Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Living with Lyme Disease: A Mother's Story

Raising a child as a single mother is a challenge in itself, but what happens when you're also battling Lyme disease? I met Theodora when our kids were just babies. What struck me was her was beauty inside and out. She is a loving mother, kind and generous to everyone. What I have continued to be impressed by is her healthy lifestyle, recipes and how she incorporated her daughter in all her cooking adventures. It was just recently that I became aware that this courageous mother has been battling Lyme disease for over 13 years. If you know anything about Lyme disease, you'll know it can make you constantly fatigue, causes memory loss, swollen and painful joints, daily bouts of hives, brain fog, constant flu, neuropathy and much more. Recently Theo has come upon a treatment that can change not just her life, but her daughter's life through Giveforward.com.

Recently, People magazine ran a cover story on Avril Lavigne battling Lyme disease. Her illness, which she contracted sometime last spring, also forced her to make some positive changes to her lifestyle. "[My diet is] sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, all organic. I juice three times a day," says Lavigne, who adds that she is about "80 percent better now" said Avril, "I do yoga, meditate and try to swim or walk every day. It's really up and down – you get better, then you get worse, then better."  One main issue is that Lyme disease doesn't fall under one category for symptoms, they are all over the place and are often misdiagnosed for years as in both Theo and Avril's case. 

When Theo was 19 years-old she began her studies at Columbia University. It was the beginning of what was to be one of many adventures. She took a semester to study ecology in Brazil. That is when her life took a dramatic turn with a single bite of a tick. Unknown to her she had been infected with Lyme disease. "At this time I did not realize I had been infected with Lymes disease though I developed a myriad of strange symptoms that were incredibly debilitating," she says. This caused her take a year leave from school that turned into 10 years due to limited access to treatment. But now the treatment that she needs may be in reach of her finger tips.

"A new treatment for Lymes is available and the success rate is very high. It utilizes cutting edge technologies and is based in Germany. The name of the clinic is Infusio. (www.infusio.org)" she says, "I've spoken to 3 people who've had this treatment with great results. I've also spoken to the doctor who thinks I am a great candidate for this protocol. I’d like to have this treatment and cure Lymes once and for all." She just needs the support from us. It's about mothers supporting mothers and people supporting people at times like this.

 "Once you learn the basics of cooking you can do anything.  You make mistakes at first and sometimes you make something that taste and looks horrible.
But with a little practice it becomes second nature." -Theodora

What do you do when you have lemons? You make lemonade. Having to try many home remedies to keep Lyme decease at bay Theo became a certified Holistic Health Counselor accredited through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Columbia University Teachers College and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She is a food educator, hosting workshops on fermentation and basic cooking techniques. She has owned and operated an independent catering company in Los Angeles. Not all her love for food can be contributed to Lyme decease. She tells me that many both her grandmothers were great cooks and that many great memories came from cooking with them. "I cherish those memories and I know that the time my daughter spends in the kitchen with me is very magical. Her daughter, Azielle (4 years-old) has picked up the love for food and healthy eating. Her favorite thing is to chop and of course licking the batter if we make cookies! Theo tells me, "she hasn’t created any recipes per se yet, but we talk about food and she often inspires me to do something I perhaps hadn’t thought of." Unfortunately, despite an extremely healthy lifestyle, I have not been able to achieve the sort of lasting health and wellness I truly crave. This means it is very difficult for me to embark on any long term career paths as I spend months out of the year being sick" she say, "On good days I can manage but about 2 weeks out of each month I'm unable to more than just get by. The thing is I don't want to just get by. I want to thrive!"

 "Warm honey and lemon water when you wake up in the morning.   
It’s a really great ritual with multiple benefit"- Theordor's health remedies

Having Azielle is a miracle in itself. She tells me that during her pregnancy her "Lyme effected (her) adrenals and liver and brain most severely. During my pregnancy I was exhausted all the time and generally felt very stressed and was often prone to huge mood swings." She went on to tell me that "at the end of pregnancy I developed cholestasis. This is a condition which can cause an increased risk in stillbirth and so it was recommended I induce at 38 weeks which I did." Theo continues to push forward. "Through all of this I have not let go of my dreams of having my own business, of finishing my education, being of service in my community and being a strong role model for my daughter" she says, "I can put my talents to good use in this life and as things stand it won’t happen without some help. If things continue they will only get worse as I can't keep relying on the generosity of family members." I know this mom would like to live a life as normal as possible. It would be great to be able to run and play with her when she wants to or be just beat after a long day of activities rather then from a disabling disease such as Lyme disease. I know that this trip can make a difference not just for this mom, but for her daughter. 

Theodora has also recently partnered with an LA chef to create Etherealpalate.com
As I mentioned our daughters played together once a week for almost two years as part of a mother group. Not once did she mention the challenges she was encountering daily. Theo is not one to ask for help, but she is asking for it now for it can change her life  and most important her daughters.

The money donated will be spent to pay for travel and lodging and the treatment itself. Give Forward Fundraiser for Theodora ends June 26th at midnight. If you can please make a donation please go to: Giveforward.com. Once the fundraiser is complete and I make it to Germany I will be sending updates and sharing my experiences in an effort to help others with Lyme.  I hope that my journey will be helpful to others in my position.

Heath remedies Theo practices:

-Get out into nature as much as possible and walk outside with bare feet when possible (and safe). This feels great, increases blood flow and reduces inflammation. Look up earthing for more info.

-Sleep.  Scientists is still unsure about how many hours of sleep are ideal and as I said before everyone is different.  The thing that scientists are sure about is that it needs to be completely dark and that keeping in sync with circadian rhythms is important. Limit your use of electronics (TV, tablets, smartphones etc) before bed as the light they emit will suppress your melatonin cycle leading to sleeplessnes and lighter sleep.

-Water.  Drink half you body weight in fluid ounces every day. Making sure that the water is free from chlorine and fluoride.

-Your gut.  Your gut is your second brain.  What goes on in your gut affects your moods and your immune system.  Here is a great blog post by Kris Carr.  It has everything I would want to say about simple ways to create gut health.


-Exercise.  It doesn’t have to me a crazy intense workout.  Find something you enjoy and can do 5 times a week.  It’s better to have a sustainable workout regime. Perhaps 30 mins a day rather than a mammoth workout at the gym once a week.  A walk round the neighborhood every morning for example.