I suppose my natural tendency towards this change would be inevitable. 

From the time I was 17 I suffered from really severe acid reflux. We found out I had a hiatal hernia, wide esophageal junction and a tear in the sphincter that separated my esophagus and stomach. I took all kinds of meds to stop the pain from the symptom.  I had to increase those meds with time, they weren’t enough.

Then I wondered one day … can I stop taking these meds? If I miss a dose it feels like I can win against a dragon in a fire breathing contest.  A point came when I really didn’t want to be on meds anymore. There had to be a way. 

Incidentally, around the same time I decided to change my way of eating. I gradually ate less and less meat until I followed a mostly plant based diet.  I allow for things like fish, eggs, milk, butter, cream and cheese at certain times, but not weekly or daily. Within a month of this change I was able to cut the dose of my meds in half.  Fast forward a few months later and I’m off the meds completely.

It was liberating.

It felt like a huge success; something I suffered with so long is now completely gone and it was all in my control.

One of the reasons I didn’t want to be on these meds was that I always questioned if it could result in long-term B12 deficiency. The short story reason for this is that part of our body’s process to absorb B12 requires stomach acid. If I was taking meds to stop my body from producing so much acid… it seemed like a logical conclusion?

During my third year of University I went to see my gastroenterologist and I asked him about this.  He looked at me at first with a blank look; I could see in his face he wondered where I came to such a conclusion.  I explained it (with more detail) to him and he asked me, “are you a nurse?” and I said “no, but I am studying to become a dietitian”. 

Biology fascinates me. I am amazed what our bodies do on a daily basis – all without us even having to pay attention. All of the biochemical processes and the intricacy of our bodies on a cellular level and how it all works in harmony so we can go about our day to day lives is mind-blowing to me.  This is why I knew I’d end up choosing a different path for myself.

When I became ill and it progressed so fast I felt like western medicine was my only option. I didn’t feel I had time to explore anything alternative, and I felt the state of my body was too complex for what alternatives might be out there.  I still believe I made the right choice for the situation I was in.  I knew I would use antibiotics until we had the upper hand, and then I wanted to transition into a non-pharmaceutical way of continuing my battle and staying as healthy as I could. 

The Path Less TakenLetting go with Lyme Disease

In less than one week our feet will touch down on international soil… and not just south of the border. We’re taking a big leap and all the faith we can muster up and crossing the Atlantic with a final destination of Switzerland.

Crazy?

Yep.

 

I am going to a clinic called Paracelsus.  I expect if your someone also struggling with this disease you’ll want to know how I chose this clinic.  I have to say that I think this clinic chose me, and I know that sounds silly.  In early 2016 I came across someone who had also been a patient with my lyme-doc in the US.  She had mentioned something about some alternative therapies she’d done and how it was really helpful: then she said it was in Switzerland.  I became curious as my husband is Swiss and he has a lot of family there.  I sought her out and asked a few questions, it sounded like a great place and made a huge difference in her health.

Then came google. Paracelsus is 15 minutes away from Stephen’s cousin and 35 minutes away from his grandma. 

Coincidence? Maybe.

Time passed and I’d forgotten about Paracelsus. I was focused on the present and getting through treatment here and now.  I still knew I’d take a different approach one day, but that day hadn’t come.  Fast forward to about a year after learning of Paracelsus my parents were approached by a family friend (who is also from Switzerland but living in the same town as us) and he was upset seeing me being so ill for so long.  He talked about me going to Switzerland and was pretty passionate about it.  Two days later he sent my mom the name of the clinic he was suggesting:

Paracelsus.

Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t believe in coincidence. 

There had been a lot of discussion at this point between Stephen and I as well as with my parents.  If you’ve read the last few posts you’ll know that I’m feeling as though I am approaching a fine line now with treatment. My gut tells me I need to re-evaluate.  As I started to consider Paracelsus it just so happened that Stephen’s parents were heading back to Switzerland for a visit. I asked them to check the clinic out and they did, brining back literature and everything else they could get to help me get the most information to make the best decision I could.  Having all of these friend and family connections in Switzerland also made this choice a lot easier; we have pharmacists, doctors and nurses in our loop. I asked all of them and was told it had an excellent reputation, there were some cautions as well being a less  conventional clinic and that is is a for profit clinic vs. a government run type of facility. 

My goal is to keep this post as short as possible.  I wanted to reveal this big, huge, scary, exciting step we’re taking plus I’ve had so many friends and family as what Paracelsus is all about. Rather than tell everyone separately I’ve promised this post before I go. 

About Paracelsus Clinic

First, check out their website.  It is based in integrated biological medicine, and founded in 1952.  The Medical Director, Dr. T. Rau M.D. has a book called “The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health” and instead of trying to paraphrase the information from this book I am going to list it in bullet points:

  • A healthy body is in balance with itself and with the physical world in which it exists. Illness arises from within when that equilibrium is breached
  • Our cell are in a constant state of flux and illness arises from within the individual when internal conditions weaken and illness overcomes our natural robust way. There is a constant paly between up-building and downgrading on a molecular level, and [their] entire medical program is aimed at regulating the body so that it is in a healthy balance and your immune system is as strong as can be.

Our body is made of cells which are not constant. Cells are constantly renewing themselves: “An organ is a group of dedicated cells, in biological medicine it is believed that a sick organ causing distressing symptoms, can, with proper encouragement, be made over – repopulated with new, healthy cells until it is essentially rebuilt”

Some cells have short lifespans of only three weeks, like our lymph cells. Other cells such as nerves can take two to seven years.  This means I need to be patient with my body and it is a long term commitment to treat it with care and respect as it heals.  With late-stage Lyme Disease the infection made its way to my brain and did quite a bit of damage to my nervous system. I have to accept that it will take a long time for my body to heal from that.

Assessments at Paracelsus

There are a number of diagnostic tools used at Paracelsus. I’m only listing a few of them as these are the ones in the book by Dr. Rau and the only ones I can attempt to explain without giving the wrong impression (this is all new to me too).

Darkfield Microscopy

This is when a live blood sample is analyzed under a microscope. If you’ve ever watched “House”, Dr. House and his team do this often on the TV show. 

Computer Regulation Thermography

A special thermometer measures the skin temperature at 119 points on the body, each corresponding to specific glands, organs or tissue. This is done a few times in a calculated way and our reactive capacity is measured.

Heart Rate Variability

This gives information about the relationship between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, which coordinate things like breathing, heart rate and digestion. 

Other diagnostic tools are used are Hair mineral analysis, infrared thermography as well as traditional blood work.

Some of the Therapies Used at Paracelsus

I won’t go into detail about many of these as it is something that can be found online. Paracelsus uses infusions, ozone therapy, acupuncture, Chinese Meridian Theory, holistic dental treatments (some infections can burry themselves in our gums), hyperthermia, colon cleansing and restoration of intestinal flora, infrared sauna, vitamin and mineral supplements as well as  isopathic, homeopathic and Chinese herbal remedies.

Neural Therapy is used; this stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.  Myoflex therapy, a type of osteopathy is also used.  Psychological counseling is also part of the treatment plans developed at Paracelsus.

During my time at the clinic I hope to make daily summaries and turn these into blog posts. I know it is a curious subject and I also know there is little to be found on a google search of “Lyme Disease Paracelsus” as this clinic isn’t focused on just Lyme Disease. I found it hard to get a lot of information on others’ experience at Paracelsus and what the heck happens when they are there.  I am hoping I can bring some of this information back to you, those who’re searching online for more information if you’re considering this clinic.

The bottom line explanation I have started to use that seems to make the most sense is this:

If you have cancer and undergo chemo and radiation you’re not just killing cancer cells, you kill healthy cells. If you use antibiotics you are killing a bacteria and/or parasites, but you are also killing and damaging healthy cells.

At a certain point the balance tips and you’ve done what you can with killing the bad stuff, but our bodies are still getting attacked the same by the chemo, radiation or antibiotic. For me, I feel like I am teetering on the edge of tipping that balance.  

On December 18 and 19th I will have a two day assessment at Paracelsus, from that assessment a treatment schedule will be made.  I am not going into this blindly, it will be a lengthy conversation between myself and doctors to determine what is not only necessary but also affordable. I mentioned this clinic IS NOT not-for-profit and comes with a price tag of $10,000 to $15,000 per week. After the last two years I’ve come to accept we will be spending all the money we do make and all the money we don’t yet have on getting me back to healthy. Once I am healthy I can finally start to work and earn a living, rather than fight an illness to continue living. Money comes and goes, and one day this will all be over. 

The expected time frame of my treatment at Paracelsus is 2.5 to 3 weeks. I hope to get at least one blog post up in January and other in February. 

 

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