Healing chronic Lyme means you have to think like a private investigator. Yep, even when your brain fog rolls as thick as on a San Francisco street.
Private investigators solve mysteries. You want to solve the mystery of good health. How should you start?
Let’s say you’re in pain. You go to an MD. What happens?
After a physical exam, you may walk out of there with a prescription for pharmaceutical painkillers.
The drugs may ease the pain for awhile. However, locating the origin of pain can be tricky. And if the source hasn’t been diagnosed or addressed, pills can only hide it temporarily and it may come back. In some cases, pharmaceuticals can even make it worse.
You might look further afield. Pain is motivating — which may be its only merit, but it’s a goodie.
You might turn to alternative treatments, seeking out an acupuncturist, herbalist, or a traditional Chinese Medicine doctor.
The MD offered one choice: pharmaceuticals. The acupuncturist, herbalist, and TCMD offered three more choices and possibly some pain relief without drugs.
What are the missing keys in Lyme treatment?
Standard treatments for Lyme cover one dimension: Kill the bug with antibiotics. If that worked for everyone all the time, there would be no need for further discussion. But it doesn’t.
Lyme patients who still aren’t healthy and continue to suffer from symptoms after completing a course of antibiotics might want to ask their doctors lots of questions.
For starters, let’s ask what else besides antibiotic treatment might be helpful? Diet and exercise aren’t generally addressed.
Most MDs don’t study nutrition, so they don’t consider it a factor in healing. However you might land in the office of a doctor with nutritional expertise. There are exceptions, because of overwhelming evidence that what you eat does play a role — a big role, in health and healing.
Or you might find a more holistic doctor, with knowledge that movement and physical exercise—even if only one brief walk per day—helps detox your lymphatic system, which is critical to recovery.
In that case, you’ve got a doctor with a wider perspective on Lyme treatment. You are encouraged to become more proactive in your own recovery. And that could be the moment you turn the tide toward wellness.
What other dimensions are missing?
For further reading see the 4 Paths to Beating Lyme
I’ll tell you what I told him. It was the first thing that popped into my head, and it might not be what you expect.
Superman vs Clark Kent
Courage makes the headlines.
We all love to hear about daring, noble feats of everyday superheroes. Regular people doing unselfish acts.
It’s little wonder that feats like this restore our faith in humanity —
The man diving into the freezing pond to save an 11-year-old child.
The mother lifting a two-ton car off of a boy.
Your spouse refusing Ben & Jerry’s because they know you can’t eat sugar.
Courage is easy to admire because it’s easy to spot.
When it comes to battling Lyme, courage is as necessary as light is to life. Especially when you feel like you have to convince the doctor that you’re actually sick.
There’s no question we have to persevere, do our own research, and get a second opinion when necessary. Or a third, fourth, or fifth until we get the help we need. And it takes courage to question your doctor.
So this is where it helps to see that courage has a flip side. And that is patience, the unsung virtue.
If courage is Superman, patience is Clark Kent with his nose in a book. Granted, boring to watch. But he’s doing the work on the ground.
So that was my first response to the reader who asked what worked for me. Patience.
Patience and courage, because they’re really two sides of the same coin.
Patience and perseverance
Writer Amy Tan said when she had Lyme disease, she couldn’t remember the paragraph she had just read.
Has that ever happened to you?
It takes patience to start again, and again. You have to believe in your own body’s healing power.
Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder uphill. That’s perseverance. Never give up.
There is always something you can do. It begins with understanding what the Lyme bacterial complex is doing in your system. We’re talking about the mind-brain-body connection here.
Lyme bacteria in the brain
Science shows that the Lyme bacterial complex can cross over the blood-brain barrier. Not every bacteria can do that.
Think of the mind as the cloud. The brain is the device, the hardware. And science also tells us that the mind is located in our guts as well as in our heads.
Which is why there is such an important connection between the health of our guts, or intestines, and our mind-health. Feeding your body means also feeding your mind.
Lyme disease, when it affects your mind, threatens to erase your memories. It can delete your ability to put together a simple sentence. You can’t think of a word when you reach for it.
This is one of those tricky Lyme symptoms that is hard to explain to your friends. That’s because cognitive problems tend not to show up on the exterior.
Inside, it’s as if your interior being — your mind, your faith, your thoughts, beliefs, memories, everything that makes you you — has been shredded to bits and dragged over rocks and tossed off cliffs into a deep mud pool far below.
With all that going on, it can be tempting to give in to despair. Who could blame you?
I’ve been there, looking down the barrel of mortality. I had to decide whether to keep fighting or give in.
I almost gave in because the pain was unbearable.
Who knows why, but after a while of not dying, I chose courage.
What I didn’t know was that I’d have to be patient — more patient than I thought was possible — before I could really express that courage.
So I patiently proceeded (along with my doctor’s help) to do everything in my power to get back to health.
Especially eating right and keeping my mind sharp.
Foods & activities for brain health
Fighting Lyme from every angle was what worked for me. Antibiotics, herbal supplements, homeopathics, exercise, positive thinking, prayer (without ceasing), and good friends. Yep, a huge dose of good old fashioned love thrown into the mix.
I sought the company of friends, community and laughter. My husband helped by renting funny movies for us both to watch—since he sorely needed to escape the drag of Lyme disease as well.
And getting my butt out of bed to walk around the block even when I felt like I was dying.
My naturopathic doctor and I also found a diet that would support my brain and body.
What did I do?
I ate foods rich in Omega-3, lean proteins, and a rainbow of vegetables which are high in antioxidants and key vitamins. Colorful veggies are also detoxifying and will help your immune system by supporting your elimination organs, the kidneys, liver, and skin.
Nourish your body with whole foods. Avoid refined foods, sugar, and white flour. Avoid alcohol and coffee.
Reach for scrumptious red and blue fruits, such as organic strawberries and blueberries.
Keep your mind fit
Exercise and stretch whenever possible, and by all means rest.
Sleep is the key to healing. Good sleep.
Exercise your brain.
It’s important to help keep your mind fit. Try new things, keep learning. You can learn almost anything online.
Play games such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Play games online. Check out lumosity.com or brainmetrix.com.
Teach yourself another language by playing an online game or challenging a friend through duolingo.com.
If you played an instrument before you got Lyme, take it down off the shelf. Sit down at the piano and tinker.
Music is healing, especially when you make it yourself. Play music with friends. Let it take you away.
What kind of art do you like? You can take virtual museum tours online.
Make your own art. Craft something. Learn how to make an origami crane — so beautiful. Paint, write, draw, color in a coloring book.
Read a book. Read a series.
Keep your mind active and fit. Nourish your brain with vital, healthy foods that make you feel good.
Diet and nutrition are only part of the whole picture, but they were crucial to my recovery and now maintenance of good health.
Above all, be patient and kind to yourself. There is no more precious thing than your life.
Then you can tell your own superhuman story about healing from Lyme.
I bet that our double-sided virtue, patience and courage, will both play have played a big part.
On this winter solstice, chill winds and snow swirl through the giant bamboo forest
just outside our windows.
Since last Friday morning, we’ve shed a lot of tears.
Our broken hearts can heal but it will take time. In my own reflections over the course of the past week, I’ve recommitted to get stronger and healthier in 2013, in mind, body and spirit.
That’s my New Year’s wish for you, too.
-- All my best, Suzanne
Holiday gatherings usually center around sharing a meal together. You might be anticipating some changes in your dishes of choice this year. Where is the list of “should” or “shouldn’t eat” foods? And, the most important question of course: is chocolate on the list?
Food choice is so personal. Is there a good “Lyme diet” to follow? Take a peek at this food pyramid shared by Dr. Andrew Weil (and not just because chocolate is on the list!)
We hear a lot about how a particular food is good for us, such as salmon or flaxseed for the omega oils, and avocado for its ‘good’ fat. But how big a portion is advised, and why it is good are something you might not yet know. That’s why I like this simple chart. It tells you the how-much and the why.
An anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial for anyone suffering from Lyme, an inflammatory illness. Chances are, your doctor and your medical advisors are not well-informed about the way your diet affects you, so it’s worth looking into.
Most of us with Lyme have specific needs at mealtime. Communicate your wishes to your family. If you are the main chef and bottle washer at your house, encourage and allow others to help out in the kitchen. Let them do the shopping and the cleanup.
Aside from knitting irresistible toys for the adorable little ones, my preference during the holidays is to renew, reconnect and reflect. Since Lyme, I pay more attention to my breath, I take more time to write and walk. Give yourself permission to enjoy whatever activities you find regenerative. If it expands your spirit, feels loving and healthy, it’s a worthy pursuit. Healing comes from such wholeness.
A word about frenzy, which is so often the tone around this time of the year. It’s defined medically as temporary madness, “a state of violent mental agitation.” Its synonyms include fury and rage. Let’s focus on the symbols of the season, on faith and on relationships that matter. Or have you succumbed to old habits, struggling through city streets and stores clogged with impatient shoppers. It’s always our choice.
Faced with a few days off, it’s tempting to try to get as much done as humanly possible with the extra down-time. But your body and mind needs slowing-down-time. Don’t try to rush the healing process with your willpower.
If you’re in pain and the weight of the world feels like it’s on your tired shoulders, please be generous with yourself and rest. The world’s wisdom traditions teach that this dark season naturally facilitates surrender. So allow the healing process to move through you, and perhaps move you to a new place in your journey. With grace, you will be yourself again in time.
I wish you a peaceful and joyful holiday -- with an oz of 70% chocolate!