My Dalliance with Lyme disease

In February of 2008, I got sick, really sick. On and off for 24 hours, I was feverish and had debilitating joint pain. I attributed it to the fact that I had shoveled my entire driveway the day before in order to get a furniture delivery. For those who are unaware, my driveway is a 400 foot long hill. In the winter, my kids sled on my tire tracks like the Olympic bobsled team.

It was one of those times when I realized that I was not quite as young or spry as I used to be. I shoveled downhill (because I am both lazy and sane). And when I reached the bottom, I found myself humming “The old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be.” In victory, I walked back up and happily awaited my fabulous new living room furniture. My happiness was short-lived when I started feeling tired that night.

By the next day, I was ensconced in a blanket on my new couch. I could barely get up because the pain was so bad. At the time, my kids were 3, 4, 5, 6, 15 and 19. Unfortunately, my 19 year old was away at college. It was frustrating that I couldn’t even open a Ziploc bag with my claw-like hands. Thankfully, it only lasted 24 hours. The bad part was that when it was over, I had arthritis for 5 months.

I saw my primary care provider who ordered a slew of tests, including ANA titer and Lyme antibody. My blood work was amazing (which always stuns my medical providers because I’m fat, lol). But the arthritis persisted. As a nurse, I had access to many medical professionals who I peppered with questions. Their closest guess was Lyme disease, although one doctor who originated from Venezuela mentioned seeing post-viral arthritis. After 5 months, I woke up one day and the arthritis was gone. Life went on.

Then in January of 2009, I had the same thing happen. At that point I realized that as long as I had a fever, the joint pain was gone. I stopped taking Ibuprofen and survived the day. It seemed odd that this had happened again and yet none of my kids got sick so I mentioned this to my primary care provider, was diagnosed with a sinus infection, and went on my not-so merry way.

Still, no one could account for the return of the arthritis. Shortly after that, I was at work when I felt one side of my face start to droop. I had to wait for relief to take care of my patient and by the time I got checked out in the ER, the Bell ’s palsy had mostly resolved. I remember the ER doctor saying that it never comes back after it resolves, so the next day I headed down in my rattling old farm pickup (my SUV was out of commission) to visit friends a few hours away.

The Bell ’s palsy did, indeed, return with a vengeance. My friend, Pat, a natural remedy fan made me some licorice root tea for the trip and put it in a pint canning jar. It was a sweet gesture and a well-known treatment for Bell ’s palsy but I don’t think she grasped the hilarity of the situation. Here I was in my beat-up farm truck with a droopy face, slurred speech, and a canning jar of what looked like moonshine.


“Granny” and her homemade moonshine

Feeling a bit like a Beverly Hillbilly I headed north, arriving home without any run-ins with the PO-lice.  After being referred to a neurologist, I had a ton of tests done including an MRI. My neurologist called me when the lab results came in and referred me to a Lyme specialist out of the area.

Interestingly, the infectious disease docs in my area were still denying that Lyme was this far north in PA. When I told one about the Bell’s Palsy later, he just said that I was probably one of the few true Lyme cases. I endured 3 months of antibiotics and more antibiotics because the symptoms persisted.

In the meantime, I had been doing tons of research on my own. I had plenty of time since I couldn’t work while my face was flaccid. (Imagine having to blink your own eye while in isolation or a sterile procedure…not cool) By the end of three months, I had been on a bunch of antibiotics with no sign of relief of Lyme symptoms but my Bell ’s palsy was resolving slowly! I took vitamin B-12 as methylcobalamin and licorice root tea. I also did physical therapy (And boy, did I look goofy doing that! Think Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady…AAAAyyy).

After 3 months of antibiotics, my gut was a mess and I wasn’t any better off. I asked my Lyme doctor if I could try some natural routes before doing more antibiotics. I consulted Mary Theresa at Jurnack’s Naturally who recommended Silver Shield (a physician-formulated colloidal silver from Nature’s Sunshine). Within 1 week, my symptoms started to abate. Within 2 weeks, I was feeling great except for the arthritis which still plagues me to this day.

Unfortunately, I was still having a recurrence of symptoms every time I had an adrenaline rush (a frequent event as an ICU nurse). About 30 minutes after an adrenaline rush, I’d get fever, chills, and fatigue. The first time it occurred, I went to the ER. Because it was during a period of Avian Flu panic, they even swabbed me for that. Once again, I went to Jurnack’s Naturally for advice. This time, Mary Theresa explained about stress and the adrenal gland and recommended Chinese Stress Relief formula. It worked like a charm.

Over time, I have added Magnesium Complex for muscle cramping related to arthritis (with the added benefit of it taking away my acid reflux), vitamin D because my level is chronically low, and zinc and Chinese Stress Relief at times. I have slowly been changing to a better balanced organic or natural diet. It has been a hard change since I have a large family and organic isn’t cheap. I have also found other means for dealing with leftover symptoms, such as the elliptical for arthritis pain relief.

Even now 7 years later, I still struggle with some of the side effects of Lyme but I’ve learned how to cope and live with it. I’m sharing this, not because my way is the only way, but because I hope that somehow this might improve the life of someone somewhere!

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