Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my Lyme story! Here’s the second part.
During our break from fertility treatments, I read a book called The Infertility Cure that gave me hope I could become pregnant naturally. The author, who’s a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, says,
“Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that a woman’s body must be gently nourished and encouraged to bear fruit …. I have found that most hormonal imbalances (which contribute to 40 percent of documented cases of infertility, yet are considered untreatable by conventional Western medicine) respond to Eastern methods of treatment.”
This resonated with me, and supported my feeling something besides “egg quality” was the root cause. I found a local Doctor of Chinese Medicine who specialized in fertility, and that decision helped lead me to my diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Regular acupuncture treatments helped me understand how the body works from the Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view. Here’s a brief description from Wikipedia.
TCM’s view of the body places little emphasis on anatomical structures, but is mainly concerned with the identification of functional entities (which regulate digestion, breathing, aging etc.). While health is perceived as harmonious interaction of these entities and the outside world, disease is interpreted as a disharmony in interaction. TCM diagnosis aims to trace symptoms to patterns of an underlying disharmony, by measuring the pulse, inspecting the tongue, skin, and eyes, and looking at the eating and sleeping habits of the person as well as many other things.
Since creating a life takes two, my TCM doctor suggested both my husband and I receive regular treatments. She would spend the first half hour of my appointments asking how I’d been feeling, listening to my pulse, looking at my tongue, and checking my abdomen for sore spots. The last 1/2 hour I spent with needles in various places, and it was a very relaxing. I would usually fall asleep. This was completely different from the Western fertility treatments I was used to!
After a few months, of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, liver cleanses, and more dietary changes, I would feel better for short amounts of time. Once I’d stop the any part of the daily regime, my symptoms would come back.
Some things, like my cognitive issues, night sweats, acne, knee, back, and neck pain, never improved. A year and a half later, I wasn’t pregnant, and my health was stagnant. She referred us to a TCM doctor in the Los Angeles area. She was confident he could help.
In the summer of 2011, six years after we started trying to get pregnant, off to L.A we went. I was hopeful I would soon be pregnant. Before my first appointment, I gave him my very “exciting” health history, and a huge stack of medical records!
The day of our initial consultation, after introducing himself, he said, “I think I know what’s going on. I believe you two are sharing an infection”. I thought that was bold, considering he’d never seen us before. However, he seemed humble but confident. He thought he’d be able to clear the infection within 6 months. He wanted to physically see us in L.A. every 90 days, and would work closely with our local TCM doctor on weekly treatment plans. Little did I know, the problems causing my health, and fertility issues, were multiple infections.
Once my new treatments started, things got really difficult. Most of my recurring symptoms got worse, and I felt sick most of the time. I was scared that I had cancer, or something worse. I remember sharing this with both doctors, and they explained I was experiencing a “healing crisis”. A sign my body was releasing lots of toxins all at one time.
After sixth months of treatment, there had been little improvement. The L.A. doctor suggested I get tested for heavy metal toxins, have our house checked for mold, and find a doctor who specialized in environmental medicine to run tests he wasn’t able to order.
It was a sunny day in February 2012, when I took yet another day off work for a doctor appointment. I had mixed emotions during my long drive to the environmental medicine doctor’s office. I was burned out by the health roller coaster I’d been but I really wanted to find an answer to what was wrong with me!
When I arrived, the office was very interesting. It had an IV lounge, and a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what they were used for. Later, I would learn some people with Lyme Disease need very aggressive treatments, including IV medicine treatments.
For what seemed like the millionth time, I shared my complete health history. After listening closely, he asked in depth questions about a few symptoms, especially the knee pain. I told him I thought I was getting old. He laughed and said, “People in their 30’s aren’t old, and they shouldn’t have joint pain.”
He wanted to run more tests, including a Western Blot for Lyme Disease. He prescribed me 200 mg of Doxycycline per day, which I was to take for two weeks before the test. He said the Lyme bacteria was good at hiding, and if it was there, the antibiotics would help bring it out. I was opposed to taking the antibiotics; however, I wanted to find out if Lyme Disease could be my answer.
About three days after starting antibiotics, I had what I thought was an allergic reaction. I woke up on a Friday, and went to work with a headache and body aches. I thought this was just another one of my regular “bad” days.
As the day progressed, the headache turned into a migraine. I was nauseous, I had chills, I was shaky, every joint and muscle ached. When five o’clock finally arrived, I left, and barely remember my short drive home. I came home, got into bed, and my body ached so bad, even lying in bed hurt!
Surprisingly, when I woke up on Saturday, I felt much better. I called the doctor on Monday and expressed my concern about an allergic reaction. He said that wasn’t the case but instead it was likely a Herxheimer Reaction. A sign that large amounts of bacteria were dying off, and that it was probably killing some of the Lyme bacteria. This sounded like the “healing crisis” explanation I’d gotten six months ago. He recommended I stay on the antibiotics until my test results came back.
Two weeks later, my results came back as negative, by both CDC, and Igenex standards. I did have some borderline positive bands, but not enough to be considered a positive test. Explaining why there are two standards would require another post. You can read more about that here.
The doctor said a major part of diagnosing Lyme Disease is clinical, meaning it’s heavily based on each person’s symptoms and health history. He felt strongly that the symptoms I’d been experiencing over the years, and my reaction to the antibiotics, confirmed I had Lyme Disease.
I began to research Lyme disease via the internet. It was fascinating to see all my symptoms in black and white.
One symptom that stuck out was reproductive problems. As I began to learn more about Lyme, Babesia, and Bartonella, it became clear my over burdened immune system had made conception difficult. For the first time, in a long time, I felt happy and had hope!
When I think about the years I searched for an answer, it seems surreal. I’m glad I didn’t stop searching, and trusted my intuition to find the truth!
I could not have kept going without my faith in God, or my husband by my side. Thankfully, after two years of treatment, by an amazing Lyme literate doctor, I’m much better. I feel better now than I did in my 20’s and early 30’s. I’m looking forward to being infection free, and finally starting our family.
To all those who’ve suffered from Lyme and co-infections, don’t give up! The road may be long, but you can get better!
If you want to know more about Lyme and co-infections, click here.
If you want to know more about my treatment plans, click here.
Important update: In October 2014, I traveled to Infusio in Germany for thymus and stem cell therapy. You can learn more by clicking here.