Saturday, October 25, 2014

Vocab Word of the Day: Herxheimer Reaction

I got to experience a Herxheimer Reaction today (Herxheimer, not Alzheimer), and it actually turns out that this has been recurring in my body and I just didn't know it until I found out about Herxhimer Reactions.
Ironically, the Herxheimer reaction was my "sunshine"

I'll explain what this is after I describe to you my day... Open with the gratitude of having the day off of work, and sleeping in until 10. I wake up, eat breakfast, and get in the shower. After getting out my legs begin to burn and itch. I scratch them as I go to get lotion in my room. The lotion doesn't seem to help and at this point it is starting to get annoying. I scratch my ankle trying to figure out what could cause this itching, I haven't shaved in almost a week (a norm for me), so that can't be it. And why are my thighs so itchy too?

I start to wonder if it's another side effect to all the meds I am on, including 3 antibiotics. I'm kind of hopeful that it is a side effect so that I can stop taking at least one of the many medications prescribed to me, but then I change my mind knowing that I would just be prescribed something different, or worse... I'll get an extra medication to counter the side effect. I quickly change my mind and scratch harder.

I am now growling out loud with frustration and I run back into the bathroom and yank open drawers to find my beloved chamomile lotion, the only stuff that saves me in the summer when I get heat rash! I apply it to my legs and thighs, and I groan even louder because it isn't soothing my burning skin at all! I try dumping more and more of the junk on until my legs are a pinkish-white color and  feel chalky from the lotion, to no avail.

I then try to put on long sweats and ignore the itching. I tell myself that my mom would say, "don't itch it or it will get worse." But my stupid brain counters back and says, "Well you've already itched it for so long that it is already worse, so way to go!" I try to do my laundry and ignore it but my thighs are on fire, and my legs feel like they are crawling with fire ants! I sprint downstairs again and dump more and more of the lotion on, again to no relief! I search my legs, looking for a rash, or bump or something to see what may be causing this! There is nothing but angry-red lines from scartching. No bumps. No rash. No hives. Just red chamomile lotioned up legs... and the burning and itching, of course.

My mom comes home from the store. She tells me to rinse off in the tub with hot water, suggesting that maybe it is the shampoo I'm using. I put the water on scalding hot and let it wash off the chalky lotion that I had sworn by until then. I scratch my leg and vow that I will do everything in my power to make sure the CEO of chamomile lotion knows just how crappy their lotion is. I get so desperate that I give in and grab a razor from my moms cupboard and shave, praying that it will bring relief... Nothing comes and I start to cry. I get dressed again and fall apart on my moms bed as I itch and scratch. We call my doctor and his nurse tells me to take Benadryl, and that it means that my body is fighting the disease and it is fighting back.
This captures my face perfectly for the majority of the day.
I don't know how long I laid on my moms bed itching and scartching and trying to sleep. Or how long I wished that I hadn't taken Adderall early that morning so that I could just let the Benadryl put me to sleep. But it was more than a good minute. During this time my mom was looking up explanations online and came across the Herxhimer Reaction.

Basically, people with chronic illnesses, and other intense medical issues that go through treatment, it tends to be a totally different battle. Cancer is a good example, the chemo and radiation make the patient sicker than a dog. They lose their hair, they puke, they have awful side effects. People with Lyme have Herxhimer Reactions from Antibiotics, like Cancer fighters do with chemo and radiation.

The Herxhimer Reactions,(also known by its verb "herxing" or "herx") according to chronicillnessrecovery.org, is when " injured or dead bacteria release their endotoxins into the blood and tissues faster than the body can comfortably handle it. This provokes a sudden and exaggerated inflammatory response."

Basically my body, with the help of the antibiotics, were killing off the spira bateria in my brain and my body couldn't get rid of it so it got into my neruological system and caused me to only think I was itching and feel the synapse of burning, even though nothing was causing it but my brain.

Herxzing, turns out, means your body is fighting it, and the bacteria is fighting back. It is not an allergic reaction, it is just part of the healing process. I have too much dead bacteria in my blood stream and my brain. Thus I have a long road of detox ahead of me.
herxing at it's finest with me! I'm almost happy I know what is going on now!

And itching and burning isn't the only herx I have been dealing with. It turns out that brain fog and lack of motivation (which I will be talking about in the very near future), are also forms of herxing reported by Lyme patients (http://www.tiredoflyme.com)! I haven't talked much about my symptoms of late, but that is one of my biggest frustrations right now! From the information I have found out, I appear to be hertzing, big and small almost every other day!

I eventually fell into a benadryl drugged somewhat sleep (thank you Adderall). And eventually the burning and itching quieted down. And I was left with a heavy Benadryl hang over the rest of the day, and red raw legs and thighs. And a big word to my vocabulary: The Herxheimer Reaction.

-The Lyme Warrior