PEPPERELL — When Katina Makris was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2005, she was elated.
The test came out positive: It was Lyme that had been causing chronic fatigue, depleting her systems and ravaging her life since the summer of 2000.
“It was an organism, it wasn’t something wrong with me,” Makris said.
After a decade with the disease, she is finally back to normal.
Prior to getting sick, Makris was a certified classical homeopath. After her experiences being healed she is now a certified intuitive healer as well. She had been working in homeopathic medicine since 1983. In 1991, when she moved from Long Island to New Hampshire, she opened her own practice and contributed a regular health column to the Monadnock Shopper News.
Long road back
The bout with Lyme from 2000 to 2010 ended her marriage, closed her practice, discontinued the column and caused her to move out of her house. But the ordeal had given her a story which she turned into a book: “Out of the Woods: Healing from Lyme Disease and Other Serious Illnesses, Body, Mind and Spirit.”
She spent four years writing and publishing the book, two years of which she was still sick, writing in half-hour bursts.
“I wanted to tell my story from my point of view, put my emotion and feeling and responses to those in it,” said Makris. “I was one of those people who was never sick.”
Living in New Hampshire with two kids, animals and a garden in the summer of 2000, Makris thought she was just stricken with the flu. She said, “I hate the summertime flu.”
But, five years later, she was still in bed.
She had been tested for Epstien-Barr, thyroid problems, cancer and neurological problems. All came back negative.
“I was still sick, unable to make it across the room, so weak I couldn’t cut meat,” Makris said.
It worsened: She began experiencing a crucible of symptoms, even memory loss. At the age of 44, she was so weak that she was shut out from the world and her social life.
In 2005, her doctor had her tested specifically for Lyme.
Due to five years of misdiagnosis, Makris’ Lyme had marched to the onset of its acute phase, the time where it takes route in one’s nervous system. According to her, the best way to treat it is within the first four to six weeks by “nuking” it with antibiotics.
In her condition, this would be impossible.
“Theoretically, it replicates every six weeks,” she said. “It’s so adaptive that the anti-biotics wouldn’t work. We ran a metabolic profile to see what the disease had done.”
The results were horrific, Makris said. She was without seratonin and amino acids, low in vitamin D and white blood cells. Along with her nervous system, her muscular and skeletal systems were in shambles. Constant taxing from the pain had collapsed her adrenal glands.
“I was prescribed a complete rest cure, it was very low intensive: No cooking, no visits from friends, no action movies, just peace and beauty,” said Makris.
Her body was so delicate, she said, the six o’clock news or prime-time TV dramas were too jarring.
“Essentially, I needed to rebuild from the ground up,” she said.
Her combined regiment of homeopathic, natural and pharmaceutical cures are outlined in the book, and Makris credits the mind-body healing approach as the best way to tackle diseases.
“It is just as important to mend spirit. Mine was so broken, I had no hope,” she said. “I was unable to dance, travel, hike, cook or entertain.”
Aside from being a memoir, “Out of the Woods” serves as a call-to-action for Lyme awareness. Makris realized that there is a serious problem with Lyme disease.
“Thousands are in the same straits. We need to knock down barriers and provide money for research on Lyme,” she said. “It’s starting, but a lot more work needs to be done.”
Awareness is important, too. Doctors, she added, need to know the signs and symptoms and perform the proper, accurate tests.
Treatment options are outlined in the book’s rear section. Antibiotics are up first and, though Makris didn’t go this route, are still the best chance to fight off Lyme in its early stages.
“The epidemic of our era asks us to unite the two hands of health care, traditional antibiotics and pharmaceutical therapies with support of the reiterative work of natural medicine,” she said. “The mind-body approach can do miracles.”
Eventually, her body was back to a fighting posture and began battling against the bacteria.
Tri-annually she is given a CD-57 test, which scores based on how active Lyme bacteria is in the body and how well medications are working. A score of 250 and above means you’ve never had it and are prepared if infection takes hold. Below 30 is very sick.
Makris says she began at a 14 when she was first diagnosed.
“Those numbers began improving within the first year though, then I maxed out at 90 in 2007 for two years,” she said.
These days, she’s broken through to up near 187. Her life has been rebuilt and she is practicing medicine again. She also paints, something she’s wanted to learn since childhood.
Her local touring — including to Lawrence Library in Pepperell April 12 — is timely, too. The mild New England winter hasn’t killed off tick populations: They are already biting and expected to be out in force this spring, their hatching season.
Follow Luke Steere at twitter.com/lsnashobapub.