Wednesday, July 20, 2011


My appointment with Dr. Ross started like any other.

“On a scale of 1-10, where would you say your energy is now?” he asked. And I came back with my usual reply:

“7, but that’s not what my issue is now.”

How could I convey what my life has been like? On Saturday morning, when I got out of bed after only six hours of sleep for the nth time in the past six months, I felt desperate and teary. It wasn’t just the standard why-don’t-I-just-kill-myself-now that can pop up on these occasions and that I know how to steel myself against. This was a physical sensation, of being physically battered, imprisoned in my body, and with it came the need to fight back, without knowing how.

“I just want to break my body!” I sobbed to the The Poet. “My body is torturing me!”

And now, in the appointment with Dr. Ross, I said. “I have physical stamina, but I can't function like a normal person. I can’t be on any schedule other than my body’s, or it’s extremely painful. I can barely function if I don’t take naps during the day, and I’m taking so many supplements, brewing tea and mixing powders in water, that it takes up half my time.”

“How many supplements, roughly? Twenty?”

“Thirty. And I get terrible headaches and I’m now giving myself a coffee enema twice a week. It’s the only thing that clears up the headaches and allows me to get barely enough sleep.”

I wanted to ask him if he knew anything more about the Shoemaker protocol. Even if I didn’t have the liver condition that I’d been hoping for, there was still the chance of the nasal infection that could be treated. But Ross was interested in the coffee enemas, took a few notes on what I told him.

“I have some new information for you,” he said, putting aside his laptop. He picked up a book, and on the back I recognized Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker’s photo, the same one as on his website. Ross got up from his chair and sat in the one next to mine, so I could see the page he'd opened in the book. He also opened my medical file to my lab tests, the ones from May, with the HLA-DR liver typing.

“I finally talked to Ritchie Shoemaker,” he said. “And I pinned him down about how to interpret these tests.” He showed me a chart in the book, and how certain numbers on my lab results matched up to the ones in the chart. I had a perfect match, three out of three.

“So this means I have the genome for the weak liver you were talking about?” I asked.

“Yes,” Dr. Ross said. “It means your liver doesn’t make the correct enzymes to get rid of toxins, especially mold and Lyme toxins.”

So it was true after all. My liver wasn't working the way it should be. I let the news sink in, the air around me felt lighter, brighter. It almost shimmered.

Beautiful surprise. As thrilling as when I got the e-mail that my first short story would be published--even bigger than that. Everything would change now. Stupendous.

“For real?” I asked.

“Yes.” Dr. Ross was crossing the room, back to his usual chair so he could make notes on his laptop.

“So I have the ‘dreaded genotype’?” (Amy Derksen had used this phrase.)

“That's what Shoemaker calls it.” Ross looked like he wasn’t sure whether or not to smile.

“Oh my god, Dr. Ross! That’s wonderful! I want to hug you!” I jumped up from my chair and threw my arms around him, and we both burst into laughter.

"OK, let's talk about treatment,” he said once we'd regained our composure.


“Exactly,” I sat back down, reached for my notebook to start taking notes again, still in amazement. I knew at last why I’d been suffering so much. I felt tears in my eyes and turned my face down to my notebook until the moment passed. To hug my doctor was fine, but to then start sobbing would have been too much.

We discussed Cholysteramine—a prescription medication that will bind up the toxins my liver isn’t processing correctly and pull them out of my bowel.

“And I want you to stop your antibiotics,” he said.

“You do?”

“Yes. At this point, I’m not even sure you still have Lyme. It could all be caused by liver issues. Let's let the cholestyramine work on its own. And go see Amy Derksen again so you can cut down on your supplements as much as possible.”

I walked out of my appointment transformed. I might be able to break out of this prison after all.


DannJ said...

Changing your "about me" blurb looks in order. Guardedly optimistic for you. The liberation of knowledge must feel so incredible though. Now please refresh us out of the know... whats ‘dreaded genotype’. Sounds like what it sounds

Naomi said...

Yes, good point. "Dreaded genotype" is the nickname Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker gives to people with a weak liver, unable to effectively break down many toxins, including the by-products of mold and Lyme disease, and Lyme die-off. Instead of leaving the body through the liver, then bowel, the toxins just keep circulating and accumulating, can back up into the brain and cause insomnia and other issues. Pretty miserable, thus "dreaded." And yet if you already in that state without knowing why, learning you have the genotype is good news, because there are ways to help the liver do its job.

Thanks for your comment, DannJ!