Back From The Dead
The moment I had anticipated arrived very quickly. Once the diagnosis was given, the doctor began to prepare a comprehensive plan for my long awaited recovery. I finally knew my target and could not wait to get started!
But I still had a thousand questions; How long was it gonna take? What was the cost of such an endeavor? When was I gonna start feeling better? In essence, these questions could not be answered directly. I discovered that each person had to take on an individualized approach based on the depth of their illness, age, and more importantly their immune function. I went undiagnosed for a relatively short period of time considering that many others endured years of being misdiagnosed before finding the answer. Our health journey would surely be different on many levels.
As the first line of attack, I was prescribed long-term antibiotics to begin invading the bacteria and prevent proliferation. Now, you might wonder why a holistic practitioner would give me such an alternative: naturopaths have prescription rights and will often find it neccessary to apply this approach alongside natural therapies to encourage recovery - particularly in the case of a systemic bacterial infection such as Lyme. I was forwarned, however, at the unpleasant side effects of antibiotics especially concerning the amount of time I would be on them. In high doses, antibiotics can be harmful to the liver. The digestive system can also be impaired due to the destruction of the good bacteria naturally present in the intestines which could lead to chronic yeast infections, candida, and leaky gut. It was absolutely imperative that I begin the antibiotic therapy along with a host of supplements, especially high dose probiotics to aid the body in this process. Keeping the gut flourishing with good bacteria addresses proper nutrient absorption and strengthens the immune system to better fight off invadors.
Though a long voyage lay before me, relief was closer than I expected. Just a few days into treatment, I noted a spark of energy return into my lethargic body; the all consuming pain which had been a constant companion had eased slightly. The changes were minimal, yet I celebrated each one over the coming weeks. Since the infection was systemic, the body's attempt to eradicate it was very unpleasant at times. Improvement usually lasted for a few weeks followed by a period of a 'die-off' also referred to as the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. This entails a severe response to endotoxin-like products released by the death of harmful microorganisms during antibiotic treatment, which becomes a burden to the detoxification pathways; a short period of inflammmation flares and this can induce debilitating pain all over again. During these episodes, I remained homebound because it would knock me flat on my back. Blessedly, these moments were short lived and with continued therapy, my body would recover and carry on.
Antibiotics were not the only source of attack; it was gonna take me an army of herbs and nutritional remedies to eradicate my opponent. My medicine cabinet was overwhelming at times! Usually, I would begin my day with a palm-full of pills and antibiotics, and repeat it again before bed. Recovery would have been impossible without frequent detoxification. To better assist the liver which took the brunt of eliminating excess toxins, glutathione therapy was a necessary staple. In addition to this, I was given homeopathics, B-complex injections, immune IV's, and ozone therapy when the body needed to fight harder.
A couple of months into treatment, I started to feel fantastic! Friends and loved ones were ecstatic as they witnessed my prompt turnover. Our silent household was coming alive again and busling with the usual sounds of laughter and music. My two rumbunctious girls were back to competing for my undivided attention. (It felt great to be needed again!) At this time, I was eager to dust off my treadmill and incorporate gentle exercises while paying attention to the signals of the body to avoid overexertion.
In the coming months though, the process was not always smooth sailing. I encountered some rough terrain which I learned was not uncommon with treatment. I would lose my bearing when pain would re-visit me in the middle of the night. My patience was stretched thin and this often led to emotional hysteria unworthy to witness. It puzzled me greatly when I would suddanly grind to a halt without warning after months of steady recovery. With the return of symptoms—some old, some new—there was speculation of more unidentified infections yet to be discovered. Further testing confirmed that the Lyme infection had been accompanied by two other strains of bacteria known as Babesiosis and Bartonella, often referred to as co-infections of Lyme disease. This slowed down recovery immensely and required even more aggressive and targeted antibiotic therapy which by now had begun to wreak havoc on my body.
The more obstacles surfaced, the more tenaciously I fought back. To boost my body's ability to heal, I invested in every alternative modality that was recommended to me. Detoxification was a main priority with colon hydrotherapy and heavy metal chelation; I saw a chiropractor regularly to increase nerve communication; a friend introduced me to Body Talk and Reiki which I found remarkably therapeutic in addressing emotional health. This prompted me to eliminate all toxic relationships, influences, and phony core values—much of it pertaining to my spiritual upbringing. Through this realization, I finally understood the intricate connection between the body, mind, and spirit, and its unforseen impact on my health. In time, I began to rediscover a brand new belief system—one that would shape the outcome of my journey and the person I am today.
During the course of my extensive antibiotic therapy, (two years to be exact) I was prompted to do a food allergy test and discovered that I had numerous allergies and intolerances which played quite a number on my digestive system. I was to eliminate a plathora of foods including cane sugar, wheat, coffee (What?!) gluten, yeast, corn, soy, pork and dairy. Yay me! It was a complete diet overhaul which left me absolutely deprived, and depressed. I was angry, but not surprised. Most long term antibiotic users succumb to digestive imbalances and require specific nutrients and foods to regenerate their inner eco-system. I was to consume only the purest foods consisting of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed meats. Hidden chemicals (aspartame, msg, and pesticides) lurking in our food supplies can drastically increase inflammation, create neurotoxins, and ultimately suppress our immune system preventing recovery. I quickly stripped my fridge and pantry of all chemical containing items. I'm not gonna deny that I fell off the wagon many times as these poisons snuck back into my kitchen when my vigilance slipped. Not surprisingly, everything from digestive upsets to brain fog, joint pain and irritability resurfaced. That was enough to prompt me to adapt to a new way of eating and study nutrition more closely. To this day, consuming wholesome foods has been a lifestyle which I have incorporated into my household permanently.
By now, I had learned a great deal about alternative medicine and nutrition in general. It was reassuring to know that there were so many options within my reach. One therapy in particular, would leave a profound effect on me and ultimately launch me across the finish line.
Neural Therapy is a treatment system for chronic pain and illness using injection of local anaesthetics into autonomics ganglia, peripheral nerves, scars, glands, and trigger points which is able to normalize the function of the nervous system. It is based on the theory that trauma can produce long-term disturbances and interference fields that cause dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Neural Therapy corrects this by stopping the interference field which leads to better functioning organs, glands, and body tissues - ultimately eliminating chronic disease conditions and pain. The most common illnesses which are helped by this therapy are: migraines, allergies, post surgical pain, joint pain, menstrual pain, infertility, lupus, arthritis, vertigo, asthma.....to name a few.
I was made aware that I had an interference field in my body causing the immune system not to function properly. One area was my missing tonsils which I had removed as a child. With invasive surgery, I was left with scar tissue which was causing the immune system to hover over this area instead of the present disease at hand. The protocol for correcting this interference was a dreadful one: my doctor was to go into the tonsil area and inject a localized needle containing Procaine directly into the visible scars. This procedure gave a whole new meaning to the word pain. Little did I care at that point - I was absolutely determined to give myself the best fighting change of leaving this atrocious disease behind once and for all! She continued to inject parts of my body that had visible scars, dating back as early as childhood. I have a ridicilous scar on my right arm resulting from a freak accident which also needed to be addressed. Over the years, this scar never healed properly and further reduced my immune function.
After several consecutive treatments, I returned for a series of tests regarding the Lyme infection. The revelation of the results absolutely shocked me - there was NO active bacteria detected! My immune system had been activated to recognize the intruder and had invaded the infection full force. Neural Therapy was the key in removing the final obstacle to my cure.
I am immensely intrigued at the body's inner ability to be restored. True healing can only begin when one identifies the causes and underlying mechanisms which contribute to an illness. My faltering immune system needed to be corrected through various avenues in order to complete my battle with lyme disease. I have gained a profound respect for alternative medicine and am excited to live in an era where healing is attainable in a disease filled world.