It was a clammy, overcast summer morning, late in July. The kind of morning when you go outside and you instantly feel the moisture on your skin and want to hibernate in the air conditioning back inside.
Automatic sprinklers were going on neighbors’ lawns; the garbage truck was making its rounds. People were up walking themselves or their dogs. Some were even braving the humidity and running.
And I was taking my first bike ride of the season.
My husband had given me a new bike for Mother’s Day a few years ago, and I loved riding it. I’d take my daughter for rides around the neighborhood almost daily, and in the summer, I’d get up early and go for a solo ride before he went to work. I loved having my bike and even though I am not much of an athlete, I love the motion of being on two wheels.
One of the “pearls of wisdom” I received when first diagnosed with Lyme was, “Eat right and exercise.” Both of these directives proved to be the most inadequate and unrealistic advice I’ve ever received in my life, because 1, —I couldn’t eat anything of great nutritional value without being in pain and 2, –I had no energy to exercise because I couldn’t eat!
When I felt up to it, I’d try to do 15 minutes of walking in front of my television , my arms briskly pumping back and forth. But it was a boring way to exercise. Sometimes, I’d add a little running in place just to break it up. I’d set my timer on my phone and constantly check it, thinking, “When is this 15 minutes UP ?????”
But today was different.
I got up early, threw on some biking clothes and my helmet, and Rode.My.Bike.
It was short 20-minute ride, only around my neighborhood on the level streets because I knew I wasn’t ready to tackle any hills yet, but it felt good to FINALLY get out there and exercise.
My knees definitely felt creaky and achy, so I know I need to keep doing this to get rid of the Lyme bugs in residence there.
But it was a good ride, and I’m looking forward to another one tomorrow.
Summer is tanning season, but it is also burning season. Beach goers and parents alike lather up on the tanning oils and sunblock to either draw in or ward off the rays of the sun.
Luckily for me, I can easily feel the burn without having to go outside and bake in the sun to actually get burned, thanks to my tick sick blood.
People ask me with a concerned look on their faces what it feels like when I eat something that bothers me. I tell them it’s like having a million bee stings in your body or a sun burn from the inside out. My skin even has a little red tinge to it all the time if you look closely. Even more curious about my inside burn is that different parts of my body will react with different foods that I eat. I ate some forbidden spreadable cheese and crackers the other night to see how I would feel. My knees were stinging all night. Those yummy Hershey bars make my upper arms sting and you can actually see the redness on the backsides of them. “You are what you eat” really means something to me!
I’ve learned through burn and error that basically anything green seems to be the best food to reduce, but not eliminate, the sensation of my inner burn. Kale, green tea, roasted brussel sprouts, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers are good ones. Even olive and green tea soap seems to soothe my skin. Peppermint, not so much.
It’ll be interesting to see how I feel once the New England winter comes…will I still have the raging burn inside or will the going out in the winter chill bring some relief?
Here is my own recipe I created for the Kale Supreme dish I am bringing to a family gathering tomorrow.
You can adjust the ingredients to whatever veggies and meats you like, just be sure you have enough meat to balance the veggies. Since I am limited in what foods I can eat, I use at least 2 meats when I make this dish. For this event, I chose to add bacon as well…who doesn’t love bacon? It gives the dish enough salt and complements the sweetness of the roasted brussel sprouts.
Olive oil (in a pourable hand-held container…you will be using a lot of olive oil!)
Garlic- 2-3 cloves, cut up
Kale -1 bunch, stems removed and leaves chopped up (you can put it in a processor or cut the leaves with scissors)
Brussel sprouts 1-2 containers, depending on your own taste (I used 2 here) cut in half pieces
1 lb bacon cut up into bite size pieces
1 lb chicken cut up into bite size pieces
1 lb sausage either removed from casings or cut up into bite size pieces
Any other veggies you like: red peppers, broccoli, or asparagus cut up would be good in this
Pre-heat oven to 375 or 400, whichever you prefer.
Mix chicken, sausage and bacon in separate bowls w/ olive oil. Place each meat separately in baking pans and cook until done. I line my pans with foil just to make clean up easier. Put some olive oil in the pans as well to discourage sticking.
Put kale into a bowl while meat is cooking. Mix with more olive oil to coat the leaves. Add salt if you like.
Cook garlic in olive oil large pan (like what you use to make a large pot of homemade sauce in) and add kale once the garlic is almost browned. Add a little more olive oil if the pan is dry. You can put all of the kale into the pan, (it will fill to the top of the pan!) putting the stove on a medium flame or temp. It will cook down to cover the bottom of the pan in about 7 minutes or so. Stir the kale from time to time and continue to add olive oil as it cooks so that it doesn’t stick to bottom of the pan.
Once the kale is done, add the meats to the pan just to mix it all together.
After you halve the brussel sprouts, put them in a bowl and again, toss them with olive oil. Put some more olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish and put the flat sides of the sprouts on the bottom of the pans. You will need to let the brussel sprouts roast for about an hour at 375. If you want them darker, just roast them longer!
Once the sprouts are golden brown, put the kale and meat mixture into a pretty serving dish. In the picture above, I used a lasagna dish. But any rectangular or other heat-resistant dish will do. Add the brussel sprouts on top. Try not to steal a few to munch on!
Cover with foil or a top and keep in the fridge until you are ready to heat it up and eat!
I suggest taking the dish of the fridge and letting it get room temperature before heating just to hasten the heating time if you are serving the whole dish.
A few notes:
This makes about 3 or 4 individual meals for myself. It keeps very well in the fridge for a few days. And when I want to heat it up, I just put the portion I want in a sauce pan with some olive oil to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
Another variation would be to make the kale and cook some shrimp with lemon and olive oil and bacon as the meat addition. I would cook the shrimp on the stove and bake the bacon in the oven as directed above, since shrimp cooks very quickly and you don’t want to to over cook it. I can’t handle the shellfish, but I am sure that would be yummy! Salmon or cod might work well, too. You just want to be sure you have enough of the fish to enjoy with the kale. And the fish may not last as long in the fridge, so you want to be sure to eat it before the fish gets too fishy!
Do you feel like a tourist, making many stops along the way, but not getting anywhere?
Read on to learn how to have a successful Lyme adventure!
Foods To Help You Heal
Each person’s Lyme adventure is different, since Lyme affects body chemistry differently. HOWEVER, one constant with Lyme is that it LOVES SUGAR! Who doesn’t, right?So, your number one job is to eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you can. The sooner you do this, the better for your body and cells to heal!
Below are some foods that may help you feel better and will help your cells to rejuvenate:
Organic proteins like chicken, pork, and turkey (5 oz or more per large meal to help maintain energy levels)
Organic liver and organ meats
Leafy greens like kale and spinach
Green Tea (brewed at home, not purchased with artificial sweeteners)
Green vegetables like cucumbers, asparagus, and broccoli
FOODS THAT MAY EXACERBATE SYMPTOMS:
Carbohydrates (bread, crackers, desserts, cereal)
Fruits (Lemon is a fruit! Be careful adding this to your water to detox–it may not help you feel better!)
Nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers
Nuts and seeds (and their “cousins”, like nut flours)
Eggs (organic eggs may also cause a problem, so watch how you react after consuming)
Artificial sweeteners like those found in Gatorade, Vitamin Water and Seltzers
An important note about Gluten:
Many people are advised to eat ‘gluten-free’ when they are diagnosed with Lyme. But I caution you. Instead, become a label reader and compare the carbohydrates in gluten-free products like bread, chips, and crackers to wheat made ones. What do you notice? Exactly. They are pretty much the same in terms of carbohydrate content. So skip the gluten-free processed products because it will only make the Lyme bugs happy to have sugar in your system, and your inflammation worse.
What’s Your Pain Index Today?
Each day is a new adventure in pain! Realize that your pain levels can be directly linked to the food you eat, so document what you eat and drink each day. Document how you feel on a 1 -10 pain scale. After a few days, you should start to see patterns emerge as to what foods your body likes or doesn’t like.
Make sure the supplements you are taking are ‘whole food’ supplements and not synthetically made ones. Your body needs all the whole food it can get, and if you are adding toxic chemicals to your already compromised system, you can be wasting valuable healing time.
A tip about taking all those supplements: Use a Sharpie to label the bottle cap with the number of pills and how many times you need to take it each day. It will make refilling your weekly pill-box that much easier!
Fluids are Good!
Be sure to keep all those whole food supplements flowing through your body. Get yourself a 20 oz container to refill throughout the day. You should be drinking up to 90 oz or more a day! It seems like a lot, but if you keep that water bottle with you, you will find that you can easily drink between 32-40 oz per meal….that gets you very close to or even over 100 oz just on meals alone! Drinking in between meals only adds to your daily totals. So get yourself some 20 oz refillable bottles and starting drinking!
The Lyme Bible
Having Lyme is truly an adventure! Below are the steps to help you create your own Lyme Bible that grows along with you as you trek along the winding roads of Lyme disease.
Get yourself a 3 inch binder in the color of your choice—green perhaps?
Put in pocket sleeves, at least 6 to start. Different colors for each practitioner can help you stay organized.
Put a post-it note on the front of each pocket with the name, address, phone number and fax number of the doctor or practitioner.
Each time you go to a doctor, take a notebook and write down all pertinent information. Date and label the page and be sure to note the follow-up appointment in your notes as well. Add your notes to the corresponding pocket at home. (You may want to invest in a large, fashionable tote bag instead of a purse so you can carry your Bible and notebook more easily to appointments.)
Add pockets as needed for blood work results, MRI scans, food charts, or whatever information you feel will be important to remember on your journey through Lyme.
Create a working document that lists your medical history prior to and including Lyme. Note any physical, mental, and emotional changes as you go through your healing process. Update this chart monthly so you can see positive or negative changes along the way. Share information with your practitioners so adjustments can be made if needed.
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!
Your best way to confront Lyme is by thinking like Watty Piper’s Little Engine …I think I can…I think I can…I think I can….
Being positive, even angry some days, will get you farther in your treatment then sitting back and ‘waiting’ for things to change.
Look for new ways to heal. Read, research, and revise your thinking. If a method of healing sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so double-check any quick heal claims with reputable clinicians and practitioners. The only way you will get better is by putting in the effort to learn and find what works for you!
Surprise! Medical Doctors Don’t Have All The Answers
In your Lyme adventure, realize that you will be making many stops along the way to wellness to take in the sights and scenery, mostly found in doctors’ offices. And yet, once there, you may slam into bumps that slow you down. You may decide to make appointments with various medical doctors, only to discover that they listen to only one symptom, and in turn, misdiagnose you. You may receive a diagnosis like “eat right and exercise”, that won’t give you the guidance you need to heal. And you may find that those with an MD after their name aren’t the ones who can really help.
LLMD’s are very good at their treatments, but they can be costly and not very timely for you in scheduling appointments. This author heard of an LLMD about an hour away from her home, but needed to wait 6 months in order to see him! Not wanting to wait that long for her symptoms to become even more debilitating than they already were, she researched a naturopath, a dietician, and a later on in her healing, a holistic practitioner. While this is not the conventional route to healing, she found that those without an MD after their names actually were willing to take the time to work with her and help her begin the healing process. Instead of being laid up in bed or in a hospital, six months later, she is working in her garden, reading for a half an hour or more at a time, and genuinely being able to get through her summer days without requiring to rest every few hours. Every person has their own path to follow, but be assured that it may not be the one you have been taught to follow all of your life! Be willing to try new treatments and protocols. Your body will thank you!
BRAIN FOG SLOWING YOU DOWN?
TRY THESE 5 TRICKS TO KEEP YOUR SANITY WHILE YOU HEAL!
STAY IN ONE PLACE AND COMPLETE THE TASK AT HAND. Zipping around the house like a squirrel running up a tree leaves too many little jobs to finish!
USE POST IT NOTES to remind you to do simple jobs like switch the laundry. Put these in high-traffic areas that you will see.
TAPE INVITATIONS RIGHT ON THE CALENDAR after you write the information down.
ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE. Many stores save your lists, so review your last week’s order before adding new items.
EAT LOTS OF LEAFY GREENS!Kale has many nutrients in it that help rejuvenate cells, especially those foggy brain cells! Create your own ways to eat kale in salads, eggs, and meat dishes. (I don’t recommend Kale brownies, however…)
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Lyme and tricks to healing.
Remember: your attitude is everything and will determine how quickly you heal!
I grew the second eldest of five children in a middle class home. I wasn’t a sickly child, and my parents made sure I ate right and went to the doctor’s when I needed to for appointments, or if I became ill.
As a teenager, I got a job working in a health food store. I wasn’t really a big health food nut, but I liked the atmosphere of the store, my boss and the people that worked there were wonderful to me, and I did purchase some of the products. I loved the Martinelli’s apple juice, it’s golden nectar housed in glass apple-shaped bottles. I’d purchase Xylitol gum, carob coated goodies, or nuts to chomp on. Some of the product names like Kiss My face and Nature’s Way enticed me , but I never really purchased personal products. There were many regular costumers who would buy all sorts of vitamins and organic food products at that store, and the owner and many of the employees had specific expertise well beyond my sixteen years.
The worst medical issue I ran into as an adult was developing gestational diabetes with the pregnancy of my daughter, and even that was managed with insulin and then pills afterwards.
This past December, however, my life and health took a spiral downward when I developed severe joint and muscle pain and was treated for Lyme for one month with Doxycycline.
I initiated numerous doctors’ visits with specialized doctors–a rheumatologist, a neurologist, and two infectious disease doctors–because I wasn’t happy with the minimal level of my improvement with each passing week. Each doctor gave me a different diagnosis ranging from “It’s Fibromyalgia. Take this Lyrica.” to “You just have to wait and see.” to “We don’t know what is causing your symptoms. Just eat right and exercise.” My insurance was paying for these vague or totally off-base diagnoses. Frustrated, I’d basically hit a plateau, and I wasn’t back to normal. I was out of work, tired, and in pain. And yet no one in the mainstream medical community seemed to really want to help me. If their hands were tied, they weren’t telling me. I was left scratching my head and searching for answers elsewhere.
In March, I’d found a naturopath and a dietician who really assisted me more than the prescribed antibiotic treatment, and yet, I was still experiencing fatigue and pain that was directly influenced by what I consumed. It wasn’t enough for me to just have some good days and some bad days. Prior to this happening, I had a strong teaching career with an active family life. All that changed with Lyme, and I was merely a shell of who I used to be within a matter of weeks. I wanted to get back to my normal, active self. And yet, even with the supportive help of my naturopath and dietician,it seemed like such a far reach to get there.
In my graduate school days, we learned about synchronicities in life. The idea that ‘things happen for a reason’ and the experiences you have that seem like coincidence all lead you down a path that you may never have expected or planned. Call it fate, God Winks, signs, whatever. I’ve experienced many of these synchronicities since my Lyme adventure began in December, leading me to new ways of thinking about my health and medical care.
My most recent new learning has come from a place called Holistic Wellness Alternatives in Yorktown Heights, New York.
I was led to this place by my husband and a chance conversation with a recent acquaintance. He was speaking this man about my recent issues with Lyme. This man in turn shared about his friend’s success as a client of Holistic Wellness. This particular cancer survivor experienced wonderful results from Dan Court, the owner and practitioner, so I called and made an appointment.
After speaking with the client liaison who had been misdiagnosed Lyme for four years and now WORKS at the place, I figured with yet another coincidence, it’d be worth a try. But it wasn’t without its glitches; they rescheduled 3 times! Dan had injured his ankle and his orthopedic had very limited hours. By the third phone call, I was feeling a little desperate to get there and experience some of his all natural magic. At least the last call was just to make the time later on my scheduled day.
The office is an hour and a half away from my home in Connecticut. I drove down the Merritt Parkway all the way and almost had a panic attack when I saw the sign for the Tappan Zee bridge! I hate going over bridges if I am driving. Thankfully, my faithful companion, my GPS, directed me to get off the exit before the bridge. While my appointment was scheduled for 1 1/2 hours, Dan spent 2 1/2 hours with me. It was a pretty unique and eye-opening experience.
I had completed several forms for the appointment that were analyzed by a computer, and we spoke for at least an hour about my issues, the practice, and Western Medicine versus Indian and Chinese medicine. Based on my paperwork, I was having issues with my sugar handling (no surprise there!), my endocrine system and my liver. After discussing my test results, he performed a muscle test, which is based on Chinese medicine. It is designed to test the energy levels in the body to see the strength and weaknesses of the organs. Dan also uses muscle testing to determine what compounds are useful or not useful to the body. It was very unconventional in comparison to what I am used to experiencing at the doctors who practice “Western Medicine”. I wouldn’t have believed what was happening if I hadn’t experienced it myself!
To start the test, I lay down on a table and lifted my right arm, pressing it gently against his left arm. He was pressing and tapping against the muscle of my extended arm, and with his right hand, he was pressing against my organs. If my arm went down, it meant the organ was weak, if it stayed up, the organ was strong. When he got to my stomach, he said, “OH!!” as my arm went down. It was so freaky! ( I had told him earlier that my stomach seemed to be the only organ I wasn’t having trouble with…I guess I was wrong!)
He then put little vials of different compounds, minerals, and toxins on my stomach to test my body’s reaction. Again, with different bottles, my body reacted and my arm would either stay stiff or fall down. With a particular one, Actonex, I could actually feel my stomach muscles getting tighter with the vial resting there on my stomach. It was so wild! And my stomach still remained tight several minutes afterwards.
So, after 2 1/2 hours, I walked out of there with three additional supplements to try for my issues with sugar, endocrine system, and liver, and another appointment scheduled for June.
It will be very interesting to see what happens at the next appointment. And I’m looking forward to it.
Maybe I’ll learn something new that continues to challenge my thoughts about medicine and holistic care.
I took my first stroll today since being sidelined by Lyme five months ago.
The weather has been absolutely lousy this past week, and we welcomed the sun this afternoon after a week of cold, damp rain.
We had an early dinner. I put out my Grandmother’s china, and we each had a wine glass to use, to which my daughter asked, “Why do we have fancy glasses tonight?”
“It’s Mother’s Day,” I responded, “Can’t we use fancy things once in a while?” She grabbed her glass by the stem and took a sip of her milk.
For months, I was told to ‘eat right and exercise’, which seemed futile since I could barely make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my daughter for lunch without having to go back to bed for hours. And tonight, I actually took a stroll. For forty minutes. Progress comes with slow, baby steps.
My daughter zoomed ahead of me on her rollerblades, turning around to skate back to me each time when I was still so far behind her. She wanted to go down some of the side streets in our neighborhood, but I reminded her that our walk tonight was only to the end of the road and back to our house. I wasn’t ready to do more than that.
We passed a man welding in his garage, another bagging the grass he just cut on his carpet of a lawn. Colorful tulips, creeping pink and white phlox, and pastel dogwoods were all in bloom. Squirrels raced across the street, birds flew overhead.
On our way back to our home, my daughter held my hand, skating as I strolled.