Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

It's Thanksgiving 2018. I have some things to be thankful for...

First of all, I've been able to do waaay more physical activity, especially compared to last Thanksgiving. In fact, last year, I still felt sick on pretty much a constant basis. At least now I don't really feel sick anymore, even though I still have a lot more recovery to do. I'm walking around feeling pretty good.

In the upcoming months, I want to try integrating some light jogging into my walks. I figure I'll walk around the block like I usually do, only (at first) add about five seconds of jogging into the walk, maybe from one telephone pole to the next. If that goes ok, I'll add another five seconds. And then another. Once I'm comfortable with three sets of five-second jogging, I'll probably stick with that for a while before I build up to more. The key is to get my body used to jogging again: my muscles, my lungs, my stamina, etc.

As I write this, I'm reminded of the Bruce Lee story DRAGON. It's a biopic movie that I watched when I first got sick in July 2017. Bruce's back gets broken in a fight that takes place halfway through the movie. Bruce thinks he'll never fight or even walk again. He's practically paralyzed. After a pep-talk from his wife, he takes the recovery one small step at a time and he's able to overcome the seemingly impossible. Am I comparing myself to Bruce Lee right now? Maybe.

I guess what I'm wondering is...can I pull this off? I mean, is my full recovery in my own hands? 

If I wisely take the necessary steps, I do think I can get to where I want to be, back to my former self -- well, not just who I was -- but an even better version of that person. It's not going to happen tomorrow. It will take much more work and persistence and, yes, a lot of divine guidance as well. But it's also going to take method, like I'm my own physical trainer. There is a calculated, step-by-step process to this recovery, kind of like I'm an architect and I'm plotting every single detail of reconstructing a building that was destroyed by an earthquake or hurricane. I can't just wave a magic wand and wa-lah, I have a new and improved body. I must be patient and methodical with the reconstruction of myself. If I do this, I can win. Hopefully.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Heavy Metal Problems

The time had come to see my doctor again. My LLMD, that is. Lyme-literate doctor. Not my Primary Care Physician. You get it. Speaking of my PCP, though...

I'd just recently had an appointment with him at the beginning of October and it went well, not that we really did much of anything except check blood pressure and maybe weigh me, but we DID check my liver levels and I was happy to discover that my enzymes were back to normal. This was a good sign, I thought. Because I was worried my liver was screwed up in a major way. In fact, back in January, my PCP had suggested I get an ultrasound to check on the liver. I did not get the ultrasound, not because I didn't think I needed one, but because I didn't want to know if something was wrong (ignorance is bliss). Instead, I decided to just wait several months and then check on the liver enzymes again, which I did and, as I mentioned before, they were fine. Sorry to repeat myself.

Where was I?

Oh yes. The LLMD.

Although my liver enzymes were back to normal, at least according to the recent blood report, this didn't mean I was all back to normal. And I wasn't. I was still having problems, one of the biggest of which was (still) with exercise and physical activity. I must say that my tolerance for physical activity was improving, slowly but surely, on almost a daily basis, but, still...too much activity led to bad things. The dizziness and drunk feeling continued to be an issue (read about this in my WINK blog), but also anger and depression would often come maybe an hour or two after the exercise. Overall, I felt toxic after physical activity; poisoned even. When my liver enzymes were off, I thought that maybe a weak liver was to blame, that I wasn't detoxing properly during exercise. But now that the enzymes were normal, I didn't really know what to think. If my liver was healthy, then what the hell was the problem?

Well, this was the main question I posed when I went and saw my LLMD. I said (and I paraphrase), "What gives, doc? My liver is apparently back to normal, but I still feel poisoned after I do too much exercise and/or physical activity. I still can't walk more than about a half a mile or so at a time--maybe three quarters of a mile--but that's starting to push it."

My doctor seemed surprised to hear this.

Then I said, "Is it possible that I still have an excess of neurotoxins in my body from the Lyme die-off, and they all get squeezed out of my muscles and lymph when I exercise, then they seep into the bloodstream, travel up to my brain, and this explains the poisoned feeling?"

My doctor rubbed his chin in deep thought.

"I'm not so sure about that," he said, "But it IS very possible that heavy metals are to blame."

And he wasn't talking about Slayer, Megadeth or Iron Maiden.

It wasn't the first I'd heard of heavy metals. In doing Lyme research and talking on Lyme Facebook support groups and such, I had heard about heavy metals on countless occasions. I knew that a heavy metal issue was a problem that came along with Lyme. I just didn't know how.

So I had to look it up...

First of all, I wanted to learn what, exactly, heavy metals were. According to what I found on the web, the most common heavy metals are mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, copper, silver and aluminum. WE ALL apparently have these metals in our body, usually in very small and manageable amounts, because we're constantly exposed to them in our environment. Common sources of these metals are water (that contains the heavy metal lead and also contains fluoride, which is not a metal, but is a toxin that increases our bodies' uptake of aluminum, which is a metal (source)), vaccines (mercury), dental fillings (mercury), aluminum cookware/cans (aluminum), cigarette smoke (cadmium), antacids (aluminum), antiperspirants (aluminum), fish (mercury), paints (lead), fertilizers (arsenic), car/truck exhaust (aluminum), gasoline (lead) and even sometimes rice (arsenic).

When we're healthy, we're able to ingest these heavy metals and process/excrete them no problemo, or at least with not much of a problemo. However, when we have a disease like Lyme compromising our immune system, a buildup of heavy metals can easily occur. According to an article I found on the web, this buildup is called a "bioaccumulation", which is when you begin to "absorb a substance at a rate faster than your body can metabolize and excrete the substance" (source). A normal body is able to process and excrete the metals quicker than they're entering the body but Lyme hinders the metabolization of these heavy metals and, before you know it, you find yourself head-banging to a fierce heavy metal issue. 

Complicating things further, an excess of heavy metals in your system helps form biofilms that block the immune system from fighting off Lyme. A biofilm is a thick, mucusy shield of bacteria that Lyme spirochetes ultimately create (if they're not killed soon after infecting their host) to protect themselves from the immune system and antibiotics. Heavy metals help to make these biofilms strong and difficult to penetrate. 

In fact, "chronic" Lyme is essentially defined by the presence of these heavy-metal biofilms that make Lyme spirochetes so difficult to kill. You can't kill the Lyme until you destroy the biofilms, but how do you destroy the biofilms? Good question; I thought you'd ask that. According to one article I found, you can do it through natural means, like enzymes (Serrapeptase, Lumbrokinase, Nattokinase) or through conventional drugs (Tindamax) (source).

However, you must be careful about destroying the biofilm (in fact, some experts like renowned Lyme specialist Stephen Buhner argue it's not even a wise thing to do). Because once the biofilm is destroyed, everything that was used to construct the biofilm now gets released into your body, the most intense of which are all the heavy metals. So you suddenly find yourself with a major heavy metals issue after the breaking of a biofilm, not to mention the fact that you must now also deal with the bacteria that created the biofilm to begin with: i.e. Lyme. Yikes! Just when you thought things couldn't get any more complicated, right?

Anyway, after reading all this, I started to think, hmmm, this whole "breaking of the biofilm" phenomenon sounds a lot like how I felt after I took the drug Levaquin where it felt as though a bomb had detonated in my body (read about my Levaquin experience in my blog LEVAQUIN WITH A TWIST OF LYME). Did the Levaquin that I took three weeks prior to being diagnosed with Lyme break open a biofilm within me and this is why it felt like all hell had broken loose in my body after just two pills of the powerful drug? 

Some amateur forums on the web have suggested that this is possible but there doesn't seem to be any professional corroboration that I can find. There are also forums on Facebook where people have suggested that Levaquin can definitely activate dormant Lyme but nobody really knows how, exactly, whether it's via breaking the biofilm or some other way. However, one person in the Facebook group speculated that, since Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones destroy cells in our bodies (because they're literally cell-destroying chemotherapy drugs (source)), wouldn't it make sense that whatever bacteria or viruses or parasites or, yes, heavy metals that lie latent within these cells get released into the body once they are destroyed?

Who knows: maybe Levaquin is to blame for opening up this entire Pandora's box and all I had pre-Levaquin was a nasty, lingering flu virus while the Lyme existed as nothing more than a stealth microbe causing minimal problems. I guess blaming Levaquin for unleashing Lyme and/or heavy metals into my body is just another theory to add to the pile of theories that make my head spin on almost a daily basis. Why did I get did I get sick...was it the Levaquin...Lyme...something else? Yeesh.

As far as the heavy metals go, at this point, it doesn't really matter HOW I got a heavy metal issue. The point is that I have a heavy metal issue and now the question is how the hell do I get rid of these fiends?

Well, my LLMD "prescribed" activated charcoal for me, which is a binding agent. I discussed binders in a previous blog but it's basically a detoxing agent that binds itself to toxins like heavy metals and pulls them out of your body. Charcoal is a powder. You put it in water, drink, it binds to toxins and then the bound toxins go to the colon where you eventually excrete everything when you pay tribute to the toilet god.

My LLMD also "prescribed" zinc, NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) and taurine to assist with the removal of the metals. The zinc helps with the detoxification of metals and the NAC is another chelator that binds to the heavy metals (much like charcoal) and gradually removes them from the body over a slow amount of time. While all that is happening, the taurine fortifies the body's cells and further protects them from "free radical oxidative stress," which is a fancy way of saying "protects cells from destructive heavy metals".

Nothing like a nice, tall 
glass of activated charcoal.
As of the writing of this, the zinc, NAC and taurine seem to be going well but the charcoal is still a work in progress. Sorry for the TMI but charcoal can apparently make you mucho constipated if you take too much of it. Plus, I've noticed that my temperament has become even more unstable since I started dabbling with the charcoal. In fact, I've had a few episodes where I've gotten so agitated that I've gotten into my car and screamed "Fuck!" over and over again, at least five or six times. I know that sounds crazy, and it is, but I think the charcoal has stirred up the metals in my system (mercury, for example, has been known to make people insane in the membrane). I was hoping it would be easier eliminating the metals from my system but that doesn't seem to be the case. Perhaps taking the zinc, NAC and taurine is all I can handle for right now and, over time, they will slowly (and GENTLY) eliminate the metals from my body. Maybe that's the best I can do right now.

We shall see.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Remembering Death

Some good news.

About a year ago, in the thick of my battle with Lyme, I videotaped a science-themed event at a research institute in Boston. About 24 hours after this event, I had an "episode" where I thought I was either losing my mind or dying or both. You can read about this "episode" in greater detail in my blog entitled LYME BRAIN but to sum it up briefly, it felt like my brain was completely short-circuiting. I would look at my Facebook and see posts from friends but I would have no idea who they were. My brain couldn't connect how I knew them. I also had weird deja vu sensations where everything I did seemed "familiar", like I had already done it before. Or, in other words, it was like everything that happened in the present was being remembered as something that already happened in the past. So weird. It was seriously like a taste of dementia.

This "episode" triggered a downward spiral that lasted for a few weeks, up to Halloween, where I seriously thought that my body was gradually shutting down, little by little, and by Halloween weekend I was absolutely convinced that I was going to die. I have a vivid memory now where I return a book or DVD to the local library, I'm feeling so weird and awful, and then I drive home and I have this thought in my head that it's the last time I'll ever drive this familiar route home ever again. There was a 1990s-era song by Primitive Radio Gods playing on the car radio called "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand". The song had never done a whole lot for me in the past but, as it played in that particular moment, it sounded so powerful to me. The song sounded like something a man wrote and sang knowing he was about to die. So, to me, the song was essentially the sound of me dying. It was a strange, sobering, humbling, sad, depressing but somehow beautiful moment. It's so hard to put the experience into words but it felt like everything that I thought mattered in life or everything that I ever worried about, in the end, didn't matter...because this was my unavoidable fate anyway: death, right now, at age 35. I guess it's kind of like what that Linkin Park song says: "In the end, nothing really matters."

I obviously didn't end up dying, but the experience has haunted me ever since, in kind of a traumatic way but also a good way. I listen to the Primitive Radio Gods song here and there to remind me of how close I got to death. I know most people would probably avoid a song that reminds them of death but, for me, it reminds me of a rather frightening yet beautiful moment in life.

Anyway, this past week, I went into Boston and videotaped the exact same science research event I did as last year. I experienced much fear and anxiety leading up to the day because I thought it may trigger another downward spiral like it did last year. But I overcame that fear and, other than feeling pretty exhausted afterwards, I survived and I didn't have any episodes where I thought I was going to die or lose my mind or both. 

This is progress. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Viral Component

I thought the guy was a Facebook troll. Some yahoo commented on a post in the Lyme Disease Support Group forum, suggesting that chronic Lyme disease was "all in our heads". This upset many people, including myself, but then he went on to suggest that "chronic Lyme disease may, in fact, be mistaken for herpes." This suggestion only upset people further but then he said to "look it up". Though I thought it sounded crazy, I was intrigued, so I did, indeed, look it up.

What I found was interesting.

There were several articles that discussed the viral component to Lyme, how the disease has been known to reactivate latent viruses in our body, specifically herpes viruses, and these viruses are so destructive that they are mistaken to be chronic Lyme disease.

Now, when people hear the word 'herpes', they immediately think about the STD virus (technically labeled HHV-2) but that is only one of eight types of herpes viruses that can be reactivated with Lyme. In fact, most people have been exposed to at least one of the eight herpes viruses at one point or another during their lifetime. For example, the Epstein-Barr virus, aka, EBV, or what we laymen know as "mono" (HHV-4), is a herpes virus. So isn't chickenpox (HHV-3).

Out of all the herpes viruses, the HHV-6 virus seems to be most commonly reactivated by Lyme. According to an article I found on the Envita website (Envita is a medical center in Arizona specializing in treating Lyme), "The HHV-6 virus is one of the infections found in virtually all chronic Lyme disease patients, a chief contributor to fatigue and other neurological symptoms. Antibiotics do not affect this or other herpetic viruses" (source).

Making things even more complicated, the reactivation of these viruses may not only be from Lyme but also from the antibiotics used to fight the Lyme. As we know, intense use of antibiotics messes with our gut flora to such an extent that our immune system becomes extremely stressed. This provides a great opportunity for latent herpes viruses to become reactivated and wreak havoc on our central nervous system (source).

Along with the antibiotics, immunosuppressants like corticosteroids are also largely responsible for reactivating viruses because they suppress the immune system, allowing viruses to come out and have a big party (source).

Taking all of the above into account, I can't help but think back to my experience with the strong antibiotic Levaquin, which I took a few weeks before discovering I had Lyme. I was prescribed the Levaquin because I was (falsely) diagnosed with pneumonia (read about all this HERE). I had an extremely adverse reaction to the drug and subsequently was prescribed steroids to counteract this adverse reaction. Did the strong antibiotic, combined with the steroids, suppress my immune system to such an extent that it allowed for certain latent viruses to be reactivated in my body?

After all, it wasn't until I had the Levaquin and the steroids that I was hardly able to walk or do much of any physical activity without feeling horrible afterwards. I've always thought the Levaquin left me with fluoroquinolone toxicity or just killed off so many Lyme spirochetes that I had an overload of neurotoxins poisoning my body (from the die-off). But, now, I'm wondering...have I been dealing with a virus or many viruses all along? Is the chronic fatigue I experience after physical activity linked with viruses?

It's possible, though I should mention that, back in January, I supposedly addressed the viral component of my disease. My LLMD (i.e. Lyme-literate) doctor gave me a strong dose of a viral extract that I took for several weeks. At the time, I thought I just had a flu virus to eliminate or some other kind of virus that, perhaps, tagged along with the tick bite, since all kinds of viruses can be passed along from animals to ticks to humans etc. (source). Did this extract take care of herpes-like viruses or are those viruses so evasive that not even this powerful extract could eliminate them?

Again, I have no idea and, of course, this "viral component" of Lyme disease only further attests to the fact that Lyme is an extremely, perhaps near-infinitely complex, disease.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Ocean, The Great Healer

Here I am on Cape Cod, in the West Dennis Beach area, if you want me to be specific. It's about a three minute walk to the ocean. Salt is in the air. And I've been swimming like a fiend. Well, more like soaking like a fiend. A little swimming. But I can only handle so much.

And, holy cow, I feel so much more normal. My gut has been better. My mood has been better...

Of course, most of us feel better near or in the ocean. I mean, how could you not? It's beautiful. It's relaxing.

But the feeling we get from the beach isn't just psychological. Upon doing some research, I was surprised to learn that the ocean possessed all sorts of physical health benefits that I was never aware of.

Most importantly, it's great for immune function. There are minerals, vitamins, amino acids and living microorganisms that help strengthen the immune system. Even the iodine itself within the salt water helps regulate the thyroid which, in turn, boosts immune function.

Swimming in the seawater also increases circulation and opens up your pores, which allows you to absorb all the ocean's vitamins and minerals but also eliminates toxins more easily. In fact, the ocean is a great detoxifier. 

Furthermore, the ocean is filled with negative ions that you inhale from the sea mist. Negative ions are great for your overall health because they help reduce inflammation, regulate serotonin (the feel-good chemical) levels and neutralize other positively-charged ions in your body that accumulate from the pollutants of modern society (computers, TV, cell phone etc.). The rougher the seas, the more negatively-charged it is, but don't go drowning yourself, dude.

Other benefits from the ocean include muscle relaxation, stress relief, sleep regulation and greater skin health (due to the high levels of magnesium).

Oh, and last but certainly not least: the ocean heals the aura, or, in other words, the human "energy system" that I discussed in my previous blog. According to one article I found, salt water is "physically and emotionally cleansing for removing minor psychic debris" from the aura (source).

Could the ocean be one of the best healers for Lyme? Possibly.

If you don't live near the ocean, you're not out of luck. Epsom salt baths are very beneficial, too. However, nothing beats breathing in the ocean air, soaking in that ocean water and surrounding yourself with those negative ions.

Of course, t
oday's profit-hungry medical industry doesn't want us to know that some of the greatest healing agents can be found in nature, right under our nose, totally free of cost. If this secret gets out, the medical industry loses its power over us and, in turn, loses its money.

But it's true: the ancient-old ocean has always been here to help heal and cleanse us of our ailments.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Repairing the Soul

As I wrote in my previous blog, I've been suffering from intense depression, anger and anxiety lately. Overall, I would say that it almost feels like my soul is broken. Life no longer excites me. There doesn't seem to be any presence of joy whatsoever. My self-esteem and feelings of self-worth have never been so low. A lot of the time, I'm ashamed to even exist. I get surprised when a stranger is nice to me like in a store or out in public somewhere else, almost as though I feel like I don't deserve it. 

Yes, it literally feels like my soul is broken. 

And, in a sense, this may very well be true. I mean, it could be scientifically true. Allow me to explain:

I've recently been reading a book entitled Psychic Vampires. It's a book about the people in our lives who bring us down or who literally drain our energy when we're around them. There are different levels of psychic vampires but most of us have encountered these people to varying degrees.

The book also discusses how it can be scientifically proven that our bodies are comprised of one giant energy system (a less scientific term would be "aura" or, indeed, "soul") that, at its healthiest, runs like a well-oiled machine. Psychic vampires, however, try to penetrate the energy system and drain the energy from it. Over time, a determined psychic vampire can wreak havoc on the body's energy system and, in turn, can wreak havoc on the physical body, because a good energy system means having a healthy body, a bad energy system means having an unhealthy body.

Anyway, while I've been reading the book, it suddenly hit me that Lyme functions as one gigantic psychic vampire sucking on my life force energy (in fact, in previous posts -- click here or here, -- I've discussed how Lyme may have an energetic and even spiritual component to it). Along with all the physical and mental shit that it does to us, Lyme throws a monkey wrench into our energy system, the ramifications of which have manifested themselves in the way I've been feeling lately:  i.e. depressed, angry, low self-esteem, lack of joy/hope/ambition, etc.

The book suggests ways in which you can repair your energy system but I think for all you non-New-Agey people out there, I think the best thing you can do is pray, pray your ass off. I recently said a prayer to Saint Jude, the patron Saint of impossible situations, and I felt a big difference afterwards. I plan on saying a whole Saint Jude novena soon and I will state my specific intention as repairing my energy system.

The soul must be repaired. If your soul is broken, there is no hope of having a healthy body. It's at the root of everything. I must repair the soul.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Got a Gut Feeling

It's been a month since I started the gluten-free diet. It hasn't been going too well.

I'm not sure if going gluten-free is to blame, but I've been extremely depressed lately. And extremely angry. In fact, it's possible I've never been so depressed and angry. It's bad.

The other night, I was taking a walk and there was such a dark cloud over me. I was at a recreational park with a bunch of baseball fields and soccer fields and such. While I was walking through the parking lot to this place, there was a car-full of kids making a ton of noise while they waited for their dad to stop talking to another group of parents. I found the noise rather annoying. I had this strong urge to look over to the dad and say, "You really ought to tell your kids to shut the fuck up." I didn't say it, but I wanted to, really, really bad. I felt a vile venom inside of me. It was nasty.

It didn't hit me until much later that, shit, dude...they were just kids on summer vacation, man. They were probably just being goofy, yet my extremely negative mental state saw it as annoying. That wasn't me. That's not the kind of person I am. It has honestly been like something has been possessing me. 

Is it the Lyme? No, I don't think that's quite it, though it might be. Lyme has been known to corkscrew itself into the brain, kind of like syphilis and, also like syphilis, can make you somewhat mental.

Am I just feeling depressed about my current state of affairs? Maybe. I certainly don't like the fact that it's been over a year now since I was diagnosed with Lyme and I still can't walk more than about a half a mile at a time. Admittedly, I also don't like that I can't drink (even a little) beer (read about why in my previous post). Also, I've been feeling so isolated and lonely. Most friends have kind of moved on with their own lives, and I lack the ambition to make new friends. I also don't know whether I should be dating given my current physical state and whom I should be dating and how I should "break the news" of my condition to them and all that shit. It's literally like I have to start my life over completely. But that's not easy to do at 36 years old and when you're only halfway healthy.


Maybe my depression is actually physiological but not necessarily because of the Lyme. My theory is that toxins could be to blame. Some of these toxins are neurotoxins from Lyme die-off that still haven't been flushed from my body. But I also think many of these toxins are from candida die-off, which has been exponentially greater lately due to my gluten-free diet.

Candida lives off gluten. If you eliminate the gluten, candida can no longer survive and you get a die-off. When die-off occurs, nasty endotoxins like aldehyde, ethanol and ammonia get released from the candida carcasses and these endotoxins can be nasty (source). My theory right now is my depression/anger has been intensified by a larger presence of endotoxins due to going gluten-free.

But, yes, depression and anger are perhaps my biggest symptoms right now. And, oh, my gut issues (read about these in my previous blog), which, by the way, are likely linked with one another. According to articles I found while browsing the web, if your gut is in bad shape, your mood is in bad shape and vice versa. The gut is responsible for absorption of neurotransmitters and if your gut flora is all out of whack, then your neurotransmitters will be out of whack, thus making your mood all out of whack, too. 

Also, according to another article I found, "Gut microbiota influences serotonin and dopamine production. In, fact, 90% of the body's serotonin is found in the gut" (source). Serotonin is the "feel good" neurotransmitter that is largely responsible for happiness. It's also responsible for regulating gastrointestinal motility, or "peristalsis" is the more technical term, the movement of food materials through the digestive tract. So, if serotonin is lacking, both your mood is horrible and your gut is dysfunctional (source).

Indeed, the key to my mood issues probably lies in my gut "microbiota", also known as flora, which for whatever reason is abnormal right now. Is it abnormal because of candida, or is it due to some other issue? Right now I'm thinking candida, but that's still up in the air. 

Then again, maybe my gut is only off because of anxiety, depression and other mood-related issues. You know, it's the chicken or the egg dilemma. Did the mood mess up the gut or did the gut mess up the mood? Yeesh. More confusion. More complexity.