I have so much to say about this and I honestly I’m not even sure where to start. Below you will find the data that helped me figure things out. I started having weird symptoms in August 2021. In October, a week and a half prior to getting COVID, I started having major fatigue and low-grade fevers. I am 47 years old and I believe that what threw things off was being in a hormonally fragile time – kind of like the operating system is undergoing a major update – and then throwing a wrench into everything with 6 weeks of high anxiety.
I have to pause here to acknowledge the friends and family who supported me, prayed for me, and helped me through. I was very depressed through much of it and had some major lows, compounded by not feeling well enough to get outside and enjoy activity like I normally do to cope. I had to just be with myself and all the feelings. I wondered at several points if I was dying, or if this was my new reality forever. My sweet husband would never make me feel bad about the time missed from work. He really stepped up to take care of things when I was on my “Couch Island” too exhausted to get up. I questioned whether this was all in my head but he would remind me that it’s hard to fake a fever. I’d have him check his own temperature in case my thermometer was just wrong. I tried to mind-over-matter the whole thing. I got tired of working so little and would caffeinate + take Tylenol so I could work. I’d have a string of good days, think I was over it, and when it came creeping back (I could definitely feel it) I just wanted to go to bed and not get up until I had answers.
Here is a visual representation of January through June 2022. The blue F’s in the top left corners of each day are fever days. Green H is headaches, red dots are periods. I wondered if there was some correlation there but it didn’t appear to be the case. At any rate, June was my turning point. One little episode of a couple of hours early in the month. You may see that when I feel better and work a full schedule, I get more headaches. Muscular tension! I’m working on that now…
Finally in June 2022 I feel well. I feel 90-95% better. I’ve returned to a full work schedule as well as full exercise schedule. I feel like myself again and for that I am so, so very grateful.
When it comes to health, leave no stone unturned. Keep pushing. In April I had a referral put in to Mayo Clinic and it was declined. Twice. I suspected hormones simply due to the onset, and the connection with what was happening was explained via the hypothalamus/HPA axis. The hypothalamus controls things like body temperature and hormones. I messed up the operating system while it was in a major update mode. Because I suspected this and found data to support my theory via published studies, I ordered a direct lab hormone panel through Everlywell. The results are posted further down the page. When I saw that my progesterone and testosterone were so low, I reached out to a doctor who specializes in hormone therapy. She started me on bioidentical progesterone at a low dose and DHEA to support natural, gentle testosterone production. I wanted to simply be in a normal range for a perimenopausal woman and hoped that correcting the imbalance would bring my body back to health.
I’ve had some very valuable lessons along the way! It turns out that our bodies are not our adversaries. I am my body. I am worthy of taking the best care to nurture and support my body. I am also a spiritual being and that aspect needs nurturing as well. The anxiety that I had around my first bodybuilding show was unnecessary. It was actually a very fun experience! The people were wonderful. I want to do it again, when the time is right. I want a do-over. I want to embrace the experience 🙂
Timeline of Symptoms
- 2021 – had been feeling better than ever up until this change!
- August 2021 decided to get lean for early October bodybuilding show
- VERY nervous, lots of adrenaline
- Period came 5 days early (22 day cycle)
- Lost 10# in 6 weeks (119-109)
- Natural athlete – no PEDS – did take Yohimbine as natural fat burner
- 11th – mountain biking and felt I could not push hard/get my heart rate up. Switched to walking only for cardio
- Resting heart rate in the 50’s
- Eating 1300-1500 cal/day
- Drinking 3-4 quarts water with electrolytes
- Lifting 5 days x 45-60 minutes, not very intensely
- Cardio around an hour at a walk
- Late in month started feeling very dizzy, especially when standing up from leaning over
- BP low normal
- Hemoglobin and electrolytes tested normal on 9/30
- Cycle length 24 days, but period lasted 14!
- Felt the adrenaline coursing through my system every time I thought about the event. Requested Xanax for show day.
- Show on the 2nd, went just fine, had fun, wasn’t as lean as the other girls but I was happy with myself for showing up.
- Still dizzy, TSH normal 10/5
- Started with low grade fever and distinct fatigue on 10/11 – COVID negative
- Was feeling good enough to hike by 10/17
- Got COVID 10/20 – breakthrough infection – temp 100-101, increased fatigue, loss of taste/smell, plugged ear, tinnitus, joint pain, body aches, palpitations lasted about 1.5 weeks acutely and took some time to subside
- Fevers, fatigue most days
- Cycle regulated at 27 days with 6 days of menstruation. First 2 days always heavy
- Continued low grade fevers, fatigue most days
- Lymph nodes swollen, cold sores, fluttering in ear, joint pain
- Further testing indicated latent Epstein-Barr virus reactivation (perhaps a result of COVID)
- Took 2 weeks off of work to rest with no improvement
- Itchy rash end of month
- Tried herbal anti-viral regimen with no change
- Started tracking fever days. 19 in January.
- Had 2 solid very good weeks of feeling normal! Fever returned 2/21 after a weekend away
- Checked CBC (unremarkable) and Lyme (negative)
- 12 fever days
- Checked CRP, ANA (autoimmune issues?) all normal
- 18 fever days
- Super heavy period, bled through cup within 2 hours
- Annual wellness exam – low D/high cholesterol – all other labs good
- Direct lab female hormone panel showed low testosterone and progesterone
- 14 fever days
- Started bioidentical progesterone and DHEA on the 7th. Doctor stated it will take 30-60 days to notice a change.
- 19 fever days
- Temperature 99.3-99.6
- Distinct, major fatigue, difficult to get through day
- Low libido
- Increased palpitations
- Night sweats
- Trouble falling asleep (managing 7 hours sleep per night though!)
- Brain fog/grasping for words
- Heavier than heavy periods, shorter cycles
- Resting heart rate up from 60 to 68
- Difficulty keeping weight down – always hungry!
- Lifting weights 4 days/week x 60 minutes
- Average 12,000 steps daily
- Biking or jogging 3x/week moderate pace
- Eating 2000-2200 calories (huge appetite, always)
- Sleep average a little over 7 hours
- 90 oz average water intake
- Plant-based diet (since 2017) high protein 130g/day
- Supplements include: multivitamin/mineral includes selenium, creatine monohydrate 5mg, DHA/EPA, D 6000iu, iodine 2.5mg, l-carnitine 500mg, l-glutamine 5mg, magnesium glycinate 500mg, taurine 500mg, zinc 50mg, branched chain amino acids, electrolytes
- Low stress job
- Meditate 2x/week. Regular infrared sauna and weekly epsom salt baths.
HPA axis dysfunction as a result of high stress period last fall at fragile time in hormonal life (perimenopause).