“I’ve been ill since the sixth grade. I was diagnosed with a Strep infection 4 times that year! After that, I never really got better. I became the only kid who would go to the doctor and beg for a shot of penicillin; I was that tired of being sick. When I was in the 8th grade, I started getting a pimply rash that my doctor diagnosed as Keratitis Polaris (on my arms) and some other type of dermatitis (on my face). My doctor prescribed various creams – Elidel worked on my face and I had to use it from that time forward. Elidel is actually a fairly scary topical cream that many doctors are hesitant to prescribe. I continued to be ill quite a bit: which was wearing. When I was 18, my gums began to bleed. This isn’t the tiny bit of blood you might see in the sink when you brush your teeth. This is much worse. My mom took me to the dentist. He said my gums were healthy and he was confused because he typically saw this type of problem with pregnant women and I wasn’t pregnant. By the time I was 20, I was frustrated by life and exhausted. I was struggling with a continuous onslaught of illnesses, medicating my skin to keep it healthy, and suffering from chronically bleeding gums. My doctor tested me for myriad alarming diseases – and everything came back negative. He seemed to give up and suggested I take anti-depressants. My mom took me to an endocrinologist for a second opinion. He suggested that perhaps I had been molested as a child and “forgotten” it and my symptoms were evidence of that. I quit going to doctors.
When I was in the fifth grade. I got “bunny braces” to correct my front teeth. All of my teeth had fallen out at the same time and the new teeth did not appear for a year; so my front teeth were fairly crooked. I graduated from my “bunny braces” to full braces when I was in the 8th grade. In May of my Junior year of high school, the orthodontist removed my braces and replaced them with permanent retainers.
When I was 18 and seeing my dentist for those bleeding gums, one of his hygienists suggested I might have a nickel allergy. The dentist gave us “that look” that politely asks people to disregard the rogue hygienist. So we did. And I regret that moment!
When I was 22, my sister gave me a sentimental necklace. I didn’t wear a lot of jewelry but I wanted to wear this necklace. I put it on and, within minutes, was scrambling to get it off of me. It felt like it was burning my skin! I felt like this was crazy and inspected the chain to see if it had sharp edges that were cutting me. I’d had problems with earring before (my ears are pierced) but had never connected those problems to an issue with nickel; I’d just returned the earrings or thrown them away. I really wanted to keep this necklace so I started researching ways to coat jewelry so that I could continue to wear it. A few websites suggested I might have a nickel allergy.
That necklace saved my life! At the age of 22 – after several years of ill health, unhappy skin, and bleeding gums – I had my orthodontist remove my permanent retainers. We agreed that I would return to him in one month to have them replaced if I wasn’t feeling better. I never went back. Within 3 days, my gums had largely stopped bleeding. They would (and still do) bleed a bit when I am under large amounts of stress. My skin issues also went away during that first month of no retainers. I no longer need Elidel at all; which is amazing given the many years that I had to use it daily. And I feel better. Yes, better is relative (and I do still feel ill on occasion) but I’m getting better everyday. I’m now 23. That’s how quickly my health changed once I removed the nickel-filled retainers from my teeth. If you’re having health problems that can’t seem to be resolved, consider your exposure to nickel. Unfortunately, nickel isn’t something that most Doctors are taught to consider. I’m so grateful my sister gave me that necklace and started me on the path to health.