On July 12, 2015 I asked to be stung by honey bees.
Two days later, I came back.
More stings, please.
In the words of Oliver Twist:
Please Sir, may I have some more?
What? What? What? Wants some MORE?!
Today was my first time stinging the upper back. I have studied spine charts trying to learn which thoracic vertebrae and nerve pathways we are stinging each time, but it’s not gelling in my brain. No idea which vertebrae we matched up with but the good news is that I didn’t even feel the stinger go in on the left side!
Definitely felt the venom traveling vertically on the left side, as soon as the stinger was in. Nothing was visible but I could feel very clearly where the sensation was traveling. And some “Oooooo, there’s the burn” 5 minutes after being stung.
Sooooooooooo much easier than the first sting session.
Yesterday was my first sting day (July 12, 2015), and it went well. Nervous and excited. Forgot to bring the ice. Beekeeper was fabulous (he stung me). His apiary has at least twenty hives and thousands upon thousands of bees. Listening to the hum was meditative and watching them traveling high in the sky to and from and around their hives was mesmerizing, relaxing. I saved two bees from drowning in their drinking water, one bee scurrying nonstop on a cork like a lumberjack in a log rolling contest. The bees were gentle and did just what we asked of them. I got a good look at the underside of a bee, the stinger runs along the midline of the abdomen, retracted in “storage” until used for stinging.
Test sting & one therapeutic sting, at this, my very first apitherapy session. Done. Red welts, a bit of red/pink horizontal “brush strokes” called “banding.” A very good sign. Yes, the stings burn like a bitch. But it’s so much better than living day to day in this chronic hell. Two hours after my test sting, my ears were ringing at a moderate level. Reminds me of my inflammation flares, when my tinnitus acts up. So it makes me wonder whether this is inflammation ramping up temporarily to process the bee venom introduced today. I do hope it’s temporary. If my tinnitus ever becomes permanent, I will go certifiably insane.
The next day I was able to properly wake up. BING! My eyes are open! Not groggy, dragging through what I “should” be doing in the mornings, like it has been for years. And I pooped a lovely, beautiful, perfect poop in the morning. It was like the poops the day after the nutritional IVs (Meyers Cocktail) I used to get.
So, my leaky gut issues might actually heal. Do you hear that people? That poop right there, that’s the SOUND OF HOPE.
The second Sunday in July. One year ago today, I was desperate to join my local Lyme Disease Support Group and meet other people in the same boat. I missed that gathering. It didn’t work out because our family was at our church picnic that ended up being a full day event. What a benchmark. This year, on the second Sunday of July 2015 it turns out I have my first apitherapy (bee venom therapy) session. I am at my church picnic today, and the bees are calling me. Time to start stinging! Ironically, the scheduled time is 3:00pm, the same as last year’s Lyme Disease support group. Reflecting on the past year, I see now how important it is to have patience. (That was one hell of a year.) I had no inkling that one year ago today I would be actively pursuing apitherapy, that I would be intentionally stinging myself with bees and praying their venom does everything it is said to do.
Faith is trusting that a good and positive future is really going to happen, becoming nearer and more real; faith is not knowing HOW it will happen. Patience is waiting and wading through the not knowing what that future looks like and not knowing WHEN. Faith and Patience, they go hand in hand. Faith means being tough and enduring the shit while waiting for the universe to do its beautiful thing. Patience is waiting indefinitely for the (brain) fog and confusion to clear.
Not quite sure how I got through it. Not once did I say to myself, “Oh, I have so much patience, everything will work out just fine.” It looked quite different from inside my little fish bowl of chronic illness. I saw frustration that treatments weren’t making me feel or function better. I saw my own anger that I can’t control these damn spirochetes (Borrelia bacteria) inside me. I saw so much sadness and grief to have lost my verve, my creative juices, my energy to get through the day and do barely more than basic chores. I saw fear of my illness getting worse and slowly killing me. Patience is not easy at times like this, nor is it a simple thing to have faith in the universe.
This is what I saw when I pulled into the beekeeper’s place and all my anxiety on the drive down, my forgetting the gel ice pack, all that unknowing — just melted away. These signs — made me smile. These signs told me I was on the right track with this apitherapy thang:
After selecting two female honey bees and securing them on locking tweezers, we got started. One test sting on the left, and one therapeutic sting on the right. You can see the area left of my spine has a less pronounced welt. That stinger was taken out immediately after the honey bee stung me, then we waited 30 minutes to be sure there was no anaphalactic reaction. We tested on the left side, per Amber Rose’s Lyme Disease Protocol because patients should place their test stings of the opposite side of their dominant (handwriting, grasping, holding) hand. Also per Amber Rose’s protocol, safety measures were in place in the event of the rare chance of anaphalaxis.
After we were sure it was safe to proceed, the second sting was placed to the right of the spine and left in for 20 minutes. When the time was up, the stinger was removed and we were done for the day! Easy peasy. Here’s what my back looked like during the very first session:
Annnnnnnd we’re off!!
Start runnin’ Lyme ’cause the bees are gonna make you my bitch!
This has been a long journey. Others that have come before me have paved the way and they have endured much, much more than I can bear. Learning from them, I know that I can’t continue my healing path the way it has been. It is time for a change, and change is a’comin’.
After a full year of treatment for Lyme Disease, I took some time to reflect on what this illness looks like in MY body, not anyone else’s. How it makes me feel on a day-to-day physical level. How certain treatments that I’ve tried have strained my spirit. Where I thought I would be at the first year mark is nowhere close to where I am right now. Whenever treatment isn’t going well, I find myself researching lesser known treatments. One in particular is my barometer for depression; when I keep picking up my book about that particular treatment, I know it’s time to check in with my doc and reassess my health status. Um, and put that book back on the shelf.
And then there were the bees.
Honey bees, that is. Not the Midwestern English use of “bees” to mean “nasty, horrible wasps” or “anything with wings on it that makes me shriek in fear.” I had been looking into the medicinal uses of honey bees, apitherapy, for a while now. A few weeks ago when I stopped myself and visualized this treatment, this 2 or 3 year commitment, this mode of self-treating Lyme Disease, well, I felt peace. I felt a gentleness wash over me that had not yet happened during any of my various treatments so far. This decision to pursue apitherapy as my main treatment is a huge decision that is not entered into lightly. And yet I feel none of that weight; rather, my soul is lifted. I don’t know how or why, but my soul is speaking and I am doing what it asks with the bees.
Welcome to Meh and Mwah, my world of yin and yang. Sometimes it’s a shrug your shoulders “Meh” day and sometimes I want to hug every human being on the planet and give them besos with a “Mwah!” Life is full of so many different things, there will be blogging about all.of.the.things.