|'ve been on a long journey with many different doctors looking at me and my lab results who thought I was crazy so I thought it was time to post for others' benefit. I've had low calcium in my blood for over two years. It presented quite quickly and I had pain, tingling in extremities, mental confusion and balance and speech problems. After multiple sclerosis, Lymes disease and many other things were ruled out, it was found I had low blood calcium. My mom is celiac so I started a very strict gluten-free diet and that only helped some symptoms. But I still needed over 4000mg of elemental calcium to stay alive and upright.
I've seen GI docs, endocrinologists, a neurologist, opthamologist and a rheumatologist I had started on 20 mg of Losec (=Prilosec=omeprazole) three years ago for reflux symptoms and worsening asthma. Taking it reversed all the symptoms in 48 hrs. During my low calcium days, I ended up with pain under my right rib and in lower right mid section of my back. I'd had upper GI endoscopy (no lingering damaged villi from celiac disease) and a GI CT scan, abdominal ultrasound and later a colonoscopy which were all normal. My GI doc doubled my Losec to 40mg and the pain disappeared again. I've had 4 nasty 72hr fecal fat tests, most of which show borderline fat malabsorption. One test was done with pancreatic enzymes and I felt amazing - lots of energy and no more diarrhea but the pain from the enzymes drove me off them.
So with chronic diarrhea (which last GI doc said "Just take Immodium as necessary") and 4500mg of calcium a day to stay alive, I turned to a naturopath. At the first free consult she said "Did you know that the pain from low stomach acid can feel the same as reflux?" EURAKA moment! My mother has achlorhydria diagnosed at 19 and my grandmother as well. I'd mentioned that to GI docs but they said I had high stomach acid, not low! So first she gave me a 200 question form and followed it by one on nutrition/malnutrition (in my case!) with 300 questions. As I expected, I had a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth from having my stomach acid lowered so much. She gave me strong probiotics that cleared up a year-long battle with the BIG-D in less than a week. Then we started addressing the stomach acid issue. I knew I had low stomach acid on the 40mg of Losec so getting off that was a challenge but it was helped with the betaine HCL capsules she gave me. Miraculously, I no longer needed 4500mg of calcium a day! After a few weeks of stabilizing my normal levels, it turns out I still have naturally low stomach acid like my mother. I also have low pancreatic enzymes and taking those with meals with lots of protein or fat really help the bowels.
All these symptoms -achlorhydria, bacterial overgrowth and low pancreatic enzymes- fit with Sjogren's. To date I have a tentative Sjogren's diagnosis from the rheumatologist but am not dry enough or have enough joint pain to treat. But the amazing thing I wanted everyone to know is that the dreadful fatigue is gone! I was lying on the couch exhausted from grocery shopping six weeks ago. And now I am working full-time, doing volunteer work, my musical activities and have energy to spare. I wonder how many other people have subtle malabsorption problems that are causing some of their fatigue.
I was very resistant to head to a naturopath as I am trained as a biochemist and have worked for years in research with MDs. But I urge anyone who has strange digestive issues and no real diagnosis of reflux to have themselves checked out. Mainline medicine would have eventually killed me by the absence of digging deeper or "thinking outside the box". A fresh pair of eyes and a very intelligent health care provider have me back in better balance. I'm sure my journey with Sjogren's will be a long one but before I was living month to month and very close to a bathroom with handfuls of supplements, trying to guess what I'd be deficient in next!