Chronic Throat Pain and Congestion

—Office Manager

My experience at Zanjabee has been nothing less than outstanding. Dr. Ali and staff have and continue, to provide a friendly and healing environment. Eastern and Western options have always been made available, and explained to me. Dr. Ali has educated me on so much! She has reviewed anti-inflammatory diets and how certain foods can be just as good as medicine; she looked at rebuilding my immune system; took a deeper look at emotional effects that take a toll on the body (i.e. illness) and how to achieve relief via natural means, i.e. meditative practices for healing, simplicity of strolls in nature, calming teas, etc. She was well aware that I was not a proponent of taking medication as I feel strongly that the list of side effects usually end up being worse than the actual condition itself. Dr. Ali has coordinated the appropriate blood work, cervical x-rays, CT & MRI scans, barium & video swallowing tests, as well as with other specialty providers. In addition, she has consulted with a board of her peers relative to my symptoms. The bottom line is , Dr. Ali has truly supported me in some pretty difficult times.

My care also included acupuncture treatment from Lee McCarthy, a staff member, who not only holds a Masters in Acupuncture, but also a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Certifications in QiGong and Movement Based Meditation and has a special interest in Women’s Health and Stress Related Disorders. I have never left a treatment without learning something new from her, or without feeling a tremendous amount of relief and support. Just being in her presence you can feel her calming spirit. I also find it comforting that Zanjabee Practitioners holds weekly staff meetings to confidentially discuss patient care status and ultimately to take patients to the next level of wellness. I feel this sharing of information is important as everyone is on the same page. Overall, I am ever thankful to Dr. Ali and her staff. They allowed me to be an active participant in my healing vs. being someone with an illness who is resigned to acceptance of a prescription pad. I would unequivocally recommend Zanjabee to my friends and family. Dr. Ali and her staff have been invaluable to me. Their compassion is quite evident from the moment you step into Zanjabee. I am ever so grateful…..thank you!

Over a year ago I had experienced pain on the left side of my head for two days. Despite taking eleven Advils®, it provided little relief, in any. The pain then shifted into my left eye, along with redness, blurriness and extreme sensitivity to light; in addition, my right eye was now beginning with the same symptoms. Throat pain and mild difficulty swallowing also ensued. On July 4th at 2AM I drove myself to the E.R. to limit exposure of light to my eyes due to the extreme eye pain. I explained all of my symptoms in detail and further advised that the day before these symptoms came on, I was in the home of someone who, unknown to me, was a hoarder. I had been exposed to a great deal of dust, dirt, mildew, and mold, but uncertain if this may have been the cause. The E.R. doctor diagnosed me with conjunctivitis and prescribed an antibiotic gel for my eyes. The doctor advised to continue with the medication until the symptoms were gone. With regard to the throat discomfort, it was his opinion that this was a viral matter. I was a bit perplexed at the diagnosis of conjunctivitis, as my past experience with this condition included a great deal of itching, and this time it had not. Aside from medication for my eye, he recommended seeing my primary care physician if the eye symptoms returned.

Late the following Friday evening, and five days post E.R., I found myself at the CVS Minute Clinic for a great deal of throat pain and difficulty swallowing. The nurse there felt I was experiencing a viral condition and that post nasal drip was adding to my misery. The recommendation was Sudafed® Maximum Strength Nasal Decongestant, Benadryl®, and Advil® In the following five days, and after taking two-thirds of a box of Sudafed®, and feeling pretty out of it from the Benadryl®, my throat symptoms increased dramatically. I had experienced a great deal of pain and much difficulty swallowing, brain fog, dizziness, my gait was off, exhaustion, and now the eye pain and associated symptoms (bloodshot eyes and blurry vision) were back. Additionally, I had a new symptom of eye fluttering. At this point, just to function with simple daily activities was a major struggle. I immediately scheduled an appointment with my PCP. Unfortunately, I found that my PCP was on maternity leave and therefore would be seeing a covering doctor. The covering doctor prescribed Azithromycin (an antibiotic) and referred me to an eye specialist. Fortunately, my current eye doctor specialized in diseases of the eyes and eye surgeries; and so, I was fortunate to be in his office that afternoon.

While in the waiting room, I began losing sensation on the left side of my face (frightening!). I jumped up to look in a mirror as I could not believe what I was experiencing, “Was this for real?” I wondered. With great worry, I continually kept touching and poking my face to see if I had sensation. “What is happening?” I was happy to be called in moments later and I discussed in great length everything I had been through in the past three weeks and even a month prior to that when I had strep throat. He examined my eyes and said the left eye looked quite inflamed and the right one was well on its way. He asked if a culture was taken at the E.R., which it had not, and then proceeded to do so. He felt the eye problems were most likely contracted while I was in the home of the hoarder where an unhealthy environment existed; and that the symptoms relative to my throat were unrelated. He immediately placed some drops in my eye and gave me a prescription for Tobramycin/Dexamethasone which is a combination of an antibiotic and corticosteroid. The result of my culture in the coming days proved to be positive for bacteria. Thank goodness he treated me as such as it provided a tremendous amount of relief. I have not had issues with my eye since.

As for the lack of sensation on the left side of my face, it seemed to ramp up, but intermittently. I struggled terribly with brain fog, throat pain and difficulty swallowing/eating, and my left ear now muffled and ringing. The Azithromycin did not help my throat, if anything; I felt I was going further downhill. So five days later I am back in my PCP’s office and this time the covering doctor I saw last time was out. Yet again, I was to see another covering doctor.

After discussion with this doctor, it was clear to me he had not even reviewed my chart. Though I had no discomfort in the sinus areas, even on his palpation, he insisted on treating this as a sinus condition with a two week prescription of Augmentin (a heavy duty penicillin antibiotic) and further advised that post a two-week course of medicine, “if”, the symptoms continue we would move to a sinus scan. I asked, “At this point, why wait for two weeks?” My concern was great. His response was that this is the typical course of treatment that we would take, which to me meant, “This is what the medical books taught!” I was never as disgusted with the medical community as I was at that moment. I felt like there was no hope….I kept asking over and over, “What is wrong with me?”

I filled my prescription and began taking the Augmentin. The medicine made me feel nauseous and did not help with the symptoms. Five days later, I called Dr. Ali. I heard about Dr. Ali from my sister-in-law. The appeal was that her practice was an integrative facility. Finally! Something I have always wished for, a melding between Eastern and Western medicine. Someplace where there is no fight over which area of discipline (standard medical practice or alternative treatments) are best, and where the patient needs come first. Well, it was a Friday afternoon when I called Dr. Ali. She immediately “listened” to me for quite a while on the telephone as I described the last month of misery to her. Dr. Ali asked questions the other PCP’s had not; “Did they swab your nose?”, “Do you have diabetes?”, “Has anything helped you so far?” etc. I can only say that when I hung up the phone, I instantly felt that not only would she be able to help, I felt she cared about me as a person. I knew she would be a great advocate for my overall well-being, especially, where I felt so weak and hopeless for any chance of feeling like myself again. After I hung up the phone, I immediately took on Dr. Ali as my new PCP and saw her that Monday. This was the beginning of my healing.