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Monday, May 25, 2015

Lyme Disease in Indiana

Indiana does have Lyme disease.  Yes, the ticks do carry Lyme disease.  We are over-populated with deer who carry the disease, so it only follows that we have Lyme disease.  Ask any veterinarian about Lyme disease in animals, and he will tell you that he sees many cases in pets.  Dogs, cats, and even horses can and do get Lyme disease in Indiana.  Many articles will tell you that the tick must be attached to your body for 24-48 hours in order to infect someone with Lyme disease. (someone needs to tell that to the tick that bit me! LOL)  This is not true. If you are bitten, you can be infected immediately.  Don't take any chances.  If you are bitten, get medical attention immediately.  If you can capture the tick, stick it to scotch tape and put it in a zip lock baggy.  Take it with you to the clinic or doctor for testing.

There was an article about Lyme disease in the Indianapolis Star yesterday, so here is that link:

Lyme disease in the Mid-west:

Saying Goodbye To Lyme Disease

  Boxing up all of the prescriptions, supplements, tinctures, 
vitamins, herbals, soaks, rubs, and natural medicines today.
I am only using one tincture to make sure that everything is gone
and that I don't have a relapse.  What a relief to be off of all of those pills!
Now, to work on rebuilding muscles, bones, nerves, and tendons...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lyme Disease Research At Purdue University

Life is a bowl of limes.

While visiting the Indianapolis Zoo, I took a break to have some lunch and a cold drink.  Seated at the next table, was a man wearing a Purdue University uniform with the words entomology department embroidered on the shoulder.  I couldn't resist starting a conversation with him about ticks and Lyme disease.  He said that he doesn't personally research tick born illness, but some of his colleagues are currently researching ticks.  I couldn't help mention to him that it took me 2 years to get a diagnosis because doctors simply are uneducated about Lyme disease here in Indiana.  He agreed that it is a big problem.

As soon as I got home from the zoo, I searched for any information about Purdue and Lyme disease. I did find something, so here is a link:

I am grateful that Purdue has taken up the cause for more Lyme disease research.

Stinging Nettles for Lyme Arthritis?

Stinging nettles growing among our asparagus.

Who doesn't remember running through a pasture or weedy lot at some point as a kid and being stung by nettles?  Ouch!  I remember being shocked that such an innocent looking weed could pack a powerful sting.

When I was wrongly diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis, I researched cures, remedies, herbals, and folk medicine. I was reading about bee sting therapy as a possible way to trick the immune system into reacting to the bee venom instead of causing joint inflammation.  Then the article said that stinging nettles seem to have a similar immune response.  I did safely try a few bee stings, but I always kept a bottle of liquid Benedryl nearby just in case.  I usually do not even swell when I get a bee sting, so I felt it was safe for me to try.  I wouldn't recommend this to anyone else, however, because of the risk of anaphylactic shock.  After several attempts with no improvement, I decided that it wasn't working, or that I just wasn't trained to do it correctly, and I gave up.

Then I decided it wouldn't hurt to try the stinging nettles.  At that point, the doctors still had me convinced that I had Rheumatoid arthritis.  I was searching for a way to get my body to quit attacking itself.  I went on daily walks to try to find nettles.  I asked my friends, relatives, and acquaintances if they had any nettle weeds that they wanted to get rid of in their yard or pasture.  Where was the nettle when you need it?  I couldn't find it anywhere!  I forgot about that after a while and eventually, was properly diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Well, fast forward a couple of years.  This week while gardening, we found a nettle weed growing in our raised vegetable garden.  We live in the city, with a fenced in yard.  How that nettle weed got there is nothing short of Divine Intervention!  My beau Tom, was about to pull the weed out, and I shouted, "No! I want to use it on my swollen knee and ankle joints."  So the weed is still growing in our garden box.  I think that I will keep it.

Applying the nettle leaf to a swollen knee joint.
Tiny red bumps appeared, just like a bee sting.

The Arthritis Foundation has an article about the use of Stinging Nettles for arthritis:

Mother Earth Magazine published an article about the use of Stinging Nettles for treating arthritis:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Women and Lyme Disease

Lyme disease can express itself differently in women. There seems to be a correlation between bacterial infections like Lyme disease and breast cancer:

Some women report breast swelling, cysts, fibrous tissues, sudden milk production or nipple discharge, and swollen lymph nodes around their breasts and underarm areas.  Other women complain of menstrual irregularities, heavy or prolonged periods, absent periods, groin pain, severe cramping, or ovarian cysts.  It is not known if Lyme disease is affecting the hormones or exactly why it is causing these problems for women. Some women also report sudden weight gain.  Others drop huge amounts of weight in a short time.  In addition, Lyme disease can cause intimacy problems for some women.  It can also effect the vaginal muscles and cause a painful condition like vaginismus.  Other women have reported bladder problems such as incontinence or an overactive bladder.  Even more women develop thyroid issues after contracting Lyme disease.  Hair loss, loss of muscle tone, nerve and tendon  and joint damage are common complaints for many.  These symptoms often have other causes besides Lyme disease, but many women have noticed these symptoms disappear after treatment for Lyme disease.  More research and studies need to be performed so that women can be helped with these troubling symptoms of Lyme disease.  Our bodies are different then men and our hormones are different, so it only makes sense that Lyme disease would affect us differently.

Here's to all my sisters out there still suffering with Lyme disease!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Your Feet And Lyme Disease

Like so many Lyme sufferers, my feet were especially affected with pain, swelling, and inflammation.  Since I have to walk and stand at work, there was no catching a break.  The pain and swelling was worse at night, just when I wanted to sleep.   The morning pain and stiffness was crippling in the morning hours after waking and lasted until about noon.  The more I walked around, the better I felt.  Working actually felt better for me because I was moving and standing.  Sitting down hurt my feet and legs.  Work distracted me from the pain.  There were many days that I had to make myself go to work.  I was in so much pain!  Winter seems to be the worst.  The cold weather here in Indiana was especially painful on my feet.  My feet always felt ice cold and the cold brought more pain.  But I know that work isn't possible for most people with Lyme disease.  It can be so crippling. There are several things that I tried that did seem to help while I was being treated with the antibiotics.  I will list these here:

  • warm water foot soaks with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, Epsom salt (morning and night)
  • Frankincense essential oil applied to sore joints with a roller ball applicator
  • Capsaicin topical liquid made for arthritis in a roller ball applicator (Walgreen's brand)
  • hot water bottle or heating pads for pain and cold feet in the winter
  • wearing thick, wool socks in layers will help prevent painfully cold feet and help you to go to sleep more quickly at night
  • Lined boots help prevent more pain and swelling in cold fall, winter, and early spring months
  • occasional ice bags when the swelling got severe helped to reduce the inflammation
  • heated mattress pads and/or electric blankets helped to keep extremities warm and more comfortable at night
  • Sleep is essential.  Aim for at least 8 hours a day.  Naps are allowed and encouraged!
  • Swelling can produce cracked, dry skin.  Use a good moisturizer.  I like to use A and D ointment with lanolin and then put on cotton or wool socks at night.
  • take good care of your toe nails.  Keep them properly trimmed to prevent infections and ingrown toenails, especially if your feet are swollen.
  • Elevate your feet above your heart whenever possible
  • If you can afford it and have the time, go for a foot massage or lymphatic drain massage for your feet and legs.  It may help with some of the swelling.
  • a foot brush, pumice stone, and callous file can remove dead, itchy skin and improve circulation
  • sea salt mixed with coconut oil makes a great moisturizer and remove rough dry spots
  • If you do not live alone, allow others to wait on you when you are having a bad day

       The Wet Sock Hydrotherapy Treatment: Old Folk Remedy

I read about a strange cure for boosting your immune system if you are ill.  It involves going to bed with a pair of damp socks on your feet, covered in dry wool socks.  This is supposed to induce a fever and an immune response and kick start your antibodies.  I am not sure if this will work for Lyme sufferers or not but I will include a link to this technique.  I plan to give it a try.  It is apparently an old folk remedy.

Check with your doctor to make sure that it is safe to try this.  I am not giving medical advice here.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Heal Lyme From Your Kitchen?

You probably already have some things in your kitchen that can speed your recovery from Lyme.  If you are already being treated, there are small things that are supposed to help support those antibiotics, according to some.  Manuka honey or raw honey converts to food grade hydrogen peroxide when ingested.  This will help to kill off some of the bad bacteria. Organic yogurt will help to replace the good bacteria lost in your gut while taking antibiotics.  Throw in some blueberries or walnuts for extra nutrition, brain health, and flavor.  My tummy feels much better if I eat yogurt at least twice a day.  Pure maple syrup contains ingredients that are shown to boost the effectiveness of antibiotics, so add that to your yogurt or oatmeal for a flavor boost.  Turmeric, garlic,and cayenne pepper spices are anti inflammatory and can help with joint pains.  Season your foods with these three spices.  Ginger will help an upset stomach.  I like to drink a ginger pro biotic tea when the antibiotics upset my digestive tract.  It is available in most grocery stores.  Lemon juice and water can help prevent the side effects of a herx reaction.  The herx reaction can be very painful and worsen symptoms.  A teaspoon of Baking soda and water can also help with the herx reaction. Small dietary changes like these have had a huge impact on my recovery from Lyme disease.  These changes are the least expensive way that I have been able to speed recovery from this illness.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Herxing With Lyme

What is herxing?  The first time that I heard that word, I thought that it sounded made up.  Come to think of it, a lot of things about this disease sound pretty impossible.  But herxing is a symptom of Lyme disease.  The bacteria that cause Lyme disease produce a toxin that is poison to your neurological system.  This toxin is especially severe when the bacteria die off during treatment with antibiotics.  In other words, when the bacteria die off , you will actually feel more severe pain and other symptoms (in stead of feeling better). This is a temporary condition that may last for several weeks.  You may be experiencing new symptoms as the bacteria die off and your body becomes overwhelmed by this toxin overload to your organs.

There are some things that can help your body and lighten this toxin overload.  Warm water soaks with a combination of baking soda, Epsom salts, and hydrogen peroxide can ease aching muscles. Fish oil supplements can help tendons, joints, and nerves.  Alka-seltzer Gold can neutralize some of the toxic effects and lesson the symptoms.  Lemon juice and water first thing in the morning will help with the morning stiffness.  A small dose of children's liquid allergy medicine can help with sleep issues as well as with histimines.

For me, this kind of pain was horrible at night.  It was excruciating.  Just when I wanted to sleep, the pain would get worse.  It would often wake me from a sound sleep.  In the morning, it was more pain and stiffness.  A hot shower brought temporary relief.  It took forever to dress myself, and I sometimes needed help just to pull a shirt over my head or put on shoes.  I couldn't turn the doorknob to leave the house without help.  I was constantly dropping things because my hands would suddenly let go without warning.  I felt like a 90 year old lady.  I swelled up like a balloon.  I had swollen lymph nodes throughout my body.  I started to gain weight due to fluid retention.  I had cellulite forming on my arms legs and belly due to this toxic build up.  My eyes where rimmed in red swelling.  My feet swelled and I could barely walk. It felt as if I was dying.

Somehow, I made it through all of that, and now I am improving.  I still get tired.  I am not completely well or symptom-free yet.