Fifteen Tips For Dealing With A Lyme Herx
My first experience with a Lyme herx reaction was one of complete terror. It truly did feel like death was imminent. The week after I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, I started an intense treatment protocol prescribed by my Lyme doctor, that sent my body spiraling into what I would easily call a “Hellish” place. I do not say that lightly.
Yes, this is exactly what I did, I panicked! Not a good idea!
I had never heard of the word HERX before. Although, I did remember my doctor telling me, that I would feel much worse, before I began to feel any better. So I chalked most of these things up to Lyme treatment. But, I was personally thinking,”If this is Lyme treatment I do not know if I will be able to continue.” I hated it. Unfortunately, I had only just begun!
By day two of Lyme treatment, I was in the middle of a full blown Herxheimer reaction which would continue for over a week. I began to experience air hunger as I had never experienced it before. Feeling as if my very breath was being stolen from me second by second. My pain levels were sky high. I was basically to the point of rocking back and fourth because of the pain that wracked my body. Deep, throbbing pain in every joint and muscle. Like the worst flu in modern history.
My blood pressure climbed higher and higher. Muscles I didn’t know I had began to twitch and tremor. I felt faint and close to just keeling over after supper that third evening.
Every horrible symptom I had ever experienced came creeping out of the darkest corners of my life. I couldn’t begin to name them all. It was like I was living my own personal health nightmare. I began to realize, something was not right. I messaged my doctor. His response, “This is most probably a herx. Drink lots of water. Rest, rest, rest, and pray it is alleviated quickly.” “Welcome to Lyme treatments,” I muttered to myself. He also changed one of my antibiotics and placed me on a corticosteroid to counteract the throat swelling.
I would like to say that all went well and I came out on the other side the better for it. But, as is often the case with Lyme treatments, herxing is totally unpredictable. It can begin hours, days or even weeks after starting a new medication for Lyme treatment.
By the end of March I would find myself in the emergency room, due to another herx. One so bad, that I thought I was having a heart attack. A heart attack that ended up being aggravated GERD causing severe esophageal spasms, combined with costochondritis. (An inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone.)
I did take my doctor’s advice, but I have learned some coping strategies of my own along the way. Things that have helped me through many “Hellish,” experiences during the past five months. I wanted to share them with others, in hopes that they might be a help to someone else. Someone who might be feeling scared and alone in this Lyme journey.I keep a daily journal of my Lyme treatment journey. This makes it easier for me to look back and see what helped at different points in my treatment. I can also see if I have experienced any improvements, no matter how small. It helps me to remember…to reflect…to count my blessings. Even a small light at the end of a dark tunnel is encouraging.
- My top go to self help tool during a herx or even a flare is a tea made from a tablespoon (or two) of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar and honey. This is a detoxification tea. I put a tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of honey into a mug of hot water, stir and sip slowly. This has become like a security blanket for me. It calms me. If I am herxing or flaring, you can bet that I have a mug of this tea nearby.
- An Epsom Salt and baking soda detox bath is the second best way I have found that helps with a herx reaction. It helps to draw the toxins out of your system. I love the lavender scented epsom salts. While heat of any kind exhausts me, I still find the bath helps. Even though afterwards, I generally have to go to bed and rest. I love to add lavender scented essential oils into the water as well.
- Extra Rest. Rest, Rest, Rest and more REST. Easier said than done, but completely necessary to surviving Lyme treatment.
- Lemon water and also just plain water. When lemon is added to the water, it helps the liver to cleanse. Keeping hydrated is extremely important in helping the body rid itself of toxins. I keep a bottle or cup of water by my side at all times.
- Tumeric/Curcumin capsules for pain. I take four a day. It helps mellow my pain levels, so that they are at least manageable.
- Dandelion Tea and Dandelion Capsules. Both of these help with detoxification and have a calming effect for me.
- Probiotic. To help the gut heal. High potency probiotic is vital to restoring gut health.
- Stop Pain for pain relief. I have found this muscle rub to be very effective, even if it is somewhat medicinal smelling. It is a roll on, so that you do not have to touch it. Which is another feature I love about this product. It dries quickly and does not stain clothing.
- Keeping a positive outlook is an important part of managing a herx reaction. As your mental and spiritual health are just as important as your physical health. Lyme plays with your psyche. It can cause depression and anxiety. I love to keep encouraging books of quotations and a little flip calendar with scripture verses on my night table.
- It is best, at least as much as is humanly possible to avoid stress and triggers of stress. I try to keep my calendar as clear as possible. The less things I commit to, the less I have to renege and say “No,” to a previous “Maybe” or “Yes.” I don’t know about you, but saying “No,” stresses me out.
- Magnesium Oil is a natural wonder. I rub it on the backs of my legs and it absorbs quickly. It is not greasy and helps control my pain numbers naturally. I wouldn’t be without it.
- Something fairly new that I have incorporated into my detoxification routine is a product called Drainage Tone by Energetix. This was recommended to me by a friend and it works! I feel so much better when I take this. It helps aid the body in detoxification.
- I have severe IBS problems that accompany my other myraid of Lyme symptoms. My doctor recommended I begin to take Colostrum Powder. I have found that this product soothes my aching gut and helps me to digest better. It even calms my nausea. I wouldn’t be without it!
- Green Barley Grass Tablets are a staple of my protocol. They are a simple green food product that are grown naturally in Amish countryside of Pennsylvania. This is a gluten free product. So do not be fooled by the name barley. I order mine from Green Supreme online. This is one product that I will continue to take for the rest of my life. It has been on the market for over 25 years. It helps detoxify and heal the body on a cellular level. I would recommend this product to anyone regardless of age or health. It has been a help to me in so many ways. I find that it soothes my IBS symptoms in a way no other product has done.
- Surround yourself with friends and family. You need all the support and help you can get during a herx or flare. I am so thankful to have a circle of family and friends who care. Who make a concerted effort to understand and are supportive. I can’t imagine facing life without them. I am slowly learning to accept help when I need it. This has been a hard thing for me, as I am a genuine “Do-it-yourselfer.” I like getting things done and doing them myself. But, the past years have made it more and more difficult for me to continue that life style. Welcome the help of your loved ones. It may be the key to a happier and healthier you.
I hope some of these things can be a help to you like they have to me. I still have a long way to travel on this journey to wellness. I know that, but, I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and it looks gorgeous on the other side. Keep encouraged. If you would like to read more about my journey and herxing you can visit this blog post Herxing Hard and Biting Into Ally Hilfiger, where I write about some of my treatments and reading Ally Hilfiger’s new book about Lyme Disease Bite Me.