Sometime around the first of the year I started using Animal Medicine cards to assist me in my healing from Lyme Disease. It was there that I first read the term “shamanic death”. I had heard of shamans before in my spiritual questing. I had the thought that I could sure use a shaman to help me with Lyme Disease. But, how, where, when? Like so many things it seemed like an impossibility.
I suppose this could be a tale about the importance of vocalizing your wants and needs. A short time later I was in the presence of someone who heard my desire and set out to make it a reality. She knew someone who knew a shaman, and not just any shaman, but a shaman who was recovering from Lyme disease.
For at least the last six months, probably longer, I’ve been in the darkest depth of depression. One Saturday I went to visit some relatives I hadn’t seen in a long time. My symptoms were particularly intense that day, like so many days in the last months have been. The act of displaying some semblance of normalcy took all of the energy that I had that day, which was close to zero anyway. It was a perfectly good visit, and I enjoyed the socializing, and the feeling of being around people you share blood with.
It was an hour-long drive home in the dark with my son sleeping in the back seat. When I look back, I see it as raining, but I’m not sure if that is accurate. NPR was on, and playing a segment where they had an author read an excerpt from one of their books. I can’t remember the name, but it was about a homeless man who has regular interactions with the author. The homeless man has a old dog he clings to and frequently inserts himself into current events in the news and tells the story as if he lived it. My memory fails me, but the story came to a sad ending and touched the part of me that feels disconnected from my own family. Soon I was sobbing. It wasn’t just that day, it was everything, all the stressors of the last months, the last years, and the never-ending onslaught of symptoms related to this horrible disease.
That night I decided I was going to take my own life. I planned to do it on my father’s birthday at the end of May. It seemed right somehow, to have a meaningful date, and one that was about a week away, giving me time to “prepare”. There was a desperate cry for help in the middle of all of it, to anyone listening. If something didn’t reveal itself to stop me, I vowed to go through with my plan. I’ve felt suicidal on many occasions during this illness, but this time was different. Having the plan gave me some relief and a direction. I decided to begin clearing objects from my home so the people left behind would not have a bunch of crap to sift through.
The next day when I talked with a friend, I did not try to hide my apathy for all things. I didn’t say much, but she told me later that she heard something in my voice that made her very concerned. She had already given me the shaman’s contact info. But in the place I was in, it was very difficult to make phone calls unless I really had to. I wasn’t capable of helping myself at that point. So she stepped in and made the call for me, and set up a meeting between the shaman and I, and offered to drive and accompany me. I really needed that and I’m so grateful that she did that for me.
About a week later the shaman came to my apartment and did a healing session with me. There have been many more healing sessions since that time, and a host of new herbs. The die-off from the herbs is intense and I am experiencing that everyday now. I am hitting the herbs hard because I am looking forward to the point where the bugs have less of a hold on my body. My shaman has encouraged me in this direction because he knows from experience that if I can kill enough bugs to feel better, it will encourage me to keep going.
Dealing with die-off has been a problem for me since I first began taking bug-killing herbs and antibiotics two years ago. The intensity of the die-off is something I have to be very mindful of. Prior to becoming ill, I had been drug free and a vegetarian for decades. My body was really sensitive and even the smallest dose of a medication would send me into a tail spin. Once I began taking bug-killing drugs and remedies I was about two to three years into the sickness. At that time I was taking multiple drugs everyday. Drugs for pain. Drugs for sleep. Drugs for depression. Drugs for anxiety. I had gotten to the point where there were so many drugs I couldn’t really tell what was helping or not. I felt bad all the time irregardless.
The first herb I tried was Japanese Knotweed. I took one drop and a short time later my pain increased one-thousand fold and I was flat in bed with a migraine that lasted a couple of days. I could tolerate Cryptolepsis and A-BART better, but the most I ever could get up to was about 4 drops once per day. I took Doxy and Tinidazole for about three months and had a weekend where I felt the best I had in years. Two days virtually symptom free. I stopped the antibiotics. Soon, very soon indeed, all symptoms returned. The two days were in February of 2014. I have not had any days like that since that time irregardless of the multiple regimes of antibiotic protocols my LLMD has prescribed.
The first shaman I saw recommended I see another shaman, one who had helped him tremendously. I went to see him and through a process of divination, he prescribed four different herbal combinations to take to help heal my lungs, my depression, my digestion, as well as bug killers. He prescribed one teaspoon of each formulation three times per day. I was apprehensive about taking them and put it off until after a planned trip to see a family member. I was dreading the die off. I’ve always found it hard to put something in my body that was going to make me feel worse than I already did. But finally I gathered the courage and began my first day of one teaspoon three times a day. By the end of the day I was useless. Intense pain everywhere, waves of depression and anxiety linked to no apparent cause, irritability, increased sensitivity to noise and sound to the point of feeling like I needed to be in a sound proof light-proof bubble.
I convinced myself to lower the dosage, although the “pusher” that lives inside of me disagreed. The “pusher” tells me that I’m weak and that’s why I can’t handle the appropriate dose. There have many times when I have abandoned protocols because I’ve been overloaded with symptoms. These events have always been followed by intense punishment from the “pusher” who claims I can’t handle things well enough. I’ve come to see the “pusher” as a manifestation of Lyme brain. When the bugs are being killed they become restless and angry and they attack my most vulnerable points in order for me to stop taking the things that are killing them. Just like any other organism in life, they are programmed for survival.
I discussed this issue with my shaman and some friends and all encouraged me to back off on the dose. What good is a healing regime if it makes you so sick that you cannot participate in your life to any degree? I’ve always been a Type A personality, a “no pain, no gain” type of person. I’ve survived many things by sheer will alone throughout my life. When I was diagnosed with Lyme I wanted it out of my body and I wanted it out fast. I’ve learned the hard way that the way out of Lyme is not a marathon. It’s a very slow mindful walk through a complicated maze with lots of rest stops and u-turns along the way.
So I started up the herbs again and this time I started with a 1/8 teaspoon twice a day. The “pusher” mocked this dose but I persisted. This amount made me plenty sick, but I could feel the rise and fall of the symptoms between doses. After 3-4 days I went up to 1/8 teaspoon three times a day.
A few days later I went up to 1/4 teaspoon three times per day. I found that if I took the first two doses somewhat close together, say at 10 am and 12:30, I could have a few hours in the evening of feeling less overwhelmed by symptoms, before the last dose at bedtime. A few days later I went up to 1/2 teaspoon three times a day. The die-off was intense, but manageable as long as I kept my mind in the right place. I had to remind myself constantly that when I was feeling really sick it was good and normal because it meant I was killing bugs.
My shaman suggested I switch up the bug killing remedies every 1-2 weeks. This is how we deal with Lyme’s ability to quickly identify a bug killer and render itself immune to it in various ways. So after about two weeks I switched to tinctures of various herbs I have picked up along the way. Mainly, I used Cryptolepsis, A-Bart, Cordyceps and Balkai Skullcap. By then the “pusher” mentality had gained a hold. I figured since I had been able to gradually increase the shaman’s herbs I should be able to handle more of these herbs than I had before. So after the first day I went up to about four drops of each 3 times per day. That’s 12 drops of each per day when I had only been able to tolerate four drops per day in the past.
I started to feel very sick very quickly and I was not able to distinguish the rise and fall of the die-off. Suddenly everything was die off with no rests in between. After about four days of this the darkness became overwhelming and I was no longer able to stave off the thoughts. Soon I was thinking, “I’m never going to get better, nothing is helping, why am I taking these useless medicines made from plants”.
It was only after my shaman suggested it that I was able to allow myself to take a day off from the herbal protocol, and then another. The “pusher” was very active during this time with descriptions of what a loser I was for giving up. On the third day I finally began to feel slightly better. It had been a week so I thought I would switch up the bug killers again and go back to the shamans herbal preparations. I thought that since I had stopped at the dose of 1/2 tsp three times per day that I would be able to start again at that dose. I was wrong. I was again overwhelmed by symptoms and the “pusher” was out in full force chastising me for not being able to handle the dosage. With some encouragement from a friend I was able to again go back to the 1/4 tsp 3 times per day. Now my symptoms, though at times extremely uncomfortable, feel more manageable again. It strikes me now that it doesn’t matter how many times you want to give up, or if you have to quit or back off of a bug killer. What’s important is that you stay in the game of bug killing.
I’ve started taking Bee Pollen several times a day. I think it helps with energy and there are so many healthy properties that it has. I’ve become convinced that the answers to healing from Lyme must come from the same place that Lyme has come from: the earth. This last week I went to a class on using Bee Venom therapy for Lyme disease and soon I will begin this protocol which I know intuitively, in combination with the herbs I am taking, are going to heal my body.
Lyme is a mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual illness. In order to heal and to activate the complete transformation that is available with Lyme disease, we must address all aspects of it. We must take our power back from the medical system and become the leader on our own healthcare teams. We must consider things we may have balked at before. Healing happens from the inside out, not from the outside in.