Michelle’s story as told by her husband
I was so mad. I woke up one morning, ready to head to work when I noticed that I was alone in my bed. Where was Michelle, I asked myself. As I got up, I saw a note on the kitchen table which read
“Woke up and couldn’t feel my arm, drove myself to emerg.”
She did what!? I know the tree-planting gig she had picked up for the summer was taking its toll on her, but an arm without any feeling in it? That was crazy – moreover, why didn’t she wake me up to take her in? We didn’t exactly live around the corner from the ER so the idea that Michelle drove herself to the Hospital in Fredericton was too much. Needless to say, I was calling her immediately.
“I am fine” she assured me, “go to work. The doctors are running some tests and I have the feeling back, it is no big deal.”
Silly me, I believed her.
A few weeks later the test results came back and not only did Michelle stop tree planting as she continued to suffer joint aches and otherwise unexplained pain, but she was informed by her doctor that she had early onset Rheumatoid Arthritis – at the age of 23.
So she started the medication.
And it didn’t work. The joint stiffness remained – not all the time – but it would come and go. Michelle, a provincial-caliber volleyball and basketball player, had to stop playing the sports she loved. A light run was now enough to put her on the couch for the rest of the day. We could not understand. Other symptoms of RA didn’t seem to materialize however and she underwent further testing, including multiple sclerosis, but again other symptoms one would expect with those degenerative diseases did not (thankfully) materialize. However, Michelle started to develop an intolerance for certain foods and the join pain continued to worsen.
In 2004 we got married and in 2007 she was pregnant with the first of our eventual three kids. During the pregnancy, the soreness and stiffness disappeared. She started to play volleyball again, but once she stopped breastfeeding the soreness and stiffness returned. It didn’t come back right away, but gradually and a bit worse than before.
After we moved to Ontario in 2010, Michelle began seeing an ND and changed her diet to include eliminating most dairy and gluten. This seemed to help and then we had our second child. Again, after the breastfeeding, the symptoms slowly started to return and even with the new restrictive diet, they continued to return. Michelle continued to search for answers, finally being told by our general practitioner that it was essentially all in her head. Michelle asked about Lyme and was told no way. The test was run anyway and came back negative. We had our third child in 2015 and again the symptoms disappeared during the pregnancy only now they returned with force following the pregnancy. Michelle then, in consultation with her ND, carried out the Western Blot test and it came back positive for Lyme.
Michelle had Lyme disease. Moreover, we suspect it all originated from that time planting trees in New Brunswick back in 2004. She has had the disease for over a decade and now our three kids were at risk of having contracted it too as research has suggested it passes through the placenta.
Despite these diagnoses and the continued and worsening pain, Michelle tried to keep our life together as normal as possible. She became a Reiki Master and youth meditation teacher with aspirations of starting a business of holistic health.
All the while, Michelle continued to seek treatment, including coming under the care of Dr Maureen McShane in Plattsburgh, NY. Initially, Michelle began to feel great. So much so, she started her practice of holistic health and opened a natural health practice to include sharing her expertise as a Reiki Master, meditation instructor, and registered hypnotist. In 2017, she realized her professional goal of becoming part of a unique healthcare team here in Kingston, Ontario that focuses on mind and body health and her business began to take off.
It all came to a screeching halt in January of 2018. After two years of treatment, Michelle’s body began shutting down to include blood in the stool and a hypoactive thyroid. The treatments, including several harsh oral antibiotics, were killing the Lyme but also killing her. She had to stop the treatment.
And the symptoms came back.
And she had to stop everything and it broke her heart. The calling of helping others that she has so enthusiastically answered and so clearly has a gift for had to be ignored. She needed to refocus. Michelle wanted to at least have some energy for our three kids.
She also began searching for options.
Make no mistake, we are lucky. Michelle is still generally able to function, but it costs her emotionally and physically. She is in a constant state of pain, running deep in her bones. She works, but only a little and any prospective treatments are in the US thanks to the continued inability of our health care system to address this complex problem. We are grateful for our system here in Canada, but this is a huge area for improvement and Michelle – and dare I say thousands like her – continue to suffer as a result. Michelle is so much more than this disease, but it is slowly consuming her life.
In the early Spring of 2018 we came across the work of Dr Douglas Wine and his Lyme Laser Centres of New England. Base in North Andover, Massachusetts, the clinic offers a comprehensive treatment plan centred on eradicating the lyme spirochete, its protective biofilm, and related candida in the body. The process is minimally invasive, involves no harsh antibiotics, as well as the latest in cold laser therapy, and focused detoxification. More importantly, it has a proven track record. In May of 2018, Michelle began treatment which included a complete overhaul of her diet along with the treatments which needed to be conducted twice weekly in North Andover. Our family relocated to the area to enable Michelle to undergo the treatments and as of this writing we are optimistic, but cautiously so, as she is really feeling better – the best she has since the symptoms started over a decade ago. The caution comes as we have been here before with previous failed attempts. Our fingers remain crossed.
The optimism is also tempered by the financial cost. Treatments in US dollars, Michelle’s lost income, and the costs of relocation to the US for the summer have piled up and consumed, starting with our savings, mortgage, and now our credit. Any help would be a huge help.
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