Monday, October 25, 2010


There should be an expression for herxing similar to ‘when it rains it pours’. Something along the lines of ‘when it herxes, it berserkses.’ (Well, that could use some improvement.)

I don’t know about anybody else, but the herbal Lyme killers give me the worst herx reaction. From Samento I get a splitting headache, ditto for Graperfruit Seed Extract, with an added bonus of vomiting.

I discovered this last phenomenon two weeks ago. I was having some insomnia, as I often do, and my naturopath suggested I increase my GSE from three to four pills per day. It worked beautifully—I slept soundly for four nights, and on the fifth I woke up at 3am with a devastating headache: like little goblins had put steel bands around my head and were tightening them every ten seconds. Plus the god-awful nausea and subsequent hurling.

Needless to say, I stopped taking all GSE for about five days, then added it back in to my pill boxes when I felt I needed it. Of course I did need it; it's part of my current treatment plan.

Well, as Dr. Ross said in my last appointment with him, “you are your own best Petri dish.” (Thanks, Dr. Ross. I've always longed to be called a Petri dish!) Meaning, I can go to him or my naturopath Nesreen all I like, but in the end I need to find out what works for me by putting it into my body.

Unfortunately, it’s this trial and error method that works best. So it was that I added GSE back into my anti-Lyme mix, first one, then two, then three little brown pills per day. At three I was back up to my original, non-herx-inducing dose, mind you. And that day the die-off headache started again. Once it starts, in my experience, it just keeps going on its own schedule, no matter how fast you stop taking whatever pill it was that set it off.

That was this past Friday, the first day of a weekend-long class on how to find a publisher or literary agent, and how to market a book once it's published. I’d signed up six weeks ago and had paid $269 for it.

As the Mexicans say, ni modo. Or, as the Americans say, screw it. I went anyway.

It was all quite bearable on Friday evening, when the headache was in its nascent stages. On Saturday, however, I was operating on four hours of sleep and in addition to the crushing headache I had a jittery sort of feeling, as if the goblins had now got a hold of my molecules and were ripping them apart at break-neck speed. (Well, at least I wasn’t vomiting.)

The weekend actually marked a turning point for me. Until now, I have always put the the well-being of my body first. As I got out of bed on Saturday, I considered staying home. The added strain of being in class wasn’t going to help me get over the herx, I knew. From a health-care point of view, it would have been better to meditate, do yoga and take a good, long nap in the afternoon.

But screw yoga. I decided the class was way more important. Yes, I felt so trampled by 5pm on Saturday I could barely see straight, but I held it together for the duration of the class, and the class turned out to be invaluable.

(This was Alice Acheson's class. Take it if you are a writer.)

By Sunday I was feeling only slightly trampled by elephants, and I was quite a bit more articulate during class. Now that it’s Monday I feel as if almost all my molecules have been sewn back together again. So herxes come and herxes go, but I’m still not planning on taking Grapefruit Seed Extract for the foreseeable future.


Marti said...

We are our own "petri dishes". What works for you may not work for me, and what works for me may not work for others. I am still figuring it all out.

Naomi said...

I couldn't have said it better! Good luck, Marti!