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!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

My Vitamin Regimen

In previous posts, I've mentioned various vitamins and minerals I've been taking for my Lyme recovery, but I have yet to share my full regimen with you...

UNTIL NOW.

Yes, I feel it's time to list each of the vitamins, minerals and herbs I'm taking. If you are a Lymey like myself, I would highly recommend you look into taking these vitamins, though I would suggest you perhaps refer to a doctor first or at least try them out at a very low dose. Most of these vitamins are very benign with very few side effects, if any at all. None of them are toxic either, meaning you won't get poisoned from them. However, it is possible to be allergic to some of them, especially the herbs. For example, I recently had a cup of ginger tea (made with real ginger, the kind you can feel spicing up your veins as it runs through your bloodstream) and it didn't go well. Nothing too bad happened but I woke up the next morning feeling like I had the flu. On one hand, it could have been a strong herxheimer (aka 'herx' or a-aka 'die-off') reaction but, in general, I felt very off afterwards. I later found out from my doctor that I was allergic to it. So, again, proceed with caution and always start with a low dose!

Without further adieu, here is my current vitamin regimen. Please note that much of the information I provide about these vitamins has been obtained from a book I highly recommend called: Unlocking Lyme: Myths, Truths, and Practical Solutions for Chronic Lyme Disease by Dr. William Rawls. 

I shall begin with the most obvious vitamin:


Vitamin C

It's obviously good for your immune system, as it is an anti-viral and anti-bacterial supplement. It's also an antioxidant so it's great for detoxing the liver and the body in general.

My doctor currently has me on 12 Ascorbyl Palmitate Vitamin C (450 milligrams each) a day. I only take nine at the moment because I was concerned that 12 was a tad too much, but I'm supposed to be on 12. This is because my liver is struggling and I'm detoxing like a mama-jama.


Vitamin A

Great for your immune system, as it fights viruses and bacteria. Also, great for eye health! And, oh, great for your skin if you want to be all smooth and moist.

Vitamin A can supposedly be toxic if taken at high levels but I was recently taking 3 capsules a day (10,000iu each) and I was fine. I mainly took the Vitamin A for my eye issues. Now I take only 2 a day but I may go back to 3 here and there if my eyes keep giving me problems.


Vitamin D

Most people know that it's good for bones and teeth (because it helps you absorb more calcium) but a lot of people don't know that it's great for immune function as well. Forget anti-flu medications like Tamiflu. Pop a couple Vitamin D's, in addition to C and also A, not to mention zinc, and you'll be good to go.

I currently take three Vitamin D's a day (5000iu). That's a lot of D. I should have sunshine beaming out of my eyes. But I don't. Not usually.


Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

When you're sick, especially with something like Lyme, many of your bodily cells get damaged. Potent pharmaceutical drugs (in my case, Levaquin) can damage cells as well. CoQ10 helps restore these bodily cells because it is responsible for producing energy within mitochondria. The vitamin is especially good for restoring heart health, as the heart is an organ that requires A LOT of cell energy.

CoQ10 is also a great antioxidant that protects your body from harmful toxins and molecules.

I currently take 5 CoQ10 a day (during the worst of times, I was taking 6), 200mg each.


Vitamin K-2

The main function of Vitamin k-2 is to help distribute calcium throughout your body to areas that need it most, like bones and teeth. It also prevents calcification of arteries, thus benefitting your heart and your brain.

I take eight capsules of Vitamin K-2 a day (100mg each)! All the Vitamin D I take helps me absorb calcium and the K-2 helps distribute it!


Magnesium L-Threonate

Great for the brain. It helps strengthen synapses, thus improving memory and overall brain function. It also helps you sleep better, which leads to less anxiety and less depression.

I'm currently supposed to be taking six of these a day but I'm currently only able to tolerate 3 or maybe 4. As you may know, too much magnesium gets your GI tract moving and grooving if you know what I mean, jellybean.


Multi-Vitamin

My multi contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, selenium, calcium, Vitamin E, Potassium, B-Vitamins, the list goes on and on...

Overall, all these vitamins are more antioxidants and great immune boosters.

I take nine capsules a day of a multi called Nutrient 950 (without copper or iron) from the brand Pure Encapsulations.


Molybdenum

I've spoken of Molybdenum in previous blogs. In fact, this was the very first supplement I took when I had Lyme because taking Moly was actually the only way my body would tolerate the Doxycycline.

Technically, Molybdenum is a mineral that helps facilitate the breakdown of certain amino acids and blah blah blah. I don't know what that means and I doubt you do either unless you're a doctor or chemistry whiz. Let's make things simple and say Molybdenum is a mineral that helps your liver with the detoxification process, hence why I needed it when I was pounding Doxy and its Toxy (meaning toxicity) by the boatloads. Toxy Doxy. Tsk Tsk Tsk.


Alpha Lipoic Acid

Another antioxidant, great for the liver. It enhances the antioxidant effects of Vitamin C, Vitamin E and the yet-to-be-mentioned glutathione (mentioned below). Overall, it helps remove toxins from the body.

I currently take three Lipoic Acid (600mg) daily. That's a high dose!


Tocotrienols

These are antioxidants, great for cleaning the liver, but they also help reduce cholesterol, inhibit certain cancers and manage diabetes.

I currently take four of these a day (40mg).


Milk Thistle

I only started taking this recently and I'm eager to see how it benefits my liver issues. This herb offers protection for liver cells. It also induces regeneration of liver cells, which is great if you have liver damage.

Furthermore, Milk Thistle helps blood move from the liver to various parts of the body that need it. Part of the reason why I have so much trouble with physical activity is because not enough blood is being moved around my body. Also, my recent eye issues can be attributed to my liver and its inability to distribute sufficient blood to my eyes, thus resulting in easy eye strain and dry eye. That's right: what a lot of people don't realize is that eye issues may be indicative of an unhealthy liver!

I currently take four capsules of milk thistle a day (250mg each). That's a high dose and only necessary for people who have high liver enzyme levels. I currently have one high enzyme, the SGPT enzyme if you want to be technical.

UPDATE: I've slowed things down with the milk thistle, as it was causing some strong herxing (i.e. strong die-off reactions).


Glutathione

This is an antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress, which means it reduces free radicals floating around the body, which further means it cleans the toxins in your body. It also reduces cell damage from alcohol and non-alcohol-related liver disease.

As I write this, I have not started taking glutathione but I'm supposed to be taking two capsules of Acetyl Glutathione a day (100mg). I was just recently "prescribed" this supplement and I'm eager to see how it benefits me.

UPDATE: I've been taking half the dose prescribed but recently even cut that in half because of some potentially strong herxing.


Lutein

These supplements are great for the eyes and are especially helpful in blocking harmful UV blue light that damages parts of the retina, therefore preventing macular degeneration. If you're like me and you use computers and other digital devices, it may be good to take some lutein.

I currently take four capsules a day (20mg).


Astaxanthin

Another supplement great for eye health. It blocks UV light from damaging the retinas. Its anti-inflammatory properties are also great for joint health. It makes the skin smooth, it's good for brain health, immune health...you name it.

I currently take four capsules a day (4mg).


Artemisia (i.e. Wormwood)

This is a potent herb that fights malaria and other bodily parasites. It also fights cancer.

Wormwood can be a hallucinogenic if smoked or made into a tea. I am not using it for this purpose.

My use of Artemisia is still in the experimental stages. I'm supposed to be taking it because I supposedly have some parasite issues going on. Whether this parasite is a tick-borne parasite (like Babesia) has not been determined and I doubt it will ever be determined. It's not exactly rare to get Babesia as a coinfection with Lyme, but ticks can give you all sorts of other parasites. Either way, according to my doctor, I need Artemisia.

A few weeks ago (as I write this), I took a capsule of Artemisia and experienced spasming in my bladder/intestinal area. So I stopped. I took it a second time, experienced the same thing but on a smaller scale. I stopped again but it was possibly an initial herx/die-off reaction. For now, I've been getting my body used to my other supplements, especially Milk Thistle and Glutathione, which are two of the newest supplements I've been taking. Once I get comfortable with everything else, I will again try to integrate Artemisia into my regimen. If I still experience problems, I will know it's the Artemisia that is a problem and will have to stop.

I'm supposed to be taking six a day.


Moral of the Story

I'm sure most of you reading the list above are surprised by how many friggin' vitamins I take. You're right: it's a lot! Also, if you're wondering, it's expensive as hell! Unfortunately, taking all these vitamins is necessary for Lyme recovery, which is another reason why I would NOT wish Lyme upon my worst enemy.

If there is anything to take away from all this, it would be TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. The better you take care of yourself, the better you eat, the better you drink, the better you don't smoke etc., the better the chances that you will never have to fight a terrible disease like Lyme and have to take a ridiculous amount of vitamins like I do. Lyme disease preys on a weak immune system and the best way to keep that immune system strong is to take care of yourself. If I could go back in time, there is just one thing I would say to me in the past: "TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! If you don't, you'll be sorry."