Confronting Lyme Disease

So how exactly did I get diagnosed with Lyme disease, and what did I do? Well, like I said in the last article, I was bitten by a tick in 2011, which resulted in swollen lymph nodes 2 months later. I never saw the connection. I spent the next 3 years with migrating pains in my knees, low back, neck, and especially my left shoulder. And I got sick, severely sick, A LOT! Like, I had to go to Urgent Care twice a month to get prednisone and antibiotics, just so I could breathe. So when people say they’ve suffered with an illness, I can definitely relate! However, I must admit, I was a little in denial about how bad I really was. I mean, how could I have something terrible wrong with me? I didn’t get sick right after the tick bit me, and it wasn’t a deer tick, it was a dog tick that bit me. Those didn’t carry Lyme disease did they? All the doctors did not even approach the Lyme disease diagnosis with me, so how could they all be wrong?

Well, in 2014, after being sick for like the 10th time that winter, I went to the MD (actually, I saw a Certified Nurse Practitioner, which was actually a blessing, she was very open with me), with my wife, who also mentioned that in addition to being sick all of the time, I had migrating joint pains. So she says “why don’t we run a Lyme panel, and autoimmune panel on you?” I figured, why not? I knew that lab tests were notoriously inaccurate, but what the heck?

A couple of days later, I got back my test results. Guess what? I came back for autoimmune disease, and an “equivocal” Lyme test. What did that mean? In the words of the CRNP “even though we’re not sure if you have it, or what’s wrong, we’re going to treat you for Lyme disease. Do us a favor, when you find out how to treat Lyme disease, let us know, because we don’t know much about it”. Then a strange thing happened. I was scared, but at the same time, I knew that this was my challenge to find and eradicate Lyme disease in my own body (and help many others in the process). I took the antibiotics (two of them, for a month), just so that I could see if they would cure Lyme disease. They did not in my case. In fact, they made it worse. So at the end of treating Lyme disease medically, this is what I did.

1. I admitted that I had Lyme disease.

2. I became 100% determined to beat Lyme disease, mostly by myself, with a little help from my teachers.

3. I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to beat Lyme disease once and for all, even if it meant that I had to give up things, or change the way I lived.

4. I put myself in charge of eradicating this disease.

5. I took it as a personal mission to help as many people with Lyme disease as possible.

This is the mind set you need to beat Lyme disease. It was necessary for me to confront the problem, and take responsibility for its defeat. Without that, I would have been relying on others, who didn’t have my problem.

Next week I’ll go into all of the symptoms I had associated with my Lyme’s disease.

Approaching Lyme Disease

One thing I sometimes get asked about is Lyme disease, or, more specifically, do I treat Lyme disease.  The short answer is that no, I don’t treat Lyme disease.  However, I can tell you that I have a lot of success helping people that have Lyme disease get over it.  What’s the difference?  Well, let me tell you my own story with Lyme disease, and hopefully that’ll shed some light on the situation.

I was never a very healthy child.  I grew up suffering with allergies and asthma, for which I had to almost constantly take medication for.  I was always sick.  I remember when I was 14, during the winter, I had some kind of bronchitis that lasted the whole winter.  It was so bad that I had that “seal cough”, the one that’s really loud, and sounds horrible.  I used to use it to annoy the teachers in school (they couldn’t tell me to stop, it sounded like I was hacking up a lung!).  The doctors were stumped, couldn’t do anything about it, luckily, it “went away”, meaning the symptoms went away.  Two years later, I developed “trench mouth”, an infection of my gums, where they cracked and bled continually for a week.  I couldn’t eat for a week (I consumed only soup).  It’s important to note that I got trench mouth not from poor hygiene, I brushed thoroughly twice a day, but that I got it from a poor immune system. When I was 17, after a particularly stressful event, I developed Ulcerative Colitis.  I lost 20 pounds in a matter of weeks from that one.  When I was 21, I went to Mexico, where I picked up Salmonellosis, which almost killed me.  So now that you know my past history of severe illness, why did I tell you all of this?  Because I wanted to let you know that I, like many of my patients, have an underlying cause.  What’s that common thread from all of the above problems?  My immune system stinks (as does my father’s and brother’s immune system, I like to blame my parents for this!  JK!).

Following my Salmonellosis diagnosis, I really got into nutritional studies.  The salmonella poisoning had left me with digestive issues, and chronic, debilitating low back pain, that chiropractic could not help at all.  I went through this for 2 and ½ years.  It was only by cutting out grains, and sugar, that I regained my health quickly.  Not only did my digestive issues and pain totally clear up, but I also lost 40 pounds of fat!  Hot dog!

So how did I go about developing full blown Lyme disease?  Well, like most of my patients, I started slacking with my diet, letting in grains, and sugars, slowly but surely over time.  I didn’t have the worst diet, but it certainly wasn’t the best.  I was under stress with some personal upheaval in my life.  Then, one day Laura and I went camping in the woods in the spring of 2011.  I remember it was very cold, below freezing, and my Chihuahua Taquito kept on hogging my sleeping bag and blankets, as was his style.  When I awoke in the morning, I felt something weird on my back, and when I asked Laura to take a look, she said “you’ve got a tick sticking out of you!”, and pulled it out.  I thought nothing of it, I was tired, but otherwise felt fine.  But a couple of weeks later, I felt some pain in my left armpit.  When I lifted it up, I was horrified.  I had a huge, purple swollen lymph node.  The purple part was about 6” wide.  I had no idea what it was, as this was now about 2 months after our camping trip.  As I had not had the Advanced Clinical Training in Nutrition Response Testing, I also was not able to test and see if it was Lyme disease.  Gradually, the initial swelling subsided, but this would not be the last time I would see it…

So let’s recap.  From this history, we can see that:

  1. I have a genetically weak immune system
  2. I have an intolerance to grains and sugar (compounding my immune system problems)
  3. I’ve had a lot of stress in my life (who hasn’t! this is important to note though)
  4. I have a history of a tick bite
  5. I have a history of exposure to Mercury (wait a second! How did I fail to mention that before?  While in chiropractic school, I broke a thermometer, and absorbed some of the mercury into my wedding ring.  It actually turned to a silver color, before turning back to gold.  My body absorbed the mercury from the ring.  I also had mercury amalgams).

All of this created the perfect storm, like so many other of my patients.  Tune in next week to see the long and drawn out road I had to take to fix myself (and how it taught me about what so many of my patients are going through!)

See you next week!

~Dr. Sheehan