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Lupus/Question on positive ANA


QUESTION: I am 34 year old mother of 3; I've been hypothyroid since I was 18.  I came down with some unknown virus in December that gave me severe leg muscle aches, fever of 102, and chills. It followed with a very itchy rash and was given a steriod.  I still had symptoms coughing up mucus, then moving to my nose until mid-Jan when a minute clinic doctor from CVS in Winston put me on an antibiotic. I started feeling better but at some point noticed my fingers felt stoved like I had hurt them playing a sport.  I have been dealing with stiff feet in the morning and it seemed that when I woke my feet, knees, and hands were rebelling but anytime I stopped, it came back.  I saw my doctor Feb. 2 at Wake Forest and she wasnt concerned but ran an arthritis panel, nothing came back abnormal except ANA. 1:320 speckled and TSH .350.  She said she saw no reason to send me to a Rheumatologist if ibuprofen is working because she didn't see anything going on.  Aka no other symptoms of any autoimmune diseases.  My family and I are now trying to cut out gluten.  I did develop psoriasis sfter the birth of my second child.  It is scalp.

We are working on my thyroid levels, and waitin to see on the ANA.What would you do?

ANSWER: Hello!
Thanks for writing. I will attempt to be as helpful as I can.
I am not a doctor but I have 20 years' experience living with 4 autoimmune conditions and I have tried everything under the sun- mainstream and alternative, and some of it has helped tremendously.

Looking at the bigger picture, I do see autoimmune, as psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. And some forms of hypothyroid are also autoimmune. (Do you have Hashimoto's?). It is not uncommon, once you have one autoimmune disease for others to appear at some point.

You ask what I would do.
I would do anything for my health, and I have. I've got acupunture, chelation therapy, had my fillings replaced, chiropractic, massage, lymphatic massage, energy medicine, psychotherapy, prescriptions, physical therapy- the list is long.

But in the end, the long-term things that helped the most (and cost nothing, except for the blood test) were doing chi gung and changing my diet: I cut out gluten and dairy (and nutrasweet, eggs and bananas) after having food allergy tests done. These were not pin-prick tests, which check for immediate reactions, but a blood panel that checks for delayed reactions. If I accidentally eat dairy (party/ restaurant) I know because my tendons flare up. If I accidentally get some gluten, I know because my joints swell and hurt. And if i want a migraine, give me MSG or nutrasweet. Just one life saver with nutrasweet, that'll do it.

I don't know where you live, but try calling/ e mailing Dr. Mark Hyman's office and see if you can get an appointment or a referral to a functional medicine doctor. That kind of doctor will look for and remove underlying causes of symptoms, rather than just relieving symptoms with drugs. Sometimes it's allergies, sometimes vitamin deficiencies, sometimes heavy metal toxicity.

If you can't find a functional medicine doctor, try an osteopath. Ask around for a recommendation. Also try ACAM, Call a yoga studio or health food store if you have to and look for some leads on effective knowledgeable healers. Decide if you want someone to get to the bottom of this. Once you get clear on that, then don't let up knocking on doors and asking questions until you're satisfied with the answers you get.

That is what I would- and did- do, and I got my health back.

I believe we were not meant to suffer. We simply live in an unhealthy environment and we have to learn to protect ourselves and be healthy despite some of the things around us that are working against that.

Well wishes-

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Speaker, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer - Carla's book "How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This?"

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: You have no idea how much I appreciate your email.  I live outside of Winston Salem so my GP is at Wake Forest but I did look into Dr. Hyman but decided to go a little closer at least for now:

She practices Functional medicine in Asheville and another doctor there only takes chronic illness patients by referral so I feel like based on what she thinks maybe this would be a good start.

So in your opinion as someone who has done this, should I have further blood testing done to see whatever antibodies are there which may give clues to what could be? Or should I just work on getting better because it doesn't matter what could be, only what I am facing now?  Right now the soles of my feet hurt, my toes, fingers joints feel stiff in the morning but wrists hurt possibly from over work due to using them to pick up my children and not my hands.  stiff knees when I first get up

Did you ever take traditional meds?

hello! yes, I took traditional meds. lots of them. at one point i was on 9 drugs and chemo and tranfusions and injections. ick! but you gotta do what you gotta do and I was at death's door.

I think the functional medicine people will do further testing. It's not either/ or. They will try to get to the bottom of what's going on, recommend whatever is needed, even if it may involve regular medicine for a bit (hopefully not- but you gotta do what you gotta do, and their goal is to get you totally well). They are MDs, but they also think holistically. You'll be in good hands. They will both look for answers and help you get whole again.

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Survivor, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer - Carla's book "How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This?"


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Carla Ulbrich


I can answer questions such as "what is lupus?" (How common is it? Is it contagious? What are the symptoms? etc.). Also, I can answer questions such as "what are the available treatments for lupus?" (both standard and alternative). Really, I'll take almost any question on lupus, though. If I can't answer it, I'll be very surprised, but I'll also go find someone who can.


I've been living with lupus (SLE) since 1992. I've had three severe bouts with it, including symptoms such as kidney failure and stroke (if you can call having a stroke a "symptom"). I have completely regained my health, though I have to be mindful to take care of myself, lest I get sick again. I use both mainstream and alternative medicine, and have tried just about everything under the sun to alleviate symptoms. A lot of it worked.

Lupus Foundation of America Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor Toastmasters Folk Alliance

How Can You Not Laugh at a Time Like This? (Tell Me Press, pub.) What is Laughter Lupus Sundial Newsletter

BA in music (UNC-Greensboro)

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Novelty Song of the Year, Just Plain Folk Awards Winner, South Florida Folk Festival Song Competition Lupus Foundation of America Seal of Approval (for book)

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Medicaid Conference Alaska Palliative Care Conference Right at Home Health Care SePHIMA Anritsu Club Med Nursing in Practice

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