Rocking the 70’s!

March 2nd will be three months of BVT, and yesterday’s sting session put me at 302 stings. So far I haven’t had any noticeable symptoms improve, but I am very early on in the scheme of things. It’s challenging to sting yourself with bees when you don’t see positive changes. Hope of getting my life back keeps me going, along with determination and maybe a little bit of desperation. The past few days I’ve had a bad chest cold and a lot of trouble breathing, so we’ve been monitoring my oxygen levels. (Which are great thankfully!) I’m amazed at my pulse- cardiac symptoms have been a huge issue for me, and throughout the past few years my resting heart rate is always over 100, and often between 120 and 150. I honestly can’t remember the last time my pulse was in the 70s. BVT has given me a NORMAL pulse! Cold hard facts that the bees are working!

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I didn’t really notice that my tachycardia had improved, because I’m still having a lot of chest and rib pain. Those usually go along with my tachycardia, so I didn’t even think about my heart rate possibly being better. Just goes to show you can be healing and not realize it until it stares you in the face! Sometimes when you’re feeling so terrible overall, you miss the little improvements. I do believe that a lot of my cardiac symptoms are caused by viral issues, as when I did herbal anti virals my symptoms would go away for a period of time. BVT is quick and effective at addressing viral issues. The first few weeks when I had such high fevers after stinging- those fevers were directly related to viruses dying off.

I am still having very high pain, fatigue and brain fog. My anxiety is still severe at times, but has improved since weeks 5-10 thankfully! I told myself when I started BVT that I wouldn’t put a timeline on my healing. I feel like comparison can cause such discouragement when you’re desperately wanting your health and life back. I have total confidence that bee venom will work for me, but when I do not know. Each person is different in how many co infections they have, how effected all their organs are, how functioning their adrenals and thyroid are, etc. We can’t expect to all follow the same timeline and heal at the same pace. I do know that my brain, heart, organs, adrenals and thyroid are all significantly effected. My body is pretty worn down after fighting for nine years. I just need to be patient and wait for the bees to work, and do everything I can to help the healing process.

I’m really happy to report that I started riding lessons a few weeks ago! I have missed horses so much and am really happy to have them in my life again. I’m taking English lessons and hoping to focus on Dressage in the future. I’m just doing lessons every other week for now, as I know my body needs a lot of recovery time. I could barely walk for four days after my first lesson! I am hoping that as I continue to ride my muscles and joints will adjust and become less painful. I know that this is a really good thing for me, even though it’s incredibly hard. It’s therapeutic on emotional, mental and physical levels! I have bad muscle atrophy and I know riding will help build up some of that lost muscle. Being at the barn makes me so happy and helps me feel like I’m getting a little piece of my life back! I can’t wait for my lesson on Thursday.

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Thank you all for reading. I’ll try to be better about updating!

 

Sophia

Just Keep Stinging…

Sorry I’ve been neglecting all my readers! I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to say. Things have been rough, really rough. I don’t like to be all negative when I post, so I haven’t been saying much on Facebook and have been avoiding my blog altogether. My neurological symptoms have reached a whole new level, which makes writing coherently difficult. Regardless, I thought you all deserved an update, so here it is. I’ll try and keep it short and sweet.

This is my fifth week at ten stings. I’m at 192 total stings. Only a few thousand more to go! I can tell the venom is definitely targeting my Bartonella by the increased symptoms I’ve been having. The past three weeks I’ve had terrible anxiety. Anxiety is something that I’ve had off and on during my different treatments. This past summer I had a bad patch, but since then I’d been relatively anxiety free for a few months. It’s absolutely debilitating when it hits like this. Pre Lyme I was the most carefree person, so when the anxiety hits it is very hard for me to deal with and also causes depression. It’s a terrible feeling being uncomfortable in your own skin, constantly on edge and having racing thoughts. Interestingly, a lot of the BVT-ers reported an increase in anxiety around the same weeks into stinging that I did. For many it only lasted about five weeks so I’m hopeful this will pass.

Last week brought on a “new” symptom. Not completely new, but something I’ve only had on occasion in my almost three years of treating Lyme and co’s. Brain fog. Gosh, is it miserable. With my constant fatigue coupled with the brain fog, I told mom that I feel like I’m stuck in a hamster ball but I’m too tired to make it spin. (I did a google image search for “hamster ball” and this came up. Yeah, I feel like this dude.)

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This is also an accurate description: IMG_0046.jpg

Anyways, no matter how you describe it, it’s not fun. You constantly feel tipsy and out of it. I feel like when I move my body lags a few seconds behind me. I’ve also experienced sensitivity to florescent lights. Although in the past light has been a trigger for migraines for me, (yay for always wearing sunglasses!) I’ve never had this type of light sensitivity. I can walk into a store and feel my brain fog instantly double. Some Lymies are unable to shop at all due to such over stimulation issues and the symptoms it immediately causes. I’m thankful that I am still able to somewhat function through it.

My pain and fatigue have still been high since Christmas. I will admit that it is pretty hard to convince myself to do my stings some days. They are not pleasant by any means and I’ve just been feeling so rough in general. The low back stings are particularly painful. I do a lot of foot tapping when I’m getting my low back stings! Through all this I still am so hopeful that this will give me my health back. Here’s a picture of ten stings a few days ago, along with two extra stings at the SI-11 points. This point is supposed to aid in detoxing. Most sting sessions should be kept at ten stings, but it is okay to do a few additional stings on occasion.

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Thank you all for following along with the highs and lows of this treatment, and for your continued prayers. I appreciate each one of you!

♡ Sophia

Week 5: 10 Stings!

Today marks the start of my fifth week of BVT, and also my first day at ten stings. As per the protocol you may go up two stings per week, which I was able to do. Many people go slower because of severe herxing and detox issues. Although I had some terrible herxing, I felt that they passed quick enough that I could continue to increase my stings. Ten stings is considered the optimal therapeutic dose, so I am excited to have reached ten stings and be in the healing zone. My stings today were also my most painful so far. The venom burned for the whole twenty minutes the stingers remained in. The picture below is what the stingers look like after they have released the venom and are removed. Sharp little barbs!

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Sometimes I look at all the bees lined up in tweezers ready to sting and think, “Oh my gosh, I have to do this three times a week for three years!” Looking at the big picture can be a little overwhelming. Through this I still know that eventually the stings won’t make me feel so bad and the symptoms will start to melt away, making stinging no big deal.

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The first three weeks were what many refer to as the “honeymoon phase”. I felt pretty darn good on the days I wasn’t herxing! Last week I felt really rough. There was a full moon on Christmas day which effects Lyme symptoms, and lots of changes in the weather and barometric pressure. Christmas Eve and Christmas day I was struggling with high pain, nausea and exhaustion. I still had a great Christmas with mom, dad and Jordy. I am blessed to have such a loving family!

My pain has lessened since Christmas, but it’s still higher than it was those first few weeks. I’m also having a lot of pain in my chest and lungs, especially when I breathe. I haven’t been getting the high fevers and flu like symptoms after I sting, which has been a nice break. After stinging I tend to just feel an overall unwell feeling and very fatigued. Still having a lot of swollen lymph nodes and lymphatic pain as well. My nausea has been more severe than it has been in quite a few months. I’m trying to stay positive as I know this is all part of the process. Some people have asked me what symptoms are gone so far. Nothing has gone away yet, and that’s okay. Symptoms will wax and wane as the venom attacks the infection making it acute. It’s not a quick fix but I know this is my chance to regain my health.

♡ Sophia

 

Third Week of BVT

I’m now in my third week of bee venom therapy, and today was my second session at six stings!

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I am so happy and encouraged by how things are going. My pain is still quite low, which is amazing! Nothing has decreased my pain in the nine years I have been sick.My daily pain has gone from a seven or higher to about a two. If I am on my feet a lot by the end of the day I’m still achey and have a higher pain level, but my joint and bone pain are so much lower in general. What a blessing!

After stinging I still am getting 101 degree fevers and the chills, body aches, stabbing ear pain, etc. that goes along with it. I’m so glad to be getting a fever, as this means my immune system is starting to respond and fight! My immune system has been battered to the point where it is almost non existent. Bee venom is an immune system stimulator. This is the treatment I’ve been needing for a long time- I wish I had known to try it sooner.

Wednesday was my first day going up to six stings, and I felt weird immediately after stinging. Usually it takes me about 8 hours to herx. The fever and everything set in later at night. Did you know crying can be a type of herx as well? All Wednesday night I basically had tears leaking down my face for absolutely no reason. It was so weird. In the middle of my herx, my dog Jordy curled up on my lap and I just started sobbing because my herxing brain thought it was the sweetest thing of him to do. Haha. Thankfully along with the rest of my herx it passed by morning. He is pretty sweet though, isn’t he?

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Non sting days this week I’ve been struggling with swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, some body aches and stabbing ear pain in addition to all my other regular symptoms. I know not to be discouraged by this, I can feel the venom working and healing me. This is a three year process and I am amazed that I am seeing results already! I’m not sure if I am less fatigued or if it is just easier to stay on my feet because my pain isn’t so extreme. Probably a little of both.

The other thing that I have noticed since going up to six stings is almost immediate ribcage pain after stinging. This is interesting to me, as rib/ribcage pain was where my bone and joint pain all started and it eventually spread to my whole body. I am not usually bothered by this anymore, except on occasion. BVT causes something called retracing. As the venom attacks the infection it can bring up old symptoms that you haven’t experienced in months or even years. This is all part of the process and with time those symptoms will pass.

Last night I had about ten bees die off in my bee buddy. It’s super windy amd cold out and I guess I had them in a drafty part of the house. Bummer! For my sting session today we were able to get three dead bees to successfully sting. Crazy that they can still sting if they have only been dead a short while. I’m glad we were able to salvage a few of them. Hopefully now that I moved them to a warmer area of the house I won’t have any more problems.

I will update next week when I go up to 8 stings!

♡ Sophia

 

Herxing and Detoxing

Remember how last night I posted about how great I have felt since starting bee venom? And that I knew it would probably be short lived and things would get hard? I guess my body wanted to prove a point, because shortly after I published my post I started having a major herx. It was absolutely miserable. It started with my sting site being incredibly painful. Things got progressively worse and by eleven p.m. I felt like I had full blown influenza. My whole body was hot and feverish, but I had chills. Extreme full body aches. My lymph nodes hurt so bad I could hardly move my arms. I just laid in bed under a mountain of blankets with ice packs on my back and eventually I drifted off to sleep around one a.m. , waking up a couple times to switch out my ice packs. I have never had a herx reaction quite like this from antibiotics. Yesterday I went up from two to four stings, so the venom was definitely doing something last night. Thankfully this morning my herx is about 60% better. My back is still sore and I’m pretty achey, but nothing compared to last night. You aren’t supposed to take ibuprofen or other NSAIDs on BVT, so ice packs are becoming my new best friend.

Non sting days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) are days to detox. Below are a few things I use to help my body detox:

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Activated charcoal and zeolite (the Royal Detox bottle) are binders. When you ingest them the toxins floating around in your digestive tract are “bound” to it and exit your body. Alka Seltzer Gold helps make your body more alkaline. When you’re herxing your body is usually too acidic. Many people find quick relief with this to some extent. Drinking lemon water is also a good form of detox. I struggle with drinking enough water (Should be at least half your body weight in ounces.) but I’m working on it! I also use Pinella, Burbur and Parsley detox drops, different herbs that help the detox process. These are tinctures with a small amount of alcohol in them. On BVT you should have no alcohol at all, as it could increase your risk of anaphylaxis. A way to get around this with the detox drops is to put your dose in a glass of water and let them sit for an hour or so. The small amount of alcohol will evaporate and then you can safely take your detox drops.

I have genetic mutations that do not allow me to detox properly (Methylation cycle), so taking Methylation support is essential as well. Epsom salt baths are a type of detox many people use, but because of my genetics and my inability to detox sulfur I am not able to do them. I do have an infrared sauna which is probably one of the best detox methods available. I hope to use it more in the future. My cardiac symptoms have made me unable to use it in the past, but as those stabilize I plan to start using the sauna on detox days. I have also been juicing veggies every other day which is helpful for detoxing.

On sting days and detox days, it’s essential to keep taking 3,000 mg of vitamin C. Bee venom stimulates your adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Vitamin C is a basic building block your body needs in order to make cortisol. If you don’t take sufficient vitamin C, you run the risk of sending your body into adrenal failure. I take liposomal vitamin C, as it is about 90% absorbed by your body compared to regular vitamin C which is only about 15% absorbed. According to some tests I had run this summer, my adrenals are barely producing cortisol. I am excited for this healing aspect of bee venom! Having functioning adrenals will help with fatigue, sleep, stress and countless other things.

Okay, I think it’s time for me to chill on the couch. Taking it easy today. Hoping tomorrow’s stings aren’t quite as severe!

♡ Sophia

Four Stings!

I have now been doing BVT for a week. I am already so encouraged by this treatment. I did three sessions at two stings, and then today we went up to four. This past week I have had some pretty good days- better days than I have had in months. Saturday I was able to go to Appleton and meet a dear Lyme friend and her husband for lunch, followed by a full afternoon of Christmas shopping at the mall. Usually after an hour or two of walking I am in severe pain and completely exhausted. We purchased a wheelchair this fall because I was having such problems walking. I lasted quite a few hours Saturday and had very minimal pain when I got home. At first I thought maybe it was coincidence, but this whole week my joint and bone pain has been very low. I haven’t had this low of pain for years and years. I forgot what it felt like. I’m still kind of in shock about it. I have never started a treatment and seen positive results. Thank you bees!!! Some people say that they felt good with low sting numbers and didn’t herx until they were up to 6, 8 or 10. I know things are going to get hard and I’m prepared for that, but I sure am going to enjoy this relief right now.

Today I did my first session at four stings. Today’s stings really hurt. I didn’t ice very long. Getting your back good and numb first is key to a tolerable sting session! (lesson learned) But I made it through no worse for wear. we did my stings above my bra line today, and shortly after stinging I started having pain in my lower back which was interesting. It feels like a knot or ball, and it’s been hurting all day. I’ve had a lot of lower back pain with Lyme, so I’m guessing the venom is hitting a problem area. That’s a good thing!

I am so thankful to be trying this treatment, and hopeful for positive outcomes. Here’s a picture of my stings today with the venom sacs still in. Thanks for following my journey!

♡ Sophia

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First Day of Bee Venom Therapy

Yesterday was a day of firsts! My first bee shipment arrived, and last night I had my first sting session. I thought I’d go over supplies needed to start BVT, and later in this post I will talk about my first sting session.

Before you can even think of starting BVT, you need an Epi Pen. Even if you have been stung by a wasp or bumblebee, honey bee venom is different and you could potentially have a bad reaction. Although the chances of anaphylaxis happening are very slim, you need to be prepared.  You also should have liquid Benadryl on hand (preferably dye free). Hopefully you never need to touch either of these, but it’s much better safe than sorry.

Supplements and things are up to you, but taking 3,000 mg of vitamin C daily is mandatory. Bee venom stimulates your adrenal glands to produce cortisol, and vitamin C is a basic building block that your body needs to produce cortisol. If you aren’t taking enough vitamin C you run the risk of adrenal failure.

You need a bee buddy or something similar to keep your bees in. Some people use Mason jars, which can work. The nice thing about the bee buddy is that it has a honeycomb backing for the bees to crawl on, and it also has a fake queen scent, which helps the bees feel more comfortable. Also in the summer if you let your bees out for flight, they will return because of the queen smell. If you keep them in a jar they will not return, they will go off in search of a queen. You can buy the bee buddy here for $55. I actually just purchased my second one. That way when I get new bees each week, I can keep them separate from the old bees. This will allow me to clean the bee buddy easier as well. Here’s a picture of my bee buddy with my bees in it.

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You also need tweezers for catching the bees, and for stinging. Reverse action tweezers work best. You use the straight tweezers to catch the bees, and the curved tweezers for placement of the bee for stinging. You’ll also want a pair of regular bathroom tweezers for pulling out the stingers. I ended up getting ten pairs of the curved tweezers. This way you can have all ten bees ready to go for your sting session. (When you’ve worked up to ten stings.) I purchased two pairs of the straight tweezers. I just bought the cheapest ones on Amazon, they were about $3 a piece. IMG_7315

Something that I purchased but haven’t used yet (I’m sure I will though!) is kinesiology tape. This is for when the itching is unbearable- placing the tape over your stings will keep you from scratching your back raw. Plus it comes in pretty colors! 🙂 I bought some for $9 on Amazon.

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Okay, you’re set with supplies. Now you just need bees! I am receiving my bees from a very nice couple in California. They run Allen’s Apitherapy Bees. They raise and sell bees specifically for bee venom. You can check out their website here. Ordering is very simple, you have an account with them and they will automatically ship your bees every Monday. You just need to let them know when you need your amount increased. I started with 20 bees. It’s always nice to have extra in case you have some die. (I’ve only lost one so far) They also have a live bee guarantee, so if you have dead bees upon arrival they will credit you for them.

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Look at those cute little honeybees eating raw honey. I was a little worried about how to get them out of the shipping crate and into the bee buddy. I was surprised how docile they really are. We opened the crate and slipped it in the bee buddy, and they just slowly crawled out. We also had two bees escape when we were opening the bee buddy for different things, and Wilson was able to catch them without too much struggle. They honestly don’t WANT to sting you if they don’t have to. They are funny though, we have the bee buddy in our bookshelf in the living room, and they sure do buzz when they hear loud noises!

While you’re working on catching your bees (This takes a while to get used to. Don’t panic if you have some flyaway bees! Just use your tweezers to catch them.) you should be icing your back. Ice until you’re fairly numb. You will be stinging an inch on either side of your spine, about mid back. Your first sting is your test sting. For a normal sting, you leave the stinger in your back for twenty minutes, since the venom sac will continue to pump venom.

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Look at the mechanics of a bee sting. Isn’t that amazing? Even the littlest of creatures exhibit such intricate design. For the test sting, you don’t want all the venom to pump in. You’ll want to remove the stinger immediately. Use the tweezers to scrape the stinger along your skin. Don’t pull straight up, you could leave part of stinger behind. If you feel no ill effects of from the test sting, you can do a regular sting in a half hour. My test sting went fine. I hardly felt it! I  did my second sting in a half hour, and left the stinger in for twenty minutes. I could feel some sharp pains as the venom pumped in, but it still wasn’t bad. The expectation of my first sting was far worse. I thought “that’s it?” when the first sting happened. I know the icing definitely helped. Tomorrow will be sting day number two. I have to do three sessions at at two stings, and then if the herxing isn’t too bad you can increase to four stings. Basically once a week you can go up two stings until you’re at the goal amount of ten. But listen to your body! Go slower if you need to, especially if you have methylation and detox issues. I haven’t felt any effects from my initial stings, but I forgot to stop my anti histamines that I take for allergies and MCAD. Anti histamines can weaken the effects of the venom, so now that I stopped them today my sting session tomorrow will be a better judge of how I react. Many people don’t notice herxing until they are at a higher number of stings. I also stopped all antibiotics on Tuesday. I am excited to be doing solely BVT now. Using just BVT will help me know exactly how and where it is working. I am still on about 25 different pills and supplements. Many people find they are able to cut out a lot of supplements as they get further into BVT. I am looking forward to that! All in all, my first day of BVT was exciting, interesting, and low pain. Thanks for reading!

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♡ Sophia