LGB: When did you first start having symptoms related to Lyme disease and co-infections? How old were you at the time?
Amy: I think my first symptoms were in my early 20s, but looking back, I can see some that might have come before. I had mono in high school and often wonder if it was really just mono. It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I was really hit with symptoms I couldn’t live with.
LGB: Do you remember getting a tick bite? Where do you think you contracted Lyme?
Amy: I don’t remember getting bitten, but I do remember getting a terrible flu after hiking, the same year all my symptoms started. I was hiking in one of my favorite places on earth, in Ojai, California—it’s a very tick-infested area.
LGB: What were your initial symptoms? What did doctors think you had? Did you do any treatments?
Amy: My first initial symptoms were nausea, shingles, and a few things that seemed unrelated. Doctors told me it was probably hormones. I had a bunch of testing done that showed nothing major, so I kind of just lived with it and lived my life.
LGB: How long did it take to figure out that Lyme and co-infections were the underlying cause of your symptoms? Who suggested that they were?
Amy: I was diagnosed with Lyme seven years after my initial symptoms and two years after I became bedridden with pain throughout my entire body. By that time, I had a ton of symptoms, including brain lesions, neuropathy, arthritis, and more. Ironically, the way I was diagnosed was by being treated with hyperbaric oxygen for something totally different. The director of the clinic recognized my symptoms and sent me to an LLMD [Lyme-literate medical doctor].
LGB: Did you do antibiotic treatments? Alternative treatments?
Amy: I did antibiotic treatment, alternative treatment, and everything in between!
LGB: When and why did you decide to try an experimental stem cell treatment in India? Did you know anyone who had undergone it for Lyme disease?
Amy: I went to India because nothing had worked, what I considered, “enough.” Everything I did helped get me “slightly better,” but I wanted to be healthy. I was the first Lyme disease patient to go to India for stem cells. My doctor told me it might kill me, and I went anyway.
LGB: For those not familiar with embryonic stem cell treatment, would you mind briefly explaining what it is and the idea behind it?
Amy: The idea behind stem cells is to repair the immune system and the damage to muscles, glands, and organs that Lyme and co-infections have done to the body.
LGB: Did you go to India alone? What was your experience like, being so far away from home and from your medical team?
Amy: My parents went with me for the first six weeks (I was there for almost nine). It was a lot of crazy ups and downs. Most of the time, I was just trying to stay sane with a new culture, food, and doctors who didn’t know about Lyme. I cried through a lot of every day, feeling scared and hopeless. Other times, I embraced India and really flourished. It was like I was living two lives at the same time. Sometimes I was a wreck, and then five minutes later I’d find a way to be okay. I think life is like this in general, though. Looking back, I think I was kind of crazy to go! Ha. But I’m glad I did.
LGB: Did the stem cell treatment help you? How did you feel when you returned home?
Amy: The stem cell treatment definitely helped me. I felt almost like a new person when I got home and was ready to get back to my life and move on.
LGB: After a year of being relatively well, what started happening that made it apparent that your journey wasn’t over yet?
Amy: After about a year, the symptoms started to return. And it just got worse from there. I never went back to where I began, or anywhere close, but I could see that I was on my way. I was devastated. It was like my immune system and body were unraveling before my eyes—again. I realized that if stem cells and a new immune system couldn’t repair my body and keep it healthy, that this journey must be about more than just my body. That was a huge epiphany for me.
I realized that if I wanted to heal completely, I needed to address whatever the common denominator of the illness was. And when I looked back, I realized that there was only one: me. I had always chased viruses and bugs and my unruly immune system, but I had never addressed the me that was at the center of it all.
LGB: Had you been resistant to thinking about mental or emotional issues as contributors to what you were going through physically? What was your evolution of thought on this?
Amy: I always thought I was a positive person, had a good attitude, tended toward being optimistic—and that was all true. But it’s not enough to keep you well. I definitely wasn’t open on a deep level to looking at myself, my patterns, and relationships to see how I was affecting my own health. I was always more about proving it wasn’t “my fault.” Then I came to the conclusion that if I was part of the problem (and who cares if I was?), then I could be part of the solution. This was huge for me! I finally cared more about getting well than about my ego.
LGB: How did you start learning about energy systems and the energy body? Did you teach yourself?
Amy: I did teach myself. I read books. I went to an acupuncturist for a bit. I basically just became familiar with that part of my body—my energy body. I never really knew much about it before.
LGB: What did you discover about the energy body in relation to physical health?
Amy: Our energy body directly influences our physical body. Blockages in the energy system occur long before physical symptoms do. So, if you address the energy system, you are in effect addressing the root of where physical symptoms come from.
LGB: What energy techniques helped you heal? Did you come up with any on your own?
Amy: I used Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Donna Eden energy medicine a lot to start. Then I came up with my own ways of clearing my emotional blocks that contributed to stuck energy: chakra tapping, subconscious-release scripts, tracing over certain parts of the body, etc. I made up a bunch of stuff not knowing what I was doing, but it worked!
LGB: When do you feel you healed “permanently and completely”? How long was this after you contracted Lyme and co-infections?
Amy: I wasn’t healed completely and permanently until I really let go of old emotions, beliefs, and patterns. That is the definitive point where my nervous and immune systems really healed. I’d say it was about six or seven years after contracting Lyme.
LGB: Do you think if you had discovered energy therapy sooner, you would have still gone to India? Likewise, do you think if you had initially addressed your energy imbalances, you could have foregone antibiotics?
Amy: It’s so hard to say now. I think that the way I did it was the way I was intended to do it. I had to learn and grow in the exact way I did in order to get where I am today. But if I knew what I know now, I definitely think it could have unfolded differently. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with medical treatment at all. It’s important to support the physical body in the ways one feels best. But I definitely think if I did the emotional work first, I would have gotten much better, much faster and without going to the extremes I did.
LGB: What would you say to readers who might feel overwhelmed, or even angry, upon hearing that the treatments they are doing—whether antibiotic or alternative—may not be enough to get them well?
Amy: I’d say that it’s legit to be angry, but it won’t help you heal. At some point, you have to decide what’s more important: embracing what is and healing or digging your heels into the ground. For some people, it will still be the latter, but perhaps the time will come when it won’t be. I think, for me, I had to really just say “F- it!” and be open to everything. Because by not looking inward, you are only blocking yourself from the thing you want most. And we each deserve more.
LGB: In a similar vein, a lot of what you say may be triggering to folks who were invalidated, sometimes for years, by doctors who told them that their symptoms were all in their heads and who really had to fight for a Lyme diagnosis. I know this was the case for me. Also, for me, after I finally got my diagnosis, I experienced “spiritual” people making offhand comments that I had “manifested” my illness. This triggered me much in the same way those doctors had, in that both felt like they were blaming me for this awful thing that was happening. When I struggled to get better, there were times when I felt like a spiritual failure when I didn’t improve or had setbacks. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Amy: My personal belief is that we absolutely do contribute to our situations, but that’s totally different from it being our fault. Most of the time, it’s our silly subconscious minds and not the conscious “us” at all. There are all kinds of forces—beliefs, emotions, toxins, etc.—that go into the illness process. I used to be so defensive about it being my fault, but then I was finally like, “Even if it was, who cares? Why am I wasting so much energy trying to disprove that? What does it change?” My simple answer to your question is that shit just happens. Done. That’s all there is to it. We need to focus on shifting things from there to wherever we want to go. I’m going to leave it at that because I think most of us overanalyze and put too much emphasis on the why. And it doesn’t need to be analyzed to death.
LGB: When did you start working as an energy therapist for people with chronic illness? Are there common beliefs or emotional patterns you find that your clients with chronic Lyme share?
Amy: I started full-time in 2012, and I couldn’t love what I do more. It’s funny because I never imagined I’d be doing this. But here I am. Yay. Some of the most common patterns I see:
- Stuffing emotions
- Needing to be perfect
- Worrying about other people more than themselves
- Not feeling safe in the world
- Not being their true selves
- Holding lots of fear
The great news is that all of this can be shifted, let go of, and transformed!
LGB: Would you mind giving us an example of how you use an energy technique to clear a concrete physical symptom?
Amy: One example is my technique the Sweep. It’s a subconscious-clearing technique (a script I wrote that the user repeats) that allows us to gently tell the mind to let go of whatever it’s been holding onto. Let’s say, for example, someone has a lot of pain. That is often linked to a subconscious belief of deserving to be punished. The Sweep is a technique that I use to help reprogram the brain by letting go of that belief and installing something more positive like, “I deserve to have a good-feeling body.” It’s all about giving the body permission to let go and a new “rule” to follow that aligns with health versus illness.
LGB: What role did fear have in your illness experience? Also, I’ve noticed you say “illness experience” instead of saying something like “my Lyme disease.” Would you mind explaining your word choice?
Amy: Fear puts a huge, huge stress on the immune and nervous systems. It essentially keeps you suspended in fight, flight, or freeze. For me, I was afraid of everything—not being in control, not being perfect, being sick, being healthy, my parents dying, people judging me, on and on and on. Health and healing are all about being in a relaxed state, and fear causes the opposite. As I released fear, I was not only happier, but my body really began to turn around.
I use “illness experience” and “the disease process” a lot because I don’t want to “own” anything that I don’t want. When people say “my Lyme,” they are sending their bodies/cells a message that’s the opposite of what they are trying to achieve. It’s such a little shift in language but can make a big difference.
LGB: Are you ever afraid of having a relapse?
Amy: No. But I used to be. That’s all a belief though, and the Lyme community corroborates a lot of it. Your belief about how delicate you are needs to be reprogrammed. Look at what all the people who have experienced Lyme have survived; they are so much stronger than a cold. But it’s all about getting your body to be a strong force, and the way I see it, a lot of that’s about releasing the emotional stress. I’ve been through so much, including the death of my father. I also work too hard, get stressed sometimes, and have real-life things come up. I’ve never relapsed since I’ve been doing this work.
LGB: In your book, How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can, you talk about seeing a silver lining in disease. What do you believe is the silver lining with something like Lyme? And how is that different from the “upside” to illness that you also discuss in your book?
Amy: A silver lining is when we find purpose in our experience. And I think every life experience has purpose. An “upside” is a conscious or subconscious reason to hang onto something we don’t want (like illness allowing us to say “no” to things we otherwise wouldn’t). We don’t want an upside, but a silver lining helps us find purpose in order to complete the experience and come out of it. Once we find meaning, our souls can make sense of an experience and help us move forward.
LGB: What is your life like now that you’ve completely healed? Do you have all your energy back?
Amy: I do! I have my energy back. I live a really fun life. I found my wife through my journey, and I get to help others. I’d say sometimes my life is very normal and boring for me, which is exactly what I always wanted. I never wanted to heal and go on to do huge things. I just wanted enough energy to get through my day. I try now, still, to remember that the simplest things are the sweetest.
LGB: What are you working on now and how can people find you?
Amy: I’m working on my next two books. My memoir comes out with Simon & Schuster in April 2018. It’s called 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 have another book coming out in 2019 on healing anxiety. In between all that, I’m having the best time working with people in my online healing program. They are the most adamant, sweet, and open-minded people. I couldn’t be happier to be helping them heal. I’m at www.amybscher.com and www.howtohealyourselfcourse.com.
The content of this interview is not intended to replace the advice of each reader's own medical professional nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. When making healthcare decisions, such as stopping or starting treatments or medications, please consult with a licensed medical authority.