Friday, July 13, 2018

Lymiversary

Well, it's officially been one year now since I began experiencing symptoms of what-would-eventually turn out to be Lyme disease. July 5, 2017, right after Independence day, which is a bit ironic since getting Lyme was all about losing my Independence, at least for a little while.

So how am I doing?

Well, today being my Lymiversary and all, I was hoping to spend much of the day in relative comfort and appreciate the fact that I was much better than how I was a year ago.


This didn't quite happen.


I woke up this morning July, 5th, with the worst stomach ache I think I have ever had in my life. There was burning and sharp pains. At times, it felt like I was getting stabbed right through the gut with a zillion razorblades.


At first, I thought I may have had food poisoning, but I didn't have a fever and I wasn't vomiting either.


Then, I thought I had appendicitis, but appendix pain is supposed to be more on the side. Mine was right in the center.

It wasn't until a little later that I realized the pain could have been a herx (i.e. die-off) reaction, or at least some kind of adverse reaction, to apple cider vinegar. See, over the holiday, I unknowingly ate chicken that had been marinated in an Italian dressing that had apple cider vinegar as its second ingredient. Apple cider vinegar kills off yeast, parasites and God-knows-what-else so it's very possible the pain was from the release of endotoxins during die-off.


The stomach pain was so intense that I was laid up on the couch all day and this triggered very vivid flashbacks from one year ago. Even the sight of the tray table I had in front of me with half-sipped drinks, straws in each glass, seemed all-too-familiar. The cream of rice I ate...the daytime TV channels I watched...the overall malaise that I felt and inability to go outside of the house--it was like I was experiencing a downward spiral all over again, exactly one year later. I kept saying to myself, "This seriously can't be happening, exactly one year later. What are the odds?"


As I write this, my stomach is a little better so I'm hoping everything settles down eventually and that this is all simply a herx issue and nothing else major. But, man, talk about a sick little trick to be played on somebody who's experiencing their one-year Lymiversary. What can you do, though, but roll with it and don't start panicking!


Stomach issues aside, how am I doing one year after getting Lyme disease?


Not too bad, I suppose. In fact, I recently saw my (Lyme-literate) doctor, just about a week ago, and he gave me a stellar report. According to the orthomolecular machine he uses, my body now requires about 70 percent less vitamins and herbs than it did at the end of January. Even better, many of the vitamins and herbs I took specifically for liver function are no longer needed. One of these herbs is milk thistle, which means my liver is officially "cleaned out".

This is all good news. But I'm still far from being back to normal.

The biggest issue is still physical stamina. For the past month or so, I've been going up to the local high school's track to do workouts, though when I say "workout", I mean walk around the track, no more than twice. In fact, I've found that I literally can't walk more than twice around the track, which is a quarter of a mile in length so this means I can't walk more than a half a mile at a time. Even walking around the track a full two times is too much for me so I usually do about one and a half laps. There is a football field in the middle so I do one lap, then a half a lap, cut across the field and then I'm done, that's all she wrote.

I've even tried jogging at the track but it was brief and I mean very brief, probably for no longer than five seconds. Judging by how I felt after, I realized jogging any longer than five seconds or just jogging in general would be a total disaster. It made me feel vertigo and I had trouble walking in a balanced manner. Three hours later, I also felt gross, like really gross. Terror set in. I thought I may pass out but the feeling eventually passed, thankfully.

So running definitely isn't in the cards right now, which I'm ok with. Walking for a third of a mile or so without dying afterwards is pretty good considering where I was just about a year ago. Really, I'm one of the lucky ones and I need to be grateful, even though I still mourn the loss of my former self.

Along with the improvements in walking, another milestone has been my ability to drive longer distances. Just a few days ago, I drove on the highway for the first time in more than a year. This is a big deal because I've felt so cooped up for so long. I've been in a weird bubble of a twilight zone, so isolated and so alienated. Driving on the highway made me feel free again.

Since I'm able to walk and drive further, I've been generally more out and about in the world. Just the other night, I went out to see the local fireworks display and let me tell you: I was very apprehensive about doing this, mainly because I knew a significant deal of walking would be involved. The usual tradition is for me to meet up with my friends at one of their houses, which is, I believe, maybe a half a mile or so from where the fireworks go off, drink a few beers, then walk to the fireworks. I knew that, this year, however, I would not be able to do this walk. I'd probably be able to make it to the fireworks ok, but then I'd be dead to the world and I'd be unable to get back.

So I hung out at my friend's house as usual but then I had to drive as close to the fireworks as I could possibly get. I didn't think I'd be able to park very close, but I still thought I'd be clos(er) than my friend's house. As it turned out, the closest I could park was the nearby train station. I still wasn't sure if this was close enough for me, but I decided to take the risk and go for the walk anyway. Would I regret it? I hoped not.

Let me tell you: that walk was a very lonely one, because I was alone and I passed couples and friends and families and, well, I felt so alone. It would have been easy to feel sorry for myself but it was also kind of beautiful, and I don't know why. Maybe because it was a perspective from which I had never experienced the traditional fireworks night before. In fact, this has been a recurring theme throughout this past year: seeing life from a different perspective; seeing reality from a different perspective.

See, before Lyme, I was set in my ways, habitual with my routines and went through life in a kind of cruise control. It's amazing to experience how much more there is to reality, but you can only start experiencing it when something life-changing like Lyme slaps you out of your routines. Experiencing the fireworks from a different perspective was just one example of this*, but there have been several of these moments where I find myself in the same situations or the same physical space that I've always been in but I'm experiencing the present reality from a completely different perspective, or, to put it another way, it's like I'm in the same reality but tuning into a different frequency within that reality. What you end up realizing is that life can become so much more interesting and you don't even need to go anywhere different; all you need to do is tune into different frequencies. 

So, yes, my walk alone made me experience the traditional fireworks night from a different perspective and this was why the walk was quite beautiful. However, what also made the walk rather beautiful was that the solitude made me enter a kind of meditative state and it enabled me to take some time to reflect back upon the year and realize how much I had been through and how much I had overcome and there I was, struggling to get to the fireworks display to celebrate my new Independence. Every other year, I had been buzzed (ok, usually drunk), surrounded by friends, numbed to my surroundings but this year I entered that meditative state and truly got to appreciate what freedom actually is because now freedom means more to me than it ever did before I was sick.

I still have a ways to go, that much is for sure. But I should really be grateful for the freedom I do have right now. A broken life is better than no life at all. In fact, sometimes the broken life is preferable to the perfect life because it's from the brokenness that we grow and become a stronger soul. I actually recently wrote a poem about this very topic, so I shall close with this poem:


SQUEEZE OUT EVERY LAST DROP

The way I see it
You can have an imperfect life
A broken life
One that is a fucking nightmare at times
Or you can have nothing

I choose the broken life
That's better than choosing the nothing

And even if there's an afterlife
And I believe there is one
There's still only one Matt Burns
Ever
So I figure
It's best to squeeze out every last drop of him
And see what comes of it

*I was recently at a park that I formerly used to run in but, this time, I was forced to walk a minimal distance and then sit down on a bench. Sitting on the bench, I looked across the park and saw the tree line that was moving and swaying a bit from the wind. The wind carried fragments of sound to my ears, like a little girl giggling in the distance, as well as the echoed sound of a basketball bouncing in a nearby court. I don't think I had ever been so tuned into my present reality than I was at that very moment. Lyme forced me to slow down, sit my ass on a bench and tune in.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Lyme Rage

It's June 8, 2018...

Things have been better of late. Overall.

But there are still moments where everything catches up to me. The stress, I mean. The stress of the past year and the frustration of still not being normal, of still not being the person I used to be.


These "moments" are unpredictable. I'll be fine during the day but then, all of a sudden, I almost have a slight mental breakdown. Pure, unadulterated anger floods into me, so much that I feel like I'm going to burst.


One of these moments happened two weeks ago. I suddenly had so much anger in me that I thought my head was going to explode, like in that David Cronenberg movie, what is it called? Scanners, I believe. I had to drive off to a nearby park to try and calm myself. On my way to the park, I rolled down my car windows and I yelled out one big giant "FUCK!" I couldn't help not to. It was the only way I could release the energy that was inside of me. What shocked me was how booming my voice was, not just because I yelled loud (which I did) but there was an intense energy powering that voice, coming deep from within my core. That energy was pure, pent-up frustration. I have tried to remain calm about Lyme and what it's done to me but sometimes the frustration comes surging out of me like a volcano. My "FUCK!" sounded like a dragon's roar. If anybody heard it, it probably freaked them the fuck out. Fuck, it even freaked ME out.


Another "moment" actually happened...well, just moments ago. I was all of a sudden overcome by so much frustration and rage and I felt so cooped up that I literally had this urge to start destroying everything around me. I wanted to go outside and run the rage out of my body but I knew (because of how Lyme has physically impaired me) I would just get sick afterwards, maybe even die or at least feel as though I would. I felt like I was in a weird hell; on one hand, I had so much rage all I wanted to do was go running, but I was physically incapable of running. Agh!


Instead of running, I ended up punching the nearest thing near me, which fortunately was just a mattress. I started pounding that fucking mattress with my fist over and over again. I couldn't stop. For a moment, it was almost like I was slightly removed from my body and I was watching myself punching and I was basically saying to myself, "Wow, am I really doing that right now?" I just couldn't stop myself. There was so much power behind my punches. It was like super-human strength, I'm telling you. As I write this, my fist and arm hurts. My wrist hurts, too.


Most people would tell me, stop being a wuss, and suck it up. I've tried to do that. I've tried to stay present and deal with this Lyme business. I've tried to stay positive. I've tried to persevere. And I still will do all that. But, once in a while, all the stress surfaces and you can't help but to go a little insane. After all, Lyme is fucking sinister and inhuman. If I need to yell FUCK! with the windows rolled down (yes, rolled down--if they're rolled up, the energy remains bottled within) or if I need to pound the living daylights out of my mattress here and there, then that's what I will do.



TWO WEEKS LATER...

Searching around on Google, I've come to discover that such rage is not only common for Lymies but there's actually a name for it:


Lyme Rage.


According to one article I found, this rage can result from a wide range of Lyme-related issues, including liver congestion, coinfections like Bartonella, inflammation in the brain and a serotonin deficiency (learn more about these issues in this article: https://www.prohealth.com/library/ways-to-combat-lyme-rage-and-irritability-42683
).

Looking back on things, I realize I had been dabbling with the toxin-binder chlorella near or around the time that I experienced these bouts of anger (read about chlorella in my previous blog). It's possible the chlorella stirred up too many neurotoxins in my body, including heavy metals, and my liver couldn't keep up with the workload, thus making the organ "congested" and my blood too toxic, which affected my brain, therefore making me experience rage.

Of course, all of the rage may not even be a physical reaction to toxins or inflammation, coinfections or what-have-you. It's possible that much of the rage may be from a simple case of PTSD.


Now, I feel silly saying I suffer from post-traumatic stress, because, I mean, come on, I've never been in war or I've never had anything too traumatically intense happen to me--that is, except for Lyme. I don't want to put myself on the same level as a soldier who's been in battle but I think anybody who's ever had Lyme can agree that having Lyme is friggin' traumatic.


Let me try and summarize as best I can why Lyme is traumatic. I feel the need to do this, maybe so others can understand, or maybe so I can understand.


...

Physically:

Lyme gives you high fever, horrible joint pain, hideous cough, horrible aches, headaches, dizziness, vertigo, "the spells" where you are shaky/dizzy/fighting for consciousness (I literally one-hundred-percent thought I was going to die on at least three or four different occasions), anxiety attacks, can hardly do any physical activity (a year after diagnosis I can only walk a quarter-to-a-half a mile at a time)

Mentally: 

Lyme brain where you literally feel you're losing your mind, weird deja vu sensations, loss of cognitive function, extreme brain fog, memory problems

Emotionally:

Extreme depression, extreme anger, sadness, terror, tearfulness (i.e. you feel like crying for no good reason), so much anxiety

Spiritually:

The feeling of godlessness and despair, lacking harmony with the universe, a sense of utter disorder/chaos in your world

Financially:

You can hardly work so you hardly have any money, finances drain, no money for bills, let alone having any money to do anything "fun"

Socially:

Mostly stay in your home. Most friends drift away. If you can keep a girlfriend/boyfriend, you're lucky but many will ditch you and, if you're single, you will have difficulty getting one until you've recovered, which could potentially take a very long time. Can't drink. Can't go out anywhere. You are reclusive. Your whole world revolves around Lyme.

Psychologically:

All of the above is not conducive to having a psychologically stable mind. You are not the man or woman you used to be, and no matter how hard you work, it's tough to get back to that old self.

...

I didn't cover everything--in fact, I probably only scraped the tip of the iceberg--but this is why people with Lyme have PTS. This is partially why I yelled FUCK out the car window. It's also why I pounded my mattress into near-oblivion. Overall, this is why Lymies have our "moments" from time to time. Sometimes the stress catches up with us.

It's ok to have your moments.


It doesn't mean you're being negative.


It doesn't mean you're losing the fight, either.


It's just something you must do.


From time to time.


To release the frustration.



ONE WEEK LATER...


After describing my emotional issues to my doctor, he "prescribed" melatonin to help regulate my serotonin levels. This will hopefully help regulate my mood, not to mention help me sleep better. I'm supposed to take two capsules a day (10mg each).

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Flowing

Now that Lyme has officially stopped hijacking my body, life no longer feels as godless as it once did, especially during my Lens Crafters saga (read that story HERE). Order has overcome chaos. I'm back "in the flow"...of God, of the universe, of Source, of whatever you'd like to call it.

Case in point:



A few weeks ago, I randomly picked out a documentary at the local library called The Punk Singer, which was basically the life story of, that's right, a punk rock singer named Kathleen Hanna. I really enjoyed the documentary, it injected me with some much-needed punk juice, inspired me to be more "punk" with my writing and other creative endeavors, but then, three quarters of the way through her story, Hanna started getting sick with mysterious symptoms. The more I heard about these symptoms, the more it sounded like you-know-what.

Eventually, I started almost screaming at the screen: “It’s Lyme! It’s Lyme!” And then Hanna was, indeed, diagnosed with Lyme in 2010. I felt relieved that she finally received a proper diagnosis.


Needless to say, I thought this was a very weird coincidence: how I randomly picked out that documentary, knew nothing about Hanna or her story and it eventually ended up being a story about Lyme. I mean, what are the odds? I randomly pick out a DVD from the library that I think is solely about punk rock and it ends up being about Lyme?


Due to the serendipity, I felt compelled to Tweet Kathleen so I wrote her a very brief note, told her about my Lymey blog and my other work, thanked her for telling her story...


And she actually wrote back!


She said it was a very nice note to get after such a terrible day. I'm not sure why her day was terrible (sorry about that, Kathleen, if you ever read this) but I felt compelled to tell her about my experience taking Artemisia (read my previous posts "The Parasite Problem" and "Beast Mode"), just in case I was "guided" to the documentary for that reason. Maybe she needed to know about Artemisia or a potential parasite problem. Or maybe I was meant to see the documentary for whatever reason. Maybe it was meant to inspire me? Who knows? It definitely seemed serendipitous and meant-to-be.


But that wasn't all. There was more serendipity to come.


A couple weeks later, I watched a movie called The Martian starring Matt Damon. It had nothing to do with Lyme but I found that his character’s situation in the movie paralleled my own situation, my Lyme situation.


The movie is set 20 years or so into the future. Damon plays an astronaut named Mark Watney who's working on a mission way up on Mars. A big storm comes and his crew has to abort the mission, leave Mars and return to Earth. Watney gets injured as they all try to escape, then he's swept up in a great gust of storm wind and he’s eventually left behind, the crew figuring him for dead. But it turns out he isn’t dead and, with his crew gone, he finds he is stuck on Mars for the unforeseeable future.


Watney, of course thinks he is screwed because it would take four years for a new team to come and rescue him. Mars isn’t exactly a friendly place, anything could go wrong and, if nothing else kills him, he will run out of food in less than 400 days. By all accounts, he thinks he is doomed. The future looks bleak. Hope is difficult to muster. Even if he does survive, he will be lonely and isolated for a VERY long time...


Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? For a person with Lyme disease, this hopeless dilemma sounds very familiar.


Watney stays present, though. And he begins to solve each problem that presents itself, one obstacle at a time. He (spoiler alert!) eventually finds a way to make food, then finds a way to contact earth, and eventually finds a way to escape Mars and get back home. Calm was key. Patience was key. Problem-solving was key.


The lesson: if you keep calm, stay present, and solve each problem that presents itself, one at a time, you can overcome the greatest and most hopeless-looking of dilemmas.


The Martian spoke to me, baby. There are times during the battle with Lyme that you feel you are completely screwed and there is no hope of ever overcoming this insidious, complex, mysterious and relentless disease. But if you do what Mark Watney does, you can stay calm, stay present, and solve each problem that Lyme presents to you, methodically, one obstacle at a time, and all of a sudden you realize that you are getting better, there is hope, and light appears at the end of the tunnel. The more of the small problems you solve, the more upward progress you make.


Having Lyme is very similar to being stuck on a desert planet, all alone, for four years. The gravity of the situation and the length of time you must deal with the problem is overwhelming. Also, the disease is very isolating because very few people understand Lyme and very few people stick around to support you.
However, if you stay present, stay calm, and solve problems, you can overcome the seemingly impossible.

Anyway, I felt that I was "guided" to both The Martian and The Punk Singer for a reason. The movies themselves were telling me Lyme can be beaten but stumbling upon the movies, so serendipitously, was itself a sign that I'm "back in the flow", back in tune with God, order, universe etc. The godless chaos that is Lyme is in the past.

BEAST MODE

It's been almost two months now since I started the Artemisia and, I must say, the results have continued to be positive. In fact, I would maybe go so far as to say that it has been a game-changer for me. I have probably felt better for the past six weeks than I have in the ten months that I've been battling Lyme. Has the Artemisia been addressing the big piece of the puzzle that I've been trying to pinpoint (see last blog)? I don't want to jinx myself but I think I have, indeed, pinpointed one of the last pieces of the Lyme jigsaw puzzle. Perhaps that puzzle piece was Babesia all along. Or maybe it was an out-of-control parasite issue that was giving me bigger problems than I could ever imagine. Whatever the problem was, Artemisia seems to be addressing it.

I started out taking the Artemisia at a very low dose. One capsule. 500 mg. Actually, that wasn't even that low of a dose, but it was low compared to what my doctor "prescribed" me: a whopping 3,000mg! I stayed on one capsule for about two weeks and, for a week or so, I had pretty intense herx (die-off) reactions that, at times, were very uncomfortable. There was intense anxiety, stomach upset, fatigue, creepy-crawlie sensations on my skin etc. These symptoms got better after about a week.

Soon enough, I felt comfortable upping my dose to 1,000mg a day. Again, there was a noticeable herx reaction with similar symptoms as before but then they subsided and, after about another week, I felt comfortable taking 1500mg a day. Then, after another week or so, I took 2,000mg...

My goal of 3,000mg a day still seemed like a high dose to me so I double-checked with my doctor and he did reassure me that 3,000mg should be my goal. So I kept upping the dose.

Once I reached 2500mg, the die-off symptoms seemed to get a little more intense and it was also questionable whether these were die-off symptoms or perhaps I had finally exceeded a dose of the Artemisia that I could tolerate. I consequently scaled the dose back a bit and started taking 1500-2000mg a day.

Die-off symptoms notwithstanding, I generally felt a whole lot better. Overall, I felt like my body was in much less a state of struggle and I didn't have that heavy gross feeling anymore, or at least not as much of it. I think the Artemisia killed off a lot of crap and dumped it from my body.

Also, my head felt clearer -- there was much less brain fog -- and I had more physical energy. In fact, the Artemisia seemed to give me a constant feeling of giddiness, which I suppose might have been a high from the herb, but it was almost as though my soul or spirit was reawakening and I had the desire to do more things. This, of course, led me to try and do more things, like more walking and more errands and even some more socializing out in the world. Overall, I was able to do these activities without paying a price for it later on. However, I would be remiss if I didn't admit that my body was still unable to do everything that my spirit wanted to do. It was certainly still lacking in the energy and stamina department -- I'm still not the runner athlete I used to be -- but I felt there was also another issue at play. It seemed like whenever I amped up the physical activity, I would still get that "poisoned" feeling, as though toxins were being released into my blood, and then traveled up to my brain, making me feel foggy, confused and slower in the cognitive department.

I felt that the reason behind this "poisoned" feeling was that I still had an overwhelming amount of neurotoxins trapped in both my muscle tissues and lymph nodes. These neurotoxins were from Lyme die-off. That's right: Lyme doesn't just go away when you kill it off. It leaves a neurotoxin (technically called an endotoxin) behind in its place. It's kind of like one last FU before it dies. In fact, it's basically a defense mechanism: that is, it releases the neurotoxin while it's dying to deter the host from killing it in the first place. It may sound crazy, but Lyme seems to be smart in this manner. It is literally like an intelligent entity.

Anyway, physical activity got my lymphatic system going, which starts to move the aforementioned Lyme die-off neurotoxins out of my muscle tissues and into my blood to be processed by my liver and eliminated from my body. The problem was that my liver and other toxin-eliminating organs couldn't keep up with the flow, both because of the sheer amount of toxins but also because the toxins thicken blood, which obstructs pathways to the liver. Picture an assembly line where the conveyor belt keeps on going faster and faster and the tired factory worker (i.e. my liver) can't keep up with the workload. That's what was happening in my body, hence why I felt poisoned. It was toxicity of the blood.

Clearly these toxins were the next obstacle I had to address. The Artemisia was eliminating the source of this toxin creation (i.e. the Lyme itself, possible Babesia, parasites, candida etc.), but I still had to clean out the toxins that remained trapped in my muscle tissues and my lymph. I was already taking plenty of antioxidants (Vitamin C, molybdenum, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Tocotrienols, glutathione, even the Artemisia itself), but what good were all these antioxidants if the toxins were trapped in my muscles and lymph to begin with? The trick was to get the toxins released from these areas but I had to do it at a very slow and gradual pace. And there was only one way to do this:

Exercise!

Indeed, the writing was on the wall that the next step in my recovery process was adopting some sort of exercise regimen. I had already been walking every day, pretty much since the beginning of my Lyme recovery process, but I knew I needed to do something more. Don't get me wrong: walking was great for me and I'm so glad I kept walking even during the worst of my Lyme days because, if I hadn't, my body probably would have atrophied completely. Walking definitely helped eliminate many toxins but the problem was that it only worked certain muscles...like, mostly my leg muscles. What about my upper-body? I needed to drain those muscles of toxins as well.

So what could I do? Push-ups? Well, in late February, I tried to do push-ups (only about three of them, mind you) but that didn't go over so well. Push-ups consist of intense muscle contraction. It is considered "high-impact" exercise. The muscle contraction was so intense that it seemed to push waaaaaaaay too many toxins out into my blood at a time. I would get very dizzy. Confused. Depressed. Even angry, and I'm not talking irritable; I'm talking borderline-insane angry, or maybe 'insane' is going too far so I would maybe say 'irrational' angry, kind of like roid rage. These were all typical signs that the neurotoxin level in my bloodstream was way too high.

I needed to get these toxins out of my body, but it was imperative that I do it in much smaller amounts. I needed to come up with an exercise regimen that triggered less muscle contraction. I needed a "low-impact" workout.

So, at first, I thought I should do yoga. I found some yoga videos on YouTube but, after watching a couple, I realized it wasn't my thing. I felt I needed something else.

Then, a friend turned me on to Tai Chi videos. At first, I thought these videos would be right up my alley, but then I thought the arm and hand movements were a liiittle too complex for me. I wanted something that was maybe more straight-forward.

This was when the idea popped into my head: "Why don't I look up basic exercise videos for senior citizens?" And that's when I found a YouTube video that seemed to offer me exactly what I was looking for. It was a 15-minute, low-impact exercise video for seniors made by a company named "Hasfit". The video is hosted by a gentleman, maybe somewhere in his 30s, rather pleasant I must say, and, most notably, there is a poster in the background of the video that says BEAST MODE: ON, meaning "beast mode" has officially been switched to the 'on' position, which is basically encouraging you to open a can of whoop-ass and work out like a beast.

As for me? Well, I didn't quite work out like a beast...at least not at first. Let's say I was halfway between normal-human-mode and beast-mode. Maybe I was in minotaur-mode. Something like that.



This is the 15 minute low impact exercise video for seniors.

Initially, I could only do about the first six minutes of the video and I did it at an extremely slow pace, probably only doing a third of the exercise moves that the instructor did. In the video, he does most of the upper-arm exercises with dumbbells but he also says you don't have to use any weights and, trust me, folks, I didn't use any. Also, in the part where he jogs in place and does curls? Well, I did the curling parts (sans dumbbells) but did no running in place.

So, yes, I did only six minutes of the video. Only a half or third of the exercises. No dumbbells. No running in place. And...

I still felt it afterwards. That is, I felt the toxins oozing into my bloodstream afterwards. My brain got foggy and I felt a little confused. Cognitive function not so good...some dizziness...vertigo...the usual deal. I drank a lot of water and, after a few hours or so, I felt like the toxins had more or less passed. This was okay, though. This was what was supposed to happen. I would only start to worry if the same thing happened every day, at the same intensity. If my theory was correct -- that I had to gradually work the toxins out of my muscle tissues and out of my lymph -- then I should feel less and less of this reaction every day that I did the exercises and, eventually, I wouldn't feel much of a toxic reaction at all because I will have completely drained out the nasty sludge.

So I put my theory to the test and, the next day, I tried the exercises all over again. Same deal. Six minutes. No dumbbells. No running in place. Maybe I did a few more of the exercises but not many more of them. And???

Eureka! I didn't feel like I did the day before. Not much confusion. Not much dizziness. BUT...

I experienced something different. Depression. Anger. Sadness. At points, I felt terror. I knew it was the neurotoxins affecting me in a different manner than the day before. I kept telling myself that what I felt wasn't real. The toxins were messing with my mind, tricking it into feeling fear and sadness and loathing. I just needed to drink a lot of water and let everything pass. And that's what happened.

I kept doing the exercises, pretty much every day. And it seemed like my theory was being proven correct, because each day that went by, the toxic reaction seemed to get less and less. Some days were worse than others. Sometimes I would hardly have any symptoms of toxicity and other times I would feel like there was an earthquake beneath my feet from toxic vertigo. However, there seemed to be a consistent decline in toxicity the more I did the exercising.

Over time, I started doing more of the exercises in the video and even did the running in place. As I write this, I still only do six minutes and no dumbbells. I would probably be more intense about it if I didn't walk every day but, since I walk every day, I can only do so much of the exercise video right now. In time, I will probably be doing the whole 15 minute video with dumbbells and all.

My hope is that, maybe a few months from now, I will graduate from these videos or maybe I'll be able to do more of them or slightly more advanced ones. The Hasfit videos are supposed to be for seniors but the truth is that they would have been a good workout for me even when I was healthy without Lyme. In other words, they're nothing to sneeze at. If I'm doing these videos well, I'm doing pretty good for myself, Lyme or no Lyme.

My ultimate goal is to run again, both because I like to run but also because that would mean I'm more normal again. If I can run, that basically means I'm back to being "normal". And when I mean 'run', I mean run a respectable distance without feeling like I'm going to die afterwards. I'm not sure when that day will come. If you had asked me that question about six weeks ago, I would've said I don't see it in my foreseeable future. I probably would have said it could be years down the road. But now, after feeling more like myself from the Artemisia and after starting my structured exercise regimen, it's possible it could be months down the road. Who knows?

The bottom line is that there is more hope now. At the end of March, I was severely lacking in the hope department. My future seemed dark and grim. Many months had passed and it seemed like I had hardly made any progress. I had no idea where to turn or where to look for help. I was hoping like hell that addressing a potential "parasite" problem with the Artemisia would be a game-changer for me and, so far, it looks like it WAS. As I write this, I feel MUCH better.

Now all I need is more time. More patience. More exercising, little by little. And, yes, some more Artemisia as well. And, oh, wait, one more thing! I know: there's always one more thing. Oh, Matt, you didn't think you would get off that easy, did you?

Upon doing more research for this article, I discovered that there was one more thing I should be doing:

Taking a "binder".

A what?

A binder.

See, when the toxins are excreted from the muscles and lymph (via exercise, antioxidants etc.), they end up in the small intestine but they may not be fully emitted from the body via waste unless they are bound together by some sort of binding substance. Otherwise, the toxins get reabsorbed into the bloodstream and redistributed throughout the body all over again. This recycling of toxins can happen repeatedly*. In other words, you can get poisoned by the same toxins in an endless cycle unless something is done to bind them, thus preventing them from being reabsorbed. Some people think they have chronic Lyme disease but what's really making them sick is this endless cycle of toxicity. And, oh yes, I realize how frigging confusing this all sounds. Just when you think you have gotten a grip on Lyme disease, another facet of the disease presents itself and you end up falling down another rabbit hole learning all about this new aspect of the disease. It's very frustrating because the complexity of Lyme never seems to end. It's like an endless, tangled web. This complexity -- not to mention the intelligence of the disease -- is almost unworldly. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Lyme had extraterrestrial origins, meaning it was created by a malevolent extraterrestrial race. Perhaps I've taken a little too much Artemisia and I'm getting a little loopy in the head or perhaps I might be onto something...

Anyway, most of the articles I stumbled upon recommended taking chlorella, which is a "superfood" supplement that you can take in capsule form. It's essentially algae but it binds the toxins and helps eliminate them from your body once and for all. As I write this, I have started taking some chlorella that is found in a superfood powder from Whole Foods. This powder is something I've taken in the past, before Lyme, just as a general health supplement. You put a tablespoon of the powder in water and it detoxes you and makes you have more energy. It's lemon-lime flavored and it's quite tasty.
The powder, however, probably doesn't have too much chlorella in it so I will probably end up taking capsules down the road. I saw that the NOW vitamin company has a bottle of 120 capsules for about ten dollars. I'll probably get something like that.

So Artemisia? Check. Light exercise? Check. AND a binder? I'm working on that. With all these things combined, I will officially be in BEAST MODE.

*Many people recovering from Lyme lack the genes necessary to detox properly, thus making it more imperative that they use a binder. Read more about this issue in the first article listed below.

For more information about Lyme die-off neurotoxins and binders, read these articles: 

http://www.nothing-is-incurable.com/2011/04/how-to-quickly-clear-out-lyme-disease.html

www.tiredoflyme.com/detox-methods.html

http://www.publichealthalert.org/neurotoxin-overload-full-body-detox-guide.html

https://www.lymeneteurope.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=804

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Parasite Problem

I'm now just about at the nine month mark of my battle with Lyme and all the problems that come along with it. My plan was to, more or less, be back to normal by July, which would be one full year since when I became sick.

I'm not sure if that's going to happen.

I have certainly made some progress. I've been a little more active, exercising a tad more and going out and about a bit more. I have even been able to do some video gigs, which requires a decent amount of physical activity and standing on my two feet in awkward positions for longer periods of time. Granted, I have to rest for about 24 hours afterwards and there are periods throughout the gig where I feel like I may not make it. Nevertheless, it feels good doing things that the "old Matt" used to do.

But I'm still miles away from the person I used to be. I can still only walk about 15 minutes or so at a time (where I used to run miles every other day). If the old Matt operated at 100%, I would say that the current Matt still operates at a 40%, maybe even less.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't admit that, of late, I've been going downhill a little bit. I've been a tad less stable. I've been walking a little less. I wake up feeling pretty gross and it takes a while for my body to get going.

I have attributed some of this downhill progress to the start of spring and the new pollens being present outdoors. People with Lyme or people who are recovering from Lyme have heightened allergy sensitivities. I do take allergy-neutralizing drops for these issues, but I've been having difficulty coming up with the proper dose.

Allergies, however, are probably only partially responsible for my recent downhill regression. Throughout this whole experience ('war' is a better term than 'experience') I've felt that there's been a bigger piece to the puzzle. I've felt that I was missing something, something BIG, something that, if I pinpointed it, would make a radical difference in my recovery. But what?!

My theory as to what this "puzzle piece" was changed by the day. One day I would think I had liver damage. The next day I would think I had a glutathione deficiency. The day after that I would think I had babesia or some other Lyme coinfection. The next day, I would get my mind thinking I had adrenal and/or chronic fatigue. Then, the next day, I would stumble upon an article that convinced me that my problem was neurotoxins from Lyme die-off. And, then, the day after that, my mind would obsess over the Levaquin (see my blog "Levaquin with a twist of Lyme") all over again and I would convince myself that all my problems were not even Lyme-related anymore, but were longterm after-effects of fluoroquinolone poisoning.

My mind kept racing with what I should do and which direction I should go. Should I spend hundreds of dollars to get tested for coinfections? Should I go see another LLMD (i.e. Lyme-literate doctor) somewhere and start a two year program of IV antibiotics and other drugs? Should I go to a place like the Envita Medical Center in Scottsdale, Arizona and spend tens of thousands of dollars getting Lyme-free from their program? But, then again, was Lyme even my problem anymore? If the Levaquin was the source of all my issues, then I would spend thousands of dollars for nothing.

Many people I knew suggested doctors to me but none of these doctors felt like the right fit. My gut didn't pull me in any of those directions. In fact, my gut didn't really feel right about anything.

In the past, when I've found myself trying too hard to find an answer to something, what usually happened is that the answer was practically right under my nose the whole time.

This may have been one of those cases. 

Allow me to explain. Well, I don't need your allowance, though I appreciate it if you did just allow me. All I'm saying is I'm going to explain regardless of you allowing me. Here's the explanation:

See, at the end of January, my LLMD doctor had "prescribed" the anti-parasitic herb Artemisia to me. He said I needed this herb because I likely had a parasite issue. Whether this parasite was something like Babesia was undetermined but it didn't really matter what it was for; according to my doctor, I needed Artemesia and it would help whatever parasite problem I may have had. At the time, I didn't think this parasite problem was a huge deal and/or that addressing the problem would make a big difference. I had my mind set on Lyme and how to get rid of Lyme. Parasites? Okay, I didn't want those in my precious body but I thought they would be the least of my problems.

Nevertheless, I tried the Artemisia soon after I saw my doctor. I started with only one capsule, 500mg. All seemed okay until later that night when I experienced a muscle-cramp-like feeling in my lower abdomen every time I peed. It was almost like a spasm and it was not comfortable in the least. In fact, it was darn-right frightening!

At the time, I didn't even link the peeing issues with the Artemisia. I actually thought the problem was more likely from me recently upping the dose of my Vitamin C (I was supposed to be taking a whopping 5,400mg a day of Ascorbyl Palmitate Vitamin C). Overdosing on Vitamin C can cause abdominal cramps and even kidney stones, so I thought that was why I had trouble peeing.

I consequently cut back on the Vitamin C (I took a modest 4,050mg a day) and my peeing problems subsided. But, then, one day later, the problems started to come back! This was when I made the link to the Artemisia. I made this link because I had taken another capsule of the herb earlier that night. The pee-pee problems weren't as intense, but it was the same kind of feeling as before. I didn't know if I could chalk these feelings up to some sort of herx (i.e. die-off reaction) or maybe it was an allergic reaction to the herb. Either way, I decided to hold off on the Artemisia until further notice. There were some other herbs and vitamins I was supposed to be working into my regimen (milk thistle and glutathione). I figured I would first try to get used to those, then maybe try the Artemisia again down the road.

Two months went by. Like I said before, by March, I felt like I was starting to go downhill again. My head spun in a zillion different directions, trying like hell to zero in on what my problem could be. What was I missing here? What was the missing piece of the puzzle?! 

And that's when it hit me: hmmm...maybe there was something bigger to this "parasite problem" after all. Maybe the parasite problem was a bigger puzzle piece than I originally thought.

I decided to do some research about Lyme and parasites. I eventually came upon an extremely interesting article by a Dr. Jay Davidson entitled "Removing Parasites to Fix Lyme and Chronic Illnesses".

In the article, Davidson essentially says that the parasitic problem is a huge--but most often overlooked--piece of the Lyme puzzle. He says Lyme and parasites go hand in hand. The human immune system gets so compromised while fighting Lyme, and also while taking antibiotics for the Lyme, that parasites seize opportunity, slip right by your immune system and have a big party.

Antibiotics (like Doxycycyline) kill Lyme microbes but they have no effect on parasites whatsoever. This means that, if Lyme spirochetes are inside the actual parasites, the body of the parasite protects the Lyme from antibiotics, thus keeping Lyme in your body where it can come back out to play at an opportune time down the road.

Is this why Lyme is so difficult to get rid of? Is this why Lyme patients end up with "chronic Lyme"? Because people aren't addressing the parasite problem, which, according to Davidson, affects most people who have Lyme?

Yes, according to Davidson, this may be one of the main reasons why Lyme is so damn difficult to get rid of. He says if you want to get rid of Lyme, you must first address the parasite problem. With no parasites, Lyme has less protection from anti-bacterial medicines and herbs.

Heck, even if you definitely no longer have Lyme, you must still address the parasite problem. Because parasites alone are nothing to sneeze at. They cause all sorts of nasty symptoms that can be just as bad as Lyme itself, including but not limited to:


  • Insomnia, consistent fatigue, poor sleeping habits (I had all of these)
  • Lowered immune systems, new/heightened allergies and constant illness (yes, I'm more allergy sensitive than I ever was!)
  • Rashes, itching, and skin problems such as sores, or eczema/psoriasis (I had nasty sores on my inner thy after taking the Levaquin, sorry for the TMI)
  • Mental problems like brain fog, anxiety, depression (Boom, boom and boom; I have all three of these and at times they are very intense!)
  • Food cravings (I crave sweets now more than I ever have and now I know this is what feeds parasites)
  • Joint and muscle pains (Towards the beginning of my illness I experienced crazy joint and muscle pain, though they are better now)
  • Eye spots or difficulties with sight (Um, have you read my previous blog about all the eye issues I have had?!)
  • anemia or low blood sugar/adrenal fatigue (I feel terrible after even minimal exercise and, if I am hungry and don't have enough food, I am dead to the world...so much that my doctor tested me for diabetes, which, by the way, was negative)

Now, Davidson goes on to explain that you can address much of the parasite problem by a simple change in diet. Eat LESS sugar, wheat, grain, pork, and dairy. In fact, you may want to eat none of these foods during the parasitic cleanse. Instead, eat MORE foods like pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, garlic, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and fermented foods like sauerkraut, as these all have anti-parasitic properties.

Davidson also recommends a product called Mimosa Pudica, which paralyzes parasites and removes them from intestinal walls, so they can more easily be removed from the body. Hmmm...that sounded familiar to me. That's exactly what Artemisia was supposed to do. Or at least one of the things it was supposed to do.

The writing was on the wall. My gut finally felt 'drawn' in a certain direction. Perhaps the "bigger piece of the puzzle" finally revealed itself and was, indeed, under my nose the entire time. Maybe it was time I give Artemisia another try.

So I gave it another try and I prayed like h-e-with-a-coupla-hockey-sticks that I'd be able to tolerate it. I thought Artemisia was my last hope! And...

Surprisingly, I seemed to tolerate it. I expected I may have some slight abdominal issues again but I figured I would try and battle through them and hopefully it would all be a herx that would eventually subside over time.

The expected abdominal issues, however, never came. I kept on anticipating their arrival but, no, they never came.

So I took Artemisia again and again. And again and again.

By about day four or five, I started to get some weird symptoms. One morning, I woke up with the worst anxiety ever, like something was literally pressing an anxiety button inside me. Then, later that night, my stomach started giving me all sorts of digestion issues. It literally felt like there was slush in my stomach that wouldn't go anywhere. I thought for sure I would hurl major chunks, but I never did. It was just a slush feeling that never manifested into a ralph.

Oh, and then came the creepy crawlies. Oh, yes, the creepy crawlies! Basically, this is a phantom bug sensation. In other words, it feels like bugs are crawling on your skin. On several occasions I was almost one-hundred-percent positive that I had ants or spiders or worms or--dare I say--ticks crawling on my skin! But nothing was ever there. Weird!

I referred back to my Dr. Davidson article and this was when I noticed the "managing parasitic die-off" section of the article. All the weird symptoms I was experiencing were very typical parasitic die-off symptoms. Anxiety, digestive issues and, yes, the creepy-crawlies -- all typical symptoms. In fact the creepy-crawlies are supposedly NOT phantom bugs whatsoever but they're the parasites themselves, on the run, on the move, trying to scatter and hide from the Artemisia herb and the unlivable conditions it creates. "O Terrible!" they scream. "Hideous herb!"

As gross as it all sounds, I figure it's a good sign that I'm experiencing these classic parasitic die-off symptoms because it likely means a) I have a parasite problem and b) the Artemisia is addressing this problem.

So we shall see. I will continue to take the Artemisia, little by little, maybe up the dose as my comfort with the herb grows, and then I will pray, PRAY, that I am finally addressing a big piece of the puzzle here.

I must say, though, that, as I write this, I already feel a little better. I feel like my body is in less a state of struggle. I also feel less gross and I feel more peppy, even giddy at times (maybe this is a slight high from the herb). As for major changes, however, it's too early to tell. I'm only on my second week of taking the herb, after all. Time will tell whether this is a big puzzle piece. I will be sure to keep you posted with my progress, whether it be little or humongoid!