HOW IT ALL BEGAN:
As far back as I can remember (from at least five years old) I experienced severe muscle cramps, migraines, weird skin rashes, low energy, brain fog, anxiety, and insomnia.
When I was 13, I began competitive cheerleading. During this time, my mom began to notice that I wasn't able to keep up with the other girls on the team. I would have severe abdominal cramping during practice and was always extremely fatigued. During competition weekends, I would do my best to find a quiet corner to curl up with a pillow and heating pad, trying to save my energy for practice and the actual competition. It was at this point that my mom realized there must be something really wrong. So we began the search for an answer.
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS:
We started with my general practitioner who thought I was depressed (looking back, I definitely was!), so he prescribed me anti-depressants. For the abdominal pain and muscle cramps I was prescribed Hydrocodone and told to take up to four per day as needed. They were almost always needed.
The search continued on for another three years. Many doctor visits, scans, and blood draws later, I was given a number of different misdiagnoses; everything from lupus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and MS to fibromyalgia, IBS, and I was making it up for attention. The diagnosis was dependent on which specialist I was seeing. I can't even count the number of times I was asked if I needed a referral to see a psychiatrist. Our health insurance company even labeled my mother as Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome (MBPS), which is a rare form of child abuse that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a primary caretaker. No one had anything close to a solution.
TRYING ANOTHER ROUTE:
After over three years of going the conventional medicine route with no results, a family friend recommended I try seeking help from an alternative medicine practitioner. I went to an acupuncturist who used an energetic therapy to come to the diagnosis of Lyme disease. I then had two different blood tests done and only one showed up positive. I took the tests to a number of different MD's (Western Medical Doctors) and some said that since I wasn't positive on both, I didn't have it. Anyone familiar with Lyme knows that the tests are pretty unreliable and there are a large number of false negatives. Some said that as I had lived in the Pacific Northwest until the age of 12, I could not possibly have contracted Lyme there, as it is mostly an East Coast disease. The reality is that Lyme disease is a major problem all around the globe. It's also been proposed that Lyme is not just contracted via ticks, but all blood-sucking arthropods, including mosquitoes and fleas. Animals like cats and dogs can also get Lyme disease.
There was one MD who actually believed I had Lyme. He said that the only treatment he could do was a 21-day course of antibiotics, but that he thought my immune system was so weak already that the treatment would do more harm than good. The doctor told me that I should go enjoy my life while I could because there's no telling what would happen. You see, Lyme affects everybody differently. I could be wheelchair bound in 10 years, or maybe I wouldn't progress any further.
There was no way of telling.
I went back to the acupuncturist, and began herbal and energetic therapies. When the bacterium that causes Lyme (Borrelia burgdorferi) begin to die off, they release their bio toxins into the bloodstream causing what's called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction (aka "herxing"). This causes an increase in symptoms; basically you get a lot worse before you get better. At 16 years old, I was so sick that I missed too many days of school and had to withdraw from high school (I did end up getting my GED). After three months of consistently feeling like I wanted to die, I stopped the treatments. I decided to take the doctor's advice and do what I wanted to do with my life. At this point I'd been taking anti-depressants and prescription pain-killers for four years. Eventually, I built a tolerance to the pain-killers and they stopped working. I began looking for something more and ended up getting into things that no one, let alone a 16 year old, should ever be involved with...
DOING THE BEST I COULD:
Thankfully, within a year I grew out of that stage. Not wanting to be labeled a "high school drop-out" for the rest of my life, I began college a year earlier than my peers. I quickly realized that my love of science and my history of illness put me in a unique position and I began working towards going to first veterinary, then medical school. For the next 4.5 years I spent almost every ounce of energy I had on studying.
At 19, at the suggestion of my mother, I attended a detox retreat where I learned about the importance of clean eating and the ability to use food and herbs as medicine. After the 12-day retreat, I lived a raw food lifestyle for four months where I was juicing daily and began drinking veggie shakes each morning. I felt a huge increase in energy and saw some of my symptoms, like migraines and anxiety, begin to reduce.
THE BIG SCARE THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING:
A year and a half later, in January 2011, I began having severe lower back pain. Thinking it was just another kidney infection, I went to the urgent care clinic where they ran some tests. They weren't able to find any infection, but they did find quite a large amount of blood and protein in my urine. They wrote me a referral to see an urologist, a prescription for pain-killers, and sent me on my way. Three days later, nothing had changed so I went back. They ran another urinalysis and when the doctor came in the room, she told me the protein levels had gone up 300% in three days. I asked her what this meant and she told me that this could be the first signs of kidney failure and if this was true I may have to go on dialysis. I asked her what to do and she told me to go see my Lyme specialist.
There was one problem; I didn't have a Lyme specialist.
TAKING CONTROL OF MY OWN DESTINY:
This was when I realized I really needed to begin focusing on getting healthy. I made the decision that I was not going to be sick my whole life; that I was going to be cured.
I withdrew from the University of Florida and began doing massive amounts of research about nutrition and other forms of natural healing. I started working with another acupuncturist where I learned a lot about Traditional Chinese Medicine and the way energy works in the human body. I also began practicing yoga and meditating which, I believe have been huge influences on my path to healing. I knew that I wanted to use my experience to help others, so I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a holistic health coach so I could guide others to health and wellness. Click here to learn more about my training.
STEPPING OUT TO EXPLORE THE WORLD:
In May 2012, I went to Europe to volunteer at a personal development seminar which I first attended when I was 15. At the seminar I met two other volunteers who changed my life forever:
The first was an Indian monk who was living in Portugal, named Ganesh, who invited me to Sintra, Portugal to attend a yoga teacher training course that his organization was holding. The second person was a man, Dominic, who I now consider to be one of my angels. I decided to take a huge leap of faith and booked a one-way ticket to Portugal to see what I would find there. In the meantime, I had a week before the yoga training course began, so I went to Amsterdam to hang out with Dominic. We had a great time together, with a lot of positive energy between us. Dominic was also really passionate about health, and after learning of my having Lyme disease he did a ton of research on healing it naturally. While I was in Portugal for five weeks, I learned a lot about the mind-body connection and yoga philosophy. During this time, Dominic invited me back up to Amsterdam to help me continue my healing.
I traveled to Spain and Italy before making my way up to Amsterdam. I've been traveling since I was a young child, and have always loved the feeling of freedom that travel gives me. I love having new experiences, collecting memories, and seeing life from a different perspective; all of which travel fulfills in me. It was during this time that I realized I need to somehow create my coaching business in a way that would allow me the freedom to travel and gather knowledge from all around the world.
After being in Amsterdam for two weeks, I was synchronistically guided to the leading Lyme specialist in the Netherlands, as well as a whole group of amazing healers who have helped me to naturally clear a large portion of Lyme and it's co-infections from my body. We've done this using a combination of nutrition, detoxing, bioenergetic therapies (bioresonance, medical biomagnetism, and reiki), yoga and meditation, chiropractic, and physical therapy. I also did a 6-month intensive herbal protocol specifically targeting the Lyme bacteria. Remember the Herxhemier reaction from the bacteria die off I told you about? Well, I experienced this again, only this time I had a tool box of detoxing techniques to reduce the length and severity of the symptoms.
While tests showed I was healing quickly using this combination of techniques, I was still experiencing a number of symptoms (fatigue and muscle cramps are the worst). My intuition was telling me that a lot of what I was experiencing was psycho-somatic, meaning I was still holding on to unconscious junk from my past that was resulting in blocked energy in my body which is responding via pain and fatigue.
In one word, I can describe what spirituality means to me: Love. Love for my whole self, other people, and the world around me; including all plants, animals, and the planet we live on. I do this through recognizing that we are all connected and everything we do, say, and think is creating the reality that we experience. Through living from a place of love, we begin to release fear and worry for the future, pain from the past, and judgment toward ourselves and others. I believe true spirituality is having the freedom to find this place within yourself; using whatever path you choose. We are all on our own journey; we're all taking a different route. It doesn't matter the road you take, so long as you're creating a space of peace and love for yourself the world.
When I began to consciously choose to live from this place more often, I began to be guided to the next steps that would help me on my journey, and I really began to heal holistically; mind, body, and spirit. When I was feeling lost or confused of what to do next, I'd release the need for certainty and control, then meditate on "Which choice will lead me closer to my purpose?" Every time, without fail, I've been led to a person or situation that was able to help me through my current challenge.
RECONNECTING WITH NATURE:
In August 2013 I followed my intuition which led me to the Amazon rainforest in Peru to work with the traditional healers and their sacred visionary plant medicine known as Ayahuasca. Upon arriving, I had planned to spend only one month at the retreat center called the Temple of the Way of Light, and ended up doing a work-exchange for almost another 5 months. During this time I did an enormous amount of deep healing work with Ayahuasca and other plant teachers. To hear more about my experiences, visit my YouTube channel here.
THE NEXT STEP- SHARING MY STORY:
For years, people have been telling me that I need to share my story. I resisted this for the longest time, wanting to focus on healing and moving forward. I spent a lot of energy the last 5 years creating an image of myself to the outside world that everything is fine. Some of my closest friends know I've had Lyme, but have no idea the extent of which it has impacted my life. I recently came to the realization that no matter how much I try to ignore it, Lyme has played a HUGE role in my life. I can pretend all I want that it hasn't, that I'm 'normal' and do what I can to forget my past and ignore my present. However, this isn't serving me or anyone else who could benefit from hearing my story.
So I decided to start a blog to share my story, my experience, and my knowledge with those who are seeking it.
If I had to choose one thing that has been the biggest influence in my healing, it would be my strong spiritual beliefs and from that, the meanings I have given to the circumstances I have experienced throughout my life. I've chosen to look at this dis-ease as a blessing since I have been given the opportunity to experience true healing from the inside out. This is something many people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and years studying, and even then they only know it intellectually but not experientially.
This is my reality; I've lived it, within my heart, my mind, and in every fiber of my being. While Lyme is not the definition of who I am, it has certainly defined a very clear path for my life – to heal myself and to help others do the same.
Check back soon for more updates on my journey!