Many of you already know I am a survivor of advanced neurological Lyme disease, whom defied the 10% odds of recovery I was given, to now be thriving and sharing my knowledge, story and health care expertise with my books, workshops, “Lyme Light Radio” show and steady social media stream. I carry this healing passion forward because I was given a ‘second’ chance in life, and I do not take it casually. In fact, it is close to impossible for me to sit on the sidelines when I witness so much suffering from this misdiagnosed, mistreated and misunderstood illness; often over-lapping to the autoimmune spectrum.
As a young child I was an innate caretaker, toting home motherless bunnies and the lonely classmate at school. My favorite biography was Florence Nightengale. By age 13, I was working as a ‘candy-striper’ at the community hospital and deemed I would be either an endocrinologist or orthopedic surgeon when I grew up. Off I went to Duke University undergrad as a Pre-med major. But, on volunteering in the hospital wards, I discovered ‘doctoring’ in the 1970’s was NOT what I wanted to ‘grow up’ to be. These very intelligent physicians were silent and hidden behind their clip boards, while it was the nurses who bore all the healing, caring ways with their patients and studied their fine nuances. I never saw a physician soothe someone’s troubles in this era. This rattled my course of destiny.
I had a HUGE identity crisis! I could not become one of those clip board physicians and my strong willed father, vetoed me becoming a nurse!
“After all the money I have put into your private school education, Katina, I am NOT going to settle for you being a nurse. You can transfer to a community college for that kind of life. Work hard, you are too smart to not use your quick-silver mind. Stay at Duke, make something of your life!”
So, I was confused and without direction- a first for uber ambitious, clear visioned me. The result was that my mother encouraged me to get a ‘well-rounded education’ so I could have multiple options for a career. Inconceivably, I ended up with a double major in Economics and French Literature (yes, fluent in french then) and, I miraculously accrued all the pre-med credits too!! I look back now and wonder how my brain handled all that?
1980: I ended up working on Wall Street in International Finance to the BeneLux countries for Irving Trust Bank. What a mis-match this was for empathic, people-person me! Bored to death, moving money around overseas for the account managers and finessing the details of incoming execs, I was in constant mischief; doing cross world puzzles when I was bored and flirting with the cute accountants in the credit department! My manager was ‘annoyed’ with me when I told her I had finished all my work for the day by noon and ‘what could I do next?’
“Just sit at your desk and be quiet, Katina,” she glared at me. “Do not work so quickly.”
I was mystified.
Of course I ended up quitting Wall Street and went back to runway modeling (from prior experience in my late teens) until I could figure out what to do with my intelligent and caring nature? A year or more floundered by.
Soon I had developed severe seasonal allergies and asthma. All the over the counter meds or allergist methods gave me severe side effects. I was pretty miserable, feeling crummy physically and emotionally alone, as my friends were all soaring ahead on their law school and PR field trajectories. What a misfit I seemed to be.
My dad came home from his overseas office in London one week, and handed me a packet of homeopathic pellets from Nelson’s Pharmacy, for seasonal allergies.
“Here honey, try these. They have no side effects and work like silk. The Nelson’s pharmacist fixed up my GI troubles 1-2-3, and he said this is perfect for you,”came George’s confident words.
“But, Dad, you know I get side effects to everything! These will mess me up, too.”
“No honey, homeopathic remedies are not drugs. They are diluted herbal substances that match your symptoms. I promise you, they will not make you feel jittery or dopey. Try them. Come on, trust me.”
I put them on my shelf and quietly ignored the pretty white packet, with green lettering. I was scared to try this unknown stuff.
Three weeks later, trapped indoors with weeping allergy eyes and wheezing asthma, we had a family wedding to attend outdoors on Long Island, on a May day of full bloomed blossom glory. Desperate, I figured I would try the homeopathic pellets. Damn- within 10 minutes the snuffy nose and tearing eyes cleared totally!! 2 hours later the asthmatic wheezing had stopped! I was astonished. I repeated a dose, as the instructions suggested, when the symptoms returned – about 4 hours later.
By the time we returned from the wedding, I was quizzing my then husband, a talented Chiropractor, ‘what is this homeopathic medicine?’
“Oh wow!! Why didn’t I think of this earlier for you?” He effused. “Homeopathy is the perfect healing modality for you. It is sensitive and gentle and totally natural. Let’s find you a practitioner!”
I don’t really recall how we found the National Center for Homeopathy, in Arlington, VA (this was over 35 years ago and before the internet existed). But, I recall speaking on the phone to the Center and they directing me to a Homeopath in NYC. It was a 2 month wait to get in to see him, so I inquired about what books I could read on the subject in the meanwhile. We ordered Kent’s Repertory and Boericke’s Materia Medica.
From paragraph one of Kent’s Repertory I was a ‘duck to water’, soaking in the centuries old medical knowledge like a sponge. I LOVED HOMEOPATHY! All the 4,000 remedies and their tiny detailed specifics intrigued me, as well as how a practitioner collated ‘key’ symptoms to pinpoint the patient’s condition and emotions to an exact synergistic match to a substance from nature. Of deep fascination was ‘treating the person and not the disease’ – that symptoms were merely expressions of where the body and psyche were off balance. The homeopath’s job was not to suppress a reaction the body was exhibiting but to instead help it swiftly ‘throw off’ the energetic states of asthma, diarrhea, headache, joint swelling, etc. “Likes treat likes” is Homeopathy’s motto- that has been copied in concept by vaccinations and allergy shots, yet we take homeopathics in finer dilutions and sublingually.
All the remedy provings had been done on trials of humans, not animals, over 180 years ago and are still true to this very day. I read more books and couldn’t stop. By the time I made it into Dr. Ofgang’s office 2 months later, I had figured out what two remedies best matched my symptom picture and born constitutional type. Dr Ofgang was amazed with my apptitude!
“Katina, you are a natural! I agree with your remedy choices and also consider a third one for you, too, as a back-up”.
I smiled like a ten year old with pride 🙂
“How can I become a Homeopath?” I asked the empathic, perceptive doctor whom just spent 90 minutes with me, and not hidden behind a clip board.
“Do you happen to have any pre-med classes under your belt?” asked Dr Ofgang. “They are required for post-grad education.”
“All of them! from Duke!” I crowed.
“Well, your timing is impeccable, Katina. We are starting the first full year 2 year post-grad training program in the USA in decades, in 2 months, with the world famous master Homeopathic physician from Buenos Aires, Dr Francesco Eizayaga. Let’s get you an application form.”
The rest is etched in stone. Dr. Eizayaga was in his late 70’s, filled with savvy and debonaire charm and he chaired a top notch hospital in Argentina, where his clinical expertise could restore collapsed lung, uterine prolapse or dissolve kidney stones. There I sat at the feet of the master, with my steel trap memory retaining everything with wonder. I was lit with a fire within. I found my ‘match’- homeopathy fit me perfectly! My attuned, healing nature could finally be put to work professionally.
The rest of the 1980’s were a bit of a living miracle for me, as the revered great European Homeopathic Masters came to teach in NYC and Berkley, CA. I studied with them all, and began practicing under the umbrella of my chiropractor husband’s license. I witnessed, sciatica, asthma, IBS evaporate with the homeopathics I prescribed. I hosted a study group at our home with another homeopathic newbie, Vega Rozenberg.
1991: Divorce loomed and I needed to relocate to a ‘safe state’ as homeopathy was not legal to practice in every USA state, though all of Europe, Indian, South America, Canada include it in their national health care systems. Sadly, Homeopathy, formerly the predominant medicine in the USA during the 1800s, had been dissolved in the 1930s (along with Naturopathic and herbal medicine) by a man named Abraham Flexner, whom the new FDA had hired to place patent laws in effect- which were truly needed with all the snake oils and elixirs being peddled at circus side shows and in barber shops. But, Flexner, supported the new fast acting pharmaceutical trade and deemed all the other ‘old fashioned’ medicinals as out dated, or worse yet, ‘quackery’. Homeopathy was illegal to practice in New York I sadly discovered in 1991. New Hampshire was a ‘safe haven’.
I blessedly was invited to join a Natural Medicine clinic in a quaint country town, and within a matter of months I was ensconced in a full tilt practice as the only homeopath in a 80 mile radius, clients driving in from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and elsewhere. New Hampshire touched my soul, with its velvet green pine forests, high mountain streams and the call of the melodious hermit thrush at dusk. My new friends were authentic and outdoorsy, attuned to organic living and very like minded to me. Soon area physicians were forging bonds with me, referring to me their ‘stubborn’ cases of fibromyalgia and much more.
1993: I passed the Council for Homeopathy Certification national exam (the first in nearly 75 years) and volunteered to sit on their board, where I gladly helped to write the national exam and interview candidates, and mentor interns for 7 lovely years.
1996: I remarried and settled into country living with our free range chickens, huge organic garden and home baked bread. My clientele became extended family to me, as I helped raise so many youngsters without pharmaceuticals and ease the elderly through gout, arthritis and dementia. In my 30 + years I have never had a childhood ear infection case I could not solve, nor a menopausal crisis not resolve with the magic of my homeopathic remedies. One severe winter, a bad strain of pneumonia hit our region. My 18 cases all swiftly resolved within 3 weeks, while the others whom relied upon allopathic medical doctors ended up hospitalized and well over 8 weeks to heal. Homeopathy shined at its finest for me in those times 🙂
2000: A vicious summer time flu hit me hard! Vertigo, blinding headache, clammy sweats, profound weakness and wicked sore throat slammed me in bed. 3 days later I tried to wobble into work, propped up on zinc and the homeopathic gelsemium- but the second client had me feeling too weak to stand, and I teetered into my colleague M.D’s office : “Tom, I am so sick! Something is way wrong with me, this feels like malaria, like when I was 15 years old in Africa.”
Dr. Tom gave me an exam, drew some blood and insisted I stay in bed through the weekend as my blood pressure was so low. I felt like hell- too weak to shower without help!
My multi-award winning memoir “Out of The Woods, Healing Lyme Disease, Body, Mind & Spirit” details the 10 year decimating journey I experienced at the hand of what was actually undiagnosed Lyme disease. My M.D. colleague did not test me for Lyme that sunny June day, (no one even thought it existed in New Hampshire in 2000) and the later tests in the years to pass were all false negatives. I was cross diagnosed with CFS, fibromyalgia, migraine complex, IBS, anxiety disorder and had early MS symptoms. My world was falling away from me, I was terrified and traumatized.
Sadly, I lost everything I loved and created in my 50 years of life. My beautiful homeopathic practice, income, savings, handsome husband and woodland home, popular newspaper health column, confidence and identity were stripped at the hand of this insidious and deeply destructive bacterial infection, which found its way into my organs, endocrine system, spinal fluid and brain. Sadly, my spirit broke along with my body. I was bereft.
2005: Bedridden for 2 years by now, a gifted PhD clinical nutritionist colleague finally properly diagnosed the neurological Lyme disease via state of the art testing at Igenex Labs. I was never so elated and simultaneously furious when the I saw the glaringly positive results there in front of me on paper! No wonder why a formerly picture-perfect healthy, athletic, holistic, vibrant woman in her 40’s deteriorated into such a fragile wreck! I was NOT imagining this nightmare, and HOW angry I was that the medical world was relying on a shoddy 40 year old out dated ELISA lyme disease test, with a 70% false negative track record? Why is this test not pulled off the market and replaced with something more accurate?
Welcome to the apex of the global pandemic infectious disease health care crisis! Lyme disease is found in 89 countries of the world, is surging in Germany with over 800,000 new cases per year, the CDC finally upped the skimpy 30,000 cases per year to an estimated 300,000 cases annually in the USA (we know the figures are higher) and Lyme is soaring 4x faster than AIDS! Everyone is vulnerable to being infected, as ticks are the primary carrier (red ants, too), and anyone can wander in a meadow, golf course fescu, take a woodland hike or go fishing along side a creek, where ticks reside and climb aboard the closest heat emitting mammal they can sense.
The CDC and IDSA do not educate physicians on what a ‘chronic’ or post acute case of Lyme disease look like, whereby multiple systems of the body have been infected, as this spirochete corkscrew style bacteria augers its way from the bloodstream into tissues, joints, fascia, organs and the neurological system, akin to its cousin syphilis. Instead, patients are told they have over 300 type conditions, that Lyme disease actually creates.
2010: My beloved father passed away to a massive stroke. Deeply saddened, I vowed to his mighty spirit that I would thrive once again in my life, in spite of the shaky days I still sometimes had even with my now 5 years of steady natural medicine treatments we were using to cure me. After all, I had a 12 year old son to raise, and with my majestic father gone, I had to teach my son how to ‘soar high’ like the incredible gene pool of our ancestors before us.
I decided to submit my manuscript for “Out of The Woods” to publishers. 54 rejections later, #55 called me on the phone;
“Katina Makris, this is Dawson Church at Elite Books, you are a very talented writer and what a testimony to personal transformation at the hand of illness your story is! We would like to publish your book. You are an example of what we call a ‘thriver’ in epigentic medicine. You have turned on a gene set that everyone bears, but don’t always engage. Did other members of your family defy life odds?” this polished, genial man’s voice enquires.
“Yes, my dad had 3 near death experiences, white light and all. My paternal grandfather had to leave home at age 11 and live as a street urchin in Romania with his 13 year old brother, packing potatoes in sacks, to make money and send back home to their mother in Greece, as their father had died. My papou lived to 99. My dad coached me to use my mind, to ‘see’ myself as healthy and strong and exactly as I wanted myself to be, even when I was flat on the sofa for years floundering. He taught me to set a visual intention.”
“Yes, I know. I read it in your story. He was brilliant. You are brilliant. Your work is brilliant. We published Brian Lipton’s “The Biology Of Belief“. You are an example of his theory. I believe in you. Let’s get your work out there. You have so much to share and so much good work to bring to others.”
My heart rang to the hilltops of my pineclad township. Standing in my living room the winter sunlight refracting off the snow onto the coffee table glass top, I felt the plates of my life shifting ever so slightly. “Oh my God, Dawson! Thank you! Thank you, I promise to be an excellent author.” I was elated, tears on my eyelashes.
“Of course you will Katina. You have lost your sense of ego. Thrivers do not live from that place, any longer. Once you defy death, and come back again, the ego does not drive you. You live for mankind, you serve a higher purpose. You live for a mission, or a love of humanity that takes you to a selfless place. Your beautiful book will touch the lives of thousands, maybe millions. Your gift of healing is profound. Let’s get to work!”
And, so my first book was released in the fall of 2011 and my spirit flew to the sun and back again at those early book signings. People came to meet me and hear my words of insight on Lyme disease- testing, treatments, inspiration. I realized I needed to reach out to the Lyme disease community, as too many thousands were lying lifeless and forlorn on beds and sofas like I had for a decade, as I saw them teetering in on walkers and canes to my signings. Through LymeDisease.org and ILADS.org and then my cutting edge radio show “Lyme Light Radio”, I volunteered to speak at support groups, conferences, rallies and more, bringing hope and healing. I walked into the open maw of what I would come to recognize as a dire state of illness for the USA and more.
50 million Americans have been diagnosed with autoimmune illnesses. These conditions did not exist 100 years ago. MS, Lupus, CFS were very rare. The confluence of environmental, dietary and pharmaceutical toxins have burdened the human body significantly since post WW2. We add in the accelerated fast pace, the electromagnetic fields and emotionally charged lifestyles we lead, and when an aggressive bacteria like borrelia burg. infects one of us, well then the immune system can not defend its own self and flips into a cytocine storm within, triggering all sorts of internal inflammation. My second book, “Autoimmune Illness & Lyme Disease Recovery Guide, Mending Body, Mind & Spirit” details all the pieces you need to understand in order to get well from Lyme or autoimmune illness. I must say, (even of my own work), this is an amazing book- I spell it all out for you! My 35 years of experience in natural medicine weaves together with such ease. People tell me they call it a “healing bible”. That makes me feel more than proud- I am touched. This means my life has not been lived in vain.
Like Dawson Church said, “You live for mankind, you serve a higher purpose.”
2017: Today, I swam my now daily half mile, in the crystal pool at the glamorous high-rise condo I am renting in sunny Miami for the winter. I basked in the glorious 85 degree heat, soaking up as much vitamin D as my mediterranen skin will take. As lovely as beaucolic New Hampshire has been for me these 25 years, the winters have become too harsh, setting off SADD syndrome in me with spades! I have the wits about me to work remotely on skype and phone, counseling Lyme disease and autoimmune cases from all over the world these days, relocating to the sunshine state to help me stay healthy.
It is 7 years now since my dad passed away, and my health has been vibrant. I travel extensively to teach workshops, log in long hours with my client load, burn the midnight oil writing ( 3 more manuscripts in the works!) and I am a social butterfly, too. I love to dance- music heals me. In 5 years time I have given over 170 presentations! That is a lot of work!! Thrivers are moved to touch humanity, so I am told. I am here to bring healing energy to others.
I have met thousands and thousands of people in these last 5 years out on the road. I have treated thousands in my private practice over these 35 years. I have interviewed some of the world’s most talented specialists and researchers. I taught with some of the greatest health care practitioners of our time. I have learned so very much. And, deep within my core, I sense the weary, the wounded, the searching souls whom are tired of suffering, with scant support of recovery.
You are not alone. I am here because I care. There are many of us here because we care. The absolutely sterling fine people I have met, whom host me on book tours, at support groups across this nation, in foreign countries and whom join me in facing this Lyme disease crisis are brave and resourceful and strong. You are too! Belief is a life altering tool we carry within. It is one of the 7 inner gifts we bear for igniting the mind-body healing pathway. 7 is a magical number. You own your personal inner magic.
Join me and the world revered Dr. Jodie Dashore for two break-through healing weekend retreats.
May 10-14, Art of Living Retreat Center, Boone, NC www.ArtOfLivingRetreatCenter.org
October 13-15, Rowe Center, Berkshires, MA http://www.RoweCenter.org
And, with gifted editor and Gateless Writing founder, Suzanne Kingsbury for a mind-spirit week retreat;
August 24- September 1, Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY www.eOmega.com
Healing happens on the inside. Let’s shift the plates in your life path. I believe in you.
Katina Makris, CCH, CIH
Miami, Fla ,