Doug Linsay was born in Texas and then moved with his family to Tennessee. The family found a permanent home in St. Louis, Missouri, and Doug had a very active childhood. According to his mother, she started walking when he was 10-months-old. Growing up, he had a passion for writing and music. He was also an incredible danger. He loved fast cars and had a life full of possibilities in front of him. He always dreamed of being a writer for The Simpsons and wanted a career in biochemistry. After graduating from high school, he headed off to college.
Doug moved to Kansas City, Missouri to attend Rockhurst University. He was thriving in college, and never lost sight of his goals. He was a biology major, and in 1999, he began a summer job at the University of Kansas biochemistry department in Lawrence, Missouri. In June of that year, he began experiencing the symptoms of a mysterious illness.
When Doug was 20-years-old, he started experiencing fevers and mysterious aches. He was exhausted all day and woke up drenched in sweat at night. He decided to return to St. Louis to see his doctor to figure out what was wrong. At first, Doug’s doctor thought that he had mononucleosis. After resting for a while, Doug started feeling better. He felt well enough to return to his job at the University of Kansas. Unfortunately, right after returning to his job, his symptoms returned. He had to quit after just three days. When he tried walking to the lab, he would become so lightheaded and sick that he had to die down for an hour before he could drive home. He decided to head home to see his doctor again. He wanted to get better before beginning his senior year of college. He didn’t get any real answers, and he went to college. On the first day of classes, he collapsed on a table in the dining hall. He decided that it was time to go home.
When Doug got home, his condition only got worse. Two weeks after returning home, things started getting really bad. He was in extreme pain and became lightheaded for no reason. He also had a rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, and could barely stand up. Simple activities, such as taking a shower, would leave him completely exhausted. He was no longer active and social; he was just miserable.
By this point, Doug was sure that it wasn’t mono. When a test couldn’t confirm this diagnosis, he started seeing specialists to figure out what was wrong with him. One specialist said that it as multiple sclerosis. Another said that it was mono, and it can take five years to recover. He became frustrated and tried changes in nutrition and acupuncture to start feeling better. Nothing was helping.
Doug was spending about 22-hours a day in bed. His condition left doctors confused, so he turned to his family’s medical history for answers. He was told that his mother and his aunt, Jeanne Carmack, had both suffered from mysterious illnesses when they were young women. His aunt started feeling ill when she was younger, then was hit with the fatigue and pain that left her bedridden for years. She was so weak that she couldn’t tie her own shoes. Her 30-year-old sister was experiencing the same thing, which was so bad that she couldn’t hold her 18-month-old son. Doug’s mother was unable to walk when her son was in high school. She couldn’t even leave the house. Both sisters spoke to plenty of doctors who couldn’t give them an accurate diagnosis. They were told that they had a thyroid condition. As Jeanne got older, her condition got better. Doug’s mother wasn’t as lucky, and she needed nursing care for the rest of her life. Doug was just 21-years-old, and his family history had him terrified.
Doug decided to start doing his own research to get to the bottom of the problem. He began to think that his problem was with his nervous system, in his adrenal gland. He took his research to his doctors, but they didn’t take him seriously. One even suggested that he see a psychiatrist. With the help of the National Dysautonomic Research Foundation, he got a clearer picture of his condition. Unfortunately, even this organization wasn’t’ studying diseases like his.
In 2002, Doug decided he needed a scientific partner to help him out. He got a group of his friends, and they planned to travel to an annual meeting of the American Autonomic Society in South Carolina. He had to buy multiple seats on the plane, and he had to lie down during the whole flight. He knew that he had to be taken seriously, so he dressed in a suit and tie. He had a Bachelor’s degree and was able to hold his own with the other doctors. After, Dr. H. Cecil Coghlan, a University of Alabama professor, approached Doug. While laying in the back of his friend’s SUV, they drove 500-miles to Birmingham, Alabama to see the doctor. There they did a tilt-table test, which confirmed his suspicions.
Dr. Coghlan diagnosed Doug with dysautonomia. It is a disorder that affects the autonomic nervous system. It meant that his body was unable to regulate his heart rate and stress response. This was where all of his symptoms came from. The orthostatic intolerance occurred because Doug’s body couldn’t handle being upright for long periods of time. If he forced it to, he had an elevated heart rate and low blood pressure. Doug was sure that there was more to it, and his adrenal glands were to blame. He suggested using a drug called Levophed. The doctor agreed, and Doug spent the next six years attached to a constant Levophed drip. He started feeling better and was able to start doing things again.
The End Of His Misery
Doug still experienced symptoms occasionally and thought that he had a tumor. The scans came back normal, and in 2006, one of his tests came back abnormal. He had bilateral adrenal medullary hyperplasia. It was a rare disorder that affects the adrenal glands. They had grown so large that they mimicked a tumor. He found a 28-year-old study involving rats, and he had a treatment option. He found a doctor to replicate the procedure on humans, and perform the surgery, and today, he is living a normal life. This bedridden man was ill for 11 years. Then he miraculously cured himself with his own invention. If he hadn’t been so persistent, he wouldn’t be better today.