IV Ozone for Lyme – Health Update

I’ve continued to benefit from my biweekly trips to the clinic to receive IV ozone + UVB treatments. Despite a few sick days, I’ve managed to work full-time and am beginning to remember what it feels like to have a social life (minus the margaritas … boo). I still experience all the same symptoms, it’s just they feel more manageable. Infections (urinary and/or kidney) are less draining and I am not as overwhelmed when doing basic tasks like grocery shopping or cleaning my room. I can listen to music in my car again without going crazy and my brain, despite some fog rolling in every now and again with the stutters, is definitely back.

My doctor took me off the copious amounts of antibiotics. The doxy was making me toxic, and I had issues with facial burning, tachycardia and mood swings (depression, suicidal thinking fun). I noticed a big difference within the first week of stopping the drugs. I was able to function better. I didn’t feel like a flaming, hot crazy person.

I am now on a pulsed therapy of IV Rocephin every 5 days. I was nervous when I first started it because I had a temporary bout of blindness (lasted less than 2 hours) during one of my sessions in North Carolina in 2015. I get really nervous for this kind of stuff when it’s reintroduced. I’m much better at handling my anxiety, but I still get all antsy before … and I play the “what if I die?” game in my head … like “who would take care of my dog?” … “would someone water my plants at work?” that kind of thing.

But I’ve handled it just fine. We will most likely reintroduce some anti-parasitics and perhaps switch up the antibiotic regimen in another couple of months. Right now, I feel good about the therapy. And we are introducing multi-pass ozone therapy soon. This requires more blood be taken out of my body, and more ozone be introduced into my system. The machine is pretty awesome because it actually sucks blood directly from your vein and mixes it with the gas, then feeds it back into you. I’m used to the nurse at my other clinic using a syringe to retrieve the blood, then manually mixing it with gas that she puts into the IV bag herself. Multi-pass ozone is just so faaaaancy ; )

Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to be more detailed with my experience so far if you are thinking of doing it yourself.

Helping this girl move into her new home. Friend time = Best time.

 

 

 

Gratitude

It’s no secret this journey isn’t easy. I’ve been up and down more times than I can count. This photo was taken a few weeks ago when I was horrifically ill – couldn’t breathe, bad tachycardia, stuttering, hobbling around with a non-functional left limb (all the fixings) … I only shared IMG_5607how much I was suffering with a few friends, as there are a select few that really “get it.”

I wanted to post today because life really CAN BE amazing. First of all, every single person I reached out to was so kind. Everyone texted back right away, offered to see me or speak with me. AND I was not only blessed with the kindness of friends, but also with the amazing understanding of a dedicated physician and team of medical staff. I felt seen and heard, and the doctor was able to get me breathing and my heart beating normally again within a day.

My life has also shifted again … for the better : ) I have more energy, which I attribute to the ozone therapy, and I have stabilized. I’m actually going back to work tomorrow! I haven’t had a regular job since 2014, so I’m beyond excited to start. So, I guess this goes to show that when you’re down and out, even though it feels like the ridiculousness is going to last forever, things can get brighter OH SO quickly.

Lyme is a rocky road, but I swear I wouldn’t change my life one bit. My level of gratitude is through the roof, and if I hadn’t become ill I wouldn’t know this level of happiness. Very thankful today.

Treatment Update

OZONE:

Continuing to receive IV treatments with UVB twice a week. After infusions I have zombie-level exhaustion, which is apparently normal. I’ve noticed a reduction in pain, and then increased energy the day after treatment. To be honest, it’s hard to see a big difference at this point because of the die-off I still have from other therapies. According to my nurse, in her experience, patients report a gradual increase of “better days.” If you have Lyme, I’m sure you know what she’s referring to : )

For anyone interested in my pharmaceutical/herbal therapy:

Main Antimicrobial/Anti-Fungal agents
Doxycycline
Tinidazole
Valganciclovir
Nystatin
Sida Acuta (herbal)
Japanese Knotweed (herbal)
Hottunyia (herbal)
Starting Mepron soon***

Neurological/Pain Help
Depakote
Celebrex
Effexor
Klonopin

Additional supplements/homeopathic are pretty much the same

 

 

 

IV Ozone

img_4155

I haven’t written in a while. A long while. Man! I hit a wall. That’s why. I guess I got tired of detailing my treatments and progress because I realized I was stuck with all of this for longer than a couple of years (as evidenced by my lack of a social life and delicious bottles of merlot in the cupboard). Sickness is a way of life now. It eats with me, sleeps with me, runs and yogas with me, but it’s also my friend in that weird kind of way that an illness can be your buddy (??? I don’t know what I’m saying).

What has happened since I last wrote …

Hmmm. I was bit by a tick again in June 2016. That was just peachy. Wheelchair, oxygen, night sweats … the whole deal. Then I got better. Because that’s what I do. My mom helped a lot with that and a team of amazing health practitioners.

To address questions related to HBOT: I didn’t follow through with long-term treatment. I went in for about 20 dives. I didn’t notice much of a difference. But, really, I should have gone in for about 50-90 dives if I wanted to see something happen to my body. 

Right now I’m committed to IV Ozone therapy and UVB (in combination with a slew of drugs and natural treatments). 100% in! I will check back every few weeks or so. I just started, so there isn’t much to report. The nurse that I work with however is my main inspiration. She was disabled and out of work for 13 years due to similar infections. She is now completely in remission. She isn’t symptomatic, works full-time and got her life back completely.

On my list for when I’m better (and have a savings account again):

1. Backpacking in Swiss Alps

2. Van camping through New Zealand

3. Ice hiking in Patagonia

4. Snorkeling in Great Barrier Reef

5. Hostel hopping through Europe

6. Hiking the final leg of the Pacific Crest Trail

7. Learning how to windsurf

8. Surfing/Yoga retreat in Bali

9. Who’s with me?!!!!

 

 

It Sucks In Here: Understanding Lyme-Related Mental Illness

Lyme-related depression and anxiety can seem like elusive concepts to people that have never experienced them. I mean, it must be weird to watch a healthy-looking woman not function properly, especially when it seems like she has a choice in the matter.

“Why won’t she just get out of bed and do something? She’s been under the sheets all day.”

“There she goes again … freaking out. She says she can’t breathe, but I’m watching her do it right now.”

“When will she stop worrying about every little thing? She has a great life. She needs to appreciate it more.”

I don’t blame healthy people for not getting me. Sure, it can be frustrating when my illness is not understood, but I can’t negatively judge others for NOT feeling what I feel. That was a confusing sentence. But you get it, right? I can’t blame healthy people for not stepping inside my body and strapping on my nervous system. In fact, I wouldn’t want them to. It sucks in here. A lot.

In an effort to help others understand the wild world of Lyme-related mental illness, I’ve decided to blogcast my story. So, here goes …

The panic came first. Like torrential rain. The sky opened up one day and BOOM. If you’ve ever been in the midst of a scary situation, if you’ve ever been mugged or been dangerously close to falling off a really high cliff, that’s the feeling that flooded my body … except it happened when I was listening to a story in my sixth grade classroom. Nothing situational sparked the fight or flight response. It just appeared out of nowhere. I couldn’t catch my breath, my pulse was racing and I felt like I was spiraling towards a horrific death. When this kind of thing happens you wonder about your sanity. Like if you started hearing voices with no people in front of you, you might ask yourself: Am I okay? Which I did. And the answer was ‘No.’

The torrential rain worsened. I accepted my mental move to storm city with grace, but it was hard. Bouts of disassociation soon followed the panic. I would walk into my own home, visually recognize it, but be unable to feel a connection to it. All of the memories to the space where my family and I resided were in my head, but the feelings weren’t accessible. The comfort I usually got from sprawling out on the couch had suddenly disappeared. It was no longer my couch.

And, unfortunately, the disassociation spread. It spread into my body. I began to look at myself in the mirror and see “just a person.” Not Sarah. It wasn’t me. Like some protagonist in an avant-garde horror film, I wasn’t in my body. In fact, I didn’t know where I was. I just knew I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

The anxiety and depression crept in during the midst of all this. My chest cavity began to grow a ten pound bowling ball that still sits there today. Carrying around that weight at twelve years old was a difficult adjustment, and sent me to bed frequently. After full days with that “giant, new friend,” I slept. And slept. Sometimes I didn’t want to wake up because it was too hard to do stuff with the bowling ball attached. I frequently prayed to get my life-before-the-ball back. I would try to remember feeling light and free, enjoying myself at social gatherings and after school activities … not struggling through them. I began to worry constantly about stuff I’d never thought about before. I developed phobias about being poisoned, dying of rare diseases, falling off of bridges and burning in airplane crashes. These phobias invaded my dreams that always ended with me awakening in a pool of my own sweat.

I didn’t want anyone to know about my invisible bowling ball, weirdo worrying or torrential panic, so I exerted more and more energy to appear normal. In fact, I tried extra hard to be flirty, goofy and aloof. For a year or so I played the role of “a ditzy girl” in an effort to disguise my pain.

Collage made in high school
Collage I made in 1997

High school played out in a similar way. When my parents discovered what was going on, therapists were introduced, medications were prescribed and I was watched more diligently. I developed a nasty habit of cutting myself in an effort to “feel again.” I wanted to get back into my body so badly. I wanted a ticket home. I hated feeling so disconnected. I wanted to bleed out my pain, or at least mask it with a different, tangible kind. The cutting led to a suicide watch that I tried to explain was completely unnecessary. But, who’s going to listen to someone with an invisible bowling ball growing out of her chest?

My body was so profoundly noisy, I didn’t notice what could have been an incredibly telling symptom of Lyme for a long time. Once I recognized it, I didn’t share it with anyone because I figured it was the true sign of a crazy person. The ants invaded slowly. They crawled up and down my nerves at all hours of the day. They crawled into my head, my heart, my stomach, my arms and legs. I had no idea that what I was feeling was actually nerve irritation from the spirochetes (bacteria that causes Lyme). Instead, I figured I was headed for Nurse Ratched’s ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. And nobody wants to be HER patient. I didn’t share this symptom with anyone, in fact, until I received my diagnosis at 32 years old. For me, this was the scariest of all symptoms. In the back of my mind I figured admitting to ants crawling all over my body would be what finally got me committed to a psych ward. People feel that kind of stuff when they are schizophrenic or on a bad trip. So I dealt with it.

And I dealt with it. And I dealt with it. I’m lucky that I finally found a medication that muted some of my symptoms in college. But it was definitely a half-mute, like what you do when your girlfriend asks you to turn down the football game. It still helped me to function though: the meds in combination with a kick-ass sense of self-awareness that I cultivated over years of therapy and journaling.

Smiling through pain at 15 years old
Smiling through the pain at 15 years old

My self-awareness is what helped me navigate through a variety of incorrect diagnoses that got smacked onto my medical record like big ugly stickers at the dentist’s office. Let’s review them, shall we? There was major depressive disordergeneralized anxiety disorder, panic disorderborderline personality disorderbipolar II disorderspecific phobiapremenstrual dysphoric disorder, and the ever popular seasonal affective disorder. As you can probably imagine, I’m not big on mental diagnoses anymore. In fact, I try to stay as far away as possible. When doctors give you these kind of diagnoses, be careful because you get a big, fat scarlet “A” scratched across your forehead. It’s a packaged deal. You’ll never go into an office again with “just an ear ache.” You will be the “mentally unstable girl with an ear ache” … so you will be questioned about whether or not what you really feel is ear pain. And you can pretty much apply this situation to any complaint you may have in the future.

So you can imagine how my illness played out. Years of “well it seems like you are under a lot of stress, Ms. Herbert. Have you seen a psychiatrist recently? I have the name of one you’d really like.” Years of symptoms that kept accumulating like dirty cockroaches that I’d sweep under my bed. Years of doctors treating me like “a young woman with a pretty rough past.” Years of crying in exam rooms with no answers. Years of hitting a big. fat. wall. All this, while I was acting as a fantastic breeding ground for Borrelia Burgdorferi that would one day show up clear as fucking day on a blood culture.

My body is now a battle ground. I shove antibiotics, herbs, supplements, homeopathics and other prescription drugs into my mouth on a daily basis. Some of them kill the bacteria, which release toxins and make my mental health much worse. These drugs increase the crawling sensation, the panic, the anxiety and depression. They also turn on a massive fog generator that coats my brain in a thick mist. The mist makes me forget basic words like “spoon” and “umbrella.” It takes away my short-term memory and impairs my long-term memory as well. When the generator is on I can’t read, or follow plot lines on television very well. It obstructs basic knowledge I can usually access like “Where am I going?” or “What am I doing right now?”

It’s like I’m driving a car across the Golden Gate Bridge on the foggiest day of the year. I’m squinting. I’m looking for cues that I’m moving in the right direction and not hitting the vehicle in front of me. I can’t see, but I need to keep trying in order to stay safe. 

Sometimes all I want to do is hide under the covers with my bowling ball, my fog generator and my ants. I don’t want to get up and worry about random shit that only happens in nightmares. Sometimes I need to complain about the battle going on inside of me. My internal warrior is incredibly proactive, so advice like “try to appreciate the good things in your life,” or “get up and try to do more stuff” doesn’t feel appropriate or helpful. I’ll never forget when I’d finally mustered up the courage to tell one of my friends in high school about my struggles. She responded with “you’re too pretty to feel that way.” She didn’t know any better … I know. But those words stung. And most Lyme patients have been and will continue to be stung throughout their battles, which is why they might get extra sensitive and angry sometimes.

No more hiding : )
No more hiding : )

The most helpful thing you can possibly do is listen. Listen like you mean it, without looking at a clock or chiming in with a story about your friend’s friend that has lupus or cancer. You won’t be able to feel what we feel, but we will love and appreciate every second you spend with your hand on ours focused on what we are saying. And we want to be there for you too. Even on days when we can’t. We want to get out of bed. We want to breathe like normal people. We want to appreciate all of the beautiful things in our lives. It’s just hard sometimes. Because it sucks in here.

If You Have Lyme, Do Not Paint Your House

My boyfriend and I had one of those nights where the thought of home renovation got us really amped up. We tingled with so much excitement that we cursed Home Depot for not being open at 11:45pm so we could peruse paint samples. This was two weeks ago …

Today I wish we didn’t have that night. The following is a plea to anyone with Lyme NOT to paint your house. Or to take a three week vacation if you really need to paint it so that every last fume has disapated by the time you get home. It doesn’t matter what kind of paint you use … Low VOC, No VOC … It doesn’t matter how many fans you use, windows you open or masks you wear … It will bite you in the ass.

If you read my blog, you know I’ve made progress. You know I’ve reintegrated (somewhat) back into normal society. It got to the point that I almost forgot what intense pain felt like … the bitter pulsing of my body parts twenty-four seven.

Well, I remember now. I remember so well, in fact, that I’m back on the couch with ice packs and a bad attitude. The Irish dance team has returned to my nervous system tapping away atop my most vital nerves, sending vibrations north, south, east and west. It’s a real party. So grab your fiddle. But please don’t paint your house. Even if you think it will look pretty. Because it will. But you will be sick. Okay done.

My Personal Treatment Plan

I believe in holistic healing of our BODY, MIND and SPIRIT. A delicate balance exists between these three aspects of “self.” When one is compromised the other two follow suit. That’s why it is of utmost importance that we address our overall wellness. Swallowing some antibiotics may give us some relief in the short-term, but will not offer total and complete healing. Lyme forces us to our knees, but it also offers us the opportunity to grow and re-examine the way we were living before illness struck.

I, for one, was moving at about 90 miles an hour through life. I would push myself in my job, in my studies and in my personal life. I thought that taking time for myself meant zoning out in front of the television while eating unhealthy treats to numb the stress. Self-esteem played a part too. I would push myself with voices of self-doubt and self-deprication in order to achieve my goals. If I wasn’t perfect, my world turned a horrific shade of grey (not the good “50 Shades” kind ; )).This drained my energy, making me more vulnerable to negative energy. I lacked a strong connection to spirit because of the earthly drama that hit me consistently like storm surges wearing away my core.

Looking back on my life, I’m not surprised I’ve struggled with illness. I continually invited it into my existence. Once it was there, I let it have power over me by fearing it, by identifying with it and by feeling defeated.

I created this healing plan to break that cycle. I have laid it out for you below. It’s sectioned into treatments for each aspect of self. Together they address my health in its entirety. I encourage you to construct your own, tailored to your own personal belief system. You will need to find a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (and perhaps a naturopathic doctor too) in order to construct a treatment plan for your body. I am not a physician, so please do not use these medications if you are not under the care of a doctor.

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Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

BODY

  • Acupuncture
    • This was the first therapy that brought me to a better level of functioning without any medication.
  • Antibiotics
    • To address all three forms of Lyme disease
      • Cell Wall Forms: Amoxicillin, IV Rocephin
      • Cystic Forms: Tindamax
      • Intracellular Location: Azithromycin
    • To address co-infection
      • Plaquenil
  • Herbs
    • Antimicrobial Herbs
      • Nutramedix – Samento
      • Beyond Balance – MC-BB-2 (moved up from MC-BB-1)
      • Beyond Balance – MC-PZ
    • Detox Support
      • Beyond Balance – CLA-K DETOX
      • Beyond Balance – IMN-R
      • Beyond Balance – TOX-EASE
    • Nervous System Support
      • Beyond Balance – CYFLACALM II
      • Stephania Root 
    • Reduce inflammation
      • Gaia – Olive Leaf Extract (huge life-saver!!!)
  • Homeopathic Medicine – BioResource Inc.
    • Nervous System Support
      • PSY-stabil (I swear by this stuff … if you are feeling anxious or nervous, this is great!)
    • Detox Support of Kidneys, Bladder and Urological Tract
      • RENELIX
    • Antitussive and expectorant for chest congestion
      • BRONCHI-PERTU
    • Lymphatic Drainage and Swollen Lymph
      • ITIRES
    • Stomach Support
      •  apo-STOM
    •  Kill Yeast
      • Candida Capsules 
    • Support of Excretion Processes
      • MUNDIPUR
  • Supplements
    • To break biofilms
      • Nutramedix – Serra Peptase
      •  Klaire Labs – Interfase Plus (also good for killing yeast)
    • To Aid Immune Functioning
      • Kind Organics – Prenatal Multivitamin 
      • Ester-C – Vitamin C 
      • Prescription – Vitamin D3
      • Researched Nutritionals – ATP FUEL
      • Researched Nutritionals – Transfer Factor Sensitive
      • Nordic Naturals – EPA EXTRA 
      • Klaire Labs – Endozin
      • Researched Nutritionals – Liposomal Glutathione 
    • To reduce inflammation
      • Pure Encapsulations – Curcumin
    • To reduce yeast
      • NutriBiotic – Grapefruit Seed Extract
    • Probiotics
      • Raw Probiotics – 200 Billion per day
  • Detoxification Methods
    • Far Infrared Sauna
      • 30 – 40 minutes a day (start slow)
      • I use a Finnleo sauna
    • Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber  
      • 20 – 90 sessions total
      • Click FAQ for more information
    • Yoga or any form of exercise (if you can handle this … I know it’s hard)
    • Bemer Mat
      • 8 minutes two times per day
      • Click on their website for more information
    • Prescription medication – Cholestyramine
      • binds biotoxins
      • also great for mold issues
  • Diet 
    • Identify food allergies!!! Then stay far away from that food, even if your allergy is minor!
    • No sugar
      • I started with no fruit – then moved to one sweet fruit per day when I wasn’t flaring – my inflammation was greatly reduced after I did this
      • Lemons and limes are always allowed
      • I use stevia as sweetener – but start slow as it is a cyst buster so it can irritate you
      • No alcohol (I know … booooo!)
    • Reduced gluten and dairy products
      • I started with zero gluten and dairy, then I worked my way up so I knew what I could handle.
    • Juicing
      • I own a Breville
      • I juice kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, carrots and lemons daily
    • Apple Cider Vinegar
      • Great for detox
      • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon in water (work up slowly to see what you can handle)
      • Can add Stevia for flavor
      • Check out these drinks … they are allowed!
    • Coconut Oil and Milk
      • Good anti-microbials and anti-fungals
      • Cook with them
    • When I cheat and eat crap … because I do (and you will too) … I keep olive leaf extract on hand, which helps to reduce the inflammation when my infection inevitably flares up. Just a little trick.

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Source: society6
Source: society6

MIND

  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction 
    • There are courses all over the United States thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn and his work at U Mass. I enrolled in a course at Duke University.
    • If you don’t have the money to enroll in the 8 week course, click here to take it for free online.
    • It helps to connect with others who also meditate. A great way to do this is through meetup.com.
  • Guided Meditations
  • Yoga
    • Calms my mind
    • I do it at home when I can’t make it to class
  • Interrupt Your Negative Thought Patterns
    • Meditation has helped me a lot with this
    • I try to do it in a nonjudgmental way – with self-acceptance and self-love
  • Sit Outside
    • I use natural settings to calm my mind
    • I take walks, sit in a chair under a tree, take trips to the beach … a little nature goes a long way
  • Positive Visualizations 
    • I try to envision myself in a completely healthy state as often as possible
    • I’ve made a vision board for my health and happiness by cutting up magazines and pictures. It was fun!

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Source: solpurpose
Source: solpurpose

SPIRIT

  • My Personal Mantra –> I AM WORTHY OF HEALING no matter what religion I study or spirituality I practice (or don’t practice, for that matter). I do not invite others to tell me otherwise.
  • Distance Yourself from Negativity  
    • I had to distance myself from friendships that brought negative energy into my life. It was hard, but by doing it I was able to invite more positive energy into my world for healing.
    • Things I remember:
      • I put my spiritual healing first.
      • Everyone is on a different life path, so not everyone will understand my situation.
      • It’s okay to protect myself through distance.
  • Yoga
    • I use this practice for body, mind and spirit.
    • This is a moving form of prayer for me.
    • The intention I set at every session is “to be totally and completely healed in body, mind and soul.”
  • Regular Prayer
    • I seek the guidance of God, my spirit guides and the angels regularly. If it’s not your bag, baby, don’t worry : ) There are many ways to pray.
  • Recommended Authors (for those interested)