In part 1 of this 2-part blog, I’m going to bare all, and share my story about being diagnosed with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) in the spring of 2015. And how my symptoms progressed and I was later diagnosed with Lyme disease. And then diagnosed with Epstein Barr Disease in the fall of 2015. And although not diagnosed, I certainly felt like I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
This article has been a long time coming.
Because I’ve struggled with what exactly to say.
How much do I share?
Does anyone really care?
At times, when I thought about writing it, I was embarrassed and ashamed that with ALL the training and knowledge I have, that I was even in this position. But illness is a great teacher and what it did was force me to dive into all the things I know, and then explore even more research, in order to heal myself. And now I can share all I learned about recovering from chronic Lyme, or Epstein Barr Virus, with others (part 2).
Root Causes of Disease & Triggers of my Lyme Disease and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) – the perfect storm
- 2013 & 2014 – super busy work years. I had a full private practice and the waiting list was growing every week. It was an elephant in the room, in that your job is never done. People were so desperate for help, and it weighed on me emotionally. Looking back, I needed to grace myself that I couldn’t fix the whole world. I also didn’t take enough time off and didn’t have a work/life balance. It would be a leap to call myself a healer, but those of use who serve for a living definitely need some down time.
- January 2015 – I was determined to not let work interfere with my own health and I was doing high intensity interval training and was up to a full 20 minutes with 9 MPH sprints on good days. I was feeling great. I say this because it’s in stark contrast to what is coming.
- February 2015 – I visited my mom and dad in Arizona and both of them tend to be heavy on gas pedal, and just as heavy on the brakes. Or maybe I was just starting to express neurologically-based symptoms. But I noticed car sickness while driving with them, and it was the first time this had ever happened.
- March 2015 – It was time to refinish our hard wood floors. It was an unusually warm spring and we knew we could keep the doors open during the day. Johny planned on using a non-toxic finish. But life happened. The finish had a chemical reaction with what was on the floor before; it bubbled up and we had a mess. He called in a flooring colleague and together they decided to strip the new finish, re-sand it, but go deeper, seal it, and then put the finish on. I tell you all of this because we didn’t plan on this sealer that turned out to be very toxic and was off-gassing. You could smell it all the way across the driveway at our shop when the doors were open. I did leave our home and worked in town during the days throughout this process. But by night, it had dried enough to walk on and we slept here.
As much as I’d like to blame the floor sealer on what became months of “mystery illness”, I had a role in it too. The 4 root causes of disease, instigate ANY chronic disease, and I was guilty of not managing them well enough, especially in a vulnerable time.
- Stress – guilty as charged with my lack of work/life balance and not managing my thoughts (“I’m too busy”, “I can’t keep up” etc)
- Toxins – like the floor sealer plus not making a daily effort to keep on top of the detoxification process. Read about how toxins affect health here.
- Infections (including stealth pathogens) – you’ll see later that most all of us carry the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and the virus family.
- Diet – I was eating eggs & dairy, which fuel pathogens, and ignite the inflammatory fire.
Johny had also been fatigued, and tested positive for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) after doing a huge remodel for our church in 2013, and his issues just continued into the fall of my health. Now I was sick too. And although I’m a “Medical Colombo” for a living, I really didn’t put the floor sealer into the puzzle until months down the road. Maybe it was the fatigue and cognitive dysfunction already presenting itself but I really didn’t yet understand what had happened.
As time went on, I started looking at our environment and the fact that we just didn’t feel good, so I started doing these things:
- Unplugging our router at night to reduce our exposure to WiFi and its effects
- We got high quality (IQ air brand) air filters.
- I bought us a grounding pad for our bed. And I started standing out in the grass, or laying in the grass.
- I was researching water filters (we have a well so I hadn’t thought we needed one but I learned differently). We bought a Berkey filter system.
- We went looking for mold, pulling back carpet in places it had been wet over the years. Johny used his moisture meter throughout the house, looking for walls that might be wet on the inside somehow, where we couldn’t see what was happening. We ordered a special cloth and “dusted” our house with it, and then sent it off to the lab to quantify the amount of mold spores it picked up.
We also agreed to do serum testing for mold. Our doc ordered us a CIRS blood panel and also ran our genetics. Both of our CIRS panels came back with positive markers but also not a dead ringer for mold exposure. Something was going on though. And genetically, we both carry “the dreaded mold genes” and are high risk for exposure. We do have cows and their hay sits out all year, getting moldy. So I quit being a part of their feeding and Johny started wearing a mask when feeding.
But we still didn’t really have all the pieces to the puzzle.
We continued to do blood tests and brainstorm about what was going on. Ultimately, we ran the Western Blot test on me looking for Lyme. It was negative. But my doctor said that IgeneX Lyme test was superior specialty and so we did it too. The IgeneX Lyme test was positive. Again, like the mold, a mixed picture. One negative, one positive. But I did spend a few months thinking I had Lyme. It was disheartening, because I know that Lyme solutions are few and far between. But in hindsight, the Lyme diagnosis was a bit of a God-send. Because I had been told I had Lyme, I started paying attention to Lyme research and information.
I saw an article online by Anthony Williams (aka Medical Medium) suggesting Lyme was viral, not bacterial. It made sense. And the positive Lyme test? Viral casings.
I dove into PubMed and found there is PLENTY of research supporting a connection between Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and many health conditions. I went back and re-listened to old medical interviews. Based on all of this, I asked my doctor to run a Herpes Virus Titer panel, and I tested sky high for EBV and HSV-1. In fact, my titers were “unmeasurable” since they exceeded the reference range.
This next part is critical, so let’s make sure you understand.
If the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) is the real root cause of Lyme, no wonder antibiotics fail!
Anti-viral medication – not antibiotics – is the answer.
I tried a couple rounds of antibiotics and have never felt so sick! I felt like I was autistic as my nerves & neurological system became more damaged (pathogens proliferating). Noises and lights bothered me like never before. I was moody and highly sensitive. It was truly awful! I had some car sickness when driving with my mom and dad, but now I couldn’t be in a car at all as I had severe vertigo and motion sickness.
I had the answer and in my gut, I knew it was “the” answer. And this is really why I’m writing this article about my own journey with Lyme disease and Epstein Barr Disease.
I do believe what we call Lyme disease is viral, although once the immune system is compromised, bacteria can proliferate too, so it makes sense that antibiotics can provide some – but not all – of the solution.
But if we don’t treat the virus, treatments will fail, which is what we see happen with Lyme patients over and over again.
Maybe this will blog will help YOU find the answers you need since 90 to 95% of us carry the Herpes family of viruses?
I share this whole story because “Lyme” is becoming an epidemic – or pandemic – and it’s the label too often given when health care providers can’t figure out what is really going on.
In the end, I feel blessed that my viral titers were positive and matched the information I read from Anthony Williams, as well as research I found in the NIH medical library.
Whether it was a bacterial or viral pathogen, or both, I now knew to start supporting my immune system in general (zinc, vitamin C, Selenium and more), and to load up with anti-viral herbs as well as herbs known to kill bacteria (cats claw, licorice, lemon balm, lysine and more).
If you have multiple health conditions, have been diagnosed with Lyme, have brewing or outright “auto immune conditions”, I urge you to reconsider the root causes. I started hearing dissenting information about our bodies attacking themselves and creating auto-immune diseases in 2013. Did God really make our body to attack itself??? I had listened to interviews stating that in Hashimoto’s disease, researchers found the thyroid loaded with the Epstein Barr Virus. Perhaps when we see our immune cells attacking the thyroid, they are attacking the Epstein Barr Virus, not our own tissue!
For years, doctors and researchers have known that the EBV and the Herpes family of viruses are involved on some level. They truly just didn’t know if they were CAUSAL or OPPORTUNISTIC.
The other thing to consider in the big picture is that virus’s mutate, and labs can’t (or don’t) keep up, so our tests are not accurate. Just because a test was negative, does that mean pathogens are not involved? Stay tuned because I’ll be writing a lot more about how pathogens and chronic disease go hand in hand.
As we close, the good news is that I healed, and you can too. You can read about my recovery protocol here. If you need help identifying root causes, prioritizing steps to wellness, or organizing a treatment plan, I’m here to help you reclaim your life so you can live at your fullest potential!