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A Lyme Disease Story – ” I Could Not Walk…..and Now I Can Run”
written by Alane Stieglitz
“Yes, I believe that chronic Lyme exists, and many people are suffering from it, and their symptoms are real. I also believe that providing clarity for direction for improved health can reduce or eliminate the Lyme symptoms and lead to a more healthy, active, and fulfilling life”.
I have had Lyme Disease symptoms since 1983, and it rocked my world. One day I was healthy, and the next, I felt like something had gotten inside of me and was trying to take control over my body. I have learned natural ways to help Lyme symptoms improve.
In the 1980s, my life was enjoyable. I was attending college studying to be an artist. I spent my mornings and early afternoons in classes. Late afternoons were spent studying or walking along Lake Oswego. Evenings were spent working at the candy shop in the student union or dancing at clubs downtown with my friends. I started SUNY at Oswego in August 1982, and my first year was great. I decided to stay at school that summer and get ahead with some classes.
I will never forget that summer, it was 101 degrees in upstate New York, and it was HOT! I lived in a house off-campus, and the neighbor’s dog came to visit one day. I played with him for a bit and then went out on the town with my housemate Amy. The dog stayed at our house. We got in around 2 am, and I climbed into bed. Two hours later, I woke up screaming, “Amy, help my legs feel like they are on fire!“ Amy ran into my room and told me to get out of bed; there were flees and tics everywhere. We tossed the sheets out the window and then threw me in the shower. We went back to sleep, and that was that………….or so I thought.
The following weekend was July 4th, and there was a race at the Oswego Speedway that I was attending. I had an ugly rash on my right leg that I did not want anyone to see. So in 101 degrees heat, I wore jeans and a tee-shirt, and off I went.
School started back full time in August, and I was feeling somewhat exhausted. Plus, my stomach was acting weird. I put up with the symptoms and did not think much of it. Over the next year, the fatigue and stomach pains got worse, and odd neurological symptoms started.
One night while working at the student union candy store, I was scooping out some gummy bears for a student and noticed my legs felt weak, and I was having trouble standing. Later that evening, as I was sweeping up the floor, my legs gave up, and I fell to the floor. This feeling is odd, I thought. Then I started getting very, very cold, then my feet and legs lost circulation. I had to warm my feet frequently in a bucket of hot water, and I started to wear wool socks 24/7 to keep them warm. These health symptoms were entirely new to me. I couldn’t imagine what was wrong with me. I felt like something had gotten into my body that didn’t belong there – and it was creating havoc.
My professors knew something was wrong. My dad often called the school to ask if the chemicals from the paints, inks, and other items could make me sick. They said that the ventilation system was excellent, and they did not think that was the cause.
The last day of school was in December 1985. I overslept and was rushing to get to my painting class final. My legs hurt so much that I ended up crawling through the art building and up the stairs. One of my professors saw me, picked me and carried me to class. It was the art final portfolio exam, and I could not miss it. He carried me and placed me on a stool. One of my classmates, Theresa came over and told me she would pray for me. I was never one for religion, so I just smiled and thought it could only help.
After graduation, I could barely walk. My feet hurt all the time, and if anyone touched me, I would feel like something was jumping through my skin. I would take a few steps while holding onto the walls or chairs to get where I needed and then sit down for the rest of the time. I visited doctor after doctor after doctor, but no one could identify the baffling ailment that was robbing me of my life, and I was starting to lose hope.
This former high-energy college grad was now spending most of her days in bed sleeping or watching television. I couldn’t work, couldn’t walk, couldn’t cook, couldn’t clean – couldn’t do much of anything. I was always troubled with stomach aches, upper respiratory infections, fatigue, pains, and yeast infections. The doctors tried their best to help, but all they knew was to put me on anti-inflammatory medications, blood thinners, pain relievers, and antibiotics. My energy was low, and my pain was severe. My friends and family comforted me the best they could. I seemed to be in a never-ending downward spiral, a repetitive cycle that needed to be broken.
I had never been one for religion, but, at this point, I couldn’t see any harm in trying to speak to God. So in June 1988, I asked Him to send me help and guide me on a path of healing. I told Him I would do anything He asked me to do to get better, and I would never forget it for the rest of my life. I asked Him to please give me back a life of joy, allow me to be the person I was created to be.
About two weeks later, I was at the same physical therapy clinic in Denville, New Jersey I had been going for the last year, and one of the physical therapists asked me to please see an orthopedic surgeon. She said, “I just know he will be able to figure this out.” I agreed to see one more doctor. This doctor was different from the others. He asked many questions and said he knew from my story what was wrong with me but needed to prove it. He ran tests that no one else had done before. Two weeks later, those results confirmed that I had Lyme disease. He asked me if I remembered a rash on my leg five years ago. Of course, I did! The day the dog visited my house in Oswego, New York. That was when it happened. And the rash I had the night of the Oswego Speedway was a bulls-eye rash for sure. The doctor also did an EMG also showed that I had nerve damage to my legs and feet. He said there was no cure for late-stage Lyme Disease, and because of the nerve damage, I might never walk again. Although the news was devastating, I found myself thrilled to have finally found the cause of my symptoms.
Of course, things got weirder. I went to an infectious disease doctor that ran a western blot. It had three positive bands. He looked baffled and said it is negative. But because of the three positive bands, he wants to give me six weeks of antibiotics. I wondered how it could be negative if the first one was positive, plus I remember the specific bulls-eye rash. And why was he treating me if it was negative?
I went away to the Poconos in PA to celebrate and met a couple who told me to see their cousin Andy. He is a chiropractor. I had never been to a chiropractor before. He started adjusting my spine, and within a few adjustments, I began to feel my feet again and move my body more efficiently. He tried hard to talk to me about my diet, but I did not want to give up my milkshakes, fruity pebbles cereal, hamburger helper, canned fruit, pop-tarts, soda, and frozen yogurt. I had no clue that my diet was preventing me from getting better. But Dr. Andy and the vitamin store owner of where I was working got through to me, and I changed my diet.
I became fascinated with food and how food can heal or hurt the body. I started reading about the best nutrition program for autoimmune and how to determine which vitamins and minerals my body needed to start the healing process. Next, I did vitamin and mineral testing to determine which nutrients my body needed. Then came food intolerance testing, and when I gave up gluten, it felt like a giant, heavy burden lifted from my body.
Within six months of changing my diet, taking the vitamins and minerals my body was deficient in, and enhancing absorption, my condition was markedly improved! I could feel my legs without feeling only pain! My body just started working right again. I was regaining strength and energy and was beginning to enjoy life again.
What I have learned is Lyme happens. It is real, and unfortunately, it is missed too often. A Western Blot test will show fewer positive Lyme bands the longer you have the disease. And the Western Blot test only detects Borrelia, not the many co-infections most people have. Plus, traditional labs are not always good enough. But here is when forgiveness comes in. If one of the early doctors I had been taught about Lyme and put me on antibiotics early on, things may not have gotten so bad. But I forgive them and understand they did not know about Lyme symptoms back in the 1980s, even though it happened in New York state.
I am grateful to those that have helped me over the years and am incredibly thankful that my prayers were answered. My faith in God is firm as I know He directed my path to health and healing, and now I spend my days helping others regain their life and health, naturally.
Today I am living a joyful and active life. I have my good days, and I have Lymie days. I enjoy outside activities like mountain biking, walking, swimming in the beaches as much as I can. My family understands that sometimes I need to stay home, watch movies, play with the dogs, and enjoy home-cooked food.
For more education on natural health, I chose Trinity School of Holistic Health because it was the only one in Holistic Healthcare founded on God’s word. One of my certification degrees is as a Certified Nutrition Counselor, and the second is a Doctor of Naturopathy. I finished school in 1999 and started a practice in the Atlanta, Georgia, area called Nutritionally Yours. I have the privilege and joy of helping people get their lives back.
I hope you have found this story encouraging and you are ready to begin your journey back to good health. It has been more than 30 years since I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. My days now are primarily pain-free and active. From time to time, it tries to come back, but I don’t let it!”
Alane Stieglitz, ND, CNC
Naturopath and Certified Nutrition Counselor