By Kim Martindale, September 20, 2012
It’s the summer of 2012 and we’ve had no winter this year. The bugs are out in full force, including those horrible little ticks that carry so many infections. Our journey into Lyme started one hot day at camp Menagerie. Menagerie is a suburban farm and wildlife sanctuary located in Collierville, TN. just ten minutes from our house.
All day long, for five days straight, the girls rode horses, walked trails, picked fruits and vegetables, pet baby possums and deer, swam in a lake and went fishing. They loved camp!!
On the last day of camp, after it was all over, Lauren came to me because something was stuck on her head. It was an engorged tick feeding just above her right ear.
I took some tweezers and worked for quite some time trying to remove it. I checked online for instructions and tried my best to follow those. At the bottom of the instructions a warning phrase caught my eye. If you get sick within 2-4 weeks after the tick bite, see a doctor. The symptoms to look for; fever, muscle soreness, numbness in feet or hands, joint pain, and extreme fatigue.
A couple of weeks after camp Lauren came down with a really bad cough, sinus infection, sore throat and fever. She was sick on and off with these symptoms for 5 weeks. However, she was able to go to school because the fever subsided quickly. About 3 weeks after her tick bite Lauren was running with her class in PE and the muscles in her legs just gave out. That same day she fell off the bars at school. The next day her feet started to hurt and she complained that they were numb and tingly.
At that point I remembered the warning and decided to take her to our naturopathic doctor. His specialty is infectious diseases and he helps many people with tick born infections. He told me to keep the tick next time so he could test it.
John Smothers tested Lauren in his office and encouraged me to get her blood tested for Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease). She was positive on his test. He told me to make sure my pediatrician singed off on the Western Blot lab test from IGenex Laboratory in California. It’s the gold standard for Lyme Disease. The IGenex test only has 2% false positive rate and a 25% false negative rate. The most common screening test that doctors use here is the Elisa Test. It is very unreliable. Over 75% of patients with chronic Lyme disease are negative by ELISA, while positive by Western blot.
I took Lauren and my IGenex test kit to my local pediatrician and she was willing to sign off on it for insurance purposes but she explained that according to the CDC there is no Lyme Disease in Tennessee and if Lauren was positive she could not treat her.
Thankfully, Lauren was already being treated. John Smothers immediately put her on antimicrobial herbs (natural antibiotics) specifically for Lyme Disease. Lauren’s test results showed that she was positive on three bands of her Lyme Test which qualified her for treatment according to CDC guidelines. She had acquired Lyme Disease and thankfully, we caught it early.
Lauren frequently has pain in her body but it usually comes in short bursts. One night, she came in our room gasping and crying at midnight because she was having trouble breathing. She had sharp pain shooting through her lungs and heart. It finally subsided after a few hours. On two separate occasions she had asthma attacks (she’s never had asthma). One week she experienced three incidences of sharp pain in her abdomen accompanied by nausea which also came for a few hours and then disappeared. Sometimes her leg muscles and feet hurt. She often has a sore throat and her persistent cough is still hanging on. A few days ago her neck was so sore, stiff and painful she could hardly move her head. She also has trouble sleeping.
Meanwhile, Grace, my chronically ill child who has suffered with asthma, eczema, sensory issues, speech delays, heavy metal load (mercury, lead, aluminum, nickel), leaky gut, food allergies, parasites, candida and yeast infections had started having chronic, painful headaches, anxiety and memory/concentration issues beyond what she had exhibited before. I decided to have her tested too since they were likely exposed to the same ticks.
I also took her to our doctor and he tested her for tick born infections in his office. She tested positive for Babesia, a Lyme co-infection. We also had her blood tested for Lyme disease. Her test came back positive but unlike Lauren, her test showed a long-term exposure to the infection.
Could it by that Lyme Disease is one of underlying causes for all her other immune problems? We know that Lyme disease can effect any system in the body at any time and crosses the blood brain barrier. It hides from antibiotics and can wreak havoc on the immune system. Lyme mimics many other common diseases and is the underlying cause in some cases of MS, Chronic Fatigue, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Lupus, Parkinsons, IBS, Dementia, ADD, Autism, Restless Legs, Arthritis, Anxiety, Crohn’s Disease, GERD, Fibromyalgia, Allergic Conditions, Anxiety, Insomnia, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, etc…(Click here for a complete list).
John Smothers immediately started Grace on Lyme treatment. She is responding well so far. In fact, the number of symptoms for both girls has decreased in frequency. Grace’s teacher commented during our parent-teacher conference that Grace’s memory, anxiety and concentration had improved dramatically in the past few weeks. Even her eczema is responding beautifully to the treatment (it’s gone for now)!
Treating the girls naturally involves so much more than just herbal antibiotics. Foods that feed bacteria and parasites are off limits (wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, & processed foods). They must eat well to build a strong immune system for this fight. Mitigating their exposure to electromagnetic fields, mold, dust, and other allergens is also important. Along with herbal antimicrobials, they take supplements which include magnesium, iodine, fish oil, garlic, gingko, coconut oil, curcumin and probiotics.
Good quality sleep is also an important piece of the healing puzzle. Thankfully a year of detoxing Grace, healing her gut and building her immune system has had an enormous positive impact on her health and will enhance the effectiveness of her Lyme treatment. Sleeping grounded is also contributing to the healing process. Grace always lies down on her grounding sheets and finds relief when she’s wheezing, has headaches or feels bad. Lauren’s sheets arrived today and I’m hoping that they will help regulate her sleep and reduce inflammation and pain in her body.
I’ve started a daily health journal where I record symptoms and successes for both girls every day. It’s very helpful to look back and see improvements or realize that more treatment is needed or needs tweaking.
I’ve also put together a LYME Disease page on my blog where I’m gathering links to helpful websites, blogs, books, films, videos and articles. You can visit it at: LYME DISEASE
Working in John Smother’s office I’ve met many people coming in for treatment for Lyme Disease. Most of them have been debilitated by Lyme, even after years of antibiotic treatment. Natural therapies give them relief from their symptoms. I’m encouraged about the route that we are taking in part because of them.
I recently read, “Cure, Unknown, Inside the Lyme Epidemic” and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking answers about Lyme. I’ve also purchased, “Recipes for Repair: A Lyme Disease Cookbook”, for ideas on how to support healing through nutrition.
We are just beginning this journey. I have no idea where Lyme will take us but I am hopeful. I’ve had moments full of fear and anxiety and I’ve needed to weep and unload this burden. Thankfully, I have a God who can carry it all and He’s carrying me to. I have felt His presence and his love every step of the way. He has given me these verses today…
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
One beautiful outcome of all of this has been watching Lauren grow close to God. Every night now she reads her Bible and writes prayers, poems and praise songs to God. She has a new radiance and sweetness about her that is inspiring.
This is the promise that I hold on to for my daughters.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
Under Our Skin – Documentary about Lyme Disease