Jill's adventure with Lyme Disease began in 2010, some six years before our first consultation, or at least that is what she thought. It first manifested as muscle stiffness, severe indigestion and tremendous fatigue. As with so many cases of Lyme, her condition was not correctly diagnosed initially. Jill was told she had GERD (gastric reflux) and had surgery for that. Perhaps because her sister was diagnosed with Lupus (the autoimmune illness Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE), she too was told that was the problem and was treated for it. Nothing seemed to help.
After being misdiagnosed for a few years, Jill (not her real name, by the way) saw a local naturopath who suggested that what she was suffering from was Lyme Disease. Of course, for some people with Lyme disease, misdiagnoses or lack of a diagnosis at all can go on for decades, so Jill counted herself lucky that it only took a relatively short period of time to understand what she was dealing with.
After making the diagnosis, the naturopath promptly put her on a three-week regimen of antibiotics followed by a regimen of nutritional supplements. This only had modest results. As time passed, her energy really plummeted - 'my adrenals dropped', as she put it - and her memory became severely compromised.
Then she started working with a 'Lyme literate' physician - an MD who recognizes the pervasiveness and severity of chronic Lyme disease, and who has some tools to treat it. Unfortunately, in her case, the physician's main tool was more antibiotics... lots of them. And, in addition, she was given another regimen of nutritional supplements. That too had limited results.
Jill began working with a different naturopath who put her on a protocol of detoxification and nutritional supplementation. Along the way, she had two root canals extracted and her metals fillings replaced with non-toxic composite material. She began to eat an anti-inflammatory diet that eliminated gluten, sugar, alcohol, dairy and most grains.
After all of this, she still wasn't sure she was on the right path. Jill ended up in my office after a coworker who is a longtime patient of mine suggested that the three-hour drive for a consultation might be worth it.
Going over her history during our first appointment, it seemed likely that the first manifestation of Lyme was years before 2010, when she developed a sudden acute inflammation of her knee.
Jill was a tall, strongly built woman who, despite her health issues, still had a strong presence. She was a manager in a large corporate organization and had for most of her life been extremely active and energetic. This was the person she referred to as 'Me': indefatigable, resilient, hard working, efficient, a demanding boss. A self-described jock from her school days, Jill consistently worked out as an adult. Her inability to do so in recent years was one of the most distressing effects of her illness.
But now that person was veiled by her illness. When we met, Jill's most disabling complaint was sciatica - a violent shooting, burning pain that traveled from her left buttocks down the leg. She couldn't walk uphill at all and no longer could wear shoes with any lift. Her buttocks felt bruised all the time.
It was clear that the sciatic pains were secondary to the Lyme because the only treatment that had so far been partially successful was local intramuscular injections of antibiotics. She was receiving the shots on a weekly basis and couldn't imagine going without them, though they only reduced the pain about '40%'.
Along with the sciatica and various other lesser musculoskeletal issues, Jill had become quite temperature sensitive. She generally felt better in hot, dry weather, and worse in the cold and damp, which aggravated the pains, as well.
Jill also struggled with an overwhelming brain fog. She felt unfocused and 'stoned' much of the time. It would be particularly aggravated by any sugar or alcohol consumption. This state was particularly anathema to her productive, multitasking nature. She lamented that, "I go days now without accomplishing anything'.
As a recently divorcee, taking extended time off from work wasn't really an option. Psychologically, it very likely would have been counterproductive as well. Jill derived great fulfillment from work and prided herself in excelling at her work and motivating others.
She had married young, owned her first house by the age of 20 and started working as a cashier. Intent on advancing herself, she was progressively promoted up the ranks ending up in a managerial post. But, as she took on more and more responsibility, 'my husband did less and less. I ended up supporting him. When the kids left home - about ten years ago, I realized he wasn't there financially or emotionally.'
They split up and then fought a long acrimonious divorce. Jill incurred enormous legal fees to fend off his alimony demands. It certainly was no coincidence that this was the same time period during which she developed Lyme.
The choice of a constitutional remedy for Jill was straightforward. Sepia, derived from the ink of a cuttlefish, is a well known remedy predominantly prescribed for women and most typically - but not exclusively - for complaints of the reproductive system. Although Jill had no significant gynecological symptoms, she fit one of its characteristic profiles to a tee: a self-reliant, independent person who places a great deal of emphasis on being productive and efficient both at home and at work, as well as desiring and benefiting from physical exertion.
In addition, amongst the symptoms it is known to cover are:
• Mental dullness, sluggishness and confusion,
• Severe tearing pains in left thigh, along course of sciatic nerve, pain extending to calf of leg and toes.
Within a month of beginning a daily dose of Sepia, Jill began experiencing significant improvement. Her energy had increase and the sciatica was greatly reduced. She still felt reliant on the shots, but could now exercise on the treadmill and do yoga. The mental fog was lessened by about 50%. She also had developed a mild rash on her leg, which is mostly a good sign after a homeopathic remedy - providing the main complaints are improving.
At ten weeks there was further improvement. The energy was better, the sciatica further reduced and the brain fog mostly gone. She was lifting weights and hiking 3 miles daily, but was still hesitant to wean off the shots.
Over the course of the next year, Jill slowly continued to progress. At her most recent appointment, about 16 months after our initial consultation, she reported that the sciatica was nearly absent and that the shots were only once in 3 weeks. Her sleep, which had troubled her for years, was deeper and she woke refreshed and with a lot more energy for her day. Her mental clarity and mood were also very good.
Along the way Jill had also been able to reduced or eliminated other medications that she had been taking for years - thyroid hormone to address her low energy and antidepressants that were prescribed to help deal with her illness.
Given the chronicity and tenacity of Lyme disease, one hesitates to say that Jill is cured, but she has been a dramatic change in her condition and her life. With continued treatment, there is not reason this upward trend cannot continue.
Her case is an excellent example of how an appropriate homeopathic remedy, while not necessarily selected to treat Lyme disease per se or to eliminate the microorganisms that are its cause, can nevertheless stimulate a profound healing reaction that enables the body to re-establish a healthy state of being.