|"Over the past six months, I became progressively ill. My story describes my experience...
On 11 July 2003, I purchased my first bottle of Propel Fitness water. It was my attempt to start "getting healthy." But little did I know I was slowly poisoning my body.
During July 2003, I was giving up soda and drinking more water. I found Propel. It's a flavored water made by Gatorade. I figured it would be a great alternative to the standard tap version of water. I was never a water drinker. I just don't like it. I read the Propel label and it had lots of vitamin B and was sweetened with sucralose (Splenda). I had heard of Splenda--that it's made from real sugar and leaves no aftertaste unlike the other sweeteners on the market. From that point I decided why not give it a try? Besides... it was just water.
During July 2003, I recall only drinking five bottles or so. That month I had started experiencing spotting around my ovulation time and had lots of heart palpitations. My normal periods were like clockwork--coming to almost the hour every four weeks with no spotting in between. I would have had all the usual premenstrual symptoms alerting me to the upcoming event (sore breasts, mood swings) and then my period would arrive with heavy cramping and bleeding.
August and September 2003 I began drinking the Propel a bit more since the weather was so hot. I had more spotting in between my periods during both months, but it was on time. Pretty much the same thing as July. My periods were very heavy and the cramping was severe, it felt like my contractions during labor. I recall waking up one night in such pain that I cried and used Lamaze to try to remedy the pain. I also took some pain medication that did not work at all.
In October 2003, my intake of Propel was increasing and I began drinking more coffee because I was finding myself completely worn out. I can distinctly remember that my fatigue was awful and my short-term memory was lacking, but the coffee helped me through the day. I had blamed my heart palpitations on the increase in caffeine. My bladder was bothering me, too. I had to go all the time and there was a lot of pressure on it. My theory was to drink more to flush out my body. I had more spotting during the month and my period was a week late. I had an ultrasound exam during my late period and they found nothing wrong with my bladder but found a small cyst on my left ovary. My doctor and I agreed to the "wait and see" approach which was fine given my history with cysts. They usually go away all on their own. I began to have horrible anxiety attacks--almost to the point of panic. Now, keep in mind that I have had anxiety all my life and had it down to an art for handling it. Let's say that I've lived with it and accepted it well. I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. Co-workers kept asking me if I was okay, as if others could see my problem. I thought others thought I was going insane, too. I said to myself--my anxiety much be changing, like it has a mind of its own. I was trying to find anything that made sense.
During November 2003, I was still drinking Propel--thinking more water was going to make me healthier. The anxiety was increasing as was the chronic fatigue.
On 5 November 2003, I saw the doctor and had another PAP test that came back normal. No explanation for the spotting. My doctor referred me to an OB/GYN to possibly discuss a hysterectomy to solve my ongoing menstrual cycle battle. I made an appointment.
On 10 November 2003, I experienced seizure-like symptoms. My head felt as if a ping pong ball was bouncing around inside my head. My mind was racing. I felt as if I could not control my thoughts. My pupils would dilate and my tongue felt as if I was going to swallow it. My heartrate did not increase, but 20 minutes later I was completely wiped out and began to yawn uncontrollably. I remember my boss asking me if I was okay during one of these attacks. He even asked me if I was on drugs (which I wasn't). I had six more attacks. My husband witnessed several of these and he could tell something wasn't right. My legs started to hurt this month. My period was one week late again, but my PMS was less severe.
On 24 November 2003, I saw my doctor. My blood pressure was high, but was written off as "nerves." She agreed that it sounded like I was having seizures and set up tests and blood work. I had an EMG and an MRI with contrast and was prescribed 1mg Xanax. I was being checked for MS. The result of the tests was normal. Still nothing they could find. The Xanax didn't help at all. So I tried the 2mg without relief. It was like I was taking nothing. One of the episodes I had was so severe while I was driving with my sister that I had to pull over. I had no idea where I was. I thought I was losing my mind. After that, my anxiety was turning into agoraphobia. I was struggling to make it through every minute of the day. I was desperately trying to act "normal" so I wouldn't scare the hell out of my kids. It was a nightmare!
During December 2003, my period was a no show. I had no symptoms of its approach. That is the first time I've missed a period except for being pregnant. I have my tubes tied and thought--pregnant? No way! Still more episodes with seizure-like symptoms, so I had to see the doctor again! This time I asked for some help. I was prescribed Buspar. My feet began to hurt to the point where I was having a hard time standing at work. They tingled when I stepped out of bed in the morning. I had noticed that sex didn't even feel the same. The Buspar had not started to work yet, but I was determined to wait it out and get some relief. I had a few days off over the holidays. I thought a little rest would help put me back in order. It didn't work at all. I was was still fatigued and miserable. I thought there must be something horribly wrong with me and that I would drop dead shortly. I was ready for a straight jacket!
During January 2004, my period finally showed up--seven weeks from my last one. I thought--thank God. Maybe I will get some relief. I was thinking this because my PMS got better when my cycle started. I was not so lucky. I think the Buspar was working slightly, but I was still feeling anxious. I was also taking more Xanax, though. The attacks I was having eased up. My pupils were still dilating and I began having headaches. The foggy sense of doom was still hanging around. I had a hard time making it through a day and I cut my hours at work.
On 13 January 2004, I had to have a colonoscopy to rule out Crohns Disease because my IBS was getting worse. I had been on a clear liquid diet since the day before to cleanse my colon with medications. I must have consumed eight bottles of Propel that day! That evening, I started getting heart palpitations. I assumed it was from the constant bowel movements and medication I was given. The days following my test I had so many palpitations that I should have gone to the ER. I began to have night sweats. The seizure-like symptoms returned and I began spotting daily. I made a doctor's appointment because I thought I might be dehydrated. In the meantime, I increased my intake of Propel and juice. At my appointment, I complained that "there is something wrong inside my body." I could tell I was not right. I had leg pain. I had chronic fatigue. I had anxiety and headaches. I had menstrual problems. The doctor ordered blood work and found nothing wrong. I was afraid I had some illness no one knew about. I was told if the palpitations bothered me to call back. My doctor commented that it sounded like I was going through menopause and I agreed.
In February 2004, there was no change. I thought I was going insane. I assumed my hormones must be to blame for all of this and made an appointment with the GYN. I could not keep my other appointment due to a change in insurance companies. I couldn't get an appointment until 23 March. I thought I was going to die by then. I told my husband I felt I would die and nobody would know why. I saw my doctor again. My leg pains were worse. I was still bleeding. I had thousands of small red pin dots on the insides of both legs from groin to feet. I was brushing and my gums were bleeding. I couldn't blow my nose without discharging blood. Small cuts would bleed for hours and I bled for two days from one cut. My leg pain was so bad that I couldn't walk without pain. My feet were tingling non-stop. The doctor ordered more blood work. I figured they all thought I was a hypochondriac by now. The blood test was a normal needle in the arm. It was painful for the first time in my life. I arrived home and removed the cotton and bandage and it was still bleeding. The tests were normal and I was given a hormone to stop the bleeding. I did not take it because I was afraid it would give me a blood clot in my already painful legs. I was sure I was dying of a disease. Nobody could explain any of this.
March 2004 -- still bleeding enough to wear a pad every day. Anxiety. Fear. Fatigue. I was definitely going insane. I started having spiking pains in my temples that lasted only seconds, but brought me to my knees. All the symptoms from prior months were attacking my body every day. I noticed the head pains after I was eating snacks that I was washing down with Propel. I started paying attention to what I was ingesting. I was eating more chocolate so I blamed that and stopped. The head pains increased and continued. Then I realized that I got the head pains after drinking the Propel. At that very moment I got online and searched for "Splenda bad reactions." OH, MY GOD!!!
The pages I found had folks having the same problems as me. I wasn't alone. I wasn't crazy. I felt almost oddly justified! I cried. I was mad and hurt. I stopped drinking Propel immediately and within 24 hours I stopped bleeding. The pains in my head also never came back. It's been only one week and I feel like a new person. My leg pain is almost gone. My feet are getting better every day. The fog is lifting and my sense of me is coming back. The person I was is coming back. The massive panic and anxiety are leaving. I feel so light, as if all my organs were swollen and are now returning to normal. My gums aren't bleeding. My PMS is also returning--my breasts are getting tender and I welcome my period this time.
My conclusion is that since July 2003 I had changed nothing in my daily routine. No new medications that preceded any symptoms. Nothing except that I started drinking Propel. I went to the doctor to inquire about my findings. I brought in a print out from the Internet with other stories like mine. I find it all too coincidental that since I stopped drinking Propel, I've stopped bleeding as well as being relieved of all of my other symptoms. I believe that if I would have continued I would have ended up in the hospital or would have had a stroke form the pains in my head.
I pray for all who never ever catch this problem. I am greatly concerned about my health in the future. What has this done to my body?
The FDA said it's safe. IT'S NOT!!!! I am considering having a hair test done to check for anything that did not show up in the blood work."
Thank you M.C. for sharing your story with our visitors. We appreciate the time and effort you put into writing such an involved and enlightening story.