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First Combat, Then Conversation

2010: I’m a 25-year-old premedical student, an herbalist and a volunteer at a free clinic. I’m experiencing unaccountable fatigue, achiness, brain fog and dizziness. After a series of medical evaluations, I receive a dreaded diagnosis–Lyme disease, the same infection that crippled my mother, that I now feel twisting my body and contorting my mind. I am infected with terror.

I consult a doctor who immediately prescribes several rounds of antibiotics. This is an emergency. We have to fight. Antibiotics are my weapon to exorcise these demons. In three months, I’ll be fine, I’m assured. Here’s an example of my protocol:

100mg doxycycline twice a day
500mg tindamax twice a day
250mg grapefruit seed extract twice a day
200mg nystatin three times a day
30 drops samento extract twice a day
500mg Smilax capsules twice a day
500mg cur cumin three times a day
300mg N-acetyl-cysteine once a day
500mg Vitamin C four times a day

Three months become four years of treatment. I spend my work breaks vomiting in the bathroom, endure innumerable hours weeping from bone-deep fatigue, incur food allergies and sensitivities, develop autoimmune hypothyroidism.

My life constricts. I feel as if I’m in a glass room, separated from the world. I pound my fists on the glass, screaming, for release. Over time, my fists become bloodied. I feel brittle and broken. I mourn the shrapnel of my identity.

2014: I meet a doctor who practices a different way. He describes his method of clinical practice as a conversation with the body. He possesses a curiousity about chronic infections: What is burdening the immune system? Is this truly chronic Lyme or post-Lyme syndrome? Is the patient depleted in some way? I once dismissed this approach as too indirect for something so serious. But I am now humbled. Broken enough to allow something new to seep in through the cracks.

With new eyes, we discover several comorbidities: Epstein-Barr virus, nutrient deficiencies, celiac disease. My house, it turns out, is infested with toxic black mold. By addressing these factors, the infection eventually recedes into remission. I regain energy. My life expands.

I still love a good fight. (I believe one must, in order to contemplate a medical career.) But in this case, combat created brokenness. Curiosity and conversation mended it.

Renee Davis
Olympia, Washington


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