Preface: A Note From Me
This story is deeply personal. It is something I have been wanting to write for a while, I simply could not find the words. I am not writing it to expose “woes”. This is for anyone who has ever felt ignored by a healthcare provider. For anyone who has ever been made to feel crazy about a health concern or ailment. I am writing it for anyone who feels paranoid about their health. Lastly, I am writing it to inspire others to connect more to their bodies. To listen to the deep voice within, and to understand all of the wisdom and strength that lays within all of us.
The Bulls-Eye That Started It All
In September of 2018, I woke up with a bump on my left upper arm. It was clearly a bug bite of some sort. It felt hot, but it wasn’t itchy. Since I didn’t see any bug or spiders, I moved on. I hopped in the shower and went about my day. Then, about a week later I realized the bite was still there. (It was on the backside of my arm, so I had kind of forgotten about it). I went into the bathroom, lifted up my arm so I could get a better look. Low and behold was a bulls-eye rash (erythema migrans) around the bite. Motherf*cker…I was bitten by a tick!
For anyone unfamiliar, a bulls-eye rash is a clear indicator for a tick bite that is infected with Lyme. It looks just as it sounds, like a bulls-eye mark around the bite (see below). Luckily, my first job out of acupuncture school was working for an Internist who specialized in Lyme. I was plenty familiar with what to look for.
Ignored by a Healthcare Professional
It was a Sunday, so I rushed myself to a local urgent care. Mistake. I was seen by a “lovely” doctor. He rolled his eyes (literally) and laughed at me. Said it was impossible for me to get Lyme since I lived in an urban setting like Hoboken. Even went on to tell me that the rash didn’t even look like a bulls-eye rash. He continued to dazzle me with his charm, saying Lyme wouldn’t show up in the blood today anyways. Instructed me to come back in one month, so that they could test my blood then…30 days later.
OK, OK, OK. So, few things to clarify on this one. First, the bulls-eye rash was textbook (^see picture above^). Second, the (entire) State of NJ has some of the highest Lyme Disease levels in the entire country. While it may be uncommon in urban settings, the reality is that ticks don’t care what zip code you live in! Third, many Lyme specialists indicate that all a patient needs in order to obtain treatment is the bulls-eye rash. Instructing a patient to leave, allowing for more time for the pesky Lyme to infect the blood stream (and eventually the Central Nervous System), is negligent and irresponsible. Thanks bro!
Know, that he was right; Lyme will likely not show up in the blood after only a week. It usually takes a few weeks, but at that point, it makes it all the more tricky to successfully treat. However, what’s important to also note, is there are often times false positives and false negatives with Lyme testing. Lyme Disease is notorious for trickery. Making it essential to treat the patient the moment a bulls-eye rash appears. When it comes to Lyme, don’t mess around. Lyme Disease directly affects the Central Nervous System and can lead to vertigo, migraines, heart palpitations, facial palsy, and even death. The longer it is in your bloodstream, the longer (if ever) it will be affectively treated.
Lyme Disease Confirmed
In this circumstance, I was very fortunate to have a Lyme Disease specialist as a friend and colleague. I emailed a picture of my arm to the Internist I had previously worked with. As expected, she concurred with my diagnosis and immediately called in hardcore antibiotics. Yup, unfortunately, Lyme is really only successfully treated with antibiotics, so get your probiotics ready people!
I immediately started the course of treatment and also did preliminary blood testing. Know, a proper Lyme Disease panel (blood testing) is extensive. To give you a better idea, I think she took about 18 vials of blood during that first test. Yeah, make sure you are hydrated for that lab visit! The “general” Lyme test a General Practitioner does won’t always catch Lyme Disease. This is not because the doctor doesn’t know, but simply because there are MANY different strains of Lyme to test for. Also, again Lyme tends to be very pesky.
As suspected, the Lyme did indeed show up in my initial bloodwork. So, I finished the antibiotic treatment. I kept up with oodles of immune system supporting supplements. Then did another round of blood testing when the antibiotics were gone. I was relieved when it came back a month later…the Lyme levels had decreased and showed it was inactive.
The Body Speaks
It was a strange feeling but, after I was done with the antibiotics a part of me felt that it just wasn’t enough. My body intuitively felt like it needed more. I shrugged it off, silenced my inner voice, and told myself I was just being paranoid. After all, I had seen the results and saw that the Lyme was in fact inactive.
Then, around February of 2019 I started to feel “off”. I couldn’t really pin point anything specifically “wrong” but, I didn’t feel like myself. If I were to have gone to the doctor I would have just said that my body felt gross. My digestive system wasn’t moving, and upper half of my abdomen literally felt stuck. All things very uncommon for me. I even started to noticed that my eyes didn’t seem as clear or bright as they usually do. The inner voice started going off again. But, since I wasn’t experiencing any low grade fevers, headaches, or joint pain (classic Lyme symptoms) I silenced her. I assured myself that my body was just tired. After all, I have a toddler, a business, and do dabble with wine on occasion so I needed to stop overthinking it!
One morning after my usual cup of coffee my gut instantly felt inflamed. It was as if the coffee was sitting in my stomach and not moving. It felt gritty and I could feel the heat coming out of my pours. I decided enough was enough. To start listening to my body and cut back on the inflammatory foods. Perhaps a little detox would help?
Detoxing + Listening
So, that’s what I did. I started listening to what my body was craving. What looked good at the store? What felt good in my body? I started by laying off of all caffeine, alcohol, processed sugars, and all processed foods for a month. No joke, within only a week, the inflammation improved and I started to feel better!
Unfortunately, the improvement was not long lasting. In the Spring of 2019 I began to notice that my energy levels were very low. Again, I have a toddler, own a business, and treat many patients regularly. Not to mention, isn’t everyone f*cking tired? Either way, I decided to try and make another adjustment. I cut back a little on my treatments, work schedule, and tried to rest more when I could. Unfortunately, this time, I noticed no change.
Then, in May 2019 I was hit with a large package of shock; I was pregnant. My health concerns had been consuming me for months, and I wasn’t trying to have a baby. So, it really didn’t even cross my mind until I actually saw the positive pregnancy test. I literally couldn’t even feel my legs when I found out, it was as if the lower part of my body had completely given out on me. Once I moved beyond the shock, I realized I needed to take care of my energy more than ever. I started to try and connect to my womb and check back in with what my body was asking for.
Now, this is very true; from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I instantly felt an urgent pull to check my Lyme levels again. I honestly hadn’t given any thought about re-checking levels. Not until I found out I had a little human growing inside me. The main signs and symptoms for Lyme Disease are low grade fevers, headaches, joint aches, and fatigue. Besides the fatigue, I wasn’t experiencing any of the “classic” symptoms. However, I felt pulled by my intuition so this time I urgently followed it. I reached out to my Internist and she agreed to run another panel.
I went in to get my bloodwork done around six weeks pregnant. It usually takes a couple weeks to get all the results back, so I figured better to do it sooner than later. The pregnancy was progressing along as usual. I had the typical nausea in the morning, and of course fatigue that plagued my afternoon but, otherwise I felt ok.
Then, on June 20th I received the news that the Lyme Disease was still very active. My Internist emailed me, she said given the pregnancy she urgently wanted to discuss treatment options. She said she would call me later that day, when she had a moment to discuss in detail. I was about nine weeks pregnant at that time, so treatment would need to be different than before (anti-biotics can be dangerous to a fetus). However, I would need to be treated since Lyme is dangerous not only to me, but also to the baby (it may infect the placenta).
While waiting for my doctor call call my back, I decided to go for a walk to get lunch and clear my head. I sat down at a local restaurant and simply sneezed. I instantly felt blood. Wasting no time, I rushed to my OB, where they confirmed that there was no longer a heartbeat. Just like that, it was over.
Interpreting the Body’s Language
It had been quite a day. I had to take a moment to gather myself but, I instantly knew that the pregnancy was truly never meant to be. I believe the pregnancy to be a message sent to me. The reality was, without the pregnancy I would never have had my Lyme levels re-tested. It would have continued to be active, and continued to destroy my Central Nervous System. The Lyme had been thriving for roughly nine months, and I had been ignoring all signs to have the levels re-checked the entire time.
I met with my Internist a few days later. She was shocked at how well my body was doing (given the Lyme levels detected). She believed because I had been listening to what my body was craving, and had intuitively removed inflammatory foods from my diet, that I likely kept the major Lyme symptoms at bay. Really, without the fatigue I had no symptoms. All a result of listening to what my body needed.
I shared with her my grief and deep sadness over the loss. But, I also shared that I believed the pregnancy to be a message. She being a spiritual being like myself, agreed that the sequence of events was likely no coincidence. Again, the pull I felt to check the Lyme levels was profoundly urgent. I could literally hear a voice telling me to go check, go check, go check now! Then, on the day I found out the Lyme was still active, I miscarried…only a couple hours later.
Learning the Lessons
I personally do not believe in coincidences. I believe everything good, bad, tragic, sad, happy, f*cked up and everything in-between, always happens for a reason. Sometimes, when we don’t take the appropriate action, the Universe steps in and swiftly takes control. In this case, she urgently needed to get my attention. Well, she got it! Despite the loss and despite the grief, the lesson was profound. I learned that my intuition is stronger than I could ever have known. I learned that I know my body, and I know when something is truly wrong. To never ignore when things simply feel “off.” Now, when my body speaks to me, I give it my undivided attention.