Karl Holtzer, MS, MD
I never remember feeling “well”. I could never keep up with other children on the block growing up. I always felt tired and run down. I went through some tough anxiety and depression in early adolescence that was just chalked up to that time in life that we all endure. I was a highly motivated child academically. Doing well in school made me feel better about not being able to perform well on the sports fields. The fatigue led to other neurologic symptoms such as muscle twitching and loss of sensation. Fast forward many years: I was diagnosed with a number of neurologic diseases – one being the devastating disease spinocerebellar degeneration. This disease is similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease (aka ALS). It’s often terminal. I then sustained two horrible cervical disc slips in my neck that were so bad that I needed two surgeries. There were significant neurologic consequences. These disc slips were way out of proportion to what caused them (I rolled off my pillow –no kidding). The findings on my MRI were more consistent with me being in a severe accident. I actually had several doctors that didn’t believe me when I told them that I had just awakened at night not able to feel my arm nor move it very well. Fast forward five years. I then sustained a very freakish injury to my right arm, that normally wouldn’t have occurred, leaving me with a severe brachial plexus palsy of my right shoulder muscles. I look like I actually had a stroke with muscles in my shoulder being paralyzed.
Over the course of my life I’ve always had an atypical digestive system as well. It was never quite right. Most days I had diarrhea, often two and three times a day. This was never linked in any way to my neurologic findings and it isn’t because I never asked about it. I’ve actually been tested quite extensively by traditional methodologies. You name the test, and I’ve likely had it. It was decided that, again, I was just “anxious”. Anxiety could tie the neurologic and digestive disorders together. Or could it?
You must realize that I’ve always known deep down to my core that there was more to my story, and I was going to find out what it was. Through a very thorough investigation on my own, I discovered that I have been severely vitamin B12 deficient, so much so that taking simple oral doses of it would never fix the problem. I have a genetic defect that doesn’t allow my body to recycle it. For less than 100 dollars, I was able to discover my entire genetic code and unlock my once known cause for my B12 deficiency. You see, I can never go without B12 and I have to take super high doses of it both orally and intramuscularly to keep my levels up. Without Vitamin B12, the body suffers with a multitude of problems including severe neurologic and psychiatric disease. This can often be severe and irreversible. Had I not taken it upon myself to find practitioners who would listen to me, spend time with me, and be willing to hold my hand through this investigation, I’d never have known what the underlying cause of my condition is, and it would have progressed. My poor digestion was actually making the B12 deficiency worse as I wasn’t even able to properly absorb the little I had. After following the principles of functional nutrition and functional medicine, my gut has been restored to excellent health and my neurologic health will at least stabilize, and not worsen. Knowing this is powerful, not only for me, but for my daughter and generations to follow.
My illness was so severe that at one point I had to leave traditional medical practice. During the last few years prior to leaving traditional practice, I had been studying the principles of functional medicine and functional nutrition. After my recent injury that left my shoulder paralyzed, I took it upon myself to go out and share my story with others, hoping that I can possibly bring hope through these amazing principles.