How I Deal with Morning Anxiety!

Mornings are often difficult. Lately I wake up and the first thing I feel (along with some sort of physical pain) is anxiety wanting to ruin things. I know many of you deal with the same. Here are a few things I do that help ….

#1. Remember that Cortisol levels are at their highest in the mornings. So relax, it will eventually die down.

#2. Don’t lay in bed and ponder all the “What if” thoughts. Just get up and move into the day.

#3. Drink a glass of filtered water with lemon. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

#4. Eat a little something. For me it’s usually just a banana. I can’t tolerate much more than that when I first wake up.

#5. Enjoy some hot tea or a little coffee (if you can tolerate it) while you read some positive/encouraging truth (I recommend Scripture but to each their own). I also do some praying or journaling. It helps me.

#6. Don’t start off the day googling symptoms or “cures” or “treatments” … in fact, I think it’s better to just stay away from all devices/media for the first 30 minutes of your day.

#7. Do some stretching for like 5 minutes.

#8. Don’t give that symptom or pain the attention it wants. Acknowledge it and move on with your day … “Oh, my chest hurts again and it makes me feel a little nervous. Oh well, I’ve already had tests and scans done on my heart and lungs. They were all normal. This is just part of my Lyme struggle or it’s just anxiety related.”

#9. Do some sort of exercise even if only for 5 minutes. Get your body moving and release those endorphins.

#10. Know you’re not alone in what you’re going through. At the very same time in the morning that you’re feeling it, there are so many of us feeling it too. Hang in there. Don’t quit. If it’s getting overwhelming, talk to a good friend who gets it or a therapist. I have to do it regularly.

Battling with you,

Jason

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

Life’s Not Fair!

I recently heard a super frustrated person say, “Life’s not fair!” 

That person is spot on. Life’s not fair. And we must stop expecting it to be fair because that’s not reality. That’s actually a distorted view of the human condition (see John 16:33). The sooner we accept this reality (that life’s not fair), the better off we’ll be in overcoming pain, suffering, opposition, and disappointment. No one gets a free pass on those things. No one. It’s only a matter of time until life knocks you down and kicks you in the face repeatedly.

Many of us are under the illusion that we’re in control of so many things in life, but the truth is … we have little to no control over a large portion of what happens to us. The only thing we truly have control over is our response to what happens to us! 

Holocaust survivor, Viktor E. Frankl, says it best, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation … The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” 

If you’ve never read his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, you need to. If you don’t like reading, then get the audio book. It’s one of the most insightful and inspiring books I’ve ever read.

Take a few moments and really ponder his words … “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation … The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

Those words are powerful because of who wrote them. Frankl is not a mere philosopher or some sort of self-help guru who gave a TED Talk. He’s a man who courageously survived multiple Nazi concentration camps. From personal experience, he knew the dark depths of pain and suffering in ways that most of us never will (I’m telling you, read the book).

I’ve said it numerous times, but it’s worth saying again because so many of us need the reminder (including myself) … At times, life is going to suck (really bad)! That’s reality, and I believe the best thing we can do with that reality is embrace the suck, trust God through it, and make the most of it.

What good does all the fear, anxiety, anger, bitterness, envy, and complaining over life’s “unfairness” do for us? In my experience, it makes our situation worse. Over the last few years, when I’ve responded to my pain and suffering with fear, anxiety, anger, bitterness, envy, and/or complaining … it’s totally made me feel worse (mentally, emotionally, and even physically). It’s so easy to go down that rabbit hole. I hate it.

On the other hand, when I choose to do the unnatural thing and embrace the suck, trust God through it, and make the most of it … there’s an inner peace that can mysteriously show up. Don’t misunderstand me … my pain and problems don’t magically disappear when I embrace the suck, trust God through it, and make the most of it. I’m just saying that there have been times that I’ve experienced an inner peace when I’ve done those three things. It’s like I go from drowning in the crashing waves to riding them.

I recently experienced this mysterious inner peace when I was enjoying an evening on my bathroom floor (sarcasm). I was actually moaning in pain and considering heading to the ER. My anxiety was majorly elevated because of unresolved abdominal and rib pain that’s been my thorn in the flesh for over two months now. My Lyme Doc says it could be the result of a parasitic infection known as Babesia. Or it could be another type of parasite? Or it could be the fact that we are aggressively treating Lyme Disease with some hardcore homeopathic meds that can cause painful “herx reactions.” Who the heck knows?

All I do know is that in that moment on the bathroom floor, I chose to embrace the suck, trust God through it, and make the most of it. I began thanking God for every good and painful thing in my life that I could think of and I told Him that I trust Him through this pain. I then reminded myself that no matter what happens to me, I’m eternally secure in His omnipotent hands (see John 10:28-29). Then I began praying for several of my friends who are also physically and mentally suffering from Lyme Disease and co-infections (Sam, Dennis, Taco, and Hannah). I then decided to text two of them to see how they were doing. That’s what I mean by making the most of the suck. I turned my suck (pain and suffering) into something good.

It’s weird how it works, but when I get the attention off of my pain and suffering and I check on someone else who is suffering, it reduces my emotional pain and can even ease my physical pain. My chronic pain and suffering has definitely made me a more compassionate person (this is something I have majorly lacked in my Christian life).

Before you go thinking, “Wow, what a super saint Jason is!” Don’t. Because I’m not. Showing genuine concern and compassion without any selfish motive is not how I typically roll. I’m not as godly as I have often portrayed myself. Over the last year, I have become painfully aware of this fact.

Here’s some hardcore truth about me … negative, discouraging, and dark thoughts often invade my mind when I’m in the midst of pain and suffering, and sometimes they win the battle. I don’t always think “positive” or “godly” thoughts when all Hell is breaking loose. But let’s get real … no one does! It’s taken me a long time, but I’m slowly learning to let my negative, discouraging, and dark thoughts come and go. I don’t have to allow them to become permanent fixtures in my mind. God has given me the power to replace them with better thoughts (see Philippians 4:8 and 4:13). It’s not always easy. It doesn’t come natural. I have to work at it continually.

One last thing that I’ve been learning that I wanted to share with you is that I’m also really trying to stop expecting everyone to treat me the way that I want to be treated. That’s also a distorted view of the human condition. The Master simply tells us to treat others the way that we want them to treat us (see Matthew 7:12). That’s the code we’re supposed to live by. Just do that and expect nothing in return. Sounds so simple, but it’s not. I’ve really been trying to lower my expectations of how people should treat me (even with my family and friends). I believe that’s going to help my life go a whole lot better. Just focus on treating them the way I want to be treated without expecting anything in return. Period.

That’s all I got for now. Enjoy your weekend.

Battling with you,

Jason

Learning to Live with Chronic Pain!

Today was hard. Very hard. It was one of those days where I had to convince myself to NOT go to the Emergency Room. Like many of you reading this, daily I’m in pain … and my pain migrates. That means one week it can be head pain. The next week it can be rib pain. The week after that it can be abdominal pain. It can even change hour to hour. In my battle against late-stage lyme disease (and all the co-infections that came with it), I endure all sorts of annoying pains … joints, muscles, head, face, neck, ribs, spine, stomach, intestines, throat, lungs, heart, and ears (I probably left something out). It’s been crazy!

For the last few years, I’ve been doing all I can to heal from this horrible disease and rid my life of the chronic pain it brings me. Like many of you, there’ve been countless doctor visits, specialists, tests, meds, vitamins, supplements, herbs, essential oils, chiropractors, lyme specialists, acupuncture, massage therapy, infrared sauna, epsom salt baths, heating pads, CBD oil, dietary changes, prayer, meditation, repeat … AHHHHHH!!!!!

And guess what?

I’m still in pain.

I’m in pain right now as I type this.

Every single day I’m enduring some sort of physical pain … and there can also be mental pain. For instances, lately, my anxiety has dramatically increased. Yesterday it flared up for no reason as I sat talking with a friend and his wife at their kitchen table. Thankfully, I contained it. They didn’t even know, but I left their home super frustrated over it.

The increase in anxiety could be the result of the new treatment protocol I’m on … it can cause severe herx reactions (I’m currently working through the DesBio Babesia Treatment).

I was warned that this treatment gets rough with vials 2 thru 4, and I just recently finished vial #4 (ugh!). I’m also taking other supplements, herbs, and essential oils that can also cause a herx reaction. Heck, who knows? Maybe my anxiety has dramatically increased just because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all of it? I thought I’d be healed by now, but I’m not and it’s hard to accept and make the best of it.

Somedays I’m okay with it, but somedays … it does overwhelm me, and I get really frustrated, discouraged, and anxious. Today was another one of those days. I’m just being real with you. Chronic pain gets old. You just want relief. You just want to feel “normal” again. I totally understand that life in this broken world is full of pain … we get sick … we break a bone … we lose a loved one … we get the blues … I get that! But chronic pain is infinitely different. Chronic pain just won’t go away (at least, not yet). It greets me when I wake up in the morning and it tucks me in at night. It’s my constant companion, and I’m trying to figure out how to be the best version of me through all of it.

Daily I pray for God’s help and healing. Not just for myself, but for several of my friends who are also suffering with Lyme Disease and various co-infections. When you don’t see God answering your prayers, you begin thinking He’s not listening or maybe He’s just flat out ignoring you. I’ve battled all those thoughts/feelings. Nevertheless, I choose to trust Him through this. Faith is often a fight. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

That’s all I got in me for now. I need to go rest.

Battling with you,

Jason

My Backstory with Lyme – Part 4 – Antibiotics, Feeling like Death, and the Grace of God!

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 …

  • Multivitamin
  • Vitamin C
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil
  • Vitamin D-3
  • Magnesium
  • Probiotic

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,

Jason

This is me this past summer on family vacation in St. Augustine, Florida … I was taking a break from the waves to rest and recover … and then I went right back out there with my kids and their friends. It was a good day but a rough day for sure! I tried my best to make the most of it.

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

Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself and Go Do the Opposite of What You “Feel” Like Doing!

This morning I woke with left-sided chest pain, left-sided lower abdomen pain, and mild stress/anxiety feelings.This has been my typical morning for several weeks now. With late-stage Lyme Disease and the various co-infections, my symptoms vary. They come and go and then I welcome some new symptoms. Next month it could be neck pain, headaches, and air hunger. You never know.

Overall, I slept well. After waking, I came down stairs, had a small cup of black coffee, and talked with my wife. She’s always so happy in the morning. I admire that about her. I tried not to focus on my increasing pain. I just wanted to enjoy my coffee and conversation with my wife.

I’ve recently begun taking some new homeopathic meds (DesBio Borrelia-Babesia Treatment). I’ve been warned by many who’ve taken it that it often makes you feel worse before you feel better. They’ve encouraged me to stay the course even when it feels like I’m walking through Hell!

At 8:29am, I took some Tylenol for my chest pain. It was annoying and worrying me. I had to tell myself … “You’ve had a recent EKG, blood work, etc. Your heart is healthy. It’s just the Babesia in your rib cage flaring up. Relax.”

At 9am, I had enough of sitting on the couch. I was focusing way too much on my pain, so I got up … took my daily meds, supplements, and essential oils … then put on my workout clothes to go for a 2-mile walk around my neighborhood. Everything in me wanted to focus on my chest and abdomen pain. My mind wanted to run rampant with all the What-if thoughts and then try to figure out all the possible solutions to stop my pain with the help of Dr. Google.

I walked outside and took a deep breath and intentionally changed the channel of my mind. As I walked, I focused on the beauty of the brightly colored leaves that were falling from the trees. This has always been my favorite time of year. A chilly breeze was at my back and the warm sun was at my face. “Feel it Jason. Enjoy it.” I also took in all the pleasant smells and the sound of neighbors blowing their leaves.

Then I thought of the millions of people around the world who are suffering far far worse than myself … who can’t go for a walk around their neighborhood on a beautiful fall day. Yes, I definitely have some things wrong with my body, but I also have many things that are right … and I have much to be thankful for. Suddenly, my mind fights against that, “Is this brisk walk really such a good idea with how you’re feeling? Shouldn’t you be resting? This is just going to make you feel worse for the rest of the day!”

I’m learning to simply allow those kind of negative/discouraging thoughts to come and go. I chose not to campout there. Negative/discouraging thoughts and emotions are not indestructible fortresses in your life. Let them come and let them go. Just move on with your day and they’ll pass. Don’t give them the attention they desire.

It was a good walk on a beautiful fall day, and I actually felt better for doing it (physically and emotionally). I believe the physical exertion helped release some much needed endorphins. My chest pain mysteriously vanished and my abdomen pain reduced. I know pain of some sort will return, but oh well.

So what did I learn today?

#1 … That sitting still, worrying, and feeling sorry for myself only makes me feel worse.

#2 … That to feel better, I often have to do the complete opposite of what I “feel” like doing.

This is my life right now … the Lyme-Life … and I’m learning how to make the most of it!

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. You’re not alone. So don’t lose hope and never give up!

Battling with you,

Jason

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

My Backstory with Lyme – Part 3

So as I said in my last post, after my Primary Care Physician decided that I didn’t actually have Lyme Disease because I didn’t “technically” meet the CDC’s standards (CDC = Center for Disease Control), she referred me to a Neurologist and also wanted me to have a sleep study done. The sleep study sounded ridiculous to me so I never had it done, but I did make an appointment to see the Neurologist. I had to wait four months to meet with him. Crazy!

When I finally met with him, he asked me some basic questions about my symptoms and then did some basic testing of my strength, balance, focus, etc. Apparently I passed with flying colors. At that point, he didn’t really know what to do with me, so he suggested I get a CAT Scan done and go see an Infectious Disease Doctor. I thought to myself, “Wait, what? An Infectious Disease Doctor? So you think I might have an infectious disease?” This was all so confusing.

I was ready to schedule the appointment with the Infectious Disease Doctor, but a friend told me that it’s pointless to see him because he doesn’t even believe that late-stage or “chronic” Lyme Disease is a real thing. She said he wouldn’t even consider that as a possible diagnosis. I didn’t know what to do. I began second guessing myself, “Maybe I don’t have Lyme Disease? Maybe I have something else going on? But why was my ELISA Test positive and why did I have four out of ten positive markers on my Western Blot Test? What the heck?” Something didn’t seem right to me. It was time for me to do some serious researching and networking to try and figure things out.

I talked to my friend Stephanie who had suffered through a long and difficult battle with Lyme Disease and she told me that many people who have Lyme Disease don’t meet the CDC’s requirements and that there are many “false-negatives” with Lyme testing. After talking with her, I decided to schedule an appointment with a doctor who helped her with her Lyme Disease. She told me that he specialized in treating patients with Lyme Disease and other tick-related infections. He’s what’s referred to as a “Lyme Literate Medical Doctor” or “LLMD.” Even though he’s a legit M.D. (Medical Doctor), he has to operate outside the medical establishment just because he believes that Late-Stage or “chronic” Lyme Disease is a real thing and he’s not afraid to treat it. I found out that’s a big NO-NO with the medical establishment. In fact, some doctors have actually lost their license over it.

I drove two hours to see this LLMD (Dr. Paul Beals at Chesapeake Wellness Center in Stevensville, MD). My first visit cost me $450. Unfortunately, my insurance wouldn’t cover a dime because the medical establishment doesn’t recognize “late-stage” or “chronic” Lyme Disease. I didn’t care! I desperately needed help. At that time, I was having increasing difficulty functioning with work, ministry, and just everyday life. All of the essential oils that Meagen and Stephanie sent me definitely helped reduce some of my symptoms, but they weren’t enough. I needed more.

Dr. Paul Beals doesn’t do small talk. I sat down in his office and he got right down to business. As he looked over the results from my Lyme Test and Blood Work, he began circling things and drawing lines. He then grilled me with a series of questions about my history of symptoms. He was furiously scribbling notes the entire time I talked. We talked for well over an hour. Contrary to my Primary Care Physician, he was absolutely convinced that ALL of my health issues were completely the result of not only Lyme Disease, but also co-infections like Bartonella and Babesia. I wanted to cry. Just to be fully heard and have a legitimate and confident diagnoses from a medical professional felt like coming out of a dark fog.

Dr. Beals immediately launched into a detailed scientific explanation of what Lyme Disease (Borrelia Burgdorferi) and the co-infections (Bartonella and Babesia) can do to a person if left untreated. All of it was new information … with terms like spirochetes, biofilms, biotoxins, stealth pathogens, neurotoxins, the blood-brain barrier, mycoplasma, Bell’s palsy, neuropathy, mitochondrial dysfunction, adrenal fatigue, Herxheimer reactions, detoxification, etc. It was OVERWHELMING! I took as many notes as I could, but it was just way too much for me to write down and comprehend in one meeting.

After that avalanche of scientific information buried me, Dr. Beals then began laying out my treatment plan. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics (Cefuroxime Axetil 500mg). He also told me I needed to completely change my diet by eating organic as much as I could and completely avoiding white processed sugar, dairy, gluten, and processed foods. He also told me that I needed to take a good multivitamin 3xs per day and take extra Vitamin C and Vitamin D. He also told me to take a good probiotic at lunch and bedtime (away from the time when I take my antibiotics). He also prescribed Trazadone and said it would help with my insomnia, stress, and anxiety. I immediately gave him pushback on the Trazadone. “I don’t want a med to help with my stress and anxiety. I’m already taking one.” He said he prescribes Trazadone for all of his Lyme patients and that it will totally end my insomnia … and then he told me how crucial sleep is to overcoming Lyme. He also assured me it was not habit forming and I could easily come off of it.

“Where have I heard that before?”

He insistent that I needed it and kept repeating that it was perfectly safe. Because he was a “Lyme Literate Medical Doctor,” I listened to him. I was desperate and willing to do whatever it takes to get rid of this #@$&@ disease and all the other nasty co-infections that came with it.

At the close of our meeting, he again mentioned this thing called a Herxheimer reaction that could result from taking the antibiotics. He said that when it happens, I would need to take Alka Seltzer Gold and drink lots of water. I had no idea what a “Herxheimer reaction” was. He really didn’t explain that very well, nor did he warn me of how horrible they can be, but I would soon find out! Fun. Fun. Fun.

Dr. Beals repeatedly told me that it takes Patience, Persistence, and Pills to overcome Lyme. Those were his three P’s … like he was some sort of Southern Baptist Pastor giving alliterated sermon points. I shook my head. Anyway … when Dr. Beals used the term “pills,” he was referring to antibiotics. I would soon find out that if one antibiotic didn’t do the job, he’d put you on a different one, and if that one didn’t do the job, he’d put you on a different one, and if that one didn’t do the job … you get the picture. He wouldn’t stop with the antibiotics! His primary approach to treating Lyme Disease and co-infections was with hardcore antibiotics.

He also warned me that there’s no quick-fix or easy cure to treating Lyme Disease and co-infections. I was like, “What do you mean? How long we talking Doc? A month? Two months? I got stuff I need to do with my life, family, business, and ministry!” He told me it could take years. My jaw hit the floor … “You’ve got to be kidding!”

He wasn’t kidding.

I didn’t like his answer (not at all). However, I left his office feeling quite optimistic and hopeful. “Bring on the antibiotics! I got this!”

Dude, I had no idea what I was in for! My arrogant @$$ was about to be humbled, broken, transformed like never before!

I’ll share more about my backstory with Lyme Disease as soon as I can. I only write when I feel well enough to. Unfortunately, this summer has been extremely hard for me. I’ve had a major setback in my recovery/healing. On top of all of the “normal issues” that I’ve been working so hard to heal, I found out this week that I may also have parasites. I’m not even kidding! The last two days have been ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE … I’m talking on the floor in a fetal position, moaning in pain! I’m going through all sorts of fun test this week (sarcasm). Tonight, I’m extremely thankful that I’m feeling well enough to write and finish this post. Thanks for taking time to read it.

If you’re battling Lyme Disease or some other chronic illness or disease, you’re not alone in your suffering. Don’t lose hope and don’t give up! This was my prayer this morning …

“But You, O Lord, do not be far off! O You, my help, come quickly to my aid!” – Psalm 22:19 ESV

Battling with you,

Jason

Me and my youngest daughter Gabrielle on a dinner date!

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

My Backstory with Lyme – Part 2

As I said in my previous post, from 2003 to 2012, my “issues” were gradually improving. I was actually feeling like my normal self and enjoying life again. Periodically, I’d have some flare-ups with anxiety or depression or my horrible headaches would pay me a visit for a season, but they didn’t last. Then, in 2012, everything changed. Some very odd symptoms manifested and over the years they steadily became more intense and more frequent …

. . . chronic left-sided headaches down into the left-side of my face

. . . feeling dizzy or disoriented

. . . chronic fatigue that hindered or kept me from work

. . . frequent nausea

. . . low energy

. . . irritable bowels

. . . horrible muscle and joint pain that migrated

. . . frequent muscle twitching

. . . facial twitching (that was super annoying)

. . . insomnia (even though I was completely exhausted, I couldn’t sleep)

. . . memory issues (I’d forget basic stuff like names of friends, my zip code, etc.)

. . . anxiety (sometimes feeling like I wanted to jump out of my skin)

. . . depression

. . . And did I mention headaches? … HORRIBLE CHRONIC HEADACHES!

Then I’d have weeks where I’d feel like my normal self. My symptoms would lift and I’d get a false hope that all is well. Then, for no apparent reason, the tsunami would return … sometimes for days and sometimes for weeks. It was SUPER frustrating. I desperately wanted to know what the heck was going on and I wanted it fixed!

During this time in my life, I was living in Missouri and at least once per week I was in the woods mountain biking. Tick bites were definitely par for the course. On June 4, 2013, I recorded in my journal that I removed an embedded tick from my upper torso. This was not unusual. I never went to the doctor because a bulls-eye rash never developed. Growing up, I was led to believe that if there’s no bulls-eye rash then you’re good to go.

THAT’S A BUNCH OF BULL!

Now that I’ve become a student of Lyme Disease (out of necessity, not desire), I’ve learned that the whole bulls-eye rash thing is 50/50. Experts say the bull’s-eye rash known as “erythema migrans” can be absent in at least 50% of Lyme Disease cases. So I have no way of knowing if that particular tick bite on June 4, 2013 infected me with Lyme Disease and co-infections (by the way, ticks are carrying way more than must Lyme Disease) … nor do I know which ticks carried Lyme Disease that bit me all throughout my life. All I know is that at least one of them definitely carried Lyme and co-infections because in 2017 I tested POSITIVE … but I’m getting way ahead of myself so let’s back up …

On Sunday, April 12, 2015 … something really strange happened to me. I was speaking in Indiana at a weekend youth event, and for the most part, I was having a great weekend with no major symptoms. I slept great on Saturday night and woke up on Sunday morning optimistic and ready to finish the weekend strong. I had one last teaching session to complete. As I was leaving my hotel room I was suddenly hit with MAJOR fatigue … I’m mean MAJOR fatigue … like someone shot me with a tranquilizer gun! It didn’t make sense because I had just slept a solid 8 hours. I remember repeatedly saying to myself, “What the heck is wrong with me?” I went to the local Starbucks hoping a venti coffee would pull me out of the abyss, but it didn’t.

The strange fatigue made the entire day a blur. I remember constantly praying throughout that day … “God help me through. I can’t do this without You!” All I wanted to do is cancel everything, go back to my hotel room, and SLEEP! That entire day I really struggled as I interacted with people from the church. It was like I was in some sort of dark fog. My mental comprehension was like molasses. Later that afternoon, nausea decided to join the party, and I couldn’t shake it. As I said, I kept thinking, “What the heck is wrong with me?” and I kept praying, “God help me through. I can’t do this without You!”

I was scheduled to teach one last time that evening, but I didn’t think I could do it. An hour before the event began, I finally mentioned to the Youth Pastor that I wasn’t feeling well and asked him if I could go lay down in his office to rest before it was time for me to teach. Thankfully, he was cool with that. As I laid on the couch in his office, I continued to beg God for His help and I also texted several friends to pray for me.

When it was finally time for me to take the stage and teach, it was nothing short of SUPERNATURAL … All of the strange symptoms suddenly vanished. All of them! God totally gave me the energy and mental clarity that I needed to teach with boldness and enthusiasm. Never underestimate the power of prayer! Over the many years of battling late-stage Lyme Disease, I’ve used it to get me through many incredibly difficult days -especially when I’ve been on the road teaching. My symptoms easily flare-up when I’m dealing with the stress of traveling and public speaking.

The next day, as I was driving home from Indiana to Southwest Missouri, I was mentally trying to make sense of it all … “What the heck happened yesterday? … Why did I all of a sudden feel like someone drugged me? … Am I sick with something? … Could that have been some sort of demonic attack to keep me from teaching?”

FYI = I realize that some of you reading this don’t believe in the reality of the paranormal. Things like “demonic attacks” have no place in your educated/scientific mind. If that’s you, I want to encourage you to check out an insightful and startling article by Dr. Richard Gallagher, a board-certified psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College – link here. It may completely change your view regarding the demonic. If not, no worries. It doesn’t offend or anger me.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was making the long drive home from Indiana to Southwest Missouri and mentally trying to make sense of everything that happened the day before. Clueless and frustrated, I called my friend Clayton King to see if he could help me figure things out. After I was done rambling for 20 minutes, he asked me a series of questions about my diet, caffeine intake, sleep schedule, exercise routine, etc. He didn’t really have any answers for me. Honestly, I didn’t expect him to. I think I mostly needed a friend to vent to, and Clayton isn’t just a friend, he’s also someone who understands the pressure that comes with being an itinerant evangelist/teacher. He’s been a mentor to me for many years. As our conversation ended, he prayed for me but also strongly advised that I go see my doctor when I returned home.

I came home and immediately scheduled an appointment with my Primary Care Physician. I wanted him to completely rule out things like diabetes, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, even cancer. I came to the appointment with a list of all of the bizarre symptoms that were increasingly plaguing me. He ordered a basic blood test, but not a Lyme Test. At this time, Lyme Disease never crossed my mind, nor did it cross his mind. Two weeks later, the results came back and my PCP assured me that everything looked normal. He then tried to convince me that all of my symptoms were most likely the result of stress and anxiety. He advised me to reduce my stress and take my anxiety meds. Because he’s a doctor, I just accepted his diagnosis as the truth and followed his advice (reduce my stress and take my anxiety meds). After that conversation, I did all I could to fix my “stress and anxiety problem.” Daily I devoured books, articles, and various podcasts on the subject. I even went and saw a counselor. My attitude was … “Damn it, I’m going to fix this stress and anxiety problem! I want my life back!”

At the end of 2016, our family relocated halfway across the country from Missouri to Maryland. Maryland is where my wife and I grew up, and we felt it was time to be closer to family and old friends. After the dust settled from the big move, I began working for a friend’s home improvement company when I wasn’t doing my ministry stuff.

My journals from that time period reveal that my symptoms were increasing and they began hindering my work. Joint and muscle pains became much more frequent and more intense. Daily I had to wear wrist and elbow braces as I worked, and I also took 800mg of Ibuprofen in the morning just to try and lessen my pain so I could work.

My left-sided headaches had become chronic. I hardly ever had a headache free day. I’d wake up with a headache and go to bed with a headache. Pain would shoot from my left temple area down the left side of my face, and sometimes the whole left-side of my face felt would feel numb. Sometimes even the left-side of my tongue would ache. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. What really scared me with my headaches is that they made it difficult to think and articulate. For the first time in my my life, finding the right words and actually saying them wasn’t easy for me.

To say the least, I was frustrated, discouraged, and becoming more and more irritable. I felt like I was losing who I was. My productivity was down by at least 50%. My irritabillity was definitely negatively affecting my relationship with my wife and kids and I hated that. In my journal I wrote, “How can all this be stress and anxiety? Something else has to be wrong with me! Please God, heal me! I don’t know what to do or who to turn to.”

God answered … In February of 2017, I was teaching at a winter youth retreat in New Hampshire, and in one of my lessons I began sharing about my daily struggle with all of my weird symptoms. After I got done teaching, a lady leader asked me if I’d ever been tested for Lyme Disease. I said no. She asked if I’d ever been bitten by a tick. I told her multiple times throughout my life. She looked at me perplexed and asked why I’d never had a Lyme Test? I said because I never saw a bulls-eye rash. She was adamant that `I should get tested when I returned home and she then began telling me about her own long and painful battle with Lyme Disease. She had battled it for many many years. To my surprise, many of her symptoms were identical to mine. I was baffled, but curious … “Could I really have Lyme Disease? Is that what’s been causing all of this for all these years?”

In March of 2017, I met with my new Primary Care Physician and asked her to test me for Lyme Disease. She seemed reluctant, but did it. She just wanted me to have a sleep study done. In my head, I was like, “A sleep study? What the $#%@ are you talking about? You think all of my issues are simply the result of not sleeping right? Are you freggin’ kidding me?”

A few weeks later, the test results came back. The first thing that was noted is that I tested POSITIVE for reactivated EBV (Epstein Bar Virus). I had it in high school and now it was back, flaring-up in full force. No wonder I was utterly exhausted all the time. Then, lo and behold, the ELISA Test for Lyme Disease came back POSITIVE, and the Western Blot Test for Lyme Disease revealed that I had 4 out of 10 POSITIVE indicators for Lyme Disease.

So I looked at my Primary Care Physican and said, “So I have Lyme Disease?” She said, “Not technically.” She then informed me that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) says that a person must have not only a POSITIVE ELISA Test, but must also have at least 5 out of 10 POSITIVE indicators on the Western Blot Test for that person to be diagnosed with Lyme Disease. My Primary Care Physician looked at me and matter-of-factly said, “So you don’t technically meet the criteria for Lyme Disease.” I said, “But what about the ELISA Test that showed the presence of Lyme antibodies in my system? What about the fact that I’m positive for 4 out of the 10 indicators on the Western Blot Test? And what about all my weird chronic symptoms that fit the profile for someone with Lyme Disease?” She looked at me and simply said, “It doesn’t matter. You don’t meet the CDC’s criteria, therefore, you don’t actually have Lyme Disease. I recommend that you go see a neurologist about those headaches and go get that sleep study done.”

I was done with her. I went and found a new Primary Care Physician who wasn’t so narrow-minded, and (above all) I decided that I was going to take charge of my health instead blindly following everything I was being told by the medical establishment. I decided that I was now my own Primary Care Physician, and I decided that I would begin researching Lyme Disease like I was working for a PhD. The very first thing that struck me as I began my research was the fact that many top medical experts vehemently disagree with the CDC’s standards for diagnosing Lyme Disease. The latest research overwhelmingly reveals that the CDC’s standards are outdated and just plain inaccurate. Of course, insurance companies love the CDC’s current standards for diagnosing Lyme Disease because it means that the millions of people suffering from it don’t receive any insurance coverage to help with it because they the CDC says they don’t technically have it.

Something has to change with this … and soon! There are now an overwhelming amount of respected medical doctors, researchers, and organizations who are speaking up and fighting for the CDC to change their standards because of what the latest research reveals about accurately diagnosing Lyme Disease. Personally, I think the big dawgs at the CDC are in bed with the big dawgs at the insurance companies … and sadly, that’s why nothing has changed!

Through my research, I also learned that my ELISA test revealed that the Lyme antibodies in my system were not new. They had been in me for quite some time. Meaning … I didn’t just recently contract Lyme Disease in 2017. This made sense with all that I’d been going through for so many years. I know it sounds strange, but I actually felt a HUGE sense of relief knowing that I had Lyme Disease … YES! Now I know what it is, and we can get this #$%&@ disease out of me with some antibiotics or something!”

Dude, I had absolutely no idea what I was in for!

I immediately contacted the lady leader (Meagen) who I met in New Hampshire (the one who told me to get the Lyme Test). I told her l had Lyme Disease like it was some sort of good news. She was thankful that I finally had a diagnosis, but she wasn’t excited for me because deep down she knew what I was in for. The LONG and extremely DIFFICULT journey towards healing late-stage Lyme Disease was about to begin and she knew it was going to rock my world.

At that time, I was so utterly clueless about Lyme Disease and how to treat it. At various times, I’d text Meagen or my friend Stephanie who also battled Lyme Disease for many years, and I’d grill them with all sorts of questions about it … “Did your legs twitch too? What about your face? Did that twitch? How bout chronic headaches? How do I get rid of them? Is there an essential oil for that? What about anxiety? Did Lyme make you feel anxious? Did you get dizzy?”

Meagen and Stephanie were always gracious to respond. They both ended up becoming incredibly encouraging friends (literal lifelines). More than once they both sent me packages of DoTerra Essential Oils with personalized notes on how to use each one of them (I’m talking hundreds of dollars worth of DoTerra Essential Oils). I tried to pay them, but they wouldn’t let me. Meagen said that many people helped her through her Lyme Disease battle and she was just “paying it forward.” Stephanie also just wanted to be a blessing to me. It blew me away. Who does that?

Also, when I would go various places around the country to teach, Meagen and Stephanie would let me know that they were praying for me because they knew how bad I was hurting with Lyme, and they both knew from personal experience how hard it is to put on a happy face when you’re around people and they couldn’t imagine how hard it must be doing it up on a stage. Prayer literally got me through each time. I came so close to backing out of numerous speaking engagements right before I was scheduled to take the stage, but God somehow got me through each one of them. I can assure you it was not my inner strength, talent, grit, or whatever. Prayer. That’s all I can say.

Big shout out to Meagen and Stephanie! God used both of you at just the right time. No one should ever have to go through Lyme Disease or any other chronic illness or disability alone!

I will continue the rest of my backstory with Lyme Disease in my next post! Thanks for reading thus far. Feel free to leave a comment or ask questions. My email is Jason@Narrowtrail.com

If you’re battling Lyme Disease or some other type of painful chronic illness or condition, my goal is to be some sort of encouragement to you. At least you’re seeing that you’re not alone in this battle. Literally millions of others around the world are suffering too, and many of them have it far worse than you and I … so don’t lose hope and never give up the fight for your health! It can get better, but everyday you have to choose to be optimistic and keep battling … research, research, research … You be your Primary Care Physician. Take those vitamins and herbal supplements, improve your diet, exercise frequently (even if it’s just a walk), get under the care of a Lyme Literate Doctor, pray, meditate, detox, journal, get in a support group, talk to a good friend, don’t bottle things up, etc.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist who also happened to be a holocaust survivor. He endured multiple German Concentration Camps. His international bestselling book, Man’s Search for Meaning is one of the top 10 books I’ve ever read in my life (and I’ve read a lot of books). Let this truth sink in and let it motivate you to change your mindset/attitude to what’s happening to you!

The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances!

Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.

Battling with you,

Jason

  • 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