Lisa has been a patient of Dr. Hausman-Cohen for over 12 years. She was diagnosed by a neurologist with a progressive idiopathic axonal neuropathy that has been causing her to experience pain and to lose strength throughout her body but especially in her legs. Over the course of two decades she went from walking with canes to being in a wheelchair anytime she left her home due to leg weakness. Her condition had become severe enough for her to enlist the help of a service dog.
As her nerve issues progressed, Lisa began experiencing difficulty with her breathing and lung function. Her diaphragm had started to get involved in the degenerative process. We were initially able to control her nerve pain with prescription medications and helped her lung function somewhat with inhalers. We improved her muscle strength by optimizing her vitamin D.
To learn more, Dr. Hausman-Cohen enlisted the help and consultations from neurology experts and pulmonologists but they did not feel there was anything that could be done to reverse or slow the progress. With this news, they realized they must find integrative options to help Lisa.
Studies have shown how gluten can be a nerve irritant in many patients. And due to the inflammatory nature of many other grains such as corn, we thought they might all be suspect. Looking into Lisa’s diet, they agreed the first step in helping Lisa would be to change her diet. She went to a highly plant-based, less inflammatory diet that is gluten free and lower in grains in general. She got some improvement and her symptoms seemed to stop progressing. Her pain levels were lowered and she was able to reduce her Lyrica (medication for neuropathic pain) and other pain medications. She even got back a little bit of her loss of restrictive lung function. However, she was still needing a wheelchair if she was walking more than a few yards at a time. Clearly, there was some great success but there was also room for more work to be done.
Returning from an amazing integrative medicine conference where the role of mitochondria was highlighted, Dr. Hausman-Cohen spoke with Lisa about the latest research showing that chronic nerve dysfunction almost always has a mitochondrial component to it. Mitochondria provide energy to nerves and muscles. They have their own (long) list of specific nutrients and co-factors that they need in order to survive. We started Lisa on a mitochondrial supplement with these factors in it.
Six weeks later Lisa walked into her doctor’s appointment leaving her service dog and wheelchair at home! Equally impressive she is now, with the help of a special carrier rack, able to load her own kayak onto her car.
Lisa’s story is not over. She does not feel that she has all her energy back and notices particular fatigue the days after kayaking. We are now working to address these issues and are optimistic that we can further improve her strength, neurological function and optimize her energy. We will keep you posted.
Melissa … Her family history will not determine her health destiny.
Frustrated with the many specialists who were unable to help her persistently elevated muscle enzymes (muscle breakdown), high cholesterol, fatigue, insomnia, mood issues, low libido and her inability to exercise, Melissa sought the help of Dr. Hausman-Cohen in 2012. Melissa felt that the specialists she had worked with had focused only on the lab values and trying to put a label on her condition.
Dr. Hausman-Cohen reviewed all of her labs, biopsies, neurological testing and medications and did further testing which showed Melissa had a gene that made her have a higher risk for heart disease and Alzheimer’s if left unaddressed. Dr. Hausman-Cohen’s focus then shifted to protecting Melissa’s heart and brain and to helping her feel well. Together, they focused on addressing her overall health goals of improving fatigue, cognition, muscle fatigue and pain. The first measure was to reduce her cardiac and cognitive risks since both her father and brother had heart attacks in their 40s and 50s and her mother died relatively young of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases. Melissa was now in her 50s and had high cholesterol and had noticed some memory problems.
Dr. Hausman-Cohen worked with Melissa using dietary changes specific to her genetic type, supplements, bio-identical hormones including optimizing thyroid, vitamin D, estrogen and testosterone as well as a prescription medication that was not a statin. Every step of the way, Dr. Hausman-Cohen showed Melissa studies supporting her decisions. For example, before utilizing testosterone, Dr. Hausman-Cohen showed Melissa studies supporting the benefits of testosterone from a cardiac, muscle and cognitive standpoint which was very important to Melissa.
With these interventions, her LDL dropped over 40 points but more importantly, she felt clear and bright.
Many of the changes made for her heart and brain also helped her muscles, however, Melissa still had room for improvement. Their goal was to help Melissa to exercise without fatigue or huge increases in muscle breakdown. For this, Dr. Hausman-Cohen researched options and started Melissa on supplements targeting inflammation and mitochondria that had been associated with prevention of muscle breakdown.
Melissa’s health and sense of wellness is dramatically improved but we are still working together to optimize her health. We are tweaking supplements based on recent studies to give her more ability to repair muscles so she can exercise to her full potential without having problems with her muscle enzymes. Recently, we added L-glutamine which is an amino acid that athletes use prior to exercise to help prevent muscle breakdown. We look forward to continuing our work with Melissa so that her family history is not her health destiny.
At her last visit, Melissa reported that she was doing great. “Sleeping without sleep aids is life altering. I feel better, I feel brighter. My mood is better. I was depressed before and it is gone, but what’s interesting is that the shift was so gradual I had not realized I was depressed [until I felt so much better]. It has also stabilized my weight and I think I have even lost a few pounds. Sexually everything is better as well. ”
Susan’s pain started with a stabbing sensation in the upper left abdominal quadrant, usually 15-30 minutes after she would start eating – not when the meal was over. It happened at every meal for 3 weeks, after which the pain became constant. She went to urgent care where they did a gastric cocktail test (which made the pain much worse), blood work, urine test, and a CT scan. The doctors happened to find an ovarian cyst and a lesion on her liver.
The urgent care doctor sent her to her GP -> her GP wasn’t sure what was going on -> she referred her to a gastroenterologist. In the meantime, she tried to go back to work but unfortunately, that made the pain worse. She ended up at the ER because the pain was so bad she had trouble breathing. They did some blood and urine tests; they gave her IV morphine, Zofran, and Pepcid. The morphine didn’t help, so they tired Dilaudid. It helped with the pain, but made her really nauseous.
The GI doctor thought an endoscopy would be a good idea. Unfortunately, however, the procedure didn’t reveal a cause for the pain. Susan was given two options: long term pain control or exploratory surgery. Neither of these were acceptable options so she returned to talk with her GP. He prescribed both an MRI and an ultrasound to check the ovarian cyst but no new information was revealed. Susan found another gastroenterologist who ordered a gastric emptying study, which also came back normal. He then recommended that she at least meet with the general surgeon to see if he had a new perspective and fresh ideas. Unfortunately, the surgeon only suggested surgery.
By the time Susan contacted us, she had been unable to work for almost 3 months. In response to her email, Dr. Hausman-Cohen called her and did further inquiry of her symptoms. Doctor Hausman-Cohen felt that the pain was acting like mesenteric ischemia. That meant that there was not enough blood flow to the vessels that support the intestines and stomach. This would explain why eating made her symptoms worse as digestion takes a lot of work. Normally this condition is seen in older individuals at risk for heart disease. And while Susan did have a family history of heart disease, given her age and health history, Dr. Hausman-Cohen really did not feel this was a likely cause.
They discussed the possibility of an impingement; something catching the blood vessel and causing the pain. Rather than going for exploratory surgery as a first measure, Dr. Hausman-Cohen thought it was worth having Susan work with a well trained and experienced therapist for visceral manipulation and told Susan how to find someone certified in her area. She also gave her the option of coming to Austin where her associate, Carol Bilich would be happy to see her. Susan visited with a visceral therapist in her area but expressed that she did not really get much benefit. She decided to come to Austin to work with Dr. Hausman-Cohen and with Carol. Dr. Hausman-Cohen conducted a full exam and determined that food sensitivity testing might also be of value as it might help reduce her pain levels as well.
Upon Susan’s first visit with Carol, Carol was able to determine that her omentum (the lining of the gut that has the mesenteric arteries in it) was caught under her ribcage. She surmised that it likely happened while Susan, a veterinarian technician, was bending over and holding large dogs at work. Carol was able to release the caught tissue. On her way out Susan reported she was already 70% improved. Before her visit she was unable to bend forward more than 15 degrees without pain. Immediately afterward, she actually spent some time gathering fallen pecans from the yard around Carol’s home studio! She was ecstatic. Carol saw Susan twice more and the following week she flew back to her home and got back to work. No further expensive testing or surgeries were needed.
There are often structural components that Dr. Hausman-Cohen’s examination can point to that require the hands-on skills of a versatile, well trained, integrative therapist. Together, Dr. Hausman-Cohen and Carol Bilich work to solve the complex issues of their patients.