From time to time, certain diseases befuddle Western medicine and doctors.
Holly Chameli of Aurora recently finished a book detailing her journey fighting one of them: Lyme disease.
Her book, “The Healer Within: My Recovery from Chronic Lyme, CFS, and Autoimmune Disease,” came out in October and is available on Amazon.
Chameli, an attorney with training in journalism, said she contracted Lyme disease a long time before it became active.
“Essentially, what happened I went on a walk one day with my dogs in New York state,” she said. “The following day I found a very large concentric bull’s eye rash on my left bicep. I honestly didn’t think anything about it because I didn’t have any symptoms.”
However, she said her mother “flipped her lid” at the time, and Chameli had her first odd experience with a doctor.
“He thought the rash would be more prominent if it were Lyme,” she said. “He just dismissed it and didn’t take any blood work from me.”
For a while, she said her fitness routine helped protect her from serious problems, but “little things” popped up from time to time like light headedness and numbness in her fingers.
By the time the disease became really active, Chameli said she was managing a busy life.
“I had two kids in diapers; my son was 7 months old at the time and my daughter was 2, and my husband was working all the time traveling,” she explained. “It just exploded in me overnight; I woke up one morning extremely sick with joint pain and rash all over me.”
She said it felt a little like a bad case of the flu, but nobody else in her household was catching it. That was in about 2012. For the next three to four years, she tried a wide variety of medicines and doctors. At one point, a doctor prescribed an antibiotic that just made her feel worse.
“No doctors were really willing to roll up their sleeves and figure out what I ought to do,” she said. “I started realizing this wasn’t going to work. I just turned to nutrition and herbs; I took a targeted approach.”
Her “targeted approach” took a wholistic view of the disease, which by then had affected her health in many areas.
“I would actually measure out how many grains I ate, and I measured other foods; I took a very scientific approach,” she said. “I would rotate herbs and started to learn about meditation.”
She said she tried to her best to “rebuild” her immune system based this regimen, which eventually helped her feel better, but she said she’s concerned not everyone will have the wherewithal to do that.
“I got better because I had a journalism background and went to law school,” she said, explaining that background gave her the research skills she needed to design a successful regimen to nurse her body back to health.
She said she also had one good experience with medical doctors: the staff at the Functional Medical Department at the Cleveland Clinic who “had the same mindset I did.”
She said the department ran tests on her gut health and helped come up with an approach to rebuild the a healthy balance of bacteria.
“I knew I was on the right path by 2016, but I was very sick,” she said. “2018 was when I finally began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
How sick was she?
Chameli said she went from being able to run 4 miles easily to barely being able to make it to her mailbox. While she was trying to figure out what was wrong with her, she said it was “like living in a torture chamber.”
“You don’t know what’s going to hit you next,” she said, explaining Lyme disease has a variety of symptoms that come and go.
She said she was initially worried she had something else like lupus or leukemia. Complicating the diagnosis is the fact that the test actually tests for the presence of antibodies that fight Lyme disease rather than the disease itself, so false negative test result can occur.
In her book, which she wrote through the late summer and early fall, Chameli said she details the story of her treatment and eventually healing, including much more detail on how she created a diet and lifestyle that helped heal her.
According to Amazon, every one of the 19 reviewers gives Chameli’s book five stars.
Chameli said she felt motivated to write the book because it was a “cathartic” process for her.
“I felt completely compelled to write this book because — like I tell my husband — the experience was so miserable that I felt if I didn’t share what happened, what was the point of the last 10 years?” Chameli asked.
She said she continues to get better, but she the process takes time.
“Most people can’t tell I have any problem at all,” she said. “It took years; it’s a very slow process getting better. You have to stick to your protocol and your diet. Year after year, I just keeping better and better.”
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, email@example.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.