As I focus in on coiling for Bartonella, in the absence of activity from both the Lyme and Babesia infections, I’m reinterpreting some of my experiences with these illnesses.
Rocephin was the last antibiotic treatment I did for the tick-borne illnesses. Intravenous Rocephin was the first treatment I ever used that kills Bartonella in the central nervous system (CNS). At the time, however, I was only thinking about neurological manifestations of of a CNS Lyme infection. In fact, back in 2010, I thought that Lyme was my main problem and that Bartonella was a side show. Since using the coil machine, which treats each infection very specifically without directly affecting the others the way more general acting antibiotics do, I have reversed my perception.
When I took Rocephin, my body had quite a few reactions, some of which I attributed to side effects of the drugs, some to the herxes it caused. At the time, I thought Rocephin caused insomnia, hormonal fluctuations, irritability/restlessness, and possibly, kidney pain. When I discovered a kidney stone a month after stopping Rocephin, I became convinced that the kidney pain was a drug-induced effect. I got further confirmation when I found the Canadian drug warnings for Rocephin included increased incidence of kidney stones.
The hormonal fluctuations were pretty startling. After several years of severe illness during which sex was the last thing on my mind…except to worry about my lack of interest…I was suddenly horny. Beyond the initial shock (and frankly, relief) I wondered where the change came from.
The reason I attributed it to the drug was a conversation I had with a pregnant woman I met who had Lyme Disease. She was infected and ill before she got pregnant. Then after months of treatment, she started Rocephin. Unlike me, she had a port implanted and was taking it daily. She stopped it when her port got infected. She mentioned that she felt “better than ever” while taking it and for a while after as well, which is how she accidentally got pregnant. Incidentally, she was glad to have her second child this way, even if it meant taking Bicillin shots during her pregnancy. She and her husband were too nervous to intentionally get pregnant with their second child after her initial diagnosis.
Anyway, the tone in which she said, “better than ever,” conveyed something more than lack of pain. So when I started to get more interested in sex while taking Rocephin, I thought of her a lot.
The last side effects, insomnia and irritability/restlessness, seemed to go hand in hand. I had a hard time sleeping on the days I took Rocephin and for one day after. Since I only took it 3 or 4 consecutive days a week, I noticed that I slept well (or at least better) the two or three days when I didn’t have Rocephin in my system. Thus, I concluded, the insomnia was a direct result of the drug. I assumed that increased irritability, and with it a need to constantly be doing something or focused on something, was from insomnia. Who doesn’t get irritable when they don’t sleep enough? Then I figured that the need to be doing things (reading, working on a friend’s poetry book, etc.) was restlessness from being overtired and unable to calm down.
Meanwhile, the physical effects I attributed to herxing, primarily from Lyme, included severe headaches that lasted for days, pain in my spine, alternating diarrhea and constipation, strange dreams, night sweats, and very low blood pressure (with the associated fatigue and light-headedness).
I took Malarone, an anti-malarial drug that treats Babesia, for most of the time that I was on Rocephin. I started it a few weeks before the iv treatments began, so I assumed that the Babesia was under control, and whatever I experienced was a result of Lyme herxes. I’m no longer so certain.
Reassessing the Rocephin Experience
Now, when the Lyme is dormant and the Babesia seems dormant as well, I’m reassessing my best guess of what caused each symptom with information I get using the coil machine. One thing I’m sure of is that there is definitely overlap in causes for many of the symptoms.
When I look back at Rocephin, I think that most of what I felt came from treating the CNS Bartonella infection because the symptoms reappeared this autumn and again I treat it now. The Bartonella herxing list includes: severe headaches, kidney pain, insomnia, irritability/restlessness, irritated bowels, and spine pain.
Lyme herxing may have contributed to all these symptoms, except kidney pain, which I’ve only experienced when treating CNS Bartonella. Lyme tends to give me diarrhea more than constipation, although Bartonella seems to cause both. Lyme also seems to cause more difficulty concentrating during herxes and bigger drops in blood pressure. The blood pressure and headaches seem to be worsened by Babesia, which also generates intense fatigue and heart problems. This is relevant because I’ve read that long term treatment with Malarone for Babesia (more than 6 weeks according to the doctor who prescribed it and left me on it for much longer than that) can make the Babesia resistant to Malarone and harder to control later on.
Nightmares: wet and dry
The question left in my mind is about bad dreams and night sweats. I had plenty of both on Rocephin (plus Malarone). Were they a result of die-offs from the Babesia treatment or possibly the Babesia getting active as the treatment became ineffective? Or are they another part of the Bartonella picture, one that I precluded by using the sauna regularly this summer before the Babesia got active again? On one hand, I never had night sweats (except for the time I had pneumonia) before 2001 when I think I acquired the Lyme and Babesia infections. On the other hand, I never took anything that killed CNS Bartonella before Rocephin.
Lately as I’ve started treating CNS Bartonella again, I’ve been having night heat without sweats. I wake up feeling warm, sometimes overheated, and I take off the covers for a few seconds to cool down. No big deal. The night sweats I associate with Babesia are real drenchers. From them, I usually wake up feeling wet and cold from being wet (as opposed to warm and dry). That seems rather different. Yet, I wonder if I may occasionally wake up hot and wet with Bartonella because it seems that sweating is one way I’ve been able to take the load off my kidneys.
When it comes to dreams, they seem different, too. A lot of Babesia dreams are frightening and disturbing. I’d wake up from them abruptly (usually cold and wet as well as scared). They would stay fresh in my mind for no more than a few minutes. Shortly after the images and narrative disappeared, the feelings would fade as well. A trip to the bathroom and I would fall right to sleep again.
Bartonella dreams are more of a remix of altered memories and unresolved problems from my past. I often feel like I’m half awake long before I become fully conscious. When I wake up, the ideas from the dream linger, and I find myself trying to make sense of them or trying hard to think about anything else. I have a hard time going to sleep again, often lying awake for an hour or more waiting for sleep to come. Despite the insomnia, I don’t take anything, preferring instead to rest until my mind is ready to go under again.
The third kind of dream that wakes me up, and which I often have if I take medicine or a detoxing agent before bed, is the full bladder dream. These dreams involve looking for a place, a person or an object that I just can’t find, or trying to make something work over and over without success. Then as soon as it seems I’ve found what I’m looking for or found a solution, I wake up and run to the bathroom. Sleep returns when my head hits the pillow.
Bartonella Dreams and Babesia Echoes
This past week, as I started coiling my head for Bartonella, the insomnia and slow waking dreams began. I’ve been waking up hot and dry. I assume this is Bartonella. However, until January 17th, I’ve been doing just-in-case daily coiling sessions for Babesia because I stopped coiling prematurely for the three-week coiling break. I was trying to figure out if it was really dormant or just about to blossom again and available to be killed off.
I did a week of full Babesia coiling. The day I stopped, I went to Yosemite to celebrate my birthday. I had a big night sweat. I wasn’t sure if it was the Babesia, the change in altitude messing up my temperature regulation, the very warm sleeping bag, or what. I woke up hot and wet. (That speaks to how warm the sleeping bag was, because even in a soaking wet t-shirt till morning, I never got cold. In fact, I continued to feel overheated and afraid to undress from my wet shirt because it was so cold outside my sleeping bag!)
When I came back last night, I had no night sweat. I woke up hot and dry one time. Then I woke up three other times with odd dreams. I’m guessing all this is Bartonella.
My gut instinct is that I can stop worrying about Babesia for the time being. I’m on the look out for light sensitivity to tell me it’s getting active. Short of that, I’ll focus on coiling for Bartonella and learn more about this infection.