Health Coaching for Lyme Disease
"They" say what doesn't kill you only makes your stronger. This couldn't ring more true when it comes to lyme disease. I share my story because I hope to raise awareness and help others who are currently suffering from this debilitating illness. At some point, I contracted lyme disease from a tick. I don't remember ever being bit, but you can get lyme disease from a baby tick the size of a poppyseed. This isn’t too surprising because I live near a forest preserve, there are many "deer crossing" signs throughout my neighborhood, and I would frequently see deer when running or walking on the trails in the woods near my home. Where there's deer, there's often times ticks. Deer ticks often live in shady, moist areas at ground level. Ticks will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, and can also be found in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods.
Lyme disease completely hijacked my body. It became difficult to just get out of bed in the morning because my joints were so stiff, swollen, and painful. There were some days I was in so much pain I would just sit in an epsom salt bath and cry, begging to go to the hospital, but knowing there was not much they would or could do to give me relief because no one knew what was wrong with me. The brain fog was so bad some days I would actually look at my hands and wonder if they were real, and would have to ground myself, and would make simple mistakes or forget things very easily. (This symptom is very hard to comprehend unless you've had it because it's the most bizarre, scary feeling). But, my illness does not define me, and these moments of weakness do not make me weak. Through God's grace and (a lot of) self-care I have transformed my weaknesses into strength and courage which has helped to carry me through each minute, day, week, and season of this disease.
Lyme Disease is an Invisible Illness
Lyme disease is truly an invisible illness, I never knew I had it so it went untreated for a long time, and I don't think most people even realize what my family has went through with regards to this disease--emotionally, physically, and financially. Because my diagnosis took so long to get, the disease became late stage and neurological. I looked okay and I continued to function at a pretty high level for the amount of daily pain I was in--because I had a sink or swim mentality and I refused to give-up. But, many patients with chronic Lyme disease are profoundly debilitated and the quality of life is equivalent to that of patients with congestive heart failure. Pain levels are similar to those of post-surgical patients, and fatigue is on par with that seen in multiple sclerosis. A top Duke oncologist also recently said lyme disease is the infectious disease equivalent of cancer. Because of this, many people with late-stage or chronic lyme disease can no longer work, yet they may appear to look healthy and "normal" to their family, peers and co-workers.
Over ten doctors and specialists, numerous MRI's, CT scans, EKGs, x-rays, EMGs, hundreds of blood tests, and thousands of dollars later, an integrative specialist in Wisconsin figured out I had untreated lyme disease. The diagnosis was confirmed via an antibody blood test through Igenex, but by this point the bacteria had already spread throughout my entire body including my joints, muscles, nerves, cervical spine, brain and central nervous system. Some of the lyme disease symptoms that I have experienced include: numbness and tingling, joint and nerve pain, severe neck stiffness and pain, muscle spasms, migraines, bladder cystitis, swelling, bruising and arthritic pain, insomnia, muscle weakness, fatigue, low-grade fevers and chills, brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, mood changes, tachycardia, hypoglycemia, loss of appetite, and extreme nausea. I also developed something called POTS or Dysautonomia as a result of the chronic infection.
I was fortunate enough to receive a diagnosis and treatment from a knowledgable and reputable lyme doctor in the Upper Midwest. But, not everyone with lyme is as lucky, and my heart goes out to those people. I will continue to advocate on their behalf, and dedicate my time and knowledge to getting the word out there about the lyme disease crisis occurring in the United States and across the world.
Healing from chronic Lyme Disease
Through nutrition, self-care, mental health practices, physical therapy, holistic remedies, medication, and light exercise I have been able to better control my lyme disease and embark on my healing journey. I know first-hand the tremendous physical and mental suffering that comes along with lyme disease and its many co-infections. I also contracted a staph infection, Bartonella, Babesia and other parasites due to the lyme, so a treatment plan was devised for that as well. The world of western medicine is not up-to-speed on lyme disease, and this means there are thousands of individuals out there who are in suffering in lyme-limbo. I saw over 10 doctors, some of them at the top-ranked hospitals in Chicago, before being referred to a lyme specialist (LLMD) who provided me a treatment plan and the support I needed to combat this disease.
lyme disease is hard to diagnose
Lyme disease is hard to identify, hard to distinguish from other diseases, hard to diagnose, hard to treat, and worst of all, hard to know when it is cured. Doctors are now finding that some people with ALS, MS, and even Alzheimer's are actually suffering from late-stage, untreated lyme disease. There is a TON of misinformation out there about lyme disease, most of it comes straight from the CDC. They have not updated their testing or treatment guidelines for lyme in years and many Infectious Disease Doctors still follow the old guidelines from decades ago, which puts patients in a tough situation. We have yet to find an ID doctor in the Chicagoland area who understands lyme disease.
The bottom line is to trust your gut. You know your body better than anyone else, if you think something is wrong, don't stop until you get answers. This disease is leaving people paralyzed and in wheelchairs, some young people have even lost their lives because they never received the proper diagnosis or treatment in time. I can only hope and pray that enough people speak out and we see a major overhaul with lyme disease treatment in the next several years. The Lyme disease testing that many doctors use based on the CDC's guidelines are highly inaccurate, often inconclusive or indicate false negatives. I would know because I came back negative for lyme on the standard test, it wasn't until I had further antibody testing through Igenex in California, that it was discovered. If you suspect you or a loved one could have lyme disease I encourage you to seek the help of a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) for further testing and treatment options, and time is of the essence when diagnosing and treating this disease. (Scroll to the resources links at the bottom of this page for more info)
nutrition + healh coach for lyme disease
How can a health coach benefit someone with a chronic illness? Innately our bodies know how to heal when struck with illness. However, when hit with a complicated infection like lyme disease, sometimes the treatment and healing process becomes a little more tricky. Proper nutrition, detoxification, stress reduction, and light exercise or physical therapy can be the extra push your body needs to move towards your treatment goals. Unfortunately, medical professionals don't always have the time or knowledge to incorporate these important aspects of healing into a treatment plan. Self-care can be empowering when faced with lyme disease. Getting your mind and spirit aligned can allow you to feel more in control and optimistic of your future. Lastly, having an unbiased support person to listen can be healing in and of itself. I can relate to the struggles of lyme disease on a personal level, which gives me valuable insight to what can be going on within my clients' bodies and minds. As a lyme warrior myself, I know that you cannot drink from an empty cup so learning how to take care of yourself can make all the difference in your day-to-day life.
Your body hears everything your mind says. Stay positive.
The power of positive thinking is so strong when dealing with a debilitating illness such as lyme disease. Positive thoughts are able to prompt changes in your body that indirectly strengthen your immune system. Through my training and own experience I can provide nutrition education, stress management tips, self-care practices, and personal development and coping skills for my clients dealing with chronic illness.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about lyme disease or where to get help! I have connections to many knowledgeable people in that area, and am happy to help you find the right resources!
lyme disease signs and symptoms
Igenex Lab (Western Blot for Lyme Testing)
Late and Chronic Lyme by Dr. Sam Donta
Jarish Herxheimer Reaction (Info on “herxing”)
Disclaimer: Ashley Iovinelli | Wheatgrass Warrior does not engage in the practice of medicine. It is not a medical authority nor does it claim to have medical knowledge. In all cases, Wheatgrass Warrior recommends that you consult your own physician regarding any course of treatment or medication