Feb 28, 2015

Why Your Allergy Medicine May Help Treat Your Lyme



Recently all the buzz in the Lyme community is about how your allergy medication, specifically Claritin®, may help treat Lyme disease.   Lyme disease is a potentially debilitating infection caused by the bacteria Borrellia burgdorferi.  If caught early enough, Lyme disease can be treated effectively.  The infection goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed more often then not causing a chronic infection which is much more difficult to treat.

Feb 26, 2015

Those Dreaded Setbacks

When you're chronically ill you tend to be open to trying just about anything to feel better.

You try to do the right things, follow the right diet, try different medications or herbs, and search for the right doctor.  

If it's working you might begin to notice improvement and you may celebrate even the smallest difference.


Many of us with chronic illness will find ourselves getting slammed with a setback or even a relapse at some point.  Sometimes we'll just go right back to feeling the miserable way we were before we put forth all the effort.

This has happened to us more times than I can count, especially when we followed our antibiotic and herbal protocols along with our specialized diets.  It was so discouraging.  

It was frustrating and at times left us completely hopeless. 

Roller-coaster emotions can take over if I'm not careful.  Fear rolls in when a relapse occurs whether it's my relapse or one of my children.  

During the time when we experience progress or a period of well-being, hope returns and I always think, "this is it, we'll finally be free of this disease."

When symptoms return I usually find myself fearful over "those" questions, you know the ones; "What will I do if this doesn't work?", "Will we ever get better?", "Will we be this way for the rest of our lives?".

Those questions do nothing to spring up hope but rather drive us deeper into hopelessness and even despair.  It's best to avoid those thoughts if at all possible.

This past year (2015) our family has been celebrating the renewed health for several of us but especially for one of our daughters.  

We switched from antibiotics and herbs to using homeopathic remedies and within a few months my sweet girl was doing all those things she had always wanted to do.  

Recently her doctor announced she was Lyme free.  Wow, now that's something to celebrate.

However, I know that Lyme is not the only problem here.  Lyme is never the only infection you can get when bit by a tick.  

Those itty-bitty critters can inject all kinds of disgusting things into you causing a multitude of symptoms and years and years of trying to discover why you're still sick. 

Lyme also wreak havoc on your immune system allowing other viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections to do a happy dance in your body.

We know our daughter has Babesiosis, Bartonella, viral infections, heavy metal toxicity among other things.  Some of these things still need to be addressed. 

It's kind of like looking at a sliced onion, you'll see hundreds of little layers inside.  

When treating tick-borne infections there are many layers you need to work through to gain complete wellness.

Typically, you'll treat one infection and the other infection that was hiding behind the first will come out roaring and making it's presence known.

Some doctors will load you up on every kind of medication at once hoping to knock everything out in one full sweep.  

This is hard on the immune system, though some do respond well to this type of protocol most are left depleted and trying to restore and regain what little bit of their health they have left.

So, while my daughter appears on the outside to have had a minor relapse, this time I find that I'm not getting fearful like I would have been in the past.  

This time we know that she is still in the healing process, that we found something that is working for her and that as we target these other infections she may have symptoms come and go.

We also found out that when she gets a secondary infection like a cold, the flu or any other everyday illness, her already weakened immune system can't fight off everything at once so it takes a little break from focusing on the tick-borne illnesses and targets the new infection.  This causes her old symptoms to reappear again but thankfully much milder than they were originally.

I know that we are on the right track.  What we're doing for her is working and once we peel back all those layers and deal with, rather then cover up all of the other infections, she will be symptom free and hopefully not having to worry about a relapse ever again.

If you find yourself having a relapse, don't fear.  Fear will impair your immune system even further.  Being positive helps your body to heal, it really does.

Do what you can and work with your doctor to find out what's causing the relapse. Try to get the rest you need and allow your body to heal.

Don't be afraid to try new things, do a little research for yourself or ask a friend to help especially if prescription medications are offered but most of all pray for wisdom and healing.



Feb 24, 2015

The Most Important Notebook You'll Ever Keep

Long ago when my 3 girls were very young, my Mom and I were having a discussion about health related issues.  My mom suggested I start keeping a health notebook. 

Mom shared with me how she wrote down everything about her and my dad regarding symptoms they were having, doctor's appointments, medications and even notes about each day that may be helpful to remember.


Honestly, it sounded a little too time consuming so I began jotting things down on my wall calendar.  Doctor's appointments were already being written there so I began adding when the children would get sick, have a fever or other illnesses.

This worked OK until I needed to find something related to an

Feb 22, 2015

Herxes, Flares and the Healing Crisis


Living with a chronic Lyme disease infection can be extremely painful and life altering.  Fatigue overtakes you leaving your mind in a fog and your body so heavy you can barely roll over in bed.  I have never slept as deeply or as much as I have during my illness with chronic Lyme.  I'm not sure I could ever explain it.  I've had four children and I can tell you the fatigue a new mom experiences is mild compared to the fatigue that overtakes you when you have chronic Lyme.

I've found through the years that each person affected by chronic Lyme and other tick-borne diseases have many symptoms in common but to varying degrees.  Some are completely bedridden, some requiring hospitalization while others can push through continuing to work and maintaining their busy lifestyles.  This is determined much by the person's immune system, how long the person has had the infections, what co-infections they have and which treatments they have received.

Once a person has begun treatment for tick-borne infections they will experience an increased in symptoms commonly called a Herx or Jarish-Herxheimer reaction.  This is believed to be a result of

Feb 15, 2015

Symptom Chart - Lyme Disease, Babesiosis and Bartonella

Here's a quick glance chart of Lyme Disease and two of the many co-infections, listing their symptoms.  Notice how many symptoms are similar.  

Patients with these infections can present with mild to severe symptoms.  Symptoms could wax and wane and sometimes pain can migrate throughout the body.  If you have some or many of these symptoms please seek a Lyme Literate physician as soon as possible.




The Importance of Proper Treatment for Early Lyme Disease



One of the blessings of having Lyme disease is that I've had the privilege of meeting many wonderful people. The downside is that these are people who think they might also be sick with Lyme disease.

While I grieve with them over the loss of their health, I count it a blessing that I can minister to them, share my story with them and pray for them.

I'm not a doctor and I can't diagnose or treat but I can offer direction, options and an understanding ear. 

I understand how serious Lyme and other tick-borne infections are. I understand the fear and the overwhelm of trying to get a diagnosis and the proper treatment.

We're often told the Lyme is not serious and that it can be quickly and easily treated.

I've experienced first hand the myriad of mystery symptoms brought on by tick-borne infections and I've experienced the harshness & ignorance of doctors when trying to get immediate treatment for new infections as well as a diagnosis for late stage Lyme.

Because of this, when someone calls me and tells me they've been bitten by a tick I can't stress strongly enough that they get the proper treatment REGARDLESS of symptoms.

ILADS recently changed their treatment protocol recommendations to protect people from becoming chronically ill.  

When I say chronically ill I'm talking about becoming very ill for the rest of your life.

For a known tick bite the typical course of action by your regular doctor would be to either wait for symptoms or to go ahead and give you 2 weeks of Doxycycline.

Waiting can be detrimental due to the nature of the bacterial and parasitic infections. By the time symptoms appear the infection could have spread through your entire body beginning it's devastation.

ILADS GUIDELINES

ILADS is now recommending that for every tick bite you get at least 20 days of Doxycycline.  Doctor's won't give your children who are under the age of 8 Doxy because it can destroy their grown-up teeth.

For bites that produce symptoms of any kind like rashes (less then 25% are bulls-eye), fever, swollen lymph nodes, or flu like symptoms, they are recommending a minimum of 4-6 weeks.

Other early symptoms could present as chronic headaches, stiff neck, sleep disturbance and problems with memory, concentration, depression, and lightheadedness.

The 2014 ILADS guidelines state that a patient should not rely on diagnostic testing because it fails to detect up to 90% of cases and does not distinguish between acute, chronic, or resolved infections. 

Their guidelines state that Lyme disease can become persistent and recurrent even with antibiotic therapy so they recommend treatment be prompt and aggressive and with a Lyme literate physician.

Please visit ILADS for the complete revised 2014 Lyme Treatment Guidelines.

Unfortunately they have not been able to determine an optimal antibiotic dose or duration of therapy because each infection and person is so unique.  There are many considerations when determining treatment such as how long it's been since the patient was bitten, the presenting symptoms, and how the patient responds to the antibiotic treatment.

What ILADS does know is that the standard protocol doesn't work. They are recommending longer treatment courses for acute (early) infections in order to prevent a chronic or recurring infection.  It is very important to work with your doctor and if you are not able to get the treatment needed find a Lyme Literate MD as soon as possible.  Timing is very important.

OBJECTIONS TO LONG TERM TREATMENT

Many people I talk to are completely against getting a longer course of antibiotics, they don't believe that they would need antibiotics for each and every tick bite because they've had tick bites for years and never had a problem.

There are more natural options available through a naturapath or holistic physician but I am not able to recommend a protocol that will completely eradicate early Lyme disease the way antibiotics will.

Many times, the same people call me months later after finding out that they now have a chronic infection or that they've become sick again or experiencing a worsening of symptoms after a short course of treatment.  This really breaks my heart because I know how devastating it can be and that it could have been avoided.

Another objection is on spending the money it takes to find a doctor or naturapath who is willing to treat the disease as aggressively as it needs to be treated in order to prevent a chronic infection.  Think of the alternative, 20 days of antibiotics, maybe up to 8 weeks or a lifetime.

THE CURE

The best cure is obviously prevention and education.  While you may not have Lyme disease right now, this is the fastest growing epidemic in our country.  These diseases are thought to be spread by more then just ticks, making it an even greater problem.

New viruses and other infections are consistently being found in ticks of all kinds around the country.  Even Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is making a huge come-back and causing severe illnesses.

My biggest hope is that you won't just close my blog and never think about this again, but that you will take this very seriously.  Lyme disease is called the great imitator.  Many people are sick and suffering and being treated for other more common diseases and are not getting better because tick-borne infections are the root cause and are being ignored.


TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

Our culture is a very sick culture.  I have never seen so many sick children and it seems that we have a bigger problem than ever in the history of our country.

Children today have food allergies, psychological disorders, learning impairments, autism and the list goes on and on.

Our grocery stores are filled with genetically modified, sterilized, pesticide and chemical laden foods along with boxes, cans and pouches of sugar filled, food colored enticements.   We can't resist, we think it's too expensive to eat well, buy organic, or too difficult to tell our children "no" you can't eat "candy bar" cereal for breakfast.

Our environment is filled with electromagnetic fields from cell phones and wi-fi and our air filled with the chemicals that farmers and manufacturers use.  Our water supply is filled with chemicals, chlorine, parasites and medications.

Our immune systems can no longer fight off the diseases that once were easily avoided or resolved.  Because of this we are prime targets for every illness and disease that passes our way including tick-borne diseases.

I can testify that eating organic and buying toxic free products for my family is much less expensive then treating them for Lyme disease.

A few months of Doxycycline is much less toxic and less expensive then taking it for years for a chronic infection.  Early, aggressive treatment can completely cure the disease.

It is important to avoid areas where ticks might be prevalent. That can be very hard because ticks are everywhere, including in the cities.  small animals like squirrels, birds and mice can bring them right up to your house.

So, check for ticks every time you spend time outdoors and take the proper precautions like avoiding wooded areas or tall grasses.

If you do find a tick, use proper removal techniques; using fine tip tweezers, grabbing the tick as close to the head as possible and pulling straight up.

Never, ever, ever smother the tick with anything.  This will cause the tick to immediately inject it's whole gut load of toxins into your body.

You can save your tick and have it tested by a number of labs around the country.  This is much more accurate then getting yourself tested but remember timing is very important.  The quicker you respond to a tick bite the more likely you are to prevent a chronic infection.

There are many other ways you can protect yourself and many things you can do to prevent chronic tick-borne illness.  The bigger problem lies with never seeing a tick bite in the first place which I will address later.  Many chronic infections are caused because the patient never found a tick or had initial symptoms.

If you'd like more information find the links for my favorite blogs, visit them and read as much as you can.



Feb 13, 2015

Sleeping In On A School Day

Recently the county where I live approached the topic of a later start time for the public schools.  For many reasons this becomes controversial mostly between the schools and the parents.

The school administration obviously needs to be concerned with logistics; bus availability, the daily schedules of the drivers, the teachers and the parents.  They stated that the school budget would increase in order to make a delayed start a reality.


Parents of course are concerned with their child's health and their ability to concentrate and do well in school but they also need to consider their schedules especially with the many extracurricular activities on the calendar.

Feb 10, 2015

God In The Lyme Maze

Living in the Lyme Maze can be frightening, confusing and overwhelming.  My family and I have spent since 2009 trying to find a cure for Lyme.

Our whole family has Lyme Disease, Bartonella, Babesia and maybe a host of other co-infections that were never diagnosed.  We all had many similar symptoms with the exception of one of my children who had severe psychiatric symptoms. 

Many Lymies get to the point where they are not progressing in treatment and their doctors arent sure what else to do.

The burden becomes almost too much to bear when your doctors throw up their hands and say, "I can't help you".

Some may ask why God allowed your whole family to get sick in the first place?  Or why didn't God bring the answers sooner?  Why hasn't He just healed you?

He very well could have if He wanted to but He hasn't and I rest in that.  I know that His ways are not my ways.  I know that He loves us even if He chooses to never bring about complete healing.

If I had a choice of course I would rather never suffer or allow my children to suffer, but the longer I'm a Mom the more I realize that we learn best when we have to put forth the effort and work through the struggle.

Without this trial I would not have spent the amount of hours that I have seeking out a treatment protocol that will work for my family.  I wouldn't have researched like I did, I wouldn't be able to sympathize with others and I certainly would have no need to pray about it.  

I see the wisdom now in the journey, in the struggle and in the suffering.


At that moment when no one else knew the answers and everyone had thrown up their hands saying, "I don't know what else to do, you're on your own", I ran to the one who fearfully and wonderfully made us.  I ran to the one who wasn't sleeping when we all got sick with Lyme disease and who isn't sleeping now.

God's most recent answer was way out of my comfort zone.  It was something new, something that I didn't understand and had never studied.  It was something that I had heard of but didn't believe in.  Something that I needed to completely trust the Lord with because He so clearly led us to it.

We were recommended a doctor who was getting people better.  He was helping Lyme patients but also many others with a variety of illnesses.  He tests through auricular testing and uses his own line of homeopathic remedies to treat many different symptoms and illnesses.

We noticed a dramatic difference with our daughter after only 9 weeks.  It was a miracle to us because everything we had tried for her didn't work and most of it made her symptoms unbearably worse.  

We were desperate for answers and help for her because she was the most severely affected by tick-borne diseases in our home.  If we didn't find help we weren't sure what we would do.


Treating Lyme can be like running through a maze.  There are so many different components to the disease itself.  There are different treatment protocols some using medications like antibiotics or anti-malarials, some using herbal antibiotics and some homeopathic or other alternative treatment.  There are specialty labs, specialty clinics and specialized medications.

Everything about treating Lyme disease is outrageously expensive and not covered by insurance.  It's like the doctors know that we are desperate to get better and because of that desperation we'll pay anything and try anything regardless of whether anyone is getting better.

This prevents many people from even wanting to enter into the maze.  It's too confusing, doctors don't believe in chronic Lyme, the tests are inaccurate and if you did know that you had it, then what?

My husband and I decided long ago that we weren't going to run from doctor to doctor, paying out of pocket as we go, trying to find the latest and greatest cure.  We decided to wait, to pray and to trust on God for direction and provision.

We weren't as sick or desperate as so many Lyme patients can be.  We didn't require hospitalization except for minor emergency room visits, we didn't get treated with IV antibiotics even though we should have initially.  We were not paralyzed or dying and so we could wait on the Lord.

Even so, it hasn't been easy watching my children in pain or missing out on huge parts of their childhood.  I can thank God that my husband has rarely missed a day of work.  It's heartbreaking to hear stories of lost jobs and homes due to this illness.  

The world of Lyme disease and its treatments are a maze, especially the longer you have it. Wading through the testing, treatment options, side effects, and the symptoms can be confusing and overwhelming.

This past year I found that I haven't really thought too much about Lyme or what treatment we should seek out next.  I haven't had to spend hours upon hours reading to figure out what it is we're missing.

Our new doctor has shown us results and I am confident that he will be able to help us all overcome this frustrating disease.  Even if he doesn't get us 100% better, I'm thankful for being off harsh medications for now and being able to live a life that is not paralyzed by a disease that's so complicated.

If you find yourself entering into the Lyme Maze don't run it alone.  Look for help from those who understand it and aren't out just to take your money.

Most importantly seek wisdom from above.  God is faithful to answer but remember, sometimes you will need to wait patiently upon the Lord.





Feb 7, 2015

Diagnosis - Chronic Lyme Disease

[If you haven't read the beginning of my story you can begin here with When Everything Changed]

"You Don't Have Lyme, You're Just Stressed Out"

In August of 2009 when my primary doctor called me she said, "Your Lyme test is positive but I think it's a false positive, I'm pretty sure you don't have Lyme."  When I asked what she thought I had, she told me that I was really just under a lot of stress because after all "you are a stay-at-home mom, and just had your 4th baby and well, you are homeschooling."  Arghhh!

I'm pretty sure fumes came out of my ears, you know like in those cartoons from long ago! How frustrating and demeaning. I was scared and sick, needing answers. I had already been told by a number of doctors that I was just stressed out. I think that must be what they tell you when they don't know what to tell you.

I didn't accept her answer and politely told her that I didn't appreciate her diagnosis. She offered that I see a doctor down the hall for a second opinion. She said that this doctor was seeing a lot of patients who had Lyme and that she could tell me for sure.

I was transferred to the front desk where I made another appointment but this time with the doctor down the hall.  

When the day came I drove myself back to the doctor's office and waited patiently for my appointment. I ended up waiting an hour to see this doctor.  When it was my turn I walked down the hall, did the weight and height thing, gave the nurse the run down and waited some more.



Finally, the doctor came in, asked me a whole slew of questions, did the evaluation and then proceeded to look through my lab results. "Yep!" She said, "You have Lyme, and from the antibody results you are chronic."  "Ok!  So what does that mean?" I asked.

She proceeded to tell me that I had a Lyme infection and because it wasn't caught early it's now chronic. She told me I've had it for some time but she thought she could get me better in 4 months.


I was thrilled that I had a diagnosis and even more thrilled that I'd be better in 4 months. I'm not crazy, I'm not stressed and apparently I'm not allergic to my kids. I was actually so excited as I walked out of there. I had a real diagnosis, a real reason for all the debilitating symptoms.

I had no idea what Lyme Disease was or what I was in for. I had two prescriptions for antibiotics that I had to start right away and the research junkie inside of me wanted to learn everything I could about what I was just diagnosed.


At that point in time, reading comprehension was a very difficult task but I went to the library anyway and checked out an armload of books.  Yes, there are still libraries and real paper books and I LOVE them both!  I get that from my Dad.

I read about Lyme disease from a scientist who went way over my head. 

I read about it from Paula Murray who was the woman in Lyme Connecticut who first realized that so many in her town were getting ill with the same thing and that there had to be a connection so she called in the CDC and eventually Lyme disease was named after this town in Connecticut.  

I read online about Lyme and I contacted a friend of a friend who had Lyme.

What I came away with was despair.  No one was getting better, people online were talking about how they had been severely ill with it for 10 or 20 years and they were still sick after losing all their money, their house, their job and their marriage.  They went everywhere in the country to every clinic and well known Lyme doctor and yet they were still sick. I became depressed.


I didn't want to be that person who traveled all over the country to see every doctor who claimed they had "the" cure for Lyme Disease.  So, my husband and I prayed a lot for wisdom and direction and for healing.

I was still hurting, my mind still wasn't working well, I was fatigued and I was pushing myself so hard to be a normal wife and mom, trying to keep up but I wasn't doing it very well.

The antibiotics made me so incredibly sick, and so I was sick with Lyme and I was sick because of the medicine.

My poor husband would be at work and then have to comfort me when I called him crying and telling him I didn't know how to go to the grocery store.  He'd then come home to help with dinner and to help the kids through the school lessons that I couldn't make sense of.  He deserves "Hero of the Year" award for sure!

Almost 6 years now after that diagnosis I am thankful that we proceeded the way we did.  We tried to be faithful with what God was giving us and the direction he was leading us.  Sometimes that means being patient when you don't want to be.  Sometimes that means enduring through the hardship, pain and suffering and waiting on the Lord.


There are huge gaps in my story that I'll fill in later but to give you hope, we are doing better than we have in years.  We found a new doctor who we've been seeing for a year now and he has made such a huge difference for us in our healing.

We're not completely well, we have minor relapses, but once again we have hope.

If you're just finding out you have Lyme, hang in there.  Try to learn about Lyme and the different treatment protocols.  Pray for wisdom as you choose which is best for you.  It always helps to seek out someone who has been walking the Lyme road.


Remember to look for ILADS trained Lyme Literate physicians or at least a physician who believes that Lyme is a chronic disease as well as the many co-infections that go along with the infection.

Understand that chronic Lyme can set off a huge inflammatory response throughout your body causing secondary problems that will also need to be addressed.  For more information about Lyme head over to Lyme Disease, What It Is & Why You Should Care.

Til next time....Be strong in the Lord.

Feb 5, 2015

Lyme Disease! What It Is & Why You Should Care


I'm not a doctor and what I share here is based on research I have done.  If you suspect that you or a loved one has a tick-borne disease please seek out a physician who will be capable of diagnosing and treating. 

Lyme disease, what is it?  
Lyme Disease is one of the fastest spreading bacterial infections across the world.  It is usually transmitted by a deer tick but now some scientists and doctors believe it can also be transmitted by other biting insects like mosquitos, biting flies, fleas and mites.  It has also been found in human tears, breast milk, urine, and semen and has been shown to pass to babies in the womb.

Lyme bacteria are spirochetes, called Borrelia burgdorferi sometimes referred to as Bb, and is named after Dr. Willy Burgdorfer who discovered it in 1982.