Lindsay RileyLindsay- Full of Gratitude

I learned about Lyme disease in Physician Assistant school; a bulls-eye rash, flu-like symptoms, and one month of Doxycycline. It all seemed like a pretty package- a simple diagnosis any practitioner could make. This was all before I personally experienced the wild array of symptoms this disease can cause and decided to dedicate my life’s work to educating people about Lyme and finding effective treatments.

Most of my life has been spent training to be in the medical field. In college, I volunteered in medical clinics that provided free healthcare to patients without insurance and traveled to Africa, where I took vitals for people who had never even seen a doctor before. In PA school, I went to South America for two months and worked in a clinic deep in the Amazon Rainforest. I love to travel and serving rural populations became a passion of mine, so my first job out of school was a travel PA, working with uninsured patients.

I was bitten in May 2016 while camping in the Redwood Forest. My fiancé found the tick on the back of my neck, but occurrence of Lyme in Northern California was “supposedly” low. My contract ended for my current job, so we decided to take a few months off to backpack Europe. When we arrived in Ireland, my jet lag was outrageous. I ended up sleeping for a few days and tried to continue the trip. I took frequent naps during the day and got many infections. Around August, Lyme had reared its ugly head. My joints gave out the day I was tested. I was in so much pain that I was bedridden and couldn’t use my wrists to hold a fork to eat. My migraines were constant, and it took all the energy I had to get into the shower. I couldn’t even hold my hands above my head to wash my hair. Psychological strife weighed on me. I thought I might never be able to function properly again, let alone get married, treat patients, or travel.

It was then that I began seeking alternative medical care. Every immunologist who saw my labs wanted to put me on immunoglobulin therapy, which is temporary and costs thousands per treatment. I found a doctor who tested me for Lyme in addition to many other bugs. He began treating me with IV therapies of different medicines and vitamins, and I began taking an array of supplements. During the six months that I was the sickest, I tried anything and everything.

Detox detox detox. Along with IV therapy, I started doing daily coffee enemas. I went to the infrared sauna to sweat out toxins. I got as much sunlight as possible. I did acupuncture for migraines and joint pain, saw a Chiropractor for joint movement and cervical spine arthritis, did massage for lymph movement and rebounding for lymph drainage. I did biomagnetism for parasites and hormonal imbalance, Infrared light therapy for joint swelling, psychiatric therapy for anxiety, meditation for mind control training, breath work for emotional release. I saw a nutritionist for Candida and the ketogenic diet, did Epsom salt baths for detox and relaxation masks for anytime I left the house due to environmental toxins and heavy metal toxicity and used glasses for migraines. I went from being vegetarian to gluten free to dairy free to sugar free to paleo to a ketogenic diet, eating as low as 16 carbs per day while incorporating intermittent fasting for 18 hours a day.

The process has been a long one. But it seems like each journey of a chronically ill person is unique and enlightening. We all have similar stories, but everyone is so different. It is through LymeLight Foundation that I could continue my journey rather than accept defeat. I found out what works for me and what can heal my body. I attribute most of my healing to Annie Hopper’s Dynamic Neural Retraining System, which targets the limbic system of your brain and retrains it into behaving in a less stress-driven way. This, in turn, trains your hormones, immune system, and other bodily functions to react with less stress, which begins a healing process. This, paired with Dr. Taylor’s recommendations, acupuncture, diet, and some other remedies have begun my healing process. Many people say that you cannot eradicate the Lyme bug, that it is too strong and too invasive. I am twenty-five years old, and I believe that in a few years, my body will heal itself.

I am now able to do some traveling and camping once again. I can take my dog for walks around the neighborhood without having to rush back home. I have begun to work with my doctor one day a week to treat patients with similar illnesses as me. I truly believe that people can overcome Lyme. However, it takes time, money, effort, and support. Through LymeLight and the encouragement from my peers and family, I know that I can recover. My heart is full with gratitude for the love that exists in my life, and with this love, I will help heal others who feel discouraged and need proper care.

Lyme is not easy to diagnose. It causes mental, physical, and financial strains. But I know that with some enlightenment and understanding about the disease, we can make changes to how Lyme is viewed and treated. I do foresee a good prognosis in the future- not just for me, but for everyone who has been effected by this bug. I encourage you to keep moving forward with your head held high because you are not your disease.

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