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Back to Basics

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In my last blog, I talked about viruses. It was part of a side trip I took on my journey towards wellness. Although I sometimes think I have another infection, or several, that contributes to my symptoms, I learned once again that until I get rid of the three basic infections, nothing else will get me well.

The first clue is that when I stopped coiling for all the viral infections (Epstein-Barr, HHV-6, Cytomegalovirus, & XMRV) and for Mycoplasma fermentans, nothing got worse. No symptoms crept back up. Either they were not the main issue or I got rid of a viral flare very quickly. But my main symptoms are still waiting.

The second clue is that when I increased the coiling for Bartonella, I herxed more (mostly kidney pain, abdominal pain, urinary hesitation and increased neuropathic sensations in my arms). Bartonella is the culprit behind many of my strange symptoms. The biggest reminder is that I think I had Bartonella during childhood. When I go back to the strange symptoms I had back then, I can see the possibility that Bartonella might be a cause of the recent symptoms: the cough and bronchial inflammation (similar to every year of high school), the heel pain in my left foot (now moving around and similar to other neurological foot pain caused by Bartonella), and the unrelenting fatigue (which I’ve overcome several times over the past few years by coiling simultaneously for Babesia and Bartonella). No definite conclusion, but I’m coiling more for Bartonella. The foot pain comes and goes. The cough disappeared until I had two nights of inadequate sleep. (I found something else to help me with the fatigue for now. That work-in-progress is explained under the section on maca.)

The third clue is that coiling for Lyme more frequently has gotten rid of the joint pain I thought might come from Mycoplasma fermentans. Coiling for M. fermentans did not alleviate the joint pain. Coiling for Lyme more frequently (every 3-4 days instead of weekly) did the trick. Speaking of tricks (and treats), I think I had just gotten through the autumn Lyme flare when I triggered another one with Chinese herbs and a Halloween candy binge. The Chinese herbs upregulated my immune system, then when I stopped them, the Lyme woke up. Having awakened the Lyme beast, I then ate leftover candy that the local Trick-or-Treaters didn’t scoop up on Halloween (a larger quantity than I care to admit). Needless to say, I triggered a nice flare of Lyme symptoms. After coiling my full body three times, the symptoms have receded into the background. They aren’t completely gone, so I’m still coiling every 3-4 days.

The fourth clue is that my night sweats are gone and my headaches less frequent. It took two weeks of coiling for Babesia to get rid of the night sweats. Now I only have Bartonella headaches and not Babesia headaches. I’m going to coil for a few more days for good measure, then I’m done (hopefully until at least the end of the year).

These four clues have me back on track. It seems silly to go chase after all the viruses and other infections when I still have Bartonella raging in my nervous system, wreaking havoc throughout my body. There may be a time, when Bartonella is a memory rather than a current experience, a time when I can successfully hunt down the viruses and climb several steps closer to health.

Maca and the Energy Conundrum

I couldn’t deal with the unrelenting fatigue. I was casting about for something to give me enough energy to figure out what to do next. Then I stumbled upon maca in a book of juicing and smoothy recipes (Crazy Sexy Juice, by Kris Carr). I dug into my cabinet, found an enormous quantity of maca, and began using it right away.

Originally, a doctor told me to take maca, a Peruvian root from high in the Andes. It disrupted my sleeping patterns at first, but succeeded in improving my daytime energy. I took it for over two years. I stopped taking it when I ceased taking almost all of my supplements. Actually, going back to my old blog posts helped me figure out that the sleep problems from maca worked themselves out as I continued taking it.

This time, however, I had no patience for not sleeping. For the first ten days of taking less than 1/2 tsp of raw maca powder in my breakfast (either a smoothie or a chia-seed-based warm custard), I slept less and less each night. When I was below 8 hours, I was tired during the day again. No more daytime energy. “What’s the point of this supplement?” I thought. I stopped taking it for two days. The first day I was a bit tired in the afternoon, napped and slept better that night. The second day I was tired all day, again, but not quite as tired as before I started the maca. I had enough energy to bake, which is what I did.

I read up on maca while I was taking it. In the US, people consume raw maca powder or gelatinized maca powder, a cooked version that is stripped of its carbohydrates. People in Peru consumed cooked maca. They even bake with maca powder (flour). The potential downside is that it reduces the potency of the maca. I saw reduced potency as an upside. I’d like some of the effects of maca without the full punch it delivers.

Thus I baked a flax and garbanzo bean flour bread, substituting a small amount of garbanzo bean flour for maca flour. It worked out okay. I’ve been eating a portion of the bread every day for breakfast. My energy is better. My sleep is better. I may need to nap some days, but when I’m awake, I’m alert and able to work on anything I want. I’ve been doing some cooking and working on making a few Christmas gifts.

It took a few days for the sleep to even out. But it takes less time to fall asleep (much less than the two hours it took my last night of raw maca!), I wake up less often, and I can sleep for about 9 hours. The confounding part is that my menstrual cycle should be starting any day now. PMS often gives me insomnia, which I’m starting to experience again.

A last random note about maca. I read someone in an online review say that it gave her swollen lymph nodes in her neck. In a separate online forum, people cautioned against maca for people who have chronic fatigue syndrome because it may activate some of the viruses in the herpes family. When I took the raw maca, my lymph nodes (which are prone to swell pretty often, especially when I have Bartonella flares) swelled up. The second day that I didn’t take it, my Lymph nodes went down. Now that I’m eating baked maca, my lymph nodes are swollen again. This symptom isn’t a sufficient deterrent. I like having a baseline of energy to use during the day.

Smart Coiling

I need to take a moment here to acknowledge that I always find a way to get sidetracked from coiling for Bartonella. Sometimes it’s a Lyme flare. Or a Babesia flare that requires daily coiling. Sometimes it’s my fear that there is some other infection taking over.

Right now, I’m reminding myself that until the Bartonella is gone, it has to remain the top priority. Bartonella comes back when I don’t coil enough or when I take coiling breaks to visit my family. Bartonella gets triggered when I catch a cold or don’t sleep enough or overexert myself. Bartonella is the infection that is not only active right now, but has the ability to make things much worse very quickly. If I’m not coiling for Bartonella, I’m wasting my time.

Having said that, Bartonella is the infection that makes me feel most hopeless. The herxes make me feel like there is no point in trying to get well, gives me an unshakable feeling of despair about my life, and makes me want to stop coiling altogether. I don’t imagine that the infection has intelligence and is able to fight a psychological war to prevent me from eradicating it, but that’s how I feel sometimes.

As of today, I’m rededicating myself to getting rid of the Bartonella infection as soon as possible.

Odds and Ends

I recently read a science fiction novel by Janet Edwards, called Earth Girl. The heroine is a young woman with a condition that renders her handicapped in relation to her peers. It is a chronic, incurable condition. Yet she is strong, smart, tenacious, and effective in accomplishing her heart’s desires. As a woman with a chronic, incurable condition that renders me handicapped in relation to my peers, I fell in love with the book. I recommend it to other readers with tick-borne illnesses.

The most recent issue of Lyme Times arrived. The big news is a database called MyLymeData which allows people with chronic Lyme Disease to share their experiences with people doing research on Lyme Disease. I haven’t yet had time participate, but I read about the project and got really excited. There are finally researchers who are trying to find a cure and using our experiences as Lyme patients to guide them.

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