On Guilt

My whole life I have never been someone who frequents the doctor’s office. In fact, I avoided doctors appointments as much as I could most of my adult life. I never wanted to use unnecessary antibiotics, and I strongly believe in the body’s ability to heal itself. When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease I was at a major crossroads. I was going to have to rely on Western medicine in order to heal, and that didn’t sit well with me. Though my first doctor believed I might be able to heal holistically, the Lyme specialist I saw for a second opinion told me I’d need to be on a pulsing antibiotic protocol for 12-15 months. The idea that I am currently taking 5 different antibiotics is something I grapple with internally every single day. I have spent the past 5 or so years of my life transitioning into a holistic, organic, and non-toxic lifestyle. Health & wellness is one of my biggest passions, and the politics and lack of ethics of our food system, pharmaceutical industry, and medical community disturbs me. I think there is a lot of guilt that comes along with utilizing Western medicine for many people. I experience the feeling of guilt towards my Lyme protocol every single day.

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Throughout my entire protocol thus far I have been telling myself I won’t stay on antibiotics for more than 6 months. Though based on my extensive research I believe antibiotic treatment is necessary to treat this disease, I still can’t handle the idea of being on pharmaceuticals for an entire year. I wish I had the knowledge to know what course of treatment is the right path to go down. My gut tells me that long-term antibiotics is not the path, but my doctor is telling me otherwise. Though I know I am not the one with the expertise, I do believe that our intuition possesses unprecedented value. My view of the medical community is incredibly tainted. It has been for years. Physicians are too quick to write prescriptions, and often times do not solve the root cause of peoples’ health ailments. Once I started educating myself about my food choices, the food industry, and the way in which food affects our body I started to realize that lifestyle and diet play a huge role in our overall health.

I have sat at dinner tables with people who talk about how they take blood pressure medication every day, and then witness them order a steak. Not that there is anything wrong with steak, but red meat is a huge contributor to high blood pressure. Perhaps transitioning to a predominantly plant-based diet would be sufficient? Perhaps more plants and less red meat would mean there would be no need for daily medication? Perhaps physicians should educate people about their food choices and the impact they have on their health ailments? Perhaps medical schools should spend more than the mere 20 hours that they do educating doctors-to-be about nutrition? As I’m sure you can tell, I’m not shy in hiding my judgements about this topic. I will never judge someone for their food choices, but I will judge the food industry and the medical community for doing our society a huge disservice.

Conventional medical doctors most times don’t take the entire picture into consideration. For example, lately I have been struggling with horrible insomnia. Even with a generous dose of my 20:1 CBD tincture, I often am up until at least 3 a.m. I have implemented several practices to improve my sleep hygiene including keeping all electronics out of my bedroom, turning the blue light off of my phone and computer, having a relaxing nighttime routine, etc. Still, I have insomnia. The cause of my insomnia could be from parasites. Parasites are most active at night, which can often keep people frustratingly awake. It could also be due to the fact that I am now on a Keto diet, and switching energy sources from carbohydrates to lipids is a frequent cause of insomnia. I also could be experiencing insomnia due to anxiety caused by Lyme, Lyme disease itself, one of my co-infections, and the list goes on. When I spoke to my Lyme doctor about this she immediately wanted to prescribe a sleeping medication. I already take a prescription called Gabapentin which is supposed to help regulate my pain and my sleep. Why the hell do I need Trazadone too? Sleep is imperative for the body to heal, and I get that. But the last thing I want is another pharmaceutical to depend on. She didn’t take into account the many possibilities that could be causing my insomnia, she just gave me a prescription. In the long run, how does that help me?

I am slowly learning to surrender to this process. Western medicine has been instrumental in my health improvement thus far; and though I believe I experience many adverse effects of antibiotics as well, I am grateful for present day technology and science. I am doing my best to educate myself from reliable sources throughout this process so that I can be the best possible advocate for myself. I have gone into every doctors appointment with a level of skepticism and reluctance. I question everything. I do my own research. I advocate for my beliefs and wellbeing. And at the end of the day I make my own health decisions. Right now, I am choosing conventional medicine. I am also choosing functional and Eastern medicine. My Lyme doctor isn’t fond of me working with a functional doctor as well (I suspect mostly for liability reasons), but having a second opinion about everything from someone who understands my values and beliefs helps me immensely with this process.

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I feel like a fraud advocating for a holistic lifestyle every day on my Instagram account because right now my health is incredibly dependent on pharmaceuticals. I recently spoke to someone in the health world who has been a huge inspiration to me for a few years now about this. She told me not to feel guilty. She told me that at the end of the day we have to do what is necessary for our health. She told me that if it were her, her husband, or her son in my position she would have to make the same decision I am making.

Though I have vowed to myself to live holistically, I am realizing that there will be times in my life where I will need conventional medical intervention to maintain my good health. My experience with the medical community throughout my Lyme journey has left me a bit jaded, but feeling guilty every day about a decision I am making to better my health is wearing me down. It is a guilt I need to let go of. It is a guilt I hope to learn from. And It is a guilt that is making me more compassionate with myself on this journey. I am now 3 months into my protocol, and I am starting to realize that quitting at 6 months might not be the right move. My internal guilt will persist throughout this process, no doubt. But, I am making the choice every single day to heal. I am fighting. And I will win.

I’m grateful that I was in such good health going into this illness. I believe that my recovery will be much more swift due to my healthful lifestyle during the preceding few years. I still believe that prevention is undoubtedly the best protocol out there, and will continue to live my life based around my values for holisticism throughout this process and afterwards. All guilt aside, I am healing. That is all that matters.