first became ill following a bad case of the flu.
Instead of recovering normally, I continued to deteriorate
and the unexplained illness kept me in bed for six
months. A string of doctors insisted that since my
tests were all normal, I was not physically ill, and
suggested psychiatric care.
Eventually I returned, rather shakily, to work.
I assumed that this strange episode was just a fluke,
a one-time event that I could put behind me.
This was not to be. The illness that had no name returned
again and again, throwing my life into utter disarray.
Eighteen years passed as I becomes sick and then well,
and then sick again. I spent a lot of time trapped
in bed, wondering how such a devastating disease could
be totally dismissed by the medical profession.
Even during “well” periods I didn’t
feel normal. I experienced distortions in my sense
of sight, hearing and taste. I also noticed strange
reactions to all sorts of chemicals, which grew steadily
In 1988, as you know, the CDC was forced to recognize
this conditions due to the increasing number of patients.
The official name they chose, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,
was a wastebasket term with little meaning, but I
was grateful for the validation and hopeful that research
would produce a cure.
However, I was dismayed by the fact that researchers
were concentrating on finding a viral cause for the
disease. It seemed that “new” viruses
were all the rage, new diseases were appearing and
virologists were eagerly trying to match them all
But in my experience, this illness didn’t behave
like a viral infection at all. For one thing, it usually
affected random individuals rather than groups.
For another, it had a preference for females. Viruses,
as far as I knew, couldn’t tell the difference
between girls and boys.
And it tended to strike at young adults, normally
the healthiest and most disease-resistant segment
of the population. How then could it be caused by
a contagious bug?
I let myself be treated for viruses such as Epstein-Barr,
but with no results. My health continued to decline.
Finally, one day, I collapsed at work. Somehow I made
my way home to bed, where I remained for the next
I could barely crawl from the bedroom to the bathroom,
and only survived because my husband took care of
me. His life, I feared, had become even more difficult
At one point, to minimize my exposure to allergens
(our old Victorian house was full of them), I moved
to a small room in Berkeley. I couldn’t bear
the chemical smells that visitors brought with them,
so with the exception of visits from my husband and
very occasional others, I lived for a year in solitary
Even that didn’t stop my inexorable downward
slide. I weighed about 80 pounds. My digestive process
– not to mention my mental faculties –
seemed to have shut down for good.
I was in severe pain and my allergies exploded to
include almost every chemical imaginable. Exposure
to ordinary things like books, newspapers, TV or plastic
bags set my brain reeling. A constant “brain
fog” dogged me.
And then, unexpectedly, I was diagnosed at last –
not by seeing a doctor, but by talking on the phone
to a nutritionist. I learned that I probably had severe
Not long after that, the diagnosis was confirmed when
I looked into my mouth. To my horror, I saw a veritable
rainforest of white gummy growth hanging in strings
off the edges of my tongue.
The mystery malady was solved at last!
I should mention at this point that there were multiple
factors involved in causing me to become to severely
fungus-ridden, beyond the usual culprits of birth
control pills, antibiotics and moldy environment.
I worked for years as an artist/printmaker, practically
bathing in dangerous printing chemicals. There’s
no doubt in my mind that these toxic substances, and
not any virus, were at the root of my illness.
With the problem identified, I was able to assemble
and (allergies permitting) read some important books
on the subject. A friend brought me The
Yeast Connection to begin with. What
a relief to se it all spelled out for me! I had a
real illness, it wasn’t psychological, and it
could be treated.
But in my case, I wondered if it might be too late.
I was by this time more dead than alive –a skeleton
with a heartbeat.
When I became allergic even to my little Berkeley
room, I was brought home, presumably to die.
Fate intervened and almost by accident I was put in
contact with a doctor who understood this condition
and how to treat it. Under the care of Dr. Vincent
Marinkovich, I began a program of diet and antifungal
drugs – which for long periods of time caused
me severe and constant die-off reactions. I didn’t
care—these reactions meant I was on the right
track at last.
One day, more than a year after I began treatment,
I embarked on a great adventure. I left the house
under my own power and went for a walk. A very slow
walk, to be sure, but most exciting. I was out in
the world again!
My struggle, now three decades long, has been painful,
but has taught me some wonderful lessons. It tried
my will to survive and showed that will to be more
resilient than I expected. It tested my husband’s
love and caring for me, and that, too, proved to be
stronger and deeper than I knew. It taught me the
absolute necessity of thinking for myself, for I had
to defy the doctors and search elsewhere for the real
cause of my illness—that cause that has such
profound implications not only for me, but for the
lives of others as well.
Editor’s Note: Judith Lopez was in frequent
communication until his death in 2002. Her inspiring
story and many others can be found in Yeast
Connection Success Stories.
Professional Books, Inc.