Years and years ago, I was ‘treated’ for non-existent systemic candida. Systemic candida infections generally only occur in people who have severe immune deficiency, like people with AIDS. But they are commonly, and falsely, blamed for everything from autism to chronic fatigue syndrome, anything that’s currently incurable and thus an easy target for people to make money selling cures for.
I was given a test that showed that I had candida in my body (so does everyone, it’s a normal part of the body, but the quacks don’t tell you that). My parents and I were told that I needed to follow a very limited diet (not just the infamous “candida diet”, but a diet free of foods the guy claimed I was allergic to, that I am not in fact allergic to). And I was supposed to take heavy-duty oral anti-fungals. Ones with serious side-effects.
The anti-fungals made me violently ill. I spent the entire day vomiting. The fact that this can be a side-effect is one reason that these drugs are not meant for use unless someone truly needs them. Instead of considering it a side-effect, the doctor told my mother that I would never “get better” unless I continued to take it and that I had to “get worse” before I could get better. He said that I wouldn’t have that reaction if I didn’t have systemic candidiasis (it’s, in reality, a common reaction whether or not you have a fungal infection of any kind). There was a concerted effort to guilt-trip me into taking the drug.
I stopped taking the drug anyway, because I couldn’t be persuaded to take it again and people decided not to force the issue. But I stayed on the diet for a long time. The diet caused the immediate positive-seeming effects that any restrictive diet causes anyone (google the word orthorexia to see what I mean), and then over the course of a long period of time I got less and less nutrients and felt worse and worse. I was finally persuaded to stop the diet, at which point I got healthier and healthier.
Fast forward to the present day. I’d started discovering bright red patches under my breast, sometimes with little white flakes on them. I showed one to a friend, and she said it looked like her candida skin fold infections (the kind of candida infections that even people with perfectly fine immune systems get). It started sort of coming and going. I showed it to one of my case managers, a nurse, who said she’d contact a doctor about a prescription of something for it. She agreed that it looked like a standard fungal skin fold infection. And she agreed that even when it wasn’t visible it wasn’t really going away, and needed treatment.
So I went to a doctor about two other (and completely unrelated, as far as I know) skin problems. In passing, I mentioned the under-breast thing. At which point he looked under the other breast (the one that didn’t have the redness under it to begin with) and said he didn’t see anything. Then his supervisor looked under the correct breast (the one with usually the redness) and the redness wasn’t there. I told them that my friend had seen the redness, the nurse had seen the redness, it was coming and going on a regular basis, and that the visiting nurses were supposed to have a piece of fabric they could stick between my breast and the skin beneath it, and were supposed to talk to the doctor about ordering a (topical, not oral, of course) medication, like a powder or cream, to put on it. They said that sounded like a reasonable thing to do to it.
My nurse called the doctor’s office, and was told by the people there that the doctors had not seen anything under my breast and were therefore not going to do anything about it. Apparently her having seen something and my friend having seen something and me having seen something didn’t count for anything, it had to be there right when the doctor looked.
That was yesterday. Today it hurt a lot under my breast. I looked and there is a large, unmistakable bright red streak with little white flakes all over it. I just took it next door to my friend so that she could witness in the future that indeed this thing does exist and that I am not making up tales of a vague fictional phantom breast streak. She said that this time it’s totally unmistakable what it is, and that it’s much worse than before.
But I have no cream or powder to put on it, and no fancy cloth things to stick to it to keep the skin from touching other skin. Because unless a doctor saw it happening, as it was happening, then a nurse’s word, my own word, and a friend’s word, combined, are apparently not enough.
So I was once described as having a systemic candida infection, when I had no such thing, simply because I was autistic and someone ran some dubious tests. And the doctor nearly tried to shove a treatment down my throat with assorted dire threats if I didn’t follow a ridiculous treatment for a non-existent infection. Now I have a real, absolutely obvious, can’t be missed skin infection that is probably candida and that hurts. And the doctor is claiming that it doesn’t exist enough to treat because the one morning I was in his office it wasn’t visible. I think the universe must be playing a bizarre joke on me, because it seems ridiculous.