Die off or herx reactions are your body's reaction to bacterial die off. They can be the same symptoms you usually have but more intense. They can last up to a couple of weeks. You may have new symptoms that you hae never had such as sleep disturbances, extreme anxiety or new sensations such as numbness, tremors or tingling. Usually the first herx is worse and over time as the symptoms of lyme decrease so does the intensity of the herx. Many times it is also worse with starting new medications.
I experienced an alarming period of over two weeks recently (hence the no blogging for the past month...) in which I had new and worsening neurological symptoms. These symptoms consisted of things such as severe trouble concentrating, inability to process thoughts, confusion, loss of memory for things such as which side of the road to drive on or leaving a task half done without realizing. I also experienced some scary panic symptoms when I wasn't able to sort out my thoughts or feelings. I felt trapped in my brain and it would often lead to me yelling (such an embarrassing admission - I acutely felt my sinfulness during this period in particular and felt out of control of my mind and spirit). I was unable to read, focus on driving and had to pay very close attention when I was being spoken to or I would space out and couldn't figure out how to respond to conversation. The level of concentration needed for short conversations left me exhausted and with severe heaviness/fog/mild headache in my brain.
The children love to help with the saline flush after my antibiotics :)
The only way to overcome and release the tension in my brain at these times (which were frequent during the day) was to watch a segment of a show on the computer or listen to something soothing ie. music or a sermon. I could feel the tension leave as my brain re-directed on something that I didn't have to think about and I would be able to carry on for a little while again. Noise or two things demanding my attention at once caused me to overload which created stress and anxiety that I was unable to process and work through on my own. I was also emotionally unstable and drove myself and Eric crazy with the amount of bawling I would do at random times. I became obsessive with moving to or visiting Australia and would frequently plan in my mind how to make it work even though I knew it would be impossible this year. I felt extremely out of control mentally. For over 3 years I have struggled with being out of control of my physical body but for me this was worse....
I needed frequent naps and fell into a worse pattern than usual of insomnia. I would get dizzy and lightheaded when I attempted to continue with my daily walks around the neighborhood. We were forced to shut down our home somewhat - I could no longer handle visitors or any social events and the kids were again taken care of by J&Y Deboer (without their support and willingness to take our kids at a moments notice I know we would be unable to cope with taking care of our children during this grueling treatment).
It took us about a week to realize that this was a herxheimer reaction. We were confused and alarmed by the intensity of the worsening of my neurological symptoms. Before treatment I was not aware of too many neurological symptoms besides memory loss and dizzyness.
Flushing my body while enjoying the sun on our deck...
What to do during a herx?
Once we figured out that I had a great load of toxins trapped in my body - we began to concentrate on ways to detox. I added to my list of daily IV medicaitons a lactated ringer flush, I drank as much freshly squeezed lemon water as I could take in, went in the sauna daily to sweat it out and took hot epsom salt baths. At this time I was greatly helped by my good friend Amanda who took on the role of reading up on the causes and solutions to my increasingly severe symptoms, This was ever so helpful at a time when I had no energy or cognitive ability to study or process any information.
Friends caroling on our doorstep - a sure way to induce bawling!
"What is your only comfort in life and death? That I belong, both in body and soul, in life and death to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ...." - Heidelberg Catechism LD 1
God bless you all xox