This past February I abruptly left my job as a public school bus driver for a rather affluent town located approximately thirty miles from my home. Several people became infected with COVID-19, one driver died, and I found myself driving around thinking to myself that my life and, more importantly, the lives of my wife and daughter had to be worth more than the modest income that I was earning driving a school bus.

To make matters worse a number of the kids I transported to and from school had gotten sick and had to be quarantined, but, because of privacy laws, I was never notified of the outcomes. The policy that school officials adopted stated that drivers had to be in contact with a student who tested positive for COVID-19 for at least fifteen minutes before they were told to quarantine. It was a policy that made absolutely no sense to me given that a school bus is a perfect container to house an airborne virus, especially one that is known to linger in the air for extended periods of time. And let’s be honest: masks are not airtight and young children don’t really understand their importance and the need to keep them on.

Though the busses were disinfected twice per day, once after the morning runs and again at the end of the day, our only defenses against the virus while on board the busses were the personal protective equipment that the drivers were required to provide for themselves and plenty of ventilation … and by ventilation I mean that we were made to drive with all of the windows down, even during the coldest winter days, which included several single digit mornings.

I found the personal protective equipment to be very expensive but I was happy to purchase the various items that I found for sale because so much was unavailable at the time. Lysol Disinfectant Spray was impossible to find and, so, I did a considerable amount of research and discovered that while Lysol kills COVID-19 within two minutes of contact with the virus, Windex All Surface Cleaner kills the virus within four minutes: and, fortunately for me, there was plenty of the Windex cleaner available for sale on Amazon’s website. I purchased two spray bottles and two one gallon refills of the Windex cleaner, as well as numerous boxes of disposable masks and gloves, several cloth masks, and two airtight goggles, which are commonly worn by forest firefighters. All-in-all, I paid approximately $300.00 for items — items that were meant to protect me as well as my riders. And, because of my concerns for my passengers, I thought that school officials would be willing to reimburse me, at least partially, for the costs, but was wrong. I sent one email to my direct supervisor and another to the human resource manager but neither one of them responded.

When our state and public schools reopened and we returned to work for the 2020–2021 school year, all management personnel and support staff had taken shelter in their respective office buildings, and the bus drivers were no longer allowed into any of the buildings, except to use the restrooms in the transportation office building. Even then, only two drivers, one male and one female, were allowed in the building at any given time. A rolling file cabinet was purchased to house the keys to the busses and vans, along with all of the necessary paperwork, and we (i.e., all of the drivers) were made to wait in line, six feet apart from one another, each morning for the keys to the busses or vans. The cabinet would be wheeled into the building at the end of the day and then back out onto a sidewalk, which led to the back door of the building each school day morning. In an effort to try to keep things dry, a temporary canopy had been erected over the key cabinet but it collapsed under the weight of the first snowfall and, so, it was removed. Consequently, all of the drivers were made to wait for their keys while exposed to all sorts of weather conditions. Thus, tensions were high and many of the drivers felt as though they had been reduced to “second class citizens.”

The secretary to my direct supervisor, a woman whom I will refer to as Francesca, is a rather strong willed person who has a rather free spirit and a bit of a temper. Shortly before the Christmas break I learned that Francesca went out with several coworkers and friends to a local bar for “Karaoke Night.” She contracted COVID-19 and then became very ill; however, before she was formally diagnosed with the disease she returned to work — even though she was feeling extremely ill — and she put everyone in the office at risk, including the manager who, only a little over one year earlier, had undergone open heart surgery. When I heard the news I could not believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t believe that Francesca would be so careless, so foolish and/or so selfish. She didn’t take the “pandemic” seriously and, more importantly, she had absolutely no regard for any of her coworkers or their loved ones.

By now I was at my wits end but I kept telling myself that things would eventually get better; but they didn’t. The final straw for me was laid upon my back when I learned about the passing of a coworker by the name of Rob. Though I didn’t know him well, I took Rob’s death rather hard. He was in his early fifties and he had a nine year old daughter, which is the part that made his passing so much more difficult for me to accept.

The first rumors of Rob’s passing had him dying from a heart attack, and that thought terrified me because I feared that he had contracted COVID-19, which is known to attack the heart muscle and the brain, as well as well as the victim’s lungs. I would learn much later, however, that Rob had actually committed suicide. I would also learn that his wife was hooked on drugs and that she was apparently “hooking up” with other men in order to make money to support her habit. One driver also told me that she was really hard on Rob and that she once told him that she never truly loved him.

A few days after Rob’s passing, Francesca sent out an email to all of the drivers which included suggestions on how to cope with grief and loss. In truth, I was incensed by her email. Our mutual supervisor, Andy (also an alias), on at least four different occasions told me that he considered me to be a “friend” and, to me, Andy was like the little brother I never had. As I read through Francesca’s email I could not help but think that her ignorance surrounding the seriousness of the pandemic — and her absolute selfishness — could have led to a very bad outcome for Andy and his family … and, so, I decided to respond to her email.

In my response I outlined my concerns as well as several of the concerns that fellow drivers had shared with me. In return, Francesca forwarded my email to the human resources manager, Violet (again, an alias), who responded with a rather vague threat.

In her email to me, Violet essentially said that I was to no longer have any communications with Francesca unless it was business related. (Business related? Really? I responded to her email! It’s not as if I asked her to join me at the next Karaoke party.)

Violet ended her email to me with: “This will be addressed by [Andy] separately in the future and closer to the end of the school year, as I don’t believe this is a good time for this to be addressed further.”

Ultimately, I decided to submit my immediate resignation.

Though I desperately tried to find work outside of academia (i.e., outside of driving a school bus), I very quickly discovered that there was not much in the way of good paying jobs for an older worker like me. Thus, I accepted a position as — you guessed it — a school bus driver for a town located closer to my home. Unfortunately, though, I’m now earning half the money that I was earning previously.

I’ve been in my new position for a little over five months and, because of the money issues that my departure from my previous employer created for me and my family, I have, on more than one occasion, found myself questioning whether or not my human frailties got the best parts of my better angels. But, when I consider the fact that my new employer helped me and my wife get vaccinated against COVID-19, and the fact that our daughter, Kathleen, has had absolutely no seizure activity since I left my previous employer, I feel as though I made the right decision.

At first I thought that the reduction in Kathleen’s seizure activity was due to an increase in the dosing of an herbal supplement that Kathleen’s Lyme specialist had prescribed; however, she told me that she stopped taking it because it upset her stomach. I told my wife, Amy, about our conversation and she said: “Harmony has returned to our household.” Essentially, Amy indicated to me that my stress levels played a major role in Kathleen’s seizure activity.

So, what’s the point of this story? Well, first, stress can be as devastating to a person’s health as any disease: and, much like COVID-19, stress can be very contagious. Though I am very concerned about our overall financial situation, I could not be happier with Kathleen’s much improved health. To not have to see her seizing has been a tremendous relief for my heavy heart. For over six years I have carried a very heavy burden around with me wondering whether or not there was anything that I could have done, or anything that I could have done differently, to cure Kathleen or to ensure that she was never infected in the first place. Now, though, I can see that the constant stress which exuded from every part of my being actually played a major role in precluding Kathleen from fully healing. In other words: my stress was “contagious.”

The second point that I would like to make is the importance of getting vaccinated.

I am old enough to remember some of the dreadful diseases (e.g., chicken pox) that ravaged our society when I was younger and how much people of that time welcomed the vaccines. They truly are medical miracles; and for those of you who have concerns about the speed of the development of the vaccines for COVID-19 in particular, you should know that the technology behind mRNA vaccines has been in development since the mid-1980s.

With the help of my new employer, my wife, Amy, and I received the J&J vaccine this past March; and once it was made available for her age group, Kathleen received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine shortly thereafter, in May. The day after she received her second shot, Kathleen experienced a little bit of headache but, by day three, the headache was completely gone. With regard to the J&J vaccine, Amy and I had absolutely no side effects whatsoever. And, from the time that all of us were fully vaccinated, I have slept much more soundly.

Bottom Line: Don’t be afraid to get vaccinated!

If I had gotten sick and then made Amy and/or Kathleen ill, I would have had a very difficult time forgiving myself — especially if the virus took their lives. Personally, I would much prefer to deal with the loss of income rather than the loss of life of a loved one. Money is replaceable — Amy and Kathleen are not!

These are most certainly extraordinary times in which we are living, and I would bet that, like me, there are a large number of people out there who could never in their wildest dreams have ever imagined that we would be living through a hundred year pandemic. Each and every evening when I sit down to watch the news I quickly find myself praying for all of those people who are suffering … and there is certainly no shortage of suffering these days.

For all who come to this website looking for assistance with their own suffering, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones.

 


MERCK MANUAL

Note: No content on this website should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from a doctor or other qualified clinician.

It is suffice to say that the Lyme spirochete is a corkscrew shaped bacteria that bores its way through the body in its search for food. It, in all its nastiness, can be seen here.

It has much in common with syphilis, which can be seen here, and I can’t help but wonder if they are one-in-the-same, with just a bit of a twist (pun intended). Though Penicillin is the preferred drug of choice for treating syphilis, Doxycycline has been shown to be the best alternative for treating early and latent syphilis. Doxycycline is also the first choice doctors turn to when treating Lyme disease.

Named in honor of the scientist credited with discovering the bacteria, Wilhelm “Willy” Burgdorfer, Borrelia burgdorferi “is a bacterial species of the spirochete class of the genus Borrelia.” Basically, it “is a corkscrew shaped bacteria that bores its way through the body in its search for food.”

Borrelial bacteria are parasites that require a host body to harvest all of the substances they need to survive. The majority of the nutrients they require are harvested from collagen-like tissues throughout the body, and the host body provides the conditions they need to survive. And wherever the bacteria are found feeding is where symptoms occur. If they are in the skin then the host (i.e., the victim) will develop issues with the skin. If they make their way to the heart then there will be heart disease. If they find their way into the nervous system or into the brain, neurological symptoms (e.g., seizures) will develop.

And this is where my daughter, Kathleen, comes in. On 12/12/2015 Kathleen experienced her first grand mal seizure. Our local children’s hospital diagnosed the problem as adolescent onset epilepsy, but my wife, Amy, and I later learned otherwise. Sadly, the bacteria had made it past Kathleen’s blood brain barrier — an area of the body meant to protect against circulating toxins or pathogens which can cause brain infections — and then taken-up residence inside her brain.

Once inside the brain the bacteria break-down the myelin sheaths that are, in effect, an insulating layer that forms around nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The sheaths are similar to the insulation that surround household electrical wiring and essentially allow electrical impulses to transmit quickly and efficiently along the nerve cells. Once the sheaths have been damaged the electrical impulses can become erratic and, thus, create that which is similar to an electrical storm inside the brain. When that happens, patients lose control of their bodies, which can result in injuries if the person loses control and falls. In some some cases it can even cause a patient to die from suffocation. And for those operating machinery or who find themselves behind the wheel of a motor vehicle when the seizure occurs, the consequences not only be can devastating for themselves but for others as well.

The video at the beginning of this post is brief but I believe does a good job of reflecting just how undamaged nerve cells work. For those who suffer neurological damage from Lyme disease, as in the case of my daughter, the myelin sheaths around the never cells are broken down by the bacteria for food which then disrupts the electrical impulses.

When Kathleen was first diagnosed with Lyme disease she was initially treated with Doxycycline, but she was later prescribed Minocycline by her Lyme specialist, Dr. Thomas Moorcroft. Dr. Tom was not the first physician to treat Kathleen, which is an important distinction to make given that the Minocycline came later in her treatments. And, as a layman, and an extremely concerned parent, I can’t help but wonder if she had been prescribed Minocycline sooner if she would have been spared the extent of neurological damage that seems to have occurred to her brain.

over the now six-plus years that we have been dealing with these life altering issues — for everyone in our family — I have learned that:

Minocycline is 2 times more lipid soluble than doxycycline, thereby making it a potential alternative for treatment of Lyme neuroborreliosis. [Link]

Essentially, that means that Minocycline may be better at penetrating the blood-brain barrier so that it can kill the nasty bugs. That said, however, as with anything in life, there are other issues to consider:

Although serum levels of doxycycline and minocycline are comparable at any given dose, there are important differences in CSF and/or CNS concentrations. The high lipid solubility of minocycline may cause vestibular side effects in some patients. This side effect limits the administration of minocycline to 100 mg q12h rather than 200 mg q12h. Because of this, doxycycline (400 mg daily) remains the preferred oral antibiotic for treatment of Lyme neuroborreliosis in most patients. For patients for whom treatment fails (those with persistent symptoms and/or active CNS disease), minocycline may be a therapeutic option. [Same Link]

Other studies have pointed to the fact that “Minocycline has also emerged as the most effective tetracycline derivative regarding neuroprotection…” In other words: Not everyone will experience “vestibular side effects” and there are a number of studies which show that patients suffering with brain injuries or diseases “…with with an inflammatory basis, including rosacea, bullous dermatoses, neutrophilic diseases, pyoderma gangrenosum, sarcoidosis, aortic aneurysms, cancer metastasis, periodontitis and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma…” may very well benefit from the use of Minocycline. 

Bottom Line: If you or someone you love is suffering from neurological issues due to Lyme disease, it is worth your time to ask your doctor questions (and lots of them) about Minocycline or other alternatives to Doxycycline.

As I have learned — the hard way — unlike common electrical wiring in a home or automobile, myelin sheaths, or the protective coverings around nerve cells, can not be replaced. Therefore, the best way to protect the brain’s wiring is to mitigate the damage, or to make certain that the damage never occurs in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lyme is everywhere!

The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is not only in ticks in every U.S. state, and most countries throughout the world, it has also been seen in fleas, biting flies, lice, mites and mosquitoes; so, anything that bites or feeds off other living creatures can transmit the disease. 

It can also be transmitted via deer poop or the droppings of any other infected animal. Therefore, if your dog is like mine, one constantly in search of little tidbits whenever outdoors, then special attention during walks or runs or playing fetch is a good idea.

And for those who think bird poop on a car windshield is good luck (Why? I don’t know.), think again. Birds to Lyme are like planes to humans; so, make certain to wear gloves during the cleanup, and be sure to wash your hands after the mess is removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I have learned over time, my daughter, Kathleen, is a bug magnet, and I have waged war on all of the little woodland creatures around our home in an effort to reduce the bug population. Since I am not one to kill anything, however, I have been lucky to find a number of products to make our house a much less appealing place for the critters to reside.

 

 

One product that I have found to work very well, thanks to a former veterinarian who took care of our pets, is EarthKind’s Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent. To me, the product smells like pine trees — a pleasant smell to me but one that mice and chipmunks can’t stand.

 

Another smell they seem to hate is peppermint, and for a number of years I have purchased EarthWise Aromatics 1-lb bag of peppermint leaf and spread it around the foundation of our house and around our cars during colder weather to keep mice away from the warm engines (a favorite place for nesting) when we return home from work or errands. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, none was available on Amazon’s website, but I have provided the link just in case more arrives by the time you read this.

 

 

And, finally, there’s Gel Spice Red Cayenne Pepper with 40,000 Heat Units … and this stuff is HOT, so be careful when spreading it around your property! It’s advisable to wear disposable gloves and, especially, goggles; and to be certain to wash your hands carefully after handling it.

As I have written in previous posts, the best way to avoid becoming ill is to avoid being bitten; and the best ways to avoid being bitten is to use everything available to keep the bugs away from one’s property and from one’s body.

The Jarisch–Herxheimer reaction

 

Two dermatologists, an Australian by the name of Adolf Jarisch and a German by the name of Karl Herxheimer, are credited with the “Jarisch–Herxheimer,” or simply “Herxheimer” or “Herx,” reaction. The reaction was first described by Jarisch in 1895 and Herxheimer in 1902 when the men noticed an increase in symptoms after their patients began treatments for syphilis with either Salvarsan or mercury. Jarisch postulated that the reaction was caused by a toxin that was released from dying spirochetes, eventually finding its way into the bloodstream, which can then become very serious and “may result in irreversible organ damage!”

Unfortunately, my daughter, Kathleen, suffered a Herx reaction after she was diagnosed with Lyme disease and prescribed antibiotics … and it was excruciatingly heartbreaking to watch her suffer! At the time, I realized that the reaction may occur but I did not fully appreciate just how serious it could or would be. In fact, it is actually considered a good sign in the sense that it means the antibiotics are working to kill the bacteria; but if the symptoms become really bad, hospitalization may be required. For us, we were extremely lucky that the outcome for Kathleen was not more serious!

Kathleen survived the ordeal in good shape, but “herxing,” as it is commonly known, can prove to be a deadly serious event. There are a number of websites that tout various treatments for the condition, but the symptoms can vary from everything from common cold symptoms to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It can also result in anaphylaxis, which can be fatal if not properly treated.

The reaction is caused by the creation of inflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-8) which are used by the body to promote healing. Toxins created by the dying bacteria need to be cleared from the body, but when they can’t be cleared fast enough from the blood stream an acid imbalance is created, which then impairs the enzymes needed to maintain a normal pH (balance of acidity to alkalinity). And the severity of the herx reaction will be dependent upon the number of spirochetes that die.  

The faster the body can clear the dead bacteria and the resulting toxin (a detoxifying process commonly known as “detox” to Lyme patients), the sooner the patient will feel better. And plenty of fluids will most certainly play a major role in helping the body rid itself of the toxins.

 

Good herx vs. bad herx

There are essentially two types of Herxheimer reactions: a “good” herx and a “bad” herx. In his book How Can I Get Better?: An Action Plan for Treating Resistant Lyme & Chronic Disease Dr. Richard Horowitz says that in the former patients will have a reduction of symptoms and begin feeling better after the flareup; whereas, in the latter, patients will see no reduction in symptoms and return to their prior baseline after the flareup.

So, a Herxheimer reaction can be either good or bad — or both. Regardless, it is important for patients, parents and caregivers to watch this reaction carefully, and not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention if the case appears to be serious.

Kathleen, thankfully, experienced a relatively brief period of suffering when she began herxing; but, for her — and for me and Mommy — the experience was very scary. It caused her to be very confused and disoriented, and I remember her crawling around on the bed in our master bedroom on all fours like a bewildered animal in a cage. It was so sad to watch, and the event will forever be burned into my memory. Fortunately, however, since that time we have been able to create many much better memories and, hopefully, we will be able to continue doing so.

Note: No content on this website should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from a doctor or other qualified clinician.

The Best Test for Lyme Disease

The two most common serological or blood tests for Lyme disease are the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the  Western blot test. Both tests are considered “indirect” tests, which means that they don’t detect the infecting bacteria or its antigens but rather the antibodies that are produced by an infected person’s body in response to the antigens.

In the case of the Western blot test, antigens are separated by size and then transferred onto a membrane strip which then shows whether or not an antibody reacts to an antigen by turning the strip dark purple. A specific combination of the colored bands is then used to determine a positive test result.

The limitations of the ELISA and Western blot

Unfortunately, Lyme disease is not a one size fits all type of disease. There are multiple species and strains of Lyme and, therefore, tests must be targeted to the various species and strains in order to be able to detect them. If a given test is not capable of detecting a certain species or strain of Lyme then it will produce a false negative result, which can be very dangerous for the patient. In fact, many Lyme Literate Medical Doctors (LLMD) will oftentimes treat patients based on clinical findings (e.g., a rash or types of symptoms) if lab results are returned with a negative result. The feeling is that a course of antibiotics, to see if there are any improvements in symptoms, will not be overly detrimental to the patient.

The IGeneX ImmunoBlot Test

The bottom line is that ELISA and the Western blot tests are not sensitive enough. Fortunately, however, there is a company by the name of IGeneX that has developed a test called the ImmunoBlot test which has proven to be much better at detecting the various species and strains of Lyme.

In one of the company’s own internal studies, a total of 132 patients with a mixture of two species of the bacteria were tested for Lyme disease with both the IGeneX ImmunoBlot test and the traditional Western blot test. Out of the total number of patients, there was a subset of 43 individuals whereby 29 of the of them tested positive with the IGeneX test and only 14 tested positive with the Western blot test. In other words: 29 of the 43 patients tested negative with the Western blot test … and for those 29 people the error could prove to be devastating.

Kathleen’s Lyme doctor, Dr. Thomas Moorcroft, has used the IGeneX ImmunoBlot test to track Kathleen’s progress with her treatments and I could not be more appreciative for the fact that an organization such as IGeneX exists. Because, for those who have only been able to rely on more traditional tests and treatments, the chances of recovery — or even survival — were more or less based on luck!

What Should You Do?

I need to emphasize the fact that I am not a practicing physician or a Lyme researcher. I’m only the father of a daughter who was afflicted with Lyme disease, Bartonella henselae and Babesiosis who has spent a tremendous amount of time learning all that I can so that I can help my daughter get better.

With that said, if you or a loved one is ill then it’s in the best interest of the sufferer or caregiver to learn all that can be learned about Lyme disease and the tests and treatments available so that informed questions (and lots of them) can be asked when seeking help.

I have seen, first-hand, the deleterious effects that the diseases have on their victims, and the only way to fight back is with lots of knowledge and determination.

Good luck!

tick prevention

The first level of fighting Lyme disease is without question prevention.

tick check

The next most important step in fighting Lyme is to perform a tick check whenever returning from outdoor activities.

tick removal

And finally, proper tick removal is a vitally important step for preventing Lyme or any other tickborne illnesses.

 

As my mom would so often say when I was young: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And with regard to tickborne diseases, there is no better advice. Preventing oneself from contracting all of the diseases transmitted by ticks is so much more effective than having to deal with them once a person is ill.

And speaking of an ounce of prevention, I discussed several ways to avoid being bitten in a previous post, and so I won’t belabor the point here. The important points that I would like to make in this post are the needs for tick checks and how to properly remove ticks if they become embedded in the skin.

Since learning that may daughter, Kathleen, had Lyme disease, one of my biggest regrets is not having made certain that Mommy performed a tick check whenever she returned from summer camp. Finding and removing the tick most certainly would have precluded all of the hardships and heartaches that followed.

For parents and pet owners it is critical that all domesticated creatures (i.e., pets, children and husband’s 🙂 ) be checked for ticks after they have been outdoors. And every inch of any given body should be inspected because ticks can — and do! — go anywhere.

Nymphs, or baby ticks, are especially difficult to locate because they are approximately the size of a poppy seed. It is often useful to use a magnifying glass to differentiate between a tick or a freckle; and where hair or fur is involved, the use of a fine-toothed comb is a must. When checking one’s own body the use of a good mirror will also come in handy.

If a tick is found to be embedded in the skin it then becomes crucial that it be removed quickly and in its entirety. When I was a kid I remember watching a friend’s mom remove a tick from the scalp of his younger brother with a cigarette. She successfully burned the tick as well as the poor kid’s head. Since then, I have learned that killing ticks in such a manner is not only painful to the patient, it does not mean that all of the parts of the tick are properly removed.

Another set of folk remedies for removing ticks is to either try to smother it with petroleum jelly, thus causing it to suffocate, or freeze it off. As the theory goes, with either method, the tick, in an effort to survive, will back out of the skin and drop off. But these methods usually have the opposite effect, whereby the tick will either hold-on tighter or burrow deeper into the skin and, therefore, deposit more of its disease-carrying secretions into the wound, which increases the likelihood of infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the proper way to remove a tick is as follows:

How to remove a tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.

With the exception of one critical point, I agree with the CDC’s recommendations. The one point that I would dispute, however, is with the idea that removed ticks should be disposed. Personally, I believe that the tick should be saved so that it can be tested for microorganisms, especially if the host later becomes ill. Once removed, the tick can be placed in alcohol to ensure that it is killed and then stored in a jar or in a zippered storage bag. Personally, I once saved a tick that I removed from the back of my neck by placing it in cellophane tape and then placing in a plastic snack bag with a zipper.

One point to strongly note is that a tick should never be crushed or squeezed because doing so can force the contents of its stomach (which houses the microorganisms) into the wound, therefore increasing the likelihood of infection.

Finally, once a tick is removed it is critical to properly clean the wound with soap and water and/or rubbing alcohol. One trick offered by Stephen Buhner is to apply Andrographis tincture to the wound. In his book “Healing Lyme,” Mr. Buhner writes: “We have seen very good results in preventing Lyme infection if Andrographis tincture is applied to the tick bite as soon as the tick is removed.”[1]Stephen Harrod Buhner, “Healing Lyme, Natural Healing of Lyme Borreliosis and the Coinfections Chlamydia and Spotted Fever Rickettsioses,” SECOND EDITION (Raven Press, 2015), 189.

With a little luck and a lot of preventative care, no individual will have to worry about treating themselves or a loved ones (including pets) for Lyme disease. However, if it is believed that you or a loved one has been infected then do not hesitate to seek proper medical care.

 

Note: No content on this website should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from a doctor or other qualified clinician.

References

References
1 Stephen Harrod Buhner, “Healing Lyme, Natural Healing of Lyme Borreliosis and the Coinfections Chlamydia and Spotted Fever Rickettsioses,” SECOND EDITION (Raven Press, 2015), 189.

Whenever people have asked me whether or not I am a pessimist or an optimist I have always said that I am a pessimistic optimist. I see the glass as half empty but I hold-out hope that someone will come along and refill it for me.

When I eventually learned just how serious Lyme disease can be I panicked. And during the early days of Kathleen’s seizures I saw myself becoming a bit fatalistic. Luckily, however, I held-out hope that all of the problems could be fixed.

When Amy and I first started dating she was driving an old, beat-up Toyota station wagon. The thing really wasn’t pretty and not in good shape. It wouldn’t pass emissions and Amy had to get an emissions waiver, which our home state offered to people with older vehicles at the time since the emission laws were so new.

I was working as an automobile technician and I determined that all the car really needed to pass emissions was a carburetor overall. I removed and disassembled the carburetor, cleaned it and then rebuilt it with all new components from a carburetor kit that I purchased for all of around ten bucks. And voila! The car passed emissions with flying colors.

Amy considered me to be a magician since another mechanic told her that, since the car was so old and the engine so worn, given its high mileage, it would never pass emissions: and when I got it to pass she told me that she was convinced that I could fix anything. So, when Kathleen became ill, I dove into trying to “fix the problem.” But, unlike the issue with the carburetor on Amy’s old car, this was an entirely different beast.

For anyone who has seen the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil,” or who has been dealing with Lyme disease, you will be able to appreciate the task I had at hand. The problem was daunting, and there were days when I felt that I had much in common with Lorenzo’s dad, Augusto Odone.

In the movie, Odone is portrayed by Nick Nolte who, in my opinion delivered one of the finest performances of his career. Odone’s wife, Michaela, is portrayed by Susan Sarandon, who delivered an equally masterful performance. The movie’s theme centers on the Odone’s son, Lorenzo, who is afflicted with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a disease that results in a build-up of fatty acids that eventually cause damage to the myelin sheaths of nerves.

Myelin sheaths are similar to the insulation that cover electrical wires and, if left untreated, the damage to the sheaths results in seizures, hyperactivity, problems with speaking, listening, and understanding verbal instructions. Essentially, ALD destroys the brain and a person’s ability to function properly — or function at all! If left untreated, cerebral ALD is characterized by progressive demyelination, which leads to a vegetative state and death.

Through their relentless quest to find a cure for their son, the Odones eventually connected with a researcher by the name of Dr. William B. Rizzo who, during his studies, discovered that the addition of oleic acid to cultured cells blocked accumulation of the factors which cause ALD. The Odones wondered if the oil might help their son, but scientists played down their hopes, pointing out that it would take years of work to produce and test the oil. However, the Odones never gave-up hope that the oil could be a possible curative treatment for Lorenzo. Michaela Odone set out to find someone who was willing and able to produce the same oil that Dr. Rizzo used in his cell studies and contacted over 100 firms around the world, ultimately finding an elderly British chemist by the name of Don Suddaby who was willing to take on the challenge.

When the Odones obtained a precious sample of the oil Suddaby produced, which contains two specific long chain fatty acids isolated from rapeseed oil and olive oil, they added it to their son’s diet and found that it normalized the accumulation of the fatty acids that caused Lorenzo’s steady decline. Unfortunately, however, the Odones learned that the oil was very, very slow to reverse their son’s symptoms because of the extent of neurological damage that had occurred. Realizing that their son’s condition would require additional treatments to repair the myelin sheaths, Augusto took on the new challenge of finding ways to heal myelin damage in patients.

Lorenzo was diagnosed with ALD at the age of five, but, by the age of 14, showed signs of improvement from  all of the treatments that he received. Eventually, he regained his sight and his ability to swallow for himself, along with the ability to move his head from side-to-side. He also became able to answer “yes” or “no” questions by blinking.

The movie ends with scenes of ALD patients who were treated with Lorenzo’s Oil earlier in the course of their disease, sparing them the devastating neurological problems from which Lorenzo suffered.

Lorenzo died in 2008 at the age of thirty; and, in recognition of his work, his father, Augusto, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Stirling in Stirling Scotland. In 1989 the Odones founded the “Myelin Project,” which is an organization dedicated to promoting research into ALD and other disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, which destroy myelin sheaths. And until his death on October 24, 2013, at the age of 80, Augusto Odone continued to raise funds for the project.

The story of the Odones is a testament to the power of a parent’s love for their children, and the idea that we should never give-up hope, even when the odds feel as though they are stacked against us. Throughout the now six plus years that I have been working to help my own daughter, Kathleen, I frequently drew off the inspiration provided by the Odone’s unwavering efforts to find treatments for Lorenzo.

The morale to this story is that if you are person who, like me, is not a diehard optimist, you should never give-up hope. We are living during a time of astounding medical advancements; and a time when, thanks to modern technology, each and every one of us has the ability to easily access the research.

Wherever there is a will, there is a way; and we should always allow hope and our love for others to run eternal.

See It At Amazon.com

truly healing lyme

Stephen Buhner is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on naturopathic treatments for Lyme disease and the many coinfections that are transmitted by ticks.

His book, “Healing Lyme…,” provides a section where people afflicted with Lyme disease can go for quick reference to treatments. It also provides detailed information on how the bugs behave and react to the treatments.

In my opinion, this book is a must read for those afflicted with any tickborne illness. I read it twice!


Another one of Stephen’s books that I found to be extremely useful is “Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria” As the title describes, this book provides readers with alternatives to antibiotics.

 

 

In Kathleen’s case I went straight to chapter eight entitled “THE CORE PROTOCOL AND EXTENDED REPERTORY.” This is where I found information for people dealing with severe neuroborreliosis or, in other words, damage to the central nervous system. And it pains me to write those words; but this is where I found my best hopes for treating Kathleen’s neurological issues; namely: seizures.

I held-out hope that Kathleen was still young enough (eleven at the time) for the neurologic damage to her brain to be reversed. And, for the most part, the treatments worked.

With the assistance of Mr. Buhner’s books, my focus was on trying to rebuild the collagen structures in her brain that were damaged by the Lyme spirochetes, and as Buhner puts it:

Most of the damage the body experiences during infection occurs because the bacteria break down collagenous structures for food. The more they are broken down, the more severe the symptoms become. Restoring the body’s collagenous structures helps reverse or decrease many of the organism’s impacts on the body. [1]Stephen Harrod Buhner, “Healing Lyme, Natural Healing of Lyme Borreliosis and the Coinfections Chlamydia and Spotted Fever Rickettsioses,” SECOND EDITION (Raven Press, 2015), 210.

Kathleen had one major seizure a few weeks ago but Amy and I believe that it was due to her neglecting to take her antiseizure medication. Luckily, since then, there have been no additional seizures. She is now sixteen and will turn seventeen in May, and I am unsure as to how much more we can do to reverse the damage that was done since her body has fully matured; but I feel strongly that the herbal supplements helped.

As with most things in life, there are usually multiple solutions for any given problem. And in the case of tick borne illnesses there will always be a place for pharmaceuticals, but the value that herbal supplements provide should never be discounted. And if you want to know which herbal supplements should be used against the various diseases, then Stephen Buhner’s books are most certainly a valuable source of information.

References

References
1 Stephen Harrod Buhner, “Healing Lyme, Natural Healing of Lyme Borreliosis and the Coinfections Chlamydia and Spotted Fever Rickettsioses,” SECOND EDITION (Raven Press, 2015), 210.

the power of the sun

Disclaimer: Nothing in this website should be construed as medical advice. This site is intended, solely, to share my family’s experiences with Lyme disease, with the hope that our experiences, both bad and good, will help others suffering from similar issues discover the resources they need to find relief.

 

In October of 2019, right before the Columbus Day holiday, I became seriously ill, and in looking back I can’t help but wonder if I was not afflicted with COVID-19. I had chills, a fever, fatigue and a cough that would not quit. I then lost my voice for several seeks. And symptoms lingered, seemingly well into the summer months.

While cutting the lawn one summer’s day my left knee became excruciatingly painful. Pain had started weeks before, and I was wearing a knee brace at the time, but whatever happened left me bedbound for several days. Luckily, however, the pain subsided and I regained full use of my leg; but for the longest time I was left to navigate the stairs in our home one step at a time, like a young child.

Recently, while taking a restroom break at one of the elementary schools where I serve as a school bus driver, I had a conversation with one of the maintenance staff, whom I will refer to as Roy, and he told me that he had been afflicted with COVID-19. Roy said that he had been instructed to clean one of the classrooms after it had to be evacuated when school officials learned that one of the children in the class tested positive for COVID-19; and he said that within days he began feeling ill.

The incident occurred right before schools closed for the Christmas break, and Roy told me that he cried when his wife showed him the positive test result on her phone. He further told me that it took him several weeks to become well enough to return to work and that he was still suffering from headaches, joint pain (especially in his knees) and terrible fatigue. Worse yet, Roy is a Type 1 diabetic who requires insulin, and he has a son with a heart condition. Not good! Not good at all!

I shared my experiences with Roy and I told him that my daughter, Kathleen, had also been very ill in February of 2019, and that she suffered a grand mal seizure just after becoming ill. I then shared that which I felt was a miraculous experience with Vitamin D supplements.

I first took Kathleen to a walk-in clinic and then to her pediatrician’s office and, in both cases, I was told that it was probably a viral infection and that it should be treated with palliative care: plenty of fluids and rest (think: idiotic advice for the 21st century). I then took her to her Lyme specialist, Dr. Thomas Moorcroft, who shared with me a study that came out of Canada which discussed the “dramatic” results that vitamin D had on patients suffering from influenza viruses. The 2015 study, entitled “Vitamin D for influenza,” talks about the amazing benefits of treating patients with the “flu” with vitamin D. As the final paragraph states:

A colleague of mine and I have introduced vitamin D at doses that have achieved greater than 100 nmol/L in most of our patients for the past number of years, and we now see very few patients in our clinics with the flu or influenzalike illness. In those patients who do have influenza, we have treated them with the vitamin D hammer, as coined by my colleague. This is a 1-time 50 000 IU dose of vitamin D3 or 10 000 IU 3 times daily for 2 to 3 days. The results are dramatic, with complete resolution of symptoms in 48 to 72 hours. One-time doses of vitamin D at this level have been used safely and have never been shown to be toxic. We urgently need a study of this intervention. The cost of vitamin D is about a penny for 1000 IU, so this treatment costs less than a dollar.

In Kathleen’s case, Dr. Moorcroft prescribed an initial dose of 40,000 IU for the first day with instructions to take an additional 10,000 IU each day until she finished the bottle — and the results were dramatic! Within twenty-four hours Kathleen was feeling much better; and within forty-eight hours there were no remaining symptoms.

Now, many, including my wife, Amy, may believe — as Kathleen’s conventional medical doctors would more than likely say — that “the virus simply ran its course,” but, personally, I’m not in that camp. To me, the results from the vitamin D were remarkable and almost immediate. True, Kathleen’s body mounted its own defenses against the enemy, but I for one firmly believe that the vitamin D supplements were the reinforcements that her body needed to put a quick end to the invasion. To my mind, we were able to harness the true power of the sun through supplements and enable Kathleen to awake to a bright, new day.

 

Cherish Each Moment


A coworker by the name of Robert died, suddenly, on January 21, 2021 from a “heart attack” — or so I was told. No one really knows for sure his cause of death, other than to say that it was a complete shock.

Robert was in his early fifties, and he leaves behind a wife and a young daughter, which is the part that grieves me the most.

Like me, Robert was full-figured guy — which is to simply say that there was more of him to love — and he was truly a loveable man. He adored his daughter; he had many friends; and he was a kind and caring person who liked to make others happy.

 

 

Every year, before schools would close for the Christmas Holiday, Robert would dress-up as Santa and turn the school bus that he drove into Santa’s magic sleigh … and to say that he will be missed by his young passengers is an understatement.

Though, more than likely, I will never really know the true cause of his untimely passing, because of my experiences, and because of all of the research that I have done since my own daughter became ill with Lyme disease, my mind immediately goes to a place where I can not help but wonder if Robert was not infected with a bacteria or a virus (think: COVID-19) that, at some place in his heart, blocked his arteries and stopped his heart. For me, it’s a terrifying thought!

Like so many schools across the nation, the school system for which Robert worked, and where I am still employed, seems to have a David Glasgow Farragut attitude of: ‘Damn the virus, we’re keeping our schools open!’ But, for me, personally, I subscribe to Dr. Leana Wen’s point of view that a “…loss of learning isn’t the same as loss of life,” and that “…we cannot put the burden of society’s failures on the people who work in schools.”

Google “COVID-19” and “heart” and there is no shortage of information regarding the long-term damage that COVID wreaks on the heart muscle. One of my favorites is a Healthline article which can be found here. In the article, the author, Julia Ries, does an excellent job of describing the ill effects that the virus wreaks on the heart. She also provides links that lead to other valuable information, including a link to a three part medical journal series published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which “takes a deeper dive into the impact COVID-19 has on the heart.”

If Robert’s loved ones are still unaware of that which took him from this world, seeking the root cause(s) of his death will more than likely only serve to bring more pain to an already painful situation, but for those of us who knew him, worked with him and loved him, Robert’s premature passing has served to remind us of just how frail life can be — especially for those, like me, with certain, albeit ‘loveable,’ comorbidities.

For those of you who have been afflicted with COVID, or for those of you who know someone who has, or has had, the disease, added attention to heart health is very good advice to take or to be given to others. Further good advice to take or be given is to make certain to cherish each and every moment, because none of us can know for certain when our time here will be over — especially during these very troubling and uncertain times.