My Story with Mercury Toxicity and Recovery – Fairfield, Connecticut, June 2001 (when I became symptomatic with mercury poisoning)
written by Connie Fox
My fiancé is a Wall Street analyst living in Manhattan. My colonial home in Connecticut is my version of picket-fence perfect. It is mortgage-free and we have plenty of money in the bank and the ability to invest it wisely. Together, we just bought our “honeymoon palace” in Chappaqua, New York – downwind of the Clintons. Perfect! We are madly in love with each other so what could possibly go wrong?
Well, a few weeks before my 33rd birthday my fiancé and I are excited to start our family right now. I thought to myself “Oh my God, this would be the most wonderful birthday present ever!” I’ve waited forever to be at this stage of my life. Finances and career were set for me. I was going back to school for something I wanted to do. I am young, physically fit and perfectly healthy; I never had to endure much more than a common cold. But, then…
At first I thought I was coming down with a kind of stomach flu. There was an inability to digest
foods, loss of appetite and no energy. I lost 10 pounds in less than 2 weeks and developed severe
gut pain. For the first time in my life I had difficulty sleeping. An abnormal anxiety crept in. This
is difficult to express. I was soon living in a state of fear yet I had no idea why. I became fearful
of anything and of nothing. I was frightened with no logical explanation. I could not focus or think
clearly. Brain fog became a common state. Simple things, like reading, writing checks or going to
the store became a challenge. Though I was confused, I certainly understood that something was
not right with me.
I went to the hospital emergency room several times and they performed all the appropriate
tests. X-rays, blood work, Upper GI series. They did all the tests that they thought they should do.
The doctor said, “Well, you’re fine physically, nothing’s wrong with you, um, I think you just need
a little help from a psychiatrist and maybe some Valium, and uh, possibly some anti-depressants
as well. Because, I think you need to learn how to handle stress a little bit better. You’re not
coping with daily stress efficiently.”
I would emphasize to the doctors that:
- I’ve never before had these symptoms in my entire life.
- I don’t have any great or even moderate stress in my life.
- I’m happy, financially secure and in love with a wonderful fiancé.
However, the doctors explained that “even happy stress is stress” and “it is sometimes difficult
for people to cope”.
The emergency room visits were not productive or helpful. Yet, I returned several times – mostly
because I didn’t know what else to do or where else to go. Within a three week period my
normally healthy weight of 125 pounds drops to 97 pounds. I’m in a severe state. I can’t eat,
barely can walk to the bathroom and I have panic attacks, heart palpitations, I am
hyperventilating and crying uncontrollably.
After leaving the emergency room, I would go home humiliated, even more frightened and
sobbing. How could our advanced, modern medicine be so unable to help me? I’m sure the
doctors would help me if they could but my condition was beyond their scope. All the laboratory tests and the expensive technological equipment could not determine anything!
The condition progressed and actually worsened from here.
I became so afraid that I would kill myself. How bizarre is that? How can anyone be afraid they
would kill themselves? Why not reason to yourself that if you are afraid of it, simply don’t do it?
It is beyond reason.
I asked my girlfriend, Elizabeth, in Manhattan to come and stay with me. I was afraid to be alone
for a second. If she so much as went to the bathroom, I’d sit outside the door in the hallway
waiting for her. (what a great friend to tolerate this). I just had a severe fear of dying, dying alone,
or killing myself. It was on my mind constantly. This gave more credence to the doctor’s
diagnosis…a once carefree, sane person gone totally bananas.
It was no longer mainly my stomach hurting, it was system wide now. I had so much pain with
my nervous system. I felt like I was constantly being electrocuted and it never subsided to give
me even a little bit of a break. It was continuous, a constant condition of electrocution every
second. I was also super-sensitive to sounds. Any sound was excruciatingly painful to hear. To
lightly open or shut a cupboard door actually hurt.
Of course, you do what the doctor says. I did see a psychiatrist. From the first consultation she
thought I had Post-Traumatic-Stress Syndrome. This supposedly arose from an incident about
one year prior when I witnessed my dog being attacked by a Rottweiler.
I didn’t know how to respond to that. At first it didn’t seem to fit, but after mulling it over, I
thought perhaps that could be the problem. I had no clear idea of what Post-Traumatic-Stress
Syndrome was, but the doctor seemed convinced. I later found out that many doctors were
giving this diagnosis in the northeast US as this was so recently post 9/11.
Once I tried an anti-depressant – actually I took only half of one. I turned into a vegetable for a
full 24 hours. I was conscious and awake but unable to speak, move or anything. It was terrifying.
My fiancé was with me that day. He called the doctor absolutely frantic. “She’s lying on the couch,
she can’t move, she’s barely cognizant and can barely talk”. I never took another anti-depressant
About this time my fiancé begins looking at me in a criticizing, judgmental way.
Like there’s something wrong with me – mentally. Instead of being there in loving support, he
was looking at me like ‘Oh my God, you might have some severe problems I didn’t know about
and I just might not want to risk marriage with you. I can’t have the mother of my kids be a
screwed up person like you. What do you mean you have anxiety? I can’t have my wife needing
to take anti-depressants or Valium!”
That is just where he was coming from, how he was looking at me now. I was seen as beyond
merely flawed and now severely defective. He wanted no part of it. I was humiliated. I was
mortified. All I wanted now was to get away from him. I couldn’t handle how he was viewing me,
his commentary or his judgments against me. However, in looking back, I understand that it is a
lot for anyone to cope with.
This is the point at which I called my mom to fly in to take care of me. As I had an empty
investment house in Jupiter, Florida, my mom helped me to move there. She drove me and my
two dogs down and arranged for the quick delivery of some rental furniture. We were ready for
recovery. She’d nurse me through this bizarre stomach flu and I’d surely get better in a week or
two. Those were the plans.
On the drive down I began craving meat.
After years of healthy, vegetarian fare only, I told my mom I wanted a cheeseburger. She looked
at me like I lost my marbles, but she pulled into a McDonalds. From that day on I ate red meat
for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next three years. I soon was craving eggs, eating nine softpoached
eggs a day!
I later learned that vegetarians who are severely mercury toxic don’t usually recover. They need
the certain B vitamins, the sulfur and lecithin in egg yolks, and certain minerals and amino acids
especially those in red meats which help to chelate [kee-late] (remove) heavy metals and protect
the body’s cells from cellular damage.
The body’s intelligence is so amazing. My body knew what it needed to survive and the cravings
resulted. My mom remembers spoon feeding me broth because I wasn’t strong enough to hold
the spoon to my mouth. I would be encouraged to eat “just one more bite” of banana or cream
of wheat. Here I was, so malnourished and now ravenous for steak and eggs. Incredible and
Back to Jupiter, Florida:
So, now in Jupiter I am eating meat and eggs, completely bed-ridden, but not watching television.
It was too painful and too weird. I could not understand why I couldn’t listen to music anymore
or bear to watch TV. I could not tolerate sounds or outside stimulation and this in itself was
terrifying. I had no idea why these simple things were irritating and absolutely intolerable to me.
Birds chirping were too loud. I couldn’t make sense of it and this is what I want you to grasp. Even
an unwanted diagnosis with a name given to it “makes sense”. Even a terminal condition can be
understood. There are support groups for people with cancer. But for this condition – nothing
less than total isolation.
I had difficulty breathing and noise was so bothersome I couldn’t bear to hear my dogs breathing
in and out; noise hurt so badly, that I made my mother whisper whenever she spoke to me. My
mind was compulsively racing non-stop, I was continuously severely anxiety ridden and agitated.
I felt like I was on the verge of losing it, going completely insane, having an attack of some kind
and suddenly dying. For the first time in my life, I became claustrophobic. I was afraid of being
in small rooms with the door closed, such as the bathroom. I became afraid of the dark. I knew
it made no sense, but I could not stop the fear and panic. It was horrifying and confusing
witnessing myself suddenly develop these phobias with no understandable reason. But most of
all, I was afraid of being alone for even a second – mostly because I was certain I was dying or
going to kill myself and I did not want to die alone.
As my condition advanced I couldn’t think straight and I couldn’t speak normally.
Often times, my speech was slurred, appearing as if I were very drunk and in mid-sentence of
saying something, I couldn’t finish because I forgot what I what talking about. I felt drugged up,
surreal. At that point I was walking around in an “L” shape, keeling over. I couldn’t stand up
straight because my stomach was in so much pain.
We began searching for doctors, one after another. Each one looked at me like I was a freak and
they definitely did not want to deal with me. After all their tests I would hear “you’re fine
physically and here is the number of a psychiatrist.” That invariably ended with a diagnosis of
anxiety and depression… “here’s a prescription for an anti-depressant”.
During our first consultation, one recommended and highly credentialed psychiatrist told me:
“You really need to end the relationship with your fiancé, that’s what your problem is”. I could
not think straight at this point. My fiancé called me every day, very concerned about me. I missed
him terribly and I desperately wanted support from the man I loved. But, he was not able to do
that. He was at first, very attentive and concerned. He wasn’t a cold person. But he simply didn’t
believe in me and was disapproving and critical. Just like the doctors, he thought it was all in my
head. From his point of view, he was the victim. It was the first time in my life I ever needed
anyone. I cannot begin to express how heartbreaking this was for me. He must have felt that he
made it out just in the nick-of-time.
This is the tragic side of mercury madness. So much loss. Great loss and more loss. Loss of your
health, loss of friends and loved ones, loss of job and security, loss of sanity, loss of credibility,
loss of sense of belonging, loss of hope. A lot of money gets lost in the process, too.
How does this mercury madness get by all these doctors? Why hadn’t one of them looked further
for a physical cause? The acceptable medical practice is to test the patient until you eliminate the
possibilities. Then, after you’ve ruled out the known diseases, what you are left with is what
becomes the diagnosis – that it’s all in your head.
My symptoms were classic for mercury toxicity.
How could it be that so many doctors never once sought to further investigate? If any of the
doctors that I saw had even read just one single medical article about mercury toxicity, they
should have been able to immediately identify the potential problem and order the proper tests.
When you go to a psychiatrist, why do they not rule out the physical origins? Though, I guess they
thought they did in my case. When you are labeled with a mental aberration or defect, it is as if
they are saying the problem is out there in the ether with no physical mass to call it “real”; as if
it were not there physically present in your body. And it is treated so differently.
How I survived the first year:
Financially, I was able to live off my savings, then my retirement funds and eventually I had to
sell my investment properties. I spent over five hundred thousand dollars in out-of-pocket
medical expenses alone. I went through another two hundred thousand between travel expenses
for me and my mom or girlfriend, Elizabeth, as I needed them to help take care of me, sometimes
staying out of town for weeks at a time undergoing treatment with another specialist. I traveled
to see doctors in New York, Massachusets, Portland, Arizona, Central Florida, Seattle 18 times
(seeing Dr. Klinghardt) and twice to Germany. I had to pay a driving service to drive me to
doctor’s offices, as I wasn’t able to drive myself, paying a “helper” to go to the store, do house
cleaning, walk my dogs, etc. as I was unable to, paying my friend to help take care of me at home
when my mom was working again or not available.
How does the average person with fewer resources manage this?
I don’t know. I cannot imagine. I had health insurance, of course. But that would not cover any
of the tests or treatments for mercury toxicity. I certainly could not have remained productive
in a job. I kept researching and spending enormous amounts of money from doctor to doctor.
The trial and error was a huge on-going expense. I now consider it the gift of an elaborate
though painful medical education.
I bore much pain in my gut, head, nervous system and experienced severe burning and
maddening itching on my skin in various locations. Insomnia was severe. I often felt close to killing
myself. For mental/emotional help I began to explain my fears of committing suicide to my
psychiatrist in Florida. She then warned me about the “Baker Act” that would impel her to lock
me up against my will. That was the end of my psychiatric ‘help’.
Physically, I survived the first year with some help from an internationally known Chinese doctor.
He would fly in from South America to Florida. I would meet him to get his special “homemade
tonic”. This was the only thing that helped with my gut problems (later diagnosed as partially
Leaky Gut – having a damaged intestinal lining and dysbiosis from the mercury). Without this to
help my gut problem and weight loss, I simply would not have made it.
Why was I still alive?
I’ll never be able to answer that. I’ll never be able to understand how I had the strength to
endure this physical pain and suffering and worst of all, the mental and nervous system torture
for so long. Without experiencing it, no one can understand what it is like.
Some of the symptoms caused by mercury toxicity are unlike any other illness. Other illnesses
do not cause one to have severe sensitivities to simple, normal sounds, sunlight or normal
lighting, electronic magnetic frequencies (EMF’s) (ie, being near a computer, electrical appliance
or cell phone), have bizarre, severe fear for no logical reason, terrifying hallucinations, torturous
compulsive thinking, severe sensitivity to simple outside stimulation, as well as severe
chemical/food/supplement sensitivity, symptoms that make you cry uncontrollably for no
apparent reason or induce major anger/rage outbursts, or causes you to question your own
sanity, literally making you go mad. No other illnesses are called “the Madhatters Disease” for
I would simply lie in bed every day and night, stare at the ceiling and pray to God. I would pray
to make it through five minutes more, then five minutes more. Then sometimes I would go to
the opposite “God please I beg of you to let me go”. And I would return again to the next minute
of wanting to live and get through this, then just wanting to die because I couldn’t handle the
pain and suffering any longer.
Would I do it again?
No, oh, no-no-no absolutely not, not for a second. If I knew it was going to take week after
week for years of hearing: “well, I’m sure you’ll be fine soon” or “there’s nothing more I can do
for you”, I simply wouldn’t be here today.
I actually wrote down – I still have the calendar – that I was at the end of my rope and I couldn’t
live with so much suffering anymore. I was three days away from when I planned to kill myself. I
would ask my mother to go the store without me. Usually I would go with her, lying down in the
back of the SUV as I was afraid to be left alone. This time I planned on staying home, going into
my garage, turning on the car and shutting the door. That is exactly how I was going to do it.
Prior to this self-imposed deadline, in a last ditch effort I made a final appointment with just one
more doctor, this time a chiropractor. My last idea to account for the gut pain was the off chance
that I picked up a weird parasite. I did some research and found the Great Smoky Labs in North
Carolina was best known for their parasite testing. I called them to recommend a doctor in my
area. They gave me several names to pick from. God did the rest.
When I saw Dr. Gerard Elmore, a chiropractor in Boca Raton, I had long given up telling a doctor
about my condition. I was far beyond expecting any useful help. I was just hoping for the parasite
test to come back positive. If so, I reasoned a solution was possible. But Dr. Elmore was like no
other doctor I had been to. He was heartwarming, compassionate and caring. He had a
comforting energy about him and that made me feel accepted, not judged. He said ‘Well, I could
just give you a parasite test, but why don’t you explain to me what’s going on?’
Long story short, much of my history came out. The first thing he said to me was: “Connie, do
you know that you have the classic symptoms of mercury toxicity? Have you ever been checked
for it”? WOW!
Dr. Elmore took a specimen of my hair to check my heavy metal levels. A week later he heard
from the Great Smokies Lab. The vice president called personally to say: “Your patient is the most
mercury toxic person we’ve ever had in our lab. We thought you should know the results
immediately. Is your patient still alive”? (Later, this hair test was confirmed via a provoked
DMPS urine test. Hair analysis tested: 10.5 ppm for mercury/DMPS Provoked Urine test: 140.
They were blown away by how mercury toxic I was. This was the historical moment of my life
when I found out what was really wrong with me. I called my fiancé thinking, “Oh my God, this is
it! The end of the nightmare. Now I can be treated and fix it, once and for all”. Oh, but that was
so not the case. I had no idea what I was about to endure for the next six years of treatment.
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