Updated: Feb 29, 2020
By Elizabeth Gracen:
The Flapper Press by-line Useful Words, Inspiring Stories, Eclectic Perspectives means that our mission is to provide information, encouragement, and a wide-angle lens on the world to help you live more fulfilling, informed lives. With that being said, we've recently expanded our "categories" on the site to include a Mind/Body section that features writers who are passionate about health and wellness on a physical, mental, and spiritual level.
Our newest Mind/Body writer, Orsi Crawford, has an inspiring story to tell about her odyssey of pain, confusion, and suffering before finally being diagnosed with Lyme disease. Although the journey has been difficult for Orsi, she has come out the other side healthier, happier, and determined to share what she has learned and to encourage others to be their own health and well-being self-advocates.
Please meet Orsi Crawford!
EG: Orsi, I’ve been following your story on Instagram for the past couple of years. First of all, I want to say that I appreciate your candid, vulnerable posts and the detail and research you have put into healing from Lyme disease. Would you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
OC: I was born and raised in Hungary and moved to the U.S. at age 18, in 1989. That was the year when communism came to an end and a lot of young people moved abroad when they had the opportunity to do so. I lived with my aunt for 2 years and enrolled at Glendale Community College with the plan that I would transfer to UCLA. Due to difficult finances at the time, I couldn’t transfer and ended up working in the retail/fashion world for 9 years to support myself. Later on I ended up taking classes at UCLA, and I’m now currently enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I’ve always had ups and downs with my own health, which sparked my interest in health and wellness. I did a lot of self-study, and later self-advocacy, to figure out what was wrong with me. I’m lucky to have a very supportive family, have been married for 22 years, and have two sons ages 14 and 18.
EG: I’m pretty ignorant to what Lyme disease actually is. Can you tell me the basics?
OC: Lyme disease is a vector borne disease caused by stealth microbes. It is one of the fastest-growing infectious diseases in the world, with over 300,000 new cases reported each year; but I would consider this number to be much higher because of the amount of undiagnosed people. The Lyme bacteria itself is called Borrelia Burgdorferi, but Lyme disease is NOT caused by this one and only stealth bacteria, as commonly thought. Borrelia has many other strains, and most people have other co-infections present, such as Bartonella, Babesia, Rickettsia, HHV6, Mycoplasma, Ehrlichia, just to name a few. Vectors that spread these infections are not only deer ticks but can be mosquitos, fleas, mites, horse flies, and spiders. Lyme disease can be acute and chronic. Acute Lyme symptoms include the typical bulls-eye rash, fever, flu-like symptoms, pain, and fatigue. Treating acute Lyme with antibiotics usually is an effective approach. However, only 30% of people present themselves with these acute symptoms, and most do not even remember being bit by a tick or falling sick after an insect bite. And this is when Lyme can become chronic, and this form of the illness is about multiple, chronic intracellular infections that can have a slow and progressive harmful effect on the body’s systems and organs.
EG: You have a keen interest in health and nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle in general. As someone who always considered herself a very healthy person, I’m sure it was quite a shock to find out that you had Lyme. How did the final diagnosis affect your life? Is it a disease something that you will ever be rid of?
OC: My Lyme disease diagnosis was hard to digest at first, but it was a relief to know what was wrong with me after so many years of misdiagnosis and going from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was wrong. I learned that I had other viral issues as well, such as EBV (Ebstein-Barr Virus) that could have been a precursor in my case. You can definitely regain your health from Lyme, but it is something that may or may not leave the body permanently. The main goal with Lyme-related infections is to get the immune system strong and functioning in order to keep these stealth microbes in check. Lyme disease is a very individual disease; the infection load, the symptoms, as well as the recovery. I also have to note that Lyme-related infections may or may not be the primary cause of illness. Some people can have severe mold illness, parasites, methylation issues, heavy metal toxicity, etc. that weaken their immune system enough to come down with these other infections mentioned above.
EG: You have dedicated yourself to recovering from Lyme disease as holistically as possible. Do you believe that it is possible for people, in general, to approach their health from this perspective? Or do you believe that people should rely on their doctor’s recommendations?
OC: As much as I believe in a holistic, natural approach to treating Lyme disease, we have to know that some cases of Lyme are so severe that the person will be in a wheelchair, they may have seizures and other severe neurological symptoms. Most of these cases do require antibiotic therapy initially, as well as other medications such as antiparasitics. I don’t want to state that antibiotic therapy isn’t worth exploring, we just have to know what antibiotics do to our gut microbiome, as that’s where a lot of our immune cells reside. Effective Lyme disease treatment isn’t just about eliminating the microbes or infection (conventional medical approach), but rather about finding the balance between healing the body’s inner "terrain" and lowering the infectious burden (a more holistic approach). As far as relying on doctors’ recommendations, I would only rely on recommendations from an LLMD (Lyme Literate MD/doctor). I speak from experience when I say that most conventional doctors will not treat Lyme disease correctly, and the patient will end up with a misdiagnosis or stay ill. I prefer functional or integrative physicians who do look at the patient holistically.
EG: Please let out readers know what you will be writing for Flapper Press in the weeks to come.
OC: I would love to write about why certain foods can be powerful medicine, explaining why diet and nutrition play an important role in optimal well-being and why other aspects of life can be even more important than food. These include what I call Primary Foods: one's relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. My passions as a health advocate and integrative nutrition health coach lay in guiding and helping people gain control of and take responsibility for their health. I’d also love to write about low-tox living—choosing products that are safer to use, how to shop at the grocery store, how to navigate supplements, testing for Lyme, immune health basics, detoxification basics, dietary theories and trends, meditation, and spirituality.
Read Orsi Crawford's first post on Flapper Press here.
Stay tuned for her ongoing series in our Mind/Body section of the site!