On this blog I write a lot about books, because I truly believe books can heal. Most of the books I highlight are about Lyme or chronic illness and fall into the health or self-help categories. These are five books that changed my life before I was ever touched by the Lyme world and they continue to be five of the most inspirational books I've ever read. One is a book of poetry, one is a memoir, one is self-help, and two are novels.
5 Books That Changed My Life:
1. The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni.
I was first introduced to Nikki Giovanni's poetry in high school and she remains to this day my favorite poet. This collection showed me that a book of poetry can be just as influential as any novel or non-fiction book. I have sixteen poems bookmarked in my copy and whenever I need inspiration or just want to feel filled up I read one. Her poem, "And I Have You," was read at my wedding. Many years ago Ms. Giovanni appeared at a bookstore in Chicago and I didn't go. I still regret it, but I redeemed myself when I saw her speak at the Harold Washington Library on April 30th, 2011.
"though I worship nothing (save myself)
you were my savior—so be it
and it was
perhaps not never more or ever after
but after all—once you were mine"
2. I Know this Much is True by Wally Lamb.
Reading this 897 page epic was the greatest literary journey I've ever been on. I consider this my favorite book and Wally Lamb my favorite author. This book encompasses all my favorite subjects: family dynamics, mental illness, substance abuse, race relations, redemption, and love. Mr. Lamb is my biggest writing influence and if I can learn to paint a picture even half as clear as he does, I will be on my way.
"...that the evidence of God exists in the roundness of things."
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
I don't even remember what made me pick up this book. I probably judged a book by its cover, because Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of the best titles of all time, especially when you know the context. Reading this book is like reading a novel length poem. The language and imagery has yet to be matched in any book I've read before or since. I could read it fifty more times and still get completely lost in it.
"They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God."
4. Lucky by Alice Sebold
Lucky is Alice Sebold's memoir of being raped by a stranger in college and how it transformed her existence. You probably know Alice Sebold from her other bestseller The Lovely Bones. This book broke my heart for the writer, but also for all survivors. It left me angry and appalled by the complete disregard for victims' rights. People need to be aware of the retraumatization victims, like Ms. Sebold, experience through our legal system. Her nightmare occurred in the early eighties, so I can only hope that things are better today.
"I live in a world where two truths coexist: where both hell and hope lie in the palm of my hand."
5. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
This book came to me at the exact right time in my life. I was going through a mini identity crisis and felt like I was losing myself. It seemed like everyone around me was content in their position in life and I was the one left wanting. This book taught me that my true purpose in life is not an occupation, a hobby, or a talent, it is to find a state of consciousness where I am able to live in the present moment as much as possible. Since reading this book I have made a concerted effort to not compare myself to others and to allow myself to just be in the moment, because it's the only thing that's real.
"When you don't cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life"
What are the books that changed your life?
"A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked, and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say 'How to Build a Boat'" - Stephen Wright
Most of the links on this post are informational, but a few are affiliate links to help maintain this website.
Nourish, Heal, Thrive: A Comprehensive & Holistic Approach to Living with Lyme Disease is a complete nutrition guide to your Lyme journey.
I knew I was going to relate to the text when I saw the opening quote:
"You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice." - Unknown
The author of the book, Rika Keck, is a certified in Applied Clinical Nutrition, Metabolic Typing Advisor, and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. She founded a company called NY Integrated Health LLC located in New York City. According to her website: "It is her belief that eating well, taking responsibility for healthier lifestyle choices, feeling well, looking great and operating from inner balance can result in motivation, empowerment and achievement of long-term goals."
The Introduction to Nourish, Heal, Thrive discusses how patients with chronic Lyme disease struggle to get a diagnosis and the challenge of getting proper treatment.
"One patient suffering from chronic Lyme expressed that she felt she was becoming a shadow of herself and that she was slowly dying."
Most people who have been through this experience can relate to the sentiment, but the goal of the book is to help you find hope through diet and lifestyle changes.
Rika's philosophy is to remain neutral about medical treatments, such as, antibiotics vs. herbs, because the choice belongs to the patient. She says, "My intention is not to tell you how to treat or cure your chronic Lyme and the coinfections. Instead, this book is geared toward building resilience so you can tolerate your medical and alternative therapeutic protocols for your sickness."
Early in the book Rika writes, "There is no such thing as a perfect diet. We are all different." The rest of the book details how to find the right diet and detox program for the reader.
Each chapter has a different topic related to mind, body, spirit healing, such as "Eat for Energy" and "Action Steps to Optimize Digestion and Absorption."
I found the chapter on the landscape of persistent Lyme to be very interesting. One of my favorite quotes was, "Being in balance, with acute stress followed by rest, is called healthy stress adaptation." It's a good reminder that following emotional or physical stress we must rest in order to integrate challenges into our body in a healthy way. In this chapter Rika provides a detailed "Toxic Exposures Checklist," which was helpful; however, there were some "toxic exposures" that I was not familiar with and would've liked a more detailed explanation, such as "surgical scars on the body" and "drink iced drinks or cold water with meals."
There was also a valuable chapter about blood sugar issues and hypoglycemia, which I think could be discussed more in the Lyme medical community.
Rika's writing style is pleasant and friendly, making this an easy read. The knowledge in the book is a lot to digest and spans the basics through advanced nutrition.
This book is probably not for people who have their PHD in Lyme treatment. I would recommend it for those with a more recent diagnosis and needing some comprehensive knowledge on how to nourish, heal, and thrive.
"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." - John D. Rockefeller
Most of the links on this post are informational, but a few are affiliate links to help maintain this website.
Dr. Bill Rawl's book, Unlocking Lyme: Myths, Truths, & Practical Solutions for Chronic Lyme Disease, comes from an interesting perspective because Dr. Rawls himself was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I appreciate a doctor who is willing to use the term "chronic Lyme disease" in the title of his book.
Because Dr. Rawls has chronic Lyme himself, there is a strong sense of empathy for the patient in the book. This description of the Lyme experience especially resonated with me:
"Just when you think everything is turning around, you have a setback for seemingly no reason. On top of that comes the fear of slipping back into a cycle of never-ending misery. How long will this last? Will it ever get better, or will I have to live this way for the rest of my life?"
In the beginning of the book, Dr. Rawls discusses why he believes it has been so difficult for chronic Lyme patients to get recognition, funding for research, accurate testing, and better treatment:
"The status quo is the accepted norm that most everyone follows. While it isn't always correct, it's assumed to be correct, and most people never veer from it their entire lives. When it happens not to be correct, changing it is like swimming against a stiff current.
People typically don't voluntarily choose to swim against the current because it's difficult and sometimes hazardous--the choice is often made for them by life's situations."
For Dr. Rawls, it was being diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. His life situation forced him to critically evaluate his practice as a conventional medicine doctor. He educated himself and learned all he could about alternative therapies, and the result is this comprehensive book.
Unlocking Lyme has good readability. It seems Dr. Rawls took into account it would be read by Lyme patients who need larger print and short paragraphs. It is complete without being overwhelming.
One thing this book helped clarify for me was how I could've been bitten by a tick so long ago, only to have symptoms show up years later. Dr. Rawls has a very similar story. It turns out, my body was in a stalemate the borrelia microbe. Some people can remain in this state for the rest of their lives, but in my case a stress and a breakdown of my immune system caused me to become symptomatic. The microbe broke the stalemate and was beginning to win the battle.
Along these same lines, Dr. Rawls asks an interesting question: "Are people getting sicker from Borrelia today more than they were in the past?"
He speculates that it is not an increase in tick bites or borrelia infections, but an increase in immune dysfunction is causing our simmering pots to boil over. The increase in immune dysfunction is caused by artificial foods, stress, and toxins in the environment. He calls these factors, "system disruptors." He comments, "Once chronic immune dysfunction becomes established, the misery can last a lifetime."
Dr. Rawls encourages the Lyme patient to start with a self-assessment of personal system disruptors and make the ultimate goal of increasing wellness, not eradicating disease. He gives detailed insight into how to minimize system disruptors in all areas, dedicating a chapter to each.
To treat chronic Lyme disease, Dr. Rawls recommends a holistic approach. He believes in primarily treating with herbal therapies, specifically the Buhner protocol. If this is your treatment of choice, it will be extremely helpful in determining your herbal and supplement regimen.
I have a couple of criticisms of the book. One, Dr. Rawls states that antibiotics have a place in Lyme treatment, but that there are serious concerns about long-term antibiotic use. He recommends very restricted use of antibiotics citing lack of research. While I respect his preference for—and expertise in—herbal protocols, I think there's an opportunity for a more broad-minded perspective on the vast range of treatments for Lyme.
My second criticism is not of Dr. Rawls specifically, but about discourse on Lyme treatment in general. Dr. Rawls does not discuss cost, which is one of the most challenging aspects of supplementation and protocols for Lyme patients. Dr. Rawl's list of recommended herbals and supplements isn't excessive; however, it is significant, and wouldn't be covered by insurance. The cost of high quality supplements and herbal protocols, especially when regimens are constantly changing, is a burden on Lyme patients. I feel in a comprehensive book about Lyme, addressing ways to minimize the cost would've been a refreshing addition.
For me, the most useful sections of this book were the thorough lists of types of medical providers, laboratory testing, and symptoms for each type of microbe. Unlocking Lyme will stay on my shelf next to my other Lyme books as a great reference, and I would recommend you check it out.
"Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is a wonderful moment." - Thich Nhat Hanh
I'm Kerry (She/Her/Hers) and I am a licensed therapist, group facilitator, poet, writer, & speaker. This is a place to acknowledge and validate our suffering and trauma, while also learning how to turn toward aliveness and spaciousness.