By Sharon Okun
After trying everything, Armonk Licensed Massage Therapist & Wellness Coach Sharon Okun says she researched and benefited from alternative healing modalities in her battle against Lyme. Here, in some answers to our questions, she shares her experience and resources.
1. When were you first diagnosed with Lyme Disease?
I was accurately diagnosed at the beginning of 2014 by a Lyme-literate doctor, after suffering with symptoms for 10 years. My overall quality of life now is excellent, although occasionally I still having challenging days.
2. What treatment did you try initially?
I was given antibiotics, which were partially effective for four to six months but then they stopped working. I than tried alternative therapies which helped greatly. Please keep in mind that whatever works for me may not work for you.
I advise that you first consult your doctor before attempting any alternative methods that are mentioned in this article.
3. There has been a lot of press about debilitating symptoms from the disease that can linger. Can you describe what symptoms you had and how they impacted your life?
My symptoms included fatigue, dizziness, significant neck pain and headaches, tremors, nerve pain and numbness, brain fog, and extreme chemical sensitivities. I stopped working full time as a licensed massage therapist until I could figure out what was wrong. For a time, I had limited activities outside of the home and primarily focused on managing my family, except that I pushed myself daily to exercise no matter how I actually felt.
4. What made you try alternative medicine to treat your disease? What types of alternative therapies did you use that led to improvement?
I understand the mind-body connection. Through my work as a licensed massage therapist and wellness coach for the last 20 years, I have seen firsthand how alternative therapies transform people’s lives. I needed to find the right combination to start healing my Lyme Disease, so I continued to persevere. I researched extensively and experimented with different supplements and gentle modalities while under strict supervision by a medical doctor. These are the alternatives that I used and continue to use to manage symptoms:
- Cranio Sacral work
- Lymphatic Drainage
- Somatic healing
- Life coaching
- Daily exercise
- Paleo Diet
All the above worked. However, once I learned to incorporate mindfulness practices into my life, I started to see more definitive results.
Mindfulness practice is developing an emotional intelligence. It is about creating strategies to readjust expectations of oneself and of others. It is also about managing daily stress by slowing down the body and truly listening to what it needs to feel empowered–even through challenging times. Also, as a massage therapist, I have learned that emotional stressors are stored in the body as well as in the mind. My holistic practice helps people move through ‘stuck pain,’ whether physical or mental, that is held in the muscles, nervous system and the rest of the body.
I am not a doctor. I do not advise about, diagnose or treat Lyme. As a wellness coach and massage therapist, I champion my clients to find their own inner strength by asking powerful questions that engage them. I actively listen to people’s stories and facilitate awareness to help them design action plans that propel them forward to reach their goals.
I offer clients massage therapy and teach them meditation and qigong (a formless style of energy movement). I help clients release pain that is held in their bodies, making room for them to truly heal.
Sharon Okun is a licensed massage therapist and wellness coach in Armonk, in practice for more than 20 years. She trained at the Swedish Institute and the Center for Coaching Mastery. She is part of the Global Lyme Alliance and Lyme Connection. After a long journey with Chronic Lyme Disease, Okun says she has successfully learned to manage her illness holistically. Visit www.bodycenteredhealing.massagetherapy.com.
Healing Lyme by Stephen Harrod Buhner, Master Herbalist
This book includes extensive research on Lyme Disease and effective herbal medicine treatments. Stephen Buhner has written several books on Lyme Disease and on alternative medicine in general along with mind/body techniques.
Why Can’t I Get Better by Dr. Richard Horowitz, M.D.
Dr. Horowitz has been instrumental in changing laws to support Lyme Disease testing and treatment. He has designed Lyme Disease education for medical schools (including at Harvard).
Websites & Facebook Page
(Many of these organizations offer important Lyme prevention advice, too.)
Goodbyelyme.com: Research and information about Chinese medicine for Lyme
TiredofLyme.com: General Lyme information
Gaianstudies.org: Stephen Buhner’s institute
Globallymealliance.org: Patient advocacy organization
Lymeconnection.org: Local patient advocacy organization out of Fairfield County Connecticut
Town of New Castle Task Force on Health & Wellness Facebook Group
Inside Press Disclaimer: The opinions presented here reflect the experience and views of the author; please consult your own doctor for diagnosis and/or treatment.