I had the pleasure of interviewing Kacie Fleming from Kaciefleming.com for my chronic illness interview series. She is going to tell us about her years with Lyme disease and her journey to healing. You can see the rest of my series here, here, here, and here.
When did you first become ill and what was the name of your illness?
Kacie: I first became ill in the fall of 2010 after having graduated from college that summer. I started having a multitude of symptoms that began with the vague, world-flipping feeling that something just was not right. By the beginning of 2011 I was labeled with Fibromyalgia. I totally accepted that diagnosis until 2013, when I realized there might actually be a cause behind the symptoms that were summed up by the name of Fibromyalgia. My inclinations were proven true when I found out in 2015 that I had two Lyme Disease co-infections, along with many other infections, viruses, and toxins that I had clearly collected over my life. They had finally worn my body down.
How long did you have your illness?
I was chronically ill for nearly 7 years.
Did you have emotional support during this time?
I actually started dating my now-husband just a couple of months before I became ill, and he stuck with me through every bit of it. He has truly been my tireless hero and continues to be my biggest supporter, through sickness and now health. My mom is also a huge support, as she has her own experience with health problems. And in the last year or so of sickness I discovered the huge community of women with chronic illness on Instagram and am so grateful for the dear friends I have made there.
That’s so wonderful that your husband stuck by your side. That’s so important.
What were some of the therapies and treatments you first tried?
I of course went the mainstream route the first couple of years, having no idea there were any other options out there. When I finally gave up on that route, I found out about an alternative doctor that sent me in the right direction and really woke me up to the true nature of chronic illness. I then found a holistic doctor who discovered the Lyme infections and all of the aforementioned issues and started me on a gut-healing diet, supplements tailored specifically to my body’s changing needs, and homeopathic remedies.
I have heard a lot about gut healing and how important it is for your health.
Were they helpful?
The prescriptions were not helpful long-term (if at all) and did much more harm than good. The alternative treatments brought my first-ever improvements, which was the strangest experience! As I continued treatments with my holistic doctor, my periodic (very in-depth) blood work came back better and better and better until it was the best it has been.
I’m glad you were able to find people who could actually make a difference with more natural solutions.
What made the most difference?
Those alternative treatments really laid the groundwork for my recovery, helping to strengthen my body and rid it of the invaders. The biggest puzzle piece in my healing has been the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS), which I started in March of this year. It is a brain retraining program that is based on the principle of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change) and the fact that many people dealing with a myriad of chronic health problems are in that state because of a limbic system impairment caused by some sort of trauma, from infections to injuries to highly emotional events. That trauma can shock one’s brain patterns into “trauma loops,” or, in other words, perpetual fight or flight mode, which just furthers the symptoms of illness. This was clearly the case with me, as I was slowly but steadily improving but not as dramatically as my blood work was showing I should be—my improvements on paper were surpassing my improvements in day-to-day life. This was because, while my body was healing, my brain was still literally stuck in sickness mode. This additional program has been unbelievably transformational for me. For example, I have gone from being able to attend church only once every couple months or so to attending weekly for months now. That’s just one of a multitude of examples I could give.
That is awesome! I have been hearing a lot about neuroplasticity. It is so fascinating. I hope to incorporate it more in depth in my daily life soon.
Did the improvements come slowly or quickly?
I think all real improvements come fairly gradually in a non-linear fashion. My improvements with my holistic doctor were gradual as expected. My further improvements with DNRS have been more rapid than that, but still by no means overnight. It took about six month of gradual healing.
Do you have any lingering symptoms?
I have some fringe issues that are still being whittled down, but I know with time they’ll be resolved too.
Do you still have to be careful and pace yourself?
I don’t “need” to do that, but I lived the life of illness for so long that I haven’t yet wrapped my mind around what all I am capable of doing. I have been conditioned to underestimate it and, now am relearning how much more I actually can do. It will take a while to retrain my brain to plan the mundane details of life around the simple fact that I can, and not the worry that I can’t.
I know what you mean. I’ve had fibromyalgia for twenty-five years. When you’ve had it for that long it’s hard to remember what normal feels like. You’re also conditioned to be very aware of your body and symptoms.
What would you say to people who haven’t made great improvement in their health yet?
I would encourage you that health is most definitely out there. I had no idea for years that it was even possible, and wish someone had told me sooner! If you haven’t given alternative treatments a try, I highly recommend finding a holistic doctor who will dig to the root of the issues. There is always, always a cause. I also cannot recommend DNRS enough, especially if, like me, you have had some improvements, but still just aren’t getting there. You can learn all about it on their website at http://retrainingthebrain.com.
Kacie, thank you so much for joining my chronic illness interview series. I am grateful that we connected. I hope you continue towards health and wellness!