The inner healing workshop I speak of was for Adult Children of Childhood Dysfunction. It was unlike anything I had ever participated in and it focused on how your needs as a child either were or were not met and how that affected/affects your adult relationships. I will write more on the workshop and my experiences with it another time because it is very deserving of its own, lengthy post, but right now, I would rather focus on what is currently happening with me.
For the last week, I have been staying in Palm Harbor and seeing Dr. Sponaugle at Florida Detox and Wellness. I have been diagnosed with late stage Lyme Disease (and other co-infections), toxic mold and biotoxins. My DNA was also tested and I found out that I don't happen to make the antibodies that are necessary to fight off any of these things. This means I am much more susceptible to the Lyme, mold and biotoxins than someone else who does make the antibodies to them. This is true in about 25% of the population.
These new diagnoses explain a lot. Yes, I already have the diagnosis of Primary Sjogren's Disease, but I have always felt that there was something else going on with me. When I first got sick, my research and symptoms pointed more to Lyme than anything else, but when the autoimmune disease showed up, my doctors just stopped looking for other things. Typical of the allopathic medical system. I did insist on a Lyme test at the time of my autoimmune diagnosis but was only given an ELISA and Western Blot by the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, FL. The ELISA was negative and only one band on the Western Blot was positive (band 23). Unless two or more bands test positive, the current guidelines from the CDC consider the Western Blot to be negative for Lyme. I had heard whispers that those two Lyme labs weren't really reliable and often showed false negative results, but I had just been given the new diagnosis of Sjogren's and so the whole Lyme thing got kind of pushed to the back burner. Still, I would occasionally come across an article or a website about chronic Lyme and I would wonder if perhaps, just perhaps, this could be something I was dealing with as well. I even posted about Lyme on my blog this past summer. At least now I don't have to wonder anymore. The diagnosis is real and here I am in Palm Harbor beginning treatment with Dr. Sponaugle.
The way I found Dr. Sponaugle is really worth a mention here. It was a total God thing. The integrative M.D. I had been seeing for the past 4 years in Palm Beach passed away suddenly in October 2011 from an anyrisum. God Bless his soul--Dr. Chapman was a caring, compassionate doctor and helped me is so many ways. I had seen Dr. Lacayo (the new doctor who took over for Dr. Chapman) a couple times and I liked her very much, but still, there was nothing she was telling me about my health that I did not already know. I have to say that it is pretty frustrating when you go to your doctor and know as much or even more than they do. I was used to that with the conventional doctors but I now was experiencing that with the integrative doctors as well.
Right before Christmas, Dr. Lacayo encouraged me to get off the gluten and go completely gluten-free. As you can see from the very beginning of this blog, God had been dealing with me about my diet for quite some time and especially about the gluten. I have had more than one person tell me they knew I had a problem with gluten and to get off of it. Still, having to limit my options by eliminating a whole food group was daunting and depressing. I had to really pray for 6 months for the strength to make this change in my life. When I sat in front of Dr. Lacayo in December 2011 and was yet again hearing that I needed to get off the gluten, I knew that the time was drawing near. I told her that I was cooking for my family for Christmas but that after the holidays, I was definitely going to give it a try. But only a couple days later, I woke up and the strength and determination to quit the gluten-containing foods was there. Christmas brunch was all gluten-free and I was totally cool with the fact that my family may not have liked anything on the table. Of course they did, but being my hyper-vigilant, obsessive self, the fact that I didn't really care whether they were pleased or not was a blessing in and of itself. For once, I was doing me without the guilt of not catering to them. It was one of the best Christmases ever.
I have now been gluten-free for 3 months; although getting off the gluten was not an easy transition physically whatsoever. Even though I knew the gluten was damaging my health, the more often I ate it, the less I reacted to other foods and chemicals. It was as if the gluten blocked the histamine receptors and kept me from at least feeling any allergic reactions. At the same time, it would make me feel terrible in other ways and was causing all kinds of neurological issues and even "brain pain." Oddly enough, I had no noticeable gastrointestinal issues that I could speak of. In any case, once I got off the gluten, my body went into total attack mode. I seemed to be allergic to everything I put into my mouth and I was having terrible histamine and glutamate reactions to all foods, supplements and beverages. Nothing seemed safe and something that didn't bother me one day would flat lay me out the next. It was so frustrating. I was basically relegated to a diet of baked chicken, brown rice and a few veggies. Still, I stayed the course because I just knew in my spirit that this was related to "gluten withdrawal," if you will. I tried taking good quality probiotics (The Ultra Flora brand) and totally broke out in hives and rashes with that. The probiotics also seemed to make my food allergies worse so I had to stop them. I was taking Benadryl around the clock just to be able to eat. What's more, I had actual detox symptoms like the kind you read about when people get off drugs--cold sweats, pain, racing heart, nausea, crawling pain, etc. It was not fun. But now, three months into a gluten-free lifestyle, I have noticed a lot of positive changes. For one, my dizziness has resolved at least 75%. I also do not have the pain in my head anymore, which actually felt like my brain was injured in different places. My skin quit shedding, cracking and peeling and is more soft and supple. My inflammation levels seem to be diminishing based on the pain in my joints. I have been able to add back more foods to my diet, although I still do best with organic, whole foods. I am sure there are other, positive changes as well, but as usual, I have gotten off on a tangent when I was trying to tell you about how I found the current doctor I am seeing....
When I bought the Ultra Flora probiotics right after I went gluten-free, there was a little card in the box by the maker of the probitics, Brenda Watson. On the card, it advertised her book about changing your gut to correct your overall health. She also had a PBS special based on her book. I know a lot about gut health and the importance of it. Being that I have a systemic candida infection, I am always looking for ways to help my gut. And of course, now that I was gluten-free, I was definitely looking to keep learning more about gut health issues. I tried to find out if Brenda's special was going to be playing on PBS any time soon, but it wasn't. So I did the next best thing and went on Youtube. There, I found several abbreviated segments of her show. In one of the segments, she was talking to a doctor out of Palm Harbor who seemed especially knowledgeable about the issues of gut health but also the connection between the gut and the brain. I had been very concerned of late about all the pain I was experiencing in my brain and in my head. The doctor Brenda was speaking to was Dr. Sponaugle. A further Google search of him showed that he had a Wellness Center in Palm Harbor, FL where he was doing all kinds of cutting edge stuff. I took a look at his website and was most impressed. It was as if he had put everything together that I had been learning on my own for the past 4 years. Now, I have seen my share of snake oil salesmen during the course of my illness and can generally spot them from a mile away. Sponaugle didn't strike me as such and he had the science to back things up. He gives a free webinar every Tuesday night and I listened to it 2 weeks in a row. He even lets his listeners ask questions and took lots of time to answer people. I just felt in my spirit like I needed to go see this doctor. It was time. My time.
Dr. Sponaugle's treatment protocol is not cheap. For a month worth of treatment, it is upwards of 10K. Not included in that figure are the costs of the labs, supplements, staying in one of a few of their "approved," mold-free hotels, meals, etc. I didn't care. I felt like this was where God was leading me and I knew that if He wanted me to go, He would make a way. At the very least, I was going to go ahead and get all the Lyme, mold and biotoxin tests, meet with Dr. Sponaugle to get the results and then just confirm or deny some of the things I thought could be going on with me. The consult with him was going to cost $1,000 (not including the costs for the tests) and I figured I could at least swing that, even in my current financial state.
I arranged the date of February 6, 2012 to go up to the clinic, got the tests shipped to me from Sponaugle's office (some I did at home and some I went to Quest for) and just kept praying for God to show me whether this was really His will. I had an extreme peace about going to this doctor and the doors seemed to be opening up for me, but I still didn't have any specific scripture that gave me a definite "yes." Plus, the financial side of things really had me concerned. For the last 6 months, I felt like I was getting considerably worse and my memory was really being affected. Brain fog and focusing on my tasks had become very difficult. As an attorney, malpractice is a very real threat and in order to protect me and my family, I have had to quit taking on clients that have complicated cases. Of course, clients with less complicated cases also means I am receiving less complicated paychecks. But again, I was just trusting in my Lord.
On February 1, just 5 days before I was set to leave for treatment, my husband got word that the congolmerate who had bought out the company he worked for was closing his location and that his job was to be terminated that very week. When he called me with the news, I should have freaked out, but oddly enough, I was extremely calm. His termination meant losing a good portion of our income, retirement, and maybe most importantly, our health insurance. Yeah, I really should have been in schizoid mode, but instead, I had a total peace and just knew that God was going to work everything out for our good. I claimed that all day long and told everyone else that too. About five hours later, my husband called me back to say the company had changed its mind and was not only keeping his location open, they were going to spend hundreds of thousands to renovate the property! Wow, God is good!
Around that same time, I got a call from my mother who said that she got a call from someone who wanted to gift her some money. I would love to tell you all who that person is but I have not yet asked their permission to disclose their name publically and until then, I will just call them "God Knows." "God Knows" did not know about my impending medical treatment but they did know that God had laid it on their heart to give this money to my mother. Overjoyed, my mother called me with the news that not only was there going to be enough money from "God Knows" to pay for my medical treatment, but that there was also going to be enough for her to get treatment as well! My mother has a lot of the same symptoms that I do, although they are not as debilitating, and I have been after her to get some extensive testing done for quite some time now. After the love gift from "God Knows," it seemed like God had just blown the doors wide open for both of us to go and get this testing and treatment, but again, I kept asking for the scripture to make it the perfect "trifecta" of confirmation that I like to have when it comes to any major life or health decision.
Now that my mom was going to seek treatment, it didn't make sense to pack up and go get treatment without her. The lab work takes about two weeks to get back and she needed to have all the tests run so I called to postpone my treatment until February 20th. My patient care coordinator, "Jack," said that there was a young man waiting in the wings for treatment that was really sick and that by me moving back my appointment, this young man could take my spot and get in to see the doctor earlier. I felt like that was good confirmation for waiting another couple weeks.
The next two weeks were a whirlwind. My brother had his baby, I found out my 15 year-old cat needed eye surgery, I was trying to tie up loose ends with my clients and prepare to be gone for over a month and my mom also decided to give up her job and her apartment and move down to West Palm to live with us. Because she is basically only getting Social Security as income, my husband and I asked her if she would like to stay with us for a year. This was a mutually beneficial arrangement because I needed more help around the house due to decreased mobility, and she would not have to spend the extra money on her own place, utilities, etc. She accepted andhad moved in with us within 2 weeks. The next thing you know, we were both leaving for four weeks of treatment with Dr. Sponaugle.
The night before I left, I finally got the scripture I had been asking God for. But instead of getting the definite "move ahead" scripture I wanted, God gave me a more subtle passage of scripture that I realize has caused me to trust Him even more than a plain old "move ahead" scripture would. God's cool like that. The passage I got was from Acts 16:6-10:
Paul’s Vision of the Man of MacedoniaWhat you don't hear a lot about is the obstructionist quality of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit that forbids you from doing something that seems so noble, stops particular endeavors, and that sets us off on a path entirely not of our choosing. Paul found his direction in the Spirit through trial and error. Convinced of the certainty of one path, he trudged forward only to be blocked. Instead of trying to force the issue, he reassessed his mission, went forward again, and then adjusted with the next block.
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Like Paul, I know that God's Word tells us that "A man's heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps." (Pro 16:9) So when I read the passage of scripture about Paul's plans being frustrated, I was confident that the Holy Spirit would block my way if I was not supposed to carry out my plan to go to this clinic. But instead, here I am...writing to you from room 208 in the Holiday Inn Express in Clearwater, FL. And boy, what a time I've had already!
To be continued...