37. Lessons Through Lyme

In my last post on Lyme, I explained what it was like physically, mentally, and emotionally as the bacteria started wreaking havoc on my body. I purposefully left out the spiritual aspect, for multiple reasons, the main one being space. There were just too many words to be said about how Lyme has effected my relationship with God/ what I have learned through this trial so far.

I was all set to attend the Word of Life Bible Institute, which I thought God had led me to, when the Lyme symptoms became life-altering. The idea that when God leads you someplace, maybe it’s not for the reason you think was hard to swallow as I navigated the tough decision of saying no to attending school and experienced the awkward situations involved with pulling out of the commitment.

Next, the fact that God was allowing this to happen to my body hit; He wasn’t protecting me from the bacteria that wanted to destroy my body. That’s the way I saw it, at least.

God did not correct my thinking the way I expected. Another lesson in God’s ways being higher than my ways.

What I wanted was for God to assure me right away that He was in control and was protecting me. From my perspective, that would probably have meant healing me outright. God had a different plan. Instead, I entered  what felt like “the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)  During that time, John 3:16 became more real than ever before. The hope of salvation was placed in front of me. God showed me that my hope to get back to good health, to get a college degree, to get a job, and to serve Him were not where my hope should be. My strong hope should be that one day when I die I will be with Jesus. My well-being, in light of eternity, is not that big of a deal..

Being torn away from my plans humbled me so much that I was scared to make any strong statements on any type of future plans for a little while, no matter how small. (Probably a good practice to implement, though.) Along with the lesson of this life not mattering so much, came that fact that my life didn’t have a great deal of weight; God is the one that matters at any and every given time in history. I am a goal oriented person so this lesson on how nothing I accomplish matters if not done for, and by, God shook me to the core.

Something I wrote in my prayer journal during that time is, “You don’t want beautiful actions nearly as much as You want our choice of Yourself.”

I also pulled these quotes out of my journal from during those difficult days:

“I can be brought low by Him who strengthens me.” -John Piper

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” -Psalm 3:3

At my lowest, God met me. Even when it felt like He was not protecting me, He was my shield. Like Job in the Old Testament clearly shows, God had complete control over how much would be allowed to “go wrong.” I am so thankful that I had God to turn to in that dark time and I hope to take these lessons learned with me, even after Lyme stops being such a defining part of my life.

 

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30. My Lyme Story

This week marks two months of Lyme treatment on the Cowden Protocol. Treatment doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did, which I can probably attribute to two things. One, that habit has set in. It takes 30 days to form a habit and now I’ve doubled that. Second, that treatment has lessened some of the mental symptoms. It’s easier for me to process Lyme now that the anxiety and brain fog have become less dense. At first it felt like a personal attack; my body was obviously under attack and taking significant hits that I was not being protected from.

What did the onset of Lyme feel like? A constant worn feeling, accompanied by headaches, came after a sickness that left me feeling bedridden this past summer. (I say feeling bedridden because I continued fulfilling my responsibilities and stayed in bed only on break time.) Allergies were building and pretty soon I was constantly in the state of allergic reaction. I’m very intuitive to my body and could tell something was wrong, but no one could help me while I was at camp.

A whole nother aspect of Lyme is the mental side of things. It is unusual for me to have trouble putting concepts together or understanding complex explanations. But my grasp of such things started slipping. Writing became practically impossible for me over the summer. Even now I have trouble thinking clearly and remembering things, and writing doesn’t come nearly as easily as it used to. It’s been interesting to learn what it’s like to be less “sharp.”

Though fatigue and brain fog are the two symptoms that still haunt me the most, the emotional side of things definitely had a huge effect for a while. My brother told me back in September, “You’re so emotional these days. Everything makes you cry.” Lyme can mess with your emotions and in my case made me even more prone to anxiety attacks. I had trouble breathing on more than one occasion because of the heightened anxiety. Lyme also destroyed my sleep patterns for about a week and gave me an appreciation for the sound sleep I get once more. A wave of depression usually comes with each new or worsening symptom. Especially when I’m in pain, the depression wins out.

Other weird symptoms come and go with irregularity. The strangest symptom so far would have to be the Lyme version of Pink Eye. It was only bad for about 10 hours, thankfully!

Currently, my treatment includes:

  • Getting sleep to help my body heal
  • Eating a diet that does not feed the Lyme and provides nutrients for my body (non-processed is the goal)
  • Drinking 3-4 pints of water per day
  • Taking the Cowden anti-microbials 4 times daily
  • Going to a Far Infared sauna 3 times a week for detox and pain management (heat is bad for the bacteria that cause Lyme, as well)
  • Taking glutathione for energy, detox, and to build up body
  • Taking prescription RG3 methylcobalamin sublingual for energy and to bring down inflammation in brain (cut down in brain fog)
  • Taking OmegaGenics SPM Active (omegas) to bring down inflammation and support neurons
  • Taking Ferritin for thyroid (energy)
  • Taking Natural Cellular Defense (Zeolite drops) for metal detox
  • Taking probiotic for detox and to build up my gut, which is closely connected to both the immune system and the brain
  • Taking lots of vitamins, especially D and C, to help out my body
  • Mild exercise
  • Rest so that my body can use the energy it has to heal

As I’m sure you can imagine, my life revolves around all this treatment right now. Most of my days are spent at home and I often watch more television then I consider healthy. Thing is, I don’t have the energy to do many other things. Even reading is draining! Every day I have to watch my energy consumption carefully, but I’m just thankful to once again have some energy to keep track of!

 

22. Placing Hope

Guess you could say the start of it was watching a series on 1 Peter by John Piper. The climax came on a night filled not with sleep, but with shooting pain and anxiety.

The work of making a man new belongs only to the Holy Spirit and He finds the most perfect ways of doing so.

A passage of the Word is a mish-mash of words until He shows up, even when it is being taught well.

Lyme Disease brings with it waves of symptoms. For the first time, a big one was hitting and my hope was that tomorrow would be better. Tomorrow came, over and over. There was no better, but in fact, worse.

Hope began to fade as depression took over.

To make matters worse, a night of poor sleep came. The next night came and sleep evaded me effectively as I tried to deal with new pain and anguish.

Finally, enough was enough. Who cares about sleep. It was time to talk to the Shepherd. To be more correct though, it would be called listening.

They weren’t so much like questions coming from Him, but:

What if this life is so short that no pleasure is okay?

What if the sole hope is best placed in Jesus and eternity, rather then in feeling better?

What if this world is not my home?

Do you know, the coming sleep deprived day, and the days following were overflowing with joy. The wave of Lyme symptoms morphed from my greatest nuisance into my valuable treasure.

A correctly placed hope has a way of infusing any and every situation with strong joy, this I have experienced.

So to quote some of the beautiful, precious words that unknown to me at the time began the journey to this ah-ha moment:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

– 1 Peter 1:3-9

21. Lyme: The Bottom Line

Before I was diagnosed with it, I knew next to nothing about Lyme Disease. Turns out, though, that a large number of people contract Lyme per year, both in the United States and worldwide.

<Approaching the topic of disease is tough. There is a line where it just becomes anxiety-producing in the readers. It is my goal not to cross that line, as I myself came across a blog on Lyme written by a conspiracy theorist which caused great distress. I do not wish to bring more of that sort of junk to the internet. No glory is brought to Jesus from that anyway! I’m giving you, the reader, the open invitation to let me know if any aspect of this post, or future posts on the topic, is alarm-causing.>

To start at the beginning, there are two schools of thought:

#1 belongs to the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA)

They say Lyme Disease is hard to contract and easy to cure.

 #2 belongs to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS)

They say Lyme is easy to contract, hard to cure, and there is such a thing as chronic Lyme.

Personally, I know many people who have contracted Lyme and a few who have dealt with chronic Lyme. My doctor is also siding with the ILADS school of thought, therefore, there is bias speaking here (as if there was such a thing as no bias).

Borrelia Burgdorferi is what causes Lyme Disease. It is a corkscrew shaped bacteria. Getting bit by a tick that has been on you for 48 hours is the only confirmed way to contract this bacteria. For prevention then, staying away from ticks is highly recommended.

For treatment to occur, there needs to be a diagnosis. My doctor, Dr. Alisha Hollis, DO, has said, “Lyme is the great imitator.” Basically, people will get diagnosed with one of many other things instead of Lyme.

Here are a few of the symptoms that Lyme can bring about, and are actually ones I experienced:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscle pain, cramps
  • Headache
  • Poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking
  • Memory loss (short or long term)
  • Speech difficulty (slurred or slow and hesitating)
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Sleep pattern change (either too much or insomnia)
  • Ferocious nightmares
  • Stiff or painful neck
  • “Floaters”
  • Pain in eyes
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Bloating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme or persistent fatigue
  • Symptoms change, come and go
  • Experience a flu-like illness, after which you have not felt completely well

By reading the booklet found at this address, you can find a complete list of possible symptoms, not to mention a bunch of other information!
http://lymepa.org/html/the_basics_-_description.html

The original blood tests for Lyme are very unreliable. There are a few new tests out that are more accurate in determining if a person has Lyme, but many doctors do not run these tests.

As for treatment, antibiotics tend to work best either a few days after contracting the bacteria or in conjunction with some other treatment. The Cowden protocol often works in eradicating the bacteria and is a more natural approach. (My kinda thing!) Glutathione is a treatment for Lyme that helps your body fight the infection, and as an added bonus, helps with the fatigue.

Lyme Disease is being researched quite a bit right now, so better testing and treatment should be just around the corner!

Basic info: http://www.ilads.org/lyme/about-lyme.php

My doctor’s website: http://draliciahollis.com/