Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Those who weep lose more energy than they lose during any other act.

--Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

This morning, for the second day in a row, I woke up exhausted. I took my heparin and went right back to sleep, then woke up again to the Poet climbing into my bed and wrapping his big body around me. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep sleeping, but I needed the physical contact more than I even needed sleep, so I didn’t move, even though I wasn’t quite comfortable. We sleep next to each other, but in different beds, since he kicks and I often wake up several times per night with insomnia. So time lying in bed together is precious.

We had been fighting the night before, and this was his way of comforting me.

We fight about lots of things, last night the subject was real estate. I want to buy something and move, and he wants to stay in our rental apartment until the cows call it a day, or, as I have pointed out, until our landlady decides to sell the property and rents are sky high.

“Maybe I am sticking my head in the sand,” he admitted, “but I don’t want to move, I would feel trapped if I went into that much debt right now.”

That’s OK, I know he has good reasons to feel that way. I can make a down payment with the money from selling my house in Mexico, if he will move with me and pay an equivalent of rent then I can make the mortgage payments.

But no, he doesn’t want to move with me either. We are already living together in a rented apartment, but moving to somewhere I own is too frightening for him.

“If we fought there, and you decided you wanted to end things, then I would have to leave because you own the place, so I wouldn’t feel secure.”

I can understand. After three years together, we still have huge arguments about once a month. Neither one wants to fight, but things escalate. Without meaning to, I say things that set him off, and he starts shouting and cursing, and he says he wants to break up.

Or I get frustrated because he won’t listen to me, nothing I say gets through to him, and without meaning to I raise my voice, soon enough I sound hysterical.

Almost every time we argue, he tells me he wants to break up with me. Later he will say he never meant it, but at the time I believe him. We spend an hour or two thinking we have broken up, before he turns to me and tells me passionately that he doesn’t want to lose me, that he only threatened to break up because he is afraid I will break up with him first.

These fights leave me trembling and exhausted, my mind feeling as though an atomic bomb had just gone off and I am now sweeping up the debris.

In fact, one of these fights led me to think about buying real estate in the first place. I thought we were breaking up, and I decided that if I had to move again it made sense to buy something.

Meanwhile, the Poet and I patched things back together and he agreed I could go with him to his therapist so we could work on what makes the fights get so out of hand. His therapist is very good, and wise. He has given us several suggestions to keep our fights from escalating and to improve communications. Now it’s a matter of managing to think clearly in the heat of the moment and remember the constructive things to say and do instead of the destructive ones.

But the more I thought about real estate, the more I realized now is a good time for me to buy. So we have another thing to fight about now. Another chance to practice keeping an argument within comfort level.

I think last night we improved a little. He didn’t threaten to break up with me, and I tried to keep the discussion as positive as I could so the fighting wouldn’t escalate. When he said things that hurt my feelings, I said “you are hurting my feelings. I feel terrible now,” instead of lashing back at him. When we started to get worked up, I called for breaks and I went to the other room to calm down.

Finally, I said it had to stop. It was late and I hadn’t slept much the night before. He had said some things that made me feel terrible and I was exhausted. If I didn’t get to bed soon, I would be a wreck the next day.

Before we went to sleep I asked him to hold me. I climbed into his lap and he told me that he wanted us to stay living together. That made me feel better.

I was so exhausted I got into bed without taking my vitamin C and salt. I thought I would sleep without it. Big mistake. At 1:30 I was still awake. I got up and took my vitamin C with the small scoop of salt, and then went to sleep. At 2:15 I was awake again, and had to get up for more vitamin C. After that I slept.

When I can’t sleep I usually feel very down about things. After The Poet left work this morning I was shaky, feeling that I can’t go on, why was I trying to buy a house when I can’t even handle getting through the day? Talking to the mortgage broker and the real estate agent were going to be too much for me to handle.

I also despaired for the relationship. I know we are working on fighting, and I have faith that if we persevere we can change the destructive pattern we fall into. But when you have an infectious disease and you’ve lost half a night’s sleep due to fighting, it’s hard to keep up that faith-- even if this last argument went quite a bit better than previous arguments.

So why, you might be asking, do I stay?

I know the answer. He is kind and smart and funny, and I like spending time with him. He his always understanding about my illness, never impatient when I can’t do things, have to say no, have to stay home. I understand he has been through terrible things before he met me, and that makes it hard for him to trust me and open up to me. Despite that, he is going to therapy, he is admitting, when he sees it, how he contributes to our fighting. He is willing to work on things and to try to change.

And I know that I am contributing, too. I know that the Lyme disease makes my emotions raw, too close to the surface. When I am exhausted, I can’t let things roll off my back. When we fight at night, I know I won’t sleep, and I get afraid, so I keep pushing the argument, instead of putting it on hold and going to bed.

The Poet has told me flat out that he won’t give me a commitment. He doesn’t believe marriage lasts, and says that promises are just empty words. Fine, but that means both of us are living with the idea that the other could walk out at any minute.

So do we fight because we haven’t committed to each other and that leads to insecurity? Or is it that he can’t commit because we fight so much?

And here is where the Greek Chorus comes in, chanting out the conventional wisdom that when the guy won’t commit to you, it’s time to tell him gently but firmly that you need a commitment to be happy in the relationship, and if he still won’t commit, it’s time to leave.

Of course it’s not that simple. Not just because I love him and it would break my heart to end it over this issue, although those things are true.

If our roles were reversed, and he was the one wanting me to commit, I don’t think I could do it either. Not now, not with this arguing. But this is what I do want, what I am working towards. And I have told him that at some point I will ask it of him.

“Don’t come to me in a year,” he said, “and tell me that you wasted the best years of your life with me, and that it’s my fault, because I am telling you now that I don’t know if I can make a commitment, not to you or to anyone.”

“I won’t say it,” I told him, crying. “Because I know these are in fact the most difficult years, and even if it ends, I will thank you for helping me get better from this illness.”

God, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

In the meantime, I try all I can to make things work. I go with him to the therapist, I read John Gottman’s books, I try to say “that hurt my feelings,” instead of “stop insulting me you, you bastard.” I call for time out, and I make amends.

And I try to focus on what’s good, because there are many, many good things. Like laughing and wrestling, sharing food and reading side by side. Like The Poet climbing into my bed this morning and holding me, and him telling me, once I was awake, that he appreciated how I had brought only positive things to the discussion the night before.


When I haven’t slept and the world seems like it might end, cooking is very comforting. It brings me a sense of productivity and purpose. It’s good to make something with your hands, and it’s good to have healthy food to eat at the end of it.

I took two naps after the Poet went to work, and after the second one I thought I could handle walking down to the grocery store. I needed garlic to make chimichurri.

Chimichurri is supposedly an Argentine sauce. I say ‘supposedly’ because I lived in Buenos Aires for a year and a half, and I never saw chimichuri when I was there. When I moved to Mexico, I encountered chimichurri. It’s the sauce Mexicans eat when they go to an Argentine restaurant, and it’s wonderful.

I learned this recipe in a superb cooking class I took from Jennifer Adler at PCC. Making this sauce is as close as I have ever gotten to alchemy. How a blender can turn these few simple ingredients into something so delicious amazes me.

CHIMICHURRI (thanks to Jennifer Adler)

4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
¾ teaspoon sea salt (or less if you don't like salt)
½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, including stalks
1 bay leaf, broken in half

Peel the garlic, crush it with a garlic press and throw it in the blender, then add all the other ingredients except the parsley and blend. Wash the parsley and divide into four or five smaller bunches. Add to blender, including stems, one bunch at a time. (this makes the blending easier.)

Once everything is blended, transfer to a bowl, add the bay leaf and let it sit in the sauce to infuse its flavor. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Chimichurri is great on beef, lamb, chicken, or anything you want. Parsley, garlic and olive oil are wonderful detoxifiers and all high on the list of alkalizing foods.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


My naturopath of four years is leaving for San Diego. It was Carolyn who urged me to get a Lyme diagnosis, and who has helped me through the difficulty of being on antibiotics. See my August 20th entry.

I knew I would be upset about my last appointment with Carolyn, but I wasn’t prepared for how very much it got to me. The night before, as I thought about what to write on the card I'd bought for her, I lay down on my bed and cried. Even when The Poet found me and wrapped his arms around me, I couldn’t stop myself.

“She physically made me better,” I told him, “Each time I saw her she put her hands on me and helped me. No one else has done that for me.”

I woke up the next morning feeling out of sorts, not wanting to go to my appointment, not wanting to say goodbye. As I pulled the car into the parking spot at her office, the tears welled up—I shook them off. When Carolyn came into the room, again I had to choke back my tears.

“You’ve got to pull yourself together,” I thought. The next moment we were having an appointment almost like any other. I showed her the supplements that Amy Derksen had given me, and told her I was having trouble knowing which order to start them in. I had started with the glutathione at night, but that had kept me awake.

I lay down on the examining table and Carolyn did the muscle testing. She told me when I should be taking each supplement and at what time of day. We laughed about the glutathione, which I was supposed to rub into my neck even though it smelled like rotten eggs. We talked about how I was going to get the supplements she had been ordering for me, and then there was nothing else to say.

“Well, I guess this is it,” Carolyn said. I reached down in my bag for her card and her present. When I looked up, she was crying.

In my mind, it had always been me crying and Carolyn reassuring me that I would be OK. I hadn’t imagined that she would cry, or that I would comfort her.

“It’s been so inspirational to work with you,” she said, “to see your determination and how you’ve worked so hard to get better.”

“It’s only you inspiring yourself,” I told her. “I’ve gotten better because of you.”

We passed the tissue box back and forth and then pulled ourselves together for a picture outside. I drove away not truly believing I had seen the last of her, but it may be so.

So many of the people we know, however dear to us, share our lives but do not radically change them. Only a handful influence how our lives turn out. Carolyn was one of those people for me.

Friday, September 19, 2008


See previous entry for information about the Vitamin C Flush

When I initially started the Vitamin C flush, it was miraculous for me. I no longer had insomnia or anxiety or a racing heart. I did a full flush not very often, perhaps once a month at the most. The rest of the time I stayed on a low dose of Vitamin C, which I took three times a day, to keep the detox symptoms at bay. After awhile, I dropped the Vitamin C out completely. I took Chlorella instead, and I was fine.

Once I switched from the herb Samento to a full antibiotic regimen to treat Lyme Disease, things changed. At first, starting on just Zithromax, I felt OK, but once I added in Mepron and after that Plaquenil, life was a little difficult. The Mepron made my mood plummet after I took it, and the Plaquenil brought back my anxiety symptoms. On top of it all, my insomnia was back full force.

Carolyn told me it was time to go back to the Vitamin C flush. So I started it up again, this time twice a week. Now, however, the flush didn’t seem like such a miracle to me. Perhaps my initial enthusiasm had worn off, but it seemed that I needed more and more Vitamin C each time, not less. I felt strangely bloated afterwards, and it was exhausting to be losing that many nutrients on a regular basis.

And even more importantly, I wasn’t sleeping as well as I had been in the beginning with the Vitamin C flush. Something wasn’t working.

And then I remembered that once, long ago, Dr. X had suggested I use sea salt as a chelator. I tried it once or twice, but hadn’t stuck with it, partly because drinking down a glass of salt water was so unpleasant.

Once I remembered that, my mind coupled salt with the Vitamin C. Hadn’t I heard people mention the Salt and C protocol during my one visit to the Seattle Lyme support group? Salt could be a detoxifier, as could Vitamin C. This must be what that protocol was about.

The next time I did the flush, I drank down ½ teaspoon of sea salt mixed in water for every 1 teaspoon of Vitamin C I drank. The results were great! The flush took about half the time, and felt much less draining than with Vitamin C on its own. I also slept better, and felt more rested when I woke up.

If you are going to try the Vitamin C flush, I suggest you also take sea salt—right now I am on a ratio of 1/3 teaspoon salt to 1 teaspoon Vitamin C. I have read of people taking equal ratios of salt to Vitamin C, and just read today about someone taking large doses of salt each day, apparently without the vitamin C. I think it depends on the individual. As with everything else in recovering from Lyme disease, the trick is in figuring out what your own body needs.

I want to clarify that when I have read about the Salt and C protocol, it has been billed as an alternative to antibiotics. I am not using it this way at all, and I cannot testify to its effectiveness on its own at killing the Lyme bacteria. I am using it as a support to the antibiotics. I am on antibiotics and they are killing the Lyme. I use the Vitamin C and sea salt to flush the toxic die-off out of my system.

I am convinced that without these two, I would have suffered much, much greater die-off reactions. And there is no doubt that I would be suffering from terrible insomnia.

One last note: it is important to use high quality sea salt for this. That is, NOT standard table salt—this has preservatives in it, so I don’t suggest you even put it on your food. Sea salt in its true form is a whole food. Just as white, refined flour is not the kind you want to eat, so is white, refined salt not the salt that is good for you.

So also skip the pure white sea salt you can find in bulk section of most co-ops. Salt should have color in it—either gray, or little flecks of deep red and black. The color comes from the trace minerals your body will use for detoxing. I use Redmond Real Salt, but any other brand is fine. You should be able to find good salt at a decent food co-op. If need be, you can find it at Whole Foods.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Some of my worst moments in this illness have been of anxiety: my heart is beating too fast, my arms feel tense, and I am agitated to an extreme. This is pure, unbridled biological stress. It doesn’t come from external circumstances, as we usually think of stress, but from what is going on in your body, and nothing else. At the worst times, I can’t sit still, I can’t concentrate on anything, and I often cry as I run around my apartment, looking for a way to distract myself.

I think of these as detox symptoms. Toxins—dead Lyme bacteria, heavy metals, etc—have been stored in my tissues, fat, and possibly organs, and now are circulating as my body tries to get rid of them.

The problem is, the toxins won’t just find a way out spontaneously. The body needs a biochemical boost to help get rid of them. The quickest and dirtiest way is the Vitamin C Flush.

The method is not a pleasant one, I admit: get the toxins out through the body’s most powerful detox organ: the bowels. This is, essentially, giving yourself diarrhea. If you take enough Vitamin C to create a surplus, your body can use it to bind with the toxins and sends everything out via your large intestine.

Dr. X first recommended this protocol to me. I had been staying with my parents in Washington DC for a month, and by the end of my trip, my insomnia had gotten pretty bad. I felt my heart racing each time I lay down to sleep. This had been going on for close to a week and I was pretty desperate.

Dr. X said I should try the Vitamin C Flush. She sent me home with an instruction sheet and a bottle of buffered Vitamin C powder.

The instructions are pretty simple: take Vitamin C, mixed in water, at regular intervals, until your bowel starts moving. Then keep taking it until you evacuate water. Following the instructions, I started with a low dose of vitamin C, 1/2 teaspoon, each half hour. If I didn’t get results after the second dose, I was to double the dose at each 30 minute interval until I reached the flush.

Now this all sounds well and good, but I don’t recommend this method of doubling up your dose, and here’s why:

This is fine if all your body needs is a moderate amount of Vitamin C—somewhere around three to four teaspoons. I, however, had been suffering from Lyme disease for five years prior to doing the Flush. For all that time, the Lyme spirochetes had been methodically depleting my body of vitamins and filling it with toxins.

Carolyn Humphreys once explained to me that Vitamin C nourishes almost every system in your body, and before you can achieve a flush, your body will take all it needs as a nutrient first. Then, when all the nutritional deficiencies are taken care of, will it use the extra C for detoxing.

So the first time I did the flush, I needed much more than four teaspoons. In fact, by doubling the amount of C, I was soon taking four teaspoon doses each half hour. Four teaspoons in 16 oz of water was about all I could drink down at once. My stomach felt as taught as a basketball and I was bloated. Still no flush, although my bowel did start to move. At this point, if I had follwed the instructions, I would have taken eight teaspoons of Vitamin C in the 32oz of water. I wasn’t that stupid, so stuck with just four.

I kept at it, and once I had drunk down a total sixteen teaspoons over the course of the evening I got the flush.

Suddenly, miraculously, I felt relaxed. My body felt warm, even tingly. I crashed down on my bed, ready to sleep.

Only one problem: I since I had been taking the C in 4 teaspoon doses, I overshot the amount I needed. Instead of sleeping, I kept running to the bathroom for the next couple hours.

At last, when I slept, however, I slept well. The heartbeat, the tense arms, the anxiety: it was all gone. Now I just felt wonderfully relaxed and sleepy.

My recommendation for the Vitamin C flush is do the opposite of the instructions I followed that first time. Start with a higher dose, 2 teaspoons in 8-12 oz water, keep drinking every half hour or so until your bowel starts moving. Once your stool is loose, start cutting the dose in half—1 teaspoon, then half a teaspoon, and continue with half teaspoon increments until you evacuate water. That way you will get just the amount you need and nothing more, and you will be ready to sleep.

I also recommend doing this first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. It goes much faster and you need less Vitamin C. Just plan your schedule so you can sleep afterwards.


I use Perque brand Potent C Guard powder. Use a buffered C powder, as it is easier on your stomach. Buffered C usually includes magnesium, which also helps with the detox.

If your stomach does hurt, even with buffered C, take some extra magnesium (capsules or solution). Cardiovascular Research brand Magnesium Solution is a good source.

Take B Vitamins (I use Gematria Heart Gems) to replenish your system after and help you sleep.

Afterwards you may be feeling nutritionally drained. Try drinking grapefruit juice or Kombucha to get nutrients back into your body quickly.

Try gentle walking, yoga, or stretching between doses of vitamin C. This will keep the lymph draining and help the C circulate to the bowel more quickly.


After you have done the Vitamin C flush, remember or write down the total dose of Vitamin C you took. Keep taking half to ¾ this amount on a daily basis to keep your body nourished with C and detoxing on a regular basis. If detox symptoms build (insomnia, tension, headaches, fast heartbeat), you might try increasing the C. You may have to repeat the flush, anywhere from twice a week to once a month, especially at the beginning of a new antibiotic, or if you haven’t done much detoxing through the bowel before this.

All information in this post is based on my experience and my imperfect recollection of conversations with doctors. I can’t guarantee that the medical/ biochemical information is accurate, but I can testify as to what has worked, empirically, for my body.


Monday, September 15, 2008


I went to see Amy Derksen, ND, on Friday September 12th. She will replace Dr. Carolyn Humphreys as my naturopath.

I was very worried about finding a new doctor. No one will truly replace Carolyn, who has been such a support to me, but I wanted someone who at least works in a similar enough fashion that they could continue the treatment that has been so successful for me. Carolyn has learned from the most prominent alternative doctors in the Seattle area, and luckily there are a handful of other naturopaths who have also been studying with these doctors.

Amy Derksen was my first choice because she is known for specializing in Lyme, and she uses muscle testing, which Carolyn also uses and which has been a lynch pin in my treatment program.

From the start I liked Amy Derksen. She was friendly and direct, and her expertise in Lyme was apparent. Using muscle testing, she quickly evaluated the program Carolyn had me on, and declared it was quite good. She didn’t want to change it, which was a relief. I am on this crazy combination of supplements because it works for me, and I was worried that a new doctor would try to mess with it.

Amy did give me a few more things to take—more than a few, actually. Closer to 6. This is where her Lyme expertise comes in. She said I am doing very well with my Lyme treatment, that the antibioitics are doing their job. Now it’s time to take care of the viruses that have run rampant while my immune system has been knocked down. She also had a few things to help with lymph drainage.

One good reminder was for me to keep jumping on my rebounder, which is a mini trampoline. (Purchased on ebay for $35 dollars!) This helps lymph drainage. Who said Lyme disease isn't fun?

This all made good sense to me, and I left my appointment feeling relieved that I seem to have found someone I can work with.

Friday, September 5, 2008


This past week I have woken up several mornings feeling energetic. I’m not bouncing off the walls, and I am still careful to pace myself, but it is a change. Normally in the morning my energy is at its low, I feel achy and tired, and I have to be careful not to overdo it or I will wear myself out.

Yesterday after breakfast I actually felt like doing something active: thoughts of going for a walk or doing yoga flitted through my mind. I got through my morning to do list by 10:40, then went out in the sunshine to jump on my mini trampoline and do yoga.

I have even been walking down to the Flying Apron bakery for an organic, sustainable, wheat-free, vegan, naturally sweetened muffin for breakfast and have had no repercussions from the hilly walk so early in the day.