Archive for October, 2012


Onward

“Onward: How Starbucks Fought for It’s Life without Losing Its Soul” is a book by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Did you enjoy this read, Borrelia? I certainly did. Mr. Schultz bought Starbucks in 1987 and lead the company through 2000, when he stepped down as CEO after a very successful and profitable reign. In the seven years that followed, Starbucks lost itself. Lost its identity, vision, core philosophy and path. Fixated on profits and growth rather than customers and products. Onward describes this downfall as well as its rise again when Schultz returned as CEO  in 2007  with the task of rebranding Starbucks. Rebranding and helping it finds its soul again.

Redesigned logo used from 2011-present.

Redesigned logo used from 2011-present. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This book spoke to me on so many levels, Borrelia. Especially as a business manager, always striving to improve my leadership skills. And always trying to improve the brand, while preserving the core philosophy. But it also spoke to me as the lyme whisperer. “Onward”. With you, Borrelia, we lymies must always push and fight onward. We must always fight without losing our soul. Having suffered with lyme for almost three years now, I feel I most certainly have rebranded myself. Really rebranded myself. Out of necessity. Sometimes I wonder if I was meant to meet you, Borrelia, for the very fact that it made me grow as a person and take on this rebranding.

Just as Schultz  left Starbucks as CEO, I feel that I had to leave my former self behind. Only when I realized that I would probably never quite be my former self again because of lyme, was I able to step back in and return with a new outlook. A new mission to rebrand myself. Again, in the way Schultz returned to Starbucks.  What follows is a look at how you, Borrelia,  have forced me to rebrand myself. Before, I was a Mom. Manager. Athlete. Who am I, today?

I am an Actress. You cannot see the pain. But make no mistake, it tortures my muscles, my nerves and my body, all of it. I cry when you are not looking. I smile when you are. I can yell “action” and put on a brave face. But when it’s time to “cut” I just might fall to the floor. I did not ask for this pain, Borrelia. But I will ask, I will beg, for someone to take it away. And that won’t be an act.

I am a Firefighter. I must put out fires, all over my body. New symptoms that pop up everywhere. At any time.

I am an Herbalist. Learning more about antimicrobial herbs and treatments than my education as a biochemist and Certified Nutritionist would have every taught me.

I am a Pharmacist. No one should have to know what we lymies must come to know and learn about antibiotics, Borrelia.

I am a Dancer. Because movement moves me. It brings me joy and peace of mind.  I love the feeling of moving my knees and back through the pain, I do. And of having toned and strong muscles. I dance because it’s fun and upbeat and a workout.  I dance despite you and in spite of you, Borrelia,  and that motivates me most of all.

I am an Iron Chef. Time and energy are scarce, but I can make a nutrient dense meal in seconds, I have to. And I ‘ve gotten quite good at making the most of what I have time and energy for as well as what my stomach will tolerate.  And by meal I might sometimes mean a blend of veggies, fruit and protein in the Vitamix. That counts, Borrelia, it does.

I am a Fundraiser. Because no one should suffer. I don’t care what you are suffering from, I am motivated to support you. I understand what it is like to have your health taken away. Your sense of invincibility shattered.. I understand what it is like to be sick. And to have treatments. And I want to help you. If there was a 5K for it, I probably  ran for it and contributed to it 🙂

I am a Coach. Because time with my kids is precious, and it can be so very hard to be present for them when not feeling well. So when I can be, it needs to count. If that means being the batting order coach for a team of fifteen four  and five year olds, so be it. I’m there.

I am a Follower. Faith takes on new meaning when it is challenged. And when you become so desperate, Borrelia, that you beg your god for help. I take comfort in the mediation of church, in the music, in the stories, in the people.  And I appreciate all of it more than I did before. I also feel at times, that god did want me to experience this for a reason. To grow from it, to be humbled and redirected.

I am a Blogger. Lyme has given me the need to express myself. And to connect. And to reach out. And to have a creative outlet. I am so thankful for the opportunity, it has been one of the most rewarding “rebranding” initiatives I have undertaken.

Bust most of all, Borrelia…most of all…I am the CEO of my body. And my life. For all the reasons above. That makes me the CEO, not you.. In fact, not just the C-E-O. But the C-Me-O. I am in charge of me. I have rebranded myself because of you and I am stronger for it. It’s Onward from here, Borrelia. Onward. I will fight for my life, without losing my soul. Even if I feel that I have lost my former self. Onward I go.

 

 

 

 

 

Quirks for the Herx

Some helpful tips from Whisperers on getting through a bad herx reaction–thanks to all of you who contributed, and feel free to keep the tips for each other coming. Originally posted on the lyme whisperer facebook page, I decided to record your suggestions here for safekeeping! Happy, uh, I mean, healthy herxing!

From Becky: I use detox tea to help with detoxing. Its by Yogi. For pain I take Tramadol because it anti-inflammatory and not a narcotic. It is a prescription. Also Gabapentin helps a lot with nerve pain. Epsom salt or just warm baths, heating pads, sitting in the sun, sweating(if you don’t have a PICC or Port) are also many of the things I have used to help with pain and detoxing. Soy frozen yogurt is a comfort food and DARK chocolate is helpful for sugar cravings and yeast control

From Gina:  I would take plain stoneyfield farm yogurt for my tummy. Or green tea for my dizzy spells. I also heard cat’s claw works well, it acts as a natural antibiotic… But I never took it before.

From Emily: Have your LLMD look into glutathione. It was helped me more than i can describe, the first time i used it herxed, but the next day felt better than i have my entire life. Detoxing is essential to feeling better, also check out coffee enemas (gerson therapy), detox teas, epsom salt bathes,dmsa, fresh organic lemon juice in water. Myers cocktails are great too. I get my glutathione from infuserve compounding pharm in Florida. The folks there are amazing and care about you getting better.  It can be taken orally, suppository, Iv (I think there’s is a nasal spray too?). Oral i have been told is least effective due to the molecules size. Glutathione is a naturally occurring amino acid which is made by the liver; those who are immunocompromised do not detox naturally, and dont create it. Around 15$ for a single dose of iv, can come with b12 too.. Everyone I know who has tried it loved it.. Once a week is best, but even once a month will help!! Also a multi-strain 60 billion cfu probiotic is essential (refrigerated), b12, fish oil from a company such as Nordic naturals, who monitor mercury content and other pollutants.  Good luck!!

From Cate: I heard Essiac Tea.

From Kathleen: infra red sauna   (expensive though)  activated charcoal.

From Deb: Prima Una Da Gato worked the best for me.  Its expensive but works.  Any other form of cats claw doesn’t work.

From Dedee: For herx I love Epsom salt/baking soda baths. If it’s really bad, I take a Gabapentin. Best thing ever!!! Puts me right to sleep and I wake up feeling pretty good.

From Tania: New follower 🙂smile … Epsom Salts for me too. Also, Sasparilla was crucial for me, helped curb the herx of my herbal protocol. Any sauna is better than none, infrared and ozone are both great, but going to a standard one at the gym if you have the energy also helps. Drinking TONS of water. And glutathione for sure.

From Pamela: glutathione is great and don’t forget WELCHOL (a cholesterol-binding prescription that binds the lyme neurotoxins out of your body) and my every day favorite (NOT!)…coffee enemas! For reduced glutathione and a very yummy treat, pick up some NanoPro by BioPharma. our mutual doc had me start taking this back in 2008 for other reasons and i still to this day take one scoop in a smoothie, or with a  little bit of milk, making it like a pudding, it has them most delicious vanilla flavor, you’ll never know it’s a “medical food” and it has A TON of protein too. yum.

From Sarah: I have hd some put you down on the ground herxing. I started teasel, samento, ETS essence, astragalus, more water tham I shower with. I was doing great for the first 5 days. Now I am experiencing fatigue, could hardly keep awake at work, waking with bad oh bad cramps in legs at night. I wake every 2 hours to look at the clock???I am getting pain through out body. I do not take any pain meds, as I am allergic to nsaids and tylenol not good for liver in this situation. plenty of good fiber foods and raw veggies and organic fruit. I get soaked with sweat and skin very dry. But hey I am alive and can for the most part put sentences together…well sometimes.

From Julie: taking magnesium daily to relieve muscle cramps and spasms??? I take 1,200-1,500mg daily…it works!!

Way to rally and support each other, Whisperers! Lyme Whisperer says whatever works for a herx–glutathione, dark chocolate, pain relievers, dark chocolate, tea, dark chocolate, baths, dark chocolate, smoothies, dark chocolate, sunshine, dark chocolate–is what you should do!

Awake and Alive

Short and simple tonite. Sometimes, the little things need celebrating. Tonite, just happy about my little boy whisperers progress. Even if we are only about 3 weeks into his treatment. Disappointed, Borrelia? Fabulous, glad to hear it. To think you would try to compromise the sweetness and happiness of my kid. Only to find him rising above you. Atta boy.

Remember our appointment last week with the lyme doctor, Borrelia? During my appointment, she asked me how he was doing. I told her, as you recall, Borrelia–that I really only noticed one change after he started on the antibiotics. And that perhaps it was the kind of change only a mother might be attuned to. Or, admittedly as I told her, maybe it was just coincidence. She asked me to explain. I said…I feel like…he’s come alive. Like something has lifted. Like my mellow, quiet child has become an excitable, more boisterous version of himself. With an energy that well…I have never seen before.

Today, a friend told me his teacher made a similar comment about him at school. That lately, he seemed energetic. Talkative. Animated. It’s a nice feeling, Borrelia, that these comments from his teacher seemed to validate my observations. More reason to celebrate, and allow myself to think that just maybe…just maybe he actually does feel better. Maybe all this time, he’s never realized how unwell he has felt. Because it was normal for him. Until now.

Allow me to illustrate with some examples, Borrelia:

Before Antibiotics: How was school today? Good.

After Antibiotics: How was school today? Oh my god–like NECAPS rock! (Sidebar: NECAPS are the New England standard testing in schools!)

Before Antibiotics: How was hockey? Good. Oh. And I don’t want to go to practice Friday.

After Antibiotics: How was hockey? Um, AWESOME! Can you sign me up for goalie practice Tuesday night?

Before Antibiotics: How’d you sleep? Bad. I woke up at 2 o’clock again.

After Antibiotics: How’d you sleep?  Good, Mummy!….does this mean I can stay up later??

And a trooper he’s been. Antibiotics. Probiotics. Vitamins. Herbs and Mushrooms. Taking them all, no complaints. Embracing all of it and doing great. So, coincidence or not, I’m just going to allow myself to feel positive and confident that he is winning his battle, Borrelia. And for that, I’d like to dedicate this song to him.

I understand he’s only 8, Borrelia. But he LOVES this song. Awake and Alive, by Skillet. And how appropriate. How appropriate that right now, I simply feel that he is awake and alive and just want to savor the moment. So, here’s to boy whisperer:

Note to Self

This week, I posted several “Notes to Self” on my lyme whisperer facebook page. Which prompted me to keep that theme going…

1. Note to Self: Do NOT take your azithro and minocycline then skip breakfast, no matter how late you are running for work. Don’t…do it. Stomach just can’t take it.

2. Note to Self: Not only should you not skip breakfast when taking your azithro and mino, but eat within 5 minutes of taking. Not 10. Five. Furthermore, probably should not consume your grande bold from starbucks too soon after the antibiotics hit the stomach…..haaaa!!! Who am I kidding?? It’s bold or bust, baby.

3. Note to Self: When your antibiotics have a tendency to upset your stomach, overeating creates the same discomfort as undereating. As in you will feel like hurling. Get it right. Just right.

4. Note to Self: Come on, pregnancy and morning sickness prepared you for feeling this way on your antibiotics. You, know. Like having the freakin’ stomach bug for months. And doing everything you need to do despite it!

5. Note to Self: If you want the laundry clean, you might need to actually start the washing machine before heading back up those basement steps. However, understandably, you will check about 5 times over the next 40 minutes to see if you did indeed start it. Cuz you can’t remember. And don’t trust that you did.

6. Note to Self: Your children probably have homework tonite. Stop staring at the dining room wall.

7. Note to Self: Do not use your children’s homework notebooks to brainstorm blog ideas. A) That ruins their homework. B) The teacher might steal your ideas C) The teacher might suggest you get help.

8. Note to Self: For the love of god, please try to get to bed before 11 pm. Its been a long workday and those 5 am wii dance workouts come early.

9. Note to Self: Matter of fact, you need to change up the morning workout routine. The back pain is really cramping your dancing style. Spend more time on the elliptical. And don’t even think about ordering P90X. Or wait a second, maybe that’s what you need to strive for.

9. Note to Self: Disregard number 8. Staying up for John Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central is totally worth it.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10. Note to Self: Be patient with the weird dyslexic tendencies lately.

11. Note to Self: Do yourself a favor. Check your iphone calendar for scheduled events and meetings. What is the point of being neurotic about entering things in if you just ignore the alerts or forget to check what the agenda for the day or weekend is.

12. Note to Self: Start packing for your Vegas work trip now, 26 days early. It will take you that long to get all your sh&t together.

13. Note to Self: And this time, when your vertigo is acting up, instead of trying to “keep up” at the Venetian’s Tao night club, take that as a sign to leave. Do not have concerned coworkers have to escort you back to your room.

14. Note to Self: Don’t start something if you can’t…

15. Note to Self: Boycott the holidays. You just don’t have the energy, patience, or need for more lists, reminders or errands.

16.  Note to Self: Try to focus on one thing at a time. Finding yourself in the middle of a dozen half-complete tasks is really annoying. And I’m pretty sure the kids don’t appreciate half a lunch. Or only having half of a pair of sneakers packed for gym…

17. Note to Self: There are skinny jeans, and then there are “antibiotic skinny” jeans. Don’t get attached to your “antibiotic skinny” jeans. You will be taking your meds for all the wrong reasons.

18. Note to Self: The 1 lb dark chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s should be on the grocery list every week. No exceptions. Stop second guessing yourself. Of course you need it.

19. Note to Self: Order the darn teasel root already. You promised you were going to buy it weeks ago.

English: The Venetian hotel/casino outside vie...

English: The Venetian hotel/casino outside viewed from the right of the balcony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

20. Note to Self: Dont’t be nervous about your doctor’s appointment on Thursday. You are doing fine. You have support. Chin up, be strong, have a good talk and make some good decisions on next steps. You can do this.

21. Note to Self: Consider donating body to science. That’ll show ’em. Proof of what Borrelia does to a body.

22. Note to Self: Don’t donate body to science. That’ll show ’em. Proof of what Borrelia does to a body. You’ll end up in area 51.

23. Note to Self. Do not write notes for your quarterly earnings call with corporate on your hand. Revenue, Gross margin and EBITDA are mostly confidential. Well, not mostly…they are.

23. Note to Self: Write “Ode to Whisperers 200 FaceBook Likes Tribute Poem”. Sometime before 300 likes.

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, in my blog post Lean Mean Lyme Fighting Machine, I discussed the importance of eating whole, fresh, healthy, anti-inflammatory foods. This week, I interivew Kelly Heim, PhD, or pharmacologist extraordinaire. Better yet, Professor Polyphenol, as I like to call him. Professor Polyphenol will help elucidate exactly how those compounds, specifically polyphenols,  found in anti-inflammatory foods such as  fruits and vegetables can strengthen our bodies against lyme or other chronic diseases.

First, an intro to this curious character, Professor Polyphenol. Dr. Heim is a pharmacologist who has just authored a chapter in a new book called “Antioxidant Polymers: Synthesis, Properties, and Applications” (Wiley and Scrivener).  The chapter, entitled “Natural Polyphenol and Flavonoid Polymers”  describes the pharmacology of polyphenols, compounds found in red wine, grape seed, cocoa, berries, pomegranate and pine bark. I asked Dr. Heim for an interview to shed some light on the power of polyphenols….and how we can make Borrelia suffer as a result. He was more than happy to oblige.

English: Chemical structure of raspberry ellag...

English: Chemical structure of raspberry ellagitannin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LW: Professor Polyphenol, tell everyone who you are, besides polyphenol savant. Your education, profession, hobbies, favorite color, pet peeves or pets in general.

PP:   I received my baccalaureate degree in  nutritional biochemistry at UNH, the University of New Hampshire.  By the time I graduated, I was entering the polyphenol world with tremendous enthusiasm, with highly acclaimed review soon to be published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.  I went on to receive my Ph.D. in pharmacology from Dartmouth Medical School in 2009. My favorite color is blue because it makes me envision anthocyanins, which are beautiful blue polyphenol pigments in berries and flowers.   Please do not confuse this with the blue ink in pens.  I have an aversion to blue pens, so I look around my office and kitchen junk drawer regularly to ensure my world is free of them.  Blue ink aside, pet peeves include misplaced apostrophes and unapologetic distribution and sale of weak coffee.   So far, over 30 cats, 40 sheep, 3 parakeets, 3 dogs and 1 lizard have been a part of my life.  My hobbies include sports, art, writing, composing music and hand-crafting fishing lures.  Places where you may run into me include university libraries, karate dojos, Banana Republic, batting cages, trout streams, and the seat of my 2006 Honda 225 cc 4-stroke dirt bike.

LW: Okay then! You’ve recently authored a chapter on polyphenols. Describe to the readers what polyphenols are, so as to avoid any confusion with Polly-O string cheese, which are great for kids lunch boxes by the way.

PP:  A reasonable request. First, let’s take the word apart. Poly  means “more than one.”  So polyphenol means more than one phenol structure. The example of a compound in nature with multiple phenol rings is ellagitannin, a polyphenol from raspberries. So polyphenols have more than one of these phenol structures hooked together.  They can become quite large, with many rings and –OH groups.  This gives them antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity.

Polyphenols are found in most fruits and vegetables, but Polly-O string cheese actually contains no polyphenols.  But if you buy 10 sticks of it, you can arrange them on a table to render the structure of the phenol structure shown above.   If you eat all 10 sticks afterwards, and continue to do this several times each day, you will require more polyphenols in your diet to help offset metabolic syndrome from the accumulating paunch around your midline.

LW: Unbelievable. You are brilliant and sarcastic. No wonder I like you so much. Realistically, not many of us will be picking up a copy of this new textbook…unless we go back to grad school for biochemistry or pharmacology (not gonna happen). Simplify for us.   Pretend you are writing a children’s book on polyphenols–a book we might be more likely to buy. What would the title be?

PP:  Let’s Hold Hands.   A key point in the text book chapter is that the types of polyphenols that are linked together in long, happy chains are the hardest to measure and study, but we know they are extremely relevant to our health.  Ultimately, I would like to see polyphenol intake incoprporated as part of dietary assessment software platforms used in dietetics. As high intake is relevant to longterm wellness.  I would also like to support learning and visibility of polyphenols by mass-producing christmas tree decorations to replace strands of tinsel and lights.  Kids can string together chains of little plastic polyphenols and help put them around the tree.

LW: Polyphenol Christmas tree decorations. I don’t even think oprah would have  expected the interview to take this direction. I like it. Now, why is it important that lymies know about polyphenols and how to have a polyphenol rich diet? I presume the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of polyphenols is key. Or should I say kiwi? Are there even any polyphenols in kiwi?  Do you get the sense that you and I are easily distracted??

PP:  Polyphenols have antimicrobial, antiinflammatory, neuroprotective and prebiotic properties that can benefit Lyme patients.  There are over 8,000 different polyphenols known in the plant kingdom.  They all have different properties and pharmacokinetics.  Some are more effective than others for attenuating inflammation, quenching free radicals, enhancing immune function, killing bad microbes and nurturing good microflora.  Until all of those relationships are defined, it is best to diversify your polyphenol intake.  The critical polyphenols are functionally versatile, and they are found in fruits and berries, certain nuts, the bran of grains, tree barks, certain kinds of beer, and red wine.  Pomegranate contains a very different class known as ellagitannins, which are metabolized by gut bacteria to antiinflammatory compounds called urolithins.  Fruits, green tea and red wine contain immune-modulating polyphenols known as flavonoids, which include quercetin and hesperidin.  Kiwi will boost your intake of flavonoids.  Resveratrol is a stilbene, a type of polyphenol that grape vines synthesize to kill fungus and bacteria in damp vineyards, and it does the same in your gut.  Mix up and/or rotate your fruit and vegetable intake to make sure you are maintaining a diversified consortium of health-promoting compounds.   By doing this, you build your defenses against the trashy spirochete Borrelia.  Yes, we seem to be easily distracted.

LW: You just called Borrelia trashy. I think I love you. Design an ideal menu-for-a-day  of polyphenol consumption, starting with breakfast. Include snacks, beverage and supplements. But please no pine bark. I just got my Invisalign braces off and I am the lymewhisperer, not the pinewhisperer, after all.

PP: Breakfast:  Organic mueslix or whole grain cereal such as rolled oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon, apples and bananas, or mIxed berries.  1 cup green tea or dark coffee, and/or 8 oz orange or grapefruit juice.

Snack:  Several handfuls of almonds, a bar of dark chocolate, and a glass of 100% concord grape juice

Lunch:  Salmon with pepper and lemon with mixed vegetables and a whole grain such as brown rice.  A spinach salad with walnuts, dried cranberries, onions and feta cheese with maple dressing.  A couple of plums.

Snack:   Chocolate, strawberries and a cup of dark coffee

Happy hour:   1 pint Guinness or 2 glasses of Pinot Noir.  If you like the hard stuff, squeeze a flavonoid-rich lime wedge into it.  Fresher limes are better sources of wonderful polyphenols.

Hors d’oevres:  Mixed nuts, red grapes, multi-seeded flatbreads with artisan cheeses

Dinner:  Lean meat of choice, seasoned with some herbs and spices.  Steamed vegetables.  Sweet potatoes.   More wine.

Dessert:  A huge piece of blueberry pie

LW: Sounds like a great plan to me. Seeing as polyphenols have a ring like structure, any chance this ring like structure might serve to cage or corral Borrelia if one consumes a polyphenol rich diet?

PP:    Borrelia is a long, spiral-shaped bacterium known as a spirochete.  The phenolic ring structure is therefore a geometrically suitable guillotine, as shown here:

Borrelia getting choked by a polyphenol

LW: Thank you, this is great. You are artistic, obviously, and like to draw lizards… in addition to Borrelia apparently. Can you draw a lizard snatching up a tick with its long venomous tongue for the lymewhisperer? That would be gratifying.

 PP: Certainly Can. How’s this?:

LW: It’s quite rewarding, actually. Is there anything you’d like to say to Borrelia, while you have the stage?

PP:  I am a native of Pennsylvania, where Borrelia has intersected the lanky legs of several Heim family members.   Dealing with the Eagles-Steelers rivalry is hard enough, let alone the trash-talking spirochete who crashes parties in people’s dermal layers.  She needs to participate in the widespread undoing of her own crimes.  I propose the formulation and manufacturing an organic, polyphenol-fortified, spiral-shaped cereal called Borellios, to give her that purpose.  She can pose on the front of the box in a swank little twirly dress.

LW: WOW. Someone ate their wheaties this morning, Professor Polyphenol. Or was it Borreli-o’s?! Thank you for the interview, the inspiration, the information, and the odd ball humor. We needed all of it! Anyone interested in following Professor Polyphenol, please visit www.drkellyheim.com.