Michelle's Story

Hi everyone. As many of you know, I had received treatment for Lyme disease at the St. Georg Klinik in Germany. St. Georg is an internal medicine hospital that specializes in environmental diseases. My treatment included a 12-day program during which I received two whole-body hyperthermia treatments. Essentially, this involved overheating my body to kill the Lyme. Lyme disease is a bacterial illness caused by a bacterium known as a spirochete. Spirochetes cannot tolerate heat, and therefore die at high temperatures.  I also underwent various infusions to help kill spirochetes, release heavy metals from my body, and build my immune system.   In addition to other therapies, I received a ten-day detoxification program.  Through this process, I am beginning to get ME back, while also helping to spread awareness of Lyme disease and hyperthermia as a possible treatment option for others.

 

Background:

Lyme disease is widely misunderstood by the medical community. Unfortunately, because of the lack of knowledge and the ineffectiveness of Lyme tests, many patients go undiagnosed for years to decades. In my case, I was sick for three and a half years before receiving the correct diagnosis. As a result, I am now struggling in Stage Three of Chronic Lyme disease.

Lyme disease can affect any part of your body. My particular strain of Lyme disease is called Lyme Encephalopathy. Some of my symptoms include: severe head pressure; light, heat, and noise sensitivity; feeling of being in a fog; vertigo; fatigue; anxiety; muscle paralysis; flu-like symptoms; imbalance issues; hyperacusis; and neuropathy. I also have 70% nerve damage to my left inner ear, and damage to my seventh and eighth cranial nerves.

I first became ill during the summer of 2006. I was forced to take a semester off from college. I dedicated this time to determining the source of my illness. I traveled to the top medical facilities and sought advice from the most reputable doctors along the East Coast. After numerous tests and appointments, I was told that I had had a virus, and that the nerve damage indicated above was done expanding. I then spent six months undergoing vestibular rehabilitation. Despite this initial medical opinion, the treatment plan was not effective. As I found out later, the disease was, and is still, actively infecting my body.

During the remaining years at Marist College, my symptoms rollercoastered. At points I felt significantly worse, but at other times my symptoms lessened. Through perseverance I was able to graduate in four years, despite my time off. After graduation, I started my career as a fifth grade teacher. I loved teaching and I loved my students. However, towards the end of the school year, my symptoms flared, revealing the full extent of Lyme Encephalitis. My condition became so unbearable that I had no choice but to take a medical leave of absence. This was one of the most upsetting setbacks of my disease. Once again, I began the process of consulting top medical professionals. I even contacted the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, who turned my application down, explaining that there was nothing more that they could do for me that I hadn’t already done myself. That was a very scary point.

I knew then that if I was ever going to get better, I had to be my own advocate. After much research, I realized that my symptoms were similar to those of Neurological Lyme disease. While I had been previously tested for Lyme disease, and had asked countless doctors if I could have this disease, all of the doctors I consulted replied with a similar theory that Chronic Lyme disease does not exist. They said that if I did have Lyme, a month of antibiotics would suffice to rid my body of it.

I began to realize that this was not the case. In order to find out more information, I consulted a Lyme specialist, who knew the specific tests to order, which were then sent to labs that specialize in detecting Lyme disease and other tick-born diseases. The test results came out positive for Lyme disease, and after years of being misdiagnosed and going through failed treatments, I finally had the answer to what was making me so ill. It is sad to say, but the day that I received this diagnosis was probably one of the happiest days of my life. My friends even threw me a “Lyme party.” We dressed in lime green attire, drank limeade, ate all types of lime-flavored foods, and watched Under Our Skin, a documentary on Lyme disease. I was ready to begin treatment and couldn’t wait to get my life back. Unfortunately, I had no idea at the time how complex this disease can be and all of the complications that were to come.

After my diagnosis a year and a half ago, I started treatment. Since getting my test results back, I immersed myself in learning everything I could about Lyme disease. I researched the various forms that Lyme takes to resist antibiotic treatment and the different types of medicine to treat each specific form. I learned about all of the tick-born co-infections and viruses that go along with Lyme disease. I stayed on a strict diet, ignoring the carbohydrates and sugar that Lyme bacteria live off of. I completely eliminated the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, gluten, and dairy products, which exacerbate this disease and cause symptoms to flare. For those of you who know me and my love affair with sweets, it was a sad day when I found out about these dietary restrictions.

During the past year and a half, I also become quite the expert on medicine, and at times my own nurse practitioner. I learned how to give myself shots, and how to infuse medicine into my body through an IV. I discovered the importance of detoxing. I learned about the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction that, similar to chemotherapy, initially causes one to feel worse during the treatment of Lyme disease. “Herxing” is caused when bacteria is under attack from antibiotics, herbs, and vaious other remedies. As this occurs, toxins are released causing the body’s immune system to go into overdrive. Detoxing your body helps to suppress this reaction.

Another important component of treatment is chelation.  Chelation is the standard treatment for heavy metals.  This is vital because Lyme bacteria prevent the process by which the body is able to filter out mercury and other heavy metals, resulting in heavy metal toxicity. I also followed a comprehensive regiment of vitamins, supplements, and probiotics essential for keeping the body in balance. 

Under my medicine regiment, I should have seen a lot of improvement.  However, after months of treatment, I hit a plateau.  This past summer I went through some more testing. I discovered that I have three other tick-born diseases, one of which creates a substantial amount of biofilms - organic material in the body that builds itself around bacteria, like Lyme, protecting it from being eradicated. My doctors explained that antibiotics can not penetrate biofilms. Simultaneously, I had an answer to why a year and a half of antibiotic treatment had left me only experiencing minimal and fleeting improvements, and I had hit a wall in progressing with my treatment plan. 



My doctors tell me that my best shot at getting my life back is to undergo hyperthermia treatment. At first, I was scared and skeptical. However, after learning that other Chronic Lyme patients, with severe symptoms mirroring my own, had been through this procedure and came out of it healthy and happy, I lessened my initial resistance. I consulted doctors at the clinic and am informed that despite the terrifying image in my head of being heated up, hyperthermia is a safe procedure with a high success rate in treating Lyme disease and patients with cancer. If successful, this procedure will not only eradicate Lyme disease from my body, but also may destroy some co-infections. 



In the past five and a half years, I learned a lot and lost a lot. I have been pushed and prodded mentally, physically, and emotionally by this illness.  After a particularly rough last six months, I finally have hope again. I am in the process of making all of the arrangements for my trip, and I hope, with your help, I will soon be on my way to the next step in my road to recovery.

My Return:

I can not express enough how thankful I am for everyone's support.  It truly means so much to me.  The treatment that I received in Germany was cutting edge. The hyperthermia treatment saved my life.  Everyday I see improvements, and this is the first time where I can actually feel that I’m getting better.  Unfortunately, though, the disease had completely invaded my body before I had left for Germany, and so I still have a ways to go with post-treatment.  I am currently working with Lyme and Cancer Services which refers patients with Lyme disease to clinics in Germany that provide whole-body hyperthermia treatment.  I look forward to speaking with anyone who is interested in this type of treatment.  

With hope for future Lyme sufferers' recovery,                 

Michelle McKeon                                                                                                                                 

Subpages (1): Post-treatment
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