Spoiler alert. I am winning the battle with Lyme disease and Toxic Mold!
First of all, I didn’t know that’s what I had.
Most people don’t know because they receive so many ‘false negative’ results on lab tests for both Lyme and Mycotoxins (toxic mold).
All I knew is that the daily headaches which I had learned to live with had turned evil.
They inhibited my ability to work or do anything beyond what was absolutely necessary.
A year later and an army of doctors and lab tests and I finally learned what was causing my pain.
But it didn’t start with just headaches.
I have only shared this story with a few people. I didn’t look sick, so people didn’t believe I was sick.
I share this story now in hopes that if you recognize my symptoms in yourself or someone you know, you’ll help them shortcut the healing journey.
Phase One-Memory Decline
A while back, we moved into a ‘new-to-me’ house and I began having problems with my memory.
At the time, I didn’t make a connection between those two events.
The house had a history of water leaks. While those problems were resolved inside the house, we never thought to examine what was behind the walls.
Black Mold, as it turns out. You can’t smell it, so you don’t know it’s there. (Other types of toxic mold may have an odor).
My cognitive problems started with forgetting names of people and places that I knew very well.
I kept trying to use the word “umbrella” for “wheel barrow”. There were other word mix-ups. I had no idea why.
Learning new things was a frustrating exercise. I had to study things three and four times in order to retain any of it.
I was sure I had Alzheimer’s but didn’t want to be tested because then I would know for sure.
That was too scary.
I didn’t want anyone to know.
Yeah, yeah, I know, everybody forgets stuff and I’m 57 years old, for heaven’s sake. So struggling with memory is normal, right?
Actually, no, it’s not. But that’s another story.
The fatigue began a couple years later. Always an active person, I was a regular with classes like Kick-boxing, Tabata, Pilates and Yoga.
Suddenly, I found that I could not make it through the exercise classes and certainly without the vigor that I once had.
Then I got knocked down with Shingles.
Really? Isn’t that an old person’s virus? However I discovered that people of all ages are stricken with that awful, painful virus.
You can read my full story about that.
One of the lucky ones, I got through the blisters of shingles in about 10 days or so and the pounding nerve pain in a month. Weekly IV infusions of amino acids, B vitamins and vitamin C helped expedite my recovery (along with some essential oils of my own).
As weeks and months progressed, the fatigue and exhaustion got worse.
Eventually, I became a slug, couldn’t do anything, didn’t want to do anything either.
About a year ago, my headaches became debilitating. I was barely able to accomplish the minimum. I put everything off that required focus or creativity.
Doing things I had previously considered fun was not fun anymore. I put on a fake smile and pretended to enjoy life.
That’s when I decided to turn up the dial on my search through the medical system to find an answer. I saw some really great doctors who conducted lots of lab tests that came up empty.
By this point I had eliminated all foods that I was sensitive to, indicated by an IgG food sensitivity test. Plus I gave up gluten, sugar, dairy, soy, nightshade vegetables and high histamine foods.
I repaired my leaky gut and got control of my Candida yeast overgrowth.
But all that was not enough.
I was referred from doctor to doctor and my final stop in the conventional medical world was a neurologist.
I was just sure that I had a brain tumor causing my headaches. Wouldn’t you think that too?
Fortunately, the neurologist did not find anything wrong with my brain based on an MRI and an EEG.
He told me I should try PROZAC, an anti-depressant.
Really? This was ‘all in my head’?! I threw away the script as I left his office.
Was I just a hypochondriac? That’s how the medical system was making me feel.
Phase Four–Finally an Answer
About that time, we moved to the Tampa, Florida area. God doesn’t make mistakes. Now I know why we just happened to move there.
I found a very knowledgeable functional medicine doctor who really listened and truly dug deep into the causes of my symptoms rather than just trying to treat them.
He discovered that I had Gliotoxin, a mycotoxin from mold spores. This type of mycotoxin can lead to brain cancer.
He also found a slew of bad bacteria hiding in biofilm, a protective shield manufactured by invading organisms to escape attack from our antibodies and natural killer cells.
To learn more about toxic mold, see my article “Is Toxic Mold the cause of your Fatigue?”
We began a natural treatment protocol using supplements of herbs, vitamins and amino acids.
I guess I wasn’t patient enough to ride out the 1 to 2 year program he prescribed. I couldn’t live with the pounding headaches for that long, so I researched other treatment programs.
Phase Five–Wellness Begins
I sought a protocol that was as natural as possible. I wanted to avoid pharmaceuticals whenever I could.
As God always provides, one of the most successful Mold and Lyme disease doctors is located in Tampa, FL near where I live, Sponaugle Wellness Institute, under the direction of Dr. “Rick” Sponaugle.
His protocol begins with an enormous amount of testing of amino acids, toxic metals, industrial toxins, essential minerals, organic acids, vitamins, neurotransmitters, infectious diseases and of course, toxic mold, Lyme disease (Borrelia) and its coinfections: Babesia, Bartonella and many others.
Dr. Sponaugle wanted a whole picture of my health, not just the parts with symptoms.
Dr. Sponaugle discovered that I also had Babesia (a co-infection of Lyme Disease), a couple of bands of Lyme disease and a whole lot of parasites hiding in biofilm.
He also found that my previous mold test had given me false negative results for Trichothecenes (a type of black mold toxin) in addition to Gliotoxin.
I knew exactly where I had been exposed to the toxic mold and it coincided with the onset of my symptoms years earlier.
But Babesia? Who knows what tick had bitten me and how long ago?
But apparently, it was more than my body could handle now.
Turns out many, if not most patients with toxic mold also have Lyme disease and its co-infections.
To learn more about Lyme disease (Borrelia) and its co-infections, see my article “Lyme Disease: Is Borrelia, Bartonella or Babesia to Blame for your Headaches?”
Genetic testing confirmed that I have a decreased ability to clear mold toxins as well as other methylation challenges, one of the body’s detoxification pathways.
These genetic issues are much more common than you think. About 25% of our population, it is estimated.
Phase Six–Treatment Begins
I arrived at Sponaugle Wellness Institute scared to death.
IV bags were hanging everywhere.
Many of the patients were in wheelchairs because their symptoms had progressed to that severe of a level of dysfunction.
Patients were of all ages, from kids to senior citizens.
I was petrified.
I discovered quickly that I was one of the lucky ones. I was still functional. Apparently I had discovered the root of my illness much sooner than many others.
I also found that everyone’s symptoms can differ, but fatigue and brain fog are very common.
The treatments involved daily intravenous (IV) infusions, Monday-Friday. I was there for TEN weeks. The length of time differs for each patient. Some are there as short as 6 weeks and others for 6 months or even more, depending on how sick you are.
My treatment was cut short because, frankly, I ran out of money and my husband got sick, too. But I made enough progress to continue the fight with supplements at home.
Medical insurance pays very little because, well, it’s a natural solution and Big Insurance/Big Pharma doesn’t support natural solutions.
Here was my individualized treatment protocol at Sponaugle Wellness Institute:
- After the initial testing, the first step was daily infusions of nutritional support such as: amino acids, B vitamins, minerals and Glutathione (the body’s master antioxidant) as indicated by your blood/urine work. This process typically takes 2 weeks.
These nutrients help build up the immune system and any frank deficiencies. They open up the detox pathways so that you can excrete the toxins in waste. Many people begin breaking through biofilm even at this stage, releasing those bad bacteria into the blood stream to be excreted.
- Supplements consisting of herbs, vitamins and minerals with a few as-needed pharmaceuticals were prescribed. Bioidentical hormone and neurotransmitter balancing is a key part of the program to support optimal immune function.
- Colonics, massages and Ionic foot baths were recommended (and optionally available at the clinic) to keep detox pathways open and flowing.
- A PET scan and other scans like MRIs and CT Scans were performed as necessary. The PET scan is helpful to monitor the brain’s activity and areas where the brain may be affected by toxins.
- Next step was to introduce intravenous Phosphatidylcholine (a major phospholipid that improves cognition, fat breakdown by the liver and lowers cholesterol). This nutrient also helps pull the toxins out of the tissue.
- Lab tests were done weekly along with daily symptom analysis so that the proportions of supplements and IV drips could be tweaked on a daily basis.
- Next Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) was administered to fight free radicals, improve cognition, preserve eye health and fight diabetes.
Blurred and reduced vision is a common side effect of these diseases. ALA also pulls toxins out of the tissue.
- Parasites were addressed using herbal supplements combined with colonics to ensure they are pushed out of the intestinal tract. Parasites can hide in biofilm and wreak havoc on your body.
- For some, the use of some form of an antibiotic, such as Doxycycline, is needed to kill the Lyme (or any other bad bacteria) that had been pulled from the tissue. Or an anti-viral, such as Acyclovir, is used to battle any viral infections. The antibiotic is coupled with a probiotic (not at the same time, of course) to replenish your healthy gut bacteria. Each patients’ diagnosis, symptoms, and reactions are customized and tweaked daily for maximum results. I did not need an antibiotic or antiviral.
- Once the lab tests revealed that the Lyme, co-infections and mold are at low enough levels, you can go home with oral supplements to allow your body to continue the fight.
Each patient’s treatment will be different, depending on what the lab testing finds.
Here’s the thing.
Dr Sponaugle is an expert on Lyme disease and toxic mold along with Lyme’s co-infections, for sure.
But he is really a brain doctor.
From day one, he addresses the brain with symptoms like depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, OCD, Autism, etc, etc. You leave his clinic with your brain and neurological issues under control.
I won’t say it was fun. Many of my symptoms got WAY worse before they got better through this process.
The toxins were pulled from my tissue and my brain and while they were in my bloodstream on their way out of my body, they made me feel awful in all kinds of weird ways: stronger headaches, chest pressure, stinging skin, joint pain, back and neck pain, irritability, exhaustion, diarrhea, ringing ears and blurred vision.
But I got through it.
I am continuing my detox treatments now the slow way, through supplements and infrared sauna.
- My brain is working SO much better now. I’m still working on reducing the occasional headache but that, too, is much better.
- My sleep quality is WAY better and that alone is helping to rebuild my strength so I can return to the exercise I used to enjoy.
- My emotions are in check because my hormones and neurotransmitters are regulated.
It was mighty expensive and not covered by insurance (except for some of the lab tests).
But, really, what is your health worth? I’d say it’s whatever you have to pay to regain it.
I still have to be uber careful about not working, living or staying in a moldy environment. I will need to monitor my blood work frequently and come in for checkups and booster treatments.
For the rest of my life.
I’ll take that. Plus Sponaugle Welllness Institute is near Clearwater, FL and its beautiful beaches. Sweet!
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Joli Tripp and Mind Blowing Wellness are not medical doctors nor licensed medical professionals. No comment or recommendation should be construed as being a medical diagnosis. If you suffer from a medical or pathological condition, you should consult an appropriate healthcare provider.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
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