Archive for November, 2013

In The Polar Express: The Bell Still Rings Part I, I describe how this particular journey began.

And now, we begin from where we left off. My train stop. At Boston’s Mass General Hospital.

I stepped foot off the train. Feeling isolated. Alone. Scared. Excited. I wandered into the courtyard that lead to the hospital entrance. I meandered aimlessly through the halls until the kindness of strangers brought me to the conference location. The Lyme and Tick Borne Illness Community Conference, with a waiting list a mile long. I was feeling fortunate to have locked in my spot so early.

There, I was rejoined with a few of my lymie friends. Together, we sat with child-like awe, like the young CGI characters in the movie waiting for something magical to happen at the North Pole. CGI is the art of blending two visual worlds, realism and fantasy. And isn’t that just what it feels like to be in a lyme haze? And isn’t that just what it feels like to be caught up in a political disease? Yes, it feels like being caught in a middle world between realism and…a nightmare. But we are not CGI characters. We are real people. With a real disease.

The making of CGI characters

The making of CGI characters

Dr. Phuli Cohan, the first speaker that morning, knows first hand just how that feels. Dr. Phuli is a pioneering integrative medical doctor. Her medical experiences took her to New Zealand and Australia where she developed her passion for Chinese medicine. Dr. Phuli fuels that passion by combining both western and eastern medicine in her innovative, Massachusetts based practice. Dr. Phuli is no stranger to Lyme and the warped realism fantasy conundrum.

Dr. Phuli’s first message: You can overcome. With perseverance. How does she know? She did. Even after an infectious disease doctor refused to treat her for babesiosis, forcing her to succumb to her illness at the time and to sell her medical practice. Even after getting buried under an avalanche of symptoms and problems: light and noise sensitivity, headaches, tendonitis, memory problems, number confusion, word block and being diagnosed with “brain injury”. She still overcame.

How? As Dr. Phuli put it, she learned more in bed than in med school. And from her bed, her protocol for recovery included seizure meds, picc lines, herbs, and pulsing antibiotics. Dr. Phuli advised that everyone frequently ask themselves the question “Are you still sick?” and if the answer is yes, and your lyme symptoms still persist, change the plan. But always focus on three main areas: Toxins. Metabolism. Infection.

In addition to the toxins generated by herxing, or by taking antibiotics–lyme disease makes your body susceptible to lots of toxins your body was previously or is currently exposed to. Including mold, yeast, viral infections, strep, staph…and anyone else on this type of Naughty List. The build up and inability to clear these toxins affects the whole body, including the brain. Toxins that get into the brain mess with hormones, emotions and heart rhythm. Having toxins is like having coal in your stocking.

Dr. Phuli’s favorite and most effective toxin removal and health restoration suggestions?
1. Antioxidant Support: Melatonin
2. Electrolytes: Matrix Electrolyte Solution
3. Nutritional Detox Support: Vitamin C, NAC, methylB12
4. Cleansing/Heavy Metal Chelation: bentonite clay, apple pectin, chlorella, MicroSilica

Importantly, Dr. Phuli also indicated the importance of being tested for the MTHFR mutation, a genetic mutation of folate metabolism that affects your ability to remove toxins, make neurotransmitters and that can negatively impact your immune systems among a host of many other problems. She also discussed the need to limit or eliminate exposure to psychological toxins. Toxic people. Toxic thoughts. Don’t let your recovery be ruined by any grinches or scrooges.

On the subject of metabolism, Dr. Phuli reminded everyone to support the thyroid and adrenals as these control our metabolic functions and are disrupted by…TOXINS! Regarding infection, treat the infections that may be at play now that your immune system is down. Be checked for viruses, parasites, etc. and address them.

For metabolic and immune function she recommends nutritional repletion with: Magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamin K2, lithium, iodine, vitamin A and vitamin D.. Now THESE would make great stocking stuffers.


The bell. I could hear the jingling of the bell in the distance. The bell that you can only hear when you believe. And over it I heard Dr. Phuli’s concluding words like a softly sung and inspiring little song: “Remove toxins. Replace nutrients. Address genetic mutations. Don’t rush. Be persistent. Take breaks. Antibiotics. Nutrients. Herbs. It will take years. But you CAN do it.” Fa la la la la, la la la la.

And now us CGI character friends looked at each other, satisfied and inspired by the pointers and direction, the encouragement and motivation form Dr. Phuli.

Next, Dr. Richard Horowitz would take the stage…

The view from atop the Polar Express

The view from atop the Polar Express

I awoke on November 9th to a beautiful, sunny, crisp morning. By 6 a.m., I was rushing out the door, bundled up with a jacket and scarf. From New Hampshire, I drove to Alewife station, a subway station a few miles outside of Boston. It was finally here…The Lyme Disease and Tick Borne Illness Community Conference. I had registered weeks earlier and had been awaiting with Christmas-like anticipation. What would speakers including Dr. Horowitz reveal? What would be uncovered? Unwrapped?

I boarded the subway to take me the rest of the way to Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital where the conference was being held. The train was warm and quiet. I was in the company of only 2 or 3 others. The rhythmic chug and grind made me realize a journey had been set in motion. A journey, filled with both excitement and uncertainty. And at the northern most corner of possibility…maybe even hope would be found. I felt like I had stepped aboard…the Polar Express.

For the last few years, it seems as though I had been holding a one way ticket to Destination Chronic Lyme. The bell had stopped ringing at times. Just as it did for the nameless boy in the movie when he had questioned his belief in Santa. When the belief was gone, and the hope was gone, the bell no longer rang. At times, I no longer heard the bell ring either. Hope and belief in magical outcomes were gone.

I almost didn’t take the train that day. It had been an exhausting work week. My son had a hockey game that afternoon. And I would be dining with friends later that night. Could I fit this in? Did I have the energy for it? But something told me I had to. In the movie when the boy hesitates to board the train, the conductor tells him the train is headed North, and that it was “the year to board it”. Something was telling me to board that train, even if it was only my internal conductor–my inner voice. There was something for me at the other end.

Would my trip on this Polar Express be an analogy of life with lyme? Would I be lead on a wild chase atop the train’s roof, with an elusive ticket blowing in the wind? Was it my ticket back to health? Would I meet kind-hearted strangers along the way? Like the hobo camped out on the train’s rooftop that kindly reminds the doubtful boy that “seeing is believing”? Would I narrowly escape slamming into Flattop Tunnel, blind-sided by a lyme set back? Would the train derail and accelerate dangerously out of control, as lyme derails all of us at times, leading to a chaotic and frantic scene as happened at Glacier Gulch? My mind was racing until the chug and grind came to a sudden halt and the conductor announced the stop: Massachusetts General Hospital…

Polar Express Tickets

Polar Express Tickets