Chronic Lyme Disease: Kevin’s Inspiring Practical Paleo Testimonial
My name is Kevin Sherriff and I am a 30 year old elementary school teacher from the bustling metropolis of Whitby, Ontario Canada. For the past two years I have been forced to put my life, and my families lives on hold while I have battled with Chronic Lyme Disease.
I would like to start my post today by expressing my sincerest thanks to these wonderful ladies here at Balanced Bites. I got into contact with them initially looking for sponsorship for an upcoming Lyme Disease awareness and fundraising event. I hoped for, at the very most, a few cookbooks to use for our silent auction.
I was more then elated and a little nervous when they invited me to write this guest post for their blog. Nerves aside, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to share my story, my journey to Paleo, and the goals of our Lyme Disease foundation to so many good people. So thanks ladies! What a wonderful opportunity this is and let’s hope I don’t blow it!
I’ll start where any good health post starts, with before and after photos- where would any of us be without them? It is the most powerful way to show a journey, without being overly wordy. That is my attempt at saying a picture is worth a thousand words, though not quite as poetic…
We will start on the left. This is me during what my wife likes to lovingly call my ‘anaphylactic shock phase’- nice, eh? I was 5ft 10 and 180 pounds of bones wrapped in pizza, beer and laziness. That new year, my wife and I made a decision to get into better shape.
Which brings us to the next picture in May 2011. That is me at 155 pounds, after I had finished my second half marathon in 3 months. This was weight I had lost on purpose through healthier choices and less sitting around.
The last picture is taken on May of 2012- almost a year to the day after my triumphant half marathon picture. I was sitting at a career worst of 118 pounds and in the fight of my life. Also known as my Jack Skellington phase (He was the Pumpkin King).
For the purposes of our Paleo story today, it is right before that picture was taken in 2011 that our story begins.
But first, a little back story:
In June of 2010 (the 17th to be exact), I went home from work at lunch time with what I thought was the worst sudden stomach flu I had ever had. The strange part being that as weeks past, I continued to develop new symptoms and my heath continued to deteriorate. Countless trips to the ER, walk-in clinics and pretty much every test you can think to perform on a person, left us scared, frustrated, and more importantly- without answers.
In late October, through some fluke circumstances, I found myself in the office of a Lyme Disease specialist in the United States. A few hours later (based on a blood test and a two hour appointment) I left with a diagnosis of Lyme Disease and two other tick borne co-infections. I learned very quickly that sometimes the answer can be just as terrifying as the question.
The road back to health was going to be tricky and involved a lot of hard work.
You couldn’t just pound antibiotics and get better.
You had to make some fairly large changes to your life, including a supplement regime (to keep the antibiotics from killing you) and an extreme diet change (to keep the antibiotics from killing you). That is key as far as I’m concerned.
To list all the diet restrictions here would be a little intense for our purposes today, but the main two were sugar free and yeast free, among many many others, including zucchini… I never asked why.
I started the treatment in December of 2010. It was a little rocky. Just like anything worth doing, it got a lot worse before it got better. Slowly but surely I started to see some improvement. I had my answer and a solution. Everything was on schedule.
In April of 2011, everything changed again.
One night, while watching something on Lyme Disease on TV, I started to feel very nauseous. I assumed that I was just upset about what I was watching and thought nothing of it. Over the next three weeks, the nausea had become constant. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. My weight plummeted to 118 pounds and my mental state was shattered.
Something new was wrong and I couldn’t figure out why.
The depression hit me hard and fast. My wife was forced to work only half days so she could be home for the afternoon to take care of me, my parents came over and sat with me in the morning. I required almost 24 hour care.
We all began to wonder if I was going to make it to see my 30th birthday.
My Lyme specialist pulled me off of my medication and began to suggest complications that could be causing this setback. One of the first things that she suggested was to get a food sensitivity test. I’ll be the first to admit that I was almost offended. I thought she wasn’t taking me seriously.
I was two seconds aways from an alien bursting out of my stomach and running across the living room and she wanted a food sensitivity test?
I thought I was dying. It had to be something serious. But, like a good boy, I followed the Doc’s orders.
Under her recommendation, I cut out gluten right away and sent my food test away to the lab.
That was a lovely process that involved collecting and freezing feces, then sending it in the mail via courier to the States- that must have been a fun day to work in Customs.
By the afternoon of the second day gluten free, the fog had already started to clear. Some of my energy was returning and the nausea was finally taking its foot off the gas.
When the test results returned a few weeks later, I had my answer yet again: sensitivities to gluten, soy and dairy- just to name a few.
My Doctor instructed me to stick to eating only protein, fruits and vegetables.
It wasn’t ideal, but the rules were easy to follow and I couldn’t argue with the results. My treatment jumped back on track and I was on the road towards health once again.
I can remember the day that my wife told me that the way I was eating had a name, she told me it was called a ‘Caveman’ diet and she had heard about it once on the radio.
All I said was: “People eat like this on purpose?!”
So we went to the local bookstore and started hunting and gathering cookbooks (pun intended).
Eventually, we found our way to Practical Paleo – a book that changed our lives.
It was one thing to eat a certain diet because my doctor told me to, it was totally another to read and understand why it was better for me and how it was helping me to get healthy.
The recipes being delicious didn’t hurt either. Soon after, my wife joined in the Paleo lifestyle and was quickly in the best shape of her life. It taught us that simple real ingredients can be turned into delicious meals. It was the best food that I had eaten in a long time.
I hadn’t been excited to eat since I had been sick, even just mentally that made all the difference. I’ve never spent so much time in the kitchen in my life. Chopping and tasting. I had never been called a good cook before! Thanks Diane! Who knew that eating well could be so much fun, and involve so much bacon?!
We have a brand new appreciation for food, how it’s grown and when and where it’s grown.
We have a new pride in cooking things from scratch with wholesome ingredients. We know exactly what goes into our food, because we have to, but I think even after this is all over it will remain something that is important to us. A hangover from this Chronic Lyme Disease that we hope to hold onto.
One of the largest beasts of this experience might just turn out to be one of the things that I appreciate most. I’m not saying that I will never eat sugar again, or enjoy a nice cold grain filled beer on a patio – I’ve just learned some interesting things about food. Taking positives out of this process is important and this is one for sure.
This is a snapshot I took of my/Diane’s Orange Braised Beef Shanks! SOOO good. It’s our go to whenever we have company.
Over the last few years battling Lyme Disease, I am constantly trying to find positives to take out of it. I do this to make sure that when I look back on the years in this fight I know that they were not wasted.
The lessons that I have learned about food will be at the top of that list.
As my health continues to improve I have made it a personal mission to pay forward the kindness that has been shown to me by others in and out of the Lyme community during my journey.
Together with a great group of people, we formed the lymeSAVERS Foundation – a foundation dedicated to raising money to help Canadian Lyme Disease patients deal with the heavy costs of Lyme treatment. Along with funds, we will also be using our collective efforts to raise awareness about this debilitating disease and the strict diet that needs to be followed to get healthy.
I am honoured that the people at Balanced Bites are joining me in this fight. Lyme patients need to understand how much of their health and improvement is in our own hands and determined by what we put into our bodies. I have many friends in the Lyme world that have made the switch to Paleo and are reaping the benefits. Our job is to get this message out to as many Lyme patients as possible.
Our first foundation fundraiser will be taking place in Whitby, Ontario on May 11, 2013. The lymeSAVERS 5K Run/Walk/Stroll.
We are very proud that Diane has graciously offered us some cookbooks to give away as prizes at our event- our first steps in spreading the clean eating word to local Lyme patients and our community on a whole. It is going to be a great day.
Feel free to check out lymeSAVERS on our website: www.lymesavers.ca and ‘Like’ us on Facebook to keep up to date with all the exciting news: https://www.facebook.com/lymeSAVERS.
Thanks again to the ladies at Balanced Bites for inviting me here,
Feel free to get in touch with me with any questions related to Lyme of the lymeSAVERS Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Facebook.
For more of my personal journey, visit http://lymechronicle.blogspot.ca
PS – Don’t miss out on this awesome deal good through April 9th only!