I wonder why we, people in general, don’t know much about mast cells?
For cells that exist throughout the entire body, including the brain, it comes as a bit of a surprise to me that the doctors I have sought for help, don’t really know anything about them. I even asked my very well educated veterinarian about them and the only thing she really knows and the first thing that comes to her mind is mast cell tumors, which are relatively common in dogs.
The immunologist I saw in the course of my seeking help did not care anything about the mast cells that are the key to all of my health problems. Some of these problems I know well and some of which I thought were just a normal part of everyone’s life and some others I didn’t even know of. For example, despite not being allergic to peanuts or tomatoes; they can actually cause anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock and even lead to death if not treated quickly, despite a negative result on standard allergy tests.
Mast cells are the key immune cells that reside throughout the body; in all tissues of the body. They are the sentries on duty; their sole purpose to defend our bodies from any invader and to signal the response team to go to work and fight off any evil doer! They only exist in the blood stream for short periods of time as they travel from the bone marrow, where they are grown along with all of the blood cells to their destination in the lungs, skin, GI tract, CNS, etc.
Unlike the blood cells however; which remain in circulation ready to respond to the call of duty and speed to their destination to fight any invader or protect the body from invaders in times of trauma, mast cells move out of the blood stream and into the tissues of the body, ready to defend us.
Mast cells exist in our skin, in our intestines, lungs and even our brain. Any place on us an invader can enter, or something can hurt us, they sit quietly waiting. Their life span is like that of most blood cells so we are constantly in need of making them and replacing those that die and we have mechanisms in place to regulate them, grow them and clean up after them when they die.
The spleen, once thought to be a vestigal organ, not used for anything (a perfect example of the arrogance we human beings have and a perfect example of why mast cells remain virtually unknown), cleans up all dead blood cells and all dead mast cells as well. It is a very important organ when it comes to blood cells and mast cells.
So if the mast cells are so critical to our immune defense, why do we know so little?
The neurologist I sought help from due to ringing in my ears and itching and burning in my fingers and cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, etc, said to me: “9 times out of 10 we don’t know what causes itching or ringing in the ears!” REALLY? Unbelievable that he could be so ignorant of such a key cell. Many of my neurological symptoms I have experienced most recently and throughout my life are directly related to the mast cells in my central nervous system (CNS).
Mood swings, manic episodes, anxiety, panic attacks, memory loss, loss of attention span and ability to focus, the list of real deficits is long. Neural degeneration is what I feared most. Glad someone else could help me eliminate this possibility and help explain the brain fog and cognitive loss of myself and many people I have since met, I am sure. Maybe left untreated it actually becomes some form of neurologic degeneration and maybe dementia. For sure we don’t know what causes many of the neurologic diseases we see.
My cardiologist sees my endurance and cardiopulmonary system as fit and healthy, but cannot explain the fact that my heart rate and blood pressure do not recover after exercise like normal individuals. I can easily explain this now yet he shrugged his shoulders and ignored what he did not know. Unbelievable! I will explain this in another post when I go into some detail on exercise and how heat changes me and my mast cells.
My gastroenterologist was no better. With him I simply had a chat. It might as well have been at Starbucks over coffee. He didn’t ask anything, or say anything about mast cells possibly causing my Gastro Intestinal (GI) symptoms of bloating, heart burn, etc. Yet I have found that I now have some control over them and what I cannot control I believe is something in my immediate environment that I lack control over as of yet. Although one of the suspects, the air I breathe, is on my list and I have researched air filters for my home and for on my face as I travel. At some point I may need this to survive, as others I have met more recently with mast cell disease do.
And my immunologist was the best of all! Fixed in his beliefs and on the verge of retirement. Along with him comes the super book smart intern who knows everything. Been taught everything, passed all his tests with flying colours. Nothing exists outside of the boxes he has been so carefully taught by other doctors. Immunoglobulin E is the centre of his universe, just as it was and is for the soon-to-retire doctor. They do the same old test they have done over and over with everyone they see. Yes I am allergic to dust mites and grass, but not tomatoes or cherries or peanuts.
But they are wrong on three of them. Both hands and arms they do their tests on go red up and down, something I have never heard a person who had these tests speak of. Yes I got a bump from histamine, dust mites and grass samples. But just like the cardiologist, neurologist and gastroenterologist, he just ignores what he cannot box up and ignores me when I ask about it. Thank you very much! NOT!
Unbelievable! Really? None of them know anything about mast cells?
How is that possible? All of my issues make sense to me now. All of my past fits with what I have learned recently. I can predict and control symptoms. I have no doubt I have found the answer.
These doctors cannot put me in one of their boxes and my symptoms are simply not severe enough for any of them to even care one iota about doing something. In the end, none of them solved a problem and all of them basically ditched me with excuses and simple minded blame.
I find the memory loss and cognitive dysfunction completely debilitating and prevents me from working. I do complex tasks and solve extremely complex problems that others cannot solve. And I am very good at it. Thank goodness, because with a few clues from friends and some help from a more knowledgeable Naturopathic Doctor, I now have the problems well defined and solutions in place where possible and they are helping immensely in dealing with it.
For the last thirty years, every problem I have sought help for through our medical system has been ditched. I have had simple dogma and propaganda thrown at me repeatedly. I have been given pills occasionally to counter a few symptoms, even when the drugs are dangerous and addictive they are provided as the only answer. This would never fly in Information Technology and business! Actually solving problems is required! You cannot just shuffle things about and pretend!
But the only person to really care enough to solve my problem was and is still me!
Fortunately I have convinced my family doctor (GP) that I am right. That what I have been telling him for 25 years is right. I am right! I know I am right. Everything fits! One thing I know from my work in Information Technology and my life with my dogs: When I know I am right, I am right.
I have been wrong about many things; I have changed so many things in how I care for my dogs because of what I have learned. I know when I don’t know the answers. I know when I am guessing or hypothesizing. I can observe objectively and know the difference between subjective and objective experience. This is critical for problem solving! Humility is necessary. Arrogance and expectation are huge problems that prevent learning the truth and finding solutions.
Unfortunately this a total paradox for doctors as they seem to have to be narcissistic uncaring individuals just to survive all the pain and suffering they see and their inadequacy in being able to help most of them. They carefully do their tests to put you in one of their little boxes. If symptoms are severe enough they will give you a pill for it, or cut it out if possible. But they know so little about one key cell that can explain so much!
Unfortunately they don’t do any tests for mast cells. They don’t circulate in the blood stream and the changes they cause are not easily measured in samples of blood. Only the overflow shows up and if you don’t know of them, you explain things without them, or you shake your head, shrug your shoulders and ignore it. Been there, done that! All of my doctors I have seen, including two other GP’s, fall into this category.
They make excuses and point fingers of blame to other things; you drink too much, you smoke too much, you eat too much, you sit too much, you don’t exercise enough… Once they have pointed that finger, good luck on getting a fair thought and help.
I did it on my own! I did it with the help of friends who cared. I found a doctor who knew something and seemed to care. I have since found that my GP does care. Unfortunately for that to happen, I had to solve the problem myself and prove it to him. But I am still glad he had the balls and strength of character to admit it. Most doctors don’t. They put the label on and they don’t see how inaccurate or wrong they are.
Everything that follows is just in your head according to them. They don’t understand cause and effect. They don’t understand the difference between symptoms and cause and often assume symptoms are the cause. This sucks for people that don’t fit into simple boxes. I am also sure it sucks because if you lack a certain key piece of information, everything you do is wrong!
I could never exercise and get fit and lose weight with exercise. I have made myself sick so many times trying in the past. What I lacked was the understanding of how my mast cells are involved! Enlightenment has enabled me to control the environment, my body and my mind.
Knowledge of mast cells and how they trigger inflammation and immune responses and how mast cell disorders impact that process. Combined with knowledge of food, nutrients and anti nutrients and other environmental factors that influence them, the problem has become clear. The solution is more obvious, clarity, not cloudy!
Heat, histamine, lectins, sapponins, salicylates, oxylates, phytates… All are relevant and unknown to my doctors. Unknown to me they caused me to fail in every previous attempt to lose weight and become healthy and fit.
Seeing that I have lost 50 pounds, quit drinking, completely changed my diet and basically changed everything that was bad on my own as a result of my new knowledge; made it so my long time GP could see beyond the excuses and the blame that had been the foundation of the past. He could not ignore the result and could see I was right and that I did have a real problem! He now writes everything I tell him in my file now, unlike the past (been telling him my back problems were due to waves, or periods of inflammation for 20+ years, which he simply denied and ignored). He has always known I am an intelligent person, but now he treats me as the only expert in my health and is fully behind me and supporting me. This has been the biggest step forward so far.
The results prove me right! They cannot be ignored!
All of this struggle could be a lot easier if mast cells would just get a little more from the press and better circulation!