I was vacationing on my favorite island in the Caribbean when my life changed overnight. I awoke in the middle of the night with piercing knife pains near my heart, a very high heart rate and intense shoulder pain. It felt as if it would be my last night on earth. Fortunately, it eventually subsided as the closest hospital was a long boat ride away.
Little did I know that my adventure with Lyme Disease was underway.
We returned to our summer place in Pennsylvania and more terrorizing days and nights followed with multiple visits to the local ER, heart rates from 120 to 200 bpm, fevers, high anxiety, sweats, high blood pressure…. every few hours. Doctors prescribed blood pressure and heart medications, hoping to see a change.
We flew home to San Francisco and my symptoms worsened. Sleepless nights and wild heart rates led to more visits to the ER, now at UCSF. My father had passed away in his early 50’s of a heart-attack so the doctors took my case very seriously. After multiple tests came back “normal”, two of the most respected cardiologists were perplexed.
I had resided most of my life in Manhattan, traveling often to Connecticut and Pennsylvania. I was aware of the possibility of Lyme. I was bitten by ticks over the years but never recalled any reactions or rashes. I eventually located a Lyme specialist and my bloodwork came back showing several Lyme co-infections, including a serious bacteria, Babeosis. This bacteria affects the heart. Suddenly all of my symptoms made sense! Babeosis presents itself in a way that is similar to Malaria, and I was placed on a long term Malaria medication which made me nauseous.
I made the appointment. This decision would change my life again.
I recognized this was not the right solution for me! One of the UCSF cardiologists was kind enough to recommend I see an internist who specialized in complex cases. I made the appointment. This decision would change my life again.
She emphasized that I needed to strengthen my immune system before it could handle challenging medications. She was right.
I met internist Dr. Payal Bhandari. She quickly recognized that my immune system and liver were very compromised and advised that I stop all meds immediately. Secondly, she prescribed a drastic diet change consisting of wild rices, turmeric, small beans, and a variety of greens, both raw and in smoothies. She advised low carbs, no sugar and no alcohol. She emphasized that I needed to strengthen my immune system before it could handle challenging medications. She was right.
I followed Dr. Bhandari’s regimen religiously for one year. Day by day my symptoms subsided and I felt stronger. My monthly bloodwork began to show improvement in my immune system.
I am now two years shy of that first frightening night in the Caribbean and I can say that I lead a joyful and mostly symptom-free life. I continue to work with Dr. Bhandari and follow her regimens. My hair has thickened and I can exercise again. I have been able to take wonderful trips …. I can live again!
It is so important that you ask to be tested for Lyme at your yearly checkups, or if you are experiencing mysterious symptoms. Although I was seen by well known physicians on both coasts, it took five months before I was properly diagnosed. Lyme is the fastest growing epidemic in the U.S. today!
Practices and Remedies That Are an Integral Part of My Healing
• Jin shin jitsu
• Turmeric tea with lemon and a pinch of salt
• Coconut Water
• Happiness Planner by Mo Seetubtim
My Go-To Products of the Moment
Bath Salts – African Botanics Kalahari Desert De-Tox Bath Salts
Day Cream – Margy’s Monte Carlo Crème Triple Action Prestige
Mask – Aerin Rose Night Table Cream
Perfume – Sabbia Rosa Paris
Face Oil – African Botanics Marula Oil
Finishing Touch – Guerlain Souffle D’or
Body Oil – de Mamiel botanics
Travel Secret – de Mamiel Altitude Oil
There is hope!!!
I am grateful to share my story so others can have hope and knowledge along their journey of Lyme!
Katie von Strasser is a former ballerina with a background in fashion and art. She is a devoted advocate for people with disabilities. Katie has a passion for travel and all things beautiful.
She resides in San Francisco with her family. (Photo by Darryl Nitke)