January 3, 2011

My Reunion with Cheese and That Time I Got Scammed

Today I ate cheese.  Gloriously, cheesy, cheese.  It was mozzarella and sat atop a pizza with gluten-free thin crust. It was ever so perfectly browned on top with just the right amount of stringiness and that one of a kind cheese texture that no vegan cheese I have tasted can quite mimic (sorry vegans, its good but just not the same).  Today marked my two-year reunion with cheese, my most beloved of dairy products.  Why have I not eaten cheese in two years you ask?  What has changed?  Well that’s a long story that I’m about to tell you now.

Before it was determined that my true diagnoses are chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, the one thing that doctor’s could find wrong with me was a hypothyroid disorder, specifically Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  I worked with an endocrinologist who put me on Synthroid (a synthetic thyroid hormone) and my levels returned to normal, however, I still didn’t feel better.  When I told this to the endocrinologist he told me that there was nothing else wrong with me that he could see and refused to look any further.  Thus, began a marathon to see just about every relevant specialist in the search for an explanation for my symptoms to no avail. 

That’s when my mother and father started researching thyroid disorders and various approaches to endocrinology.  Disappointed with traditional medicine’s inability to help me, I started seeing Dr. Robban Sica, an endocrinologist who also practices alternative medicine.  Dr. Sica seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to the doctors I had seen before.  She took me seriously, understood my frustration, and assured me I wouldn’t have to struggle any longer.  She claimed I was on far too little thyroid medication and that my past treatment with the use of antibiotics etc. had caused damage to my system.  She also believed that I had several environmental and food related allergies.  For the first time after 5 years I finally felt like I we were onto something.  She was going to be my miracle worker.  She was going to cure me of whatever it was that was making me sick.  She treated me with a higher dose of thyroid medication, supplements, IV vitamin infusions, and electrodermal screening for the allergies.

Lucky for Dr. Sica, I began seeing her over the winter when I experience my symptoms the most intensely.  Therefore, the transition into the next season aligned well with the start of my treatment, making it appear that I was improving.  According to the electrodermal screening I was allergic to onion, garlic, tomatoes, any fruits and vegetables with blue and purple coloring (berries, watermelon etc.), yeast, corn, and cow’s milk.  Also lucky for Dr. Sica, my corn allergy caused me to stop eating all processed food that tends to be loaded with sugar (which I now know I am allergic to), onion and garlic cause stomach irritation (especially in already irritated stomachs), and I am allergic to uncooked tomatoes.  Therefore, my stomach did improve a bit with these eliminations.
At first, the experience of working with Dr. Sica was really positive.  She really gained my trust so I let her continue to try new things even though I wasn’t sure they were making a difference.  However, as time went by I reached a plateau where I wasn’t improving any further.  That’s when her practices become more questionable.  My parents and I could start to see that she was getting desperate and running out of ideas, yet she continued to throw pills at me.  In the end, I was taking 64 pills a day (supplements and prescriptions) and she had claimed to cure my allergies to onion, garlic, tomatoes, any fruits and vegetables with blue and purple coloring with drops that I took 3 times a day under my tongue but the other one continued to fluctuate.  So what was really going on here?

For starters, here’s the truth about “electordermal screening”: It looks quite fancy and medical.  The patient to be evaluated holds a source electrode, or brass bar, covered with wet gauze in one hand and the practitioner holds a second brass electrode, or probe, like a pen and touches a specific conductance point in the other hand or in a foot with the probe while firmly supporting the finger. But here’s the catch: all the device actually measures is how hard the practitioner presses the probe against the patient's skin.  

And the pills, supplements, and IVs? To this day, I’m still not sure if any of them really worked.  What I do know is that some of them could have caused major complications had I been on them much longer.  Dr. Sica had me taking 2.5 times more thyroid hormone than I actually need.  She prescribed me Prednisone for adrenal fatigue that I don’t actually have, which could have caused my adrenal gland to stop producing adrenaline on its own if I had been on it longer.  And she had me taking a drug that interferes with the efficacy of birth control pills, but failed to tell me.  

So now here we are, back to me eating cheese with my loving parents who are now $12,000+ poorer thanks to Dr. Sica.  Don’t worry, she didn’t get off scot-free.  Last I checked she is facing charges that could result in the revocation of her medical license.  And I am not a spiteful person, but if it happens, I will eat cheese and laugh. 


  1. Oh my gosh, Marah, that is horrible. I certainly hope she does loose her license. Imagine if she kept practicing. You're so lucky you weren't on the medications so long that you had serious damage done to your body. I've had someone try and do the electordermal screening on me as well, but I passed on it since I'd not done enough research on it. She wasn't even a licensed health care professional of any kind. She just took this online course and got the machine from a practitioner she was going to be working with to help do screenings out of her home. Plus, she did this thing where she had me hold up supplements in my hands... one in my left, and a different one in my right, and she said that which ever arm was easier for her to push down would be the supplement that was no good for me. The other one would be the right one because my arms stayed up from the "strength" it was giving me. Um... okay... yeah, that's a great way to tell if taking something internally will work for you.

    What was so hilarious, and I laughed outright, is that she didn't show me what she was putting into my hands. She put two herbal supplements into both my hands, and the one that stayed up, and was so good for me to take, was the one I was terribly allergic to! Yup! Great test.

    There are a lot of people out there trying to make a buck off folks like us who are just trying to get better. And that really sucks. They don't care about the person's pain or the family they are hurting with what they're doing. Maybe some are legitimately trying to help and really want to make the person better, but so many times it's with very little knowledge of the person's system and what the outcome might just be.

    I'm sorry your family lost so much money to this. I will be very happy to see that woman loose her license, though.

    Susan @ Walking the Fog Covered Road

    Oh, by the way, I have a few friends and family members that take Armor thyroid and they swear it works so much better then Synthroid/Levothyroxine. It is, however, only available through mail from Canada, it's difficult to find a doctor who will prescribe it, but they are out there, and it is also made from the glands of pigs, which means, I won't touch it. :-( But they swear by it. Not sure if you'd researched that or not.

  2. Marah,
    I'm so glad you enjoyed my blog. I actually moved blogs because for the longest time it wouldn't let anyone comment on blogspot. Now I blog at calliehansen.wordpress.com. I haven't been feeling my best so I really haven't been blogging lately. I forget that's when I need to blog the most. Thanks for reminding me. I'm sorry that you haven't been feeling well, I hope you get feeling better and love your ending time at college. It was very nice to hear about someone else actually the same age as me and going through college that has an idea of how I feel. I would love to stay in contact with you. I firmly believe talking to others who understand is one of the best treatments. If you'd like to find me on facebook Callie Hansen, and it says I attend OU.
    I hope you have a wonderful energy filled day and to hear from you again,

  3. Hello Marah,

    I am sorry about not replying to your comment on my site earlier. I have not felt well lately. You will find lots of beautiful people with big hearts on various blog sites.

    Meanwhile, I have added you to my prayer list. Take care and remember you are not alone.

  4. Hello Marah,

    I have limited how much and what I eat because of the IBS symptoms I was experiencing along with all other symptoms. I am sorry to hear about your troubles with doctors. Hang in there.

    Meanwhile, make sure you complete stretching exercises (slowly) and eat several small meals a day. Only you know your limitations. Keeping a daily journal will assist you in the long run.

    God Bless

  5. Hi Marah,
    I don't know your email or I would have written you that way. I was at the CFIDS site and I can't find where you can locate a doctor near you at on the site. Is there a link you can give me?


  6. I've got low thyroid hormones and I feel so depressed. I suffer from fatigue and memory loss. I'm taking thyroid supplements and I'm hoping for the best results.

  7. There is a big controversy about whether we should screen and treat people with hypothyroidism. We know that people with overt hypothyroidism with symptoms need to get treated. They should try natural supplements , too.

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