Book Now

A Post-Covid Shitstorm: A Path to Recovery. Part II

Aug 06, 2023

Preface: Western medicine is phenomenal. It can be lifesaving. It saved me at one point in my health journey. But its approach to healing can be flawed, and I personally needed more for my healing.

If you are struggling with your health, I FEEL FOR YOU. You are not alone. Know that there are other options out there, and that you are not bound to what one doctor tells you. This isn't to bash or be disrespectful to doctors. They are very educated and driven people, but it's impossible to meet the needs of everyone- especially with chronic illnesses continuing to skyrocket in our nation.  

I share this recovery story with hopes that it’ll meet another person who is struggling with their health; who may be feeling defeated because western medicine hasn’t been able to meet them where they’re at and guide them to where they’d like to be. If this is you, please know that you CAN get better.

My health journey began with appointments that centered around prescription medications and standard testing. Though those appointments were valuable, it didn’t get me where I wanted to be. After 3 months of shifting myself from doctor to doctor, I started my search for other styles of medicine. I eventually found the providers that resonated with me (not an easy feat by the way), and my recovery commenced. Healing revolved around the integrative medicine approach (sometimes called functional medicine; I use both terms interchangeably in this post).

Integrative medicine does a wonderful job infusing western medicine with non-western interventions to aid in healing. Its goal is to treat the WHOLE person (not just part of a person). More importantly, it puts the patient in control of their care. That meant that I chose what treatments felt best (and that I could manage), and that I had to be willing to put in the effort (and I wasn't judged if I didn't want to do something that was recommended). I did everything I could manage. I ebbed and flowed, took 3 steps forward, then 2 steps back, but I kept going and had the support from my providers and family throughout the process. I approached my healing from every angle so that when I got better, I would stay better.

Let’s dive in. But first..

If you read through this post and are inspired to take a similar approach to your health, the best thing you can do is to find trained and credible providers and, most importantly, that you choose an integrative/functional approach because it resonates with you. Everyone’s journey is different so honing in on what intuitively feels best is important.

The Institute of Functional Medicine is the gold standard for training doctors or other healthcare professionals in functional/integrative medicine, so checking for these credentials is a good starting point. 

Note: I am strictly just sharing my story. I am not credentialed as an integrative provider. PLEASE DO NOT USE INFORMATION IN THIS POST AS MEDICAL ADVICE OR TRY TO TREAT YOURSELF WITHOUT GUIDANCE FROM A LICENSED HEALTHCARE PROVIDER.

All the treatments for these symptoms/diagnoses were interconnected and happening at the same time, but to make this simple I’m going to chunk them into different segments. It may be important to know that they were done together, not separately, and that they all influenced each other. Healing is not linear, nor is it easy. And it can be unpredictable. If you’re on a healing journey yourself and struggling with it, KEEP WORKING AT IT. My recovery lasted about a year.

Bladder Dysfunction

Symptoms: urgency, urethral pains, pelvic inflammation, and pressure

My bladder symptoms started easing up a bit once I eliminated foods out of my diet (I took this too far- dropping 20lbs in 2 months- as you’ve read in part 1. But it did help). I started drinking 80oz of water every day. Being hydrated helped immensely with my symptoms.

I saw a pelvic floor physical therapist every week for several months. She was amazing. She met me where I was at and catered the sessions to what was going on for me that day. (There is a specific certification that PT's need to be a pelvic floor therapist. Search for PT's that have completed or are working toward their certification through APTA or Herman Wallace). Internal pelvic work is pivotal in bladder symptom treatment and management. 

I used phenazopyridine (a prescription medication that masked symptoms to make then more tolerable) on days when symptoms were rough.

I had functional medicine testing done that gave some data about food sensitivities; I avoided those foods because they can cause inflammation & inflammation can make symptoms worse. 

I worked with a mental health therapist, to learn how to manage my anxiety when symptoms showed up. Bladder symptoms triggered anxiety; it was the first thing to start my anxiety-insomnia cascade back when I first got sick. Stress management was important to keep inflammation down as well as keep my anxiety under control.

Thought work, mindfulness, massage, and energy medicine were my go-to’s for stress management (which in turn controls inflammation and regulate cortisol levels). 

I went back to work slowly (I hadn’t worked for 6 months). I would push myself, but also respect my body and let it recover. I noticed that doing too much or overwhelming myself would cause bladder symptoms to exacerbate.

I went to acupuncture twice a month (and then once a month after the first 3-4 sessions) for bladder symptoms, anxiety, insomnia and immune support.

I had hormone testing done via the DUTCH test  to see if any of my hormones were off, that could be contributing to symptoms or increasing inflammation/stress (which can exacerbate symptoms). I found out my progesterone was low, so I started a supplement called ProgonB-L 4x to support progesterone production in my body. 

Over time (probably a period of 6-8 months), my bladder symptoms resolved. I am currently 100% symptom free. If I have a moment where I feel symptoms start to creep up, I go through my checklist of what I have fallen off track with. I continue to see a pelvic floor PT (as needed now), mental health therapist (every 4-8 weeks) & eat a relatively clean diet (still working on it!). I prioritize hydration, sleep, and nutrition. A plant-based diet has numerous benefits for my body, so I typically stick with that style of eating (I do eat meat sometimes though!). I worked with a Plant-Based dietitian to ensure I was getting all the nutrients I needed. I avoided alcohol and caffeine from Dec of 2021-Jan of 2023. Caffeine can irritate the bladder and wreak havoc on an already stressed body. I now currently drink a cup of black coffee every morning, and I will drink alcohol on occasion.

I mixed D-mannose in a glass of water after intimacy to prevent any bladder symptoms from being triggered (I don't need to this anymore, I only will if I feel like I need to). This helps me manage bladder symptoms after sex (at one point sex would trigger them, though it no longer does). Bladder Ease is a supplement that came recommended to help ease the bladder symptoms. I took this once and then stopped. I don't remember why I stopped (probably because I was terrified it wouldn't work or make symptoms worse). 

Side note:

There is a theory that some people with bladder issues have an embedded infection (basically the bacteria hide in the bladder or urethral wall and are covered by a biofilm, making it hard to access them and treat). The main treatment for that is long-term antibiotics. Some people have success with this, but I couldn’t find many people who had success in the long term. After weighing the risks vs benefits of long-term antibiotics and knowing where my symptoms were at (they waxed and waned and the above interventions were helping me), it didn’t resonate with me to do long term antibiotic treatment. However, I did send in testing to see if I had any abnormal bacteria in my urine that a typical UA and urine culture won’t detect. The test is called Microgen DX, and results came back that I had “good bacteria” in my urine (urine is no longer viewed as sterile, so this wasn’t alarming. It was relieving). That validated my decision to not pursue antibiotic treatment. There is a doctor in Louisiana who treats patients with these debilitating symptoms that don’t get relief from anything else. I’ll post links to the testing and that doctor below.

 Resources:

(I am not affiliated with any of these resources. I do not get reimbursed or paid in any form). 

Microgen DX testing

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: SUMMIT PT (ask to book with Erin).

Current Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist: Cheyenne Higgins, DPT

Urology: Dr. Elizabeth Bozeman in Fulton, NY or Dr. Shapiro in Liverpool, NY at AMP. Both were great. Dr. Bozeman is retiring soon.

Functional Medicine Testing for Food Sensitivities. My provider is Deanna Allen, PA at Allmond Wellness.

Louisiana Doctor for Embedded Infections

DUTCH Hormone Test

D-Mannose Supplement

Energy Medicine Practitioner: Mary Lichtenstein (Mexico, NY)  

Plant-Based Dietitian

Another dietitian who I really enjoyed working with prior to getting sick: Emily Tills (Nourished with Emily).

Acupuncture: Eclipse Acupuncture (Dr. Jen Thomas), and Caroline Robertson (Oswego, NY)

Bladder Ease Supplement

Anxiety

Anxiety is wild. It can creep up on you at any moment and it can feel like it's suffocating you. Even if you have a great support system (like I did), it can still be unmanageable. At the beginning (around January of 2022), I initially had tried Lexapro and Xanax without success. They both had side effects that I didn’t want to deal with (I already had plenty of symptoms, no need for more). I had investigated and asked my providers about supplements to support my anxiety, and many came recommended. I had SO many supplements in my cupboard and hadn’t used many of them because of my fear of medications or supplements making me worse. The following were recommended:  L-theanine (this one I took and it DEFINITELY helped!) , tilia tomentosa, ashwagandha, kava kava, cortisol manager (I still use this as needed), magnesium glycinate (I still take this every night), inositol, GABA, and valerian root. NOTE: there is a supplement company that sells cleaner type products at a discount. I believe you need a provider to make you an account (not 100% sure though). I saved a lot of money through ordering here and using my HSA card. It’s called Fullscript. Please note that some providers do make a commission off of this, which feels icky to me. The provider I use (Deanna), doesn't feel right doing that so she gives me the full 25% discount. 

I currently take magnesium glycinate every night (even if I don’t have anxiety) because it calms my nervous system and is a mineral that many people lack because our soil health is poor and doesn’t make it as available for us through food.

If I have a day where anxiety takes over during the day, I take the cortisol manager.

A benzodiazepine and an antidepressant were recommended for months before I committed to them. Eventually, when I hit rock bottom and I started thinking about suicide, I had Genomind testing completed. This test looked at my genes to see which medications would be the best fit for my body (in a nutshell, it looks at how well each medication would be metabolized). I’ll provide a link to that test below. It is important to have a provider who knows this test review it with you. I had another provider look it over and they were incorrect with their interpretations. Deanna Allen, PA was the integrative psychiatric PA who ordered and reviewed the test in depth with me. If anyone is looking for an integrative mental health provider, I give her a 12/10. She is phenomenal and SO caring. It felt good to have a provider validate my emotions and experience.

After looking at the testing, I had two antidepressants that my body could metabolize effectively (Pristiq & Wellbutrin). It showed that I would metabolize Ativan better than Xanax (Xanax gave me headaches after I took it, so this made sense). We decided to try Pristiq for long-term management of anxiety and Ativan to help me sleep as well as bridge me through the adjustment period with Pristiq. The only symptom I had when starting Pristiq was restlessness, which subsided 2 weeks later. It took me a couple of days to start taking the Ativan because I did not want to get addicted or develop a tolerance (physiological or psychological). I had to surrender to those fears and thank god I did.

If I hadn’t committed to take these medications, I truly believe I would have made a horrible decision to end my life. They saved me.

Because of my reluctance and fear of medication, I did A LOT of research on how long these medications should be taken for, and it was recommended to take them for 6-9 months (this was confirmed by the sleep psychologist and integrative psych PA I was seeing). I was able to start weaning off Pristiq 9 months after starting it. After 1 month of taking Ativan (0.25-0.5mg per night), I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep on my own. I had no issue stopping Ativan without tapering (I did did this with careful thought & advisement from my provider).

NATURE IS LIFE. Walks outside were always recommended, and my husband would drag me outside during the roughest times with hopes that it help my anxiety. Did it help? In the moment it didn’t feel like it did, but as I started to recover, I started getting outside more and it did help. I realized that I had to get out of the house I was in because my brain associated it with the hell I had been through. Being in the house was like a reminder of the health trauma I had been through, so being outside became a sacred space for my healing.  

I had to "trial and error" mental health therapists to see who the best fit for me would be. At one point I couldn’t find a therapist who was available, so I used an online resource called Brightside Health. They let you message your therapist at any point in the day and book appointments on a weekly basis. They also have psychiatry providers to prescribe medication, if it’s needed. It was $250 per month, but it was worth it. I eventually found another therapist who I still work with to this day.

Exercise/movement is important. I spent many days not moving my body  & because of that, it physically ached. I had experienced a substantial amount of muscle atrophy as well. It took me time to get back into exercise, but I did what I could and got movement in in a way that felt good for me. Sometimes it would be a walk down the road, sometimes it was pushing the kids on the swings, other times it was gentle stretching on the floor. Other times it was going grocery shopping and then unloading groceries until I would need a break. It took about 9 months to build the stamina and strength to get back into an exercise routine similar to what I would do before getting sick.

Getting back into a daily routine helped me reset my circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) and manage stress. It also let me resume my role in my family. I started by slowly taking care of the kids again (sometimes it was just making them breakfast or going outside with them); going to a CO-OP where I order organic food in bulk; resumed work 1x/wk; grocery shopped; meal prepped; and meticulously used what I learned in therapy every.single.day.

I can’t emphasize enough how difficult this process was, and how important it was for me to take this SLOW. I learned to let go of expectations I had for myself, and to just go with the flow each day. 

As I recovered, I would get excited about being able to do more, but then my body would crash and bring on the anxiety as if to say “girl, this is too much”. I needed to honor that.

I journaled, completed thought logs, talked to a close friend about everything that was on my mind. At one point my sleep psychologist advised me to set a timer for 30 minutes and literally write paragraphs about what was bothering me so that my brain would get bored with whatever it was that I was obsessing over. This seems counter intuitive, but I’ll tell you I didn’t make it for 30 minutes because I got sick of thinking about it (in most cases, it was about insomnia). It did end up being helpful.

My integrative psych PA (Deanna) ran any lab work she could so that we could find data points to work with. We checked my gut microbiome, inflammation markers, mineral and vitamin levels, CMP, CBC, neurotransmitter levels, hormone levels, heavy metal levels, toxic burden / toxic load levels.. there was A LOT. My inflammation markers were elevated, B12 was low end of normal, Vitamin D was low end of normal, cholesterol was low (needed for neurotransmitter and hormone production), I had plastic and mold in my blood (this is sort of “normal” in our modern life because of all the plastic we use and mold is everywhere. My levels were high enough to address this), my gut microbiome was a mess (I learned I had a gluten sensitivity in this test), my progesterone was low. I did not have any heavy metals in my blood- which was a huge relief because that treatment can be intense.

I’ll get more into more detail about those tests  ^ and what I did for the, in another post. 

My neurotransmitter levels came back pristine, which indicated that my anxiety was likely psychologically induced (cue judgment and criticism of myself- how the hell did I get myself here?!). What that meant was that I was in control or could be in control of my anxiety. This proved to me how powerful my mind is, and that I needed to learn to work WITH it and be in charge of it, not vice versa. This was good, I knew I could work at this so that in the long term, this wouldn’t happen again. Thought work, mindset education & therapy became a priority (I’m not talking only therapy. I went on a deep dive into mindset work and educated myself. I'm taking a neuroscience class that shed a lot of light onto why we think the way we think and behave the way we behave).  

Being a sick mom was hard. I have very high expectations for parenting (for myself). This whole experience ripped motherhood away from me and I completely lost my sense of purpose.

I had to put the vision of the mom I wanted to be to the side and learn to be vulnerable in front of my kids. I was worried it would be bad for them, but it ended up being a good thing. My oldest son, at the time was 4 and had asked if he was the reason I was always crying. I was able to tell him exactly why I was crying and comfort him by letting him know it had nothing to do with him. My kids openly come to me when they are upset now, and we navigate their feelings together. It might be contributed to other intentional parenting methods, but I believe that being open with the kids about my anxiety and depression when I was sick created a space of acceptance for them to work through their feelings.  

Mindfulness was the foundation of my healing. I had to connect with the present moment and create meaning to every part of my healing process. It let me connect with a higher power. I learned to surrender to healing and to let go of all the external stuff that I previously had attached myself to.

I was so happy to be alive and no longer suffering. I have so much gratitude to be able to experience life.

I leaned HARD on my support system. I feel incredibly comfortable and safe to talk to my husband about what’s going on in my head and he intentionally learned along with me so that he could help me work through it (he's the real MVP. The absolute best husband.. no he doesn't have any brothers, lol).  I also have another friend (who I feel very comfortable and safe with) who I would (and still do) brain dump everything that’s going on for me. We work together to process through it all  (usually I can process through it by myself but just hearing myself talk about it) and then I’m good.

My mom, dad and hubby took care of my kids for me while I was sick. They were pivotal in my healing because it took that pressure off of me. IT 1000% TAKES A VILLAGE.

I had friends who would reach out to check on me. I would usually be very honest with them about where I was at. Even though their support didn’t “fix me”, hearing their validation of my experience and positive twist on my situation helped my brain get out of its negative thinking patterns. If you don’t have a great support system; REACH OUT TO ME. I will be that person for you. You are NOT alone.

Today, I am doing better now than I was prior to the start of this.

I’m currently living in a camper while my husband builds our house, running my own business, in school for my bachelor’s degree in integrative medicine, and managing being a mom with more ease and contentment because of all that I’ve learned and implemented throughout this process. I have a deep connection with my kids, which remains my priority. I have my bad days, but I know how to handle them (or I reach out to my people if I'm having a hard time- again, social support is SO important). I’ve learned the tools and skills to manage stress and the anxiety that accompanies it. I continue to learn about and understand my mind.

I love my life and everything it offers me right now. I am excited to serve others with the knowledge I gain in school. I’m living an amazing, meaningful life and I’m beyond grateful for that.

Resources:

 (I am not affiliated with any of these resources, nor do I get reimbursed or paid in any form).

 Full-script for Supplements

Corstisol Manager

Tilia Tomentosa

L-Theanine  

Ashwagandha

Inositol

GABA

Valerian Root

Magensium Glycinate (note that magnesium citrate is geared more for gut issues like constipation, and glycinate is for the nervous system- there are other forms of magnesium as well so do your research and talk to your provider before starting any supplement)

Kava Kava- associated with liver issues. 

Dr. Eric Zhou, PhD (sleep doctor who helped with my anxiety as well).

Mindfulness Article

Mindfulness Meditation Video to try out 

Brightside Health

Genomind Testing

 INSOMNIA

Anxiety and insomnia are frustrating. You know you need sleep, but then develop anxiety over not sleeping, and then not sleeping makes the anxiety worse. It’s ridiculous. I worked with a sleep psychologist for 3-4 months. I had made small gains about 6 weeks in, but then ended up finding a tick on my head and developed Lyme disease Due to the neuropsychotic features of Lyme intensifying anxiety and insomnia, as well at leading me into depression, I paused appointments with the sleep doctor and started an antidepressant shortly after. Though his methods weren't what ultimately restored sleep, what I learned from him was very valuable (and I still implement to this day). 

When I started with Dr. Zhou, I kept a sleep diary for a week or two. Once he reviewed that, he had me start stimulus control. Basically, you don't go to sleep until your body is ready to. And your bed is for SLEEP ONLY. This process can last hours or days. For me, I was awake for 3 days straight (no naps, no sleep whatsoever); my body finally caved on the 4th night and I slept for 6 hours. It was miserable. I don't know that I could do it again. I ended up setting up a mattress on the ground next to my bed, so that I could be in the same room as my hubby instead of alone downstairs all the time. Being alone in a room by myself was super lonely (and unsafe when you have suicidal thoughts, which I eventually ended up having- NEVER BE ALONE when you're in this mind space). It felt better to be in the same room as him- especially  if I had really bad anxiety in the middle of the night or was struggling with sleep. So to keep consistent with the 'don't be in your bed if you're not sleep' rule, I set up another mattress on the ground next to my bed. I'd rather associate that bed with wakefulness than the bed I wanted to end up sleeping in again. 

Stimulus control didn’t fix my sleep issues. It may have helped my circadian rhythm, but my anxiety would get worse during the nights I would stay up & out of bed. There was one week when I started to make some improvement, but then I found a tick on my head and contracted Lyme. I ended up needing to start an antidepressant medication and a benzodiazepine.

Once I started the antidepressant and Ativan, sleep hygiene was critical. I didn't do anything in bed except sleep (sex was allowed but I chose to keep it for strictly sleep; plus, intimacy wasn't in the picture because of my bladder symptoms). I didn't attempt going to bed until I was about to fall asleep. I didn't lay in bed for longer than 20-30 minutes awake because then my brain could continue to associate my bed with wakefulness and anxiety. I tried my best to avoid getting into bed unless I was literally about to fall asleep. If I was about to fall asleep, I laid down. If I couldn’t fall asleep within 20-30 minutes after laying down, I got out of bed and did some light activity until I was about to fall asleep again. Every day started at 530am, regardless of when I fell asleep (or if I did at all). I woke up and sat outside so that the sun rays would be on my eyes (to help regulate my sleep cycle and reset my circadian rhythm). I would try to stay active during the day, get movement in, and stay focused on the present moment. I didn't look at screens after 8pm. I didn't look at screens when I woke up in the middle of the night. I started reading every evening to get my body into a 'bedtime' routine. I wore blue light blocking glasses after 7pm (another tool to regulate circadian rhythm). 

Dr. Zhou taught me thought work, had me keep a thought journal, and advised me to write about sleep until my brain was bored with it; this helped with my anxiety around it. He advised an antidepressant several times that I refused (until the very, which you'll see in the depression section).

I would do yoga nidra meditation or NSDR (non-sleep deep rest ) on the days I didn’t sleep well during recovery. Sleep restoration isn't linear. You make gains, and then there are setbacks. I did have setbacks pretty frequently in the beginning. Over the period of a month though, my sleep restored. I still remember the first morning I woke up at 530am and slept through the night, without Ativan. THE JOY. Ugh, I think I cried I was so happy. I stopped taking the Ativan regularly after that night. I needed it maybe 2-3 more times until I was good to go and my sleep cycle restored itself.

Today, I keep my sleep hygiene a priority, but I can be more lax with it. I can look at my phone before bed (as long as it’s not for too long), however, I will NOT look at it if I wake up in the middle of night. I take 300-400mg of magnesium glycinate every night. I read before bed if I’m not tired enough to fall asleep. My circadian rhythm has completely reset; I wake up around 5-530 every morning without an alarm, and am usually ready to fall asleep around 9:30- 10pm. I wake up refreshed, and have a good amount of energy throughout the day (especially if I eat well). I have needed the Ativan probably 4 times since June of 2022. One of the times I took it was when I got covid again the next year, which triggered a lot of fear and anxiety around my health plummeting again- thankfully it did not.  

Resources: 

(I am not affiliated with any of these resources, nor do I get reimbursed or paid in any form).

Sleep hygiene tips

Yoga Nidra

NSDR

Stimulus Control 

My Current Therapist: Kasi Jones, e-mail: [email protected] (e-mail to set up appointment)

Integrative Psychiatric PA: Deanna Allen, PA 

Lyme

Oof. Where do I even begin with this. I'm sure I'll forget some stuff, but I'll give it my best shot to give details for everything I did for this. This was the tail end of my suffering so it's a bit of a blur. I'm sure my husband could recall more information from this time than I can.

First, I had tick testing done by Vibrant Wellness through my psychiatric PA at Allmond Wellness (this showed positive for an infection). Then, I was referred to Integrative Medicine of CNY for Lyme treatment. They ordered testing through IgeneX (the gold standard for Lyme testing in the integrative medicine space- the preferred I do this even though I had the vibrant testing done). This test takes 4-6 weeks to come back so we had to start treatment without knowing the results (I was very symptomatic so this was appropriate). 

This is what was recommended to get started:

  • Two antibiotics (doxycycline and another one I can't remember)
  • Nystatin to prevent yeast overgrowth from the two antibiotics
  • Vit D 50,000 units once weekly (my vit D level was 31, the low end of normal. She wanted me around 70).
  • NAC Twice Daily
  • Glutathione Once Daily
  • Vitamin B12 1000mg daily (my b12 level was on the low end of normal, so we were raising it to get to a more optimal level)
  • Lauricidin 2 scoops daily
  • Milk thistle once daily (liver support)
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract twice daily 
  • Plaquenil was discussed as an option 
  • Heavy duty probiotic to support gut health due to antibiotics
  • S. Boulardii to prevent C. Diff from antibiotic use
  • Use the sauna 1-2x daily
  • SLEEP (I laughed because I hadn't slept well for 5 months up to the point of this visit)
  • Get outside
  • Stress management (meditation, exercise, being with people)
  • Epsom salt baths daily (to support my detox organs while the bacteria die-off. Lyme die-off is no joke by the way). 
  • Binder for Lyme die-off
  • Magnesium 1000mg per day (nervous system support) 

The above regimen was overwhelming. I was terrified.  My husband was overwhelmed too. I had gone 5 months of not wanting to take any medication to now having to take 17 pills a day. Because my test results wouldn't be back for a month, and I wanted to be sure I had an infection if I were going to do all of the above, I chose to do the following:

  • Doxycycline for 1 month (they wanted me to do 2)
  • Vit D
  • NAC once daily 
  • Glutathione
  • Sauna

That's it. You know what they said to me when I told them this? That they wanted me to do what I was comfortable doing. If that meant doing 5 of the 17 interventions, they were fine with it as long as the antibiotic was a part of it. WHAT A RELIEF. I had someone who supported me and made me feel heard (when it came to Lyme treatment). I can't emphasize how important this was.

You know what else I did? I called AND e-mailed the lab company where my Lyme testing went. I asked for the results. I made an appointment with my Lyme provider the next week. Guess what. My results were finished and faxed over a month early. ALWAYS ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF! 

The IgeneX testing showed that I indeed did have an acute Lyme infection, as well as a Bartonella infection (ticks don't transmit only Lyme, they are loaded with different type of bacteria that create a slew of symptoms, which likely accounts for why Lyme patients present so differently from one another). My provider felt comfortable with me continuing what I was doing (doxy, vit D, sauna, glutathione and NAC) with hopes that I would eventually agree to take the doxycycline for at least 2 months. But that was ultimately up to me. I started the medication, and symptoms got worse before they got better; this is normal. The theory is that the die-off from Lyme bacteria cause worsening symptoms until they are released out of the body via urine, bowel movements, etc.

I used a Binder to help with the "die-off" symptoms, and for the mold in my blood (found on one of the tests I had completed weeks prior with Deanna). My bladder flared for 2 days when I started the doxycycline, but I pushed through and it subsided. 

Eventually my mental health plummeted (see part 1), so I started an antidepressant for Depression and anxiety. I started feeling better mentally 2-3 weeks after I started it. After 4 weeks, I felt like a new person. I took on the entire Lyme regimen (minus the second antibiotic and nystatin). I used the sauna every morning, got myself outside every morning at 530am to help regulate my circadian rhythm, did NSDR every afternoon to help restore sleep if I didn't sleep well the night before, took all my supplements, continued taking the Binder for mold and Lyme die-off, and ended up becoming symptom free 2-3 months later. I stuck with the doxycycline for 2 months, tapered off of it for a month and then took herbal supplements (LB Core, BLT tincture) for about 5 months after that. 

I am currently off of all Lyme medications and supplements. All I take is is Vit D, B12 and Magnesium daily. I am 100% symptom free. 

 Resources:

BLT Tincture

LB Core

Binder

Integrative Medicine of CNY

Glutathione

IgeneX testing  

Depression

Depression was short-lived, but it was intense and escalated to suicidal thoughts quickly (due to the struggle of the previous 5 months and then the Lyme infection exacerbated it). Once I started an antidepressant, I was pulled out of the hole I was in. Sleep, nutrition, hydration and social support were also leveraging factors to help me out of this.

If you are struggling with depression, and especially suicidal thoughts, text the suicide hotline: 988. I had to several times. They are there for you. There is no shame around doing this. Talk to someone and let them know how you're feeling. REACH OUT TO ME, I don't care. Just tell someone, or call 911. You cannot logically think and make rational decisions when you're in this state of mind. Ask for help in any way, shape or form you can manage at that time. You deserve to live. You can end the suffering. YOU CAN make it through. You're a worthy, valuable being who is going through a really shitty time. You deserve to be healthy and to experience life like anyone else does. Hang on for as long as you can and ASK FOR HELP. 

Resources:

Suicide hotline: 988 (you can call or text) 

Me ([email protected])

Genomind testing for antidepressants 

GO TO THE HOSPITAL. Nobody wants to be on a psych unit, but I'm telling you, if you are alone and don't have the support to oversee you, you NEED to go. You may leave with the treatment you need and recovery can finally commence. 

 

What my health revolves around today: 

Relationships (find your people and take care of them, and let them take care of you)

Nutrition (plant-forward eating is the best for my body and to keep inflammation down. I have energy throughout the day, sleep well, and have a balanced mood when I eat this way). 

Prioritizing Sleep (sleep hygiene is still implemented, and I am open to using Ativan if it's needed) 

Mindset (podcasts, neuroscience, coaching, mindsetwork is important for ANYONE. We can all improve here) 

Advocating (I still take action to keep myself healthy, I choose what resonates with ME, and I now help others advocate for themselves when it comes to their health).

GIVING TIME & SPACE FOR HEALTH AND PURPOSEFUL LIVING.

Emotional work (therapy, thought work, coaching- again, we ALL can improve).

Including my kids. Hopefully they take what I've learned and do every day with them into adulthood so that they suffer a little less when life takes a hold of them (which it inevitably will at some point). 

Connecting with a state of 'being' instead of 'doing'. We live in a culture that "does" too much. 

Lessons learned:

  • Developing resilience is key to perseverance. I incorporate tools to develop resiliency with my kids because of how important it was/is for me.
  • Nobody cares about my health more than I do.
  • Medications are a tool/crutch to help get through. 
  • Exposing my kids to a messy, sick, confused, resilient, determined mom is important. They watched me struggle with implementing treatment plans & then watched me push through it anyway. They watched me talk openly about my suffering and emotions (I never talked about suicide with them, ever. I do not feel that would be helpful for them. But I would tell them I’m crying because I’m sick and feel really, really sad because of that). They watched me rely heavily other people for support, and basically be ok with not being ok. I know it those lessons and observances will travel with them for the rest of their lives. Let's hope it's beneficial in the ways I hope it will be.
  • My marriage is ROCK SOLID. I have never been so deeply connected to my husband. I thank god for meeting him & making him my life partner every single day.
  • Validating someones experience is critical. Especially when they're in the heat of it. Sometimes we just need to feel heard and understood. We don’t always want or need someone to fix the struggle for us.
  • I needed to be ‘in it’. I would never have learned all that I learned if someone came in and instantly fixed it all for me. I needed to learn to trust myself and put in the effort to get better.
  • I HAD to work through a lot of emotional baggage that I had repressed for years. I didn’t realize I had a lot of it, but I did, and it surfaced in very ugly ways during therapy. I’m a much better person because I chose to confront this head on and work through it.
  • Support is detrimental to health. I found my people (and some gravitated to me). I leaned on them hard. Although it didn’t take the suffering away, I felt comforted knowing I had people in my corner.
  • I learned what my purposes are in life; to be emotionally connected to my kids, to put my family first, and to serve others in a way that is meaningful and impactful for them (and myself). 
  • I learned my values (which I hadn’t been connected to prior to getting sick): connection, generosity, integrity, perseverance, grit, mindfulness, servitude. These have laid the foundation for all decisions I make and create meaning within the toughest times (the good times too!).
  • HEALING IS ABOUT BALANCE. There is no “perfect health”. Health is subjective and my view of healthy will be different from the person next to me. Finding your place on the balance spectrum is key. Knowing that it can change over time is also key (and is totally ok).
  • I developed a relationship with myself. I wear many hats: mom, wife, massage therapist, nurse, daughter, sister, etc. The one relationship I needed to create was one with myself. I can’t believe how disconnected I was with me. I was such a critical, judgmental, negative person to myself. My self talk needed improvement. Thankfully I can say that I now call myself a friend and try my best to be my own cheerleader. I am proud of myself and all that I've accomplished. This is definitely still a work in progress, but it was and is foundational to my healing and building trust within myself.

I am currently in school for integrative and functional medicine, the exact medicine that helped me heal. My hope is to eventually serve others with the knowledge I gain from school (as well as what I learned from experience with this journey).

For now, my hope is that this reaches as many people as possible so that someone on the internet finds my story and finds hope for their healing and to know that if I could get better, they can too. 

 

Health, Longevity and Authentic Living in your Inbox

 

*UPDATES FOR AVAILABLE MASSAGE APPOINTMENTS AND YOGA CLASSES*