I recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Amy B. Scher’s latest book, “This Is How I Save My Life: From California To India, A True Story of Finding Everything When You Are Willing To Try Anything”. I also reviewed her last book on energy healing, and was blown away by it, and still implement the techniques I learned from it on a daily basis years later as part of my health and self-care regime. So, needless to say, after reading Scher’s book “How to Heal Yourself When No-one Else Can” about energy healing, I was excited to read her latest book “This Is How I Save My Life. However, I did not expect it to change my life as her previous book had. Some books touch you, they move something deep within, something which cannot be named, and change you forever on a fundamental level. It is rare, but it happens —and it happened not only with Scher’s previous book on energy healing, but to my surprise, also with her latest work. “This Is How I Save My Life” is at both times heart wrenching and heart warming.
In “This Is How I Save My Life”, Amy chronicles her journey in India where she went to seek out a controversial stem cell treatment for Lyme disease. Although the treatment was debatably risky, and much was unknown, she was hanging on by a thread and was willing to try anything at that point. So, she packed her bags, and thus began her hilarious, heartwarming, heartbreaking, yet soul healing journey in India. While she expected, or hoped, to return to the United States with a physical cure, what she returned with was actually so much more. She returned with her deep self, which she had lost along the way throughout years of suffering and pain, like many do when enduring chronic illness. Naturally, after so long, the soul disconnects from the body, whether we realize it or not. Becoming an integral whole again is crucial to healing and finding our ways back to not only health, but our true selves. We all have our own path to becoming whole again in order to fully heal, and its crucial to do so, although the work is hard. For Amy, the work came in the form of her undeniably entertaining adventure to India that I recommend anyone with Lyme disease, any chronic illness, or struggling in general read. Amy was kind enough to answer the following questions about her journey for us below:
Amy, I am aware many Lyme stories are relatively the same in nature, so I am not going to ask you to go back and describe the suffering and pain in great detail. However, for readers who may not be as familiar with the descent of health accompanying chronic Lyme disease, do you mind giving us a brief background of your own?
I always say that my health issues began in my early 20s with migraines and nausea, then progressed to fatigue and pain, amongst other things. But the truth is, I can remember physical symptoms even before that. I had stomach aches growing up, strep throat all the time, mono in high school, and so on. I think there is a point in time where we begin to pay attention and sometimes refer to that time when it “all started,” but for many of us, we realize that’s not exactly how it unfolded.
What led you to discovering the controversial stem cell treatment in India, which was not even being used specifically for Lyme disease?
I thought I was out of all options. I had been doing antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, natural remedies, and more. Nothing was helping like it was supposed to. That’s when I met a woman who had just undergone the stem cell treatment for a spinal cord injury. She mentioned the doctor in India knew about Lyme disease, which really surprised me. I contacted the doctor to discuss how the stem cells might help repair my body from the damage it had incurred because of Lyme – and the rest is history.
What then led you to decide to undergo the treatment for Lyme disease, when you were aware of how controversial it was, that it was in India where you had never been, and that it was not a treatment specifically for Lyme? Did you have the advisement of a LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor), friends and family, or your intuition?
My LLMD advised me against it but my gut told me to go. And for one of the first times ever, I decided to go against logic and follow my gut. For me, it was important to go to “find out” more than be cured. I needed to find out if the treatment would work. I feel like if I shied away from it for fear or any other reason, I would forever wonder if it could have been a missing piece.
Along with the physical and neurological symptoms of severe Lyme come the often debilitating ones such as anxiety and depression. Did you struggle from those? If so, were struggling them at the time you left for India, and how did you find the strength within yourself to do so in spite of fear of the unknown?
I definitely had anxiety. I was probably depressed too, although it’s hard to say because I was on narcotic painkillers, anti-anxiety meds, and more. So my whole life felt like a blur. In those days, I was simply just pushing through and surviving. To this day, I don’t know how I had the strength to get there. I think sometimes we manage to do things even if we believe we have nothing left inside to do it with.
Can you take us back to the moment you decided you were going to, without a doubt, go to India for treatment and leave all you knew behind? And how that felt? Empowering? Terrifying? Both?
It was both. It was the greatest leap of faith and also the easiest decision I’d ever made. Typically, I would obsess and analyze and drive myself crazy trying to decide about something. But for this, I just decided and went forward. I knew inside it was what I needed. I hadn’t ever been so clear about something. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t terrified. It just means that my clarity was greater than my fear in this moment.
What was it like being in a foreign country staying at a center where you were the only one with Lyme disease?
I felt alone. Sometimes I thought I was dying and there was no one to turn to or talk to about it. I had my parents, of course, but I still felt so on my own because of the medical environment I was in.
Was there any one particular moment in India that was especially difficult psychologically? Can you describe that for us, and how you summoned the resilience within you to get past that and continue on with treatment in India rather than give up?
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Every moment. Ha. The noise drove me to near insanity. The water wasn’t hot so much of the time. I didn’t like the food. It felt like every day pushed me to the brink of what I could handle. I feel like something inside of me was driving me; the will to survive maybe. Each day I simply woke up and waded through the best I could. And it turns out, that’s enough sometimes.
What is the greatest lesson you learned in India?
To let go. To be open. To give up on trying to control everything in our lives. The more I relaxed into what was instead of fighting it, the better my life and my health became. There is just no way to struggle your way to happiness or well-being or ease. At some point, you’re going to have to let go of the reins and lighten up if you want to survive.
Do you believe India changed you, if so how?
Yes, but I believe I changed most when I got home. I wasn’t able to process my experience while I was still there. It was after I got home that I felt like I had more life, vitality, and energy. And while of course the treatment played a part, I feel like a lot of that was the adventure itself. We get so stuck in the monotony of our “sick life” at home that we lose sight of the bigger world out there. Going to India helped reinvigorate my spirit. I needed that so badly.
Did your experience in India shift your perspective on illness and healing? If so, how?
It definitely helped me understand that healing is not just about the physical body. I was never going to heal until I worked on my “inner landscape,” too. And it wasn’t until I relapsed about a year after India that that became so clear. But I’m glad I saw it in such a dramatic way. Here I had traveled across the world for such a radical and incredible treatment; and it still wasn’t the complete “fix.” While it was heartbreaking in many ways, I also needed it to play out that way so I could see that I would have to look at my own part in the illness in order to truly heal.
If you could tell others just one single thing who are in the thicket of their own dark nights of the soul with Lyme disease, what would it be?
I know it hurts, but keep going..even if you have to drag yourself through sometimes. And try try try your very hardest to lighten up on yourself along the way. Your dawn is coming.
To learn more about Amy’s journey, her work and her books, refer to the following resources listed below.
Shelley M. White is an herbalist, yoga teacher and writer. She is the author of ‘Cannabis for Lyme Disease and Related Conditions: Scientific Basis and Anecdotal Evidence for Medicinal Use’ (visit www.cannabisforlyme.com to learn more). She also writes articles for various print and online publications. You can view her portfolio, as well as indulge in her free yoga videos, meditations and other contents by visiting her website: shelleymwhite.net.