There was a time, not that long ago, when climbing a few flights of stairs had become a challenge for mountain-climbing enthusiast Denise Manheimer. As a nurse and an athlete most of her life, the 26-year-old certainly knew something was not quite right. Was it just fatigue or something more serious?
Her Vague Symptoms Were Dismissed as Fatigue and Stress
Denise attributed her lack of energy to stress. Then her hair started to fall out, and her symptoms of premenstrual syndrome became increasingly more severe. Her day-to-day fatigue became debilitating.
“About two years ago, my health took a downward turn. I was recently married, working full-time, training for a half marathon and going to graduate school to get my master’s in nursing. I was also having a lot of vague symptoms,” she says.
Her concerns were dismissed by her doctors, she recalls. Denise was eventually diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. As her menstrual symptoms became more severe and painful, her doctor prescribed a birth control pill to regulate her cycles. This did not bring her much relief, and her exhaustion persisted.
As a runner and climber, she felt stripped of her joy in life. “I would wake up and feel tired an hour later. I was bloated, and for more than a year, I just felt sickly. I even stopped going to graduate school. I started to question myself,” remembers Denise.
Deciding that the estrogen she was taking was making her feel worse, not better, she also started to look for a new doctor. Her quality of life continued to decline. “I was so glad to have found Dr. Vinny (Vincent Leonti, MD) from Princeton Integrative Health, who took time to listen to me and understand my symptoms. He ordered an extensive series of comprehensive lab tests,” she explains.
Those tests revealed that she has multiple parasites in her gut, among other conditions, including food sensitivities and autoimmunity issues. Once she was treated for the parasites, she began to feel better almost immediately.
“When we first met Denise, she complained of very painful periods and said she felt like a freight train had hit her,” recalls Dr. Leonti. “She described her experience on the conventional medicine merry-go-round, going from specialist to specialist for two years, without getting any answers or feeling any better.”
Dr. Leonti provided an in-depth and comprehensive evaluation of her symptoms and complaints and ordered a number of tests, including the DUTCH test for advanced hormone testing and the GI-MAP gut test.
There were a few things that impressed her right away about Dr. Vinny and the protocol at Princeton Integrative Health, particularly the diversity of tests to understand what was going on inside her body.
“Dr. Vinny really listened to me, and I was impressed with his insight and wealth of experience as a doctor, as well as the time he took during our first appointment. We completed an extensive intake form and discussed everything from birth to present day,” says Denise.
Functional Medicine Testing Revealed a Surprising Source of Fatigue
She was “horrified” to learn she had a tapeworm, and amazed that no one even thought to test her before. Dr. Vinny prescribed supplements as well as their standard autoimmune protocol, which involved removing all common allergens, such as nuts, dairy, eggs, soy, legumes, grains and sugars except fruit.
“All the markers for gut inflammation were super high,” she says. Once she began taking supplements and changing her diet, her symptoms began to improve. And she was on her way to acheiving a lifelong goal.
“I climbed all five of the Vermont 4,000 footers!”
“I come from a mountain-climbing family. In 2015, I finished climbing all 46 of the Adirondack 4,000 footers and became an Adirondack 46er. Yet, it had been a goal of mine for nearly all my life to climb all of the Vermont 4,000 (peaks over 4,000 feet in the state of Vermont). I had given up. I never thought it would happen,” she says.
“This past summer, my husband and I finally achieved it. My husband is an aspiring 46er. It has been a wonderful blessing to be strong and healthy again so that I can climb with him again and help him achieve his goal.
“I have the whole team at PIH to thank, but especially Dr. Vinny, who found the missing piece to the puzzle. I have more energy; I am running again and eating so much better. I feel like myself for the first time in two years.”
Some of the functional medicine tests Princeton Integrative Health might recommend to patients like Denise include a GI-MAP gut health test, advanced hormone testing, micronutrient testing, and a leaky gut assessment .
Click here for more information about the functional medicine tests offered at PIH.
To schedule a consultation, call 609.512.1468.
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The information on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Princeton Integrative Health advises that you use this information in consultation with your functional medicine doctor or other healthcare professional.