Part 6 of 13 of Anna’s Story at CanadianLymeStories.com
Five minutes into the long-awaited appointment with Dr. McShane (a charismatic woman vibrating with intellectual curiosity, empathy, and a sense of personal mission), she asked me if I had experienced any particular stressors around the time that I had become ill.
‘Hmmm.’ I thought about it. ‘Well, I did have a newborn… and a toddler who was quite put out by the arrival of his sister. Oh, and, yeah, right, my husband had become terribly ill about a year earlier with something that made his ears ring unbearably, caused him to shake, ruined his balance, brought on terrible anxiety and depression, and created this weird electric vibration in his extremities. Some days if you held his hand it felt like he had a kids’ buzzer toy in his palm.
The doctors initially thought it might be MS, or Lou Gehrig’s. (Which are not words you ever want to hear, but particularly not while holding a newborn.) There was a lot of testing, but they were finally unable to make a diagnosis. I found that stressful.’
Dr. McShane just looked at us.
‘That electric buzzing,’ said the region’s leading Lyme authority, ‘is the most distinctive Lyme symptom there is’.
Dr. McShane practices in the back of a one-story building covered in blue vinyl siding on a main thoroughfare in the not so bustling metropolis of Plattsburgh, NY. I was the one driving the rental car when we crossed the Quebec/ New York border.
‘What is your reason for travel to the US?’ asks the man at immigration.
‘I am going to see a doctor,’ I say.
‘Oh, you have Lyme Disease.’ He is suddenly friendly. I, who have never said that out loud, am a little startled. ‘My mother had that.’
There is a petition to sign beside the window in Dr. McShane’s front office where you pay. It asks the Canadian Government to reexamine its view on Chronic Lyme Disease and its treatment. I was the first one to sign it that first stressful day. When I went back 6 months later there were maybe 15 pages of tightly-packed signatures: addresses on Bathurst St and Millwood Ave and Davisville. All of them Canadians who have somehow found a diagnosis in a system hostile to the diagnosis and been organized enough and well enough and wealthy enough to make their way down to see this one increasingly swamped doctor in the United States.
Dr. McShane herself has a great story. She was a doctor in private practice when she became ill. Her mind went completely haywire and she couldn’t think. After realizing she had contracted Lyme and using an antibiotic treatment to get herself back on her feet, she realized that there was a tremendous need, that there were many others in her position. She told us the story as she took our case histories. She is happy to talk about all aspects of the disease and research and new thinking. She thinks diet and supplementation and lifestyle are all important. She also thinks you have to rid your body, as much as is possible, of the infection. Her husband wants her to retire, she says, but there are so many people who need her help.
As I had done quite a bit of research I was able to ask her questions. My poor husband, meanwhile, was in that initial-diagnosis shock. After sitting there watching us for a while he retired to the back of the room where there happened to be a couch. I was less ill than most of the people who come down to her and there was a funny moment when I think she was worried that I had come to get antibiotics and might be disappointed to have herbals prescribed, while I was terrified that she would prescribe antibiotics.
Her teenage son had also been ill with Lyme Disease, she said. (They have a cottage in Northern Quebec and that’s where she figured they had been infected.) But when she, the big antibiotic cure doctor, attempted to put him on antibiotics, she told us, he said he didn’t believe in them. As a result she was forced to research herbal cures.
These cures were developed by herbalists and combine a variety of targeted ingredients. My protocol was called Beyond Balance & my husband was prescribed the Cowden Protocol (developed by Dr Lee Cowden, cardiologist). Both can be looked up on the Internet. My understanding is that they are made up of anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-microbial herbs as well as a lot of things to help clear the body of the toxic remains and byproducts of these infections.
When I got home I showed my bottles to a friend who had studied herbal medicines.
‘Whew. These are right from the back of the Witches’ Cave,’ she said, handing them back.
On to Part 7: Herbals
Keywords: Plattsburgh, herbal treatment options, Beyond Balance, Cowden Protocol, antibiotic treatment