A few weeks ago, the cracker, the criminal and I had a fantastic 6-mile hike, climbing up 1500 feet. Yes, it's true. I'm getting a lot better. But I still have a long way to go. I'm functioning anywhere between 30-40% my normal level. And while a 6 mile hike may seem like I'm fully recovered, compared to my pre-Lyme functioning it's not a lot. I can only manage a hike like that once a week. I still require a lot of rest and my cognitive function is very slow.
When I first got diagnosed with Lyme disease, I asked people familiar with it what the treatment was. The majority always said "hard-core antibiotics." Huh? Hard-core? Isn't that like, something you'd find in the adult industry?
I never had a reaction to antibiotics the few times I ever took them. Are they really that bad? After all, I live with the cracker, the criminal and Mr. Wild Dingo. And that's pretty hard-core. How hard can hard-core be?
Choosing an antibiotic treatment protocol over alternative methods to treat Lyme disease is no trivial matter. I thought long and hard before I committed to it. There are three forms of Lyme and each one requires a different class of antibiotic, sometimes even cycling through 2 or 3 of each class for each form and taking as many as 3 antibiotics or more at a time. And then there's the antibiotics for co-infections. You can imagine the damage taking that many antibiotics for months or years does to the body. But, I have days where I can hike, sleep, cook, sleep, do errands, sleep, socialize with friends, sleep and enjoy music again. I'm getting out of bed at a reasonable hour in the morning and I'm even writing again for publication. Did I mention I can sleep? All these benefits come with trade-offs, as I soon learned exactly what "hard-core" means.
Hard core is having to stay at home most mornings close to the bathroom and carrying a green bucket around the house, like it’s this season’s most sought-after Hermes handbag. Hard core is driving down a busy road without your green bucket and the antibiotic you just took unexpectedly rears its ugly head. The twisty turning road suddenly feels like being on roller coaster with a belly full of pizza and too much beer. You wrack your already bad Lyme memory as you try to recall if and what you ate so you know what to expect. Panic sets in when you realize that on this 6-mile curvy mountain road, there is nowhere to pull over. Hardcore is holding it in when you’re thisclose to opening the door at 30 mph and letting it all out without a care in the world for the cars behind.
My daily pills. I think I need a bigger box.
I am currently taking three antibiotics, two for Lyme and one for a co-infection, plus a few other anti-fungal medicines. But my treatment involves much more than antibiotics. I'm also on over 50 different immune support vitamins and herbs daily and follow a strict anti-inflammatory diet. My life is so different from an average person's life now, just so I can function at 30%.
Up until now, I didn't share my treatment process because everyone has an opinion on how to treat this insidious disease. Let me make it clear: while antibiotics have their side effects, herbal remedies can be equally difficult. I had a severe reaction to a popular herbal remedy used for Lyme that left me non-functioning for three months. While I would never advise anyone jumping blindly into antibiotic treatment for Lyme, most of the reading I've done confirms that the majority of Lyme disease sufferers recover with a combination of long term and multiple "hard-core" antibiotics, immune system support and herbal antimicrobial. The trick is to stick with the given program and have faith in it, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.
There are a lot of Lyme patients out there much sicker than me. So far, I haven't had need for IV antibiotics. My doctor believes in starting slowly and layering medications little by little. Slow and steady wins the Lyme recovery race.
And while I am not, and hope never to be, on IV antibiotics, hardcore is having to drop trou so your husband, or bestie, can give you your antibiotic shot several times per week---in the ass.
Gosh, I am so sorry to hear this. I sure hope that you begin to feel better soon. 🙁
What a trooper you are, Julie! I had to take ONE antibiotic for a week following some dental work and my system was NOT happy. I can't imagine the Depends debate you must go through just to drive to the store!
Love to Cracker and Criminal!
The husband was on hard-core antibiotics several years ago for septicemia - after being hospitalized for 10 days, he was finally discharged, with the option of a picc line or shots in the ass. Believe it or not, the shots in the ass was the option of choice (don't worry, if it comes to that, both you and MWD will adapt pretty quickly... 😀 ). Luckily he only had a month of that before he was declared unlikely to die anytime soon, but man that sucked. So I can picture what you are going through (to some degree) and while you may feel like 30% functionality sucks (especially when a green bucket is involved), there was a point when a 6 mile hike would have been totally unthinkable, so Go You! And from a medical point of view (keep in mind, I'm not a doctor, I just pretend to be educated) everyone's body chemistry is different, and what works for one person may totally not work for someone else - there is no one right answer to a disease - you've got to go with what works for you. Oh, and you definitely need a bigger (and more stylish) pill box! 😉
-Dr. Liz, who is thrilled to hear that you at least have some less-than-totally-awful days