I had finished my first day of treatment feeling pretty good, so it was a bit of an unwelcome surprise to be woken at 3.30 am the next morning by extreme nausea and heart palpitations. I tried and failed to get back to sleep, as I was so dizzy and experiencing vomiting every hour. I was worried about making it into the clinic feeling so dreadful, but Alex reminded me that I would be in the best possible place, and I hoped they would be able to give me something to help with the nausea alongside the day’s treatment. Unfortunately since getting sick with Lyme, this kind of reaction and these symptoms have been a regular occurrence for me, and for two whole years I was vomiting multiple times every single day. Thankfully, since starting IV therapies nine months previously, these symptoms had vastly improved, so it was a bit of a shock to be experiencing them to such an extreme again. I managed to get dressed and ready to go, and reminded myself that it was perfectly normal to have had a reaction to doing new treatment and especially whilst still jet lagged, and we were driven by the hotel car to Infusio for the 9 am start.
First up on my schedule for the day was 10-pass Ozone Therapy. When I initially started researching treatment options for Lyme Disease abroad, the two options which really stood out to me were Stem Cell Therapy and Ozone Therapy. Ozone is considered to be very effective at eliminating Lyme pathogens and helps improves cells’ abilities to regenerate, hence why it holds such potential for recovery in Lyme patients. Ozone IV therapy is available in a few clinics in London, but I couldn’t find anywhere that offered the 10-pass, which is a much more intensive treatment. I spoke with many people who had managed to achieve remission through Stem Cells or Ozone, and I consulted with a couple of very well regarded clinics in Germany and Cyprus that offered a month of Ozone Therapy for patients with chronic Lyme. In the end, one of the reasons I picked Infusio was because their programme, whilst centred around Stem Cells, also included 10-pass Ozone Therapy in the pre-surgery schedule. Because of this I was very much looking forwards to experiencing the 10-pass, and learning more about how it all worked.
Infusio has two of the machines required for the 10-pass, so Gena and I were able to do the treatment at the same time, which was nice to have someone to chat to as we weren’t able to move around at all or go outside whilst the Ozone therapy was taking place. Hollis used a large needle to hook me up to a line which connected to a cylinder shaped glass container, which from there connected to the 10-pass machine. The machine works by drawing blood into the glass bottle, where it is then mixed with ozone, which Hollis assisted by manually shaking the bottle once the blood had been drawn. This process ensures that the maximum amount of ozone is absorbed into the blood cells. Once this step has been completed, the ozone-infused blood is then given back to the patient through the same line. As the name suggests, this process is repeated 10 times to complete the 10-pass. The whole experience was really interesting to watch (if you don’t mind blood!), as when the blood was first drawn it was much darker in colour than once it had been ‘cleaned’ and mixed with the ozone. To ensure the line doesn’t clot, a substance called heparin was also used to thin the blood. However, my blood was still quite thick and I could only do 8 passes, which I was a little disappointed with until Hollis explained that this was very normal and it was likely that next time I would reach the full 10. The treatment took around an hour and a half, and whilst I didn’t feel any immediate side effects, I was still feeling very nauseous from the morning. Caryn made me cups of Gastro C; hot water mixed with a herbal remedy which Infusio makes, and it seemed to help as I sipped on it throughout. Once the 10-pass was completed, I received a Myers IV followed by glutathione to close the cells, and then had a local laser treatment on my legs and chest, which helps to open up the detox pathways by penetrating the bone marrow.
Whilst I was receiving my IVs’ I had my diet consult with the Infusio nutritionist Oscar via Skype. Like most Lyme Disease experts, Infusio strongly believes that an anti-inflammatory diet is crucial to recovery. As I’ve mentioned previously, I developed over eighty food allergies from Lyme, so diet has been a huge part of my health journey, and I’ve seen so many nutritionists and dietitians over the past three years that I can hardly keep count. However, I was still very intrigued to hear what my recommended diet would be, especially as it would be based not only on managing my Lyme and specific allergies, but also on what foods would allow my new Stem Cells to best heal my body and boost my immune system. We started by going over my history, symptoms and current diet, and discussed my preferences and expectations for my diet during the 100-days Post Stem Cell Period. Oscar explained that lowering histamine would be a big issue for me, and that histamine reactions would most likely increase in the short term as a result of the SVF treatment. I’ve previously followed a low histamine diet so this didn’t sound too problematic for me, although of course I wasn’t extremely enthusiastic at returning to a more restrictive diet, after finally being able to eat a greater variety of foods. However, as is my attitude with everything regarding my health, I am fully committed to doing whatever it takes to get better, and if that means relatively short-term sacrifices for long-term gain, then I am of course 100% on board. We talked about how it would be best for me to follow a primarily plant-based diet, with some fish, eggs and meat (except chicken), and that I should avoid grains except rice and gluten-free bread on occasion. On top of this I should eat only organic produce and avoid any foods which cause inflammation. Essentially the recommendations didn’t seem to be too different from my current diet, and I was strangely grateful that I had so much experience with restrictive diets and allergies, as for some of the patients who were still eating a more standard diet with gluten, dairy and sugar, changing what they ate was going to be a huge adjustment to deal with. I felt fortunate that I wouldn’t have this additional transition to make on top of recovering from Stem Cell Treatment.
Unfortunately by lunchtime I was still feeling sick and intermittently throwing up so I couldn’t eat anything, but I kept sipping on the anti-nausea drink and managed to get some rest out on the terrace. I was very happy to hear that after lunch I was scheduled for a massage, and was really excited to have a break from needles and IVs. De-Leon, the masseuse, gave me a really good trigger point massage, specifically focusing on some of my problem areas like my left shoulder and lower back. I felt far more relaxed after, and headed straight for ten minutes in the Novo Bed before my first session in the Lymphatic Drainage Air Pressure Suit. This is a kind of therapy which works to target the lymphatic system, which is an important part of the body’s immune system. It’s critical to help the body get rid of toxins through the movement of lymphatic fluid, and many Lyme patients have a heavily compromised lymphatic system, which severely limits their ability to detox. Caryn set up the pants and machine for me, and as I was wearing leggings I didn’t have to change before getting in. I have to say, the suit looked pretty funny, especially as it is a one-size fits all type setup, so at five foot three it made me look like I had the longest legs ever! For forty-five minutes the machine worked by pumping air into different areas of the suit, which would then swell and put pressure on parts of the body before deflating again. As the cycles went on, the compression would get stronger, and although it felt quite tight by the end it wasn’t too uncomfortable and actually felt rather therapeutic. I passed the time by chatting with Alex and playing on my phone, and before I knew it the treatment had finished.
After getting my Thymus injection I was done for the day, and as I was still not feeling well I was pleased to be going home a little earlier at 4 pm. Dr Kim had recommended I buy a supplement from Whole Foods to help with my nausea, so we picked this up on the way home. Once we arrived back at the hotel, we sat up on the roof by the pool and I had a ginger beer which helped me feel a little less sick, and took in the gorgeous view. I felt absolutely exhausted after a pretty tough day and it felt good to destress and take some time to reflect, and to just appreciate being in such a beautiful and peaceful place in that moment. We ordered food from the hotel restaurant and I had some chips, which although probably not the healthiest option, I was just happy to be able to stomach something. We FaceTimed with family before getting an early night, and I was so tired I fell asleep almost straight away. It had been a difficult day, with some of my symptoms being more severe than they had been in months, but I was pleased to have got through all the day’s treatments regardless, and I tried to keep remembering that tomorrow was a new day with every potential to be much better. In my years of living with Lyme I have learnt to try and not worry too much about what lies ahead, and to remember that almost everything is temporary. Just because I had felt terrible all day, it didn’t mean that I would be feeling like this for the remainder of the treatment, and I kept this belief close to me as I got some rest in preparation for whatever the next day might bring.