My Battle with Lyme Disease

This post is written by Charlene Andersen. She’s been on zero-carb for decades. Her story reminds me a lot of what I went through. Thanks for sharing.

 

“I was born on March 22, 1973. Since then, my battle with life began. I was sensitive to every food my parents introduced to me, trying to wean me off of breast milk by 3 months old. I guess they found the “least reactive” combination of foods to give me, but not without consequences.

I developed asthma and extreme allergies at a young age. At age 4 I was allergy tested, after a scary breathing incidence at nursery school, and was found to be sensitive to just about everything. Diet was never considered at that point of being my base issue. Instead, allergy shots were given to me for years, along with oral medications, nose sprays, ear drops, inhalers and cream for all my rashes. I hated every single one of them.

At age 8 I developed trichotillomania. I pulled out all of my eyelashes and eyebrows due to sores on my lash lines. This was seen by my parents as a bad habit I needed to break. I never did “break it” until about 17 years later. So, I grew up extremely self-conscious about anyone looking at me, especially from the side.

I was an only child, so my parents wanted me to be involved with as many activities with other kids as I could. So, I went to a lot of camps, which I absolutely loved. One of them is most likely where I contracted Lyme Disease from a deer tick. I never saw a bullseye rash or developed the initial Lyme symptoms.

When I started to mature around 13 years old, I developed extremely painful and ugly acne. This made my physical appearance even more shameful to me. This crater-like acne plagued me until I was around 25 years old. I developed cellulite around age 12, and although not fat, my body composition was bad.

By age 16 my periods slowed and stopped. No doctor could figure out why since I ate a “healthy” high fiber, low fat diet.

College years my health declined even more. The extreme fatigue and depression really set in. I couldn’t stay awake in class, and I pushed friends away. Even though I’d had suicidal thoughts since childhood, they became more intense.

I got through college and soon met my life-saver, Joe Andersen. I always say, this is the point where my downward spiral finally had a chance to end and reverse, little did I know at the time.

We shared so many of the same passions in life (art, music, etc), including diet and health. I knew that how I ate had an impact on my health. I just didn’t know exactly what to eat to reverse my many conditions.

With the job I had at the time, I was heavily exposed to chemicals, which worsened my physical and mental conditions. So, before Joe and I could figure out the best diet path, my health continued to decline.

I had worsening fatigue (I fell asleep everywhere – at work, in the car while driving, etc), depression (several plans of suicide), mental confusion, brain fog, paralysis/numbness in limbs (Joe had to carry me out of work a number of times), extreme eczema on hands (like 2nd degree burns), neck and face, continued amenhorrea (lack of periods), cervical dysplasia, Degenerative Disc Disease (couldn’t sit – worked standing up, constant sciatic nerve pain), continued weight gain (50 pounds overweight at my heaviest), muscle twitches (over 100 twitches in a minute’s time), personality change (from laid back to full of rage), and on and on….

I tried to use working out to help me feel better, but it didn’t do anything for me but add to my fatigue and anger. I even became a PT throughout the process of trying to figure things out for optimal health.

I tried conventional and alternative doctors, but with each “fix” they gave me, it lead to more issues and even further sickness. Of course, most doctors just thought my symptoms were in my head and said I was depressed.

Joe had always been into physical fitness and old-time body builders and athletes. He knew they used steak and egg diets to improve their athletic performance and abilities. So, we started going toward that approach.

We first started lowering carbs, and that was an instant success when it came to my allergies and asthma. I lost a little bit of weight, but most of my conditions didn’t really improve at all.

Joe and I married on August 8, 1998. It was bittersweet. I was marrying the man of my dreams, but even the adrenaline and awesomeness of the day couldn’t mask how badly I felt. We were the first ones to leave our own reception due to my fatigue.

Soon after I was diagnosed with Lyme disease by an alternative M.D. This at least gave Joe and I something to pin a lot of my problems on, but it didn’t do anything to cure it. That was up to us.

We took the next necessary step in diet to a very low carb diet. Again, things improved (acne, some weight loss), but not enough for me to be content.

We went zero carb and started with a fish and “healthy oils” diet. I felt I was heading down the right path, but didn’t have the results I wanted.

When I turned to all meat and meat fat, I ovulate within a couple days and had a period within two weeks. I couldn’t believe it! All the research I’d done on this subject in countless books and NONE of them talked about animal fat being king for proper hormones!

That alone gave me a huge incentive to keep going, eliminating foods that gave me any type of reaction. I really didn’t mind the smaller and smaller list of foods I ate, as long as I felt better. In so many ways it was freeing to me. I became less of a prisoner to hunger, food, and illness.

As I continued to experiment with Joe, we started keeping food journals of our meals, activities, reactions, wins, and fails. We often would re-introduce foods to re-test for verification. Luckily, I was consistent with my food reactions.

As every one of my issues started to reverse (some within days like acne, to around a year, like the fatigue and muscle twitches), I became happier and healthier.

People around us didn’t respond well with what I was eating. They were (maybe?) happy for me feeling better, but very concerned with what I was (or wasn’t) eating.

Nothing and no one trumped how I felt, so we pursued this venture despite all the rolled eyes, accusations of doing this all for attention, etc. I finally was starting to feel like a “normal” person and I wasn’t going to let ignorance take that away from me.

Not all meats were equal for me. I started out with free range eggs, pork, lamb, beef, poultry, and wild-caught fish. But, as time went on, I didn’t feel as well with anything but beef. And, not just beef, but fatty, ribeye steak, the very thing that Dr. Blake Donaldson and Dr. Newbold talked about being the best food for most people suffering illnesses.

I even started to notice that I didn’t need my contacts, and soon threw them away along with my glasses.

The better I zeroed in on my optimal diet, the more weight I lost and the better my body composition became. I started lessening my extreme workout routine from kettlebells and heavy lifts and HIIT sprints to eventually not exercising at all.

I’ve had two healthy boys in the process and we’ve been able to provide for them a happy, healthy environment.

My diet of fatty, ribeye steak (conventional grass fed/grain finished) gave me the best results, and from there, my life has exploded with energy, happiness, and health.

Approaching my 20-year anniversary (“carniversary”) of the all meat diet, I can confidently say, “There is life after illness”!!”

58 thoughts on “My Battle with Lyme Disease

  1. David says:

    Jesus Christ.. are you one tough lady. I mean, truly hats off!

    Did you run into social problems whilst dealing with your health problems? Personally It’s what I really, really, struggle with and would greatly appreciate any advice on how to manage without going insane or becoming bitter and resentful.

    • Charlene says:

      As many who try something “different than the norm,” people around them can feel somehow threatened by it. Just feel confident about yourself, what you’re doing and the benefit you’ll receive from it. Joe and I got rid of a couple of the most negative people in our lives which made the process that much easier. We were on a mission, and nothing and no one would stop us, not even family members. Joe and I are social people, and most of what we do socially doesn’t include food or drink, but as I commented above to Filip, there are ways around it. To know and anticipate that most people are going to not understand, or even get upset, is the first step. Just play it by ear. Sometimes the least said to others about it the better. (For some reason they almost always take it as a personal attack!) To surround yourself with the BEST people for you, who love you for who you are, sick or not sick, eat a certain way no matter why, those you feel better after being with them, THOSE are the people that will add to your journey and make it better. All the best to you in your path!

  2. anonymous says:

    Jesus Christ.. are you one tough lady. I mean, truly hats off!

    Did you run into social problems whilst dealing with your health problems? Personally It’s what I really, really, struggle with and would greatly appreciate any advice on how to manage without going insane or becoming bitter and resentful.

    • Healthy Living says:

      The long-term impact is the problem.There are four big problems:
      – Sugar
      – Dairy
      – Meat
      – Eggs

      If you remove, three of four.
      Here is my favorite explanation “How not to die”:

  3. Healthy Living says:

    Charlene: The long-term impact is the problem.There are four big problems:
    – Sugar
    – Dairy
    – Meat
    – Eggs

    If you remove, three of four.
    Here is my favorite explanation “How not to die”:

  4. Charlene says:

    I guess I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to do here. Convince me? Or warn others? If I ate the way most people claim “healthy eating” is, I guarantee I wouldn’t be here. And if I somehow survived, the pain levels and crippling nature of my disease would consume me. This site is for testimonies. I gave my story. It’s not to convince everyone to eat the way I do, but I shared what worked for me. I believe there is evolutionary history backing my results. As earliest humans we evolved eating as scavengers, consuming the rib meat left behind from the predators. We ate from fatty ruminant animals. I’m replicating that and for me, it’s working.

    • Healthy Living says:

      Charlene – I only care about offering the truth to the best of my knowledge. There is no benefit to my life if you decide to eat meat or not. The video above is likely the best I have ever watched on the subject.

      I remember, there was an Australian study comparing game meat with processed meat. The game meat was up to four times healthier. If you are set on eating meat, try to get the best quality and stay away from saturated fat.

      I wish you luck!

      • Natalie Romanello says:

        Healthy living, perhaps you are not up on the latest information/misinformation regarding saturated fats.

  5. steven v says:

    Hey Charlene, really excellent comprehensive story. A couple of questions I have for you or anyone else that has some input on this subject.

    1. When you were pretty sick, looking back in retrospect, do you think it was a bad to exercise too intensely? I am pretty sick right now with lots of inflammation and moderate sciatica. I am getting the feeling to just exercise smoothly and wait for my body to tell me when I am feeling better to pick up the intensity.
    2. Also, if you can, go into more detail on how your sciatica cleared up? How did your sitting improve?
    Thank you for sharing, going to buy some ribeye tomorrow!!

    • I’m sorry to hear of your sickened state, Steven. To answer your questions (a lot of repetition here from my answering questions to my similar post on Meataheals.com):
      1) My body was very emphatic on letting me know that I needed to back exercise down. So, I had to listen. And, I did. I went from a lot of intesity to less and less and then nothing. That’s where I’ve been now for years. As a female I feel that by nourishing myself properly, I am strong and capable without having to train. I know people can get upset to hear that, but that’s what I’ve experienced.
      2) Literally, as soon as I have up vegetation (my last food group other than meat), I felt much less pain. If I remember right, it was a matter of a a couple days. Soon I started to forget to bring my lumbar roll that I carried around like it was my ball and chain for years. And actually started sitting without it! Sciatic pain is like a prison as you know. I couldn’t believe that by removing the very things we were told were so nutritious for us led to breaking free of chronic pain!

    • Charlene says:

      Steven V,

      I just wanted to add that I believe that exercise for males is much different than for females. By nature, males are task-oriented and the providers and protectors of their family/group. So, I don’t want to give the impression that I think no one should exercise. I think nutrition alone can provide a female with what is needed (capability, usable strength and stamina when needed). I think males need a physical stimulus. Possibly not even much is needed either. My husband, Joe, has found that by doing simple pull-ups and body-weight squats gives him a well-proportioned and strong physique.

      As a body heals, that period if transitioning from illness to health can be one of the weakest periods. Care for yourself must be taken. And, mild activity/exercise for anyone can help with toxin removal and healing stimulus. So, let your body dictate what it needs and when. As time progresses, you can find the routine that feels best for you!

      • steven v says:

        Charlene,

        Great advice!! Can’t believe I am healing so quickly. For the past year I have been seeing a terrific massage therapist and we have been doing stretching, strength training, and physical manipulation to try to get balance back into my muscles to relieve this sciatica and inflammation in my lower back and right hip. Though I had some moderate success, it was no way near being healed. My tension in my soft tissue was so bad my pelvis would be pulled out of alignment creating absolute exhaustion in my body. By going on the ZC diet the tension in my body has almost completely disappeared! I am no longer worried about my pelvis getting out of alignment and finding the right professional to fix it without hurting me! I still can’t work out too hard but I feel my strength coming back little by little everyday. And like you said, I only exercise when my body absolutely wants too.

        Thanks Mikhaila, Steve

      • steven v says:

        Charlene,

        Curious on what your experience with cholesterol is? Since doing ZC diet my LDL has got above the normal range(170). HDL is excellent and Triglycerides/HDL is excellent. Watched Shawn Baker video on cholesterol and he said LDL readings are not a good way to interpret if you have potential heart issues.
        1. Do you know if you LDL has gone down over time as you body adapts to a ZC diet?
        2. How high has your LDL number gotten on this diet?

        BTW, already doing pilates classes, almost everyday! Thinking about trying to play some golf again soon! Went to get some accupunture the other day and walked out like a drunkin sailor!! The accupunture is working great, I definitely believe it is do to the ZC diet. I tried accupunture over a decade ago and got no results!! The ZC diet has relieved much of the tension, blockages and inflammation to allow the accupunture to work.

        Thanks for sharing, Steve

        • Charlene says:

          I haven’t had any blood tests done for almost two decades. When I had one done, it was a year into the ZC diet and from what I remember, all my numbers were excellent. I keep my diet high in fat (80% or higher). There are some who are ZC, who can pull some “bad” numbers (of course many things are debatable when it comes to tests) but possibly these are due to a diet not as high in fat. Your results are not surprising, and I’m very excited for you!

      • Natalie Romanello says:

        This is so refreshing to hear, as I’ve never liked high-intensity workouts, yet was made to feel less-than for it. Most of my friends equate good health with lots of intense cardio and could never keep up (and didn’t want to lol). I do best with hiking, walking, gardening and yoga…which is what I’ve found out by listening to my body. I just found out I have a syndrome where my heart rate goes up too high with intense exercize and that effect causes other side-effects…so it wasn’t in my head. Intense cardio or weight lifting really wasn’t good for me. I hope that this new way of eating helps relieve my inflammation which should help alleviate my other issues (have you heard of POTS? That’s what causes the heart rate issue).

        • steven v says:

          Hey Natalie,

          I am cutting back on my intense exercise for the next few months. My sciatica has improved 70-80% but has seemed to not respond to additional exercise. So I am going to go the way Charlene went and see if just diet is going to totally heal my inflammation, back and hip issues. It feels like my body will tell me when I can push my body harder. So for now just trying to put in a full day and stay moderately active is all my body can take and to get plenty of rest when it is needed. Too much stress on my body is not a good thing at this time.

  6. Marie Wassinger says:

    I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2005. I was given antibiotics, which seemed to help. However, I still suffer from some of the symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, joint pain, and even neurological problems in controlling hand and leg movements. The inability to walk right etc, are temporary and generally happen when I am really tired and have been working hard. I lost touch with reality.. Suspecting it was the medication I Went off the antibiotics (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started on Lyme disease natural herbal formula I ordered from Natural Herbal Gardens, December 18, 2017 after being on the herbs you recommended, i had a total recovery from Lyme disease with this natural herbal formula treatment. The chronic fatigue, joint pain has subsided. When I stumbled upon you guys, it was just pure instinct. And from that day on it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. The caring that goes into explaining what herbs work for whatever ails me is astounding. In today’s world where so many are after a quick buck, selling without care, Natural Herbal Garden’s staffs amplifies the difference. I’m a believer in karma, and for generations to come, this is a herbal store that will be leaving it’s footprint in this world. Visit NATURAL HERBAL GARDENS official web site www. naturalherbalgardens. com A world of thanks to The Natural Herbal Gardens!”

    • Charlene says:

      Years ago, there was no tincture, herb, homeopathic remedy, or supplement of any kind that worked for me. In fact, they all made me worse. That was my experience.

  7. How wonderful that you’re telling your story again. People with “normal” metabolisms have no clue what a blessing the carnivore diet can be. That’s not their fault of course, but I don’t understand why they would feel threatened. Congratulations on regaining your health and kudo’s for talking about your diet!

  8. Toni says:

    Do you take any supplements at all? For example Vit C or a vitamin/ minerals or is it just simply meat and water? And do you season your meat with anything or other than salt? Is even plant based seasoning such as pepper and garlic powder a no no for your body as well? Did you have any body aches and pains as you transitioned to all meat? I think all meat would work for me but every time I try it, I hurt all over. I wonder if it is some type of herxheimer reaction? Any thoughts?

    • steven v says:

      Toni,

      I totally agree with Charlene. Started this diet about 2 weeks ago and am feeling way better. Probably felt worse the 1st 3 or 4 days but then the “die off” cleared up and I feel better than I have in decades. Since my disorder has been over 3 decades I am very dedicated to try anything different just to find some relief. There are so many success stories with this diet that I am committed to giving it a great effort.
      For me “die off” is more of a “deep fatigue” just very draining and exhausting. I don’t feel as stressed and irritated from “die off” just totally wiped out. Where when I eat the wrong foods I feel much more “tortured”, more tension, much more out of sorts, like I have been poisoned. I would tell people in the past I might as well drink bleach than to eat a certain food because it would have the same affect.
      Everybody is different, I am only speaking from experience not from medical fact. Maybe you have to slowly creep into a Zero Carb diet and then fully switch over due to strong “die-off’ reactions. Like Charlene said, keep a diary and keep trying!!!

      Good Luck

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