Options available for Lyme disease treatment
Local woman fights disease with alternative treatment
A self-admitted workaholic, Lisa Hoche-Mathews woke up the morning of September 15, 2013, not feeling well. She simply put her feelings aside and arose to get ready for work.
“That’s when I found myself lying on the floor, drenched in sweat,” said Hoche-Mathews in a recent interview. “I had almost passed out.”
Though she stayed in bed that day, the warning wasn’t enough to keep her away from her job at the Moose Lake Post Office. Over the next week, Hoche-Mathews continued to feel ill. However, she found an excuse for every symptom that presented itself to her body.
The pain in her ears must be sinuses acting up; an aching neck must be the result of having slept wrong; her knees hurt because the dog was pulling on the leash as they went walking; feeling overly fatigued and sweating at work had to be from working so much overtime; a rash developing on her neck was nothing to worry about.
It wasn’t until a co-worker returned from vacation, took one look at her and told her to go to the doctor to get tested for Lyme disease that Hoche-Mathews began to consider something might be seriously wrong.
Over the next six months, Hoche-Mathews would learn more about Lyme disease, its effects, treatments and controversy about treatment than she thought possible. It began with online research.
“I didn’t know that Lyme rash does not always have to be at the site of the bite,” said Hoche-Mathews, “and that it doesn’t have to have a bullseye. Most of the publications out there talk about a bullseye. Actually, only about 30 percent of people with Lyme ever have a bullseye.”
After a visit to urgent care, a blood test, and a subsequent diagnosis of Lyme disease, Hoche-Mathews began a three-week treatment of the antibiotic doxycycline. She experienced almost immediate adverse side affects to the first dose, which prompted her husband to turn their vehicle around from their short ride home and return to urgent care.
Her swelling throat, blotchy tongue and unsettled stomach were all dismissed as a reaction to lettuce eaten hours earlier. After explaining she had never experienced a reaction to eating lettuce, she was simply advised that doxycycline was the drug of choice to treat Lyme.
At the end of the three-week period, no significant improvement was apparent. Amoxicillin was then prescribed, still with no improvement.
At that point, Hoche-Mathews went to a medical facility where another physician prescribed a two-month term of doxycycline.
One month into that term, about six weeks from the time she was first diagnosed, her health deteriorated significantly. She was told if recovery was not forthcoming, she could potentially be sent to infectious diseases for more testing.
“By that time my eyes were bloodshot,” said Hoche-Mathews. “There were also black rings around my eyes.
“When I tried to walk it was like I was walking in water, that constant trying to push through something. I ended up limping. I’d force myself to walk, even if it was just around the yard.
“I went from being able to lift 70 pounds the last day I worked, to where I couldn’t lift three pounds. I couldn’t even lift a piece of firewood.”
All the advice and treatment she had undergone had not produced the desired result.
“My skin started getting that transparent kind of look to it,” said Hoche-Matthews. “My eyes were bloodshot. The whites were yellow. I’d sweat profusely. Four or five times a night I’d get up and change my clothes. I’d sleep on towels because I was sweating so horribly. I lost weight.”
As her health deteriorated, Robin, her husband, took a month off work to take care of her. At that time Robin approached his wife about seeing his chiropractor, Dr. Brad Montagne of Moose Lake, who had done extensive research on Lyme disease and had been treating patients holistically with naturopathic care for 25 years.
After much consideration, discussion with her family, and reflecting in prayer, Hoche-Matthews made the decision to go off antibiotics and begin the holistic approach of treating Lyme disease.
“I had to put a lot of trust in my husband’s judgment to even go to my first appointment,” said Hoche-Mathews. “Initially, when I started, I was a skeptic, but within a week, the supplements I was taking and the change in foods I was eating proved to be very effective. That’s when things changed for me.”
Recovery also consists of continually adapting to changes her body makes during the healing process. One of the benefits of the holistic approach is flexibility in adapting to each situation.
At one point Hoche-Mathews was reacting adversely to the intake of sugar, canola oil, anything with gluten, dairy products, even the water in her home. Each reaction was addressed differently, being specific to that condition.
Dr. Montagne informed his patient that Lyme bacteria and toxins from the healing process are constantly changing, resulting in the need for regular reassessment. If the treatment doesn’t change as the body heals, it potentially enters a cycle of small improvements, then crashing over and over.
“I learned that ongoing healing is ongoing change in my body,” said Hoche-Mathews, who is confident she has been cured of Lyme disease. “In many ways I feel better than I’ve ever felt. I can’t lift 70 pounds yet but I can haul wood now. First I could carry one piece, then it was two, then it was up to four.
“In the last couple of weeks especially, things have changed a lot. I have to say, this has been the best six months of my life as well as the hardest.”
Though many people prefer keeping details of an illness to themselves, Hoche-Mathews feels compelled to share her story to get more information out to people who face the challenges of Lyme disease.
“I learned Pine and Carlton counties are an epicenter of tick infestation,” said Hoche-Mathews. “Several of my neighbors have had Lyme. Virtually everyone I know has either known someone with Lyme or they have had it themselves. After my experience, I just want people to know they have choices in treatment.”