Six Ways to Combat Candida during Lyme Treatment

Please note: This article originally appeared on ProHealth on December 21, 2016

Photo credit to William Ismael

Photo credit to William Ismael

Yeast overgrowth is a common concern for Lyme patients who undergo long-term antibiotic therapy and certain herbal antimicrobial treatments. While numerous antimicrobials can affect the delicate balance of the gut flora, broad spectrum medications like amoxicillin, minocycline, doxycycline, and clarithromycin (just to name a few) pose the greatest risk of destroying healthy intestinal microbiota allowing yeast to flourish. One such yeast you’ve probably heard about is Candida.

Certain levels of Candida are a natural and ordinary part of the flora in the intestinal tract. When Candida levels are healthy, they aid in the absorption of nutrients, guard the intestinal tract against other pathogens, and support the immune system. However, when Candida levels become imbalanced and overwhelm the body–a condition known as dysbiosis–you may experience a whole host of symptoms in addition to those associated with Lyme disease.

Although it can be a challenge to distinguish the symptoms of Candida overgrowth from the complex expression of Lyme disease, some signs that your body is battling an upsurge of yeast include: digestive disturbances, bloating, fatigue, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, brain fog, vaginal yeast infections and itchy skin. In fact, yeast overgrowth can lead to a spike in inflammatory cytokines–potent inflammatory chemicals in the body–leading to a worsening of many of your Lyme symptoms. Food allergies and sensitivities may also develop as a result of this imbalance in your body.

The majority of Lyme patients are likely to encounter Candida overgrowth at some point during their treatment. Using a combination of prescription medications (when necessary), anti-fungal herbs, and dietary changes, you can bring balance back into your intestinal tract. As naturopathic doctor and Lyme expert Dr. Nicola McFadzean says, “Since the gut has its own immune and neurological systems, keeping the natural ecology in balance is key.” Below are six ways to help keep Candida in check throughout your Lyme treatment.

1. Limit your intake of sugar.
Sugar and substances that break down into sugar in the body are foods that fuel yeast overgrowth. To control yeast, you’ll want to eliminate your intake of sugar as much as possible–including both simple and complex carbohydrates, alcohol, and fruit. If you’re waging an ongoing war with Candida, you might need to remove these items completely from your diet. While this step is not always an easy one to take, it’s one of the best ways to strengthen your immune system.

2. Add fermented foods to your diet.
In a previous article called, Six Things You Can Do To Improve Your Gut Health When You Have Lyme Disease [http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=29182], I discuss the benefits of increasing your intake of fermented foods. Foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles, and kefir are gut-friendly nourishment that support intestinal health. Fermented fare provides your body with essential probiotics, enzymes, and vitamins that can help shield you from a whole host of pathogens.

3. Take a quality probiotic.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that restore and replace the healthy gut flora that been destroyed by long-term treatment. The dose of probiotics and the brand you’ll want to take will differ depending on your doctor and your protocol. However, they are a must-have supplement for anyone going through Lyme treatment. Additionally, they aid in digestion and help your body assimilate the nutrients that you take in.

To find the probiotic that’s right for you, it’s best to ask your physician for advice. They may have a preferred brand they want you to take.

4. Don’t forget about Saccharomyces boulardii.
Sacc what? Don’t worry. It’s known as Sacc B. for short. Sacc B is a beneficial yeast that functions as a probiotic in the body (surprisingly, not all yeasts are bad). Like the helpful bacteria mentioned above, this organism also contributes to defending the gut against disease-causing bacteria and yeast. Studies suggest that Sacc B might be useful for managing Clostridium difficile (C-diff)–a dangerous gastrointestinal infection that can be brought on by the overuse of antibiotics. One such study, entitled “Influence of Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM I-745 on the gut-associated immune system” was published in Clinical Experimental Gastroenterology in September, 2016. Many other similar studies show that Sacc B may support GI health in those with irritable bowel syndrome, as well as in those with urinary tract conditions–among other conditions that are relevant to Lyme patients.

5. Try herbal remedies.
In addition to dietary changes and probiotics, your doctor might decide to place you on a combination of natural anti-fungal treatments to correct yeast overgrowth. Herbs like garlic, olive leaf extract, pau d’arco, caprylic acid, oregano oil, and grapefruit seed extract may help support a healthy balance of yeast in the gut; they are sometimes used alone or in a combination Candida support formula. Be sure to consult with your doctor before adding any herbal remedies to your protocol. Certain ones may interact with your medications.

6. If the problem persists, there are prescription medications.
Anti-fungal medications like nystatin and fluconazole are commonly prescribed for treating yeast overgrowth. Nystatin is generally safe and efficient at killing yeast in the gut without toxic or harmful side effects. Fluconazole is a more potent medication, and it’s used when there’s a more serious or systemic problem with Candida. Some medications, including antibiotics and herbal remedies, may interact with this drug, so let your doctor know what you are taking before you begin fluconazole.

With a combination of lifestyle and diet changes, natural treatments, and prescription medications, symptoms associated with elevated Candida levels may greatly improve.

References:

Balch, J.F., & Stengler, M. (2004). Prescription for Natural Cures. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Crook, W. (2005). The Yeast Connection And Women’s Health. Jackson, TN: Professional Books, Inc.

McFadzean, N. ( 2010). The Lyme Diet. South Lake Tahoe, CA: BioMed Publishing Group.

Teitelbaum, J. (2007). From Fatigued to Fantastic. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.

Renew Your Sense Of Hope And Optimism This Year With Theses Four Steps

Please note: this article originally appeared on ProHealth on January 20th, 2016. 

By Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio

With 2016 well underway, many of us have recently reassessed our lives. We took inventory of what worked last year, what we hoped to improve upon this year, and constructed a well-intentioned plan to move forward in a fresh, new direction. Not surprisingly, several of us still resolved to achieve more, get in better shape, eat a healthier diet, be a better mother, father, partner, spouse, friend, etc. However, with Lyme disease and various overlapping conditions in the mix, often, our best-laid plans come to an abrupt halt. Many of us simply don’t have the strength and stamina to exert ourselves so intensely (myself included), which tends to leave us feeling frustrated and disheartened.

If this describes you, go easy on yourself. Thankfully, there’s plenty of time left to challenge the idea that you must muster up the strength to push more and try harder to have a better year. Instead, make 2016 exceptional by honoring your body exactly where it’s at, and accepting your current capabilities. By embracing a healthier mindset, may you feel uplifted and encouraged as you continue to heal. Here are four tips to renew your sense of hope and optimism this year

1. Remember that you are worth the struggle.

First, let me start off by saying–the trials you’ve endured, the tears you’ve shed over this illness, the obstacles you fought so hard to overcome—are not meaningless. Likewise, you battle a set of invisible symptoms on a daily basis that most will never see. Your unwavering determination and strength inspire others to forge ahead. Your vast knowledge helps others. Others see you as more than your illness, and your perseverance motivates them. The road to recovery is long, but please hold onto this certainty for 2016: You are worth all of the effort–all of the struggle– it takes to reclaim your health and life. Always remember, you are a person of great value to the world.

2.Find something therapeutic for yourself.

Raise your hand if you feel completely overwhelmed now and then by the usual, chronic illness rigmarole! Okay, maybe all the time (my hand shot up too). As an occupational therapist, my training taught me that a productive treatment session possesses healing, restorative, and therapeutic qualities for the patient. From a personal perspective, I learned a valuable lesson about a year into my Lyme treatment when I realized nothing felt therapeutic. My muscles held an abundance of tension, and my mind was regularly fearful. From herbs and supplements to medications, it didn’t matter what I put into my struggling body. I always reacted harshly to all of it.

Out of desperation, a quick Yelp search led me to an acupuncturist, named Tina, who had treated at least one other Lyme patient. She kindly agreed to see me that very day. I was so weak at this particular point in my illness that my husband carried me to her office and laid me down on the table. On our first visit, Tina evaluated me, and we agreed on a gentle treatment plan utilizing massage and acupuncture to relax my nervous system. Upon completion of our first session, I felt different, lighter. It was as if years of tension had melted away. This experience underscored the importance of utilizing various therapeutic modalities to help improve my health. It was a piece of the puzzle that had been missing.

Perhaps a detox bath, a massage, reading a good book, or prayer is therapeutic for you. Whatever it is, do it often. Don’t neglect to include these beneficial elements into your protocol. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.

3. Allow yourself to feel happiness.

Most of us believe our happiness is dependent upon our circumstances– we’ll feel happy if we are well, if we have enough money, if we were around nicer people–if, if, if.

I hear these “if” statements often. We place our delight and joy in future pursuits that may or may not ever happen, and we deny ourselves the ability to experience happiness now. In 2016, let’s try a new approach. Release yourself from the thought that you can’t be happy until your life looks a certain way. Instead, notice the little gifts and sweet surprises that each day brings. While it’s true this won’t end your hardships; it will boost your spirit as you walk the long road to recovery.

4. Stop measuring your progress by how others are doing

There is no easy answer as to why some people get well while many of us continue to be ill. What I can tell you is, your journey through this illness is uniquely yours. You will repeatedly hear about someone who got well seeing a specific doctor, using a particular treatment, trying a bold therapy, or taking a special supplement. While it’s good to stay informed of your options, it’s important to remember there is no surefire way to recover. No matter what treatment option you choose to pursue, your body tolerates what it can, and it heals at its own rate. Healing will always be unique to you and your body and different from anyone else’s. So, please stop measuring your progress by how others are doing. I mean it. Stop it. This type of comparison is instantly depressing and will immediately kill your sense of hope and optimism. Rather, focus on how far you’ve already come, because, believe it or not, you’ve already made it a heck of a long way.

I would love to hear what things you are doing to remain hopeful and optimistic in the new year. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Q & A Thursday

Today, I am very excited to announce the beginning of a new section on my blog called, Q & A Thursday. As people search for more answers, I find myself unable to respond to all the emails I receive. My hope is that weekly question and answer posts (or whenever I feel up to the task of writing them) provide insights into the more commonly asked questions. Wishing everyone continued hope and healing in the new year! May this year be a breakthrough year for us all!

 

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Q: I saw some photos of you online, and it seems like you’ve been doing better. How are you feeling now?

A: Well, how much time do you have? That’s a complicated answer.

Above all things, I try my very hardest to remain hopeful and optimistic during what is hands down the most challenging and grueling time in my life. When my symptoms ease up for a short period, I take full advantage of the opportunity. Those quick flashes of time are what you see captured in my photos–moments of promise and joy. I am doing better in those moments because, well, I am living.

In contrast, I struggle with intense, prolonged episodes of debilitating exhaustion. It’s never fully gone, but sometimes it lessens. Whenever I change my treatment protocol, the fatigue intensifies. I have recently begun treating Babesia, and if it’s possible to be exhausted from being exhausted, that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. I find it difficult to leave my house due to the lack of energy. I require more rest times throughout the day; it’s a bit reminiscent of the days before I started treatment and I am trying desperately not to freak out. Admittedly, I had a bit of a breakdown this morning.

But, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that Lyme is a roller coaster that never stops. While this ride has dipped down for the moment, I know it will eventually climb again–hopefully, sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I will continue to follow my treatment protocol and get back into the habit of a consistent detox regime.

Thanks for the question.

Lessons Learned Through Joy, Pain, and Self-Discovery

[Note: This article originally appeared on Pro Health on December 7th, 2015. www.prohealth.com. Christmas is a time for reflection over the past year, and celebrating the possibilities for the new year. It seems appropriate to me then, that I would post this article today. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a new year filled with joy, peace, and healing. Here’s to 2016!]

October 24, 2013, was probably an average Thursday in the lives of most people. For me, however, it was a life-changing day; it was the day I finally had some answers. After numerous doctors and ten years of seriously declining health–the last 18-months of which I spent bedridden–I listened sharply on the phone as my nurse practitioner informed me, “You have Lyme Disease. You’ve probably had it most of your life.”

I was both scared and relieved to hear this news. Scared because, well, I knew I would be embarking on one of the greatest challenges of my life, and relieved because I was no longer in the dark about what to call the mysterious illness wreaking havoc on my body. The list of diagnoses I had collected over the years–from Interstitial Cystitis and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis to Fibromyalgia, and Adrenal Fatigue–all suddenly seemed interconnected. I knew the path to reclaiming my health would require patience, persistence, effort, and faith. Nevertheless, I was ready to confront the illness that had sidelined me for years. Thankfully, I had the support of my loving husband and family.

On that fall morning in October, my nurse practitioner laid the groundwork for a treatment protocol that has slowly helped me to rebuild my life, one tiny step at a time. There are layers of damage to address as a result of going years–maybe even decades–with undiagnosed, systemic infections. I just passed the two-year treatment mark. I am not cured or well yet, but I am healing. I still have ups and downs; I have flashes where it seems like remission is in reach and stages where I can barely lift my head from the pillow. In spite of all the highs and lows along this bumpy road, I am forever transformed by the lessons learned through joy, pain and, self-discovery. Here are those lessons:

Learn to resist the urge to dwell in a negative headspace for long periods of time.

In the beginning, I had spent countless amounts of energy thinking about the past; what I once was capable of doing, and the social life I had prior to my illness. Dwelling on the past immediately ushered me into a very dark, negative place in my mind. Isolated from the things and people I loved the most, the loneliness was heartbreaking. I felt hopeless, lost and frustrated. I grew too fearful to even imagine a future where joy and dreams could exist. Sickness appeared to win and overtake the best parts of me.

I am not exactly sure when the shift in my thinking occurred; but my core, my spirit, the very deepest places of me, eventually changed. I let go of anger and gave myself permission to redefine my identity in spite of the struggles I faced. In contrast, by maintaining my focus on the present and not the past, I discovered more peace within my situation. Slowly, I began to see light and hope in the places once occupied by darkness and negativity. I still struggle, but I see an opportunity for personal growth in the midst of my troubles and I choose to embrace it. I am more content nowadays as I take on these health challenges, and much less likely to contemplate the gloomy side of things.

When one chapter of life closes, a new chapter begins.

Early in my treatment, I came across a wonderful quote from Pastor Brian Houston. It reads:

“Never ever confuse the end of an era in your life as the completion of your destiny.”

The truth of his words gripped my heart with such conviction I have yet to forget them. He was right. There was no denying that an era in my life had ended. Although I grieved those devastating losses for months, I began to hope and affirm a new beginning; a season of healing and anticipation, in my life. I anchored my thoughts to the idea that I still had a purpose and a destiny, and I have not looked back.

Even though I am strained beneath the weight of a controversial illness, I know I still have a unique set of gifts and talents worth sharing with the world. I accept that Lyme disease is my present circumstance. Thankfully, circumstances can and do change. However, the destiny for my life does not. It’s so freeing to write that!

Take time to celebrate the small victories.

Yes, I still have a chronic illness, but I repeatedly test the notion that I can’t enjoy life. I frequently take mental vacations from my illness– from obsessing over it, Googling it, and chatting about it. Instead, I try to celebrate small victories and nurture my adventuresome spirit.

I snap pictures of just about everything I do. That’s become my approach to maintaining a celebratory, productive outlook. When progress seems slow to come, I can look at these visual reminders and see there have been several small victories. These accomplishments help me to combat adversity and renew my optimism.

I hope I will one day beat Lyme disease altogether. I am steadfast in my determination and more resilient than I realized. Ultimately, there are many more healing milestones to celebrate along the way.

My current treatment is aggressive and will continue to be intense for a while. Although someone else could be angry about their experience with chronic Lyme disease, most of the time, I am not. I choose to stay grateful that I have a body that refuses to give up. Another person– a different body– may have quit a long time ago. In the middle of all the chaos, there have been moments of immense happiness over the last two years. I live for those moments. They are the fuel for my soul to continue this healing journey.

Exactly three years ago today…

Looking back at this pic from three years ago, I choked up a bit. I may “appear” okay, but inside my body, a serious war waged on that had me fighting for my life. What many never knew is that I am leaning on Tom because I was too weak to stand on my own. My hair is long and uncut because I was too sick to endure a trip to the hair salon. My glasses were broken because I stepped on them 4 months prior and was not strong enough to go to an eye doctor. I was bedridden 90% of the time and remained that way for 18 agonizing months. After this picture was taken, I immediately had to lie down. The girl in this picture knew she would fight an invisible battle for the rest of her life– a battle that would rarely ever show on her face. I am so glad this girl was brave, had perseverance and most importantly, never gave up. ‪

New Pumpkin Patch Pic

#‎TakeThatLyme‬ ‪#‎NeverGiveUp‬

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bump In The Road: Dealing With An Interstitial Cystitis Flare

I encountered a discouraging bump in the road last week. In addition to Lyme Disease, I have an inflammatory bladder condition called Interstitial Cystitis (IC).

Marked with bladder pain, urinary frequency and urgency, I have had this condition since 2005. It was fairly well-controlled for about 4 years. I even thought the most difficult days of dealing with IC were behind me. Unfortunately, this flare-up shows my bladder has more healing to do.

As I struggle to understand why I am once again experiencing such severe bladder symptoms, I decided to take a specialized urine test from a lab called Pathogenius. The lab performs testing at two different levels using a culture and DNA detection. My nurse practitioner only recently began working with this lab. Whether or not a patient improves using treatments designed around this testing method, remains to be seen.

My level one culture came back negative. However, the DNA portion of the test detected abnormally high levels of a bacteria I was unfamiliar with called Prevotella Bivia. This bacteria is not a tick-borne infection like the others I am battling. In fact, some amount of this bacteria appears to be present in healthy individuals and poses no trouble to them.

Perhaps my immune system, already suppressed by multiply systemic infections, could not keep this bacteria in check and my bladder became symptomatic again.

That’s my best guess.

After reviewing the results, my nurse practitioner presented me with two treatment options:

Option A is to instill medication directly into my bladder via self-catheterization. A two-week course of medication and supplies arrives at my house from a compounding pharmacy. It’s not covered by insurance, so my out-of-pocket cost would be somewhere between $200-$500. A second, two-week round of the instillations is usually required. For a one months supply, the total cost is between $400-$1,000. This is in addition to the $1,000+ per month my husband and I currently pay out-of-pocket for my treatment.

The pros of this treatment are:

1) It delivers medication directly into the bladder so the antibiotics do not have to bypass the GI tract where it can disrupt normal gut flora or interact with the other medications I am taking.

2) It’s an innovative new approach to treating interstitial cystitis.

The cons are:

1) It’s expensive to do and I question whether it’s sustainable for the average person over a long period of time. Several courses of treatment could be required to achieve maximum benefit.

2) Repeatedly doing bladder instillations carries the risk of contracting a urinary tract infection, which is then treated with another oral antibiotic.

3) This treatment is so new that it is not yet known what the rate of success is.

A pit in my stomach formed as I did the math. With our current situation, I felt Option A would not be feasible for me. It’s just too costly.

As FOMO set in (Fear Of Missing Out on a treatment that might be THE treatment to finally cure me), I reluctantly asked for an option B.

This option is to add yet another antibiotic to my already rigorous treatment. In this case, it would be the broad spectrum antibiotic, Clindamycin.

The pros of this treatment are:

1) It’s cheap. In fact, I would pay nothing with my insurance.

2) In addition to treating the Prevotella Bivia in the bladder, it also targets the Lyme bacteria in the nervous system.

The cons are:

1) Since this antibiotic kills bacteria from such a broad spectrum and I am already on an aggressive antibiotic protocol, it could increase my risk of developing candida overgrowth or worse, a potentially life threatening GI infection called C-Diff.

2) I need to take this antibiotic three times per day, making it difficult to schedule it around all my other medications.

3) It’s also hard on the digestive tract.

4) Because this antibiotic has penetration into the nervous system for the Lyme bacteria, there is a high likelihood of experiencing an increase in my neurological symptoms as the new antibiotic kills those bacteria.

Truthfully, I  really didn’t like either of the options. Neither annihilating my gut nor going in debt seem like great solutions. In the end, I chose the only affordable route for me. I added the fourth oral antibiotic to my treatment for the next 10 days. Following completion of this antibiotic, I will re-test with Pathogenius to see if there are additional infections.

During this course of treatment, I have significantly upped my intake of probiotics and digestive enzymes to help protect my gut and decrease the risk of C-Diff and Candida overgrowth. As predicted, I am noticing an increase in my neurological symptoms and worsening insomnia has been the most difficult symptom to endure. Luckily, I am already on day 6 of my 10 day plan.

I am hoping this new treatment will shed light on potential causes of Interstitial Cystitis in some people and yield improvements in my symptoms.

I will post an update after I have completed this course of treatment.

Bump in the Road

The Absent-Minded Patient And A Treatment Update

The other day, I couldn’t find my cell phone. I looked under the bed, on top of tables and shelves and literally under every scrap of paper in the house. It had vanished.

Where could it be? I hadn’t even left the house in a week due to a blizzard and not feeling well from changing up my treatment plan.

Suddenly, I had an inkling, a vague recollection of what I was doing when I last had my phone in my hand.

I ran to the kitchen and threw open the refrigerator door. There, on the top shelf next to a loaf of Udi’s Gluten Free bread, was my cell phone! (This would be the appropriate place to insert an emoticon- the one with the wide-open eyes and a line for a mouth that basically says, “Oops. I did something stupid.”)

As I reached in to grab my already chilled phone (I estimate it had been in there for about an hour) I said out loud to absolutely no one, “And this folks…This is a perfect example of why you too should have the Life Proof cell phone case!”

I’m sure everyone has left their phone in the refrigerator at least once, right?

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I have a legit excuse for my absent-mindedness. I promise.

About two weeks ago, my nurse practitioner decided it was time to intensify my treatment. This generally leads to a few steps backwards as my body adapts to the changes. This time around however, the changes seemed to have stirred up some old symptoms with a vengeance.

We included the antibiotic, Flagyl, into my protocol to target bacteria that are in a specific form called, “cyst form.” This antibiotic packs a powerful punch and has left me feeling more fatigued than usual and foggy-headed (obviously).

I also said goodbye to my trusty companions of 16 months, Banderol and Samento, and added a more potent herbal formula, called A-L Complex, by Byron White. With an increase in joint pain, muscle spasms and a flare up of Interstitial Cystitis (an inflammatory bladder condition that I have had for 10 years), just one drop of this formula makes me feel like a car ran over me!

One measly drop!

I always say, “If I must go through this, at least it’s winter so I know I am not missing much.”

With today’s temp at a frigid 12 degrees, I feel sorry for anyone who has to leave the house!

Next week, I am meeting with my local Lyme doctor to discuss some strategies to deal with the increase in pain and fatigue I am experiencing. I hope he has some brilliant ideas for me.

To see my full, updated treatment plan, click here.

 

Adjusting To New Holiday Traditions

In 16 years, not a single snow storm or blizzard deterred me from seeing my family during the Christmas season.

Dating back to my freshman year of college, I would pack the car to the brim and drive to Minnesota. I usually brought a giant pile of dirty clothes to wash at my parents house, as I had typically run out of quarters by the end of the semester. In the years I had my job as an Occupational Therapist, I loaded the car with gifts that I had proudly purchased for my family. When I got married, my husband became part of my holiday traveling tradition also.

By 2011, I was no longer well enough to take those trips.

Christmas with my family is huge. Parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, children, grandchildren and friends all congregate at my Aunt’s house in what invariably turns into a 2-3 day marathon of food, fun and some serious card playing. Games like Canasta, Continental Rummy and Nuts have been a family tradition as far back as I can remember. I grew up playing cards and learned to count while playing poker with my grandmother. My cousin, Julie, is the undisputed card-playing champion of the family. Her hands move so fast, at times they’re blurry.

I miss those days.

Not yet strong enough to endure the Christmas festivities, I find myself trying to create new traditions in Chicago.

In our apartment, we have a small, decorated tree that sits on our mantel. We tried a 7 foot tree one year, but my beagle tried to eat it so we had to downsize.

Every year, I pose the beagles in costumes just long enough to snap a pic or two. I have a reindeer, a Santa suit and a snowman costume. The costumes are decided based on their cooperation. This year, I had a pocket full of yummy treats so I had their full participation.

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Like last year, my mother will be coming the day after Christmas. We will partake in our annual tradition of driving around looking for the best displays of Christmas lights. We have been doing this since I was a child, first in my hometown of Winona, and now in Chicago. This is one of my favorite Christmas-time activities.

There are moments however, where I realize I am not yet adjusted to my life with Lyme and such an uneventful holiday season. There will be no big, family meal and no presents to unwrap, as every spare cent we have goes towards my treatment. Such quietness seems foreign to me.

Hopefully, I will one day soon be able to enjoy Christmas and the busyness once again!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from me, Tom, Seven (15 yrs) and Caylie (12 yrs)!

 

Viewing Elephants On My iPhone

The other day, I was walking at the mall with Tom, enjoying the Christmas displays and celebrating how far I have come. I have been tolerating my treatment plan well and slowing increasing a new supplement called Mito Lipo to improve my mitochondrial function and give me more energy.

“I think I am turning a corner with my health.” I cheerfully said. To illustrate my point, Tom abruptly made a 90 degree turn in front of me while dancing.

The day after my outing however, I was hit with such severe fatigue that I have since been cooped up in my bed for the last two days. I don’t do lying in bed well anymore. I’ve got dreams, ideas and things I would like to accomplish. My mind maybe capable of doing more, but my body does not always receive the memo.

So, here I lay in my cozy bed viewing elephants on my iPhone as I recuperate. I know this is a temporary set-back. Next, I will check in with various members on the local Lyme forum and chat with a few friends on Instagram. What would I do without social media?

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My Holiday Treatment Plan

The sign that I have the right health practitioner is that I can leave our appointments feeling encouraged. I am not confused or doubting our treatment strategy. She answers my questions and I can see that there is a plan with lots of good options. Having options is so important to remaining hopeful along this extensive road to recovery.

Yesterday, I had a follow-up consultation with my nurse practitioner to discuss my treatment plan over the next two months. I would like to enjoy this holiday season as much as possible. As of now, the detox and die-off reactions are manageable. Thankfully, Nurse P. agreed with me and we decided we would only make some minor adjustments.

These are the areas that need attention over the next two months.

1. Currently, I have an elevated liver enzyme.

I have been taking Rifampin for almost four months. The national website, LiverTox, reports that 10% to 20% of patients can experience a short-term elevation in liver enzymes while taking this medication. In my case, my ALT enzyme (Alanine Aminotransferase) is mildly elevated. The exact mechanism is not well-understood as to why this occurs in some people. At this time, I do not need to discontinue the medication, but I need to carefully monitor my liver enzymes while taking it. I have begun to take a liver support supplement called Hepa Plus to help my liver metabolize this medication better. I will also be having blood work done every 3 weeks to see if my level has remained stable or perhaps even lowered.

2. I am still exhibiting signs of hypothyroidism.

Although I am taking Nature-Throid, my previous dose increase did not seem to bring my thyroid levels into the normal range. In fact, there was no change.

Enter Rifampin again.

Rifampin has been shown to induce cases of hypothyroidism in some patients. This is very likely why I did not see an improvement in my numbers despite increasing my thyroid medication. I will be raising my dose again and will also have to keep close tabs on my thyroid levels. Hopefully, getting my thyroid into the normal range will improve my energy. This has been difficult to achieve.

3. I am currently in the midst of doing a second cycle of Alinia.

Alinia is a medication that has activity against parasites, bacteria and some viruses. With one pill, we have been able to target multiple organisms. When I finish this course of the medication, I will be switching to treatment using colloidal silver. I have some limited experience with colloidal silver in the past, so I am interested to see how it combines with the rest of my treatment.

© NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

© NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

We will revisit my treatment plan again at end of January. At that point, I anticipate some significant changes.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear how you prepare for the holidays. Will you be changing treatment strategies or keeping things the same?