it, and my digestive track made sure that I did in fact have to manage to crawl to the toilet every hour or so. I could hardly drink water even. I was more exhausted than I’d ever felt and yet, couldn’t really sleep. It felt the life force leaving me. I knew that if I felt that way long-term, I’d want to die. It wouldn’t have been an existence worth maintaining. Fortunately, Hannah was around to help out and between Hannah and Chris, the care of Josh was covered for a few days. Chris would sit by my bedside and say things about going to the doctor, but I couldn’t move and felt like doctors had yet to help me with any of this stuff. So I am sure that the yeast experts would tell me that I was experiencing extreme die-off symptoms (and I even thought that at the time) but even if this were the case, I am pretty sure that place I found myself one June 8-10 of last year was not healthy or desirable, even in the name of killing off yeast ( I’ll get into this more extensively in my next blog post).
On the first day that I felt well enough to get out of bed for a few hours, I went to a chiropractor that I had met at a yoga training about six months earlier. After a weekend spent in Yin Yoga training together, she took me aside and told me that she thought I was in adrenal fatigue. I discounted her diagnosis at the time, but had in fact spent the last 6 months watching my energy dip lower and lower. When I raised this with my MD, she offered anti-depressants. I was quite certain I wasn’t depressed (been there, done that in my twenties). In my desperation (and my frustration with all of the MDs who had failed me), I took the first appointment at this chiropractor’s office that morning. After about an hour of telling her my history and crying about how hopeless I felt, she told me that Diflucan actually is sort of like an antibiotic. It goes to work and kills fungus but it also wipes out all the good stuff that you need as well. She told me to stop taking Diflucan, even if I did nothing else. Well I didn’t do nothing else. I’ve done a ton else (will give detailed report out in near future post). I’ve gone to lengths I never thought possible to try to get my health back. I feel like I am getting closer on that front, but still not there. At the very least, however, I do believe I understand my yeast issues better than any medical doctor has, including the medical doctor I began seeing last November (’13) who also practices functional medicine. She too wanted me to take a two-week course of Diflucan. I am so glad I didn’t. I am so glad I stood my ground. And now, I am happy to say that I am one-year clean of Diflucan today. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.