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How Lyme Disease Became A Blessing

I will never, ever forget the day I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014.  I was only fourteen when I received the life-changing phone call telling me my blood test had come back positive for Lyme.  For years I struggled with a plethora of undiagnosed health issues and desperately searched for answers.  Little did I know how much this phone call would really impact my life (and for the better!).

Battling a chronic, debilitating disease is, to say the least, not easy.  I have a constant, excruciating headache, joint pain, stomachache, dizziness, nausea, and overwhelming fatigue.  You couldn’t guess that I’m sick by simply glancing at me or that my treatment consists of 50 pills per day (no, that’s not an exaggeration), multiple antibiotics, and weekly IVs and injections.  On the outside I may not look like I’m fighting a disease, but I battle this invisible, chronic, nasty disease every second.

Being sick has denied me of many opportunities and robbed me of activities I previously took for granted, such as functioning like a normal teenager, spending time with friends, and playing on my high school golf team.

However, I would never change this experience because of what it has developed within me— strength, perseverance, compassion, inspiration, and calling.

Lyme disease attacks the stomach as well as the entire body, so I developed food intolerances to gluten, dairy, and soy among many, many other things.  Honestly, I didn’t even understand what gluten was when I was told a few years ago that my body didn’t tolerate it well.  As a result, I had to begin learning more about nutrition and focusing on the foods I ate more than I ever had before.

I read countless articles and books about food, and the more I read, the more I became intrigued.  I realized I have a passion for health and nutrition.  This is how Health and High Heels, my blog and website, began!  Health and High Heels is a platform for me to share my love and passion for healthy living with the world and to inspire others.  I post healthy recipes I develop and write about healthy foods and restaurants I find both locally and in my travels.  And I love high heels, so of course I had to include that in the name!

Despite my struggles, I view Lyme disease as a blessing.  The key is that I’ve chosen joy despite my trials, and I’ve found great joy in educating others about nutrition, sharing my healthy recipes with the world, and hopefully pursuing a career in medicine to help others who are sick like me.

kendal


You can find Health and High Heels on Instagram (@healthandhighheels), Facebook (Health and High Heels), Twitter (@healthhighheels), Pinterest (@healthhighheels), and my website (Healthandhighheels.org)!  These social media platforms are where I share my recipes, photographs, “fun foodie facts,” and healthy product reviews.  My goal is to excite others about healthy living and to encourage them to try a recipe or two, visit the local farmer’s market for fresh, organic produce, or even come up with original recipes!  Overall, I urge everyone to begin discovering what healthy living means in his or her own life!

Unraveling the Pain

My sister Amber is back up at the Lyme treatment clinic with my mom, I’m sad that I can’t be with her so I am sharing a photograph I created of her last time we were in Reno with some of her thoughts to comfort myself and hopefully others in similar situations. Art therapy and appreciation for what she is enduring all in one. I highly recommend it for those who are looking to find relief and strength to carry on in the darkest of times no matter what medium you use, it helps to express yourself. A way to find the light.

Enjoy and stay strong and true to your journey my fellow healing souls. We are all in this together, all one.

 – Amanda Brauning

Amber Brauning

 Unraveling the Pain

Written by Amber Brauning

Unraveling the pain from years of an unexpressed universal love. The thoughts are generated but the words don’t match. I hold what feels like an ancient pain in my heart. A pain that has given me a feeling of hopelessness, contraction and fear. The heart holds onto the pain unable to express in words my true beautiful soul heart.

Time goes by and my words don’t come. The feelings are clear but remain unexpressed. My actions should speak louder than my words but often the actions are misunderstood or unnoticed. I remain powerless trapped in a world that doesn’t see my true seed of peace love and empathy. There is a reason I have been given the gift of feeling one way on the inside and the inability to express it to the world. Yet it remains a mystery that I know will soon be revealed.

I was recently guided into a deep meditation. Guided into the cave of my heart where the seed of peace lives. In the cave was a vivid image of a young girl malnourished naked and cowering down in the corner. She had no color in her skin and was dirty and animal like. She was afraid and spoke no words. She was joined by the present me who was glowing like an angel. I handed her a seed and told her I loved her.

She no longer needed to be afraid. She has been given the seed of peace and with that gift she was set free. Free from fear starvation and loneliness. Free to rejoin me and regain her strength. Free to shed her ancient tears but most of all to take back her power and step out of the dark and into the light.

Voice or no voice she is awakened and is welcomed out of the cave. As she emerges as do I.

Forever opened forever unraveled.

 

Lyme Lit

May is Lyme disease awareness month. In 2010 when my sister was diagnosed with Lyme and co infections I knew nothing about it. Soon after I went to a Lyme conference and learned I actually knew allllll about it. It was so surreal I could hardly drive home. I knew I could not un learn the bitter truth that was presenting itself to me. My entire future and past unraveled before me. It was all so painfully clear what was going on. Most of us were never taught that just like the other planet’s animals, we were animals. That means we are responsible for maintaining the balance of small creatures that like to set up camp inside us good and bad. The mysterious yet widely accepted diagnosis of cancers, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lupus, MS, ALS, autism, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart problems, allergies, acne, asthma, seizures, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, ADD, depression, postpartum depression and miscarriages were unveiled in a different light. The idea of having one problem, one pill and a cure, or no cure, went out the window along with all the other lies I had been fed since childhood. Small problems grew into bigger problems due to a lack of understanding. I was not free, I was not allowed to get better and I was not allowed to be sick. My grandparents, parents, siblings, extended family and friends were all being sacrificed before my eyes.

I had two choices; One, listen to the voice inside my head that kept me awake drenched in sweat every night whispering “Kill yourself, you suck, this sucks, everything sucks.” Or two, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Thankfully the World Wide Web connected me to the millions of other people just like my sister and I who were suffering on so many different levels. Luckily, I had my sister by my side and a camera in my hand or I might have listened to the bugs whispering in my ear every night. These were the same bugs that tortured my family for generations undetected and without consequence. The same bugs that haunted my dreams and plagued my artwork. Of course there are good bugs that live within us, these are not the bugs I am talking about. The professors at Sacramento State and my incredible Lyme literate doctor helped me turn anger into a powerful vehicle for change and awareness with positive results. I poured my heart and soul into making imagery that helped me cope and had one purpose: Change the world. That is how Lyme Lit was born and how my sister and I faced the giant monster that is chronic illness.

When I hear someone say “My (insert friend or family member name) is sick with (insert cancer and or mental illness)” my first thought is that they have some type of infection or have been exposed to some type of toxin like a vaccine, or both, like me. I get a lot of eye rolling with this reaction but the idea that everything just mysteriously happens and it is out of our hands is just plain lazy, why would this happen to one person but not another. I often feel like I upset people’s parasites and worms, like they don’t want me talking about them. People get defensive and angry when I talk about it and have a blank zombie stare like they know it’s true but can’t admit it, it’s like we are under a spell. If you pay attention to the full moon cycle you will see a pattern of people losing their shit and then regretting whatever they did, is that really us? I do not have the answers but I do have some very good questions and that is all you need. If you adopt this way of thinking it helps you separate what is truly you, and what is a heavy blanket of illness.

These parasites, worms and chronic infections are not bad, they just are. They are trying to survive just like us. Understanding this takes away the fear and anger that often feeds chronic illness. I have had head to toe pain, neurological problems and chronic fatigue since childhood but not knowing why and not getting proper help made it hurt so much more. Stress, fear and trauma exist in a void of faithful ignorance, and we are the ones letting it happen. We must break the habit of helplessness to truly understand our current situation. These infections look for opportunities just like us. If we are injured or our health is compromised they strike. If we have negative thoughts and depression they are right there to help you suffer. These things are layered and work together meaning it takes an integrative ongoing individual approach to get it under control and keep it that way.

Our problems all revolve around being a victim or a victimizer, both will kill you. Accept that our health is something bigger than a doctor’s visit or a diagnosis, it is action and education. You don’t get to live forever but if you are wise you will understand that living in the moment and appreciating yourself makes life eternal, but we cannot do this unless we take responsibility for our health. I feel like collapsing every day but that is not necessarily a bad thing, it is humbling. I don’t eat as healthy as I should, get enough rest, detox enough or spend enough time with friends and family but that is all getting better now that I have been doing various treatments, over many years. My ego gets the best of me, I have a bad temper and many vices that often get me into trouble but that is okay because it all gets better along with my physical health. I often feel like we are afraid to get better because we don’t know what it will be like, we have been sick for so very long. Without EFT, Emotional Freedom Training, I would have never been able to accept all this meaning I would have never gotten an opportunity to start healing.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to take on the world’s biggest problems when I myself am often overwhelmed and confused. I have always been compelled to help, pushed by an invisible force to speak up. I do not think I will ever be “cured” because being cured is not real, every day is an opportunity to “cure” yourself, but it takes time and dedication and a whole lot of self maintenance. It takes communication and support from others who are also hungry for freedom. I know that people can suffer without infections but they sure don’t help any situation, and infections are always looking for that opportunity when they can take over. I’m not sure if there is a big bearded man in the sky but I know there is a greater power that loves and nurtures and I know I am one small piece of that truth. Putting faith into action and growth is much more effective than just having faith. I hate to see my sister Amber suffer relentlessly and would take it all on myself if I could. I watched my other late sister Jenny, and my brother Jayson suffer growing up as well and it lit a fire in my soul. Being the youngest I often felt helpless, which fed the flames. My parents gave us such a wonderful life and we had a hard time appreciating it because of  “mysterious” waves of “illness”. Now we know better, and we are better for it.

After a year or so of contemplation and tons of research on the subject, we tried MMS Magic Mineral Solution. We were so hesitant because there is so much controversy surrounding it and our government claims that IT will kill you. Not true. It is not only effective but it is affordable and has many uses. We are not sure where it is going to take Amber but it has helped me, her and countless others deal with everything from allergies to eye infections to liver detoxification and even mood improvement. It’s also helping our pets who share all these things with us. Please check the links I have provided below to learn more about MMS and the other amazing healing remedies and insights we have discovered over the years that our healthcare system completely disregards and often slanders against because it doesn’t make them any money. Take yourself out of the vicious cycle of learned helplessness and get educated. Remember that EVERYONE is affected by pathogens, imbalances, trauma and toxins and they need to be dealt with on an ongoing basis.

Amber has saved my life, and my nephew’s life and that is a beautiful thing. Whether she lives one more year or to be 100, she is the greatest human I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and is someone to admire. Getting better has been hard because I know she is still struggling to get out of bed and here I am starting a career and getting on with my life and it’s all thanks to her. Knowing that she wants me to be happy keeps me going and inspires me to no end. Her son Robert is just as amazing and kind as her and I know his future will be bright thanks to proper diagnosis and treatment. When he is an adult, along with my other nieces and nephews, life will not have to be so complicated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope it helps you or someone you love.

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Lady of Lyme

It was a crisp day in the summer of 2006. I had just recently graduated high school and was making the most of spending all the time I could with my friends before we had to part ways. I come from a small town, and our choices of activities were limited. One of our favorite games to play however was called Spotlight. It was a game of hiding and seek tag that was played outside at night. The person who was “it” used a flashlight to go searching for the others who were hiding, and when they found someone they would shine the light on them and yell “Spotlight!” Then it was that persons turn to be “it.” It seems like a really trivial game to play at 17-18, but it was a big group of us and we loved it.

The day after one of these riveting games of Spotlight I felt myself coming down with a cold of some sort. I experienced general flu-like pains, fever, sore throat, and exhaustion. I remember thinking “No, not now! I can’t be sick!” I tried to take some DayQuil and move on, but I got more and more sick until I had to succumb to antibiotics. My doctor thought it was strep throat so she gave me a 7-day round of antibiotics. By the end of the 7 days, I felt amazing and was ready to get back to my friends. No more then a day later the symptoms came back just as strong and fast. This time my doctor said we must not have done enough antibiotics and ordered me a 10-day dose to take again. The same general scenario happened: I took the 10 days, felt better, then almost immediately got sick again. This third time my doctor said it must not be correct antibiotic so she tried a different one for 14 days. That month felt like the absolutely longest most miserable time. I wanted so badly to go outside and enjoy the sunshine, but the light coming through my windows just hurt. I was the sickest I had ever been at the time and slept through most of the summer month. Much to my pleasure and surprise after the last dose of antibiotics, I felt great. I was back to my old self and really thought nothing of the ordeal.

Months passed by and the time came to leave for college. Being on my own was stressful. I never realized how much I depended on my parents until I had to take care of every meal for myself, do my own laundry, and keep up with classes which were extremely tough. I managed to get through my first semester thankfully, but when I came home from Christmas break my body was so exhausted I fell ill again. Same symptoms as I had in the summertime, so my Doctor gave me a 14-day round of the antibiotics, which worked. When it came time to return to school for the Spring semester I was ready, but I didn’t feel right. I started having lots of GI problems I had never experienced before. Stomach cramps, nausea, loss of appetite, feeling full when I wasn’t, IBS symptoms, and exhaustion. It got increasingly worse so my mother got me in with a few different Gastroenterologists who all ran a battery of exams which all came back fine.

Now, let me mention that until this point I was a very healthy child. I NEVER got sick. I would honestly get a cold once every 3 years. My immune system was impeccable and the only real complaint I ever had was migraines, which I inherited from my father’s side of the family. Otherwise, I was an active girl who did Dance (tap, point, ballet, jazz, contemporary) since the age of 6, I played tennis, I played the piano, and I loved to be active. So having these terrible stomach issues and every doctor looking at me like I was a nut was extremely frustrating. I was angry, very angry that the people I trusted were treating me like I was crazy. My mother is a physician herself, so I grew up trusting doctors. This belief was slowly getting shattered when Doctor after Doctor failed to help me with the pain I knew I was experiencing. One of my GI doctors went as far as telling me he would refer me to a Psychiatrist. As my stomach got increasingly worse with burning pain, sharp pains, and other pains I couldn’t even describe, I felt my grades slipping & my hope to get better slipping.  One doctor gave me a motility drug that worked for about a week and then actually made me worse. My parents never gave up though; they fought on until we finally found a doctor who took me a bit more seriously. She said she believed that I had what was called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). This can happen from taking too many antibiotics. “BINGO!” I thought. This had to be it. The irony of this diagnosis is that it calls for more antibiotics to treat it…different antibiotics. This made 0 sense to me, but I followed the orders as I was told. I took these new antibiotics, and for a while, I was improving. Things looked up for me after almost a year of pain and suffering.

My joy was rather quickly fleeting though, because my stomach issues came back not long after, and lingered. On top of that, I also began having lots of exhaustion. Almost every time I stood up I nearly fainted. I remembered thinking how weird this was. Maybe I was just standing up too quickly? These symptoms also got worse so it was back to the drawing board with doctors. My B12 levels were low so they decided I would receive weekly B12 injections and be fine in no time. Months went by doing this and I was not getting better.

Ever so slowly more and more symptoms came about. Each time I went to a specialist for the symptom I was having, and they diagnosed me as something in their field, or they would send me away.  I spent more time in doctor’s offices (often times traveling out of state) then I spent being a normal young adult. My heart started having very abnormal arrhythmias and I was getting out of breath easily, so we saw a cardiologist. She was a kind and caring woman who ran many tests and finally diagnosed me with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). The symptoms all lined up, and since this was a disorder of the autonomic nervous system it had an explanation for all my stomach pain as well. My nervous system was not firing properly and therefore giving me gut motility issues.  This same system controls your heart rate and blood pressure so those issues were covered. I finally felt like I had an answer. I began taking Florinef (asteroid of sorts), which helped me retain water and salt to raise my blood pressure.

I wish I could say this was the final stop on the journey, but from this point on things got horribly bad. I came down with migraines, stomachaches, exhaustion, pain near my liver, nausea, and had lots of weight loss. I barely completed my last semester of college from being so ill. My mother had to take time off work to come to my school and move in temporarily to assist me. Finally, I graduated and one day just broke down and collapsed from the sheer pain I had in my stomach. My parents rushed me to the doctor where we found out my gallbladder had all but stopped functioning and needed to be removed immediately. A few days later I was in surgery and had it taken out. This surgery brought me great relief and we felt as though this was the answer to all my pain and suffering.

After the surgery, I felt well enough to move clear across the country to Los Angeles to pursue my dreams in Fashion. I got accepted into the world-renowned school, FIDM. I could hardly wait to finally start to live my dream. However, my body was not ready for me to put this kind of stress on it, because shortly after my move things started to fall apart again. More stomach problems, crippling fatigue, migraines, and worst of all I had developed extreme motion sensitivity and sound sensitivity. I could not be a passenger in a car for longer than 15 minutes without getting carsick. This went for all things that moved like elevators, escalators, boats, etc. I got very ill from all of these. This got worse as well as time went on and I could tolerate less and less. Every day I would come home from class and my body would crash from sheer exhaustion. My parents flew out to California and we went to a huge list of specialists including the renowned House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles. I saw 3 different doctors there, who were all 3 specialists in different fields of inner ear disorders. None of them could find anything wrong with me (go figure).  The only thing they could tell me was that my eye tracking was abnormal, but he had no idea what that meant or what to do about it. 0 help. We moved on to endocrinologists, more GI doctors, and ended up at yet another cardiologist. This man was the only doctor who was of any help. I told him about my POTS diagnosis years ago and he gave me more medicine & tips to help. I was put on a medicine to raise my blood pressure and was given compression stockings. To be honest this gave me the most relief out of everything else I had tried.

I was still very ill and I knew I could not finish up school, so I moved back home to Kentucky to continue on my search for a diagnosis. My neurological symptoms got worse every single day. I felt like I had electrical shocks going through my head, I could only travel by car if I drove myself (short distances), and my migraines were a staple of daily life. By now it was January of 2011, and we drove up the New York City to see a well-known neurologist who was going to examine my MRI’s and brain scans to check for a Chiari 1 Malformation. I prayed that brain surgery could relieve all my issues. I never thought that at 22 years old I would be praying to get bad news. I just wanted ANY news, and to know that I would get relief. Unfortunately, this doctor said due to certain issues with low spinal cord fluid, and other issues with my health that surgery would only do more harm than good. He could not help me any further. So back we went to Kentucky to the drawing board. My weight had plummeted from 110 pounds to a mere 89 pounds. I knew I needed help desperately and quickly. Many trips to the ER were mixed in all of this from fainting, to pain, to other issues that I had to rush in for. I worked hard on gaining weight & pushing through the pain the best I could.

Months passed by, and I ended up getting a part-time job working with special needs children. We would do hands-on exercises with them as a sort of “rehab,” but it was made fun with gym exercises and balance games, etc. One day my manager took me into the computer room to train me on some of the exams they run on the children. She thought the best way to teach me would be for me to play the role of one of the children and have her do the test on me. As I did the visual test I failed miserably. At the time I thought nothing of it, however the next day when I saw Autistic children and those with other developmental issues pass the same test, I became worried. I printed out my results and called up my mother to tell her the news. She immediately got on the Internet to research and found a doctor in Tennessee who specializes in disorders of the eye and brain.

I obviously put no hope into the visit because the last 5 years were nothing but letdowns. However, when I met Dr. Clopton there was a different vibe to him. I told him my symptoms and my story and he listened deeply. He reviewed my odd tests results and immediately knew where to go from there. He ran test after test on me and they each made me really visually sick. I actually had to come back the next day to complete all the exams because I could not handle it all in one sitting. By the end of the second day, he sat me down and had a serious discussion with me. The tests revealed that I had brain damage; the kind you see on someone who had been in a severe car accident. I had never been in such an accident, so it was concluded that the brain damage was happening from the inside. The damage was also located in the area of my brain responsible for all my senses. That was why my eye tracking was so unusual; I had very over-stimulated senses. Driving and other movement-based activities were things that caused me great pain because the connection between my eye to my brain was damaged, and the signal was not properly sent. Dr. Clopton was an absolute angel, and to this day I will forever be grateful to him. He knew we must get to the bottom of this so he referred me to a doctor who specializes in these hard to treat mystery cases. And from this point on is where my life takes a change for the better, and I began my journey to a diagnosis.

A month after seeing Dr. Clopton my family and & I walked into the office of Dr. B. The waiting room was warm with a fire and lots of big fluffy couches. I felt immediately at ease from the second I walked in & spoke with the nurse. She took my vital signs and then took me into a separate room that had another big couch, and was set up more like a living room then a doctors office. It was so cozy, filled with pictures of Dr. B and his family. That’s when the doctor himself came into the room, introduced himself, and shook our hands. I could tell this was a kind man and the man who would help me. That day he spent 2 hours getting my entire health history. He asked so many questions and really dug deep for clues. He lined up a number of blood tests for the next morning and said he would call us as soon as he got some answers. The next day I spent 45 minutes getting blood drawn into about 30 different tubes. I knew at that moment that Dr. B was not messing around. He was going to figure it out, even if that meant running every test in the book.

A few weeks went by and we got a call to return to him to talk about my results. I took a deep breath as I waited to hear the verdict. “You have Lyme disease.” He spoke in a calm and collected manner as he told me about my co-infections (Bartonella & Protomyxzoa) and explained how it’s transmitted, what happens when it turns chronic, and my treatment options. It was a lot to take in at once, but I was so grateful to see my tests results show up highly abnormal. I have been waiting for 5 years to figure this out, and finally, I got an answer. The relief was the first feeling, following by tears of joy. He had a very specific plan to spend months first preparing my body for treatment by detoxing heavily (I learned what a herx was), and taking probiotics and other supplements. I followed his orders diligently and moved home to live with my parents full time in January of 2012.

Giving up my independence when I was 23 was so hard. I learned what all Lyme treatment entailed and I just knew I could not handle it on my own. I had mentally prepared myself for giving up school, my job, and my foreseeable future to get better. The timing of diagnosis, however, could not have gotten any better, because by the time I moved home I was unable to tolerate car rides what so ever. I moved home knowing I would be 100% housebound until I was finally cured. This was something I had to be at peace with because I knew in my heart it would be worth it in the end.

I am still currently treating this disease as of March 2016. There have been many ups and downs as well as a major relapse just as I began to gain my independence back. Needless to say, it has been a long journey and one that I continue to learn so much about. I still have many months to go, and at this point, I don’t have a timetable set. I am simply looking to take each day at a time, be gentle with myself, and continue to uncover the mysteries of this complex disease. I have been treated strictly herbally, homeopathically & energetically with no antibiotics. I am a very little girl with a fragile body and I just could not tolerate antibiotics when I tried. I first treated the Bartonella and am happy to say I am now Bart free after testing negative on multiple cultures, smears, and PCR tests! I am no longer experiencing those typical “Bartonella” symptoms and have not seen a Bart rash in months. That to me gives me hope. My CD57 levels began at the bottom of the barrel at 14 and over the course of 4 years of treatment has reached 126 and staying strong. These are all just huge milestones in my journey, and I continue now to uncover other co-infections, autoimmune issues, hormonal issues and brain damage which is keeping me from healing. It’s a complex mystery & I’ve come too far that giving up is not an option. I am determined to find a way out of this fully healed! I am in the midst of the rest of the treatment currently and it is easily the toughest fight of my life. I know if you are reading this you are no stranger to the difficulties of treatment.

Overall I feel blessed and thankful. I have connected with so many amazing people through my blog/website LadyofLyme.com as I have charted my journey to find health again. It has been therapeutic for me and has helped me be a Lyme advocate in my hometown. At the time of my diagnosis I was so uneducated about Lyme that I did not know I could even catch it here in small town Kentucky. Now I know and I hope my story can help anyone battling similar symptoms. God Bless

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