As I said in Part 3 of “My Backstory with Lyme” … back in August of 2017 I began seeing Dr. Paul Beals (a LLMD – Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) in Stevensville, MD. He was absolutely convinced that all of my health issues/symptoms were related to late-stage Lyme disease and various tick-born co-infections. He immediately put me on oral antibiotics (Cefuroxime Axetil 500mg). I took it for 5 weeks straight. I remember that I initially felt a little better after two weeks on it, but my symptoms returned on week three. I also began having horrible stomach issues even though I was taking a daily probiotic. He also prescribed Trazodone to help me with my annoying insomnia. He wanted me to take 300mg before bed, but I chose to only take half of that (150mg). It definitely helped me stay asleep through the night, and there were no real side-effects from it. I currently take 100mg before bed.
In August of 2017, I also began taking a few vitamins and supplements to support my immune system in the fight against Lyme Disease and the Co-Infections …
- Vitamin C
- Omega 3 Fish Oil
- Vitamin D-3
On top of all of that, I also began cleaning up my diet like Dr. Beals told me to. I majorly cut back on sugar, gluten, and dairy. It was extremely hard for me to completely eliminate those three things because they were part of my daily diet for over 40 years. There was also the skeptical part of me that didn’t believe that my diet would contribute that much to my healing. I believed the antibiotics, vitamins, and supplements should be more than enough to heal me. I was pretty naive, uneducated, and arrogant (to say the least). I definitely should’ve listened to Dr. Beals on maintaining the strict diet that he prescribed (it does make a HUGE difference). Over the last two years, I’ve done a TON of research, and I’ve learned that certain foods definitely cause increased inflammation, pain, and can greatly delay the healing process.
I specifically remember one night where I was feeling like my normal self (all my symptoms were at bay), so I decided to have a big bowl of ice cream. I had gone five weeks of being sugar and dairy free, so I told myself, “You deserve a break.” After all, would one bowl of ice cream really mess me up? That bowl of ice cream was sheer bliss, but for the next three days I felt like I had the worst hangover of my life. After that experience, I was done with sugar and dairy. I haven’t had ice cream in well over a year.
People often ask me, “How do you live without gluten, dairy, and sugar?” My response is simple … When you’re hurting bad enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to bring relief and healing … because nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. NOTHING!
Anyway, after being on the antibiotic Cefuroxime Axetil 500mg for five weeks, Dr. Beals then decided to put me on a different antibiotic (Doxycycline Hyclate 100mg – two per day). I took Doxy for five weeks and had to quit. For me, it was WAY worse than Cefuroxime. I couldn’t handle what it was doing to me physically and psychologically. It was horrible! On Doxy, my symptoms dramatically increased and then new symptoms came out of nowhere and hit me like a tractor trailer. I’m talking … nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, headaches, sweating, coughing, dry heaving, racing thoughts, brain fog, dizziness, confusion, hypnic jerks, muscle twitching, insomnia, fatigue, derealization, and very high anxiety. It felt like a breakdown was imminent and I’m not being dramatic.
It was an extremely dark and scary time. I remember exactly where I was when all of this was hitting me full force. It was February of 2018, and of all of the places I could be during this dreadful experience, I was actually speaking at a youth event in Ocean City, NJ. I was a complete mess the entire weekend, but I did my best not to show it (FYI = people with Lyme Disease learn to become incredible actors and actresses). There’s no doubt in my mind that it was the grace of God that sustained me through each teaching session. Before getting up to speak I literally felt like I was going to pass out. I’d finish teaching, talk with a few people, and then head back to my room to take meds and crash. I’d lay there moaning in utter pain and praying for God’s help. I’d take Alka Seltzer Gold and epsom salt baths to try and detox. It helped some, but I was still a mess.
After that speaking event, I was completely wiped out and ready to go home, but I couldn’t. I was scheduled to immediately fly to Georgia and speak at another youth event the very next day. Every fiber of my being was screaming, “PLEASE CANCEL THIS GIG AND JUST GO HOME!” But I decided to do the complete opposite of what I “felt” like doing. I boarded the plane from Atlantic City to Atlanta, sat in my seat, and just began pleading with God … “Father, I can’t do this without You. Strengthen me. Stabilize my health. Somehow and someway give me the ability to make an impact upon these students in Georgia even in this weak and broken state.” I also texted several friends around the country, told them how I was feeling, and asked them to cover me in prayer. Then (like I so often do) I began claiming God’s precious promises …
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” – Philippians 4:13
“He will never leave me, nor forsake me!” – Hebrews 13:5
“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear. The Lord is the Stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.” – Psalm 27:1-2
I arrived in Georgia and headed straight for my hotel room to take some meds and rest. I felt a wicked exhaustion, like I’d just finished running a marathon. The next morning I woke up at 5am in my hotel room hunched over on the floor coughing, dry heaving, sweating, chills, and filled with intense anxiety. I contacted the lead Youth Pastor who organized the event, and told him to have someone else on standby to speak. He was very gracious and told me to just rest and get better. I appreciated his kindness, but I wasn’t cool with that. I began crying out to God for mercy and grace. About an hour later my symptoms began to decrease, so I showered, got dressed, and made my way to the event. I was praying the entire time, “Please Father, help me through this. I literally can’t do this without You. Stabilize me. Strengthen me. Heal me enough to be able to teach. In the strong name of Jesus do this!”
When I arrived at the event, I felt weak, fatigued, nervous, and nauseous, but I tried not to show it as I interacted with students and leaders. As best I could, I put a smile on my face and stayed positive. I walked up to the lead Youth Pastor and told him I was good to teach. He was shocked to see me. He said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yup, let’s do this!” Even though I told him that, I was doubtful. However, I made a commitment to God that I was going to take the stage and trust Him for the results. If I vomit or collapse on stage in front of people, oh well! I wasn’t going to allow weakness, doubt, fear, or anything else stop me from at least trying. In my mind, it was another step of faith that I needed to take. I had to find out would God be there to hold me up if I took the step of faith?
It was extremely hard, but that morning (once again) I did the complete opposite of what I “felt” like doing. With weakness, fatigue, raging anxiety, and nausea … I took the stage and taught for 40 minutes. As I began teaching, miraculously my symptoms dramatically decreased. I had an energy and clarity that I didn’t have all morning. When I finished speaking, one of my best friend’s who was at the event told me that I delivered the most powerful message he’d ever heard me teach (and he’s heard me teach dozens of times). I was like, “Really? You’re joking right?” He said, “No man, it was awesome. No one could tell you had anything wrong with you. God really showed up bro!”
He was right … God really showed up. Many students were impacted and made a personal decision to trust Christ as their Savior and Lord. It sure wasn’t my strength, intellect, or ability that made any of that happen. Once again, God’s power was made perfect in my weakness. Over the years, I’ve experienced this kind of supernatural grace time and time again where God shows up right when I need Him the most … right when everything in me says, “You can’t do this. You’re too sick. Cancel. Go home!” Each time I step out by faith, God graciously sustains me in that moment of ministry.
Over the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time deeply meditating on these words from the Apostle Paul (one of my heroes in the faith) …
For we do not want you to be unaware brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ESV
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV
Those two passages of Scripture have made me realize that he (Paul) had it far worse than me when it comes to dealing with pain and suffering, and yet God used him mightily through all of it. Fulfilling his ministry didn’t “feel good.” On the contrary, it sometimes hurt him so badly that he said he “despaired of life itself.” I know that feeling well.
Over the last few years, I’ve been learning firsthand that to truly follow Christ and make an impact upon this broken world, it’s often going to hurt. There will be pain, suffering, opposition, resistance, ridicule, etc. That’s just par for the course. That’s just life on the narrow and difficult trail that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 7:13-14, and I’m learning to not only accept that reality, but to actually find contentment, peace, and joy in the midst of it. Don’t get me wrong … I have my bad days where I get super frustrated, discouraged, and anxious over my chronic pain/illness. There’ve been many days and nights where I told God that I just want to die and go to Heaven, but He always has a way of sustaining me and lifting me out of that dark pit. Always!
Anyway … after I finished the two speaking events in New Jersey and Georgia, I flew home and met with Dr. Beals to inform him that I was DONE with all the antibiotics (especially Doxycycline). I told him I was going to pursue a more natural/holistic approach to healing. At that time, I’d been reading through a book by Dr. Bill Rawls, entitled Unlocking Lyme. For many years, Dr. Rawls suffered from Lyme Disease and co-infections, and he studied every possible option for overcoming it. Ultimately he ended up healing by embracing a holistic approach. Now he helps thousands of suffering people do the same. I liked what I was reading and strongly felt that this was the route that I needed to pursue since my body was not reacting well to prolonged use of antibiotics. Dr. Beals didn’t like it and he gave me a total attitude over it. I told him, “It’s my body and I’ve gotta do what I believe is best for it.” He told me I’m definitely going the more expensive route. I said, “I don’t care. I’m done with antibiotics! … DONE!”
We definitely didn’t end on very good terms.
I’ll share more of my story soon … thanks for taking time to read this. Your questions and comments are welcomed. I hope in some way that this encourages you in whatever battle with pain/suffering that you may be facing. Know that you’re not alone. So don’t lose hope and don’t give up!
Battling with you,
I’m not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on BattlingLyme.com