STORMS DON’T LAST FOREVER!

This morning a major storm hit our area due to Tropical Storm Isaias. There was major rain, high winds, and flash flooding. Our power went out and several roads were shut down in our area due to the massive flooding. We were also under a Tornado Warning for about a hour. At 7am we all went to the basement to be safe (myself, my wife, our 3 kids, and our chocolate lab Remi). It was all a bit scary and definitely frustrating, and our home received some water damage, but oh well. No big deal. Insurance will take care of that. It could’ve been much worse.

The good news is … the storm passed. They always do.

BECAUSE STORMS DON’T LAST FOREVER!

Right now, as I sit here in my home office typing this blog, I look out the window and see the radiant sun breaking through the clouds to reveal stunning blue sky. All is calm.

BECAUSE STORMS DON’T LAST FOREVER!

I have to keep reminding myself of that fact because I’ve been in the midst of a pretty bad storm for about 4 weeks now. It’s some sort of relapse or flare-up. This has happened before. It’s nasty and discouraging at times.

This morning when I woke up, there was immediate pain/pressure around my left temple area. Daily headaches have been pounding on me. A few hours later, nausea and fatigue decide to pay me a visit even though I actually slept great last night.

Stop right there. … You know what? I have to stop focusing on what’s wrong with me. I slept great last night and I’m actually extremely thankful for that … for good sleep, because so many people who are battling Lyme Disease and co-infections have horrible/unrelenting insomnia. I’ve been there. It’s absolutely miserable. You’re utterly fatigued all day and then when it’s finally time to sleep … YOU CAN’T.

“Just shoot me people!” 🙄

With my health issues, I’m definitely not where I want to be, but I’m not feeling quite as bad as I was 3 weeks ago. There’s been some progress/improvement – and that’s what I really need to focus on. It could be so much worse (SOOOOO MUCH WORSE). I need to do better at focusing on the good things … I.E. = over the last week … I’ve been able to work my job for about 6 hours per day … I’ve been able to do some lite exercising (road biking and weight training) … I’ve been able to read a few chapters in books … I’ve been able to walk my dog and wrestle with him … I was able to go out on a date with my wife (dinner and shopping) … I’ve been able to watch some TV shows with my wife at night … I’ve been able to eat pretty normal (my appetite is back without horrible stomach pains) … I’ve been able to enjoy a small amount of bourbon at night with no issues… I’ve been able to talk to some friends on the phone (without major brain fog hindering me) … and a few times, I laughed … I actually had some moments of genuine, from the gut, laughter (I love to laugh).

Just typing out those good things that I’ve recently been able to experience makes me feel a little bit better about my current situation and it gives me motivation and hope to keep pressing on.

Heavenly Father, see me through this. Please continue to bring healing to my body, brain, and memory. Lead me in the path of healing and wholeness. Strengthen my inner man as I continue to fight this battle. Give me a right perspective of this trial and somehow use it for good to help others. I can’t do this without You. Amen.

Psalm 5:1-2 “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray.”

By the way, today I began a new treatment protocol … The Restore Kit by Vital Plan. Hopefully it will bring more healing/relief. We shall see. I’ve also been reading the book BITTEN by Kris Newby (The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons). It’s absolutely chilling! She’s a great writer.

Hang in there people, and remember … STORMS DON’T LAST FOREVER!

Still Battling,

Jason

Disclaimer: Jason T. George is not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only and 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, seen, or heard from Jason T. George.

The Mountain Bike Ride was a Bad Idea!

I’ve repeatedly read that when you’re feeling better, be careful and don’t do too much or you can trigger a “flare-up” or “setback” or “relapse” or whatever in the heck you choose to call it. That’s what I’ve done. I’ve been down hard all week. I hate it. I was making such good progress. I was feeling more and more like my normal self. Then, this past Sunday, I decided to go on a mountain bike ride. Because of my health issues, I haven’t mountain biked in over a year. I told myself to only do half of the trail. I didn’t listen. I ended up doing the whole thing (9 miles). It was too much for me. It’s the longest and most intense cardio I’ve done in over a year. Strangely enough, I felt pretty good afterwards and found myself on my phone joking around with my sister and some friends.

Later that evening I still felt pretty good. I had no real issues that I can recall, but everything drastically changed the next morning while I was driving my youngest daughter to her soccer training. Like an approaching hurricane, the symptoms came on mild but steadily increased to a force that completely wiped me out … head pressure, nausea, brain fog, dizziness, fatigue, muscle twitching, weakness, trouble articulating, and then that feeling of TOTAL YUCK!

By early afternoon, I was in bed utterly exhausted and overwhelmed. My anxiety was messing with me. I was battling to take control of my thoughts. I talked to a friend on the phone who also struggles with Lyme Disease issues and he asked me if I thought this was going to be one of those short setbacks that clears up in a day or two or something more major. I told him I had no clue. Too early to tell.

Today is Friday, and I’m still not able to work. Yesterday I tried to do some work for a few hours, but it again floored me. This sucks! But this is where I’m at right now. This is all part of the journey. Live and learn.

Yesterday one of the lymph nodes in my neck was swollen and hurting. That tells me body is obviously fighting something nasty. Is it Lyme? EBV? A co-infection? Or something else? I have no clue. My Lyme Specialist told me to detox and increase my magnesium. He also told me not to mountain bike that much. Thanks doc. Great advice (sarcasm).

I was supposed to go to the beach this weekend with my wife and daughter, and hangout with some friends. Not happening right now. Back on the couch, struggling to even type this.

So that’s the latest with me. Hang in there. You’re not alone.

Still battling,

Jason

The Roller Coaster of Lyme Disease!

Sunday, March 8, 2020 – 10:18AM …

As I type this, I am absolutely miserable. The last few days have been way worse than usual … symptoms have increased and intensified … headaches, neck pain, joint pain, nausea, loss of appetite, brain fog, anxiety, and debilitating fatigue (the kind where you feel like someone shot you with a tranquilizer). I keep telling myself, “You’ve been here before. You know what to do. Just ride the storm. This isn’t permanent. It’ll pass.”

Honestly … this gets so old! Lyme Disease is a roller coaster that I NEVER volunteered to be on and it won’t let me off!

Lyme Disease is a roller coaster that I NEVER volunteered to be on and it won’t let me off!

I loathe when I have a few decent days, and then plummet back down into the pit of misery. The few decent days always get my hopes up that I’m on the path to recovery, and then that hope eventually fades like a mirage in the desert. That’s what I mean by Lyme Disease being a roller coaster. It’s up and down. Recovery is not linear. If you have it, then you know what I’m talking about.

Yesterday I talked with a few of my Lyme friends about how I’m feeling. That always helps me. Bottling it up makes me irritable or anxious or depressed or all three of those. Many of my Lyme friends are also having a harder time than usual. My friend Jessica Donaldson believes it’s because of the “super moon” that is upon us.

I know that sounds cooky, but from my personal experience, I do believe there’s something to it. Over the last year, I’ve noticed that I typically feel worse during during a full moon or new moon.

But why? … What’s up with that?

Here’s one explanation that I came across that fits my situation …

Parasites. They are the main culprits for the flare-up. We may not like to think about it, but inside of our bodies, most of us have worms, unwanted parasites that we are not even aware of. If not addressed properly, a parasite infection can hinder the healing and it can even lead to other serious health problems. Around a full moon, not only the Lyme patients will feel worse, but also those who have parasites, because during this time, the parasites’ activity peaks, causing us, the host, to feel unwell. The parasites are active during the full moon too as it is their mating season. Every couple of weeks, the parasites and bacterias hatch and form new babies. To be more precise, the spirochetes have a reproductive cycle each 28-30 days, which coincides with the full moon cycle. The flare up is due to the fact that during this period of time the spirochetes are far more active. As for the co-infections, they have a 3 to 5 days cycle, which explains the ups and downs on the symptoms experienced by patients.

Source: https://a-zlyme.com/full-moon-and-lyme-disease/

On top of battling Lyme, I recently found out that I tested positive for SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Over the last 5 months that has been the main source of my excruciating left abdomen pain, increased headaches, increased brain fog, unusual looking diarrhea (I’ll spare you the pics), increased anxiety, loss of appetite, and major weight loss (30 pounds people).

To treat SIBO, I recently began taking two powerful homeopathic meds: Bacteria Tox and DysBiocide.

HOLY WATER BUFFALO! Dude, I ended up coming off of the Dysbiocide, because the combination was too much at once. It was causing some serious die-off (herx reaction). That … plus the super moon thing … I was praying for Jesus to come back immediately!

As I said at the beginning of this blog post, I am absolutely miserable right now, but trying to stay positive. It’s not easy during these times in the pit. For some guidance and encouragement in my battle with Lyme, I’ve been reading through the book, THE HEALER WITHIN by Holly Chameli. She has recovered from Chronic Lyme, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Autoimmune Disease. Yesterday, I highlighted this quote because I TOTALLY relate …

A chronic and debilitating illness can feel like being buried alive. You do not technically have a terminal disease, but you feel like you are in the midst of dying every single day. The losses are many. Obviously, the pain of feeling sick every day is enormous, but so too is the sense of total loss when you can no longer be the parent you once were, maintain a career, socialize with friends and family, or simply grocery shop. Yes, you are living, but you may feel dead inside. Keeping your head above water during the healing process is certainly challenging, but you must stay positive. How do you do this?

THE HEALER WITHING by Holly Chameli – Page 141.

She then goes on to give advice on how to stay positive … that’s the chapter I’m into right now. So I’ll have to get back to you.

2:38pm …

At lunch time, I finally got my butt off the couch, took 4 Advil for my head and neck pain, and then drove to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for my SIBO. After that, I ate a burrito bowl from Chipotle (white rice, chicken, a little bit of mild salsa, and guac). About 30 minutes later, I began to feel some improvement.

Thank You, God

I went to Walmart and picked up a few needed items, and then hit Starbucks for a small coffee. Then I came home, cleaned up the kitchen, and vacuumed the house. Now I’m finishing up this blog post, then I’m going for a short walk in the neighborhood to soak up some sun. My brain fog has even cleared up. Again, thank You, God! I have been praying all day for some much needed relief. Not sure how long this will last.

Hang in there my Lyme friends. You are NOT alone in this battle. I know it is EXTREMELY difficult. I know there are days when you feel like you are going to have a complete breakdown or worse. Again, you are NOT alone. I encourage you to reach out to other Lyme friends or a Lyme Support Group or a Lyme Counselor/Therapist. I also encourage you to keep crying out to God and seek Him by reading the Bible. Lately, I keep meditating on Psalm 103 and praying through it. Check it out. It’s a good one.

Battling with you,

Jason

On Friday night, my wife and I went out on a long-overdue date. As you can probably tell from the pic, I was not feeling well, but did my best to focus on her.

You have to take action in order to heal!

This morning has been so very difficult … nausea, left lower abdomen pain, headache, brain fog, anxiety, fatigue, muscle twitching, and just that overall yuck/sick feeling. I did my best to push through it and accomplish a few items on my to-do list …

  • Began my day reading some helpful words from Charles Spurgeon and Scripture.
  • Took time to pray and journal.
  • Went to the paint store and picked up supplies for this week’s paint job.
  • Went to the UPS store and mailed in my SIBO test kit.
  • Went to the grocery store to get a few organic food items I was out of.
  • Cleaned all my paint equipment for this week’s paint job.
  • Booked appointment with my Lyme Specialist for next week.
  • Booked appointment with my Neurologist for next week.
  • Checked on a friend with Lyme who was suffering really really really bad yesterday.

It’s now 12pm. I had to stop everything and just sit and rest my body. In about 30-minutes, I’ll try to accomplish some more on my to-do list. The level of pain I endured this morning would make the average person stop everything and rush to the E.R. I’m not being overly dramatic. It was that bad. I’m learning to function through it when it gets that bad. It’s not easy. Believe me … a big part of me wanted to go to the E.R. but I’ve been there, done that, and they do absolutely nothing to help me. The last time I went to the E.R. they checked my blood pressure, resting heart rate, bloodwork, and ran an ECG. The doc told me that my test results are “perfect” and that I should follow-up with the Lyme Specialist I’m seeing. 🙄 “Frustrating” is not even the word!

When the pain gets really bad like it was this morning, it definitely forces me to pray more and I literally have to talk myself through it … “It’ll calm down, Jason. Just give it time. You’ve been here before. Stay calm. Stay positive. God is with you.”

There were a few moments this morning where I definitely felt overwhelmed with all of it. I never thought I’d be dealing with Lyme Disease for this long. Never. But I realize that wallowing or complaining about it does me no good. All I can do is keep battling for my health and that means I have to be proactive …

  • Keep listening to health podcasts and reading books and articles on the subject.
  • Keep meeting with my therapist.
  • Go back to my Lyme Specialist for more testing, treatment, and a new supply of supplements, meds, etc.
  • Keep taking my vitamins, supplements, and meds even when they make me feel worse.
  • Keep detoxing daily.
  • Keep on praying and trusting God to get me through this.
  • Keep helping other Lyme fighters.

I can’t just sit and do nothing. Nor can I just sit and hope that tomorrow will be a better day. I have to take action in order to heal. That’s how it works.

Here’s a little motivational mantra I often say to myself …

Pain is my friend. Heaven is my home. This is the only Hell I’ll ever know. God is with me. Never quit!

So that’s the latest with me and my on-going battle with Lyme Disease.

Battling with you,

Jason

Jason T. George is not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only and 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, seen, or heard from Jason T. George.

Right Now I’m NOT Happy, NOT Rejoicing, and NOT Giving Thanks!

It’s worse than usual this week, and I’m not sure why.

I can do very little physical work and I hate that. I want to be working my job, going to the gym, trail running, working in my yard … FREGGIN’ DOING LIFE! But lately, when I physically exert myself, excruciating pain shoots through my lower left abdomen up into my left rib cage and sometimes up into my left chest. It’s so bad that it floors me. I mean I literally have to lay on the floor until it subsides. After multiple tests, doctors have no answer as to why this is happening.

The abdomen pain frequently triggers what I call “the forehead headaches.” These are not typical tension or migraine headaches. They’re different. They bring on a wicked feeling of confusion, disorientation, and weakness. It’s not mere “brain fog.” It’s much worse than that. It feels like my brain is going into shut-down mode and disconnecting from my body. When it hits, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I just have to wait it out.

Then (if all that were not enough), my anxiety can suddenly spike for no apparent reason. It’s so intense that I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. I don’t like calling it an “anxiety attack” or “panic attack” because I’m actually not being attacked. What’s really happening is my brain is unconsciously trying to protect me from what’s going on inside of my body so it triggers my nervous system to go into “fight or flight” mode. I do my best to passively accept it. If you try to escape it or fight it or if you freak-out over it, you’ll only fuel it. I’ve learned that passively accepting it and giving it time to pass is the best thing to do to activate my parasympathetic nervous system to trigger “the relaxation response.” One of the many things that late-stage Lyme Disease jacks-up is your nervous system and/or your vagus nerve.

When I have these “episodes” (with the abdomen and rib pain with the forehead headaches with the anxiety spikes) … it’s extremely difficult for me to talk because I feel so mentally off, disoriented, and not even present. I literally have to talk softly and slowly, and even that takes incredible effort. It’s so weird and frustrating. When all of it is hitting at once, it actually hurts my brain to talk. I know that must sound strange to most people.

(feeling some confusion right now)

I’m not sure if these “episodes” are just a bad herx reaction to the homeopathic/herbal medicines that I’m taking. I think that’s what’s going on and I actually hope that’s what’s going on, because if they’re herx reactions then that means the bad stuff is dying inside of me and I just need to do a better job of binding and detoxing all of it.

This Thursday, I go back to see my Lyme Specialist in Frederick, MD (Greg Lee). I’m hoping he can help me understand what’s going on with these “episodes” and help eliminate or at least reduce them. I remember what he and another Lyme Specialist told me during my first visit, “This isn’t a drive thru, Jason. It takes time to recover … and I hope you’re not a Girl Scout.” I was like, “Yeah, I’m tough. I’m in it for the long haul. I’ll be okay.”

Well, I’m not okay. I haven’t been “okay” for quite some time, but I just kept trying to “cowboy up.” ENOUGH! Today I actually met with a therapist to talk about what I’m going through because I’ve finally come to the point where I admit that I can’t handle this on my own. I’m not smart enough or strong enough. Its just too much for me to try and go solo. Did you know that the leading cause of death among Lyme sufferers is suicide? Don’t worry … NO, I’m not having suicidal thoughts. I’m just admitting that I need help … not only physically, but also mentally … and I sincerely don’t give a rip what people think or say about me seeing a therapist for all of this.

Bottling-up my negative thoughts, fears, questions, and emotions is NOT healthy. It’s toxic, and that’s what most men do, and in my opinion that’s the reason why more men than women are alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, and suicidal. Trying to be “an army of one” with chronic physical and mental suffering is not only foolish … it’s EXTREMELY dangerous! So I did some research and found a therapist to work with, and guess what? She’s also fought through Lyme Disease herself. Dude, she gets it! She can finish my sentences!

I think our first session went pretty well. It was basically just a time to get to know each other, and I got some things out that I needed to.

This evening as I type this … I’m NOT happy … I’m NOT rejoicing … and I’m NOT giving thanks. I’m hurting, and I’m trying to stabilize physically and mentally. Today I’ve been so tempted to go to back to the ER, but I know it will just be more of the same tests with the same results with the same clueless doctors with another medical bill to pay. No thank you.

(long 10-minute pause)

Writing this blog post has been kind of therapeutic. It’s actually helping to trigger the relaxation response. Finally the waves are beginning to die down. I wanted to write while I was in the midst of an “episode” … when everything feels so negative, frustrating, overwhelming, and hopeless. Just keeping it real people.

Man, I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again … this disease is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life (and if you know me, then you know I’ve been through some serious $#%@ over the last 44 years … physically, mentally, and emotionally)! Those of you who are fellow Lyme Warriors, you know exactly what I’m talking about with how hard it is. Some of you reading this will roll your eyes at what I’m about to say, but I’ve had fellow Lyme Warriors tell me that giving birth, passing kidney stones, battling cancer, and even being shot (he was a police officer) … were nothing in comparison to battling late-stage Lyme Disease. Don’t misunderstand me … I’m not in anyway trying to minimize those other struggles. I’m just trying to help people understand that this disease is much worse than most people realize (including medical professionals).

If you’ve never seen the documentary Under Our Skin, you should check it out.

Under Our Skin from DecimalZero on Vimeo.

I would appreciate your prayers during this agonizing part of the climb. I’m definitely praying for many of you who’ve shared your pain and suffering with me.

My email is Jason@Narrowtrail.com

Don’t give up.

Reach out and get help if you need it (physically, mentally, emotionally, whatever).

You’re not weak for doing that.

Battling with you,

Jason

Jason T. George is not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only and 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, seen, or heard from Jason T. George.

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

My Backstory with Lyme – Part 1

It’s hard to know for sure, but I believe my Lyme Disease “issues” began back in 2001. I was 26 years old. I’d been married for five years, and we had a beautiful two year old daughter named Autumn. I was also an extremely energetic Youth Pastor of a growing Youth Ministry. I had no type of serious physical or emotional or mental “issues.” For the most part, I was pretty normal (my wife may disagree with that statement).

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I began suffering from panic attacks which led to generalized anxiety which then led to social anxiety. There would be sudden heart palpitations, muscle twitching, debilitating fatigue to where I couldn’t think straight, insomnia, bouts with depression to where I’d have to force myself to get out of bed … and there were even times when I’d just break down crying for no reason. On top of all of that, I also began having horrible chronic headaches. I mean HORRIBLE chronic headaches! The type where you pray for Jesus to return. Where was all of this coming from? I had never dealt with anything like this in my entire life. Why now? And why all of a sudden?

As it persisted, I literally thought I was having a nervous breakdown, and feared that I would soon be forced to live in a padded room at a psychiatric hospital away from my family. I’m not being overdramatic when I say that. That fear seriously haunted me, because no matter how hard I tried or how much I prayed … I just couldn’t “get it together.” I soon fell into a dreadful condition known as the fear of fear cycle (also known as Phobophobia).

For the first time in my life, all of my inner peace and joy were completely AWOL! All of it! It felt like God had completely abandoned me, but I knew that the Bible said He would never do that to one of His own. In Hebrews 13:5 God says, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” That truth no longer felt true in my life. Day after depressing day
my prayers were nothing more than … “God, where are You? Why have You abandoned me?” As I read through the Psalms, I related to how King David often felt …

Psalm 10:1 “Why, O Lord, do You stand far away? Why do You hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 13:1-2 “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”

As I continued to spiral down, my wife became very scared. She’d never seen me like this. Heck, I’d never seen me like this. This was NOT who she married. I’d do my best to put my happy face on around her and others, but behind it was a terrified man who was constantly questioning, “What the heck is going on? This is Not me! Has someone secretly drugged me or something?”

After multiple visits to my Primary Care Physician (PCP) and after multiple medical tests (blood work, CAT Scan, MRI, etc.), my PCP finally told me that the root of all my “issues” was stress/anxiety. On my medical paperwork, he used terms like Generalized Anxiety DisorderPanic Disorder … and Atypical Migraines. I read those terms and felt scared, confused, and angry. I remember thinking, “What the $#@%? … Are you serious? … That’s my diagnosis? What in the $#@% is happening to me?”

It didn’t make sense to me.

After almost a year of battling all of my various “issues,” I became utterly desperate for some sort of relief, and finally agreed to take the antidepressant/anti-anxiety medicine that my PCP recommended (Effexor ER). I remember that conversation like it was yesterday …

I asked him if it was addictive.

He said … “No.”

I asked if I could easily come off of it.

He said … “Yes.”

That young and highly educated Med School graduate was dead wrong on both of those answers. Back in the late 90’s, Effexor ER was a relatively new “wonder drug” … but at that time, medical professionals didn’t know everything about it that they know now. I totally regret ever agreeing to take this specific drug. It has been one of the absolute WORST drugs to try and come off of. If you cold turkey it, prepare to walk through HELL! It’s HORRIBLE! If you wean-off too quickly (like I tried to several times), that’s a little better, but you will still hate your life!

I do need to say that Effexor ER did help lessen some of my symptoms … BUT I never relied on just a pill to help me manage anxiety, panic, depression, and headaches. I also had multiple sessions with a counselor … I also read (and reread) dozens of books and articles on stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches … I also listened to hundreds of podcast episodes on how to better manage my anxiety, panic, and depression … and I also often saw a chiropractor. All of those things did far more good for me than just popping a pill.

With anxiety, panic, and depression, I’m light years from where I was, and it’s definitely NOT because of Effexor ER. Over the years, I’ve learned to better manage my major “issues” using a holistic healing approach that involves talk-therapy, journaling, prayer, meditation, relaxation, good sleep habits, healthy diet, exercise, vitamins, herbal supplements, and essential oils. Don’t get me wrong, antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds definitely have their place in certain situations, but in my opinion they are too quickly prescribed by medical professionals to only lessen symptoms rather than deal with the underlying causes through a healthy holistic approach. I don’t judge or look down on any person who is using antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds. Under my doctor’s supervision, I’m still slowly weaning-off one of them.

Anyway, with all of that, here’s the million dollar question that I often find myself asking … Was the sudden onset of all those various symptoms back in 2001 the result of Lyme Disease and co-infections or did I suddenly acquire Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Depression, and Atypical Migraines?

No doubt, at that time in my life, I was not living healthy … my diet was horrible … I didn’t exercise like I should … my sleep schedule was all over the place … I consumed insane amounts of caffeine and sugar to try and keep pace … and here’s a big one … my spiritual life was out of alignment. I had some personal sin-struggles that I wasn’t properly dealing with. So yes, it’s possible that I definitely caused some symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression to come on … but deep down, it felt like something more was going on … like something wasn’t right inside of my body!

Looking back on my childhood and teen years, I was constantly in the woods … hiking, biking, climbing trees, building forts, camping, hunting, fishing, etc. That was me all the time. I’ve had more tick bites throughout my life than I can count!

Did I ever have a bulls-eye rash?

Not that I recall, but at times I definitely had a rash where I removed the embedded tick from my body. I never went to a doctor, so I never received any type of antibiotics for any of my tick bites. Like many of you reading this, after each tick bite, I just went on with living life.

In 2003, my “issues” began improving. I was starting to feel like my normal self and enjoying life again. Periodically, I’d have some flare-ups with anxiety, depression, and my horrible headaches … but they didn’t knock me back into the pit. Then, in 2012, some very odd symptoms/issues began messing with me, and they became more intense and more frequent. At that time, I recorded these words in my journal … “Something is definitely wrong with me and I need help!”

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.

If you’re battling Lyme Disease, I hope I can be some sort of encouragement. You’re not alone in this battle … so don’t lose hope and never give up! I know it’s hard. Believe me … I KNOW!

Here’s one of my favorite quotes that motivates me to persevere through the really tough times …

Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.

Louis L’Amour

Battling with you,

Jason