Note: While much of this article will deal specifically with Lyme Disease, the author believes the same principles which apply to healing from this disease apply equally to healing from a wide variety of illnesses.
Through the many years I spent studying nutrition, natural healing, and human health, I always knew that one day I might need to put that knowledge to use within my own family at a fundamental level. Of course we have implemented what I learned for many minor and acute illnesses while also building and maintaining strong, healthy bodies. But several years ago we were challenged with a very serious, even life-threatening episode of chronic disease which tested every piece of information I had taken in.
First, the backstory:
Often I say that my husband, George, works as hard as a man half his age and twice his size. Thus, when he began exhibiting signs of failing health we attributed his symptoms to over-work and possibly exposure to harmful vapors in the finishing booth of his professional carpentry workshop. But as his pain and fatigue increased at an alarming rate, I became quite concerned. Three years ago his health took a virtual nose-dive and by mid-June of 2011 he was almost totally incapacitated. He went from working 60+ hours a week to putting in no more than 3-4 hours a day, and that only in spurts of 30-60 minutes at a time with hours of bed rest in between. Many days he was not able to get out of bed at all while his nights were spent in agony, unable to sleep due to the intense pain which was nightly amplified. His anxiety level grew along with the fatigue, and he became depressed. His intense pain would often drop him to his knees in tears. He occasionally also experienced terrible chest pains and we feared he might be experiencing a heart attack, but eventually the sensation would pass.
Our concern for George’s health deepened as his struggles grew worse. Eventually a close friend recognized his symptoms as not unlike her own: for several years before she had been very ill and incapacitated before finally being diagnosed with chronic lyme disease. (Actually, another friend and client, who was also a doctor, had previously suggested the same thing; I should have listened, but too quickly dismissed the thought. Shame on me! ) Up to this point my knowledge of LD was very limited, and in fact I harbored several misconceptions, but at this point I set out to educate myself.
From what I learned about this particular disease and its co-factors, it must be stated that many other illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, MS, and others may in fact be missed cases of Lyme Disease and associated infections which “piggy-back” with the Lyme spirochete.
Some common symptoms of Lyme infection are:
- Flu-like symptoms (usually at the onset of infection)
- Bell’s Palsy
- Bulls-eye type rash (though many, perhaps even most, are like my husband and experience no rash at all)
- Joint pain, often migrating from one (or more) joint(s) to another.
- Unexplainable fatigue
- An electric-type of sensation, particularly in the feet. This is sometimes described as the feeling of walking on pins and needles.
- Aches and pains deep within muscle tissue.
- Digestive upset
- Tingling, numbness, or burning sensations
- Muscular twitching
- Heart murmurs, palpitations
- Forgetfulness, dementia, compulsiveness, mood swings, depression, anxiety, rage
As the disease progresses, these symptoms worsen to the point that one can become totally debilitated, and even die.
“Chronic Lyme Disease” is a term for an advanced stage of the disease, and is a very controversial diagnosis within the medical community. In fact, as of this writing the CDC refuses to acknowledge that there is such a thing as CLD, much to the chagrin of many thousands who are terribly ill and in need of treatment! Even diagnosing the disease is controversial, formerly being primarily (and I believe rightly) clinical. The standard blood test currently in use is, in fact, not designed for diagnostics, but for tracking previously diagnosed cases of the disease. For accurate laboratory diagnoses there are several far more accurate tests available such as the IGenix Complete Lyme Panel. Dr. Joseph Burrascano, a board member of the International Lyme Disease and Associated Diseases Society, thoroughly explains advanced clinical diagnoses and treatment here.
Common misconceptions about Lyme Disease include:
- The “bulls-eye” rash is always present at infection.
- Three weeks of antibiotics always cures it
- There is no such thing as “chronic” lyme disease
- Symptoms are limited
- The standard test for LD is accurate
- Lyme Disease is carried only by the deer tick
- LD symptoms present within the first days, or weeks, of infection
For more on the politics, treatment, and disease itself, watch the documentary, Under Our Skin.
George chose to take an alternative medical route to tackle his lyme disease once it was diagnosed, which included intensive, long-term antibiotic use and an intravenous infusion of pathogen-fighting Vitamin C along with the detoxifying amino acid, Glutathione. I might have preferred he not choose the antibiotics, but as I saw him dying before my very eyes, I was only hopeful he could arrest the development of the disease so that he could begin to recover.
After 5 months of intensive antibiotic therapy during which we also implemented several food & supplement-based strategies to combat the ill effects of the drugs while boosting his immune system, George’s doctor felt that the LD was likely gone and he ordered a heavy-hitting dose of several antibiotics to take out any remaining forms of the spirochete which may have been buried deep within his tissue. After a week’s break from the antibiotics, however, his symptoms were returning.
At this point we were dealing not only with Lyme Disease, but also rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. George then flatly refused the new cocktail of antibiotics which the doctor wanted to prescribe.
But with three separate and terrible illnesses to deal with, I had to come up with a serious plan for healing. To do so I would draw upon all those years of attending lectures, reading endless articles and books, and picking the brains of those more knowledgeable, and experienced, than myself.
*Jerry Brunetti, a friend who kicked first cancer and then has fought Lyme Disease several times, informed me later that it is in fact preferable for the two components of the infusion to be administered separately, 24 hour apart if at all possible. Also, a liposomal form is reputed to be just as effective, and much cheaper.