In 2004, Michael was hospitalized with raw, severe rashes near the lymph nodes at the top of his legs, which doctors believed at the time to be flesh-eating disease. He received high doses of intravenous antibiotics and eventually the rashes went away. After being released from the hospital, he was told one of the blood tests he took while in the hospital finally came back and it was positive for Lyme. He was prescribed approximately 2 weeks of oral antibiotic treatment and quickly recovered.
During this post-Lyme period, Michael thrived at work in his position as Senior Information Security Analyst, regularly worked out, played tennis, participated in multiple triathlons and was very active in his church. He was voted Sunday School Teacher of the Year, was one of three charter members of Operation Chillout in NJ (a volunteer organization that donates and delivers warm clothing, food and other assistance to the homeless), established a Father-Daughter Valentine Dance in his home town, volunteered as a gymnastics coach so he could spend more time with his daughter, was named Director of Youth Activities for the Knights of Columbus, and so on.
In short, he never thought about being sick again. That is, until February 13, 2011.
That night, after returning home from a wonderful weekend in Connecticut with his daughter Brielle at her cheerleading competition, he began to feel very sick. The first symptoms appeared out of nowhere (cognitive dysfunction, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and a strange heaviness in his legs), and were precipitous and debilitating from the beginning. Because Michael had been so healthy for the past seven years or so, he didn’t even have a primary care physician. He went to a doctor that was highly recommended, but after running a battery of tests, everything came back negative and eventually the doctor gave up. After the initial onset of illness on February 13, Michael tried to go back to work a few times but was never again able to get through even a half day of work. The seriousness of the symptoms progressed so quickly and severely that he had to move from his apartment because he was no longer able to climb stairs. He then had to move in with his mother because he was developing neurological issues and was unable to walk. Soon he was having difficulty speaking and eventually was no longer able to stand or sit upright. For one long stretch, he even was unable to live without the assistance of supplemental oxygen (and almost died when the ambulance that was taking him to the hospital unknowingly ran out of oxygen). He quickly went from short-term, to long-term, to permanent disability. He became, as one former VA nurse described him, “catastrophically” disabled.
From February 13, 2011 through today, Michael has been admitted overnight in approximately 12 different hospitals, half a dozen rehab/nursing homes, and visited countless emergency rooms. He has been seen by well over 200 different physicians representing all specializations, dozens of alternative/integrative health practices, and undergone virtually every test available for every organ (including x-rays, ultrasounds, scopes, angiograms, CT scans, MRIs, thigh muscle biopsies, multiple taps of his spinal fluid, etc.). He even blacked out during his cardio-pulmonary stress test and his tilt table test, but doctors couldn’t find a cause. Every supplement/medication he was prescribed eventually made him sicker, acting like a poison on his system. He developed so many food allergies and intolerances that his weight went from 152 lbs. at the onset of the illness down to 119 lbs.
Looking back, doctors have explained that increased stress in Michael’s life resulting from simultaneously going through a painful divorce and a failed business in 2007-2008, in conjunction with consistently working 60-70 hours a week at his day job in the subsequent years probably weakened his immune system enough to allow the Lyme that was lying dormant from 2004 to finally overtake his body's natural defenses.
Along the way Michael was told he had some very serious and frightening diseases: Multiple Sclerosis, ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, etc.
Living in isolation on a hospital bed, unable for the most part to speak, stand, walk, or even sit-up, and reliant upon others to do practically everything for him, Michael neither refused to give up on God nor give up hope. He knew by this time that he had Lyme and some co-infections but none of the very few Lyme literate doctors in NJ were able to help. In fact, no matter how experienced or compassionate the doctors were, the truth was he was getting more and more debilitated. He also knew that he had a genetic issue, which prevented his body and brain from removing toxins. No matter how small a drop or crumb of medication or supplement he took, every single time it was like ingesting poison. Desperate, one night he did an Internet search on “brain detox” and one of the only results listed was for a Dr. Sponaugle in Florida.
On Tuesday, April 30, 2013, although so sick he was barely able to whisper, he joined a web/conference call hosted by Dr. Sponaugle and had enough strength in his voice to ask the question, “Can you help me?” Dr. Sponaugle (Dr. S) told him that before having him travel all the way down to FL in his condition, he would make an exception and review preliminary blood and urine work before deciding to accept or reject him as a patient. This was an excruciating period of uncertainty and waiting. Michael knew from his research that Dr. S was probably one of the only doctors in the country with the experience, knowledge and insight to even attempt to help him and his complicated, advanced condition. Long story short, Michael finally received the good news! Dr. S was accepting Michael as his patient!
After arriving in Florida on July 13, 2013 (on a train sleeper car because of Michael’s inability to sit upright), it didn’t take long for Michael to hear some sobering news. During his initial meeting and evaluation of Michael in his office, Dr. S told Michael that if he had known the details of his condition and history in advance, he wouldn’t have had him come all the way down to FL. Dr. S later told the story of how he had to leave his office to pray about what to do with him (based on his physical condition and difficulty speaking, he was initially concerned Michael indeed had ALS). Eventually Dr. S returned to his office and began looking at Michael’s medical history in earnest and before long began making sense of Michael’s medical history, even explaining why Michael had reacted so violently to many of the medications and supplements that were intended to heal him.
Both the doctor and Michael are extremely pleased and encouraged at how he is handling the treatments so far. By the end of the first week, Michael had not only been able to tolerate the detox protocol administered to him, he progressed to the point where he spoke more in that first week than he did in the previous 2 ½ years combined! Michael is also making fantastic progress with his energy levels and is even able to sit up for slightly but noticeably longer periods of time. Michael knows this is his best and most likely last chance at recovery. He has witnessed other Dr. S patients in person make miraculous recoveries and knows he himself will be one of those miracles.
It appears to be just a matter of time and money now before Michael is able to regain his health, but he needs your help. Without your financial donations, Michael may not have enough money to receive all the treatments needed to enable him to continue talking, to eventually sit-up, stand, walk, participate in social activities, and become a contributing member of society again - all the things most people take for granted.
Please feel free to email Michael with any questions or well wishes at HelpMichaelRecover@gmail.com .
You can read details of Dr. Sponaugle’s highly successful approach for healing Lyme patients and see highlights of a few of his many success stories at http://sponauglewellness.com/wellness-programs/lyme-disease/