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5 Easy Clean Beauty and Self Skin Care Swaps

So, I am a bit behind and I didn’t get this published yesterday for Wellness Wednesday! Sorry guys! But, it’s really a just a day, so I’m sure none of you are livid about it, haha! 🙂

I wanted to share a couple of clean beauty/self care easy swaps you can start with to lessen the toxic load in your life! It can be a bit overwhelming to look at ALL of the products you use on the daily and think about having to replace everything at once. Instead, just start to switch over to better beauty as you run out of things! Here are 5 of my favorites that I use everyday and love a lot!

Schmidt’s Deodorant – I get a lot of questions about what my favorite natural deodorant is and this is hands down the best I have tried! And I’ve tried A LOT! It smells the best in my opinion, and it helps keep me drier than any other I have tried. I wouldn’t say that it keeps you completely dry in really hot temperatures, but our bodies are meant to sweat -that is how we detox things that don’t belong in our body. Most deodorants are full of nasty chemicals that add more toxins into our systems, and don’t allow us to sweat any toxins out. Most have aluminum in them to achieve this, and we all know by now that heavy metals in our bodies are a really bad thing and we have to eliminate these products we use that contain them. They can really do a number on your endocrine system which includes your thyroid, and trust me, you don’t want to mess with your thyroid. It is involved in so many of your bodily functions, including your metabolism and energy levels. Metals also feed pathogens in your body that make and keep you sick, so we gotta toss that conventional deodorant OUT, friends! (check your facial powders, too!)

Everyone For Every Body Lotion – I love this lotion! It smells delicious and is so moisturizing! It is scented with essential oils and uses natural moisturizers like coconut, sesame, and aloe oils. A lot of our lotions have fragrance in them, and fragrance is made with toxic chemicals that are harmful to our bodies, too! Sticking to lotions and scents made with essential oils is MUCH healthier!

Himalaya Botanique Tooth Paste – Natural tooth paste can be a tough one to get used to! I really like this brand, though. It tastes good and I still get the fresh clean feeling that I am used to with conventional brands. It doesn’t have the nasty chemicals that popular brands do. It is SLS, Gluten, Carrageenan, and Fluoride Free! You might think that fluoride is a good thing for you teeth, and that was long believed to be true. But, studies have found that continuous use of small amounts of fluoride over time can be hazardous to our bone, brain, thyroid health, and more. SLS is also known to cause a lot of skin irritations. If you are experiencing skin problems, I would highly recommend checking all of your products for SLS and replacing them with things that do not contain it. Carrageenan has also shown to be cancerous in studies, so that’s another one that you should be on the lookout for.

Jason Bodywash – I’ve been using this bodywash for years and I love all of the different scents it comes in! It is free from parabens, harsh sulfates, petrolatum, and phthalates! All things you do not need nor want in your soap! They are toxic and can cause skin irritation, too. I love that this comes in a big pump and lasts forever! It’s a great deal!

Alba Botanitcals 3-in-1 Cleansing Towlettes – These are a staple in my routine! I use them to wipe off all of my makeup before using my cleanser. They don’t have any texture to them, so they’re good for removing makeup on the eyes, too. They don’t have any synthetic fragrance, parabens, or pthalates. They are made with natural ingredients that cut through the makeup and really clean your skin off. They are great for sensitive skin!

I hope this helps you get started in cleaning up your self care routine! Let me know if you have any questions! I’d love to hear what some of your favorite better beauty brands and products are in the comments below! Have a great day! 🙂

Gia Minerals Clean Beauty Mantra

Happy Wednesday, babes! I am so excited to finally be sharing about Gia Minerals with you! I’ve had this collaboration in the wings for a bit now, and it feels so good to be shouting out about this fabulous clean beauty brand!

So, first I want to take a minute to talk to you about collaborations. As a blogger, you get a lot of messages sent your way from different brands wanting you to promote their products. I can tell you with 100% honesty that I do not accept most of them. Sure, it’d be great to have a bunch of free stuff, but if it is not something that I would actually use in my day to day life, or something that I think would be useful or helpful to my readers and followers, I promise you I do not accept it. I would never want to lead anyone astray or cause harm in any way. I also do not want to waste your time or mine! So, please know that if I ever post about a particular brand or product, it is something that I myself love, use, and am really excited about!

That being, said, I actually stumbled upon Gia Minerals myself! I subscribe to a monthly clean beauty box. In that box they send you samples of different non toxic products like makeup, skincare, and sometimes supplements. In one of my last few boxes, I received a Gia Minerals Luminizer called “Candlelight”. As you might know, finding clean beauty products that look and perform like the chemical laden ones can be a difficult task. But, when I tried on this highlighting luminizer, I was FLOORED! It is seriously better than any conventional beauty brand I have ever tried! It has the perfect golden glow to it without being full of pieces of glitter that get all over your face! It has some serious glow to it, I can see why they named it “Candlelight”! If you watch my Instagram stories, you probably saw me freaking out over it when I first tried it out, I tagged Gia Minerals in that story, and then to my delight they messaged me and asked if I would like to be a part of their “Embrace Your Mantra” beauty campaign! Ummmm…. how do I say yes a million times?! I love this campaign because it is all about empowering women to see the unique beauty within themselves! It’s about embracing every part of yourself and loving it. Here’s a bit of what the founder of Gia Minerals says about the campaign herself…

“I want to help women to move forward in A BEAUTY REVOLUTION to Embrace their Mantra. I want them to use the power of clean cosmetics / skin care like Gia Minerals to express what they have embraced and maintain a balance of good thoughts. I want every woman to be in love with who they are and all their attributes…

The campaign A BEAUTY REVOLUTION – Embrace Your Beauty will define the link between self-confidence and how makeup / skin care can be used as a tool to distinguish ourselves and each other because flaws are beautiful and heck yes it’s about time we celebrate them. I want women to start using strong statements looking in the mirror and truly loving what they see… appreciating what they see.”

How awesome is that?! I love being a part of anything that empowers women and helps them see the beauty within them! So, I got to choose some products that capture the look of my own personal beauty mantra! My mantra is: I AM RESILIENT. If you have read my blog before, you know that I’ve had a long road with chronic illness. I’ve been to some pretty dark places physically and emotionally. Yet, every time I’ve been able to dig deep within myself and find the strength to pull myself up and make a comeback! It’s made me so much stronger and shown me how much courage I truly do possess. Life throws us some pretty wicked obstacles. We can either choose to let them make us bitter or make us better. I choose better every time. I hope you do, too!

Clean Beauty Mantra

After receiving the new products and trying them out, I am still so impressed with this company! The pigments are amazing and they lasted all day! They have so many shadow colors, blushes, lipsticks, highlighters, and more to choose from. I was also especially pleased with their mascara! The mascara lengthens and thickens and looks amazing. It’s also so easy to remove. The lipstick is super creamy! I love that there are different kinds of eyeshadows to choose from. I chose a really glittery one for fun nights out and one that’s a little less sparkly for a more casual look, too.

Clean Beauty

Along with choosing the products, I was asked to answer some questions about myself and my beauty mantra.

  1. Tell us who you are? My name is Kelly Bonner-Bibza.  I am a lifestyle blogger who loves fashion, clean beauty, clean eating, and travel!  I am a wife, a fur mom, and woman on a mission to find complete wellness.  I have had chronic Lyme disease, autoimmune disease, and other chronic illnesses for several years, and have found help and healing through holistic methods.  I have been down some dark roads with my health, but I’ve always dug deep to find the strength within myself to come back even stronger. It is my goal to share my story with other women to help empower them to take their health into their own hands and turn it around. 
  2. What is your beauty mantra? I AM RESILIENT 
  3. What do you hope your look communicates to the world? I hope that my look conveys strength, courage, and the will to keep fighting through difficulties in life.  I want it to communicate that women are capable of handling life’s obstacles and instead of them bringing you down, they can make you better and more beautiful!
  4. What is your favorite fantastic face feature? My favorite facial feature is my eyes.  I love that they are a mysterious color and that so much depth lies behind them!  I like to use different shadows to bring out the various colors within them.  
  5. What Gia Minerals clean beauty products were used to enhance your favorite features? I used Sparkle Sizzling Bronze on my eyelids and Sunlit Brown Shadow blended into the crease and smudged under the lower lashline.  I also used the Natural Lash Mascara, which is amazing to bring length and volume to my lashes.  I used Stunning Blush on my cheeks and Candlelight Luminizer on my cheek bones to give my face some serious glow!  And finally, I am wearing Naked Kiss Lipstick for a beautiful nude, natural lip.
  6. What is your favorite thing about yourself? My favorite thing about myself is my ability to empathize with others.  Although my illness have been hard to live with, it has given me a deep compassion for others.
  7. What is your favorite beauty trick? My favorite beauty trick is to run the mascara wand through my upper lashes on the top side of the lashes and brush them backwards towards my face.  This helps them to look darker and fuller, while curling them up at the same time!
  8. What advice do you give women to purify negative thoughts about their flaws and embrace their uniqueness? I advise women to look inside themselves and see the beauty that lies within.  It isn’t their body that makes them beautiful, it’s their heart and soul.  A warm and kind heart could never be ugly.  Beyond that, we are all so unique.  There is only one of each of us in this world.  So, I like to spend my time being the best version of myself because no one else can be that.  When you look at other women and see how uniquely beautiful they are, remember that someone else is looking at you and thinking the same thing.  <3
Clean Beauty Products

You can find my beauty mantra products on the Gia Minerals website here. Be sure to check out all of their beautiful products. They also have skincare which I’m dying to use next! You can use code KELLY15 to get 15% off of your order! While you are stocking up on some better beauty, try creating your own beauty mantra and instilling some positive thoughts about how uniquely gorgeous you are! 🙂

Clean Beauty

Happy October, babes!  It feels like fall has finally arrived!  We’ve got mums and pumpkins outside of our door, and the house is decorated in my favorite warm hues of the season.  This is the season I like to call “The Calm Before The Storm”.  Lol.  The holidays are always hectic for us!  We both have pretty big families, so there’s lots of get togethers!  Plus, we were married in December, so our anniversary is a few days before Christmas, making everything that much more busy!  So, this time of year is nice and relaxing!  I like to take in all of the cozy nights by the fire with Ryan and Barkley while I’ve got something stirring up in the crockpot.  🙂

Since we are in full swing of the fall season, I thought I would share my MUST HAVES for fall!  Every start of the season, I’m always asking myself, what are the things I really need to make this a fashionable one?  Haha.  I seriously do ask myself that.  (Do you think that’s weird?)  Which is why I’m here to share it all with you!  In case you haven’t asked yourself that question, I’ve got you covered!

To start off my must have list, I have linked a couple of mustard colored blouses.  This color is really trending this season, I can’t get enough of it!  You might think this color will not look good on you, I can tell you, you’re probably wrong!  It is a color that seriously anyone can and should wear.  Don’t be afraid!  I’ve linked my blouse I have on here and another that I love.

Next up is the plaid menswear blazer!  Menswear for women has been trending for some time now.  It’s bigger than ever!  Get yourself an over-sized, longer cut blazer in plaid, pair it with some jeans, boots, or mule slides, and you’ll be totally on point!  I’ve linked two of my favorites below.

My current favorite cut for denim is the cropped straight leg!  I love, love, love this trend!  It looks fantastic on any body type.  You don’t have to be a twig to wear straight leg jeans.  The cropped feature also give your shoes a chance to really shine!  You can wear these with boots, heels, pumps, sandals, flats, mules, everything looks great with them.  Plus, if you’re weary about the whole rolled-up hem trend so you’re not tucking your jeans into your booties still, this completely takes that issue out of the equation!  For my petite girls, check out Express, Abecrombie & Fitch, and J.Crew for lengths that work best for you! These are such a refreshing look after so many years of jeggings and skinny jeans.  Not that I don’t still rock skinny jeans all the time, but having a different, updated style in your closet will keep you looking fashion-forward!

Everyone loves a good sweater when it comes to fall weather.  How  many posts do you read about “can’t wait for sweater weather!”?  Like, everyday, right?  Well, I’ve linked some fun pompom sweater options!  Pompom sweaters are really having a moment right now.  The little pompom balls are super fun and add a little something different to your typical cable knit sweater!  They are so retro inspired, and make me think of ski bunnies on the slopes!  Super cute and cozy 🙂

You have to have some suede booties in your closet for fall!  My favorite suede booties are the neutral tones!  You can pair them with any other neutral tone, or vibrant color.  Don’t be scared!  Mix and match it up!  I’ve linked some cute ones with some fun details on them.

Speaking of suede, everybody has got to have a suede or leather moto jacket in their fall lineup!  This might be the biggest must have!  They’re perfect for cooler temps when it’s not freezing.  Put it over top of your sweater or blouse and you look instantly pulled together and on trend!  I have linked a few of my favorites.  I’m seeing a lot of colored suede moto jackets out right now.  I love it!  Don’t be afraid of color!  You can pair them with your neutral booties and you’ll look amazing!

Another major trend happening right now is the over-sized cardigan sweater.  Doesn’t get cozier than this, my friends!  These are perfect when the weather is too warm for a heavy jacket.  You can put them over a graphic tee, camisole, or blouse!  They’re great for going out because you can wear your cute little top, but grab the cardigan for when it gets cooler later in the evening!  I’ve linked two of my favorites below.

As for handbags, look for some with some glistening hardware!  My bag crush right now is definitely Chloe.  Those are on the much pricier end, but lots of other brands have caught on and are making look a-likes, like the one I’ve linked below by TOPSHOP.  Any kind of metal circular ring, clasp, fastener is what you’re looking for.  As for colors, we’re seeing a lot of yellows, dark reds, browns, minks, and other neutral tones like beige and grey.

And finally, my most fun item that I have linked below are hats that are currently trending!  I’m loving the caps by Brixton!  Both the conductor-like cap and the berets are huge this season!  If you’re like me and don’t like to do your hair EVERY day, get yourself a cute hat, and no one will ever know!  Except that I just told you guys, so when you see me with a hat on you’ll know I’m definitely on my second day hair, haha!

I hope you like my list of must haves!  Please leave me any questions or comments on your thoughts and what YOUR must haves for fall are!  Wishing you a wonderful week 🙂

Click on the images below to shop! Waiting for something to go on sale or just want to buy it later? Simply click the heart icon and enter your email address. You’ll receive a confirmation e-mail (to shop products you favorite anytime from your inbox) and another e-mail when the price drops!

If you suffer from chronic pain in your muscles, joints, tendons, nerves, tissues, organs, etc…  I’m about to introduce to you your new best friend – the far infrared heating pad!  It works so well for me for relief from deep muscle pains and injuries, chronic lower and upper back pain, menstrual cramps and cysts, joint pain, arthritis, bladder pain from interstitial cystitis, neck and shoulder pain, liver and gallbladder dysfunction, tendonitis, any kind of nerve pain, and more.

I honestly had no idea what I was getting exactly when I purchased this item.  As someone who suffers with chronic Lyme disease, I listen pretty closely to what Dr. Jay Davidson says to do.  He has a new book out recently called, “How to Fix Lyme Disease”.  If you have Lyme and you have not read this book, I HIGHLY recommend that you do!  Dr. Jay is on top of the game in the Lyme Disease world!  He has first hand experience with it as his wife was gravely ill with it for years.  He has some new and interesting information and products to offer in that book.  He talks a lot about infrared heating pads.  So, naturally, I followed his suggestion and ordered one for myself.  Here are a few reasons why you need an infrared heating pad, and why it’s different from your typical heating pad or hot water bottle.

First, the far infrared heating pad can penetrate much deeper into your body than a standard electric heating pad!  The electric heating pads that most of us have (myself included until about a year ago), omit electric heat from cotton and carbon fibers.  This kind of heat can only penetrate 2-3mm deep.  So essentially, it’s really only heating the skin that’s on top of all of the things inside of you that are causing pain.  The far infrared heating pads use jade, amythest, and tourmaline stones to convert light energy into infrared heat energy which reaches much deeper at up to 5 cm below the surface!  So this kind of heat is really getting down into your muscles, tissues, and bones.  Also, infrared heating pads will never leave burns or rashes on your skin like electrical ones and hot water bottles can.

I can absolutely feel the difference between these two.  When I have pain and I turn this infrared heating pad on, it takes much less time for the pain to ease and often dissolve, and I can feel that it reaches deeper into areas where I need it.  I have interstitial cystitis and I can feel the heat waves getting deep into my bladder tissues where the pain is intense!  It can relieve some of the worst and deepest pain I have!

Also, the infrared heating pads will help your blood to circulate!  This helps to promote healing, and remove toxins. I also personally think that the infrared heat can help kill infections, I’ve read this in different places before, but it’s been my experience as well. The benefits of the heat from the infrared pads also last up to 6 hours after using it for only 30 minutes, while the electric pads only provide relief while the pad is heated and on you.  I can also attest to this!  When I use this on my bladder area for a half an hour I can take it off and feel much better for quite some time before I need it again.  It helps so much when I have pain at night because I put it on, and then within a half an hour I can take it off and the pain relief lasts through the night.

A few other benefits of the far infrared heating pads worth mentioning are that I have noticed that it provides a major amount of stress relief for me!  When I’m working hard on something or have a lot of stress in my life and I feel frazzled and unable to calm myself down, I put on the heating pad even if I don’t have any significant pain happening, and it definitely relaxes me.  It also helps to calm my dog’s nerves!  He loves it!  Something about the warmth just makes us both release the stress and puts us at ease.  I put it on every night while I’m reading in bed and trying to fall asleep.  It is always helps me to fall asleep faster!

I also use the infrared heating pad to help my liver and gallbladder.  Sometimes when the liver and gallbladder get backed up with bile, I can get pretty sick.  Putting the heating pad on those areas helps those organs to release the bile.  So, I start to feel better faster.  This is one thing Dr. Jay mentions doing in his new book on Lyme Disease, but really, it is beneficial to anyone.

The infrared heating pad also helps to improve your range of motion of muscles and joints that are injured.  Because it helps increase blood flow and circulation to that area, you’ll find you can more easily move around.  It is beneficial for people with arthritis, too!  If you also have pain in your neck and shoulders like so many of us do from sitting at a desk all day, or from Lyme, or other chronic illness, these heating pads work wonders.  I am going to get another that’s just for the neck and shoulders.  You can roll this one up, but I’m sure the neck and shoulder one lays more nicely.

The last thing I’ll touch on about these amazing heating pads, that not many people know, is that they do not omit EMFs, also known as electromagnetic fields.  We probably all know by now that EMFs are very harmful and toxic.  This is the reason why we aren’t supposed to live directly under power lines.  EMFs cause radiation and lead to different kinds of cancers, cause disruption of hormones in our bodies, create sleep and anxiety problems, and so much more.  Far infrared heating pads to not omit EMFs.  They are so safe that they are often used in neonatal units to produce heat to keep infants warm.  They also do not omit any UV rays in case you were wondering.  You are much safer using an infrared heating pad than an electric one!

This heating pad shown here is face up so that I could show you the stones that are attached to it which heat up to produce the infrared heat.  But, when you use it, you will want to put the stone side down on your body over the area which causes you pain.  I have the 15″x19″ size for smaller areas such as the bladder or liver and gallbladder, and I also have the 21″x32″ for full back and body use as well. I am 5’3, so if you are taller, you might consider one of the longer ones.  I use them both equally, honestly.  They serve different purposes.  I like to have the small one for traveling.  They both come with a travel bag, too!  Our cars both have plugs where you can plug them in for long car rides, too, which is great!  They also both have memory remotes that keep your usual desired temperature set, all you have to do is turn it on and click a button and it will heat up to the temperature you like.  It also auto shuts off after a certain period of time that you select to keep it on for.  They are very easy to use, don’t be scared by the remote technology!  It’s very simple and helpful.

I hope that this post brought to light some helpful information if you’re suffering from chronic pain, or pain from working out or injuries.  I would highly recommend these products! I would be lost without them at this point.  I’m like Linus from Peanuts with his blankie, carrying my heating pad around everywhere!  Haha!  No shame, it helps keep me comfortable.  I hope it helps you, too! 🙂

 

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 🙂

 

 

Within the last year, I have really done an overhaul on my beauty products!  Out with the synthetic chemically laden, in with the organic and natural ingredients!  So many of the most popular, widely used beauty brands have products filled with harmful ingredients.  These ingredients can do damage to our hormones, cause cancer, be reasons behind chronic inflammation and allergies, and much more.

I’ve tried all kinds of really great clean beauty brands, but I must say that Tata Harper has been the best yet by far!  The products are definitely on the more expensive side, but I look at it this way… it’s your face!  It’s what you show to the world every single day.  So, to me it’s worth it to pay a little more.  And honestly, it’s not that much more than what the other popular skin care regimens are selling for.  Plus, you’re getting clean, SAFE beauty products.  I started out buying the starter kit and then would buy one or two items at a time from there.

The Regenerating Cleanser is great for exfoliating!  It has tiny beads in it and leaves your skin feeling fresh.  Then, you use the Hydrating Floral Essence spray to prep your skin for the serum.  It’s like a drink of water for your face.  I used their Rejuvenating Serum for a while, but I really like this Boosted Contouring Serum pictured.  I have noticed that it firms up the skin, and who doesn’t want that?  I also use their Illuminating Moisturizer which has a bit of a pearly-ness to it, so it can also double as a primer under your makeup!  Same goes with this Illuminating Eye Cream!  It helps to mask the dark circles.  We all know Retinol is key for anti-aging, so I was thrilled to find a clean source of retinol with this Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil!  The Clarifying Mask is great for skin that’s prone to breakouts.  It smells amazing and I notice a difference in a couple days!  I also love their Resurfacing Mask!  You can put it on over top of the Regenerating Cleanser and it’s like a facial at home!  I’ve linked the Starter Kit Below.  What clean beauty brands have you tried and loved?

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