My Experience at the Sophia Health Institute

A lot of people have expressed interest in hearing about my time at the Sophia Health Institute. If you’re a reader of this blog, you know that I’ve had a difficult time finding the right team of doctors in Texas. One reason being that Texas doesn’t allow naturopathic doctors to practice here like they do in many other states – they are legally limited in their practice and scope of work. My intuition lead me away from the more conventional methods, because, let’s face it – Lyme disease is not a conventional disease in any regard. And after a lot of research and prayer, I was lead to the Sophia Health Institute: a clinic founded by Dr. Klinghardt specializing in Lyme (or more accurately multi-systemic infectious disease syndrome), autoimmune disease, neurological disease and autism.

I’ve followed Dr. Klinghardt’s work from the moment I was diagnosed with Lyme disease; so now everything has come full circle in a way. For an entire year, I’ve devoured all the information I could from his work – every article, video, podcast – you name it; I consumed it.  While Dr. Klinghardt is not my main physician, he’s built a team of true healers at Sophia under his guidance.

A new beginning 

Last month, my parents and I flew out to Washington to begin our new path for recovery. My mom also has her own health challenges, including Lyme disease and autoimmune diseases, so we’ve been on this journey together from the start.

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Overall, I have to say that my time there was one of the best experiences of my life – and by far the best experience of my healing journey to date. At times it was very overwhelming, but for the first time, I really believed in what I was doing. I believed and trusted the doctors and treatment protocols; and I truly feel that this is my path to recovery. My mom, for the first time, believes she can recover. She believes she can get better. This is what energetic healing is all about. I believe the work done at Sophia has the ability to truly transform individuals on a cellular level. There was a true shift in our energy during our first week. If you’re not familiar with energetic healing or energetic medicine, I suggest you look into it.

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We stayed in downtown Kirkland near Lake Washington, and drove to Woodinville for treatments and appointments each day (Monday – Friday). Because I’m also Dr. Zweben’s patient (who is now at Marketplace Naturopathic, but used to work at Sophia), I traveled to Seattle to spend a day under at her office. I was at the clinic or in treatments from around 9 am to 4 or 5 pm each day.

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The first day was exhausting. I had a couple breakdowns, due to not keeping my blood sugar regulated, and the inflow of new information. It was just… a lot to take in. I had my first consultation with Dr. Dahlgren where we discussed a hundred things including my recent labs, EKG, and thermography results. She did muscle testing (ART), and created the first phase of my treatment protocol and outlined my “at-clinic” treatments. It was a whirlwind.

Each day of the week I had an appointment with a doctor (usually Dr. Dahlgren), and a full day of treatments and tests. These included:

  • UBIs (ultraviolet blood irradiation) – which is a potent immune booster and anti-pathogen treatment via IV.
  • Chelation therapy with the DMPS+EDTA IV for urinalysis for heavy metals.
  • Neural therapy (which included about 30 or so injections into my head, kidney, scars, etc).
  • Series of detox treatments including: ionic foot baths, ozone sauna, full body lymphatic drainage, and colon hydrotherapy with castor oil packs.
  • I also added on some body work/manual therapy with Dr. Aleksandr. He lightly adjusted my spine, hips, and even my liver. (Sounds weird, I know)… I wish I could have scheduled more sessions with him. It was amazing and unlike any type of regular massage – so gentle and rejuvenating catered to fatigue and pain syndromes.
  • Nutrition consult to outline a diet to control my inflammation and food sensitivities. Rather than just gluten free (like I’ve been for 1.5 years or so), I am now grain-free. I’m not full-on paleo, but my diet is high in protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and low sugar fruits. I’ll continue to be sugar-free, and mostly dairy-free (with occasional cheats with dairy!)
  • The Autonomic Response Testing (a unique form of muscle testing developed by Dr. K). This was so amazing. It not only helped to identify some of my main challenges, but also revealed which medications were currently responding well to my body. This takes the guessing out of the treatment plan, and makes each protocol very specific to the each patient. We did some form of muscle testing each day to check in where we were at, and how I was responding.

Through my time there, we were able to identify my top priorities. My tests revealed that I have Lyme disease (ha, duh) and more co-infections that I can’t even remember including Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia, Tularemia, Chl. Pneumoniae, and Mycoplasma. My bacterial load is hella high, but one of my main priorities right now is my metal toxicity. While I was there I did the urinalysis for heavy metals and my results came back showing: mercury poisoning! Aside from mercury, I had several other metals way out of reference showing major toxicity in lead, aluminum, bismuth, among others.

Mercury toxicity: how do you get it? The main source of mercury toxicity is dental amalgams – You know, those “silver” fillings from past cavities? I have four, so I’ve been working toward getting them safely removed. I wanted to wait until I was in a little bit better shape post-Sophia, and I now feel I am ready to proceed. It’s a major obstacle in my path, and once they’re removed, I can proceed with deeper healing. In the first week of December, I’ll be seeing a holistic biological dentist to remove all four of my amalgams under sedation. I’ll save this for another post – but basically, if you have amalgams, you should research and consider getting them safely removed with a biological dentist who is mercury-free and follows the Huggins Protocol. Don’t let a regular dentist remove them! Just. Don’t. (And here’s why.)

After my amalgams are safely removed I can proceed to do heavy metal chelation therapies including IVs, weekly shots, suppositories, infrared sauna sessions, and internal binders. I haven’t been able to proceed with the chelation because it will make you much, much worse if you attempt to chelate the metals while you have mercury in your mouth.

Now that I’m back home, my focus is 1) removing my amalgams and moving forward with chelation. 2) Scheduling UBI treatments followed with lymphatic body work and colonics twice per month. 3) At-home detox therapies including coffee enemas, dry brushing with detox baths, far infrared sauna (only after amalgams are removed), castor oil packs, and several detox drinks prescribed by my doctors. And lastly, 4) downing all my supplements, herbals, and homeopathic remedies, etc. I am taking a variety of medications/supplements for cardiovascular health, kidney and liver support, neurological support, and five or six antimicrobals. So far, I’ve been tolerating everything really, really well which is a major shift from how my body reacted to past treatments.

It’s going to be a long road, but I feel prepared. Treating holistically is going to take a lot of effort, but nothing will compare to those dark days without diagnoses and without competent doctors. I am so grateful to be in their hands. I go back in February for round 2!

 

Frustrations, Aspirations, and Patience

The last few weeks have been extremely rough; an emotional roller coaster/slip n’ slide/sob-about-the-injustice-of-the-world type of crap.  I’ve been easily frustrated, anxious, and overall, fed up. Until recently, I was trying to figure it all out on my own. Luckily, I’ve started treatment with a new doctor named Dr. Zweben up in Washington state that is helping me navigate the craziness that is my body. I haven’t met her yet, but so far, she is amazing. She is easy to talk to, empathetic, knowledgable, and for once, I feel like I’m on the same page as my doctor. You can read her interview with Well Scent here. (Highly recommend if you’re a fellow Lyme warrior, or interested in naturopathic medicine)

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I’m not focusing on directly attacking my Lyme disease or co-infections. Instead, I’m focused on building up my body in preparation for my week-long visit in Woodinville (near Seattle) at the Sophia Health Institute. I’ve mentioned before (but not on the blog) that I’ll be seeing Dr. Dahlgren, who is part of Dr. Klinghardt’s team of top-knotch doctors. This may be confusing, but Dr. Zweben will still be part of my team, even though she is not part of the Sophia Health Institute. She is, however, Klinghardt-trained and a colleague of Dr. Dahlgren’s. A lot of people have asked me “Why Sophia?” and “Why no more antibiotics?” A couple people have expressed a lot of skepticism regarding my choice to go a (mostly) holistic route to heal my body. (…Although many have expressed pure excitement and support). Every body is different. My body said no to conventional methods. I’m not saying I don’t or won’t be taking necessary prescriptions and possibly antibiotics in the future; however, most of my treatment will fall more on the holistic side. And this decision feels like the right one.

After just a couple of months into taking antibiotics, I started having a ton of doubt about my treatment protocol. If you have Lyme disease, you will be told time and time again that you will get worse before you get better. I understand the reasoning behind this. But the more I read, the more I believed that just using antibiotics was not right for my body. It works for some with great success… However, I think in some ways, it made me go backwards in my treatment. I don’t really like to say I’ve had set-backs because I have learned SO much in my healing journey, and I’m learning to be grateful for those tough, lesson-learning experiences.

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I had severe “herxing” (die-off reaction/surge of endotoxins which caused a horrible flare of symptoms, sometimes symptoms I didn’t even know I had), seizures, and I couldn’t tolerate more than teeny tiny doses at a time without being bed-ridden and totally hating my life. After a couple of bad reactions to the antibiotics, I decided to take a break, and re-evaluate. I once thought I was a failure if I didn’t keep trying to take the antibiotics. I thought if I didn’t push myself, I would be giving into weakness. If I stopped, would I ever recover? Now I realize this kind of thinking is just ridiculous, and a complete disservice to my body, mental strength, and emotional well-being. I needed to listen to my intuition. So, I did.

I believe it’s not just about “killing bugs”… it’s a lifestyle change. It’s ridding your body of toxins (especially heavy metals and addressing exposure to mold). It’s reducing and eliminating exposure to environmental toxins and EMFs; changing your diet by eating clean, whole food; addressing food sensitivities and allergies. It’s healing the entire body. I made changes to my lifestyle before I was even officially diagnosed, but the changes were not enough. Because this is a lifestyle change, it can’t happen overnight.

While there are good doctors in Texas, I knew that my options here for my particular health challenges were slim. More than anything, I was tired of leading myself through this confusing tunnel of darkness and illness alone – I needed the support of a doctor who understood my body, not just Lyme disease (every symptom and problem is not just Lyme). I wanted a doctor that I could trust, so I would no longer have constant doubt about my treatment. It was tearing me apart.

I decided to listen to my gut. After a lot of research and chatting with others, my intuition told me to go to the Sophia Health Institute. I’ll be at the clinic in October for a little over a week of tests and treatments. I’ll be logging my experience and recovery here on the blog.

So what am I doing? I’m being kind to myself, and practicing the art of patience. It’s a process, let me tell you. One of the hardest parts of your healing journey will be learning how to support your emotional state. I am also hydrating (A LOT) and filling my body with much needed electrolytes. I’m trying to rest. I’m taking a lot of supplements, binders, and immune support therapies that are specific to my needs. I’m doing at-home detoxing, like baths (not the kind of baths that actually clean you!) and far infrared sauna sessions. I was also getting Vitamin C + Glutathione IVs a few times per month, colonics, ionic foot baths, and acupuncture (acupuncture is my favorite thing, ever). Things like colonics, coffee enemas, needles, blood, diet restrictions – none of that matters when you are fighting for wellness. You suck it up and you do it. It takes time, but these things are worth the effort.

For an glimpse into my current treatment plan, go here.

Will I stay in bed some days, and not follow through with the things above? You bet. But I try to support my body every day, and fight the fears that the day may bring. Whether that day is full of body-wide/mouth numbness for 36 hours (WTF), or using coffee in ways that don’t include drinking it (wait, that is a real thing?), I have to face the day in some capacity, every day.

My advice, for whatever it’s worth: Stop beating yourself up for not being perfect. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate every little accomplishment. When life’s especially tough, make a list of the good things. Feel the frustration, sit with it a moment, and then let it go. Don’t let it make a home in you. Find people that build you up, and make you laugh. Seriously, laugh as much as you can.

I made a quick list of aspirations that I thought I would share.

SEPTEMBER ASPIRATIONS

  • Eat gluten-free s’mores around a bonfire. Yep, gonna have some chocolate.
  • Learn calligraphy.
  • Make art.
  • Expand Le Lapin Boutique.
  • Walk on the beach, dig feet into sand.
  • Swim/sit in the sea. (I’m going to the Texas coast, so a lot of these are beach themed)
  • Soak up Vitamin D!
  • Take polaroids.
  • Refine blog design.
  • Write more.
  • Spend time with friends.
  • Find a gluten-free donut. Eat it.
  • Make more DIYs for Well Scent.

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These are FUN things. As you can see, they have nothing to do with treatment. But all have to do with happiness. What are your September aspirations? Comment below, I’d love to know!

xo Melissa

 

“Why Don’t You Just Push Through?”

Today, someone said to me something that I know a lot of people are thinking. “Why don’t you just push through? Why don’t you just try to live normally and do what you want, regardless if you might hurt a little more the next day.” “Maybe if you stay busy, and get a part-time job, you would feel better.”

I didn’t know what to say. I was so taken aback that I couldn’t even respond without stuttering while also trying to be polite. Because apparently I am a meek, passive person. Soon after, I cried. I cried a lot. Because that’s what meek people do.

I cried because I am feeling insecure. I am scared that my mind doesn’t work as well as it used to. I get so frustrated when I can’t find the words to complete my thoughts… I know my body isn’t strong like it once was. I know I am probably too thin and don’t have enough muscle. I worry about my future. I worry about it just like you do. Every single component of my life is uncertain. I plan (Type A, right here), but those plans change because sometimes I don’t have the strength to do even the most basic things. But I know that I have always pushed through. I know what it’s like to keep going when you’re tired, or not feeling well. Most of us do this at different points in our lives. But having a chronic illness is a game changer, and unless you have one, you’re not in the club. And because of that, you don’t understand entirely what it’s like. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Pushing through to live a “normal” life can’t always happen. Lately “pushing through” means getting off the couch or bed, putting my feet in the dirt and breathing fresh air. It means opening up my computer and writing. It means taking every single last pill, drop, powder, hydrating, and eating well. It also means having conversations. Doesn’t that sound crazy? But that’s the truth. Sometimes it’s very hard to have conversations because of the way this disease affects you: mentally, emotionally, and physically.

The truth is, there are a lot of people out there who think they know the magic fix. “If you just tried this supplement…” “If you just tried to exercise…” “If you just pushed through…” I could go on, but you get the point. There’s no magic fix, magic pill, magic anything. The only thing magical is the human spirit, and the ability to keep on surviving when you start to lose hope.

“Be Gentle With Yourself. You’re Doing the Best You Can”

Get to know the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance

One of the first things I did when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease (after compulsively researching about it online and reading a 500 page book) was search the hashtag #lymedisease on Instagram. To my surprise thousands of photos popped up. That’s how I found Lauren. She’s my age, and seemed pretty awesome based on the little glimpses into her life. Little did I know then that she would be an integral part to my Lyme fight support system. We have a lot of the same symptoms, co-infections, and illnesses that have arisen because of our initial Lyme infection. We even have the same positive bands on our diagnostic test. She’s given me some great tips for healing and is an advocate every Lyme disease patient should keep their eyes on.

Lauren was invited by John Donnally, member of the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, to join the organization as a junior board member. Her role is to assist in the planning of fundraisers, help the junior board’s website, and inspire healing by sharing healthy recipes and ideas. Though her doctor is in New York City, she lives in Washington DC, and plans to take advantage of her location to get involved in making changes on a policy level that will help doctors, patients, and the unbitten – which is what TBDA is all about.

On their website TBDA states that part of their efforts are to raise funds for much-needed research. They are embarking on a quest to develop a diagnostic tool as a first step toward eradicating the disease. Right now, as many of you know, the tests are either very expensive (IGeneX) or prone to a high rate of inaccuracies.

Lyme patients are all independent voices, but TBDA allows us to join together for real change and participate in active grassroots campaigns. Our voice is much stronger, much louder when we are working together.

I asked Lauren to share her experience at the recent TBDA Gala and her top 3 tips that have helped her make major improvements to heal her body.

What is amazing is just last fall, Lauren was having seizures due to the neurotoxins produced by the die-off while she was on antibiotics. Now, she’s active – albeit still quite sick – able to ride her bike around DC and even ride and jump horses again, a hobby she’s had since childhood. So how does she do it?

“Eat clean and organic as often as possible,” she says. If you follow her account @virtualspoons on Instagram, you will find dozens of delicious recipes that mostly follow a paleo diet. She also avoids processed and genetically modified foods as much as possible.

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We all know how much detoxing is crucial to our health, so it’s no surprise that sweating it out is tip #2. “I use a portable infrared sauna to raise my body temperature to both kill bacteria and detox. This allowed me to slowly introduce low impact exercise, like biking, which has strengthened my body and immune system.”

Lastly, Lauren says that high dose Vitamin C infusions (Myer cocktails) have been a big part of her treatment plan. “At that level, the Vitamin C is pro-oxidant and is an electron donor that combats illness at a cellular level.”

TBDA is already making some major moves for Lyme disease so I asked Lauren to share her experience below.

TBDA

By Lauren Sturges

Earlier this month, the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) raised a record breaking $1.1 million dollars in the span of a few hours during their annual gala and auction. When I asked the head of the TBDA junior board, John Donnally, when we had to start planning for next year’s gala, I was surprised as he chuckled and said “now.”

After looking around that evening it’s easy to understand why the TBDA has no time to rest on its laurels. The event was attended by over 600 guests, all of whom just barely fit in the massive room in Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers.

Among the attendees were celebrities, athletes, Wall Street titans, and well-known tick-borne disease doctors and researchers. There were passionate speakers and awards given to courageous activists with moving videos to go alongside. The bottom line of all these presentations seemed to be resounding: we need change, and we need it urgently.

It is a rare Lyme patient who feels satisfied with how the medical system has handled their illness, and the majority of the others (hundreds of thousands) feel as though they have slipped between the cracks of the health care system. But when you are dealing with institutions as large and powerful as government agencies, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies, the individual voices can get lost.

The TBDA has revolutionized the cause by channeling individual voices into a much larger body, one that can speak on the terms of its detractors. The Alliance is a recent merger of two others, Turn the Corner Foundation (funded Under Our Skin) and the Tick-Borne Disease Initiative. Lyme activism is not a new phenomenon, but an organization of this power and size is unprecedented. Its supporters hope this will make the difference in getting the attention of the necessary parties.

With diseases as complicated as Lyme and its co-infections, it is difficult to choose where to begin advocacy work. The TBDA did not take this decision lightly. With limited resources for a massive, underrepresented disease base, they realized how efficient their work must be. With no accurate Lyme disease test, the board agreed on diagnostics as the area to focus the strength of its efforts on.

The gala was a much needed evening of merriment surrounding a disease that takes a severe physical, psychological, and financial toll on its victims and their families. But the presenters got serious later in the evening to discuss exactly where the funds from the event would go. David Roth, co-chairman of the board, took the stage to talk about the development of a bio-repository, which is the first step in developing an accurate diagnostic.

The TBDA is in the early stages of creating a system for collecting, storing, and testing the blood of tick-borne disease sufferers. Researchers are hoping to develop a quick, affordable, and accurate alternative to the expensive and inaccurate tests that currently dominate the market.

In order to get this repository off the ground, the TBDA needs more funding. The final tally after the gala pleasantly surprised many, and will go a long way; but that sum is still small compared to the amount of funding other diseases of this severity get from the government. This is why grassroots outreach is also a top priority of the Alliance, because it is effective and free.

If you follow the TBDA on social media, you will have noticed the efforts they have made to connect this disease to mainstream conversation. The Alliance is constantly looking for support from those with visibility, whether it is from actors, singers, politicians, athletes, television stars, or businessmen and women.

Recent endorsements and public service announcements on behalf of the TBDA have been made by Kevin Bacon, Dr. Oz, Debbie Gibson, the Mets baseball team, Angeli Vanlaanen (Olympian), among others. It is crucial that Lyme disease and tick-borne illness discussion enters the living rooms and crosses the laptops of as many people as possible, especially those who have not been affected.

It is for this reason that TBDA has recently invested in creating a junior board for the Alliance. The younger generation is particularly savvy with social media and grassroots communication. The Alliance wants to bring a fresh perspective to the table, while creating the next generation of tick-borne disease advocates.

The junior board was put together this year by Courage Award recipient, John Donnally, and is comprised of approximately 16 members, each of whom bring unique skills and experience to the table. John hopes that the junior board will help to humanize the illness by exposing how debilitated otherwise young and vibrant individuals with tick-borne disease can become. The board will also serve to help other young people with the disease connect with each other, find ways to talk to their friends and family about illness, and create a momentum for the future of this illness.

At the gala, John Donnally introduced the founding members of the junior board for the first time. The energy in the room then and throughout the night was incredible, and we believe it will carry the Alliance to meet the ambitious goals it hopes to achieve this year. It will require the support of many, but with a national voice like the TBDA, the change many have dreamed of for years is beginning to materialize.

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We live in a time of immense suffering, but also hope for the changes that our generation will bring in regards to tick-borne disease treatment and prevention. I cannot stress how important this conversation is, and not just among the infected. This “northeast” disease is all over our country, all throughout the world; it’s not just deep in the woods, but in our backyards.

Follow Lauren @virtualspoons and the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance @TBDAlliance on both Instagram and Twitter and look for Lauren’s upcoming website: http://www.virtualspoons.com coming this summer.

Update:

According to the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance on Facebook, they have just announced the pending merger of Lyme Research Alliance and Tick-Borne Disease Alliance. “By joining forces, we will have formed the largest global nonprofit organization for tick-borne diseases, providing greater resources to support research aimed at eliminating these debilitating diseases, while growing general public and physician awareness campaigns.”

 

Updates and Lyme News for May

A lot has been happening on the Lyme-front — both personally and on a national scale — in the month of May. I started out this month with a high dose IV of Glutathione and Vitamin C (and was very sick for 5 days after), and then started on new antibiotics. Because I haven’t tolerated Rifampin too well in the past, one of my docs wanted me to try Levaquin. After researching the drug online (and talking to a few other Lyme patients) I decided against taking the antibiotic because of its high risks. For instance, it can cause major tendon damage (sometimes irreparable) within just a few days of taking it. This was something I was not willing to risk, considering everyone I knew has had a bad reaction to this particular drug. I called my doc up and he switched me over to Rifampin again. I was supposed to gradually increase doses/add new meds as the month of May progressed, but I could only manage to take ONE Rifampin per day + my plaquenil. Even with just one dose, I was having extreme reactions. I’ve had seizures due to die-off of the bacteria in my brain before, so this is something I am a bit cautious of. I continued to have extreme dizziness, feelings of electricity going through my body, “brain zaps”, tremors and twitches, horrible weakness and nausea for weeks. This reaction combined with my usual symptoms was just too much. For now I have halted my antibiotics and I’m focusing on a new natural route for the time being. You can read about my current protocol here.

I may work up to taking Doxy and Ceftin, but my body just can’t handle it at this point. I’m happy to report that TODAY I am feeling okay. I am less foggy, tired, and full of pain than usual, so I take this as blessing. I know that the bad days will come again, but I’m prepared to take them on. Easier said…

One of my friends, Lauren (@virtualspoons), who is a Jr. Board Member of the Tick Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), attended their gala earlier this month and will be sharing her experience on my blog! She has become one of my closest friends (I’ve yet to meet) and I am so proud of her aligning herself with this amazing organization. She truly has so much to offer. She also attended this year’s Mayday Project sporting a “Lyme Don’t Kill My Vibe” T-shirt. 🙂

Lauren

 (Lauren, and another Lyme-fighting/Activist friend, Megan)

I wanted to share a video from the gala that I thought was very important. I am so thankful that we have such a passionate community set on making a difference. You can watch the 9 minute video of David Roth’s speech here:

So, as disgusting as this next part is, I’ve been collecting ticks for research. Unfortunately, the collection process has been far too easy. To anyone who doubts there is Lyme in the South, you are very incorrect. While I’m not sure what (if any) diseases these guys carry, I have about 10 ticks so far that I’ll be sending to Lyme Lab at Texas A&M.

I’ll be posting more on this later, but PLEASE – no matter where you live, do tick checks often. If you have pets, do not assume they are free of ticks just because they have been “treated” with tick medicine or sprays. I speak from experience – your dog can STILL carry ticks. So do yourself a HUGE favor and check your dogs each time they come inside.

Some good news:

I’ll be meeting with Dr. Maria Esteve-Gassent in July when she makes a trip up to Dallas. She’s currently in Spain but she informed me that she has recently published a paper stating that they have found deer ticks in Texas that were infected with the causative agents of Lyme. Her lab will not only test the ticks for Borrelia, but also Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. Many researchers are saying that at least 25% of ticks in Texas carry Borrelia. While this is nothing to be excited about, I am glad that we have scientists out there working to prove that it’s a problem here – not just in the Northeast. The more we know about this disease(s), the better we can combat it.

When we meet with her, my dad and I will find out what other ways we can help her research. Yay science!

Don’t forget to send me your #lipstickwarpaint photos for the series! I’ll be completing the series in June to reveal here on the blog with a few glimpses on Instagram.

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Hope everyone is enjoying Memorial Day. May it be full of remembrance and fun, and not pain.

xx Melissa

Lyme Disease Awareness: Month of May GIVEAWAY

I’m still hoping that somehow, someway, I can become Santa Claus when I grow up. Or I guess, like, Oprah or Ellen would be fine as well.

As fun as it is to receive presents, I much prefer to give them. One of my favorite parts of this disease (I mean, c’mon, the list is endless!) has been sending off care packages to other fellow Lyme slayers. I’ve received a handful as well, and I think that it’s such a wonderful way to show support, love, and encouragement during hard times. Receiving mail that isn’t doctor bills can really lift your spirits. I’ve said before that I’ve met some of the most compassionate people through battling this disease, so in that way, I feel very fortunate. Jenna, from Linked By Lyme, started a wonderful campaign to bind fellow Lyme warriors. She is not only raising money for Lyme patients, but she also sent off a big batch of wonderful Lyme-friendly packages around the first of this year. She is so inspiring, and has started a line on Etsy (LivFreeDIY) that makes it easy to complete your own DIY projects. She comes up with some of the best DIY toxic-free, essential oil based products, so be sure to check her out on Instagram at @livfree_diy.

I’ve decided that I’ll be incorporating some giveaways on the blog, and I wanted to do a kick off in the Month of May for Lyme Awareness. It’s also my blog’s birth month so that’s something to celebrate as well.

I’ve already started the giveaway on Instagram (so if you’re reading this and want to participate, then head on over to my IG at @mellypeacox to enter).

Lyme Awareness Giveaway

I wanted to share on the blog the different items in the giveaway, and explain to you why they’re my favorite. I also wanted to note that you do NOT have to have Lyme disease to enter the giveaway. While it’s quite geared toward someone who has Lyme, I believe all of these are totally usable for anyone. Many giveaways in the future will not be as Lyme disease specific, but all are welcome to enter! 🙂

Giveaway items

Lyme Don’t Kill My Vibe Tee or Tank

ShirtsThese are the shirts I designed for Lyme Awareness that can be found on my Etsy Shop, Le Lapin Boutique. I am a sucker for design, and I couldn’t find many shirts out there that spread awareness for Lyme disease and fit my preferred aesthetic. So I decided to design my own (and borrow a chunk of money from my parents) and sell them as a way to spread awareness and bind our community together. I’m happy to report that I’ve almost made my money back, er, my parents’ money, and many of my friends and loved ones are buying them in support as well. They’ll finally be shipped out this week (the printer messed up 95% of my inventory, so everything got pushed back), but all is well now! I hope they continue to sell so I can use those proceeds to put into a charity fund that will help someone with at least a portion of their treatment. That’s my long-term goal. Oh, and the shirts are super soft, because I refuse to wear a shirt (or anything) that’s not comfortable.

*And don’t worry, if you happened to have already purchased a shirt, you can still enter and receive another for yourself (if you want to have both styles) or you can give one away to a friend or family member (or even fellow Lyme friend).

Be Brave Print 

I found this on Etsy awhile back, and really loved it. Simple design typography has really been a recent favorite lately, and there’s something quite nice about simplicity. The color obviously fits for Lyme, but I really love it for anything, and anyone.

Healing Chakra Energy Candle

If you don’t know by now, you’ll soon learn that I’m a bit of an eclectic one, and love all that #hippieshit. Though I’ve always been a spiritual person, I’m really working on meditation (and more prayer). My mind is either in overdrive or completely not functioning, so meditation is something that my brain likes to scoff at. But I’m really trying because I believe it can help heal the spirit and strengthen your whole body. It helps with my anxiety a lot, as well. And I always feel more grounded and less “wirey.” You can use this candle during prayer or meditation, or you can burn it just for its soothing smell. It’s made with 100% pure essential oils (Lavandin + Orange + Tangerine) and smells quite lovely.

“In wisdom you accept what you cannot change, but you know you have the courage to help change what is possible.”

Lavender Essential Oil From Young Living (Therapeutic Grade)

Lavender has a fresh, sweet scent that’s both soothing and refreshing. It should be a staple of any home, and it’s a great “starter oil.” It’s wonderful to aid in soothing stress, promoting relaxation, and can be used for anything from skin irritations and burns to helping you wind down for bed at night. You can read more about all the ways to use Lavender here.

Tea

I’ll be sending a sampling of some of my favorite teas. One of my go-to brands is Yogi, which is 100% natural and organic.

Teas

Pill Socks

I loved these Nasty Gal pill socks so much that I decided to buy a few extra pair. They’re colorful and um, obviously suitable for a lot of us.

Pill socks

Emoji Earrings (also from Nasty Gal)

Because they’re a cute reminder to be happy. And look at that little lipstick pout.

Earrings

So there you have it! I hope whoever wins the giveaway loves these little items as much as I do. Keep a look out for @kaylamariedenny’s giveaway (Lyme advocate and blogger of Joy Rises) next week! She’s got some amazing stuff lined up.

UPDATE: The winner of the first giveaway goes to Sara @ss_love. Thanks to everyone for participating! 🙂

Melissa. xx

I’m Joining Forces with Holistic Apothecary Well Scent

I met with the lovely Well Scent ladies last month when I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Austin (visiting my old stomping grounds) while my parents’ house in North Texas got its own detox (mold-be-GONE). I started using the Well Scent line a few months ago to aid my healing and support my move toward more natural products… I actually intended to order from them back in February around my birthday, but in reality, I only thought I made a purchase. I filled up my cart with products and apparently stopped before confirming my purchase. Enter: Lyme in the Brain. I get sidetracked easily these days. I eagerly waited a couple of weeks for my order to come in, and then completely forgot about it for at least another two weeks. Enter Lyme in the Brain Part 2. I then decided to email them because I had no confirmation order and knew I was probably very confused because I’m used to only ordering off of Amazon (where most dreams come true / where our credit card is already on file). Stacy, the founder and apothecary owner, was super sweet and we laughed together about the mix up and about how Lyme is so funny haha LOL Lyme thanks for making me wait an extra 5 weeks before getting my awesome Well Scent products. Anyway, I finally made the real purchase (which came in very quickly) and tried out the following from their holistic apothecary:

  • Watch Your Mouth for oral hygiene (completely free of all the crap in your standard toothpaste)
  • Renew (an essential oil blend developed specifically for Lyme disease)
  • Go-Go (to aid the lymphatic system with detox) and
  • Free Your Chi (to aid the liver with detox)

Well Scent Logo

I pretty much fell in love with the brand instantly, and soon found out they headquartered in Austin (which of course made me love them even more). Since my first purchase back in March, I’ve added another Lyme specific blend called Balance, Primitooth to accompany the Watch Your Mouth blend for brushing teeth, and Smile, an emotional support blend. And guess what — I love them all. I love them all so much that I want to review each of the products (and will use complete honesty), though overall, I have to give the company an A+. This was all BEFORE they were like, “hey wanna come work for us” and I was like “UH, DUH!”

So I’ve been using their products almost daily, and took to social media (specifically Twitter and Instagram) to profess my love for the brand. A follower of mine actually asked if I was paid to endorse them (I wasn’t / I’m not). So let it be known: I loved them BEFORE they decided to hire me. I truly love this brand, their products, and most of all, the women who run the show.

So as I look back, I just realized that this isn’t the first time I’ve first fallen in love with a brand and then had the pleasure of working with them. I did this with Austin’s own The Bright Light Social Hour. I really liked the band, they were on the rise (locally), so I reached out to them after a show about becoming their “PR intern.” Before I knew it, I was at their practice space talking to the guys and their manager. I ended up interning with them through my last year of college (they taught me some music biz stuff, and I self-taught + applied my PR degree to music PR), and when I graduated, I became a paid publicist for all their North America touring (and lucky for me, they toured nonstop). Within a couple of months, I decided to take on more bands and artists as clients. I started my first sole proprietorship, Music Box Media, had about 15 clients throughout the span of 2 years, brought on two different interns and even employed a PR contractor… and then crashed and burned with that little thing called Lyme disease. Anyway, not to brag, but I kind of rocked being Bright Light’s publicist, and it was because I believed in their band (which ran like a business – they’re quite the businessmen) and LOVED them dearly – and their music, too. I was a fan before I made that first meeting with their manager, and I kind of feel like I’m strangely in a similar situation with Well Scent. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since graduating from UT and being in the working world, it’s that it’s really special to work with and for things and people you believe in – so that being said, I am a big fan of Well Scent, and I think we’re going to make a great team. (Working for things you don’t believe in sucks. I don’t recommend it.) (I also still love the Bright Light boys and their music, even though I no longer work in the music PR world).

My work with Well Scent will evolve over time into different things, but I know I’ll be assisting them with content creation, some PR, and building the Instagram. They’re also trying to talk me into doing some product tutorial videos as well and to that I say LOL). Not because I won’t do it, but because I am trying to envision myself brushing my hair. Which I should actually do because I accidentally found a little dreadlock the other day. Actually, my mom found it, I have no idea how long said dreadlock was camping out back there. But you guys, lifting my arms above my head is just really hard and it makes me dizzy.

Anyway, look how nice Well Scent is: “Melissa beautifully complements our team and embodies the Well Scent philosophy by choosing to be empowered as it relates to the challenges in her life. We think she will bring a modern perspective and a lot of fun to her work.”

Meeting them was definitely one of the highlights of spending time in Austin last month, and I had no idea these series of events would land me a job working with them. A job with women who felt like family upon meeting them. A job with women who are fellow Lyme warriors. A job that allows me work from my bed, with employers who understand I’m sick – battling for my health – and still believe in and support me anyway.

Thank you Stacy for bringing me on board. xx