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Back in December of last year I (24M, 5'10", 175ish at the time, now 160ish, white/ashkenazi descent) had a severe acute selenium toxicity event as a result of eating way too many Brazil nuts in a day. This was preceded by abnormally high consumption of Brazil nuts on and off for over a year. I was close to perfectly healthy prior to this time, aside from some indicators of existing neurological damage, since I've had a weak sense of smell for a very long time.
There's a lot to describe here, so please excuse some disorganization of thought. I will start with my initial symptoms, the ones that subsided, then move into symptoms that have persisted or are new, before finishing with attempts at treatment. I know it's a lot, but I think most of it is relevant, and I will immensely appreciate any advice or input.
During the night in question, after returning home from a long hike with my wife, I was playing video games when I heard an odd, out-of-place sound (which was reminiscent of metal scraping against metal) followed shortly thereafter by my blood pressure spiking super high (was around 160/120), accompanied by numbness in both legs that lasted for days, circulation that became terrible for weeks, and my heart rate rose to tachycardia, which has persisted with regularity for months afterwards. At the time it happened, I could feel each heart beat, as my heart pounded very hard. Palpitations outside just a bounding heartbeat were also common, along with some agnia. My digestion was absolutely wrecked as well. Extreme fatigue was common, and sleep was very difficult. I was sweating excessively every night for weeks. I felt detached from my lower body for weeks as well. And, the lymph node along the right underside of my jaw grew very swollen. Leading up to this event, it had a tendency to swell, but I discovered I could make it relax by messaging it.
About a week after the initial event, I went to the ER for my symptoms, and was sent home after they did some blood work (which was basically perfectly normal), and an X-ray, which confirmed I did not have a heart attack.
I ultimately went to a cardiologist for my persistent cardiovascular symptoms. He told me he could not find anything wrong with my heart itself, after a proper ECG, listening to my heart, and an ultrasound of my heart, but could definitely tell there was a "signaling issue." He said my heart was acting like I was running a marathon, but it seemed completely unnecessary, as there was no actual weakness or scarring. When I told him I could almost always feel my heartbeat, he said he wasn't surprised, with how hard and fast my heart was beating. He indicated he thought it would likely get better with time, and did not seem overly concerned, considering I told him the cause was heavy metal poisoning. This made him suggest it was likely temporary. I immediately improved significantly, since this removed a lot of anxiety.
It did get better in some ways, but some new symptoms came and went. First, I treated the numbness in my legs by using a pedaler. As I pedaled, I noticed that simple numbness was not the only issue, as the muscles in my legs were actually firing incorrectly. As I would pedal, my entire quad, on each leg as I went, would harden fully. Not just the portion of the muscle necessary for the action, but the entire muscle would activate all at once. This particular symptom subsided rather quickly, with a few days of pedaling.
This was not the only neurological symptom related to my legs, and soon after they developed involuntary movements (which I believe would be considered tremors). They would only ever jolt one at a time, so it wasn't persistent involuntary trembling. I would feel a certain pressure that would culminate in a leg jolt, which would then bring a certain relief. It would only ever happen at rest, while sitting or laying. I felt as though I could resist the urge to twitch, but it also felt like allowing my body to relieve itself was more productive. After about a month or two of that, it finally stopped.
I also suffered from something approximating extreme hypnic jerks as I would near sleep, many of which were originating in my torso, and were commonly painful. This went away within the first month or so, and has recently returned, but not as bad.
I suffered from cognitive impairment as well, with sudden bouts of loss of focus and concentration, general difficulty focusing altogether, a sense of detachment from myself and my surroundings, blurry vision, and sensitivity to any unknown or unexpected sounds, which would cause an anxiety response. I presume this was some form of PTSD related to the sound heard during the initial event. My overall tolerance for anxiety was very low, but has significantly improved. Sometimes I'd feel as though I'd momentarily blipped out of existence entirely, during moments when all my senses would cut off for a split-second. It's difficult to describe, but I mean sound and sight would both leave me, as everything would go true-black and sound would cut out. I'd also have instances where it almost felt as if my brain lost track of where my eyes were expected to be looking, resulting in momentary disorientation. Most of this has resolved itself, but it was rather extreme for a time.
I'm unsure if it's related to my neurology, but I've also had an odd sensation that builds in my torso, feels like around my diaphragm area, that's somewhat like the neurological pressure I'd feel when my legs wanted to twitch. I am able to "release," for lack of a better word, this sensation, which usually results in some slight tingling in my quads, as if they reach a more relaxed state. It feels necessary to prevent the pressure from building, and it only happens at rest. It's feels less common now, but was very prevalent for months.
I did, and still do, suffer from exercise intolerance. I often feel lightheaded after sets when weight training, and my recovery after any exercise is characterized by momentary lapses of focus that don't last long enough to place as lightheadedness, but interrupt concentration, and feel not dissimilar to near loss of consciousness. A general feeling of unwellness is also common, post-workout. Recently, there's not really been any accompanying fatigue, though. Tachycardia is a constant during weight training, and the heartbeat is easily felt (which I guess is considered palpitations, but that's pretty normal for me now). Initially I'd have skipped beats during cardio, but that has subsided. I only have symptoms post cardio, now.
Regarding cardiovascular symptoms, it takes very little for my heart rate to shoot past 100, rarely going above 120. Palpitations such as skipped beats, or my heart stumbling over itself, are frequent, but have become less so with time. They would happen multiple times per night at first, but that's become far less common. Agnia is now uncommon, and usually only accompanies anxiety, when fear for my well-being overcomes me. Interestingly, I don't have issues during intense cardio exercise, like rowing, and actually can sustain myself well, the issues happen post-workout. On the other hand, getting up to urinate oftentimes makes my heart beat hard enough to be felt, and can make me temporarily tachycardic.
As an aside, I have been intermittently having a sensation in my throat that varies from a tickle up to feeling almost as though I'm choking. I can usually place it as coming around my larynx. I'm unsure if this is cardio related, as it does not come with tightness in my chest, or shortness of breath. I've not really struggled with much shortness of breath, in general. The sensation does seem to worsen upon exertion, and rarely happens during rest. I do have some scar tissue in my throat from vocal cord damage, as a result of reckless use of my voice, so my throat isn't really in the best shape to begin with.
I now have concerns about my kidney/liver (but mostly kidney) health. Roughly a month after my initial toxicity event, I noticed debris in my urine with regularity, almost every time I pee. It's usually so miniscule that it's only visible when light reflects off the water just right, but there are occasionally larger crystalline structures that are clearly visible, and some that are almost like small clear hairs formed from a chain of particles. The crystals are always clear or white, and never round or perfectly rectangular. Urination is never uncomfortable, and the color is always healthy. Recently, I have developed frequent urethral burning post urination. Intermittently, the burning has been paired with urinary urgency, and occasionally bladder ache.
While I do have many issues, amusingly my immunity is doing very well. I was always prone to seasonal allergies, but I'm not having any significant issues this year.
Now to discuss more recent developments. An attempt at treating my lingering neurological symptoms went quite haywire. At the point I'm discussing now, I was mostly just suffering from intermittent vision weakness in my left eye which was accompanied by a certain light pressure, like I was having to strain in a particular way with that eye, and I had a recurrent tight muscle in my right eyebrow for seemingly no reason. I perhaps misjudged how well I was doing, since many of my other symptoms had dissipated, and my tachycardia had significantly improved.
Either way, I took psilocybin mushrooms, after hearing for years about how they benefit neurology. My trip was quite pleasant, but it wasn't long into it that I developed an intense urinary urgency that would not subside. My urine was a healthy color, so I didn't think to consider dehydration, though I should have. I was also sweating from both hands quite a bit, but not necessarily profusely. This was accompanied by a static-y sensation in my left arm, which I chalked up to the mushrooms messing with my brain. Either way, as I came down from my trip, I REALLY felt terrible and became drowsy. I feared falling asleep, and entered into a poor mindset. I grew very detached, and feared drinking water as a result of the intense urinary urgency. My wife tried to keep me engaged by having me hand her screws for a cabinet she was building. I was fixated on how abnormal the screws felt in my static-y left hand. As I continued feeling completely aberrant, it ebbed and flowed until it culminated in me losing consciousness and falling from my chair.
My wife says I was out for some 10 seconds or so, during which time I could vaguely make out the fact she was calling my name. It was almost like a hazy dream that was comprised of a vague recollection of a childhood memory with her voice echoing my name. I came to and felt extremely bizarre. My facial muscles were very tense, and slightly difficult to control, though this was not noticeable to my wife or anyone else. I also felt as though I could lose consciousness again at any time. I feared a stroke and was taken to the ER by my wife, once again.
After a blood test, urinalysis, CT scan, and chest x-ray, I was once again told I was completely normal, and they surmised my loss of consciousness to be a result of dehydration. This time, my heart rate and BP were actually normal as well. No signs of ischemia either. I think they're likely right that it was dehydration, though I've also considered this could have been a seizure. This was the first time in my life I've lost consciousness, so I don't have much to go on, regarding what is normal for my body. On one hand, I was relieved it wasn't a stroke, and on the other I was disappointed at the way things turned out. This disappointment has only mounted over the last month or so since this trip to the ER.
While some of my neurological symptoms did improve after the mushroom incident, such as the left eye weakness, new issues have arisen now that have me somewhat perplexed.
One of the more concerning new developments is random muscle twitches. This time is generally unlike tremors, as the affected body part does not actually move, though I do seem to have the odd tremor here and there, just far less extreme when compared to earlier this year, and this time in more areas of the body than just legs. Generally, a muscle twitches, and usually only a twitch or two before stopping. This only ever happens at rest, and I've not noticed any muscle weakness or cramping. It's not just my legs this time, and seems to be potentially any muscle in the body, even torso muscles. Legs do seem like the most common, though. No shaking or unsteadiness anywhere in my body.
I've also developed some actual nerve pain, though it's rare, and may have already subsided. Shortly after returning from the ER, a few nights later, I was startled from near sleep by the sensation that my hand had been burnt, almost as if I'd pressed it against a hot pan. I've not had any other instances as notable as that one, so it may not be cause for concern, but is worth noting.
While I'd noticed the urinary debris for months leading up to the shrooms, the burning urethra post-urination and occasional urinary urgency was nonexistent before the incident. This past week, I had a particularly rough time with burning urethra after I'd started taking Apple Cider Vinegar before meals, and believe the added acidity to be the cause. The urinary urgency was worse during this time as well. It seems to be improving rather quickly now that I've stopped taking ACV, but it makes me question if my Kidneys could be the cause, since I understand they play a role in regulating acidity in the body and in the urine. I fear the psilocybin incident further damaged my kidneys, though it seems strange to me that my urinalysis and blood work were of no cause for concern, if that was the case. I've also developed odd dry mouth, especially prevalent at night, but also happens occasionally during the day, no matter what level of hydration I'm at.
For a few days after returning home, I kept feeling faint, like I could pass out again, but this sensation dissipated eventually.
My exercise intolerance seems to has worsened, as I have more bouts of lightheadedness during weight training. I had a particularly alarming incident over the last week as well. I'd been going for long walks recently (1 hourish) at a pace just short of a jog in my neighborhood, which has large hills, adding to the intensity. I'd been tolerating these well, but then decided to add weight training back into my routine, to assist my neurology, but that seems to have been a mistake.
Earlier this week I rowed for 10 minutes, which didn't cause me any problems, and followed up with weight training for about 40 minutes, which made me light headed multiple times throughout. I was mostly okay after the fact, but I could tell my body was a bit sensitive as a result. The next day I decided all I'd do is a walk, and attempted to do my standard path, but had to cut it short when I started feeling poorly. I returned home and was keenly aware of the fact I was quite tachycardic, and didn't feel very good. My at-home EKG confirmed I was around 120BPM, though it dropped slightly below 100 before too long. It continued to sit near 100, likely going above and dipping back below several times, for a few hours. My urethra was burning as well, accompanied by urinary urgency, and frequent urination. Pee was a standard color, and nothing too out of what has become ordinary for me, as far as debris goes. I started going down an internet rabbit hole about kidney problems, which spiked my anxiety and made everything worse. I haven't been particularly well since, and may or may not have had Afib a couple days after the walk that resulted in the bout of tachycardia.
While I was eating, I felt a particularly funky palpitation, where it was a heavy heartbeat, then a solid couple seconds or so before the next beat. I was also having little bouts of feeling faint, and my heart still felt abnormal, so I went upstairs and took another EKG. I felt my heart stumble a couple times while taking it, so I was curious what it'd say. It read Afib, which was the first time I've had that result from an EKG. As such, I used a feature of the Kardia app to have a cardiologist review the the chart and make a manual determination, to be certain. Less than an hour later, the cardiologist came back with a determination that it was not afib, and instead Sinus Arrythmia. This helped my anxiety, but I've been plagued by concern that I'm dying, and that I'll leave my wife without my support. My tachycardia has been particularly bad the last few days, thought not as bad as was common closer to the inital onset of symptoms. Anxiety is very much an influencing factor right now. I've been rather sensitive to anxiety, and have had difficulty controlling my anxiety since the initial toxicity event.
I do have some points in my favor, which I will cover after I discuss my attempts at treatment.
For self-treatment, I first investigated the possibility of chelation. I quickly learned that non-natural chelators are rough on the body, so I investigated natural alternatives. I was desperate for a solution, since my digestive system had basically given up the ghost, as I was passing food I had eaten some 6 hours prior, and my blood sugar felt super unstable. I read about cilantro and chlorella as options for chelation. It was going to take a minute for chlorella to arrive, so I tried eating dried cilantro.
The night I had the cilantro is the night a week after the initial incident that sent me to the ER for the first time. I felt like I was having a heart attack, and even had some numbness in my lips. I was told I was fine, and sent home, but my digestive issues made me worry a blood sugar induced heart attack was on the table. I've never had blood sugar issues, so I was somewhat reaching for any kind of understanding for what I was feeling. I had another similar incident a couple days later, but I just toughed it out, since I didn't want another horrific ER bill, just to be told I was fine again.
My chlorella arrived, and it dramatically improved my digestion, and overall well-being, almost immediately. That began my journey to recovering digestive health. I was intolerant to several staple foods of my diet, after the toxicity incident, but I've since regained a state of consistently good digestion. I am not on any pharmaceuticals, nor do I have much interest in taking any, considering the cost, and the fact that I can't be sure how they'd interact with my unique circumstance.
In the immediate aftermath of my toxicity, when I realized it was selenium poisoning, I sought to eliminate all selenium from my diet, if only temporarily. This resulted in a radical diet shift that compounded my digestive issues at the time, since I avoided meat and eggs. As my symptoms improved, I added most of my staple foods back in, with the exception of Brazil nuts, which I now staunchly believe should never be consumed by man. I also added in organ meats, as I know they are extremely nutritious. I also have been taking lion's mane mushroom extract, which I definitely believe has helped fix some of my resolved neurological symptoms. I've added in milk thistle, to support my urinary system, and nattokinase, to lower the likelihood of a clot. Despite all this, I now find myself questioning every decision I've made along the way, with my current health. Even so, I cannot deny that I am significantly better off now than I was a few months ago. I just feel like I may be backsliding.
I feel uncertain in all regards. I am unsure to what degree I've damaged my heart and kidneys. I am unsure of the biological mechanism by which they have been damaged, so planning further treatment is difficult. Should I attempt to cut more selenium out of my diet again? If I do so, and it's not necessary, that will just degrade my diet and make any organ failure worse. I've been losing weight as a result of my inability to weight train, does this mean that I may just be shedding more selenium, and need to give it time? I've become accustomed to the feeling of selenium toxicity (there's a distinct feeling in abdominal region) and I've not felt like that since the last time I attempted heavy chelation a bit over a month ago.
I fear taking cilantro tincture and chlorella a month ago, to detox, may have placed more stress upon my organs, despite the chlorella theoretically helping to mitigate that.
And, despite all my concerns about organ damage, I don't really have all that many symptoms of organ damage, currently. I've never been a drinker. No swelling in hands or feet. No lethargy or tiredness. I actually feel pretty damn good a lot of the time, whenever I'm not freaking out or recovering from exercise. No kidney pain. No cold-like symptoms, sweats, or fever. Circulation is often good, now. I don't sleep great, but I do get sleep each night. Libido is good, and erectile function is normal. I just have a couple difficult symptoms that could be tied to organ damage, like the heart function abnormalities and urinary abnormalities. Not to mention the clear nerve damage. I just know I'm victim of an underlying cause that absolutely has the potential to wreck kidneys, heart, liver, and neurology. I was a heavy weed user over the last few years, but it was mostly dry herb vape, which, while not optimal, is definitely the lesser evil amongst inhalable options. I stopped as soon as the toxicity event occurred.
My diet is very nutritionally dense. I've improved it since the toxicity event, but it was always much better than is common here in the US. I've now been eating a combination of sprouted whole grains, seeds, nuts (not Brazil), veggies, sprouts, greens, onion, garlic, bell pepper, meats, eggs, and organ meats. I am sure this would be a good diet for any healthy person, but I'm starting to question if it's the best thing for me currently. If it's not, I'm somewhat at a loss as to what adjustments I should make, especially since I don't even know precisely what the state of my well-being is.
I'm just not sure what to think, especially after being told I'm all good 3 times now, and the rarity of the underlying cause of my affliction. Selenosis is very rare in humans, and there seems to be exceedingly little research on its effects and treating it. I've tried searching for any kind of specialist with experience treating Selenosis, but no dice. I don't care if it's MD, naturopath, or homeopath, I just want to consult with someone who has some actual experience with my specific problem. Organ damage caused by selenium poisoning isn't quite the same as damage caused by congenital problems or drug use. What little info I was able to scrape together from scientific journals seems to imply it can actually alter the very composition of organs, in the right dosages over a long period of time. I'm not sure how to contend with that. And the doctors I've spoken with, who've never even heard the term "Selenosis," definitely don't know how to handle this.
This situation has kind of wrecked my whole family. Everyone is worried, both about my well-being and about paying for my healthcare. I blame myself entirely, and honestly kind of hate myself for being careless and getting myself into this situation. The idea of leaving my wife behind is unthinkable. We've been joined at the hip since we met at 18, and we can't imagine life without each other. The stress of this has already done a number on her health, and I am certain she'll end up going with me, if I can't pull through. I just can't let that be the end result of our relationship. That's too tragic to be acceptable. So, I really need some advice here on how to proceed, and how I might find a professional who has experience dealing with Selenosis. If any of you know someone who has actual knowledge of my condition, please refer me to them. I am going back to my Cardiologist in about 10 days, and I am looking into seeing a Urologist, to pin down the source of my urinary abnormalities, but I still want to speak with an expert on Selenosis, if at all possible. I feel a neurologist would just drain my bank account without being able to offer any real solutions, so I'm avoiding that for now.
Feel free to ask any questions, I will be monitoring this post closely.
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