Treatment Recap: Month 11

Holy crap you guys. Month 11 has been my favorite month!! Check this out. I had only THREE SYMPTOMS this month:

  1. Muscle tightness and associated pain
  2. Early waking: Usually between 1-5am, and I am FULLY, suddenly awake with trouble getting back to sleep
  3. Ringing in ears, which we’ve yet to ever put a dent in

How AMAZING IS THAT?!? I AM GETTING WELL!!! The month 10 symptom list was also pretty minimal, but that fatigue I was experiencing in my eyes has definitely lessened considerably, to the point it’s not noticeable unless I’m looking for it. Yay!

This month’s “killing meds” included: Doxycycline, Zithromax and Bactrim DS. I have also been using a combination of herbals to break up biofilms. The combo has afforded me a LOT of wellness. I have spent the month hiking, bicycling, spending evenings with friends after long work days and generally having a completely normal human life!

Erector_SpinaeNow, having the muscle tightness and related pain back has been a bit troubling to me. That symptom has been gone for a lot of months, and its sudden resurgence had me confused. Just as I was about to declare myself ready to head back into the gym for some weight lifting, that same old tightness in my erector spinae muscles came back. It spreads pretty quickly into my hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings.

 

It’s been a bit of a mystery because it happened a couple days before I started my month 11 protocol, which means new meds definitely aren’t to blame. I honestly can’t pin down any food item, activity or condition which it relates to. All month, I’ve had good days and bad days with it. But more good days toward the end, so I hope it’s back on its way out.

The most compelling theory I have about this issue is cortisol. You see, high cortisol can cause both muscle tightness/weakness and trouble sleeping… so it would explain basically all of what I experienced this month. And when I stopped my “cortisol maintenance” supplements my Lyme doc had me on, the pain definitely lessened. But that stuff is long out of my system and I’m still struggling.

I sort of wonder if the amazing new adventure of dating is part of this. You see, cortisol is known as a “stress hormone” but the truth is, it’s also an excitement hormone. GOOD stress also raises your cortisol.  The stress of “omg he just held my hand,” or “I just texted him something vulnerable and awesome and I wonder how he’s gonna respond!” or holy moly the stress of “OMG I’m going to meet his FAMILY!”

It’s all fun, wonderful, fantastic development. And just like it does with all humans, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis kicks in to prep me for each event. A multi organ system, the HPA axis triggers the “stress response” system by releasing certain chemicals, such as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol, rousing the body for action when it’s faced with a (good or bad) stressor. Senses become sharper, muscles tighten, the heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, and breathing quickens.

Normally, in healthy folks, the size of the response triggered is in direct relation to the size of the stressor, and once the triggering event is over, the associated response dies back down. But in Lyme impacted systems, this axis gets a bit damaged. The size of the response is often too large, and the effect often lasts far longer than is necessary.

Could it be that the experiences of falling for someone has my system all wonky?? Maybe. And, if that’s the case it’s well worth it. I expect that if this is the cause, my muscles and sleep patterns will settle back down as life falls into a blissful new rhythm that becomes normal. In the meantime, I will hold off on any weight lifting, focus on calm and nurturing pursuits and simply enjoy the relative smallness of my current symptom list.

As for treatment moving forward, well I HAD planned on swapping doxycycline and Zithromax for Amoxicillin and Tindamax so that I could enjoy some of this sunshine that’s been coming to Seattle. But my doctor and I took a look at the weather report and decided to keep me on this combination that’s working so well until the sun really demands I change it up.

seattle forecast

Next opportunity to switch will be mid June, so don’t pull a switcheroo on me, Seattle weather! I’m going to need to stay in the shade just a little longer.

Well, that’s all the news from here. Thanks for following along! Happy healing.

-k

 

How am I treating? It takes whole-body healing. Here are my areas of focus:

  1. Under the care of an ILADS Lyme-literate doctor, I am following the Horowitz protocol: antibiotics, supplements and some herbals. My best meds have been doxy, cefdinir and bactrim (for bartonella, my only known co-infection).
  2. In month 3 or 4, I did LymeStop in Idaho, and while I am skeptical that it was healing, it certainly may have helped. I did one follow up visit 3 months later and I did not take his supplements.
  3. I had my 23andMe results analyzed by Bob Miller and am following his supplement plan in addition to supplements from my LLND.
  4. I follow a strict no dairy/egg/wheat/sugar/alcohol/caffeine diet (I am sensitive to eggs). I eat paleo type meals for my “core” meals, but I do also eat things like rice, beans, tortilla chips, tacos, thai food and the occasional vegan / gluten free pizza when I’m dining out with friends.
  5. I promote detoxification with Epsom salt / baking soda baths, exercise to keep that lymph moving, lemon water every day and a diet that skews alkaline.
  6. I have done “emotional cleanup” in my mental health life, including CBT therapy to address thought patterns that don’t serve me, letting go of a partnership that wasn’t supporting me or my healing, and making a strong investment in a positive social network.
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