Alison Smith, Ph.D., received her doctoral degree in neuroscience from the University of Waterloo, Canada. She is an award winning academic with several first author publications in leading academic journals. She’s the recipient of over $130,000 in academic funding, including both NSERC and OGS scholarships. A paper she published was featured on the cover of the September 2012 issue of Clinical Neurophysiology.
Dr. Smith is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Waterloo where she teaches human anatomy and physiology. She is an experienced medical writer and scientific advisor for natural supplement companies.
Alison’s personal battle with chronic illness has compelled her to encourage others to revamp their health and to cultivate lasting happiness. She loves to inspire others to take charge of their health and to stop waiting for someone else to do it for them. Her motto: Live Healthy. Live Happy. Live Now.
What’s my story?
In 2006 a tick bit me, and I contracted Lyme Disease. I went from being a highly energetic, workaholic, PhD student to house-bound in a matter of days. I had difficulty walking; I was extremely dizzy; I felt confused; I couldn’t stay awake, and I had a great deal of muscle and joint pain.
Of course, I went immediately to see my doctor. He ordered a standard blood panel; it came back normal. So he said, “there’s nothing wrong with you”. I begged to differ; I could hardly function.
So started the parade through the Canadian medical system. I was shuttled from one doctor to the next. I saw endocrinologists, sleep specialists, gastroenterologists, several family physicians and a hematological pathologist. One test after the other revealed nothing; no one could explain the reason for my sudden and aggressive neurological symptoms. By the end of a two-year hunt for a diagnosis, I was at a dead-end.
The dead-end meant that my condition was labeled as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). For three years I saw a CFS specialist. In the mean time, my condition worsened. By 2009 I lost the ability to work; I rarely socialized with friends or family; I barely left my house.
Then in 2011, as I was sitting in my CFS specialist’s office, I overheard a conversation between two fellow patients. One woman spoke about “Under Our Skin”, a documentary about Lyme Disease in America. I had never heard of Lyme Disease but her symptoms sounded eerily similar to mine.
I made mental notes about everything she said. I went home to do some research, and I too watched “Under Our Skin”. I found out that testing for Lyme Disease in Canada is terribly unreliable. More often than not, the blood test comes back as a false-negative, especially if you have had the infection for years. So I found a private lab in the U.S. that specializes in the most sophisticated blood testing for Lyme, and I ordered a test kit.
My CFS specialist signed the requisition form for the test; I had my blood drawn in Toronto, and I couriered my blood samples back the U.S. laboratory. Then a month later my specialist called me back to her office to let me know that my results were in: I was resoundingly positive for Lyme Disease. In fact, if I were living in the U.S. I would be considered a Lyme patient according to the Centre for Disease Control. (My IgG, IgM, and IFA tests were all positive to CDC standards.)
I had my answer but I still had no help. My doctor told me that she couldn’t treat me. In fact if she did, she would be at risk of losing her medical license: Doctors in Canada are not allowed to treat Lyme Disease beyond 30-days with antibiotics. And, since I was disablingly sick, she knew that I would need more than 30-days of treatment. She told me to find a Lyme specialist in the U.S. immediately. She wished me luck, and I was on my own.
When I became seriously ill in 2006, I quickly learned that if I wanted to heal, I would have to take charge of my own health. Like the commander of a ship navigating through the fiercest of storms, I went on a full-tilt-boogie research mission to find answers and strategies to restore my health.
Without medical care in my own country, I decided to find help from one of the best Lyme literate doctors (LLD) in the United States: one that is compassionate, knowledgeable and on my side.
What’s the Update? Where Am I Now?
I was in treatment for 3-years: that included antibiotic and antiparasitic medications (I had both Lyme and Babesiosis), in addition to a broad naturopathic protocol to support my body through treatment.
I stopped treatment in December 2013, and I took one year to concentrate on rebuilding my body. By January 2015, I had finally hit full physical recovery.
Of course, the 9-year ordeal left its emotional mark, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath. But, I’m getting better as each month goes by. I’m even looking toward going back to work!
I never thought I would get here…back to my old self again. I’m amazed, and incredibly grateful.