I am always at my best when near agriculture, especially animal husbandry. I need animals in my vicinity! And I feel so good in a barn! I am away from it all right now, in beautiful Innsbruck, because tomorrow, I meet with staff and board members of a group that brands organic product for over 600 farmers. But I am also retreating. I am out of commission and therefore today, I write about Lyme disease. A fellow scholar suggested this should be my study topic, because more people, especially farmers, need to know about this. The least I can do is one blog post! Lyme is well known and accepted here in Europe, but the bacteria is of a different strain. It is thanks to an award winning Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) article that I discovered I had Lyme disease. I would just ask that the OFA allow this article to be downloaded as a public service to Ontarions. Currently, it is not accessible. May is also Lyme Awarereness month.
This city is beautiful, surrounded by the Alps. I have done a lot of walking, but my legs are done. They burn from baker’s cysts in both knees – the bursae are bulging out at the back. This is not uncommon with chronic Lyme disease (wikipedia mentions it under baker’s cysts).
When someone becomes infected with the lyme bacteria, the first thing it does is disables white blood cells (ie. weakens the immune system), opening the gates for all kinds of parasites to enter. The lyme bacteria and all the other infections it allows into the body (sometimes up to 30-50 different parasites), enjoy living in the joints, including the knees and spinal joints, and especially those joints that have been injured, creating conditions of arthritis. Because the bacteria is a spirochete (spiral), it can also permeate the brain barrier, causing a multitude of problems that mimic (or are the cause of (TBD)) Parkinson’s, Alzeimer’s, and MS. If that is not enough, it affects the gut as well, impeding proper absorption of nutrients.
Being gluten free is one thing (I really need a gluten free beer by the way! There is none of that here), but I also can’t have the nightshade family. This includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. Although it is not proven, this intolerance is likely tied to lyme disease.
In any disease, inflammation is often the key source of most symptoms. Much inflammation can be controlled with diet. Popping ibuprofen only offers short term relief and causes a long term cycle of worsening conditions (see Jerry Brunetti-he is a great story teller and has a great story! http://www.naturalhealthstrategies.com/food-as-medicine.html). An alkaline diet high in vegetables and other plant foods (legumes, seeds, etc.), and fish oils is key, so perhaps my dairy rich diet of Transylvania and Austria is catching up with me. At the farmers’ market, I bought salad mix, watercress, radishes and Vogel salad for dinner, along with a meaty bone gelatin (see previous Wordless Wednesday post 🙂 ). Vogel (or Mache in France) is delicious. I’d like to see it grown in Ontario! I had not seen it before visiting Austria.
I won’t complain about beautiful warm days, but the warmer weather might also be causing increased issues. Lyme associated parasites hate the heat – they want a stable environment that never fluctuates from body temperature. That is why as part of treatment, I sat in a tub of 102-104 degrees F, 3 times a week, to suggest to these invaders that my body was no longer a suitable host to them. With heat and hunger, my body goes into a panic very quickly. I call it the parasite revenge!
Another way to suggest these invaders leave is to consume herbs and garlic that make the body’s terrain an unsuitable host. Garlic is not only good for vampires! Twice a day, I take 5 herbal tinctures – one for inflammation, one for lymphatic drainage, one for the immune system, one for the digestive system and one for adrenals. Healthy adrenal glands allow for the healing and repair to continue. They are like the body’s battery system and need to be recharged on a regular basis. A good night’s sleep is crucial, as is removing stressors that tax the system. Financial woes is a big stressor that comes with chronic lyme disease. Funding my treatment which could only happen while being off work often lead to despair and a feeling of being unsupported. I am so very grateful for my friends, many of them single with their own financial struggles, who came forward to assist me. I am truly thankful.
I also take over a dozen supplements including the B’s, Mg, anti-oxidants and fish oils. I am hoping now, after a year of treatments aimed at killing the parasites and bacteria I was host to, that I am at the repair stage, but its very up and down, especially with the stress of traveling, the financial woes of last year while I was off and the life events of loss.
So I am a treat to travel with, especially at meal time! There are outdoor terraces filled with beer drinking patrons everywhere in Austria (see 2 posts ahead!). Beer has gluten. They serve breaded things, dumplings and apple strudel as traditional fair, and so I don’t partake. I can’t tolerate late nights, cigarette smoke (had pneumonia in Cuba from this), air pollution (exhaust in cities), cleaning chemicals, perfumes (Austrians love to be smelly), or an overly busy schedule. Any of these exposures send me crashing very fast, as they use up ‘battery power’.
My favourite resource for information, Dr. Klinghardt, won’t start treatment with a patient until all EMF (electromagnetic frequency) is removed from a patient’s surroundings. Cellular and wifi are everywhere. I have had to contend extensively with a lot of variables since my travels began.
The extreme fatigue associated with the body’s constant battle against parasites and stressors is debilitating. I know when my adrenal glands are ‘running low’. I get a ‘smoker’s cough’ and then if things get worse, my voice gets hoarse. I know when my brain is impacted because I get blurry vision, and can lose my depth of perception. I also get confused, lose some of my cognitive abilities such as my ability to accomplish tasks by prioritizing, and get disoriented. I think the oldest symptom I have endured is in my neck from C2-C6, causing vertigo and nausea, which I get on hot days (parasite revenge!) and traveling where my neck moves around too much (ie. the back seat of a car). My neck collar is an essential tool. Other symptoms which have cleared included heart palpitations, frequent urination, rage (the parasite revenge again), and repetitive episodes of feeling sick with the flu.
The emotional/ mental health aspects of the disease are complicated. You can imagine what might set in when an aspiring person with so many dreams and goals gets bogged down with all these symptoms, does not absorb food nutrients properly, and deals with extreme fatigue on a regular basis. Add to this that often friends and family simply cannot understand the effects of lyme disease, that doctors in Ontario lose their licenses if they treat it, and therefore that the lyme affected person is unsupported, and they most certainly get left behind or left out.
Initially, the disease appears to be psychosomatic and all in the patients head, and thus it can take years for chronic Lyme disease to be diagnosed. ADD and other similar mental makeups go along with the disease, making it known as the “great imitator.” It can mimic numerous chronic diseases because symptoms involve different systems all at once.
Acute Lyme disease, from a recent tick bite, is often treated successfully in a few weeks with antibiotics. Ontario has a great video about lyme ticks and preventing lyme disease (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dp8gnO9xSU&list=PL13EA50566A54A4B5). Chronic lyme disease is a journey. Treating it with antibiotics causes the parasites to create biofilms that protect them (aka antibiotic resistance). Plus viruses are also involved and these are not killed with antibiotics. It is a debate as to whether it can be treated completely.
I was supported through lyme politics by another person with lyme disease. We need to support each other. If you would like more information, feel free to contact me. Your first step is to get blood work done and a naturopath, as well as your MD can order the tests for you. IGeneX is the lab in the US that does clinical and research testing for Lyme Disease (www.igenex.com). They send you the kit, which your blood laboratory will use for your test. You need to do the 5010 first and if it comes back + or weak +, then proceed with the IgG Western Blot (for chronic exposure. A positive IgM is indicative of more recent exposure), as the lab will keep your blood sample for 3 months. Fedex will ship your samples over night, for about $80. I believe both tests totalled about $600. Knowing is worth it. Ontario’s test, even the new one issued in 2012, is a political farce, because if we found out how many people have Lyme disease in Ontario, the province would go broke.
Onwards! It is time to get on with my new found life! I am about 2/3rds of the way through healing. It’s not a question of ‘why me’ but ‘how is this experience perfect for me?’ or even better, in the theme of my blog: ‘What is the miracle of Lyme disease?!’