Well, as I wrote in my 22-month treatment recap post, I believe I am nearing the end of treatment. This month, with a pulsing antibiotic schedule, I am attacking the oldest hibernating forms of Lyme bacteria: Cysts. I am very early into it, but so far it’s gone really well. No dramatic responses, which is great and indicates to me that I’ll be ready to leave antibiotics behind very soon.
As I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I am beginning to think about what my next phase of recovery is going to be. The most accurate way I’ve thought to say it is that I want my body to achieve a state of homeostasis. A place of optimal functioning where things are going just as they should, and buildups, hang ups and snags in functioning aren’t there to pose risk of future imbalance of any kind.
You see, treatment so far has focused primarily on getting my infectious load down which, for me, was necessary as Lyme and Bartonella (as well as EBV, HHV6 and so many of these other bugs we all carry around all the time) were overwhelming my system. But of course, this isn’t a complete view of everything that was “wrong”. You see, not everyone gets so knock-down-drag-out-sick from these illnesses. It’s far more complex than that.
Why one person gets so sick and others do not, it seems to me, comes down to a few factors:
- Your body’s ability to detox, determined by:
- Real world efficacy
- Your overall toxic load, from:
- Organic environmental toxins (like mold)
- Inorganic environmental toxins (metals, chemicals, etc.)
- Nutrition in and your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients
- Emotional health and how you handle stress
Really, “Lyme disease” is a shorthand explanation for a VERY complex and multi-faceted illness that has been more accurately named by Dr. Horowitz multiple system immune deficiency syndrome, or MSIDS. But that’s a real mouthful, so I think most people just call it “Lyme” for short. This is sort of an unfortunate shortcut, as the truth us, most of us have to address far more than a Lyme infection to achieve lasting wellness.
[NOTE: there are more complex things folks deal with like EMF sensitivity and Mast Cell issues and such, but obviously this blog isn’t comprehensive and represents my experience. I’m not even going to try to cover the things I personally haven’t dealt with.]
Long story short, I believe my ability to get well hinges on my ability to address each of these factors. And I think I’ve done a pretty effective job in 3 out of 4.
My toxic load has been addressed both in terms of long term antibiotic treatment for Lyme and Bartonella, ongoing antiviral treatment and also several months of binders for mold I was exposed to in my unfortunate house purchase. There’s no question to me that my overall toxic burden is much lower.
Nutritionally I removed a lot of foods that my body wasn’t doing well with: Gluten, eggs, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine. I was able to get my digestion back online after months of diarrhea and weight loss by using digestive enzymes. And, knock on wood, my gut health has seemed not to suffer at all with antibiotic treatment, thanks for HEAVY use of many strains of probiotics. So this feels well dialed in.
My emotional health is something I’ve been working at for several years, and I can honestly say I am a different person these days. I started with Talk Therapy, which helped me identify some thought patterns and maladaptive thinking I’ve unknowingly engaged with basically my whole life. Then Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is where I finally learned to challenge and change those patterns. As a result, I am now a person who lives with a lot of acceptance of things as they are, who doesn’t engage in a lot of self shame, and who can spot and avoid negative thought and life patterns with much more ease. Life is just easier, better and more fulfilling now that I’m not in my own way.
What’s left for me then? DETOX!
Thanks to my work with Bob Miller at Tree of Life, I was able to determine that I have heterozygous mutations on two important MTHFR genes, indicating that I am probably not “methylating” as healthy human beings do, which may be hindering my body’s ability to detox, and causing a buildup of infectious and environmental toxins that cause me to be ill. Unfortunately, as much as I loved his insights, his supplement plan never really got me anywhere. Eventually, I quit using his supplements, and noticed zero change to my health (but an extra $250 a month in my bank account.) Kind of disappointing as I’d had such high hopes.
Needless to say, my work on MTHFR and detox optimization feels incomplete. And it’s always been in the back of my mind that to hang onto any wellness I achieve, I would need to circle back to this. And now is the time!
Unable to find a good MTHFR expert in my area, I resorted to searching the internet for MTHFR practitioners, and found these blogs by Samantha Gilbert, a nutritionist who seems to have a much more functional understanding of MTHFR, identifying folks as over or under methylaters and tailoring treatment accordingly. A little exploration on her website, and it seems she makes diet and supplement plans to help folks optimize the expression of their genetics based not just on what genes they have, but how those genes are actually functioning. Interesting. A 15-minute phone consultation with her revealed that she is familiar with Lyme, and that we align in the belief that improving detox may be my best bet for remaining healthy once treatment is through. A good start.
So, I am going to begin working with her and see where it gets me. My hope is that some nutritional guidance will help me better understand my body, what my specific methylation status is, the ways in which my detox abilities may be falling short, and ideas to help me optimize the expression of my not-so-great-genetics. I am daring to hope, even, that this work may even eliminate the nagging last symptom on my list: Ringing ears.
As always, I’ll definitely keep you posted on how things go! All fingers crossed this is the last piece of my puzzle in my acute fight against Lyme (MSIDS).
Wishing everyone happy healing.