Posted in Healing from Lymes, Lymes and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses, Organic / Anti-Inflamatory Nutrition, Thyroid Health and Hashimotos Awareness

Phase 3: Holding Steady

Phase 3: Holding Steady

Two blog posts ago on June 30th, I described how I was “deep into” Phase 2 of my treatment for Lyme Disease. To recap, the first antibiotic I started at the beginning of June was Plaquenil. I was able to get fully onboard with that antibiotic in about 10 days.
After I was “stable” and not Herxing (experiencing more of my Lyme symptoms as the Borrelia bacteria is being killed off and dying), I eased into my second antibiotic, Doxycycline. Ironically, this is the antibiotic I was prescribed for Perioral Dermatitis in November when I had a horribly painful, flesh-eating rash that was weeping and blistering down the entire right side of my face from my nostril to my jawline. I started Doxycycline again on June 10th, and this antibiotic took me about two weeks to work up to the full dose on (again, without Herxing). Our family was on vacation in Ohio for two weeks during this time, and I was still feeling VERY neurological, fatigued, irritable, and just overall not well.
 After returning from vacation, I began my third antibiotic, Azithromycin, on June 25th. I had to have the Azithromycin compounded in order for it to be both lactose and gluten-free. I noticed the most severe side effects from ANY of the antibiotics after starting Azithromycin. I spent the better part of two weeks easing in but still experiencing the Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions (and feeling generally very “flu-ish”). However, after about two weeks again I was “stable” on the Azithromycin and ready to begin my fourth, and last, antibiotic.
The week of the 4th of July I started the Mepron (gooey, liquid, bright-yellow colored antibiotic that has the consistency of chalk and the taste of Kaopectate). The Mepron was prescribed specifically to combat one of my two tick-borne coinfections that produces malaria-type symptoms (Babesia Duncanai). Babesia makes Lyme look like a pussycat. I would gladly take the multi-faceted symptoms of Lyme Disease ANY DAY over the hot flashes, dripping wet with sweat, flu-like symptoms of Babesia and hot flashes. After taking my first dose of Mepron on Monday, July 3rd, I LITERALLY felt bionic! I took all 8 of my kids swimming and discovered an ant situation under our deck boxes full of life preservers and pool noodles/toys. I powered sprayed EVERYTHING head to toe. I sprayed for ants on, around, under the pool deck boxes. I let everything dry for a few hours and returned everything to its original state. I then cleaned up the rest of the pool deck, bathed and put all of my littles to bed, cleaned up my kitchen, and started my two loads of nightly laundry (without any help from my husband). Struggling with lack of energy in having chronic illness — this was HUGE for me! I was able to get fully-onboard with my 10 mg daily prescribed dose of Mepron in the FIRST WEEK and was feeling amazing! No more night sweats. No more hot flashes. The tiny red spots all over my chest and abdomen were diminishing.
However, the second week into the Mepron I totally tanked. I started falling asleep in the middle of the afternoon. I started experiencing the brain fog again and struggled to put together thoughts in sentences. My energy was next to nothing. My “malaria” symptoms came back with a vengeance. I had to stop taking the Mepron completely for the rest of that week and let my Babesia symptoms die down. One week later, I had to reintroduce it again; however, this time at 2.5 mg increments over the course of another 7-10 days, giving myself a 24-48 hour break between increasing doses. By the week of August 14, I was back up to my full daily dose of 10 mg (5 mg, twice daily) of Mepron without Herxing and without any further Babesia symptoms.
That all being said, I am now holding steady on ALL FOUR ANTIBIOTICS (Plaquenil, Doxycycline, Azithromycin, and Mepon) until I see my LLMD again the middle of September (3 months between visits). Additionally, I have followed up monthly with my PCP (Primary Care Provider) to have a CBC (Complete Blood Count), CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel), and an ECG (Echocardiogram) to make sure that my body and vital organs are holding up under the weight of so many antibiotics. My ECG did come back with a Prolonged QTC Phase, and so my LLMD backed-off my dose of Azithromycin to 1/2 of what she had originally prescribed. Prolonged QTC Syndrome is a heart rhythm disorder where your heart muscle takes longer than normal to recharge between beats. Additionally, my neutrophils (type of white blood cell) came back low (not surprising with how hard my body is fighting off multiple infections right now). Finally, I have followed up with an Ophthalmologist to have a visual field eye exam to make sure that the Plaquenil is not doing any damage to my retina (which can be an infrequent side-effect). My visual field test came back good/normal, so praise be to God.
For now I hold steady doing EVERYTHING I am supposed to be doing. I am also still maintaining a VERY STRICT, anti-inflammatory diet (no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no sugar, and no eggs due to my egg allergy). I am still struggling with keeping weight on my skeletal frame. My weight is ranging anywhere from 104-110 pounds (at 5’5” tall) despite everything I am doing to eat my own weight every day in protein, including an organic, non-GMO, gluten-free protein powder I am using. I am also still INCREDIBLY bothered by anything that is fermented or contains vinegar (from my mycotoxin toxicity). I still also cannot tolerate rice and coffee (likely due to small traces of mycotoxins contained in the packaging after harvesting). My neurological symptoms become SO SEVERE that I usually have to go back to bed. I am also doing some very basic light strength training (basically to keep moving and active and to also make myself harder for this darn disease to kill). After my time twice a week at the gym, I take FULL advantage of the sauna to sweat out the bacteria and mycotoxins my body is working SO HARD to kill. I do find some minor relief in my lymph, shoulder, neck, and upper back pain after my time in the sauna. I have worked myself up to being able to tolerate 15 minutes (from starting at 5 minutes). For as much as time permits for this mama of 8, I also try to take at least a few epsom salt baths every week using epsom salts, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and essential oil(s) to continue encouraging my body to let go of the mycotoxins (black mold).
Please continue to pray for me as I pray for everyone who is supporting and encouraging me on this journey! The successes I have been celebrating in August are:
*Being FULLY onboard with all four antibiotics without Herxing
*My toenails are growing again (need to be cut every two weeks)… haven’t really had to cut my toenails since I delivered baby 3# in 2006
*My hair is becoming stronger and less brittle (though still not growing as fast as I would like it to be growing)
*The pain behind my left eye is GONE (I have felt pressure behind my eye, like it was bulging, since summer 2016)
*The pain in my feet (ball of my left foot and heel of my right foot) has GREATLY subsided, and I no longer need to wear padded slippers in my house on my hardwood floors. I have also been able to wear flip flops this summer!
*The pain in my lower back where I had my epidural with #8 has reduced… since its onset around Christmas where I could not drive, sit, or bend at a 45-degree angle for many weeks
*Drastic reduction in my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis symptoms
*Waking basal temperature back up over 96.9 degrees (usually now around 97.4 degrees — praise God)!
*My cycles are “normalizing”… first cycle postpartum in May was 44 days with delayed ovulation at day 30… my second postpartum cycle in June was 37 days with ovulation on day 24… so DEFINITELY getting better!
*When I am not Herxing, I am finding my energy to be normal and consistent throughout the day (still without drinking coffee)… subsequently, I am napping less (maybe only a few afternoons a week)
*I consider myself to be mostly functional again… so long as I am 100% sticking to my LLMD’s plan (sleeping 8 hours a night, taking ALL of my supplements and prescriptions, strictly following my anti-inflammatory diet, and not overexerting myself or taking on “too much”)
*Reduction in my neurological symptoms including sensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds (mainly my kids)
Posted in Healing from Lymes, Organic / Anti-Inflamatory Nutrition, Thyroid Health and Hashimotos Awareness

The Dark Side of Coffee and Why I Now Drink Chicory Root

I have pretty much been stripped down to bare bones in this journey with Lymes and autoimmune thyroid as far as what I CAN and CANNOT consume. 

Dairy has been out of my diet COMPLETELY since I was breastfeeding my 1st child, daughter Audrey, in 2003 with SEVERE acid reflux. We’re talking… this child puked a rainbow-arch of angry vomit OVER her carseat INTO THE LAP of a person sitting next to me at Mass once. Removing dairy from my diet while b/f helped some of her issues (colic and sleep-refusal in addition to GERD) though it did not take them all away. 

Out the window went sugar in 2004 with baby #3, son Blaise. I had some major candida and parasite issues after having him (lingering remnants from a mission trip to Guatemala in 1998 immediately after graduating high school). Sugar I avoided as much as I could, or I substituted. However, I never really went “sugar free” (the way I am now, only getting sugar in my AIP diet from the two sources of fruit I eat every day). Christmas every year always seemed to be a MAJOR setback for me health-wise (with the holiday cookie “cheats”).

Gluten came out in 2013 after having my 6th child, daughter Teresa. At 3 months postpartum while doing the 21-Day Fix (Beach Body program), I started experiencing SEVERE stabbing pains in my stomach after reintroducing gluten when the 21-day, clean-eating program was over. I now know this could have been a symptom of Lymes and that I should have went to my doctor. But I didn’t. I researched online and went AIP Paleo from 3-5 months postpartum and then stayed Paleo (with one daily gluten “cheat”) for two years until baby #8 came on board in 2015… and most of my inflammatory symptoms went away.

You know the story of my pregnancy and postpartum with baby #8. Being diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid and Lymes Disease has forced me to reevaluate the term “anti-inflammatory diet.” While I do NOT have either of the two genes for Celiac’s Disease, I basically need to eat as if I do. My LLMD has diagnosed me with EXTREME gluten-sensitivity and has assured me that even just ONE BITE of gluten can stay in your system for 6 months, keeping my TPOab and TGab labs high with my Hashimoto’s. “Low-gluten” and “no-gluten” are NOT the same thing when it comes to a person with Celiac’s Disease or non-Celiac EXTREME gluten sensitivity.

Coffee, you might ask? This was the last lifeline to go. I have increasingly grown less tolerant to wine over the years as well. Without coffee or wine, I’m not really sure how I make it through the day most days with eight kids. Since having DS last summer — alcohol just plain made me SICK (Lymes). Going back to the AIP diet since then has made me search for a coffee substitution. So I swung to tea. Never have been a big tea drinker and started feeling worse (if that’s even possible). LLMD assured me not only was it POSSIBLE but an ACTUAL REALITY as most teas are molds (black tea especially), and I have mycotoxin toxicity in my body (gliotoxins and tricothecenes) from the basement of a former home we lived in. NOT a good combo. However, I was still craving a rich, nutty warm beverage.

Chicory root tea has become my new preferred drink of choice! I actually feel so. much. better. not drinking coffee. I feel like without the caffeine highs and lows my cortisol levels have become more stable (I also suffer from adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency). In addition to tasting AMAZING and being rich and nutty like coffee, chicory root has many health benefits! It has anti-inflammatory properties AND protects the liver (what more can a girl with Lymes and Hashi’s want?)!! Plus it contains no caffeine, so it doesn’t dehydrate. Staying hydrated while fighting off the borrelia bacteria is so important in order to keep your body flushing it out. Additionally, coffee is EXTREMELY acidic and oftentimes hard on the endocrine systems of people who have thyroid/adrenal issues. Link below is a GREAT read on health benefits of chicory root!

Here is my recommendation for the organic kind I bought on Amazon. It came pre-ground which was a HUGE plus for this busy mama. I use about a teaspoon per cup and steep it with a tea infuser. I have grown quite fond of its rich (and almost peppery), nutty taste! I love knowing I am doing something good for my body when I want to curl up with a warm, comforting beverage! I am not allowed to indulge much these days, but this has become my indulgence!

Posted in Healing from Lymes, Lymes and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses, Organic / Anti-Inflamatory Nutrition, Thyroid Health and Hashimotos Awareness

Juicing and Dealing with Herxheimer Reactions in Detoxification 

Through the ups and downs of the last four months since my hypothyroid/Hashimoto’s diagnosis (prior to my Lymes diagnosis), I have been trying to find the right “prescribed” day-to-day routine of what I do (or DON’T do) in order to be AT LEAST somewhat functional. Now as many of you who suffer from Lymes disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis understand – – this is a tall order. Oftentimes, you may feel differently from day-to-day for NO REASON at all – – even while keeping your food regimen, sleep patterns, and stress levels ALL consistent. That’s just the nature of the beast(s).

However, being that I am a mother of a large family and have EIGHT little people who constantly have needs – – I have been “tweaking” my days VERY meticulously to try to produce consistent results.

In March, even though I had been eating according to the Paleo diet since after delivering our seventh child, daughter Teresa, all the way back in 2013 – – I took it to the extreme. I went AIP Paleo (again) and took out nightshades, eggs, nuts, and coffee. Yes — God has a FANTASTIC sense of humor in asking this coffee-loving mama of a family of TEN to give up her sacred “go/go” juice. No results. Didn’t feel ANY different. *Insert HUGE levels of both disappointment and frustration here.* 

Spent ANOTHER 22 days mid-April to mid-May doing another form of an anti-inflammatory/autoimmune/elimination diet for my LLMD. This consisted of a basically a modified-form of the AIP Paleo for the first eight days (take everything out). Then, every other day for the remainder of the diet you re-introduce foods you think you are sensitive to. I did not have to test gluten, sugar, dairy, or anything containing mold/fungus (mushrooms, ACV, kombucha, etc.) as I KNOW I am sensitive to them. However, I was surprised to find I appear to be sensitive to rice and corn. This information was extremely helpful for me to understand as I begin different supplements and antibiotics which oftentimes have FD&C food coloring and other various allergens in them. The body cannot heal from Lymes if it is still continuing to have inflammation created by ingredients your system is currently sensitive to.

In between my first and second appointments with my LLMD, I ran a full six weeks of 200 mg of Fluconazole. However, I had to back-off and take it every-other-day as I could not tolerate taking it every day without experiencing Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions. Link below for further explanation as to what a “Herx” reaction is. As my 5 y.o. says, “They are NOT my favorite.”

After my second appointment, she discontinued the use of Fluconazole and started me on Nystatin instead. Nystatin DOES contain FD&C food coloring red, yellow, and blue lots – – so it’s a good thing I am not sensitive to FD&C food colorings. This is why in healing Lymes you have to do your research ahead of time and know what your body is sensitive to. However, this time around AGAIN, in trying to get rid of the intentional yeast buildup, I have been experiencing Herx reactions in the last 48-hours. This time, however, she gave me some supplements to combat this!

Burbur-Pinella is an herbal supplement that is designed as a detox and brain/nerve cleanse. Yesterday I used 10 drops in a small tincture with water every 10 minutes for 40 minutes until my Herx symptoms were relieved. This product is AMAZING! I have a hard time finding things that “work” for my body. Product link below on Amazon.

Additionally, after introducing one more tablet of Nystatin today (I have to work up to six tablets daily) and Herxing a bit, I tried another product my LLMD sent me home with. The principle behind this is alkalizing the blood and increasing amounts of essential macrominerals in your body such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium (in the form of carbonates and bicarbonates but without sodium or other salts). This I am allowed to take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon in 4-8 ounces of water up to three times daily. I started today with 1/4 of a teaspoon in 6 ounces of water. Product link below on Amazon.

Finally, prior to starting my supplement regimen this week, I began juicing again at the end of March and was pleased to find consistent results! Juicing an entire head of celery, several carrots, occasionally about half of a beet, and one serving of a citrus fruit (of course, ALL ORGANIC) seems to be a concoction that works well for my body. I’ve also been trying to follow more of a holistic, cleansing habit in my morning routine (since coffee is NOT on the AIP Diet). I usually juice in the morning and avoid eating anything at all. I also infuse hot cups of water with lemon and lime juice to stimulate my gallbladder and other organ systems to get moving right away when I wake up! My LLMD also recommended adding parsley and chamomile to my juicing routine.

One day, one win at a time (and oftentimes one step forward and three steps backwards) in this battle. However, I continue to remember every day that the battle belongs to the Lord and that He has already won ALL of my battles in this life on the cross! Anything He hands me in this life, He must know 1) that I can handle and 2) that it is for my own good and salvation (regardless of whether or not I like the lot I have been dealt). Suffering is always redemptive if we allow it to be for the intentions we carry with us in our hearts… for our own families, for those we know who are also suffering, for the repose of souls, for the poor souls in Purgatory, and for SO MUCH MORE! The sky is truly the limit for redemptive suffering.