Last night, after writing out all my thoughts about my symptoms, I had insomnia. It gave me time to think things through in the quiet of my mind without any distractions.
I have two new ideas, somewhat related to each other, that will help me going forward.
Fanning the Flames
As I looked at all my symptoms, or the fact that I’m having a big symptom flare–especially in my joints and skin, I realized that it is all inflammation. It seems like my body is having an inflammatory response to something or to many things. My initial thought was about whether I should do something to bring down the inflammation: antioxidants, dietary restrictions, an extra acupuncture session.
When I thought about it more, I went back to my mantra, the only way out is through. With many of the symptoms I’ve dealt with, continuing to coil and not treating the symptoms has led to longer lasting relief without a rebound when I stopped treating the symptoms.
I don’t really want to go back to the hard core dietary restrictions, though I’m willing to be more strict about avoiding sugar. I learned my lesson pretty recently about adding and subtracting antioxidants when I stopped co-enzyme Q-10 while traveling. I had to take it again at a higher dose until I got back to coiling. Then I could deal with the rebound with two weeks of coiling. That leaves me with acupuncture.
As I thought about it more, I realized that acupuncture may have been one of the contributing factors in the increased inflammatory response. The protocol I requested may have corrected an underperforming immune system. Whenever my immune system comes online or increases, I get acne, joint pain and, more often than not, a cold. Although I forgot to mention it in my last post, I’ve been sneezing and coughing a little, like I’m about to get sick, but I haven’t gotten sick yet. (Stop typing. Knock on wood.)
This lead me to a few other thoughts. One of my symptoms of PMS is a flare of Lyme and Bartonella symptoms, which could be reworded as increased inflammation throughout my body. I don’t always have a flare anymore, just some months. I remember, however, that the flares have occurred more regularly when I’ve aggressively coiled for Bartonella in the past. My whole menstrual cycle gets messed up. This might be why metformin “stopped working” two years ago to control the PCOS symptoms and PMS symptoms, shortly after I first intensified my Bartonella coiling protocol.
The second thought was about which symptoms have gotten worse. They are mostly in my joints and skin. My internal organs don’t seem worse than usual, only mild to moderate kidney pain, digestion relatively normal by my lax standards (other than an unusual and wildly fluctuating appetite), no liver pain. Inflammation attacks the weak points that I haven’t been actively detoxing. It also may get at the places where blood flow isn’t as strong, places where toxins might build up locally, thus the joints or pores. Alternatively, an increased inflammatory response may be attacking places where dormant bacteria are hiding out. I’m not really certain, but any or all of these ideas may have an aspect of truth in them.
The final, more significant thought, is that doing full-body exercise is actually increasing blood flow to places and clearing out toxins and fighting bacteria that were safely stored in a dormant environment.
None of these things are bad. Although inflammation is unpleasant and at this point affecting my daily activities, I’m not sure it makes any sense to try to interrupt it. (That doesn’t rule out a dose of ibuprofen with lunch.)
All of that came from the first half hour of insomnia, after my husband had fallen asleep and I couldn’t. Once I started thinking about exercise, something new fell into place.
Each time I’ve attempted to do an exercise plan of any type, even when I started trying to walk regularly after moving to California, I’ve had a hard time. I’ve found myself exhausted for days. I’ve been unable to move. I’ve triggered flares of the various infections. All this happens while I’m coiling daily.
It’s slightly different from when I travel to visit my family. In those settings, I usually end up triggering a flare by not sleeping enough and blowing through my reserves of energy. Several times I’ve managed to catch a respiratory infection along the way. And I’ve done it all for somewhere between 10 and 21 days without coiling. So I come home and do my best to recover to the point where I was before I left.
Exercise at home is a vastly different situation. What I could finally see last night is that when I’ve tried to exercise, I can’t do the thing I set out to do. The relapsing symptoms are overwhelming. But as I coil through them, and often give up on my exercise plan, I get stronger. I build up my stamina a little bit more. I build up my strength a little bit more. I don’t always get back to the thing I wanted to do, but life gets easier because with more stamina I can do more around the house, go for longer walks, do more things on the good days.
What it reminded me of was when I decided I wanted to expand my diet to include red fruits and vegetables, nightshade vegetables, dairy products, and wheat products, or when I decided I wanted to stop taking so many supplements. These changes triggered more symptoms, triggered flares in the infections. I did it intentionally, knowing this would happen, and facing it head on with a plan. I introduced foods or dropped supplements a little at a time, triggered the infections, then coiled until the symptoms were gone again. Since I knew what was happening, I planned on not being well enough to complete the daily activities I’d become used to doing. I knew I would have more pain and less energy. But I also knew, after the first successfully introduced food, that the increase in symptoms was temporary.
I might be able to do this with exercise. Instead of using exercise as a signpost of how well I already am, or more importantly, as an activity I have a right to engage in once I get healthy, I can change my perspective to see exercise as a trigger. Exercise may trigger the infections through increased blood flow to areas that were settled, where the infection could lie dormant because my immune system didn’t really reach that area effectively. Or, to go back to what Dr. Burrascano says about exercise in Advanced Topics in Lyme Disease,
There is now evidence that a carefully structured exercise program may benefit T-cell function: this function will depress for 12 to 24+ hours after exercise, but then rebound. This T-cell depression is more pronounced after aerobics…
As my immune system goes up and down, it may allow the dormant bacteria to wake up, then participate in killing it off.
I should note that Dr. Burrascano recommends against aerobic exercise. I would like, at some point, to build up to aerobic exercise, but at this point, the cardiac symptoms I get afterwards are frightening and overwhelming. For the foreseeable future, I’ll have to take his advice.
This leaves me thinking about how to reclaim exercise. If I decide that this is the next step, and that I want to take it while I’m also working on getting rid of the Bartonella infection, I have to deprioritize everything else. Everything else. I’ll have to put my writing on the back burner. I’ll have to plan on much simpler eating choices. I’ll have to reduce the activities I do outside the house.
I’m not ready to make that my plan. Or rather, I’m not ready to let go of everything else to exercise. Instead, I think I want to try exercising at a more minimal level, one where I’m not triggering big, debilitating symptom flares, but instead using the stamina I have built up already and go right up to the limit of what I can recover from right away but not far beyond it.
All this is subject to change as I test out my new theory.
Sometime shortly after I reached a conclusion about exercise, I was very tired and still awake. I decided to do a body scan to determine if there was anything preventing me from sleeping. I got up and emptied my bladder for the third time since the lights went out. I put on an extra sweatshirt once I determined that I wasn’t snuggly warm. Then I settled in bed again and decided it was time to clear my mind until morning. As thoughts came, I acknowledged them without pursuing them. Suddenly it was 6am and one of the cats woke me up for an emergency petting session. I had fallen asleep. And I went right back to sleep once she moved over to my husband for a more vigorous rub.
Categories: healing process