Actively healing from Lyme
-- Diane Hamilton
As a supporter of a multi-faceted approach to healing chronic Lyme, I try to read widely and
consider many different types of advice from a wide range of teachers and experts. The quote
above is from one of my meditation teachers. She is referring to the benefit of developing
the ability to see more perspectives. To see is to acknowledge and recognize the value in a
perspective that may be different from one we normally take.
I think this is valuable advice, particularly in light of Lyme treatment where so much contention
divides doctors, limiting their points of view instead of expanding them. Does it have to come
down to “either/or” choices between Western medicine and natural or alternative therapies?
Or can we embrace a healthy “both/and” perspective to include whatever works best for each
What works for one of us may not work for another. Further, what works at one stage may
not be best for another stage. In my own case, it’s taken some careful experimenting to find
out what works. For example, I began treatment on what used to be known as an “antibiotic
cocktail,” which included several different strong antibiotics administered orally for at least six
months. But when I couldn’t afford to continue, I started the r Cowden's updated Lyme protocol">Cowden protocol. I stayed on that
for about three years. I switched to Teasel root extract after that. And now, I take a handful of
supplements every morning and remain stable and healthy.
But the key to my current state of good health, I’m convinced, is that multi-faceted approach. I
am devoted to strengthening my body as well as stretching it, so I do strength training exercises
as well as yoga. I cured a frozen shoulder using these exercises a few years ago, when most of
my Lyme symptoms were well on their way out. I knew another woman at the time who suffered
from the same painful condition in her shoulder. She was able to afford treatments administered
by a chiropractor, who used electricity to break up the adhesions. She regained use of her arm
about a year into treatment. My arms continue to get stronger and feel fine, all through simple
push-ups and yoga. We both got the treatment we needed. Hers was passive. Mine was active.
When we do whatever we can to help ourselves heal, we become stronger and more aware.
Our healing is not only in the hands of the doctors, although I thank god for good doctors
every day. It’s in our own hands as well. It isn’t an either/or situation. It’s a both/and. Trust your
instinct. Read tons. Use every approach you can think of, diet, exercise, meditation, study,
medicines -- prescription and/or complementary or alternative.
In the New Year, let’s continue to use all our awareness to develop a more comprehensive path
of healing from Lyme at any stage. Let’s see more perspectives, allow ourselves to care more
deeply, and participate more vigorously in our own healing.
New Year ahead. What's your Lyme diet?
On this winter solstice, chill winds and snow swirl through the giant bamboo forest
just outside our windows.
Since last Friday morning, we’ve shed a lot of tears.
Our broken hearts can heal but it will take time. In my own reflections over the course of the past week, I’ve recommitted to get stronger and healthier in 2013, in mind, body and spirit.
That’s my New Year’s wish for you, too.
-- All my best, Suzanne
Holiday gatherings usually center around sharing a meal together. You might be anticipating some changes in your dishes of choice this year. Where is the list of “should” or “shouldn’t eat” foods? And, the most important question of course: is chocolate on the list?
Food choice is so personal. Is there a good “Lyme diet” to follow? Take a peek at this food pyramid shared by Dr. Andrew Weil (and not just because chocolate is on the list!)
We hear a lot about how a particular food is good for us, such as salmon or flaxseed for the omega oils, and avocado for its ‘good’ fat. But how big a portion is advised, and why it is good are something you might not yet know. That’s why I like this simple chart. It tells you the how-much and the why.
An anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial for anyone suffering from Lyme, an inflammatory illness. Chances are, your doctor and your medical advisors are not well-informed about the way your diet affects you, so it’s worth looking into.
Most of us with Lyme have specific needs at mealtime. Communicate your wishes to your family. If you are the main chef and bottle washer at your house, encourage and allow others to help out in the kitchen. Let them do the shopping and the cleanup.
Aside from knitting irresistible toys for the adorable little ones, my preference during the holidays is to renew, reconnect and reflect. Since Lyme, I pay more attention to my breath, I take more time to write and walk. Give yourself permission to enjoy whatever activities you find regenerative. If it expands your spirit, feels loving and healthy, it’s a worthy pursuit. Healing comes from such wholeness.
A word about frenzy, which is so often the tone around this time of the year. It’s defined medically as temporary madness, “a state of violent mental agitation.” Its synonyms include fury and rage. Let’s focus on the symbols of the season, on faith and on relationships that matter. Or have you succumbed to old habits, struggling through city streets and stores clogged with impatient shoppers. It’s always our choice.
Faced with a few days off, it’s tempting to try to get as much done as humanly possible with the extra down-time. But your body and mind needs slowing-down-time. Don’t try to rush the healing process with your willpower.
If you’re in pain and the weight of the world feels like it’s on your tired shoulders, please be generous with yourself and rest. The world’s wisdom traditions teach that this dark season naturally facilitates surrender. So allow the healing process to move through you, and perhaps move you to a new place in your journey. With grace, you will be yourself again in time.
I wish you a peaceful and joyful holiday -- with an oz of 70% chocolate!
Paying it forward = Stress relief
Suddenly, a driver stopped to wave me in. Hallelujah! I couldn’t believe it. I watched as everybody in the long line of cars behind her was forced to stop and wait while I made my turn. With a wave and a smile and a tap on the brakes, she had flooded my heart with hope and love for my fellow humans. If she hadn’t voluntarily stopped like that, I might still be sitting there.
An hour later, stuck in a checkout line held up by a woman buying 4,000 rolls of ribbon, I overheard the couple behind me. They were griping quietly at each other. I encouraged them to go ahead of me, and they suddenly smiled and said thanks, both wishing me a Merry Christmas. It felt so nice to pay back the generosity that had been extended to me that I actually wished there were more shoppers standing in line to wave ahead.
In times of stress, whether from traffic, sickness, or other events, it seems we have a choice. We can’t control the events themselves, but we can choose how we react. The glee and gratitude I felt for that driver infected my mood instantaneously. In every crowded lane and line for hours afterward, I enjoyed interacting with clerks and shoppers and felt genuinely uplifted with every sincere smile and upbeat thank you. It got me thinking about generosity and vulnerability.
We’re more vulnerable when we’re ill and suffering. Pain breaks down the normal barriers that healthy people take for granted, the psychic boundaries we put up in a grocery store or a crowded elevator. When we’re spending most of our energy trying to feel normal or attempting to breathe through the pain in our muscles, our skin, or the fog in our mind, I think we’re more naturally vulnerable and open to other people’s moods and actions.
This open attitude of heart or viewpoint can make us feel weak. After all, it is only the strong ego that can construct barriers and know exactly who it is and what it wants. But these days, having returned from the trip to the underworld of Lyme disease, I feel, at times, much less attached to the picture of who-I-think-I-am. I feel more porous, less fixed. That fluidity has its own sort of strength.
I wish I could thank that anonymous driver for her small gesture of kindness, which felt to me like a light of consciousness in a murky sea. It could have worked the other way. We’ve all been the recipient of an angry gesture by an impatient driver (or we ourselves have been that angry driver), and we know how that affects us and others too. But as the recipient of her generous action, I went on my merry way with an attitude of gratitude. Like a fairy godmother, she’d waved her wand and changed the landscape from black-and-white to technicolor. In the crowded store, I passed her kindness along like an unexpected gift, and I bet it’s still working its way around town.
Serious illness not only brings suffering, it has another side which is filled with gifts if we are open to receiving them. When I take a genuine, hard inner look, I know I have Lyme to thank for the tremendous blessings in my life now. Riches beyond measure. Among them, more patience, resilience and humility, and an extraordinary awakening of consciousness which is largely unexpected but certainly profound.
Here’s to the spirit of gratitude and vulnerability. What are you grateful for?