Saturday, November 12, 2011

Struggling With Lyme, Pursuing Acceptance And Trusting God With The Rest

The struggles of living with Lyme disease are myriad, absurd, and often unexpected, just as they are with many chronic debilitating illnesses. This past week, I was reminded of this fact yet again.

Out in a store with my Mom when suddenly, I feel the familiar sensation of vestibular dysfunction arising. Subtle at first. Slightly woozy, dizzy. I'm sitting down in my wheelchair, mind you. I feel it in my eyes. There's pressure in and behind my ears and at the base of my head. I feel my neck begin to ache and tighten up. I can't believe this is happening. Rolling around in and out of isles, maneuvering people and small spaces, only makes it worse. So does too much input. Fatigue begins to wash over me. Mom takes one look at me and knows; t's familiar to her because she's seen it so often. 

We're both surprised and disappointed and we leave as soon as we can.

I'm thinking a lot of things.

Vestibular stuff. I haven't felt this in a while. Why is it happening now?

Ginger. I have no ginger with me. Shoot.

Whole Foods is just across the street. We'll go over there and get some.

By the time we get to the car, I'm running a fever and feeling more tired and woozy, a little nauseous. I'm feeling drained. I have no stamina.

What's happened? I used to be able to tolerate a couple of stops before anything like this. And I haven't had vertigo in quite some time. I feel like I've taken two steps backward.

And then it hits me.

I remember just how bad I have felt this year. How, since spring, I have not been out except to go to doctor's appointments, and many times, I've had to drag myself to those. How the Lyme treatment has been so taxing; how CMV and EBV levels got really high again this past summer, and we had to direct our focus on that too; how my spleen and liver have been so congested and dysfunctional; how tender and swollen they've been; how I've had visceral adjustments, and the last one wiped me out for two weeks.

I think I know why this happened. It happened because I've been more debilitated this year (no wonder I have such low stamina). It happened because I've been physically unable to hardly get out. It happened because I have had some better days at home since breaking from the Lyme treatment this fall, but I mistakenly thought that could translate into a better day out shopping in a store.

After many years of living with chronic illness, I know better. Having better days at home and better days out are two totally different things. I know that. I've lived that. But for some strange reason, it didn't dawn on me that I couldn't handle a store or two like usual, even though this was only my second time being out in one since early spring. And there it is. I was expecting the usual. But these are not usual times. And I have had an unusual year of feeling unusually bad.

As difficult as the past 17 years have been, this year has been uniquely complicated and challenging. I began a full Lyme treatment protocol in September 2010. Since then, between treating Chronic Lyme and multiple co-infections (Ehrlichia, Babesia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Mycoplasma, Epstein-Barr, and Cytomegalovirus), it's been a rough ride, to say the least. There are no words to fully articulate the depth of it all. If you've not been here, you can't possibly know. That's all I can say. It's as simple as that.

Ironically, I had planned to post something quite different today, a post I worked on a few days ago describing the mild, quiet, beautiful days I'd been having at home the week before last. I will still post that but what happened this past week is ever a reminder to me that there are some things we absolutely cannot do for ourselves. Only God can change certain things.

My Mom did run into Whole Foods and grabbed me a bottle of ginger. It always helps, and that day was no different. About 30 minutes after taking 1,000 mg of ginger root, I started feeling some better. Better enough to briefly stop at a store I love and then have lunch at a place I love (you learn to go on and enjoy some part of your day if you can). By then, though, I was totally spent.

One of the ongoing challenges in all this is acceptance; acceptance of what my body can and cannot do at any given moment, on any given day. On the ride home, I felt like I'd had a setback. I have felt this way many times over the years, and it still doesn't feel good. However, I've also learned it's not productive nor healthy to feel frustrated with my body for what it truly cannot do.

Instead, I must practice the love, self-care, and acceptance that I need. I know my body is working hard to repair, restore, and balance to heal. I know I help aid this process through eating good, whole nutrition, proper rest, treatment, therapies, prayer, etc. 

Being critical or harsh with my body accomplishes nothing. I remind myself to be as gentle and caring with me as I am with my Lyme and other chronically ill friends.

So I went to bed when I got home that day - I needed rest. I needed quiet. I needed hot tea. And I needed the total acceptance of where I am. That doesn't mean it will always be this way. It means I accept what I cannot change at this moment and trust God with the rest.

Michelle Holderman 
Copyright © 2011 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Go. One. More.

My door is open as I write (10:11 AM). It's a rather fallish like day here in my old Kentucky home. Low humidity and a cool gentle breeze blowing. I even had my tea on the deck this morning. Nice way to start a Saturday. It's been such a hot, oppressive summer so this is a very welcome change.

What has not been so nice is how badly I've felt these past three weeks. Bad. Very bad. I'm not feeling all that great even now yet I'm feeling a tad better than I have been. I'm not even sure why I'm writing except to give family and friends an update and perhaps simply to share what I'm going through.

In addition to my Lyme protocol, I've been on a homeopathic series therapy to treat CMV (Cytomegalovirus) that has reared it's ugly head once again. Think mono. CMV is a cousin to EBV or Epstein-Barr Virus, the most common cause of mononucleosis. CMV and EBV, like Lyme, also get into the nervous system as well other organs. All of this together equals a burdened and overtaxed body that needs a break. Part of the problem is that we've revved up my immune system too much. I'm having an overactive immune response and my muscles, joints and lymph nodes have been paying the price. Clearly, we've had to back off a bit. It's a rather delicate balance. And it's such a complicated and crazy process. Unless you've experienced it up close and personal; you wouldn't believe it all if I told you.

I saw my doctor earlier this week. Correction - I dragged myself to my doctor earlier this week. It was pretty evident I was feeling awful and so we discussed everything that's been happening and made adjustments to my protocol. Yet my body wants to finish out this round of CMV treatment. I'll be done with it in the upcoming week. Still onward ho with the Lyme treatment.

As unwell as I generally feel, there are these times when everything - fatigue, fever, pain, inflammation, and all the other stuff - exacerbates or elevates to the worst level. Ask anyone with Lyme or any chronic illness for that matter and they'll say the same.

As my friend Kathy blogs, this illness has altered everything and requires everything to be altered. What's altered for me lately is the drive to keep pressing in. It's really hard to do when you physically feel so bad and have pressed and persevered for so many years. Yet somehow, someway (Godway) I will press on. I always do. Even when I'm crawling.

Note to self: Don't stop now. Go. One. More.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: My Summer Health Update

I think Clint Eastwood would be fond of my title. *Smiling* Or perhaps I should have entitled it, "Go ahead, you punk, Lyme; make my day."  *Eyes squinting*

Nevertheless, here's the lowdown. I am into my eleventh month on the chronic Lyme protocol, and things are definitely in motion. And it is a combination of good, bad, and ugly parts, so the title is quite fitting. Indeed, this process is akin to peeling an onion. The more layers we peel back, the more we find to deal with. And so it's been through the years. It is an incredibly complex process. 

I have been in this for so long, I've learned how to cope, adjust and pace myself and my expectations. That isn't to say I'm not hopeful. I am very much and especially because of my faith. It's walking through this process of healing after being sick and debilitated for so many years that's so challenging. Believe me when I say you cannot understand unless you've been here. I sincerely pray you never are.

Right now, viral co-infections are surfacing again. I say again because I've dealt with many of these for years, not knowing that chronic Lyme disease was underlying all the while (Lyme actually suppresses immune function and opens the door to other infections). Seems this all came in reverse order for me. Regardless, Borrelia (Lyme bacteria), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr (EBV), and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (A tick-borne bacteria and Lyme co-infection) are the most problematic for me at this point and in that order. 

I believe old viral infections resurfacing is a sign that the Lyme treatment is working very profoundly. This physically translates into me not feeling well on many days, and some days are just downright bad, but at least it's for the sake of healing. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to my body for forever working so hard.

As for the viruses, we're treating them homeopathically, which is one core part of my treatment protocol. Homeopathic Medicine is potent, safe, and very effective. I've found it's the best way to go for me. I say this after spending several years on multiple prescription drugs with little to no improvement or change except for a hefty dose of side effects. Wait. Was that sarcasm coming out of me? I am clearly detoxing, but it's true.

Despite what some might say, healing from long-term Lyme disease and co-infections is not easy, and it certainly doesn't happen overnight. There really are no words to convey how sick I've been throughout all these years and how it has impacted every facet of my life. Or how trying the many long days, weeks, months, and years have been. I have often felt Jobesque.

Yet, God has been doing something during all this time, something within me. He still is. Training time in the wilderness on the backside of the mountain, I guess you could say. Maybe you're there too. And even though this road is long and challenging, even though I long for better days, I have many things to be thankful for, even though I don't always understand. It's bittersweet but true nonetheless. 

So I remain in the throes of healing and recovery. There is some improvement overall, albeit slowly. I've had a few better days scattered here and there, but none like I did back in the Spring when I had ten straight days that I felt better than I have in a very long time. 

I'm just now writing about this because, in all honesty, I wanted to keep it and savor it for myself. Then I realized I needed to share it to perhaps encourage others working to be well too. And to say that I believe this speaks of the fact that a transformation of healing is taking place in my body. Still, this is a much harder place to be than I can fully articulate. It's a fight - a fight to live and reclaim my life.  But isn't this the place where extraordinary transformations take place? Isn't this where tragedy is turned into triumph? Where true heroes emerge?

In ending, let me say I have personally learned true healing encompasses body, soul, and spirit. We cannot be entirely well physically or spiritually if we have unresolved emotions or grief. Conversely, whatever happens to us physically certainly flows over and affects us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Therefore, proper physical diagnosis, treatment, and care are necessary to help the whole body heal and recover. And when we aren't spiritually connected to our Creator, we aren't fully living. 

I think Acts 17:28 captures it best, "For in Him we live and move and have our being." 

We are triad beings - body, soul, and spirit - made in the image of our triune God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I believe complete health and wellness come about when we are well on all three of those levels. That's where I'm working.

Michelle Holderman
Copyright © 2011 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Healing Files: Traumeel

This came about out of my own desperate search for relief. After struggling with an increase in severe joint and muscle pain these past couple of months, which has been due to a healing crisis, I found something that helped me and wanted to share it with those of you who also struggle with chronic pain and inflammation. Perhaps it can help offer some relief for you as well. 

Traumeel is a homeopathic medicine that comes in liquid drops, tablets, ointment, and gel. I found the more I used it, the more it helped. The key for me was using the drops and ointment together repeatedly throughout the day. 

I'm not saying this is the end-all, cure-all to physical pain, but my pain subsided after using this combo several times and hitting it hard, so to speak. I also noticed the fevers I so commonly run improved while taking Traumeel. I might add that any degree of improvement matters to me. 

I know different things work for different people, and this is undoubtedly based on my subjective experience. Still, nothing else gave me the much-needed and longed-for relief except this combination of Traumeel drops and cream. I rubbed down the affected area and then took several drops by mouth to keep it in my body systemically. I then repeated this process several times throughout the day. 

If Traumeel never helps me again (which I highly doubt), I will continue to sing its praises and be grateful for this one time that it did bring me tremendous relief!

My doctor told me Traumeel actually reduces cytokine levels. Cytokines are secreted by the immune system and have a great deal to do with the body's inflammatory responses. Clearly, I am on a chronic Lyme treatment protocol that includes several things to help overall with inflammation, but this is one jewel I added in when the pain and inflammation intensified. 

Because Traumeel is a homeopathic medicine, it will not interfere with prescription meds or supplements. I personally like and respond well to homeopathy. Anyhow, I keep Traumeel on hand all the time. It's also great for sports-related injuries or bumps and bruises. 

Google it to find out more or go to

Maybe some of you are already familiar with Traumeel. If you have used it, I'd love to hear from you whether it helped you or not. As I said, this is my personal experience using this combination of drops and ointment together, which I found to be much more effective than only using one or the other. 

You can find it at Whole Foods or most health food stores and nutrition centers. I ordered mine online from because it's cheaper. Whenever I find something that helps me in a significant way, I like to pass it along in hopes of benefitting someone else. Hope that's the case for some of you, friends.

Love and Blessings, 


Michelle Holderman
Copyright © 2011 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Healing Files: Music

What an amazing gift God has given us in music. Not only is it enjoyable, but music can calm, soothe, lighten, encourage, motivate, inspire, and in my opinion, facilitate healing. It is certainly a part of my healing protocol.

Music is a powerful expression and can uniquely do what nothing else can. It's been said that music is what feelings sound like. It has also been said that music speaks when words cannot, and I believe this is true. Music often moves us in emotion and can evoke memories. 

Music can have stress, anxiety, and pain-reducing effects as well. Numerous studies and scholarly articles document the therapeutic and biological effects of music, specifically on our nervous, immune, and endocrine systems. This is particularly interesting to me in working to heal from Lyme disease and subsequent co-infections.

Quantum Physics tells us that healthy cells vibrate in the body at a much higher frequency than unhealthy or toxic cells. I believe the vibrational frequencies within musical notes resonate with and influence the frequency that our cells vibrate at. In other words, it is possible to change the vibrational frequency of our cells through music (as through other modalities as well). This can have a positive effect on us or a negative one. If we listen to music (lyrics included) that is dark, negative, derogatory, or harsh, it can impact us and our cells in that same unhealthy way. Equally, if we listen to music that is soothing, encouraging, uplifting, motivating, or healing, it can impact our cells in this way as well. 

Melinda Bargreen, Music Reporter for the Seattle Times, wrote an interesting article in 2001 entitled, Classical Muisc Lovers May Indeed Have More Brains. In it she states: "Brain research suggests that playing Mozart, that same composer responsible for the much-touted "Mozart Effect," in which performance on certain aspects of IQ tests was improved following exposure to his music" can also have a beneficial effect on epilepsy patients. John Jenkins of the University of London has found that playing "short bursts of Mozart's Sonata K.448" (the D Major Sonata for Two Pianos) decreases epileptic attacks. Other studies suggest that Mozart also has a beneficial effect on coma patients.

Educators have long observed the benefits of early musical training on school performance. Various studies have shown that some areas of the brain are enlarged among those whose "perfect pitch" facility is revealed in that early training.

More recently, the American Academy of Neurology has released the results of a study that found "significant differences" in the gray-matter distribution between professional musicians trained at an early age and nonmusicians. The musicians in the study had more relative gray-matter volume in five regions of the brain and "pronounced differences in the cerebellum bilaterally."

There are many Scriptures in the Bible that reference music. It was used in biblical times to celebrate, exhort, and comfort. 1 Samuel 16:23 says, "And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled King Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better and the tormenting spirit would go away." Music was also frequently used in praise and worship to God during the Jewish Feasts and celebrating marriages and battle victories. So it is today. Music is apart of our everyday lives, i.e. weddings, funerals, holidays, concerts, graduations, birthday parties, church services. And we, too, use music as an expression of our gratitude and worship.

Most likely, we've all experienced some kind of positive effect from music in one form or fashion. I listen to music most everyday unless I'm feeling really bad but even then; I'll often listen to soothing instrumentals or soft classical. My iPod is loaded with playlists to aid me in my Lyme treatment. Some days I need songs that spark motivation; other days I need songs that comfort and speak hope to my heart. Whatever it is, I can attest that music has been very therapeutic for me throughout my life and most certainly now during this treatment protocol. I think it's an excellent adjunct therapy for anyone whose working towards healing and wellness.

Michelle Holderman
Copyright © 2011


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Healing Files: Juicing

I'm now in the ninth month of my Lyme protocol, and I'm finding it difficult to put into words just how deeply this natural treatment is working. Right now, my days are up and down and anywhere in between. But having been so sick every day for several years and now being in this waxing and waning mode is actually somewhat encouraging. Although many days are just plain hard, I believe it reflects that my body is working to heal. It seems this time requires even more perseverance on my part, however. This is definitely a long and winding road, but it is a road ordained by God, and that makes the difference. 

I thought I'd post some photo updates to help share some of the things I'm doing in pursuit of healing and wellness. Today's post is about juicing, and while I've actually juiced for several years, I've become more serious about it since being on the Lyme protocol. Trust me when I say this is a full-time job.

I juice daily right now. And while the combination of vegetables I use varies, organic carrots, celery, beets, kale, and spinach are all a part of my overall regimen.

I initially started juicing freshly grown wheatgrass but soon realized it is very time-consuming and requires large amounts for daily use. Because of its excellent nutritional content, I started adding organic wheatgrass powder to my juice. Although I know nothing can compare to fresh wheatgrass, I find this powder quite good and the next best thing. It's more compatible with my circumstances.

This is the beautiful end product. Juicing each morning positively impacts my health, and adding wheatgrass seems to be a missing ingredient I need. I've noticed a slight but sure improvement in my energy and a more significant improvement in my digestion. I know I am putting whole power-packed nutrition into my body as I drink this daily. 

Good nutrition is a must, especially when healing. Juicing is a vital part of my overall health regimen and combining it with my treatment protocol and other healing therapies is really beneficial. I can see that it will always be an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Investing in a juicer is so worth the money. It's a great way to get in the daily servings of fresh vegetables that we all need.

While juicing is clearly essential, it does require prep time and energy. Chronic profound fatigue has prevented me from doing even the simplest things through the years, and while my energy is slowly improving through this treatment, it's still a process. Some days, I'm totally back at zero. So I cannot do this all on my own, nor can anyone working to heal from chronic Lyme or any other disease. 

My dear mother continues helping me in so many ways, and this is one of them. She invests in buying, preparing, and juicing these vegetables for me, allowing me to regularly have fresh organic juice. On my own, I would not have the energy to do this every day, but she sees to it that it doesn't happen. I am blessed tremendously by her devotion to helping me be well. 

My Mom and Dad have both helped me so much financially through the years. I am beyond thankful for them and their support. There really are no words. The Lord is supplying what I need through my parents, and I pray He blesses them abundantly for all they have sacrificed and done for me.

Michelle Holderman 
Copyright © 2011