Hollie's fight against Lyme Disease

Welcome!
My name is Hollie Clausen.  I am a 28 year old mother from Healdsburg, CA and I was recently diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease. 

I have good days and I have really, really bad days where I am completely incapacitated, unable to care for myself or my daughter.  Lyme causes the entire body to become inflamed resulting in neurological issues, digestive issues and cognitive issues.  I am underweight and malnourished, constantly fatigued, and every day the pain gets worse. 

With many diseases, the most difficult part of the struggle is the diagnostic phase (in my case, a year long battle of trial and error).  In these instances, once you and your doctor have discovered what the mystery illness is, it's a simple matter of taking the proper medication and you will begin to recover.  However, when it comes to Chronic Lyme Disease (as well as some other long-term illnesses, the most well known being cancer), the treatment can be nearly as harsh as the disease itself. 

It is important that I start treatment as soon as possible because the longer the bacteria stays in my system the more widespread it becomes and the more difficult it becomes to eradicate. It burrows into tissues, cells, organs and attacks every part of the body. The longer Lyme is untreated the more chronic it becomes.

Treatment consists of antimicrobials and antibiotics for three months to a year or longer.  When the treatment starts things are going to get worse before they get better.  I will experience a "die off" reaction where the dead bacteria  release large amounts of toxins into blood and tissues at an alarming rate.  This will cause an even greater inflammatory response in the body, resulting in a rise of symptoms.  The more pervasive the infection, the more severe the die off is likely to be.  

My family and  I are struggling to stay afloat without a dual income.   I am seeking the support of my community, friends and family as we dive into my healing journey. 

How you can help...
First of all, thank you for taking the time to learn more about my situation.  I have been very private about my health struggles and certainly never thought I would be speaking so openly about this, let alone calling on you all for support.  

Here is a list of ways you can help-

-Donate to this campaign!
-Share this campaign! (The average share raises $97!)
-Have an organic garden?  Donate veggies or homegrown medicine (especially CBD).
-Donate wood.  Winters are brutal with Lyme and it is imperative I stay warm.
-Have little ones?  Invite Melodie over for a play date while I nap.
-Have  livestock/ laying hens? I need as much protein as I can get and Melodie drinks organic goat milk.
-Bring over a home cooked meal and enjoy it with us (meat and veggies only, please).
-I believe in the power of prayer and intention, send some my way.
*I will update this list as new needs arise*

My story...
For those of you who know me, you're probably familiar with my lifelong struggles with Alopecia Areata, an auto-immune disease that causes hair loss.  Most of my youth was a roller coaster of treatments, bald spots, regrowth, total hair loss, hats, wigs and navigating a superficial world with a "cosmetic" disease. 

I traveled to India in 2012 where I saw a new way of living- of being. I came home and began the transformation into the woman that I am today.  Determined to take control of my life, I made major lifestyle changes. I began meditating, practicing yoga, reading often and hiking. It wasn't long after my return from India that I met my  incredible partner, Will, and we moved into our cozy little apartment in Rio Nido, blanketed by redwoods.  In 2014 I began to struggle with depression, low energy and  was constantly under the weather, but assumed it was because we didn't get much sunlight where we lived.

In early 2015 Will and I packed up our belongings and headed to Oregon to pursue our dreams as farmers. Shortly after arriving in Oregon we found out I was pregnant. From the beginning I experienced debilitating "Braxton Hicks" contractions and my fatigue was so overwhelming I could barely get out of bed.  I had an extensive list of other symptoms, all of which I chalked up to pregnancy.  By the third trimester I was on bed rest and Will was harvesting our first year's crops alone, while caring for me and our unborn baby.

Melodie Moon was born on December 23, 2015 (the greatest day of my life).  For months after she was born I convinced myself that my health would improve now that I wasn't pregnant anymore.  In early 2016 we received a letter from the State of Oregon stating that they would not renew our farm licenses due to a new law that required us to have been Oregon residents for at least two years. With the news that we could not continue our business that year, we packed up our dreams as farmers and headed home to Healdsburg.

Will found a job as a Chef for Wilson Artisan Wines and  I started serving tables at Chalkboard.  I began to experience a wealth of bizarre and debilitating symptoms,  beyond those of pregnancy.  My ears began to ache and ring, my muscles were so stiff I could barely get out of bed in the morning, my joints ached and throbbed, my shoulders had a constant pins-and-needles burning sensation, weight loss despite an optimal diet, and a vicious brain fog would leave me unable to form a sentence at times.  All of this was terrible, but  I managed to carry on, nursing my eight month old daughter on my breaks at work and multiple times in the night, convincing myself that I was just exhausted and all new moms experience some level of growing pains.

One night Will and I went to see a concert and my entire right arm and hand went numb while dancing.  The next morning I went to Urgent Care and they told me I had pinched a nerve. The medicine they gave me didn't help and my arm/hand were numb for weeks.  I could no longer brush off these troubling symptoms.  A friend suggested I research "Fibromyalgia."  It was the first I had ever heard of the condition and a quick google search left me stunned.  My symptoms were identical. I began to seek care from a Chronic Illness Specialist and by November had a diagnosis: Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. "Yes, you have Fibro," my doctor said, "but what's causing it?" After my blood work came back we suspected I had mold toxicity (most likely from living in Rio Nido), low thyroid, and some other funky things.  She also suspected I may have picked up parasites while in India.


By this point I knew what it felt like to be dying. I could no longer do the things I love- dancing, mushroom foraging, yoga- let alone the simple tasks of daily life. I felt so terrible it was impossible for me to continue working so I left my job at Chalkboard to focus on my health. I had a team of healers behind me and together we began to tackle my symptoms.  I eliminated sugar, alcohol, grains and night shades from my already gluten-free, dairy-free diet. I stopped breastfeeding Melodie at 13 months- a year sooner that I had wanted (mamas out there will understand when I say how much I grieved losing this connection to my daughter).  I took anti-parasitic meds, detoxed in all kinds of ways, I even discovered that I had a failed root canal and upon having the tooth extracted and the bone scraped for bacteria, my energy began to return.  I was seeing my acupuncturist, chiropractor and therapist weekly and slowly, slowly I began to feel a little better. 

Meanwhile, our debt was growing as we depended on my income to make ends meet.  I ambitiously returned to work as a server for Barndiva's Gallery and Bistro.  I anticipated a rise in pain but I was not prepared for the quick and dramatic return of all the symptoms I had dedicated the last six months of my life to healing.  I laid awake at night after busy shifts, unable to sleep because the pain was all-consuming.  My nerves surged with an electric sensation as my mind pleaded with my body to let me sleep.  With Will working full time, starting at 5am (plus side jobs and special events) I would be up first thing in the morning with Melodie after sleepless nights, barely able to lift her.  My life began to slip away again and I was forced to leave another really great job, with really wonderful people.

I returned to the Specialist and concerned by my weight and severity of symptoms she began to suspect Lyme Disease- a suspicion she had back in November but put aside because the test was vaguely negative (the tests used to detect Lyme are 40 years old, outdated and most times inaccurate). Growing up in Healdsburg, spending summers in the mountains, I've been bitten by ticks more times than I can count  (most recently, however was the summer of 2012 just before traveling to India).  Given my history of tick bites and all of my symptoms my doctor decided to do a trail of Lyme specific medication to see if I had the classic "Herxheimer" reaction. Herxing occurs when dead or dying bacteria release large amounts of toxins into blood and tissues at an alarming rate. This provokes a sudden and exaggerated inflammatory response.  Essentially, the body is attempting to eliminate the released toxins much faster than it is able to.  I had a terrible herx reaction leading to a Clinical Diagnosis of Chronic Lyme Disease.

I am forever grateful to my family, friends and healers who have supported me this far.  Throughout all of this Melodie continues to thrive and I have remained hopeful, thanks to all of you. 

OK- now lets go kick some Lymie ass!!!


-The American Lyme Disease foundation:
http://www.aldf.com/
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Organizer

Hollie Clausen 
Organizer
Healdsburg, CA
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