I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease as well as multiple viruses and other bacterial/parasitic infections. I had done everything that my doctors have suggested for treatment as well as alternative treatment methods; all had failed to put this disease into remission. I went to to Peru by myself to try some very old alternative healing methods using Amazonian plants and healers as a last resort to kill this bacteria before it killed me. The trip to South America was one last plan of attack to get some semblance of life back… and I succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. My issues started when I was about 7 years old. Joint pain, chronic fatigue, depression and other ailments all started around then and continued to worsen the closer I got to puberty. The doctors attributed my knee and back pain to intense growing pains.
I was a talented and smart little kid. I received excellent grades & loved school, played sports, skied and did ballet. I stopped playing and made excuses as to why I didn't want to participate anymore to avoid painful situations. The expensive specialists told my parents that there was nothing wrong. The beginning of middle school I was misdiagnosed with depression and put on medication that made me 'see red'- now knowing it triggered Lyme rage. I was then given the bi-polar label and put on more medications. I was also diagnosed with Dissassociative Identity Disorder. The fracturing in my brain was more prevalent due to the Lyme and Bartonella. I was self-medicating and suicidal. Most months I spent a week in the psych ward and missed a lot of school due to "mono", my mother's white lie to the attendance office. I was also cutting myself and was displaying 'at risk' behavior. The suicide attempts elevated everyone's fear. I was eventually sent to a locked behavioral treatment facility in Idaho when I was 14 and then transferred to a locked facility in Utah.
I came home during my sophomore year and finished high school at a charter school. I worked for the Sacramento Mental Health System mentoring and advocating for youth with mental illness. I stayed clean and sober in a self-help program and tried my best to help others. My health was up and down and I continued to have mental breakdowns. I finished school though with a 3.8 GPA and was accepted to UC Berkley, St. Mary's and other prestigious schools. I ended up staying close to home due to being too mentally unstable. After doing well at a community college and working hard for CA Mental Health Association and Sacramento Mental Health, I moved to the east bay to attend school. I was headed to St. Mary's College on a merit scholarship to study psychology at the age of 19. My mind started to get worse and my psychical pain continued to increase. There were more psychiatric hospital stays and ER visits in that 2 year period than I can count. I was house bound due to pain and lack of sanity and no amount of pain or psychiatric medication in the world would ease any of it.
I moved back to Sacramento to be near my parents at 22 years old since my symptoms had reached an uncontrollable level. I also had a cold/flu for over 2 months that I couldn't kick. My mom insisted I went to her doctor to get tested for the whole gamut. We were thinking that I just had vitamin or mineral deficiencies from the years of insane amounts of medication. The doctor tested me for Lyme Disease and co-infections after describing MANY symptoms relating to these illnesses. It turned out that I had positive Lyme DNA in my blood, tons of positive bands for Lyme, Babesia and Bartonella. My CD57 (immune system marker) was only at a 12 (normal is a 300). I had a SPECT brain scan done and it showed the enormous lack of blood flow to the frontal and parietal lobes of my brain, This caused my mental health/behavioral issues, learning disorders, and neurological issues. I had full blown neurological encephalitis by the time they finally checked. I was never crazy, just very, very sick! I started oral antibiotic treatment immediately at the age of 22 for the co-infection, Babesia. Some of the symptoms caused by Babesia included insomnia, night terrors, night sweats, joint pain, and many others... many started to decrease after only 6 months of oral antibiotics and anti-malarial meds.
After that I started a 14 month journey of daily IV antibiotics through a Groshong chest catheter (what chemo and dialysis patients use). I was housebound for the majority with barely enough energy to leave my bed. My pain and muscle spasms were unbearable. I lost my gallbladder and had other week long stays in the hospital for severe Dystonia, spasms and temporary paralysis. I met my husband right before I was diagnosed and he has never left my side since. After two years of battling hell together, I got to marry my best friend at the age of 24. I was able to design my wedding dress to cover the port in my chest and attempted to be healthy for my special day. I was taken off antibiotics and had my port removed after a terrible hospital stay a few months after the wedding.
Although, after enduring the treatment I was able to get around without a wheelchair, I could speak clearly (was unable to speak in sentences), my vision was clear (lost vision completely for a period), my memory was better, and I no longer had any mental health issues what-so-ever. I was healthy enough to go back to school and ended up finishing my BFA in 2 years in Fashion Design & Merchandising. The more important thing is I was clear enough that I graduated magnum cum laude at the top of my class!! I still had hospital stays about every 3-4 months when the stress would become too great on my body but maintained mostly functional until about 6 months before graduation. I knew the bacteria was back based on my failing memory, increasing pain and frustration at school. Writing full thoughts became impossible again but my school was willing to work with me since I was willing to work so hard. They had never seen a more determined student.
At 27, I started back on oral antibiotics and tried to treat one of my co-infections, Bartonella. Lack of treating this particular infection the 1st time around is probably why treating the Lyme was SO difficult and hard on my body. The Bartonella is what caused SO many of my mental health and neurological issues. Treating it is incredibly hard emotionally this go around. The pain, seizures, and terrifying hallucinations make keeping the hope alive a difficult task. I tested positive with 2 strains of the bacteria through a Bartonella culture test. With confirmation, my insurance still argues with me regarding coverage. I will even leave a hospital stay (during which my spasms and tachycardia can continue during sleep while on high dosages of Dilodid, Ativan and Haldol) my discharge paperwork will still read, "Psychosomatic" for political purposes.
The political Lyme war is killing patients (to understand please watch the Under Our Skin documentary or read the book Shifting the Lyme Paradigm). It is frustrating when you have to fight for your life outside and inside of the hospital due to incompetence and lack of Lyme training for doctors and nurses. I tried IV antibiotics again due to dwindling health but had to stop due to a blot clots. No surgeon was willing to allow me to do IVs due to the risk. I had been on oral antibiotics and anti-viral medication to almost no avail. The majority of the time, I'm wasn’t able to eat food due to gastro-intestinal failures, I was house and bed bound due to pain and seizures, and could no longer live my life. My immune system had dropped once again to a risky low and had run out of treatment options.
Meredith Shippam was my light guiding me toward my journey in Pisac, Peru. I had known her as a friend from Sacramento, CA and when I had no other options for healing in the eyes of western medicine, Meredith suggested that I come to Pisac where possibilities for healing were ultimately endless. I was unsure but had faith in Meredith’s own miraculous healing journey and gifts that she was currently sharing with the beautiful people of The Sacred Valley. Meredith is very well connected on the physical, emotional and spiritual planes and connected me with my “healing team”, including Elise Weisinger, a powerful herbalist that prepared my strict protocol (based on Stephen Buhner's protocol for Lyme and Bartonella) that helped tremendously in my healing journey.
Meredith helped with everything mental and spiritual as Elise tweaked herbs pertaining to the physical. Meredith acted as my rock, my therapist, my wachumero, my energy healer, my reiki master, my light, and my friend. Never did I imagine the transition that would occur when I made my first Skype call to Elise to start on a new and demanding protocol and diet. Her guidance via Skype and email made it possible for me to even be well enough to board a plane one month after I made the decision to come to the Sacred Valley. With Elise's help I increased my CD57 number from a 17 to a 44 in just one month (higher than I had been able to get it after 7 years of antibiotics).
The 14 hour journey was incredibly difficult yet wheelchair services made in possible. Elise's husband Sean picked me up at the airport with oxygen and wheelchair and helped me get settled into my hostel. Due to my seizures I ended up needing to move closer to them in order to help me with unforeseen crisies. A critical hospital visit proved this to be necessary. I had a Peruvian nanny with me 24/7 to help me when anything I needed and to cook my specialized diet and to brew my many different types of protocol teas.
Elise would work with be on a daily basis training my helper on my protocols and tweaking herbs daily to perfect what I needed for my symptoms at that moment. Elise, her husband Sean, and Meredith worked so hard to make sure I was safe and well cared for. I also began bi-weekly massages with Sean West. He is the first massage therapist that began to improve my pain and started to give me feeling in limbs that had been suffering from chronic neuropathy. He also helped me tremendously with detox and was great at encouraging me through some of my toughest pain days.
I really hibernated my first month but daily yoga, massage and herbal regime was truly helping. I then was introduced to San Pedro cactus. My healing team was concerned about me entering a seizure during a ceremony and always had a IV line prepared ahead of time just in case anything went wrong. Although, what I received from my first ceremony with Meredith was miraculous, the ability to move my pain and spasms as energy and felt free of chronic pain for the first time in my life that I could remember. A glimpse into what the possibility of what my future could feel like. I continued micro-dosing with San Pedro every day which reduced my pain levels from a chronic 8-10 down to a 0-2.
I then began doing Kambo ceremonies with a man named Adrian Rivas, a true master of this medicine. With the use of this frog poison I was able to boost my immune system like I would have never imagined. After drinking 2 liters of water, small burns were placed on my ankles, followed by sprinkles of powdered poison. Violent purging into a bucket lasted for 20 minutes but within 1-2 hours I was filled with amazing amounts of energy. After my third Kambo ceremony I was able to hike a mountain for the first time in 10 years.
I also was able to fully integrate 9 different personalities using Ayahuasca and San Pedro. Through these plants I was able to understand that I am strong enough to do anything on my own. I didn't need doctors to heal nor did I need my alters to hold my traumas anymore. During a ceremony they all said goodbye and left me holding all of their traumas and personality traits as my own.
After spending 3 months in Peru working incredibly hard at building my strength physically, emotionally and spiritually I knew that it was time to return home. I wanted an adventure after being bed bound for almost 7 years... and I received exactly what I asked for. I also got my life back. To prove to myself how healthy I had become I went out on faith (praying my body would make it) and hiked 18 kilometers at 4600 meters. As I was 17,500 feet up in the Andes, kneeling before a black lagoon, high in the mountains, I realized I had made it. I made it to the top of the world, I had conquered life and death.
I flew home the next day knowing that I would be ok no matter what. I have literally laughed in the face of chronic illness, debilitating pain, horrific mental illness, and death and have come to the other side with the truest gift of clarity and peace. I can conquer anything I put my mind to. Anyone is strong enough to heal if they truly want to and have the will to fight until the end.
I would love to share my story with the world in order to help others heal from an epidemic that currently has no hope or direction.