I spent the last two weeks on the road. I had adventures with my sister and her family. I visited my parents. I had a good time on the East Coast. While I was away, I did a few experiments, most notably eating bitter melon for the first time and using a probiotic approach to getting rid of Tinea versicolor. I ran around and played and discovered that my muscle strength and overall stamina made a big leap this summer. I continued to monitor my menstrual cycle and had two interesting results. And when I got home, I busted one of the two coils I use on my coil machine.
While I was visiting my sister and her family, I spent lots of time playing with my nephew. One of our favorite activities was finger painting. Generally we started out painting paper, then by the end, we were painting me. Our other favorite activities included potty training, running around, jumping up and sitting on the floor, giggling, singing songs, making up words, and anything that involved me picking up and carrying my nephew.
Those ten days pushed my limits. But the shocker is that my limits were much further than they had been at the beginning of the summer. I lifted my nephew and put him on the bed in a game of pretend high jump, thirty times in a row. I was in awe, even in the moment, that my arms could do it, especially given how crappy I felt the first half of August.
I’ve interpreted this to mean that all the work I’ve been doing on Bartonella has really paid off. I suspected that Bartonella was primarily in my central nervous system, so that’s where I focused my coiling. What I didn’t realize was that the continued instances of muscle weakness were also based on neuropathy. As I’ve done no additional exercise on my arms this summer, I was happily surprised to see that I was so much stronger.
By the end of the first week, I was waking up with more Bartonella symptoms, primarily nerve pain and numbness in my arms, as well as fleeting nerve pain in my arms and legs during the day. I had pain in my central and lower back. I also found myself more and more tired every day. Even with the increased fatigue, I had more energy than I’ve had on one of these visits than I’ve ever had before.
For years, I walked with a cane in slow motion next to my mother. She ran to get the car for me so I wouldn’t wear myself out walking because I had such intense fatigue. This time, when we hung out, I was running to get the car for her…and unfortunately, she was the one with the cane. It seems like her injuries (including a broken foot) are temporary. And I don’t wish for her to suffer.
But it was an odd moment when we were walking and I was slowing down to her pace. We both noticed that I’m doing well enough, even when tired out by ten days of toddler chasing, to help her out. I am grateful that I’ve gotten so much better. It even reached the point that we started speculating when I might go back to work and what I might do.
While traveling, I was good about food most of the time, until the end. I ate several of the foods I love that I’ve developed sensitivities to: wheat, potatoes, tomatoes and cow dairy.
For the second half of my trip, I looked pregnant. Two women even congratulated me.
Fortunately, the abdominal swelling has started to go down since I returned home and started eating properly again.
Experiment #1: Bitter Melon
I read in a Mother Jones article about a Chinese medical researcher who added bitter melon to his diet to help him lose weight by feeding the microbes in his colon. It sounded interesting enough, that as part of my pursuit of healing my intestines, I thought I would eventually try bitter melon. When my sister and I saw some at a pan-Asian grocery store, we picked up a package of two of them.
Whoa baby! Those things really are bitter. I looked up in two cook books how to make them. Both said to soak or blanche them in salt water before cooking to reduce the bitterness. Helen blanched them in salt water then made a stir-fry. Did I mention they were BITTER. Bitter enough to cause our faces to spontaneously and uncontrollably contort. Bitter enough to feel like I couldn’t swallow it. Really bitter.
We each ate some. I think they caused some kind of die off reaction. My sister said she felt drunk. I felt the familiar strange sensation in the back of my head that sometimes starts off a herx. Supposedly, bitter melon contains quinine, something I didn’t read about until after. Quinine can kill Babesia. That’s one possibility. Another possibility is that some of the other bitters selectively kill off some of the less-than-beneficial bacteria in our intestines, favoring some of the more beneficial ones. That would explain the weight loss in the Chinese scientist and the reported intestinal benefits.
Once I read about the quinine content, I decided to lay off the bitter melon until I’m sure I’ve coiled away all the Babesia. Then I may go back and try it again.
In my last post, I mentioned that the old Tinea versicolor rash had reappeared. It wasn’t responding to lavender oil (2 applications) or Selson blue (1 application). I didn’t want to bring these things on the plane with me when I traveled, so I decided I would try an experiment.
It was a crazy idea, but I think it might have worked. My idea was inspired by some reading I’d done about the microbes that grow on skin. Tinea versicolor grows on lots of people, but is kept in check by the other bacteria and fungi that also grow there. So I wondered if I could do a probiotic transplant from somewhere else on my body to the rash prone area, in the hopes that the skin microbes might out-compete the Tinea.
I waited a few days in Durham, where my sister lives, until the Tinea was very itchy. That day, we went out to the farmers market and got hot and sweaty. When we got home, I used a cotton pad, the kind that is labeled for make-up removal but has no products in it, to wipe my armpits first then wipe my sternum. Admittedly it seemed a little gross. Full disclosure: the deodorant I was using was Weleda Citrus spray, which seemed to have washed away in the sweat several hours earlier.
By the evening, the itching went away. I didn’t shower until the next morning (at least 15 hours after the microbe transfer) and when I did, I just rinsed the area, avoiding contact with soap.
A few days later, I got myself hot and sweaty and repeated the procedure twice that day. I wasn’t itchy anymore in most of the rash prone area, just around the edge. I made sure to cover the edge with my armpit sweat.
Another few days later, I got hot and sweaty one more time. This time, no itch.
The Tinea didn’t come back, as far as I know. I did get itchy one day in NYC, but it seemed like a reaction to the shampoo I used because the itch was in many places on my body.
The ultimate results are next summer, when I see if the Tinea reappears with the warm weather.
While I was staying in Durham, I continued to measure my temperature daily. I used my temperature to figure out when I ovulated. It was a bit late, like last month. I wasn’t too worried since this was my first month on DIM. I expect the DIM to take two to four months to get everything working again.
For three days in a row, my temperature was way too high, 97.6° F. I wondered before bed if the thermometer was broken or something. So I took my temperature. It was nearly midnight and my temperature was 96.5° F. The next morning I woke up and it was 98.1° F. After getting up and moving around, it went down to 97.6° F again. Very strange. I saw this pattern repeat another day when I checked to see if this was a repeated pattern or an anomaly. The higher than normal morning temperatures started about a month and a half ago when I was having other symptoms of a Bartonella flare.
Quick tutorial: Usually, a woman’s lowest temperature of the day, known as the Basal body temperature (BBT), is around 6am. Thus it is useful to check first thing in the morning to see the day’s lowest temp. The reason for checking is to determine the day of ovulation. Before ovulation, the temperature is lower. After ovulation, the temperature goes up a little, in response to the body’s production of progesterone.
I was checking mine because I’m trying to see how out of whack my body gets, and in what way, since I stopped metformin. I’d prefer not to take metformin for PCOS and use the mildest intervention possible to prevent serious illness during menstruation.
Only, now, I have to find some other way to determine my BBT because first thing in the morning my temperature is elevated. Why am I having a temperature inversion? Well, I’ve read that Bartonella can cause fever first thing in the morning. I tend not to be prone to fevers. I’m wondering if the elevated temperature is a response to the Bartonella, even if it isn’t quite a fever. The only way to find out is to finish getting rid of Bartonella. (I’m trying!)
The other menstrual update is that I didn’t get sick when my cycle started today. No vomiting or diarrhea. I’ve had loose stools and cramps. I didn’t spend the whole day sleeping. In fact, I had a normal-for-me amount of energy and a reasonable level of concentration. I decided to take it easy anyway, fasting the first part of the day and staying inside all day, so I wouldn’t push my luck. So far, the DIM is working out okay.
I knew I needed a new coil. One of the ones I was using keeps getting overheated at the junctures between the connecting wire and the coil wire. Then I made a mistake today on my coil setting. I got a mild shock from the coil. Then I noticed the wires had burned through the tape holding down the juncture. Oops. I made a few calls, and hopefully, I can find someone with a spare coil to sell this weekend…
Meanwhile, I’ve had to reduce my coiling protocol for Bartonella. I’ll be doing enough to prevent it from getting worse, and likely enough to continue to kill it off. It just won’t be as fast as when I had two coils available to do the super intense protocol.
Last but not least, the Lyme update. I coiled for Lyme yesterday before I busted the second coil. I’ve had no herx at all. In fact, the only Lyme herx I had was in mid-August, before I went to my sister’s house. That time, I had some serious brain fog and fatigue. This time: nothing.
It feels like a triumph. Maybe that was all I’ll have for this Lyme season. Maybe I’ll really kick it this year. Holy Moly!
But to be on the safe side, my plan is to reduce my supplements over the next few weeks, just in case they are propping up my immune system to keep the Lyme in check. I’ll do it slowly a little at a time, so I don’t shock my body.
I can’t complain. I’d like to stop the supplements. I’d like to get back to normal. I think I’ve taken quite a few steps in that direction in these past few months.