This blog is dedicated to my personal story and attempt to solve an undiagnosed and mysterious condition I have experienced over the last few years. I would like to welcome you to my nemesis: severe and chronic inflammation in one specific area of the body – the knees. It started with swelling of one knee and then a large effusion on the other knee appeared shortly afterward. There were no major injuries or signs of trauma. It just happened suddenly one day – I heard a loud pop in my left knee while kneeling down in the bathroom while cleaning the floors. Before that incident, I felt perfectly healthy, was extremely fit, working out 6 days a week, eating “healthy” food and getting a decent amount of sleep. Soon, more related autoimmune symptoms began so I sought out many doctors and took many prescription medications including long-term use of Prednisone and other anti-inflammatories, but they all made my condition worse.
Looking back, I feel like my body was constantly getting closer and closer to a breaking point. I thought I was healthy, but I realized after years and years of antibiotics (chronic sinus infections multiple times a year for at least 15 years) my digestive system was most likely deteriorating. While bodybuilding and exercising daily, striving to build lean muscle and lose fat, I ate meals of only chicken breasts, brown rice or whole grain breads and a few vegetables every day, all day. Many months I would eat only these types of foods – up to 6 chicken breasts a day! At the time I knew very little about antibiotic-laden meats and only cared about the fat content. I also didn’t realize the importance of organic or chemical-free fruits and vegetables. In between those high protein, high carb, low fat meals, I drank at least 2 whey protein shakes daily. I did gain muscle and lose fat during those days. At 6’1″, 195lb and less than 10% body fat, I was convinced that was the perfect way to eat. Little did I know, my insides were slowly breaking down, and was developing a leaky gut from the massive quantities of irritating chemicals and refined foods. I felt healthier than ever and yet my body was malnourished. I didn’t eat many whole foods at the time, so to digest all those meals, my body was instead pulling nutrients from my tissues and bones.
So how did I get Lyme? To this day I do not know. I have clear memories of ticks being removed from the back of my neck when I was a little boy, but I’ve never noticed a bullseye rash or any other signs of infection. I grew up in Iowa, visiting Missouri and Wisconisn frequently so there’s a strong possibility I was bitten, but my immune fought off any infections for as long as it could. I strongly believe it was due to long-term use of antibiotics, poor eating habits, excessive stress from work and acute illness that contributed to the perfect storm. Borrelia may have been in my system for months or for years, but regardless, it waited for the right moment to strike. In the winter of 2011, after going down the path of various possible diagnoses such as rheumatoid arthritis, anklosying spondilitis and many others, I started to become even more ill, feeling like I had the flu every day, making it difficult to get out of bed each morning. In addition to my swollen knees, I suffered from night sweats, headaches, stiff neck, tremors and joint pain every day. I lost around 40lbs and felt so weak I could hardly walk up stairs or get up out of a chair. It was during this time I turned to my only hope. God. I prayed and prayed. Then, in an odd set of circumstances many answers fell into place all at once.
With the help of an LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor), I took a Western Blot test and it came back CDC positive for Lyme. The previous year I tested negative with the ELISA test through Mayo Clinic labs. At the time I took the Western Blot I also tested positive for several co-infections such as Bartonella, Chlamydia Pneumonia, Mycoplasma and HHV6. My CD57 was low (at 24), as were testosterone and vitamin D levels. Because I was tired of all the side effects and felt I had a current flare of candidiasis from the Prednisone and other medications, I decided to hold off on treating with long-term antibiotics. To this day I still have not treated my chronic Lyme with antibiotics.
I believe our bodies were designed to heal and so I’ve started an investigation into the cause of my symptoms. After completing a strict 3-month healing protocol (eating nothing but raw vegetable green smoothies and a few berries, bone broths, probiotics, enzymes), I started feeling better and a lot of my symptoms alleviated so that’s when I decided to continue learning about proper nutrition and healing the body with food. I’ve since quit my full time job as a web designer and now freelance part-time while going back to school to get a Masters degree in nutrition. I’m still learning, but some day I hope to help those who suffer from chronic illness, whether it’s related to Lyme or not. Along the way, my goal is to reach out to those who may also have similar chronic health conditions and provide information that I find or clues to an unsolved mysteries.