Swimming With Yeast

Well, not exactly swimming WITH yeast, but swimming while candida yeast is infesting the internal systems of my body. Yuk.

I bet it started back in 2002 when we traveled to Africa the second and final time on the adoption adventure for our twin daughters. The first trip a year before I took Lariam as an anti-malarial, but it really messed with my head and caused some frightening irregularities with my heart rate (gotta’ read the fine print on those heavy drugs, man!). So I did not consider it as an option on the second trip- instead I took a 2-month course of anti-biotics. Such a thorough killing of the bacteria in my body meant removing the internal controls for the yeast that was naturally present alongside.

Over the last 9 years I’ve had various flare-ups of symptoms that alone might easily have been diagnosed as other things. But it’s all added up and I have practiced a lot of body-awareness as an athlete over the years, paying careful attention to subtle changes and correlations. My attempts with so many non-toxic (or low-toxic) approaches to dealing with those symptoms has sometimes brought temporary relief, but never overwhelmingly so.

It got worse these last few years and these last few months especially. My most prominent symptom pointing to candida yeast:

  • fingernail fungus
  • small sores on the skin near the nails that only responded to anti-fungal ointment
  • particularly, maddenly itchy spots and sores on the forearm and neck, that got horrible whenever I would have more than minor amounts of sugar
  • achy joints, hands and feet, so bad at night that I could barely sleep in any position for more than 2 hours

Then a month ago I got an ear infection that would not respond to milder treatments, so under the persuasion of great pain I finally took a round of amoxicillan. That did the trick on the ear infection, but it released a new wave of yeast pain in my body. I decided I had enough and was ready to consider strong medication.

I had done a round of pulse-dosed flukonazole years ago to beat toenail fungus (it worked) and noticed it did not overtly cause much side-affect. So I did some research to see how I might poison a systemic candida infection without hurting my liver. Two weeks ago I started on a single weekly dose at 200mg (one of the conveniences and responsibilities of living outside America is that I don’t need a prescription to take care of myself, but this means I’d better take care of myself!). But after 5 days I could tell from the way my body was responding, the way the yeast was responding, that I needing a stronger dose. So I am on a 200mg every 4 days now. And this feels right. (Disclaimer: Again, I am relying on a deeply practiced body-awareness, experience with medication, and some good common sense. If I was in a place where I thought a doctor would actually take a systemic yeast infection seriously, I might have consulted one just for a back-up assessment).

But within a few hours of each of the first 3 doses, I started feeling intense itchiness in those spots and more, all over under my clothes! I realized that this was likely the effects of yeast dying off and releasing their toxins into my system. Thankfully, this itchiness mostly subsided after my 4th dose.

One thing that has troubled me these last 3 years, ever since moving to Turkey, is that my body ached at night. After everything relaxes, my heart rate calms down, within a couple hours my body would just hurt. It’s provoked me to pay more attention to anything I was doing that might be causing this: what I was eating, changing mattresses and pads, how I was stretching, to how well I hydrated during the day, (that seemed to help somewhat), but still I would just have to switch positions every 2 hours because the whole compressed side of my body would feel sore, my hands and feet would feel sore under the slightest pressure from the sheets or being touched by the other foot or hand. I remembered how delightful it felt as a child to lay in bed hours after waking up because how good it felt to let my body melt into the coocoon of the heavy blankets- but all this achiness I now felt drove me out of bed whether I was ready to get up or not. I was wondering if this is what it felt like to get old!

But guess what? Yeah, this last week, I woke up on Saturday, about 2 weeks into my treatment, and I noticed how nice it felt to just lay there. I realized I had slept on my back for nearly the whole night. I had been feeling better and better all this last week, and feeling compelled to switch positions less and less. It’s been great. I am a child in my bed again!

And I’ve felt no side-affects from the medication. A double hurray!

But I intend to keep up on the habits I know made a difference in my yeasty-symptoms:

  1. Keep away from sugar as much as possible.
  2. Keep as hydrated as I can during the day- if I don’t have to pee at least once at night then I haven’t drank enough.

Let’s keep yeast in bread and beer, where it belongs!

-M

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