When I was 24 years old my life was turned upside down. I worked as a nanny for twins which is exhausting in itself. I vividly remember sitting in the pick up line at their school and thinking, “there’s absolutely no way I am going to make it through the next 5 minutes, let alone the rest of the day.” I called my dad, sobbing, not even knowing how I was going to physically have the strength to grip the steering wheel or put my foot on the gas pedal. That’s what every single day of my life was like. Pure survival mode. I slept every moment I wasn’t working but never woke up feeling refreshed. Internally I was screaming with a quiet desperation, but externally I looked like a healthy, beautiful, completely normal 24 year old. That’s why they call Chronic Lyme Disease the "invisible illness."
If you are unfamiliar with Lyme Disease and what the symptoms include, let me quickly sum it up for you. Lyme Disease is a vector-borne illness that you can get from ticks, mosquitos, or even fleas. These insects transmit Lyme Disease bacteria into your blood. The scientific name for the bacterium is "borrelia burgdorferi" - it has a spiral shape, similar to that of syphilis, and can burrow into any bone, muscle, organ or joint in your body. This causes symptoms of Lyme Disease and other co-infections that range from extreme fatigue, GI issues, muscle / joint pain and brain fog to facial palsy, heart attacks (Lyme Carditis), and in extreme circumstances death. If you name a symptom, I guarantee that someone with Lyme Disease has had it.
Annually, over 300,000 people per year in the United States are diagnosed with Lyme Disease - it's truly one of the the most complicated epidemics to diagnose and treat. Getting diagnosed is extremely difficult due to such a wide range of symptoms and wildly inaccurate testing. Knowing how to treat Lyme Disease can also be very confusing because of how the bacteria metabolizes and morphs inside the body. There is no one size fits all lyme treatment, it really varies between lyme patients. Because of this, much of the public focus has been on how to prevent Lyme Disease (i.e. using insect repellant, staying away from wooded areas, etc).
I believe I contracted Lyme Disease from a tick bite when I was 10 years old in my backyard in Oklahoma. It’s taken more than 20 years to finally go into remission. The last seven years of my life have been filled with various treatments and prioritizing my health over everything else in my life. I even quit working to focus full-time on healing my body. You see, with Lyme, it’s hard to find doctors that will treat the problem and not just the symptoms. It’s also hard to find doctors in general that specialize in Lyme Disease treatment - and if you're lucky enough to find one, it's almost impossible to get on their calendar. Because we don’t have time to keep wasting away, we have to become our own health advocates. This is extremely difficult when most days you have to sleep 20 hours a day just to be able to survive the 4 hours you are awake. If you are lucky, you have friends or family who are also willing to advocate for you and help you make it through the day to day challenges.
Even though I had been ignoring the obvious warning signs for years, I finally listened when the exhaustion and other symptoms just got too much to bear. Everything in my life had deteriorated at this point: my emotional, mental and physical health was at an all time low. Once I finally got an unofficial diagnosis of Chronic Lyme Disease, I began a combination of Eastern and Western medicine. That continued for about seven years, and it’s throughout those years that I learned so much about our bodies and the things in our world that affect our health and well being. At times I drastically changed things like how I ate or how I took care of myself. And then slowly as I started learning more about wellness and understanding the importance of non-toxic, all natural products - I began to remove unnecessary toxins from my daily life.
It’s a funny thing. When you realize your body is full of a bacteria that's attacking it and every organ, you begin to realize how many chemicals you come in contact with every single day that are making your physical health worse. It really was quite the wake up call. You see, I was dealing with enough issues internally, I really didn’t want to add more fuel to the fire by putting even more toxic things in my body. It’s been a slow process, but switching to non-toxic skincare, all natural cleaning products, pure ceramic cookware, etc. has really made a difference in helping my body fight one less battle and heal from the battles it’s been fighting for years. I firmly believe that changing these things, along with eating whole foods, a plant based diet, and several crucial treatments allowed me to get to the place I am today: full remission.
Take it from me, when you decide to detoxify your life, it can be extremely overwhelming. At first, it feels like so much work. If you can decide to break it up into parts and take it just one thing at a time, you will look back a year later and see how different your life is because of those changes! For instance, I first started with strengthening my immune system and working on internally healing. I had to start there in order to get better and even survive.
A few practical changes had a huge impact on my health, including eating more whole foods, establishing a plant based diet, going gluten and dairy free, and eating no processed sugar. This made a massive difference for me with my pain, brain fog, inflammation and overall gut health. Not saying this is the best way to eat for everyone, you need to do what is best for you, it’s just what worked for me! I also supported my body with various supplements & immune boosting vitamins such as high doses of vitamin C (IV and Lypo-spheric), vitamin D, a high quality probiotic, and others that my physician recommended.
Once I got into a good routine with my Lyme Disease diet, I moved onto into areas such as cleaning supplies and cookware. I was able to fairly quickly purge my cleaning supplies and learn a new way of cleaning that was so much better for my health. Branch Basics and Norwex are my favorite companies to use for non toxic cleaning supplies! I also was able to find the absolute best metal free non-toxic cookware. The last thing I wanted was all the healing food I was eating to contain toxins from my cookware. Several years ago, it was a hard thing to find - however, thanks to Xtrema, I will literally never cook with another brand. No kidding. I am obsessed with Xtrema's all ceramic cookware and the confidence I have knowing that it's safe for me and my family!
There are so many areas in life that you can detoxify and it can honestly take several years, but it’s all so worth it in the end. It’s been a very long healing journey for me, but after 20 years of Chronic Lyme Disease, I can confidently say that all the years of treatment, self care, advocating for my health, minimizing toxins, etc. - it's all paid off! Is it easy to dedicate time to healing your body? Not at all, but is it 1000% worth it, no matter if you feel like you are in perfect health or not?! Absolutely! We can never take our health for granted because once you don’t have it, it can take years to get it back. So I encourage you, from someone who used to take her health for granted, start making the little changes now. Once you begin to take the extra steps to create the healthy lifestyle that you deserve, you will begin to thrive!