What do you do when you just find out you have Lyme?
It can all be very overwhelming but the first thing you should do is take a deep breath. Chances are you have been having lots of strange health issues for some time now and a part of you is relieved that you have an answer and a diagnosis, but the other part is freaking out and not wanting to believe you really have Lyme. Relax, this is normal.
The good news is you finally have an answer and can start to explore treatment options and get these bugs out of your life. Here is what I recommend for your first steps and letting it all sink in.
1. Take A Deep Breath And Let It All Settle In.
Its a big deal and a lot to take in. It may feel like a death sentence and relief at the same time, or maybe you will be in denial that it can’t be true and its not really happening. These are all valid reactions so give yourself time and space to let it all sink in and feel it. Once it settles in you will be ready to tackle it and do what you need to do to get healthy again. Know that even though there is no known “cure” there are multiple treatments that you can do to try and get rid of it and return to a normal life. The less time you have had Lyme the easier it is to get rid of.
2. Get Educated
Talk to people, do research, read blogs, join Facebook groups. Its going to be important that you know what your options for treatment are. The Facebook groups I think are really valuable because you get to see what works for a large number of people and what is not working. Keep in mind that what works for one person does not necessarily work for someone else, but when something is working for a majority, it seems like a good place to start. Ask questions, talk to people and get all your info. Take your time in this step so you can be confident in your decision. This is not an overnight fix so make sure you feel good about the path you start and that you stick with it for a bit before changing course.
3. Do 23andMe Test Or Have Doc Test For MTHFR
Knowing what kind of methylator you are is CRITICAL in if you will get better or not. If you have not already done 23andme order it now. If you do not do this step you will never get better. This is the most important test you will ever do and this knowledge is so important for all of your health, not just Lyme related health. Check out my Starting Methylation blog post for information on what to do with your 23andMe results to figure out your methylation profile.
4. Decide Which Treatment Resonates With You
Do you want to do natural treatment? Homeopathic? Antibiotics? Its important to pick the treatment approach you want to pursue so you can find an LLMD that will be a good fit for you. Go with your gut instinct and with a treatment that really resonates with you, no matter how “out there” or “unconventional” it is. If you believe it will heal you, your chances of it working are much better. For me antibiotics did not feel right at all so I went with my gut and chose to heal naturally with very experimental treatment options and it is working for me.
5. Find An LLMD or LLND
You must work with a Lyme Literate Doctor. You can find one on ILADS or locally. It is important to work with a doc that understands Lyme and all its affects on the body. It is a multi-systemic disease that needs a specialist. I prefer working with a naturopath LLND but if you chose more conventional treatment such as antibiotics you will want to find an LLMD that specializes in that. I made appts with 3 docs before I picked my main one. I realize that is expensive and not available to everyone but you will be working closely with this person for a long time so make sure you like them and feel comfortable talking about anything to them. It is sort of like an interview process when you first meet your doctor options so pick the one you feel a connection with.
6. Start Working On Methylation
Based on your 23andMe labs you will want to start opening your detox pathways. If you don’t do this step you will never get well. Once you have your results you can fine-tune what your body needs to run optimally. You can do this work on your own with the methylation apps, with your doctor or doing consultations with methylation specialist.
7. Clean Up Your Diet
You will want to clean up your diet to remove all inflammatory foods. The Bulletproof Diet or AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) are the best diets for Lyme. If you don’t want to go that extreme at least cut out gluten, dairy, grains and sugar and start introducing gut healing foods. Try to go as Paleo as possible as it will help you heal faster.
8. Clear Any Non-Lyme Infections After Starting Methylation
You first want to reduce the load on your immune system so that once you start killing Lyme you can just focus on that. This means clear any parasites, bacteria, viruses etc. You can also start killing some Co-Infections at this point. Make sure you have already addressed your methylation and detox pathways before you start killing anything and work with your LLMD to figure out what other pathogens you may have.
9. Treat Lyme
Now you are ready to start treating Lyme. Hopefully by this point your body will be operating a bit smoother and your immune system can focus on killing the Lyme bugs. You will want to make sure your treatment includes a bio-film buster and bug killer to really kill it. Make sure you are familiar with herxing and detox protocols.
Its a long road but you will have good days and bad days. Some days you won’t want to get out of bed, other days you will have energy to do everything you used to do. It's frustrating how quickly it can change, but you will start to adjust to it.
10. Believe In Your Treatment And Stick With It
No matter what approach or treatment you pick, make sure you really believe it is going to get you better. Believe in your herbs, homeopathic drops, antibiotics, whatever it is you pick, believe in it. Also be patient with it. It took many months or years for your body to get this sick, it's not going to get better overnight. You will get worse before you get better so it's important to pick a treatment you believe in and give it a good amount of time (sometimes months) to see if it's going to work. It's when people get discouraged that they don’t see immediate results and jump from treatment to treatment that you never get better because you are trying to do too much. It's ok to layer treatments, but give them a chance to work.
11. Lyme Life
I tried to maintain as much normal-ness as I could and I think that helped keep me going. I tried to shower/get dressed everyday and put on some makeup to feel like I was still normal and human. Don’t get me wrong, there were days I laid in bed for weeks at a time and didn’t care about how I looked then, but it's important on your good days to push through and try to keep going in your life. You are going to get really good at pretending you are fine and what is frustrating about Lyme is that it's an invisible illness and no one really knows how you are feeling inside. Don’t let people judge you. Often times people will say “well you look good” and they have no idea the pain you feel inside. It's important to stay strong. Only you know what you are going through and how it feels and don’t feel like you have to prove that to anyone. Put that energy into healing yourself and coming out of this stronger than ever.