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Chronic Lyme Disease

It has been such a struggle for me to write this. There’s so much to say… I think I would be best served to just write a book because this post may be way too long for a blog and I might lose a lot of readers halfway through… But, for those of you who bear with me to the end, I want to thank you for reading.  So much needs to be done for Lyme Disease awareness and education.  I’m trying to do my part.  It’s very difficult and emotional to talk about, so I’ve done my best here for now…

For me, Lyme disease hasn’t been a moment in time where I might I recall getting bit by a tick, or seeing a bulls-eye rash… for me, it’s been quite the opposite of a moment.  Rather, it has been an endless series of grueling moments of pain, slow realizations of debilitating terror, and shape-shifting never-ending symptoms that continue to elude many of the sharpest and well-respected practitioners in the country.  Oh, and absolutely none of this is covered by any insurance, either.

Starting at the “beginning” is hard to do in a situation like this, where you’ve been miles down the path well before you even knew the path existed.  I recognized for sure that something was very wrong one February evening in 2016 after I had just finished a workout that seemed much more difficult for me than usual.  I had been in recovery and remission from autoimmune hepatitis (not a viral form, it’s chronic inflammation of the liver) for about 6 months at that moment, and was working hard to reclaim my health, body, and life.  I had been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease 6 years prior when I went completely jaundice one day with no explanation.  I had been unwell for a while prior to that day, but I was young and didn’t know that what I was feeling wasn’t normal, because honestly I’d felt unwell for years.  So when I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, I went on a strong cocktail of corticosteroids (Prednisone) and immunosuppressants for 6 years. Steroids are supposed to help bring down inflammation, and the immunosuppressants suppressed my immune system, weakening it so my body would “stop attacking itself”.  After five and a half years of this cocktail not working, my specialists gave up and told me I would have to go on the liver transplant list.  It was then that I took things into my own hands and started the autoimmune paleo diet and an all natural supplement protocol that got my liver disease into remission in less than 6 months!  So, I started to wean off of the steroids at that time, and thought I was getting my life back.  However, that’s when things got really ugly.  I slowly started to notice I was more and more fatigued. My liver remained in remission, but everything else got much, much worse!  I kept on pushing, trying to work out and battle through… Which then brings us back to February 2016 after that particularly rough workout.

That night, as I made dinner I noticed a heavy feeling start to creep over my body, like I was coming down with something, HARD.  It continued to get heavier and heavier and was so overwhelming that I was crying out in pain!  I couldn’t lift my fork to my mouth, or carry my plate.  My muscles were at complete failure.  My body felt like I was wearing a lead suit it was so heavy.  I felt like my eyes were about to pop out of my skull. I had a constant fever for weeks. I had never felt so sick or weak in my life!  Something was seriously wrong.  I tried to tell myself that maybe it was just the flu or mono.  After a few days I went to the Dr and he couldn’t find anything wrong in my blood work or x-rays.  As time continued, my body crashed even harder! 

The first several months of trying to figure out what was going on were horrifying. I was in so much pain, and was so weak, I could barely walk across the room without falling over.  The pain in my head was like someone had taken my skull and slammed it off of a cement curb.  It throbbed and ached morning to night.  I felt like I was carrying around a 100 lb lead ball on my neck.  The pain shot down my neck and my shoulders, into my back.  I had joint pain that ached and radiated so deeply in my knees, hips, elbows, hands, and wrists that I would sometimes scream and cry. Little did I know this pain would follow me for years to come.  My muscles ached so badly.  The smallest amounts of movement like chewing would cause so much pain.  I couldn’t sleep.  I would go to bed and lie awake for hours maybe catching a few minutes here and there but never into a deep state.  Every couple of hours I would crash even harder, not able to get up or move about as I wished.  I couldn’t read.  My mind couldn’t keep up to make sense of an entire sentence.  By the time I reached the middle of the sentence I had forgotten the first few words completely.  I couldn’t follow the story line of TV shows or movies.  My husband took me to see The Book of Mormon and I can’t for the life of me tell you what that show is about!  🙁  Everything was like sensory overload!  Music was too loud, lights were too bright, smells were overpowering.  All I could hear was noise and it made me extremely anxious and nervous, I just wanted to scream!  The smallest unexpected noise would send me over the edge!  I couldn’t recover from being startled in the slightest.  I had to stop watching suspenseful TV and exciting movies.  I couldn’t have stressful or emotional conversations without intense physical reactions.  My head and my heart would pound so hard, it was so loud inside of my body.  I also couldn’t find my words.  It was like my vocabulary had been deleted from my memory.  I felt like I had lost complete control over every part of my body.  We were trying to look at new houses at the time.  Sometimes I couldn’t look at more than one.  I would walk through the house, sometimes not even making it upstairs and be so completely wiped out that we would have to drive straight home.  I got scooters at stores because I couldn’t walk the aisles without fainting.  And nobody seemed to have a clue as to WHY.

My PCP told me he thought it was my thyroid.  I knew better.  This was much more than my thyroid. But I couldn’t seem to get any Dr to listen to me.  All my tests kept coming back normal to them.  I went to an endocrinologist specialist, who couldn’t tell me anything either, except that I was slightly hypothyroid and that that shouldn’t be causing all of these symptoms. People would look at me and think I looked perfectly fine!  Newsflash!  You can’t see inside someone’s body!  I spent years masking how I felt inside, so it’s no wonder you couldn’t see it on the outside!  Plus, a little bit of concealer, bronzer, blush, and mascara, and who doesn’t look normal?  I’m not a loud or overly expressive person.  I’m pretty quiet, polite, and sometimes timid.  None of the doctors I went to in my health insurance network could pinpoint anything.  So, I moved on.  I finally found a whole team of like-minded people in functional medicine, integrative medicine, holistic naturopaths, chinese herbalists, and chiropractors who helped diagnose me with Lyme Disease and extreme adrenal fatigue. Along the way, these natural health practitioners have found so many other issues going on in my body that are causing problems.  It was such a relief to find answers!  I felt like  someone was finally telling me, “No!  You’re not going completely insane!  Something really is wrong with you!”  Sometimes just hearing that I wasn’t crazy would bring me to tears, let alone the fear of the diagnosis itself.  The natural health care field goes above and beyond to find what most conventional doctors do not.  They really dig deep to find the root cause of the issues instead of treating the body like individual compartments that need repair.  I realize that this might not be the fault of Western medicine doctors because they aren’t trained to look for Lyme Disease or root causes of illness in this way and that in-depth testing of this sort isn’t in their standard procedure.  But, for so long now conventional medicine has completely missed the boat for me and for so many friends, friends of friends, family members & others I connect with through support groups.  I really wish the practices would change to help more people find the causes of their problems… I’ll share more on that in another post. (See my post – “Why I Choose Holistic Medicine – How I Healed From Autoimmune Disease Naturally” here)

Chronic Lyme disease is very difficult to diagnose and to treat.  Once it has been in your system for a while, it more often than not does not show up in the usual blood tests.  If you have had it for a long time, your immune system becomes so suppressed that your body can’t make the antibodies that would show up on the blood test.  It also hides in your organs, and forms something called a biofilm that is a protective shield around it that antibiotics cannot penetrate.  So, just taking the antibiotic like most people do when they first get bit does not work for someone who has had it in their system for a longer period of time.  I know so many people who have tried many rounds of antibiotics for their Lyme and are still so sick and now have damaged their gut and immune system so much.  My Lyme Dr says that if you catch it within three weeks and take the antibiotic, that it will kill the borellia.  But, if it is in your system longer than 3 weeks, it has gone into it’s second stage where it forms the biofilm and becomes chronic. That’s when you are in big trouble.  You may not have severe symptoms or any symptoms at all sometimes for many years.  But, when your immune system is weakened, for several different kinds of reasons, the disease will activate and spread.  So, when I was on the medications for my liver to decrease my immune system, the Lyme disease was only getting stronger.  But, the steroids I was taking were masking many of those symptoms because they pump you up and give you energy and reduce inflammation!  So, the entire time I was taking those drugs that never helped my liver, they were hurting my immune system and making the underlying cause of the autoimmune disease, the Lyme, even worse!

I never remember seeing a rash or a tick. Less than half of the people who get Lyme disease see a rash.  Don’t depend on seeing a rash to determine whether or not you may have Lyme.  But, when I think back to my childhood, I remember that around age 12 I was having bad pain in my knees and really struggling in dance classes.  The Dr said it was growing pains or Osgood Schlatter disease.  Thing is, that pain never went away, I just got used to having it.  In fact, it got worse in high school when I had a job at Osh Kosh B’Gosh.  I worked 8-9 hour shifts on my feet and would come home an aching, tired, miserable, mess.  My hips and knees were the worst!  I also had a severe bout of anemia in high school as well.  I would pass out if I walked up the stairs, or scrubbed my head in the shower.  I ended up having to stay home from school for a few weeks and had to quit all of my physical activities.  I didn’t mind the pass on gym class, but I was really sad to stop my dance classes.  I never got back to them.  I tried, but my body just didn’t work the same.  I would even fall asleep in the shower in the mornings.  Thinking back on it, I was really fatigued, and it wasn’t at all normal.  But at the time, I didn’t know any better.  My health didn’t get any better in college.  I had terrible fatigue coupled with anxiety and depression.  I started having awful digestive problems in my early 20s, too.  But still, no one had any answers for me other than that I was depressed!  Well, of course I was depressed!  I felt like total crap all the time and had unknown pathogens wreaking havoc inside my body!  It wasn’t until I was 26 that the autoimmune diagnosis came along which lead me to find the Lyme disease several years later.

My first step in treatment for the Lyme disease was to start an protocol that came highly recommended by a trusted friend and health coach.  The Chinese herbalist was Dr. Zhang.  He has his own clinic in NYC specifically for the treatment of Lyme disease and other difficult to treat diseases.  When I first started the protocol, I felt like I was dying. I started to even prepare myself for the possibility.  The reaction to the treatment was horrible.  When you treat Lyme Disease, you have something called a Herxheimer Reaction.  It’s the body’s response to toxic die off.  You feel worse and your symptoms intensify before you feel better.  In the Lyme world, we call this “herxing”.  I felt like I was in an endless herx.  I would detox daily with my infrared sauna, ionic foot baths, teas, other supplements, colon hydrotherapy, massage therapy, epsom salt baths, anything I could try to lessen the blow I would.  I would break down almost every night for the next couple years and sob because I wasn’t feeling better.  I knew that people with chronic Lyme disease did not lead comfortable lives. I could barely leave my bed for months. If I did, I paid for it hard later.  Eventually, I felt a small amount of relief.  I could read again, and I had a tiny bit more energy.  Some of the joint pain was slightly better.  But, I was still extremely ill and after 10 months on this protocol, I had plateaued and knew it was time for me to try something new.

I was and still am very involved in the chronic Lyme disease community online, particularly on Facebook.  Through that group and through word of mouth I was connected to a person who lived near me who was now in Lyme remission and was doing great!  She had gone to a local wellness center that treated Lyme with a different herbal protocol and had great success.  So, I went there, did their testing and started their treatment.  They told me that I was one of the sickest patients they’d ever had (you’d be surprised how many times I’ve heard this!).  I hated hearing that because I was already so down on my luck with the first protocol not working that I didn’t want to think of the chances of this one being unsuccessful, but they were confident that it would work.  After their testing of all my organs and systems, their opinion was that I had had this disease for well over 20 years, which would have put me back at the age where I first started noticing the joint pain.  Things were going okay on this protocol until I increased the dosage for the first time, and it hit me like a truck!  The herxing was beyond anything I had ever experienced before.  I was so sick, I couldn’t get out of bed (not exaggerating folks, for real).  I couldn’t do anything for myself.  Showering was extremely difficult.  We had to bring in help to cook, clean, and do errands and things around the house (Thank you Vicky, we would have been lost without you!).  They told me to go back down on the treatment to the first dosage, but I continued to be just as sick as I was when I first learned I had it, and I knew my body just couldn’t handle this protocol.  I once again felt like I was on my death bed.  So, I stopped the treatment all together and hoped to regain some strength.

During this time, we knew we had to find another route for treatment.  It seemed as though my body, specifically my liver was not capable of handling the herbal protocols.  They were just too strong and knocked me out entirely.  We were seriously considering a stem cell treatment center in CA.  It was a huge investment of money and time and the reviews were not that stellar.  Some people had success, others none at all.  We were so confused and uncertain of what to do.  Thankfully, my husband was still out in the world making waves and helping others and someone came into our lives at that time that has forever changed ours and we couldn’t be more thankful.  Angela, a client of my husband’s was selling t-shirts months before for her own daughter to go to CT to have a rare laser treatment done for Lyme disease.  I remember when Ryan came home with the T-Shirt and told me the story of Angela and her daughter at that time.  In our desperation for possible avenues, my husband recalled Angela and reached out to her to ask her about how that treatment went.  She said that her daughter was doing amazingly well and told us how to get in touch with the Dr who did it.  Everyone we heard of that went to have this treatment was doing much better, at least in terms of their Lyme disease.  We were put on a waiting list for 5 months.  Those were the longest, hardest, most terrifying 5 months of our lives.  I wasn’t on any treatment at all because nothing was helping.  We felt like if this treatment didn’t work, we had no idea what to do next.  I couldn’t imagine continuing to live in the state I was in for the rest of my life.  It was an incredibly emotionally difficult time for us.  We wanted to be so hopeful about it, but with our experience of being hopeful and then being let down in the past with other protocols, we knew it would be foolish to put all of faith into it.  But, we kind of did anyway.

Finally that 5 months was up and we left for CT.  We were there for 12 days, with a total of 8 treatments.  He determines which strains of Lyme you have as well as which coinfections (when you get bit by a tick, you do not get just Lyme borrelia, you also get other infections that they carry like Bartonella, Babesia, etc).  I had 14 strains of Lyme of both stage 1 and stage 2, and 7 coinfections, including Babesia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  He said that of the strains that I tested positive for, some were from 20+ years ago, and some were more recent years, so it was likely that I had been bit more than once!  It was in all of my organs, but the majority was in my brain stem and cerebellum. On the final day when he said I no longer have any Lyme in me, I couldn’t even believe it.  I was having herx reactions to the treatment, so I didn’t feel well at this time, but I knew eventually the herx would fade.  We left the office and went outside and cried in the car!  That night we went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate and headed home the next day.  I was in so much pain the car ride home, but my heart was full of hope!

When we got home things got worse.  I continued to herx for several months.  It wasn’t until 4 months later that I really began to notice a change.  In the meantime, I’d been diagnosed with yet another chronic condition called Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome; likely also caused by my immune system being weakened for so long, wrecked with Lyme disease and other pathogens.  This was another huge blow that really sent me in a downward spiral emotionally.  I had constant stabbing pains in my bladder around the clock.  Interstitial Cystitis is a different subject, so I’ll write more on it another day, but it really floored me how yet again, I get another major diagnosis in the midst of trying to recover from the previous one.  I can’t seem to escape!  But slowly, I started noticing my Lyme symptoms were getting better.  I was able to walk further, I had less pain in my head and joints, and I could start to do more than one thing a day.  We went to Hawaii in January, and I walked in the sand!  That was a major moment!  I hadn’t been able to do that just 6 months prior.

Now, exactly one year later, I am doing much better than I was before that treatment in CT!  I am able to function at a higher level!  I can cook again, I can take care of myself, I can walk around the neighborhood, I can run several errands, I just have more energy in general!  The constant headaches are gone. (I do owe some of that to Family Chiropractic in Cranberry.  Dr. Amanda Jordan and Dr. Cotey Jordan have an amazing Migraine Challenge every year, and they really helped me out, I would highly recommend them!)  The joint pain is much better.  The fatigue is much less.  My overall hope and state of well-being has really improved.  I look forward to living a full life instead of fearing a life of misery.  I am still struggling with other pathogens and organ dysfunction in my body that cause me pain and fatigue.  I still have to take very good and careful care of myself.  I can still get really run down.  But, all of my blood work currently shows no signs of Lyme disease.  There is no test that can definitively tell you for 100% certain that you DON’T have Lyme disease.  But, all other tests that might indicate that it’s there are negative.  It’s possible there are some stragglers still inside of me and I know I still have a co-infection that we did not know about at the time of the treatment in CT.  But, I’m still hopeful and determined to eliminate them and continue on my healing journey!

Having chronic Lyme disease opens you up to a whole other host of disease and health problems, not just the Lyme disease itself.  I myself have experienced severe adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, bladder disease, autoimmune liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, IBS, arthritis, kidney dysfunction, parasites, anemia, gastroparesis, among other things.  If you get bit, I would urge you to seek treatment immediately.  It is not something that you want lingering in your system.  It causes all of your body systems to go completely haywire.

I am so thankful for my husband who has always believed me, believed IN me, and trusted me throughout this entire journey.  I wish it was over, but he remains so faithful to seeing me through it.  He’s been a constant source of love, support, and patience for me.  I would never have made it through any of this without him.  When everyone else told me I was fine, he stood by my side and fought for me.  So often when women have chronic illness, men, and other people in general, but particularly the men, will overlook it and think you’re just overreacting or “it’s all in your head”.  We aren’t taken seriously because we “don’t look sick”.  We sit in social situations and smile while we’re in great amounts of pain.  So everyone just assumes you must be fine.  They don’t know that adrenaline kicks in when you’re out and you want to be normal for a little while, so you ride the adrenaline and then come home and completely crash after a few hours of being “on”.  I am so grateful to Ryan for looking past all of that and for knowing my limitations and accepting them.  I’m sure it has been so hard for him to not be able to live the way he would if his spouse wasn’t so ill all of the time.  But, he has been so patient and loving in the way that he deals with it, never making me feel bad.  He knows I carry a lot of guilt, but he never makes me feel guilty.  I’m so glad he has never had to feel the pain that I feel, but I know he gets it.  I couldn’t love him more for tirelessly taking such good care of me. With everything that I’ve endured, I’ve always known how lucky I am to have him for a husband.

And so, if you’ve read this far, thank you!  I hope that you learned a little about chronic Lyme disease and what is like to have it.  If you know someone who might relate to this, I would encourage you to share it with them so that we can connect.  I love to be a source of support for my fellow sufferers. Having a community of support really makes a huge difference! Life isn’t all about suffering.  We find ways to enjoy the beauty in it, too!  Part of that beauty is supporting and loving others in the same or similar situations.  Anything I can do to help someone else who’s also hurting always helps to ease my own pain.  I’ve also realized for me that things like fashion, decorating, and creating other beautiful things around me is a way for me to channel my frustrations and pain and to bring beauty into the world.  So, I hope that you enjoy my blog and that it brings a little fun and enjoyment into your life as well!  I would love for you to share anything in the comments below, or message me, about your journey or things you like to do to bring beauty into your life, too 🙂

Happy #WellnessWednesday friends! I hope that you are having a great week. It feels so good to be feeling well enough to come and type my heart out to you! If you haven’t been following along on social media, I have been having a really bad flare-up of Interstitial Cystitis. It’s also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome. Yes, it is as awful as it sounds. It’s a very similar feeling to a UTI, but in many cases much worse. It doesn’t respond to antibiotics and traditional western medicine testing cannot detect any source of infection at all. It feels like someone is stabbing you in the bladder, like you have to go to the bathroom so badly, but there’s barely a drop inside of you, your bladder feels sore and full, and even the outside parts of you can hurt, too – 24/7. Some women live their entire lives in this pain. No pain medication will touch it. There are no cures and only one drug on the market that only works for 30% of people and then usually stops working after a few months. Not trying to sound negative here peeps, just giving you the straight talk. Plus, the side-effects are hair loss, liver damage, and possibly cancer. So, no thanks. That’s not for me. I did get so desperate that I tried it a couple of years ago when this first happened, but I lasted about two weeks on it and saw absolutely no improvement, so I stopped. I didn’t want to do any further damage to my body.

You all know by now that I don’t use western medicine for my chronic illness healing protocols or symptom relief. There are times when pain is so bad that I will have to temporarily take something, but I never do that more than a couple times a year. So, when I first had this Interstitial Cystitis come about, I was on the hunt for ways to heal it FAST. Unfortunately, it took a really long time for me to find what helped. I tried EVERYTHING under the sun! I was in severe pain for nine months. I pretty much just wanted to either get a permanent epidural to knock out all feeling in my lower half, or have someone take me to Dr. Kevorkian and sign me out of this life. This was after the autoimmune disease, the Lyme Disease, the parasites, hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, endometriosis, gastritis, IBS, migraines, and so much more that I’m not going to stay here all day typing out. I felt like “what on earth have I done to deserve all of this?!?!” I was beyond frustrated, devastated, and sad. No one had answers and I felt so alone in my quest to find them. But, once again, I dedicated my entire life to researching and putting myself out there to find the help I needed. Thankfully, it showed up!

I was in a support group for IC and several ladies mentioned that a raw, fruit and vegetable liquid diet got them out of pain and into full remission. (By the way, if you are searching for answers for your chronic illness problems, I highly recommend joining a FB support group for your conditions. Just don’t get sucked in – they can be very depressing because people are suffering. You have to always remember that you are not a statistic and you are not that person who is living with the pain. You are searching for and WILL FIND answers, and you HAVE to keep a positive mindset!) So, I googled raw diets and there was the Medical Medium. I’d heard about this guy from friends and Goop but I’d never looked into his protocols. I was too busy following what my practitioners were telling me to do. But, when I researched his approach more it started to really click with me. He posed a lot of good questions like, “how long have you been following that high fat, high protein diet and what has it done for you lately?” and “Did it help you at first but now you’re stuck in a rut again and nothing is changing?” I was like, “Ummmm… YES. Exactly. It did help me at first a lot! But in the last several years, I have been feeling pretty much the same on it.” Which is totally true.

I started out doing the Autoimmune Paleo Diet five years ago. I went from a standard American diet of what I thought was “healthy” to the Paleo diet. So, of course I saw improvements and of course my inflammation went down after cutting out gluten, dairy, grains, sugar, soy, and processed foods. But then, I plateaued. Doing the Paleo diet kept my autoimmune disease in remission, but it never healed my underlying causes. The Medical Medium’s protocol on the other hand, was a completely different approach and he was claiming it would heal these underlying conditions. So, in a desperate attempt, I started the 28 Day Cleanse and within a couple of months I was out of pain! So, when this flared up again on New Year’s Day this year, I returned to the protocol.

So, you might be wondering, why did I stop? I stopped drinking it because someone told me that I should, haha. They said that I wasn’t getting enough protein and that the celery juice was making me less alkaline. I don’t think that was true now at all. Here’s the thing about other people’s opinions… they’re just that. They’re not always true, not always right, and not always the best for YOU personally. You have to find and discover what works best for you. What helps you feel good? What gets you out of pain? What brings you energy and well-being? No one else can decide that for you. You have to get in tune with your body and figure this out for yourself. There are so many opinions and schools of thought out there about what is the “right” way to eat. Is it Paleo, lectin-free, carnivore diet, vegan diet, plant-based diet, etc, etc? Most practitioners in the western medicine world couldn’t care less about what diet you do. They don’t even think diet helps with inflammation, autoimmune disease, Lyme, or any kind of chronic illness or even cancer! Now that, I can tell you from experience is absolutely absurd. I have a whole other post coming on that. But, then there are the holistic practitioners who all want to tell us that high fat, high protein diets are the way to go. I followed this for years and years and my health didn’t improve at all. In fact, my liver got more sluggish, I had a harder time detoxing from protocols killing Lyme, parasites, and mold, and I couldn’t shed pockets of fat in areas, mainly around my liver. But, when I do a lower fat, plant-based diet, I detox better and I lose that fat faster. I can always tell because one alcoholic drink doesn’t give me a headache or make me feel like death the next day, and I thin out in areas where I usually can’t. Anyway, my point is this… keep an open mind about avenues for healing. Just because your doctor said that you have to eat high protein, low carb, high fat and that’s the only way you’ll heal, does not mean that they are right. They’re human, too. They have biases because they are taught in school that that’s the best way to heal from certain conditions. That’s what all their peers are doing. That’s what is trending in functional and holistic medicine. I see so many patients getting brainwashed that this is the only way that they can eat. Someone asked me once how I healed my IC the first time, and when I told them that I did an all fruit and vegetable cleanse for a few months, they looked horrified! They said, “I can’t do that! I can’t eat fruit!” It wasn’t part of their high protein, high-fat diet. Also, when we stop eating those things our systems don’t handle them so well when they get reintroduced. As I said earlier, my system was unhappy for a long while when I first started the Medical Medium Protocol. But, after a bit, I was able to eat whatever fruits and starches I wanted without any of the discomforts.

We limit our options for healing when we buy into ideas that there is only one diet to help us. That’s why I urge you to stay open to new, seemingly impossible ways to get better. It’s in these leaps of faith where I’ve found the most healing. When I go so far outside of the box that we’ve been conditioned to stay inside, I find the greatest ways to heal. Keep this in mind on your journey, friends.

So here’s a bit more about the Medical Medium, the cleanse, and how it’s helped me…

The Medical Medium

If you haven’t heard about Anthony William, let me be the first to tell you that he is a very interesting guy! He is not a doctor as you might suspect. He is just a regular guy with an extraordinary gift if you so choose to believe. I’ve been on the fence about this for years, but here’s what he says. He claims that he has had a voice speaking to him since the age of four. He was at a family dinner when a very clear voice spoke to him in his head and it said: “Grandma has lung cancer.” So, he told his family this. She had no symptoms at the time, but she went to the doctor and sure enough, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Ever since then, Anthony has heard the voice telling him about everyone’s health problems that he is around. He can’t shut the voice off. He said this was a very difficult thing to accept for a long time. He didn’t want to have this voice speaking to him. But, he eventually realized that he could help so many people and he started to lean into his role. Since then, he has helped tens of thousands of people heal, including very famous celebrities who endorse him. If you pick up one of his books, you’ll find hundreds of testimonials from famous people of all backgrounds who say how much Anthony has helped them and their families.

Spirit tells Anthony all about the root causes of people’s chronic conditions. In a world where chronic illness is running rampant and mystery illness is more common than ever, people are latching on to Anthony’s advice from Spirit and are finding real healing! Spirit tells him not only what is wrong with people, but it tells him how to fix it, too! Anthony has answers to all kinds of chronic ailments from acne to Lyme Disease, Hashimotos, ALS, autoimmune disease, gallbladder disease, mold, viruses, thyroid dysfunction, liver disease, Lupus, endometriosis, UTIs, IC, you name it! Many of you would be shocked to hear what he claims are the root causes to these sicknesses. They’re often things you already know about and probably have already had multiple times in your life like the strep or mono virus!

The exciting part about Anthony’s gift of Spirit is that he can share what Spirit tells him about how to heal with us. Spirit always has natural, safe, and holistic ways of clearing out pathogens that are causing disease. You can find most of the protocol at your health food store and grocery store! It’s accessible and for me and so many others, it’s helped immensely.

The first time I tried this protocol, I was open to believing in Spirit, but I wasn’t fully there yet. I don’t know that I’m 100% there now, but I have a really good gut feeling about it this time around. I get that it is totally out there and it would make so much sense that this guy was making all of this up to be famous and sell books. But, my intuition is telling me otherwise. The more I listen to him and read his work, the more I feel a connection to it and it resonates with me on so many levels. I’ve seen people with spiritual gifts firsthand and that’s also helped me to have more faith in what Anthony is telling us. I once worked with a woman who does energy healing and it was undeniable that she had a gift of connecting with the spiritual realm. She knew things about me that I’d never told a soul. They were incredibly detailed and exact and it was honestly shocking. She did the same for my husband and it was so different, but also spot on. For those that are fearful of people connecting to another realm, I don’t think that you should be if you are working with the right kind of person. It’s not about Satan, it’s not about idolizing anything or playing God. In fact, the woman I worked with is a very devout Christian and she tells me every time that I speak to her that her gift is from God. I don’t doubt her because she was so incredibly accurate. So, since that experience, I have been much more inclined to believe people who claim to have gifts like this. But, even more than that, the protocol has helped me every time that I’ve done it. Additionally, I’ve had testing done that’s revealed that I have these things he claims to be root causes. Is it possible that it’s a scam? Sure. It is. But, when you’re in pain and desperately seeking answers, you’ll try anything! So, I did. I’m glad I did. It helped me. That’s why I’m sharing it with you today. I realize it may be outside of a lot of people’s comfort zones, but, I challenge you to push through that and give this a shot, especially if you’re suffering. If you disagree, that’s totally fine. I completely understand. I’m not here to argue or start a debate. It just simply helped me and I want to do what I can to help others through my experience, so that’s what I’m going to do today! 🙂

The 28-Day Cleanse:

So, how does it work? Well, Anthony has a bunch of books out and I would highly recommend starting there. I can’t possibly give you all of the information you need in this blog post. But, if you grab a copy of a book and listen to his podcast here on SoundCloud, you’ll quickly learn a lot of what you need to know.

I started out reading the book “Medical Medium” which I think is a great place to start if you’re unsure of which book to read first. It clearly lays out where and how he gets his info and it has the details for the 28 Day Cleanse as well. If you have a liver or thyroid condition, I would recommend getting one or both of the books on those specific topics (I linked all of the books below for you) depending upon what you’re dealing with. I am also pre-ordering the “Cleanse To Heal” book that’s coming out soon because I’m sure there will be a lot of great information in there as well. All of his books are so interesting and packed with great knowledge and tips!

So, on the 28 Day Cleanse, Anthony tells us that we have to bring the fats and proteins way down (to next to nothing) in order for the liver to have a break from processing those and to focus on cleansing out all of the pathogens and toxins that are making us sick. But, this cleanse is just as much about what you SHOULD eat as it is what you shouldn’t. He says that you must focus on fruits mainly because they have such incredible healing powers, followed by vegetables. There are certain fruits and vegetables that are best for treating specific conditions. So, you’ll want to listen to the podcasts and read the books to find out exactly which fruits and veggies are best for you, and which supplements and herbs to bring in as well.

Many of you reading this are probably thinking, HECK NO, I’m not eating fruits! I hear you, I felt the same way at first! I was like, “no way, I have candida and mold, I can’t possibly be eating fruit! I might as well poison myself!” But, trust me… I did it and it didn’t kill me. My mold levels didn’t get worse and neither did the candida. Also, he makes really good points about why fruits aren’t to be feared. He has an entire episode on “Fruit Fear” and how we have been conditioned to believe it’s bad for us when in reality he says it’s what is going to help us heal. I highly recommend listening to that episode here. You should also listen to the “Healing from Mold Exposure” episode and “The Truth About Candida”. Fascinating!

During the 28 Day Cleanse, you will eat raw fruits and vegetables every day for 28 days. He does not recommend eating any grains, gluten, dairy, soy, processed foods or oils, and very limited beans or legumes if at all. He says that you should minimize any fats and proteins. He does give you some options for fats such as a little bit of avocado and some different recipes for cashew sauces that can be used for dressings and dips to flavor your food! But, to get the most benefit from the cleanse, he recommends that you eat raw fruits and veggies for 28 days. For many people, this can be too intense. If you are really sick, as I was the first time I did this cleanse, it can be too much for your liver and body to handle at once. I knew this because I was completely wiped out and couldn’t do much of anything. So, in this case, he recommends that you slow it down by adding in some cooked vegetables and a little bit of fat. In this case, he says that eating potatoes (yes, even WHITE POTATOES! Say what?!?!) for dinner is a good idea. Spirit has told Anthony that potatoes are actually a very healing food. They draw out viruses and help the body to heal, contrary to what we have been told in modern culture about potatoes, right?! I was pretty excited to finally eat a potato again, haha! You can eat white potatoes or sweet potatoes. Both have great healing benefits.

Here are the foods that are on the NO LIST:

  • MSG – can be disguised as saying “Natural Flavor”
  • Dairy
  • Canola Oil
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Gluten
  • Pork
  • Citric Acid
  • Soy
  • Processed Sugar
  • Processed Beet Sugar
  • Farmed Fish
  • Natural Flavors
  • Eggs
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Corn
  • Most Grains
  • Vinegar

While you are on the cleanse, there are a couple of key foods that play a huge role. The first is celery juice. If you haven’t yet, check out my post all about celery juice and its benefits here. Celery juice is to be drunk on an empty stomach. It’s best first thing in the morning, but if you absolutely can’t do that, later is better than never. Celery juice is so beneficial because it increases your natural stomach acid which is critical to your health, and helps fight pathogens. It is great for the liver and detoxing the body. There are so many more benefits to it, so check out that blog post for more, and definitely pick up one of his books to find even more info as well!

Another key to the cleanse is the Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie. This smoothie helps to draw out heavy metals that are inside of your body. These metals are extremely toxic! They feed pathogens and damage your organs. They are often behind so many of our chronic conditions! This smoothie consists of:

  • 2 cups of Organic Wild Blueberries – Incredible healing food!
  • 2 Bananas (I like mine frozen for extra creaminess!)
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed OJ
  • 1 cup of organic Cilantro or Parsely (I use parsley because cilantro tastes like soap to me!)
  • A tsp of Vimergy Barley Grass Juice Powder
  • A TBS of Atlantic Dulse Flakes
  • Hawaiin Spirulina

This magical little blend will slowly, and safely draw out the metals from your body. You can assist in this process by using a sauna, doing Epsom salt baths, and dry brushing!

Anthony also recommends that you add in snacks for your adrenals. It’s important to support them throughout the cleanse. He suggests eating red apples, celery, and dates to keep your adrenal glands functioning well.

A typical day on the cleanse for me looks like this:

AM:

Warm water with the juice of 1 lemon squeezed into it on an empty stomach

16-24 oz of Celery Juice – wait 20 minutes to eat

The Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie – mentioned above

Take supplements and herbs

PM:

Snack – Apples, celery, dates

Lunch – Spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots, red onion and squeezed lemon juice. Can add a bit of avocado if you need to slow the detox down.

Snack – Berries – raspberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries

Dinner – Cooked vegetables such as sweet potatoes or russet potatoes. There are lots of delicious recipes with potatoes that are on the Medical Medium Website. You can find packets for all kinds of approved recipes here (scroll down on this page to get to the recipe packets). I also make salsa, curry, sweet potato nachos, spinach potato cups, potato crust pizza, and more! You won’t starve on this cleanse, I PROMISE you! 🙂

Take supplements and herbs

Supplements and Herbs:

Anthony also recommends a lot of herbs and supplements to help you heal while you’re on the cleanse. I would recommend going slowly with the herbs that kill pathogens because it can be a lot for someone who is very ill to add these in. I had to first start the cleanse and get my body used to that and then I carefully added these to my regimen. He goes over all of the appropriate herbs and supplements for each condition on his podcast and in his books. So, you’ll want to check those out to find out what is best for you at this time. There is a webpage for the best brands of supplements to use which you can find here.

Speaking of herbs, teas are a great thing that Anthony recommends on this cleanse. Be sure you use pure herbal tea. No additives! Sometimes companies add in eggs or rice, which are a big NO on this cleanse (eggs and rice are foods that feed pathogens)! They also can contain “natural flavors” which are code for MSG, which is also a big no-no food. I like the Traditional Medicinals brand of tea. Simple and pure! You can also add raw honey to your tea. Raw honey has a lot of healing properties such as being anti-viral, anti-fungal, helps promote digestive health, heal skin conditions, and is full of vitamins and antioxidants. Anthony recommends using wildflower honey and let me tell you, it is SO delish!

For my IC which he says is caused by Strep, I am taking Lemon Balm, Propolis, Goldenseal, Elderberry Syrup, Vit D3, Vit B12, Ester-C, Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium, Oregon Grape, Eyebright, L-lysine, Burdock Tea, Nettle Leaf Tea, Ginger Tea, Lemon Balm Tea, and some other things that have helped me that are not a part of the protocol. I am going to do a post for just IC and I’ll have that info in there. But, in case you’re struggling badly right now and reading this, I also use Desert Harvest products like their freeze dried Aloe, Buffered Vit C, Quercetin and Glucosamine & Chondroitin which you can find here. These supplements combined with the mostly raw, very low fat and protein diet have helped me get out of pain in a fairly quick manner. As I said earlier, last time this IC flared, I was in excruciating pain for nine months. This time around after I started the cleanse I was out of the pain for the most part within ten days. Much faster than anything western medicine has ever offered me! Nothing they gave me ever helped, unfortunately. So, do keep an open mind about what might be helpful to your healing process.

Take It At Your Own Pace:

I do want to mention that you have to take this at your own pace. If you can’t go fully fat-free and raw right off the bat, that’s okay! Ease yourself into it. But, be purposeful about it. Don’t just say, “I’m going to lower my fat today” and then not have a plan. Make a plan for how you’re going to transition into it and stick to it! Then, each day or two, slowly start to take out more fat and protein until you are compliant with the cleanse. Or, you can be like me and just go in cold turkey! Lol. That works, too! It might be a bit of a shock to the body, but it’ll come around.

That being said, not everyone can eat all of the foods he lists as healing foods upon starting this cleanse. When I first started, citrus was difficult for me because of my bladder symptoms. But, eventually, I was able to reintroduce it and had no problems at all. This time around, cashews are not going down well for me. So, I’m staying away from those and using avocado as my fat source. It’s okay if you can’t do everything he mentions. Just take it out or substitute it with something that your body can handle.

Also, do join the Facebook support group if you decide to do this. There are so many helpful people there who are such a great source of knowledge and encouragement. You can find that group here.

My Experience on the Cleanse:

As I have mentioned above, this cleanse has helped me get out of severe pain twice now. But, it did not come without some discomfort along the way. Detoxes typically never do. I will say though that this one is much more gentle on my body than others I have done in the past by a longshot.

When I first did this cleanse, I was very sick. I was struggling with very heavy fatigue, IC pain in the bladder, and chronic pain all over my body. I had been doing the Paleo Diet for years and years and was more on the side of keto because I thought it was helping with my candida. However, this high protein, high-fat diet was actually making my liver very sluggish and adding to my fatigue and pain. My stomach acid was low, allowing for infections to easily enter into my gut, and my body was not detoxing well on its own at all. Anthony says to think of it like this… If you were to get showered, do your hair, put on your makeup and a nice outfit and then go outside and someone threw a bucket of oil on you, you’d have to go home, shower, and get ready all over again. What if you went back outside and it happened again? Eventually, over time you would get very worn down and tired from this routine. This is basically what you are doing to your liver when you are eating a high-fat diet. Even if you think you aren’t eating a high-fat diet, if you’re eating a lot of animal protein, you are eating a high-fat diet. Chicken breast has a lot more fat than what the label says. Anyway, back to the liver… this analogy demonstrates how your liver feels when you feed yourself a large amount of fat. It’s doing well, feeling fine, and then BAM! You hit it with a lot of fat and it has to stop everything it’s doing and working on and address breaking down that fat instead. So while it might have been killing off pathogens and cleansing your body of toxins, it had to pull away to deal with the influx of fat you just served it. Over time, this makes your liver sluggish and built up with toxic waste that also makes you feel rundown. Make sense? So, I decided that I was going to try this completely different approach because the Paleo Diet wasn’t helping me to heal and the proof was in the pudding. I hadn’t healed on it and it had been so many years. Do I think it helps bring down inflammation? Absolutely. Can we do even better than that and actually heal? I think so!

So, when I started this totally different regime the first time around, my body was in a pretty crazy state of shock. Taking out the protein and fat was a big change. I was detoxing so rapidly. I was completely exhausted, my head hurt, and I felt bloated. My skin also started to break out badly. When we detox, sometimes it starts to come out through our skin. Don’t be alarmed, this happens to most people and it will eventually pass. It’s my least favorite part about this cleanse, but I keep telling myself it’s for the greater good of my body and I shouldn’t be so concerned about my appearance. My health is much more important! Still very hard not to freak out over, I get it.

My experience this time around has been very similar. However, I’m not as wiped out, I can handle the herbs and supplements more easily, and I can function on a day to day basis much better. The cleanse has helped me get out of terrible pain in my bladder and I’m detoxing a lot. I know this because I go to the bathroom a lot more than I normally do. I am still experiencing bloating after meals. This is a very common complaint on this cleanse. When you eat a lot of raw, fresh produce, I think it’s par for the course that you’re going to feel bloated. Especially when it’s not your usual fare. As I remember from the first time I did this, the bloating is something that never completely went away for me. I did the protocol for a few months the first time, and then I transitioned into a vegan, plant-based diet. But, I don’t remember ever feeling like the bloating was totally gone while fully on the cleanse. This time around it’s still here at the end of the 28 days. I’m curious to see if it sticks around the longer I continue. I’ll keep you posted.

I did have to slow the cleanse down again this time. I was feeling rundown and the breakouts on my face were really bothering me. I added in fats and cooked potatoes in the evenings. Just a little bit of fat, though. About half of an avocado at most, or a tiny bit of olive oil. I also have made soups with coconut milk. Doing this helps with fatigue, exhaustion, and headaches caused by detoxing. So, if you’re feeling like it’s too intense, just add in some more potatoes and a little bit of fat.

As I mentioned above, I am also experiencing breakouts on my face. I know this is a detox symptom because it does not resemble my usual breakouts. I have tiny little blemishes coming up through my skin on my forehead, chin, and cheeks. Drinking lots of lemon water, Burdock tea, Nettle Leaf tea, and sauna sessions should help with this. I need to step up all of these things!

You may also experience diarrhea while doing this cleanse. It’s totally normal. You are eating a lot of fiber and probably drinking more liquids than usual. As a whole in my experience, eating a plant-based diet of any kind causes more bowel movements, which is a good thing. But, don’t be surprised if you have some diarrhea for a few days. Just try to stay hydrated! Anthony recommends drinking coconut water because it is filled with natural electrolytes! YUM.

The most noticeable benefits of being on this cleanse have been increased energy, increased liver function, decreased pain, and an overall improvement in well-being including my mood. In the past, I noticed that my periods eventually were not as painful either. I haven’t gotten to that point this time, but I would expect that they will get better again. I did a workout yesterday and I felt energized. The first time around it completely changed my energy levels! I felt a million times better. This time, I feel the energy, but not quite the same boost I did the first go-round. But, I haven’t been doing it as long yet, so that may come later as well. I also recall from the first time that I felt happier and more at ease. That might have had something to do with the fact that I was in less pain and had more energy, haha! That always makes people feel better overall.

What Do I Need to Do This Cleanse?

The good news is, you don’t need much to do this cleanse. The biggest thing you need is an open mind and a positive outlook. If you choose to believe that this is going to heal you, you will have a better chance of it working. If you spend your time doubting, second-guessing, focusing on all of the discomforts and how it’s not working quickly enough, you will fail. You will decide that it’s not for you or that it’s total crap and not worth your efforts. It’s not easy. I get it. But, it has helped me and so many of my friends and people that I follow along with. I’m in a Facebook support group for the Medical Medium 28 Day Cleanse, and there are hundreds of people in there who have healed this way. Listen to the successes and find inspiration and hope in them to keep going.

Secondly, you need a high-speed blender. This will help you to make your detox smoothie, other smoothies you might want to try, and your cashew sauce and dips. You can even make celery juice in a blender if you don’t have a juicer!

Lastly, I would recommend getting a juicer. You can find one online for pretty decent prices nowadays and in my opinion, it’s absolutely worth it. It’s more work to make celery juice in a blender. I like the ease of the juicer much more. Plus, you can make your own fresh juices that have more nutrients in them than bottled juice does. It’s best to drink juice that’s been freshly made minutes before than bottled juice. It contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals.

What’s Next?

Great question. I’m still kind of figuring this out, but I think that I will stay on this mostly plant-based diet with lots of raw fruits, the celery juice, and cooked vegetables (especially sweet potatoes for me because next I’m going to work on endometriosis and Anthony says those are best for endo!) in the evenings with some fats from avocado, coconut, and olive oil. I’m going to stay grain-free as he recommends. I will likely add in more black beans (pressure cooking them helps me digest them so much better!), some millet, and possibly quinoa, too. I’ll stick to a lot of spinach, apples, celery, cucumbers, wild blueberries, tomatoes, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, lettuces, mango, garlic, papaya, and herbs like parsley, ginger, and turmeric. If you check out his book Life-Changing Foods, or the podcast, you can learn about all of the healing powers in these foods and why you want to include them in your diet.

I am sure that I will also add in some fish once in a while. Anthony says that wild-caught halibut and salmon are best, and that’s totally fine with me! I like to go out to eat, so if there are wild-caught options that’s an easy way to eat as clean as possible while dining at a restaurant.

As for other options while eating out, I would say stick to veggies. Ask the staff if they use olive oil to cook with or if it is canola or a blend of canola and olive oil. If it is anything but straight olive oil, ask for your veggies to be steamed or baked. An easy option would be a baked sweet or regular potato. I also ask for steamed vegetables with a side of lemon that I squeeze over everything to give it some flavor. It works well.

Remember, you don’t have to be on this cleanse forever. Anthony says that once you are healed, you can add your favorite NO foods back in once in a while. I wouldn’t make a total habit out of it, but every now and then won’t kill you if you have really done your healing work. He is not anti-animal protein or anti any kind of diet. He just says that to heal your body, you have to take out the fats and high amounts of protein. So, going forward, he recommends to keep your fats low, keep eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and don’t overdo it with animal proteins. I think that’s a totally do-able diet and all-around healthy. I’ve done something similar before, and honestly, I was the leanest I ever was in my life! I personally find that when I lower my fat intake, I get leaner. When I do the keto stuff I ALWAYS gain weight. That diet isn’t for everyone. But, listen to your body, and do what’s best for your healing.

One thing that I will definitely do this time around is to continue using the herbs and supplements for maintenance. I did not do this previously, and I think it could have very well helped me to keep flares like this at bay. So, listen when he says which herbs and supplements are most critical for your condition, and stay on those for the long haul.

I realize that while this approach may be an uncomfortable change, it could be an option to bring you some relief and healing. I’m not trying to convince you to do this or that it’s definitely going to heal you. I just want you to keep an open mind about your options and not limit yourself to fads and trends that are out there.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, this girl and the people who follow this are absolutely insane… I can see where you’re coming from. However, please don’t be judgemental about someone’s healing path. Dealing with chronic illness is extremely difficult, taxing on the body, the soul, the spirit, the mind, the heart, relationships, and so much more. It is a very hard road to travel. We aren’t given many options for healing. Most things don’t work or even make us worse. We are desperate for answers and help. If something brings someone even a bit of relief, try to be supportive. It may not make sense to you, but it doesn’t have to. It’s not your body, and it’s not your life. If someone you know chooses to do things differently than you would just do your best to be there for them and encourage them to keep fighting for their health. You never know what you would do until you’re faced with these circumstances. Trust me, I never thought in a million years that I would be here writing about a man who hears health problems and answers from a spirit. LOL.

As always, this is not medical advice. I am not a doctor or a trained practitioner. This is based solely upon my own experience. I simply want to share what has helped me in hopes of helping you.

I hope that this post has helped you get an understanding of how this cleanse works! Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of help in any way. I would love to hear your thoughts, too! So, if you’ve got any, leave a comment for us below!

Thanks so much for reading, friends! Have a fabulous day 🙂

XOXO,

Kelly

Happy Wellness Wednesday everyone! I hope you’re having a great week. I wanted to take some time today to talk about common myths about Lyme Disease, being that it is Lyme Disease Awareness Month!

When I first found out I had Lyme Disease, I was pretty upset because I had had chronic illness for a while and I knew several people who struggled so much with chronic Lyme. I also knew that I was past the point of the antibiotic being effective (after 3 weeks of exposure the antibiotics cannot kill the infection because the bacteria has formed a biofilm to protect itself – this is when the disease becomes chronic). Once the infection becomes chronic, it is EXTREMELY difficult to kill. People spend their lives and their savings fighting this disease. I knew it was going to be a difficult road to get better. I was sicker than I could ever even imagine one could be. It was really terrifying and it’s uncomfortable to write or talk about because I know that looking at me, you would never know and you might be inclined to think I’m exaggerating. But, ask any chronic Lyme Disease sufferer, and I guarantee you they will tell you the same exact thing. I quickly learned that there are so many myths surrounding Lyme Disease, how it is contracted, detected, and treated.

MYTH #1: You don’t have Lyme Disease unless you get a Bull’s Eye Rash. This is wildly untrue. Less than 50% of Lyme cases present a Bull’s Eye Rash – myself included. I think you’re actually very lucky if you get a rash! If not, a lot of doctors won’t know what to test you for. They often do not test for Lyme and will misdiagnose you. So, if you see that Bull’s Eye Rash, get to a Lyme Literate Doctor (LLMD) or a Naturopath who specializes in Lyme Disease, right away!

MYTH #2: Ticks are only found in the woods. Ticks unfortunately are everywhere that animals are. Not just deer either! Ticks are on birds, mice, dogs, raccoons, ducks, you name it! We live in a neighborhood that has a ton of houses in it and cleared out lots with few trees. Only once in a while do we see deer near our neighborhood, but we have found ticks on Barkley and our neighbors complain about it, too. You can get a tick just walking to your mailbox. You can get one in the city. Think about how many birds hang out on the streets of the city. They’re everywhere now and you have to be diligent about checking your skin.

MYTH #3: Ticks are only found in the Northern States of the U.S. Ticks have been found and confirmed in all 50 states. There are some states that are more heavily populated than others, such as Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Virginia, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Maryland. Currently, Pennsylvania ranks as the state with the most cases of Lyme Disease (why do I live here still!?!). But, they have been found all over the United States and other countries have Lyme epidemics, too!

MYTH #4: You can only get Lyme Disease from a Deer Tick. Many insects now carry Lyme Disease. Mosquitoes, flies, fleas, mites and spiders have also been found to carry Lyme Disease. My doctor actually contracted it from a spider! I always use a deet-free repellent when I go out on a walk, or spend time outdoors!

MYTH #5: You cannot contract Lyme Disease in the winter. Ticks can live for two years and survive very cold temperatures. It has to get below 10 degrees Fahrenheit for quite some time for ticks to die off. With climate change, temps during the winter haven’t been falling this low. Although the number of reported cases drop, there are still many reported. This is likely because people spend less time outdoors as well.

MYTH #6: The test came back negative, so I don’t have Lyme Disease. If only this were true… Unfortunately, our testing for Lyme Disease is pretty much useless. I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer, and I’m really not one, but this is a fact. There is no definitive test that can tell you that you do not have Lyme Disease. The standard test that your doctor will run on you called the ELISA test is less than 50% accurate! No joke. The Western Blot that is used by medical practitioners is slightly more in depth, but still not accurate. If your test comes back positive, you definitely have Lyme Disease. If part of your Western Blot comes back positive, in my opinion and the opinion of doctors I trust, you most likely have Lyme Disease. In some cases one of the 5 markers on the Western Blot can interact with the EBV virus, which most people with Chronic Lyme tend to have anyway. So, it may be the mono virus is activated in your system, but if you are presenting clear Lyme Disease Symptoms, it is probably Lyme. You should always get your testing done by a Lyme Literate Doctor or a Naturopath who specializes in Lyme Disease. I cannot stress that enough! Do not just go to to your general practitioner. They are not educated in Lyme Disease and are often misinformed. They will probably tell you the test is fine, and so are you. They might prescribe you a short dose of antibiotiocs. You always need 6 weeks of Doxycycline if you have caught it early. If not, I would recommend seeking the help of a naturopath who specializes in Lyme, because at this point, you are past the effectiveness of the antibiotic anyway. Continuous use of antibiotics can really do a number on your gut and immune system and you will end up damaging your body even further by going this route. There is a lot of research to back this up. If you’re considering your treatment options, be sure to do your research first.

On a separate note on this… if you have the tick (when you remove it, remove it very carefully with tweezers by the head. Do not bend or twist it, you could leave parts of the mouth in the skin, and that’s not good) you can send it out to be tested. But, you want to make sure that you get a full Lyme panel that includes co-infections, not just Lyme Borrelia. This testing is much more accurate than human testing.

The reason why Lyme Disease is so often misdiagnosed is in part because the testing is so horrible. I can’t tell you the number of people I know and have spoken to that have had misdiagnoses, including myself. It can often be misdiagnosed as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Autoimmune Diseases of all kinds, athritis, Alzheimers (and early onset), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Bells Palsy, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and more. If you receive one of these diagnoses, I would highly recommend you go see a Lyme Literate Doctor (LLMD) or Naturopath who specializes in Lyme to rule out Lyme FIRST! It can definitely be lurking and causing all of these issues for you. You gotta find the root cause behind your symptoms and problems! As you can imagine, there are so many people living with Lyme that don’t even know it. It really is a huge epidemic and it’s extremely upsetting that there is very little awareness or action on officials’ parts who are well aware of it. The CDC knows. There are so many lawsuits against them and so many activists trying to change things, but there is corruption and money involved, and the people are suffering for it. If you are interested in learning more about this, Google Lyme Cryme and/or Lyme Disease Dearborn Scandal.

MYTH #7: Antibiotics cure Lyme Disease. I hate busting these myths. I want to have faith and trust in our medical system more than anyone. I want to believe that they have my back when I get sick. But, when it comes to chronic Lyme Disease (and other chronic illness in my experience and the experience of so many others) it’s just not true. If you catch Lyme Disease right away and take a 6 week dose of Doxycycline – and you are relatively healthy person otherwise – you very well may be just fine after those antibiotics. However, more than 20% of patients continue to have Lyme Disease symptoms and often times worsening symptoms, after receiving the CDC’s standard 28-day course of antibiotics. They will often tell you, it’s not possible that you have Lyme after these antibiotics. They will probably tell you it is something else you have and send you off to another doctor. You might even test positive still! But, you’re not crazy. The antibiotics do not always work. If this happens to you, find yourself a naturopath who specializes in Lyme Disease. (No, I’m not going to stop repeating myself! LOL!)

I’ve had years of treatments and I’m still not able to exercise more than what my grandmother did in her 80s. I still have a lot of pain, digestive problems, organ and tissue problems and damage, chronic fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, brain fog, neurological symptoms and more. So, if a friend tells you “I have Lyme Disease” please don’t respond with “Oh, that’s good! At least it’s not cancer! Lyme Disease is curable!” (This has happened to me more times than I can count, as I felt like I was literally going to die any day!) As much as we desperately want to be cured, it just isn’t that easy. And putting us on the spot like that to have to be the bearer of bad news, is an awful feeling. It makes us seem like we want to be sick and we want to complain about how awful this disease is. It might even make you think that we are seeking sympathy and attention. That’s not the case. We are just scared and we know that this is much bigger than what the rest of the world believes it to be. It can be a very lonely place to live when the people around you don’t understand and can’t relate – even worse when they don’t believe you. We look fine on the outside, but inside it feels like our bodies are a torture chamber. So, if you are in a supportive role of a Lyme Disease sufferer, just know that they are facing an incredibly difficult battle if they did not catch it soon enough. If I had to describe what chronic Lyme Disease is like, I would say that the entire experience is just inhumane.

MYTH #8: The tick must be attached for 48 hours in order to contract Lyme Disease. My Lyme doctor who I’m so thankful to have crossed paths with, and knows more about Lyme than anyone I’ve ever come across (and we are talking about A LOT of people), says that the tick does not have to be attached for long AT ALL for the diseases to be transmitted. He says if there is any attachment at all, you are at risk. There is other research that claims the same. I always err on the side of caution with this. Lyme Disease is a deadly, debilitating (not to mention extremely expensive because nothing beyond your first course of antibiotics is covered by health insurance) disease and not something you want to take chances on.

Myth #9: You only contract Lyme Disease from a tick. Ticks carry many different kinds of pathogens. It is very common for them to carry other strands of bacteria or viruses called “co-infections”. Co-infections are infections seen commonly along with Lyme that are tickborne. These include Bartonella, Babesia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Erlichia, Mycoplasma, Rickettsia, Brucella, and many more. I myself had 9 co-infections. Mycoplasma is one that is often overlooked but can cause SO MUCH damage. It’s the smallest of bacteria and it is really dangerous. Be sure to ask to be checked for co-infections if you have been bit. You may not have contracted Lyme, but might have contracted co-infections.

MYTH #10: Lyme Disease can not be transmitted from mother to baby. Research has shown that Lyme Disease can pass from mother to child while the child is the womb. The child may not show signs of the disease for many years. Often times, the disease rears it’s ugly head when the child’s immune system is weak and the infection begins to spread. They may experience strange pains and sickness that puzzle their pediatricians.

BONUS: It’s pronounced Lyme Disease, not “Lyme’s”. No “s” on the end of Lyme 🙂

I am sorry if if this post was hard for some of you to read. I think hearing news like this can be shocking. You might have mixed emotions about it and feel like this can’t possibly all be true. She’s got to be over-exaggerating a bit! I wish I were, friends. I honestly feel like we are all walking around with an enormous predator waiting to attack us just outside our doorstep. We flirt with the devil everyday. I do it, too! We have to keep living our lives. But, it’s best to live with the knowledge of this so that we can do our best to prevent it.

With all of this being said about chronic Lyme not being curable with antibiotics, I’d like to take a moment to talk about that. I 100% do believe in full healing from Lyme Disease. There are new treatments and technologies that are out and being experimented with right now that are really exciting! There are laser treatments, rife treatments, stem cell treatments, and more being done by alternative medicine that I think have real potential to help people. There are also powerful herbal protocols that have helped so many people! I know that that some of these (for me the laser, rife, and radionics treatments) have really helped me. A couple years ago I felt like I was likely going to die from this long before I would ever want to leave this Earth. But, I was so blessed to have people come into my life when I raised up my red flag for help, and I’m in such a better place than I was years ago. I was mostly bed ridden and in excruciating pain day in and day out for years. It does a number on you. I’ve had to learn how to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually – and I’m always in a state of learning to heal. I believe in all of our abilities to make a comeback and to heal from the inside out. I like to think of it as a long walk. There doesn’t have to be a destination of perfection at the end. There just needs to be bits of uncovering things that will lead to more and more healing. Like layers of an onion – you peel one at a time. Take time to explore your emotional and spiritual healing. Read books that help you stay in the best possible mindset you can be in. (If you are looking for suggestions, please reach out, I have some that I really like! ) Hopefully you can find ways to stay as comfortable as possible while reaching a better place. It is so hard to be in so much pain everyday with no end in sight. But, I can tell you from my experience that it can and does get better eventually. Not perfect, but improved, and with time things continue to improve. Stay the course. All the while, the things we learn along the way will shape and form us to be even better than we were before.

Sending you all so much love and healing today. Especially to my Lyme Warriors and to the ones who love and support them. <3


Infrared Saunas

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends! Hope your week is going well! I am excited to be sharing about Infrared Saunas with you today! It’s been something that I have been using for a while now and it has so many great benefits.

When I was in the throws of my Lyme Disease treatment, I was in desperate need of ways to help my body detox. If you are going through this treatment now, or any kind of treatment where you are killing off pathogens, you know how horrible toxic die-off can make you feel! I was doing many different forms of detoxing like ionic foot baths, massage, dry brushing, binders, supplements, cleanses, hydrotherapy, epsom salt baths, etc. When we heard about the infrared sauna, though, it sounded like a whole new level of detoxing I had yet to experience!

My husband Ryan is actually the one who was particularly adamant about purchasing an infrared sauna for our home. We have a friend with Lyme Disease who swears by it and he really thought having it at the house was our best bet. But, before we bought it, we wanted to try it out first! So, I made an appointment at Three Rivers Thermography to try it out.

I was a bit nervous because I do get claustrophobic and tend to get faint in high temperatures. But, I was pleasantly surprised. The thing about far infrared saunas is that they use infrared panels to heat your body directly instead of heating the air around you. So, you don’t get that suffocating feeling you might get in an ordinary sauna. The infrared lamps use electromagnetic radiation, unlike traditional saunas. This allows your body to get all of the benefits of sweating it out in a sauna at a lower temperature. Plus, the heat goes deeper into your tissues than your average sauna, too! So, I didn’t feel like I was gasping for air at all, or I like I couldn’t withstand the heat as I have in the past with other saunas (and even epsom salt baths)!

So, we decided to purchase one for at home use. We did some research on our own, and had some suggestions from friends. One of them was High Tech Health International. They had amazing reviews and their customer service was really helpful! We decided to purchase their Transcend Two Person Sauna. We even got a great deal on it during one of their sales. This model has plenty of room for two people to sit and relax together or for one person to sprawl out. It was the best choice for us! They have larger and smaller models you can purchase as well.

The saunas by High Tech Health are made of Poplar wood which is great because it does not splinter the way cedar models can. It is also environmentally friendly and sustainable! These are all great things you would want to keep in mind when purchasing a sauna.

It was very easy to put together, too! You just follow the directions and it snaps right up! You can set it to the temperature you like from outside of the sauna and inside, too. There’s built in speakers, a timer, and chromotherapy lights, too! So, you can switch the lighting inside to stimulate the mind, body, and senses! Pretty cool!

Benefits of Far Infrared Sauna Use:

We all know that a good sweat does great things for the body. But, you might not know that sweating in a far infrared sauna has even more benefits for you, like:

  • Detoxification (heavy metals, mold, fungus, environmental toxins, and chemicals which can be the cause behind what’s making and KEEPING you sick, for so many chronic health conditions like Alzheimers, CFS, Fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disease, etc)
  • Weight Loss
  • Improved Skin Clarity and Tightness
  • Immune System Stimulation
  • Relief from Joint and Muscle Pain (very helpful for those of us with chronic conditions like RA, Lyme, CFS, Fibromyalgia, etc)
  • Increased Blood Circulation
  • Better Quality of Sleep
  • Stress Relief
  • Cardiovascular Health Improvement

As you can see, the far infrared saunas have a lot of benefits for those of us with chronic conditions. It has certainly helped me a lot. But, it’s an excellent thing to start doing even if you are not chronically ill! It will no doubt decrease your chances of an illness happening to you. Think of all of the pollution and toxicity we come into contact with daily. You might not realize it, but our bodies do not handle this much toxicity well on their own. Especially the older we get. These toxins can build up in our organs and tissues and cause a host of problems. Plus, toxins also feed pathogens that are present in the body. They are the main reason why we get sick and how we stay sick. So, I’d highly recommend making it part of your weekly routine whether you’re sick or not.

As for me, I like to use the sauna about three days a week. I would do more if I could, but this is the amount that currently fits into my lifestyle and what feels best for my body. It’s perfectly safe to do on a regular basis. It’s a very safe practice, but if you are under medical care, just run it past your doctor so they know that it’s part of your protocol.

I started low and slow, as they recommend you do. The first week I began at 100 degrees for ten minutes, then gradually built up my time and temperature to 150 degrees for thirty minutes. When you are finished in the sauna, (be sure to get up slowly, don’t push your body too hard) it’s best to hit the shower right away if you can so that the toxins you just sweated out don’t re-absorb through your skin again. You also want to be sure to drink a ton of water and take some minerals (I do 600mg of Magnesium and 300mg of Potassium). If you notice that you are feeling anxious, weak, or light-headed, it’s most likely because you need to replenish those minerals. You do lose some when you are detoxing in any way, so be sure to keep feeding your body those essential minerals!

If you can’t afford a sauna for your home, you can find them at a lot of wellness centers. I know there are several places here in Pittsburgh. Three Rivers Thermography is a great one! I’d highly recommend using their facilities. If you aren’t in the Pittsburgh area, just google Infrared Saunas near me and you should be able to find one pretty easily.

If you have any questions about how infrared saunas work or how they can help your detoxing routine, I would love to help you! Please leave a comment below or send me a message 🙂 Have a happy, healthy rest of your week!

It has been such a struggle for me to write this. There’s so much to say… I think I would be best served to just write a book because this post may be way too long for a blog and I might lose a lot of readers halfway through… But, for those of you who bear with me to the end, I want to thank you for reading.  So much needs to be done for Lyme Disease awareness and education.  I’m trying to do my part.  It’s very difficult and emotional to talk about, so I’ve done my best here for now…

For me, Lyme disease hasn’t been a moment in time where I might I recall getting bit by a tick, or seeing a bulls-eye rash… for me, it’s been quite the opposite of a moment.  Rather, it has been an endless series of grueling moments of pain, slow realizations of debilitating terror, and shape-shifting never-ending symptoms that continue to elude many of the sharpest and well-respected practitioners in the country.  Oh, and absolutely none of this is covered by any insurance, either.

Starting at the “beginning” is hard to do in a situation like this, where you’ve been miles down the path well before you even knew the path existed.  I recognized for sure that something was very wrong one February evening in 2016 after I had just finished a workout that seemed much more difficult for me than usual.  I had been in recovery and remission from autoimmune hepatitis (not viral, a chronic inflammation of the liver) for about 6 months at that moment, and was working hard to reclaim my health, body, and life.  I had been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease 6 years prior when I went completely jaundice one day with no explanation.  I had been unwell for a while prior to that day, but I was young and didn’t know that what I was feeling wasn’t normal, because honestly I’d felt unwell for years.  So when I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, I went on a strong cocktail of corticosteroids (Prednisone) and immunosuppressants for 6 years. Steroids are supposed to help bring down inflammation, and the immunosuppressants suppressed my immune system, weakening it so my body would “stop attacking itself”.  After five and a half years of this cocktail not working, my specialists gave up and told me I would have to go on the liver transplant list.  It was then that I took things into my own hands and started the autoimmune paleo diet and an all natural supplement protocol that got my liver disease into remission in less than 6 months!  So, I started to wean off of the steroids at that time, and thought I was getting my life back.  However, that’s when things got really ugly.  I slowly started to notice I was more and more fatigued. My liver remained in remission, but everything else got much, much worse!  I kept on pushing, trying to work out and battle through… Which then brings us back to February 2016 after that particularly rough workout.

That night, as I made dinner I noticed a heavy feeling start to creep over my body, like I was coming down with something, HARD.  It continued to get heavier and heavier and was so overwhelming that I was crying out in pain!  I couldn’t lift my fork to my mouth, or carry my plate.  My muscles were at complete failure.  My body felt like I was wearing a lead suit it was so heavy.  I felt like my eyes were about to pop out of my skull. I had a constant fever for weeks. I had never felt so sick or weak in my life!  Something was seriously wrong.  I tried to tell myself that maybe it was just the flu or mono.  After a few days I went to the Dr and he couldn’t find anything wrong in my blood work or x-rays.  As time continued, my body crashed even harder!  The first 6 months of trying to figure out what was going on were horrifying. I was in so much pain, and was so weak, I could barely walk across the room without falling over.  The pain in my head was like someone had taken my skull and slammed it off of a cement curb.  It throbbed and ached morning to night.  I felt like I was carrying around a 100 lb lead ball on my neck.  The pain shot down my neck and my shoulders, into my back.  I had joint pain that ached and radiated so deeply in my knees, hips, elbows, hands, and wrists that I would sometimes scream and cry. Little did I know this pain would follow me for years to come.  My muscles ached so badly.  The smallest amounts of movement like chewing would cause so much pain.  I couldn’t sleep.  I would go to bed and lie awake for hours maybe catching a few minutes here and there but never into a deep state.  Every couple of hours I would crash even harder, not able to get up or move about as I wished.  I couldn’t read.  My mind couldn’t keep up to make sense of an entire sentence.  By the time I reached the middle of the sentence I had forgotten the first few words completely.  I couldn’t follow the story line of TV shows or movies.  My husband took me to see The Book of Mormon and I can’t for the life of me tell you what that show is about!  🙁  Everything was like sensory overload!  Music was too loud, lights were too bright, smells were overpowering.  All I could hear was noise and it made me extremely anxious and nervous, I just wanted to scream!  The smallest unexpected noise would send me over the edge!  I couldn’t recover from being startled in the slightest.  I had to stop watching suspenseful TV and exciting movies.  I couldn’t have stressful or emotional conversations without intense physical reactions.  My head and my heart would pound so hard, it was so loud inside of my body.  I also couldn’t find my words.  It was like my vocabulary had been deleted from my memory.  I felt like I had lost complete control over every part of my body.  We were trying to look at new houses at the time.  Sometimes I couldn’t look at more than one.  I would walk through the house, sometimes not even making it upstairs and be so completely wiped out that we would have to drive straight home.  I got scooters at stores because I couldn’t walk the aisles without fainting.  And nobody seemed to have a clue as to WHY.

My PCP told me he thought it was my thyroid.  I knew better.  This was much more than my thyroid. But I couldn’t seem to get any Dr to listen to me.  All my tests kept coming back normal to them.  I went to an endocrinologist specialist, who couldn’t tell me anything either, except that I was slightly hypothyroid and that that shouldn’t be causing all of these symptoms. People would look at me and think I looked perfectly fine!  Newsflash!  You can’t see inside someone’s body!  I spent years masking how I felt inside, so it’s no wonder you couldn’t see it on the outside!  Plus, a little bit of concealer, bronzer, blush, and mascara, and who doesn’t look normal?  I’m not a loud or overly expressive person.  I’m pretty quiet, polite, and sometimes timid.  None of the doctors I went to in my health insurance network could pinpoint anything.  So, I moved on.  I finally found a whole team of like-minded people in functional medicine, integrative medicine, holistic naturopaths, chinese herbalists, and chiropractors who helped diagnose me with Lyme Disease and extreme adrenal fatigue. Along the way, these natural health practitioners have found so many other issues going on in my body that are causing problems.  It was such a relief to find answers!  I felt like  someone was finally telling me, “No!  You’re not going completely insane!  Something really is wrong with you!”  Sometimes just hearing that I wasn’t crazy would bring me to tears, let alone the fear of the diagnosis itself.  The natural health care field goes above and beyond to find what most conventional doctors do not.  They really dig deep to find the root cause of the issues instead of treating the body like individual compartments that need repair.  I realize that this might not be the fault of Western medicine doctors because they aren’t trained to look for Lyme Disease or root causes of illness in this way and that in-depth testing of this sort isn’t in their standard procedure.  But, for so long now conventional medicine has completely missed the boat for me and for so many friends, friends of friends, family members & others I connect with through support groups.  I really wish the practices would change to help more people find the causes of their problems… I’ll share more on that in another post.

Chronic Lyme disease is very difficult to diagnose and to treat.  Once it has been in your system for a while, it more often than not does not show up in the usual blood tests.  If you have had it for a long time, your immune system becomes so suppressed that your body can’t make the antibodies that would show up on the blood test.  It also hides in your organs, and forms something called a biofilm that is a protective shield around it that antibiotics cannot penetrate.  So, just taking the antibiotic like most people do when they first get bit does not work for someone who has had it in their system for a longer period of time.  I know so many people who have tried many rounds of antibiotics for their Lyme and are still so sick and now have damaged their gut and immune system so much.  My Lyme Dr says that if you catch it within three weeks and take the antibiotic, that it will kill the borellia.  But, if it is in your system longer than 3 weeks, it has gone into it’s second stage where it forms the biofilm and becomes chronic. That’s when you are in big trouble.  You may not have severe symptoms or any symptoms at all sometimes for many years.  But, when your immune system is weakened, for several different kinds of reasons, the disease will activate and spread.  So, when I was on the medications for my liver to decrease my immune system, the Lyme disease was only getting stronger.  But, the steroids I was taking were masking many of those symptoms because they pump you up and give you energy and reduce inflammation!  So, the entire time I was taking those drugs that never helped my liver, they were hurting my immune system and making the underlying cause of the autoimmune disease, the Lyme, even worse!

I never remember seeing a rash or a tick. Less than half of the people who get Lyme disease see a rash.  Don’t depend on seeing a rash to determine whether or not you may have Lyme.  But, when I think back to my childhood, I remember that around age 12 I was having bad pain in my knees and really struggling in dance classes.  The Dr said it was growing pains or Osgood Schlatter disease.  Thing is, that pain never went away, I just got used to having it.  In fact, it got worse in high school when I had a job at Osh Kosh B’Gosh.  I worked 8-9 hour shifts on my feet and would come home an aching, tired, miserable, mess.  My hips and knees were the worst!  I also had a severe bout of anemia in high school as well.  I would pass out if I walked up the stairs, or scrubbed my head in the shower.  I ended up having to stay home from school for a few weeks and had to quit all of my physical activities.  I didn’t mind the pass on gym class, but I was really sad to stop my dance classes.  I never got back to them.  I tried, but my body just didn’t work the same.  I would even fall asleep in the shower in the mornings.  Thinking back on it, I was really fatigued, and it wasn’t at all normal.  But at the time, I didn’t know any better.  My health didn’t get any better in college.  I had terrible fatigue coupled with anxiety and depression.  I started having awful digestive problems in my early 20s, too.  But still, no one had any answers for me other than that I was depressed!  Well, of course I was depressed!  I felt like total crap all the time and had unknown pathogens wreaking havoc inside my body!  It wasn’t until I was 26 that the autoimmune diagnosis came along which lead me to find the Lyme disease several years later.

My first step in treatment for the Lyme disease was to start an protocol that came highly recommended by a trusted friend and health coach.  The Chinese herbalist was Dr. Zhang.  He has his own clinic in NYC specifically for the treatment of Lyme disease and other difficult to treat diseases.  When I first started the protocol, I felt like I was dying. I started to even prepare myself for the possibility.  The reaction to the treatment was horrible.  When you treat Lyme Disease, you have something called a Herxheimer Reaction.  It’s the body’s response to toxic die off.  You feel worse and your symptoms intensify before you feel better.  In the Lyme world, we call this “herxing”.  I felt like I was in an endless herx.  I would detox daily with my infrared sauna, ionic foot baths, teas, other supplements, colon hydrotherapy, massage therapy, epsom salt baths, anything I could try to lessen the blow I would.  I would break down almost every night for the next couple years and sob because I wasn’t feeling better.  I knew that people with chronic Lyme disease did not lead comfortable lives. I could barely leave my bed for months. If I did, I paid for it hard later.  Eventually, I felt a small amount of relief.  I could read again, and I had a tiny bit more energy.  Some of the joint pain was slightly better.  But, I was still extremely ill and after 10 months on this protocol, I had plateaued and knew it was time for me to try something new.

I was and still am very involved in the chronic Lyme disease community online, particularly on Facebook.  Through that group and through word of mouth I was connected to a person who lived near me who was now in Lyme remission and was doing great!  She had gone to a local wellness center that treated Lyme with a different herbal protocol and had great success.  So, I went there, did their testing and started their treatment.  They told me that I was one of the sickest patients they’d ever had (you’d be surprised how many times I’ve heard this!).  I hated hearing that because I was already so down on my luck with the first protocol not working that I didn’t want to think of the chances of this one being unsuccessful, but they were confident that it would work.  After their testing of all my organs and systems, their opinion was that I had had this disease for well over 20 years, which would have put me back at the age where I first started noticing the joint pain.  Things were going okay on this protocol until I increased the dosage for the first time, and it hit me like a truck!  The herxing was beyond anything I had ever experienced before.  I was so sick, I couldn’t get out of bed.  I couldn’t do anything for myself.  Showering was extremely difficult.  We had to bring in help to cook, clean, and do errands and things around the house (Thank you Vicky, we would have been lost without you!).  They told me to go back down on the treatment to the first dosage, but I continued to be just as sick as I was when I first learned I had it, and I knew my body just couldn’t handle this protocol.  I once again felt like I was on my death bed.  So, I stopped the treatment all together and hoped to regain some strength.

During this time, we knew we had to find another route for treatment.  It seemed as though my body, specifically my liver was not capable of handling the herbal protocols.  They were just too strong and knocked me out entirely.  We were seriously considering a stem cell treatment center in CA.  It was a huge investment of money and time and the reviews were not that stellar.  Some people had success, others none at all.  We were so confused and uncertain of what to do.  Thankfully, my husband was still out in the world making waves and helping others and someone came into our lives at that time that has forever changed ours and we couldn’t be more thankful.  Angela, a client of my husband’s was selling t-shirts months before for her own daughter to go to CT to have a rare laser treatment done for Lyme disease.  I remember when Ryan came home with the T-Shirt and told me the story of Angela and her daughter at that time.  In our desperation for possible avenues, my husband recalled Angela and reached out to her to ask her about how that treatment went.  She said that her daughter was doing amazingly well and told us how to get in touch with the Dr who did it.  Everyone we heard of that went to have this treatment was doing much better, at least in terms of their Lyme disease.  We were put on a waiting list for 5 months.  Those were the longest, hardest, most terrifying 5 months of our lives.  I wasn’t on any treatment at all because nothing was helping.  We felt like if this treatment didn’t work, we had no idea what to do next.  I couldn’t imagine continuing to live in the state I was in for the rest of my life.  It was an incredibly emotionally difficult time for us.  We wanted to be so hopeful about it, but with our experience of being hopeful and then being let down in the past with other protocols, we knew it would be foolish to put all of faith into it.  But, we kind of did anyway.

Finally that 5 months was up and we left for CT.  We were there for 12 days, with a total of 8 treatments.  He determines which strains of Lyme you have as well as which coinfections (when you get bit by a tick, you do not get just Lyme borrelia, you also get other infections that they carry like Bartonella, Babesia, etc).  I had 14 strains of Lyme of both stage 1 and stage 2, and 7 coinfections, including Babesia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  He said that of the strains that I tested positive for, some were from 20+ years ago, and some were more recent years, so it was likely that I had been bit more than once!  It was in all of my organs, but the majority was in my brain stem and cerebellum. On the final day when he said I no longer have any Lyme in me, I couldn’t even believe it.  I was having herx reactions to the treatment, so I didn’t feel well at this time, but I knew eventually the herx would fade.  We left the office and went outside and cried in the car!  That night we went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate and headed home the next day.  I was in so much pain the car ride home, but my heart was full of hope!

When we got home things got worse.  I continued to herx for several months.  It wasn’t until 4 months later that I really began to notice a change.  In the meantime, I’d been diagnosed with yet another chronic condition called Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome; likely also caused by my immune system being weakened for so long, wrecked with Lyme disease and other pathogens.  This was another huge blow that really sent me in a downward spiral emotionally.  I had constant stabbing pains in my bladder around the clock.  Interstitial Cystitis is a different subject, so I’ll write more on it another day, but it really floored me how yet again, I get another major diagnosis in the midst of trying to recover from the previous one.  I can’t seem to escape!  But slowly, I started noticing my Lyme symptoms were getting better.  I was able to walk further, I had less pain in my head and joints, and I could start to do more than one thing a day.  We went to Hawaii in January, and I walked in the sand!  That was a major moment!  I hadn’t been able to do that just 6 months prior.

Now, exactly one year later, I am doing much better than I was before that treatment in CT!  I am able to function at a higher level!  I can cook again, I can take care of myself, I can walk around the neighborhood, I can run several errands, I just have more energy in general!  The constant headaches are gone. (I do owe some of that to Family Chiropractic in Cranberry.  Dr. Amanda Jordan and Dr. Cotey Jordan have an amazing Migraine Challenge every year, and they really helped me out, I would highly recommend them!)  The joint pain is much better.  The fatigue is much less.  My overall hope and state of well-being has really improved.  I look forward to living a full life instead of fearing a life of misery.  I am still struggling with other pathogens and organ dysfunction in my body that cause me pain and fatigue.  I still have to take very good and careful care of myself.  I can still get really run down.  But, all of my blood work currently shows no signs of Lyme disease.  There is no test that can definitively tell you for 100% certain that you DON’T have Lyme disease.  But, all other tests that might indicate that it’s there are negative.  It’s possible there are some stragglers still inside of me and I know I still have a co-infection that we did not know about at the time of the treatment in CT.  But, I’m still hopeful and determined to eliminate them and continue on my healing journey!

Having chronic Lyme disease opens you up to a whole other host of disease and health problems, not just the Lyme disease itself.  I myself have experienced severe adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, bladder disease, autoimmune liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, IBS, arthritis, kidney dysfunction, parasites, anemia, gastroparesis, among other things.  If you get bit, I would urge you to seek treatment immediately.  It is not something that you want lingering in your system.  It causes all of your body systems to go completely haywire.

I am so thankful for my husband who has always believed me, believed IN me, and trusted me throughout this entire journey.  I wish it was over, but he remains so faithful to seeing me through it.  He’s been a constant source of love, support, and patience for me.  I would never have made it through any of this without him.  When everyone else told me I was fine, he stood by my side and fought for me.  So often when women have chronic illness, men, and other people in general, but particularly the men, will overlook it and think you’re just overreacting or “it’s all in your head”.  We aren’t taken seriously because we “don’t look sick”.  We sit in social situations and smile while we’re in great amounts of pain.  So everyone just assumes you must be fine.  They don’t know that adrenaline kicks in when you’re out and you want to be normal for a little while, so you ride the adrenaline and then come home and completely crash after a few hours of being “on”.  I am so grateful to Ryan for looking past all of that and for knowing my limitations and accepting them.  I’m sure it has been so hard for him to not be able to live the way he would if his spouse wasn’t so ill all of the time.  But, he has been so patient and loving in the way that he deals with it, never making me feel bad.  He knows I carry a lot of guilt, but he never makes me feel guilty.  I’m so glad he has never had to feel the pain that I feel, but I know he gets it.  I couldn’t love him more for tirelessly taking such good care of me. With everything that I’ve endured, I’ve always known how lucky I am to have him for a husband.

And so, if you’ve read this far, thank you!  I hope that you learned a little about chronic Lyme disease and what is like to have it.  If you know someone who might relate to this, I would encourage you to share it with them so that we can connect.  I love to be a source of support for my fellow sufferers. Having a community of support really makes a huge difference! Life isn’t all about suffering.  We find ways to enjoy the beauty in it, too!  Part of that beauty is supporting and loving others in the same or similar situations.  Anything I can do to help someone else who’s also hurting always helps to ease my own pain.  I’ve also realized for me that things like fashion, decorating, and creating other beautiful things around me is a way for me to channel my frustrations and pain and to bring beauty into the world.  So, I hope that you enjoy my blog and that it brings a little fun and enjoyment into your life as well!  I would love for you to share anything in the comments below, or message me, about your journey or things you like to do to bring beauty into your life, too 🙂

 

 

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