I began practicing yoga when my son Patch was in 4th grade. He has a bit of a hyperactive personality and was having trouble falling asleep at night. On the exercise channel on cable, I found a Sunset Salutation yoga video by Sara Ivanhoe. We began doing it a few times a week at night before bed and it really made a difference. He was calmer and could drop right off to sleep afterwards. I fell in love with Yoga. I began practicing every morning. For the first time in my married life, I took time for just me. This was so empowering. I felt centered. I joined the Y and my daughter Megi and I took a class once a week. We even went on a Mother/Daughter retreat to an ashram downstate for a weekend back in 2010. I had a new goal, I wanted to become a certified yoga teacher. Just a few months later, I was bit by a tick while walking my dogs. I contracted Lyme Disease. For numerous reasons, it went undetected for 8 months. Needless to say, I ended up very very sick on and off for a number of years without any hope until 2014 when I began seeing Natasha Ruiz at the Stram Center for Integrative Medicine in Delmar, NY. By the time I began treatment with Natasha, I knew something was wrong in my brain. I was becoming increasingly angry and confused. I was exhausted all the time. I couldn’t drive. The pain in my hands and legs, the partial facial paralysis, and neuropathy in my feet were unbearable. The list of neurological issues (including dementia) was long and frightening. I underwent a lot of expensive testing (not covered by insurance) including cat scans and finally an MRI which showed the bacteria on my brain. As a result of one little tick bite in 2007, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, Babesia, Epstein Barr and a few other minor ailments. This spring, I was diagnosed and prescribed medication for a coinfection called Bartonella. Back in the day, this bacteria was known to cause “Cat Scratch Fever.” I was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease and told to begin a gluten free diet immediately. These two maladies combined could be the cause of the neurological issues. With any luck, this time next year I would feel significantly better - finally some hope! Unfortunately, I had an allergic reaction almost immediately to the first antibiotic. However, the second antibiotic, Rifampin, seemed to be a miracle drug. For the first time in forever, my brain was ON. I felt 95% better. Woohoo! Thrilled! I started practicing yoga at home again and started back to pump class (light weight lifting class). I felt so strong. I began getting accolades at work for my performance there. This was life changing. In June, I went to hot yoga and learned of the next session for yoga teacher training was in September. I signed up immediately. Hot Yoga has been a crucial weapon in fighting my Lyme Disease. It detoxifies the body and helps you sweat out the bacteria die off. I began working hard to eat healthy and stay healthy. The Lyme had taken over for too long, I was back in charge. I took 8 hot yoga classes in 10 days and felt I was ready.
Then last month, I noticed some side effects from the new medicine but brushed them aside. My scalp and skin became itchy. I began losing weight. I went down 2 sizes – yikes! The rage was back. I got lost driving a few times. The confusion that frightened me so much began to rear its’ ugly head again. Could this be an allergic reaction or are the drugs not working? Am I toxic again? I realized that the side effects from the Rifamin were adding up. So I sent Natasha an email and described my symptoms. She told me to stop taking the Rifampin and we will talk at my next appointment which is in 2 weeks. I asked her to please start me on something else but I knew the drill, the Rifampin would take two weeks to completely leave my system. Early on, I learned not to research too much on my own on the internet in between doctor visits because I make myself even crazier. For right now, I am ok and managing. The neurological crap scares the hell out of me!
Today, I may not be at 100% but I am definitely feeling better than most people my age. I can push through the physical challenges. Hot Yoga has been an integral part of my coping with Chronic Lyme Disease. The sense of accomplishment and fulfillment I feel when I kill it in class is immeasurable. The detoxifying effect which helps get rid of the dead bacteria in my system is invaluable and the positive energy and attitude it affords me is immeasurable. Although, I am concerned that my memory and brain will not cooperate for these classes, I know I will have to just study twice as hard. I will not give up. This is a 200 hour certification course that runs on weekends. I will be in class from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. The instructor, Aaron, sent a wonderful welcoming email with a list of supplies I need to bring to class. I have not slept in two days because I am so excited. The monkey chatter in my brain would not stop last night. I kept going over the list in my head. This morning, I gave myself my vitamin B12 shot in the hopes that it will boost my energy and brain power. I know I can do this.
I read a meme the other day that made me pause. It said, “If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave.” My struggle with Lyme Disease and its coinfections is not where my story begins or ends. My illness does not define me. I know that entertainers sometimes create or take on another persona to help them get into character when performing. My dearest friends from home call me Annie. “Annie” is the fierce and courageous, loving, care free, and open minded, peaceful, diplomatic, hippy freak that resides in my heart if you strip me of all adult pressures and responsibilities. She is the Lyme Warrior in me that moves forward fearlessly.
Project “Becoming Annie” begins today, stay tuned…