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The Lure of Antibiotics

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It’s been two weeks since I returned from vacation. I’ve been having a hard time since I left Mongolia.

Flaming Cliffs, Mongolia

Flaming Cliffs, Mongolia

That’s right. Mongolia.

It was a fabulous trip. We stayed in Ulaanbaatar for a few days, then took an overland journey through the Gobi Desert, the steppes and the grasslands, and a little bit into the mountains. Most days involved a lot of riding in the back of a Russian military-surplus van, seeing beautiful, wide open spaces. Each day we got to do some walking or exploring in a valley or by a river or near a sand dune. The driving time gave my body time to rest, making it easier to participate in the activities.

Of course there is more to the story than that.

The Lure of Antibiotics

Two days before the trip, a hard lump that I’d felt in my left eyelid for over a month became red and swollen. I made an emergency appointment with an ophthalmologist and walked out with 10 days of cephalexin (500mg, 4x daily). I didn’t really want to take an antibiotic, but my vision was at stake.

The ophthalmologist said that under normal circumstances, he’d want to see me again in two or three days, to make sure it wasn’t an infection that was spreading. I decided to take the antibiotic and hope for the best.

My eyelid got worse before it got better. It was pretty nasty for several days. Holding my head upside down got it to drain and reduce the swelling, but the strange red lump kept my eyebrow arched for over two weeks. Swollen Eyelid

Of course antibiotics don’t only target the acute issue for which they’ve been prescribed. Cephalexin isn’t usually used to treat Lyme because it is barely bacteriostatic against the spirochetes. However, it is used to treat dogs that have Bartonella visonii.

All I can say is that after an initial herx of the kind I get with Bartonella (night sweats, headaches, constipation, tingling in my arms, foot pain in the morning), I felt like a million bucks for the next week or so. It was fabulous. I felt completely normal. No Lyme symptoms. No Bartonella symptoms. No Babesia symptoms (which had gone away before the trip). I kept thinking that if antibiotics make me feel so good, why have I been coiling and suffering?

The short answer is that antibiotics weren’t working when I stopped taking them and started coiling. I think I’ve knocked down the infections to a much lower load in my body, and, quite frankly, my body has healed itself in the absence of overwhelming chronic infections.

Still, it seemed like a possibility to consider: going on low dose antibiotics indefinitely.

I’ve not really made any moves in that direction. I’d prefer to live without them and the side effects that come with them.

There is also the problem that comes attached to most lures: a hook. With antibiotics, the hook is the rebound that came after I finished the antibiotics and the infections woke back up.

But let me take a step back. I brought a heavy duty antioxidant with me (Sulforaphane Glucosinolate), just in case my symptoms got crazy while I was away. As soon as I finished the antibiotics, I started on the antioxidants right away. I didn’t want to deal with the rebound while I was on vacation and 6000 miles away from my coil machine.

The antioxidants helped keep things more or less under control for a week. By that time, I was getting more tired (but not the crazy exhaustion I’ve had to deal with in the past), more cranky, and noticing more pain. It was almost time to leave Mongolia.

We went to Beijing on the way back. That part of our trip was like National Lampoon’s Chinese Vacation. Oh so many things went wrong, but it was funny even as it was happening. We cut our trip short because we both had diarrhea, and I was starting to feel the antibiotic rebound.

The past two weeks that I’ve been back, I’ve been coiling for Lyme and Bartonella. I’ve had a crazy cough that started in Mongolia, got worse in Beijing (pollution!) and won’t give up since I came back. I’ve been feeling pretty much under the weather. Even with coiling, I’m having more problems, mostly respiratory, but yesterday, it turned into all over body aches and massive swings in my internal thermostat (freezing, overheated, repeat).  I decided to suck it up and take a short course of azithromycin to get the infection under control.

I expect that to kick up the Lyme after I stop it. In the meantime, I’m focusing on Bartonella, which should be less affected by this antibiotic.

One final note, yesterday, along with the body aches, I woke up with intense pain in the front of my neck. I convinced myself it was my thyroid. Turns out it is likely the muscles in the front of my neck. I had to take Advil this morning because the pain was so intense and only getting worse after 24 hours. I don’t know if it’s from the coughing or some other strange symptom of these diseases.

I’m so ready for these illnesses to be over. I want to feel normal at home, not just on vacation.

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