It all started in the late Spring of 2016. My family met some friends at a park in Northern Virginia for a weekend in May to do some camping and hiking. When we got home from the trip I found a tick embedded in the left ankle.
My name is Stephen Hoag. I am 46 years old with a wonderful wife and four awesome kiddos. I’ve been practicing the BVT for Lyme protocol for 19 months now. A little about my journey…
It all started in the late Spring of 2016. My family met some friends at a park in Northern Virginia for a weekend in May to do some camping and hiking. When we got home from the trip I found a tick embedded in the left ankle. I took it out and ended up with a bulls-eye rash at the site a couple of days later. My wife told me the rash was the tell-tale sign of Lyme Disease.
I basically knew nothing of Lyme disease at that time. I went to Urgent Care the following day and was prescribed 2 weeks of antibiotics. I finished the 2 weeks and nothing more of it.
About a month after the trip I started experiencing an uptick in migraines. I periodically got them. But they went from one or two a year to one or two a week. I blamed it on not dehydration as I used to have an issue with not drinking enough water. Towards the end of 2016, my vision started getting blurry and my knees ached while walking up stairs. “So these were the signs of getting older everyone talks about”, is what I was thinking. And I thought that up until the Summer of 2017 when I started to have trouble walking. It wasn’t really painful. It felt like my brain and my legs were not communicating with each other. It was at this point when I realized something serious was going on.
I started doing internet searches on movement disorders. The three main results that kept coming back up for what I was experiencing were MS, Parkinson’s Disease, and ALS. Needless to say, I was a little worried. Then I came across an article that talked about Lyme Disease and how it can mimic these three diseases (along with countless others). Then I remembered the tick bite and the rash. I found a doctor that was treating Lyme patients in my town. He was a neurologist that did not know a great deal about Lyme but was the only doctor in town that was treating it. He tested me for Lyme, along with a whole host of other things. Six weeks later my test results were in and I was positive for Lyme. I was delighted to have a diagnosis and that it wasn’t one of the other dreaded disorders I had feared. I had a proper diagnosis, a doctor, and a treatment plan. I was going to get better.
Watch Steven Hoag's Journey
Well, as most Lyme patients will tell you, it’s not that easy. Not by a long shot. The neurologist started me on an antibiotic protocol consisting of three antibiotics that I would take twice a day, three days a week. Over the next three months, I continued to get worse. I started getting more symptoms and my walking got worse. It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t tell what was causing what. Was all this the Lyme? Were the antibiotics killing off all my good bacteria? Have I paved a way for a fungal infection to thrive? I had no idea. All I knew is that I was getting worse. So, I dug into my savings and decided to go to Washington, DC to see one of the world’s leading Lyme doctors. In the Lyme community, these doctors are referred to as Lyme Literate Medical Doctors (LLMD’s). It was mid-November 2017 when my family took the trip to DC.
I was actually scheduled to see one of the doctor’s PAs instead of him. She was very knowledgeable about Lyme, but my symptoms were very concerning to her. Especially my motor symptoms. At this point, my gait was being affected severely. Not to the point where I couldn’t walk, but to where I was clumsy, couldn’t run, and experiencing a lot of difficulty going upstairs. I also had almost constant muscle twitching in my calves. She requested that the main doctor come in and check me out. He came in and gave me a quick exam. He then told me the Lyme was affecting my motor neurons and recommended an aggressive nine-month IV antibiotic protocol. Since insurance companies don’t consider Lyme Disease a chronic issue, in most cases they will not cover LLMD visits or the IV treatments this doctor was recommending. The treatment would cost over $50,000. My heart dropped and I immediately felt hopeless. He did not tell me this during our visit, but I had listened to a few interviews with this doctor before I visited him. In one interview he was asked if he had experienced any patients who did not respond to treatment. He stated that the patients who did not respond were the ones where Lyme had attacked their motor neurons and were diagnosed with motor neuron disease. At this point, I had figured this would be my fate. I left the clinic that day with a new antibiotic protocol and they wanted to see me back in two months.
After two weeks on the new protocol, I found myself in the emergency room dealing with confusion, panic, and increased clumsiness. I felt this protocol was killing me. A couple of weeks later I found out about a clinic in Mexico through a Lyme support forum that was using aggressive alternative treatments for Lyme and Cancer. It was expensive, but I was getting worse at a high rate. I was forced to go on Short Term Disability Leave from my job shortly after the DC trip. I did not have the money for the Mexico trip and treatment. But I truly felt that if I didn’t do something drastically different that I was a goner. My parents offered to pay for it. So, I went. It was an interesting experience, and the procedures I underwent during my two-week stay there seemed to actually stabilize my symptoms. The treatments did not take away anything but stopped the progression. I came back home on New Year’s Eve just in time to bring in the New Year (2018) with my family.
I had stopped taking the antibiotics before going to Mexico and really did not want to start them back up again. And I wasn’t until my symptoms started going haywire again. By late January my symptoms were ebbing and flowing pretty erratically. I decided to see an LLMD closer to me about an hour away. He put me on yet another aggressive oral antibiotic protocol of SIX antibiotics this time. After two weeks on this protocol, I was basically bed-bound. I was too sick to make a follow-up visit six weeks later. So, we had a phone appointment instead. I expressed my concerns over the aggressive protocol and felt all the antibiotics were making me much worse. He assured me things would get worse before they got better and that he would prescribe the same treatment to one of his family members if they had Lyme. It was at this point that I had to make the decision whether to stick with all these damaging antibiotics or find a more natural treatment. I decided to ditch the expensive doctor and the antibiotics and seek natural treatment.
While doing another internet search (I spent countless hours doing this) I read about positive results using hyperbaric oxygen treatment for Lyme. This is where you are basically locked in a clear pressurized chamber while 100% pure oxygen is pumped into the chamber for 90 minutes. This pressurization allows improved oxygen delivery to tissues that are not getting enough oxygen. I was able to get sponsored by a group called, Mission 22. They help military combat veterans with various issues. And since I served in Iraq in the mid-2000s, they sponsored me without a second’s hesitation. This organization is a Godsend and I am indebted to them for their help. I was able to receive 40 sessions. During this time, I started feeling great! Unfortunately, two weeks after my last session I went plummeting downhill. It was during this time that I read about a woman with Lyme named Ellie Lobel. She was attacked by a swarm of killer bees while in California living out her last days. She had been stung once when she was younger and went into anaphylactic shock. So, after getting stung by hundreds of bees, she figured she was a goner for sure. But instead of killing her, the attack actually helped her. Ellie started experimenting using bees as a treatment for her Lyme and eventually became Lyme-free! It was such a crazy story that I had to look more into it.
I started reading and watching interviews with Ellie Lobel. I got to the point where I was seriously considering trying BVT, but I just wasn’t sure. I joined Ellie’s Facebook group, Bee Venom Therapy for Lyme Disease, and created my first post stating how I was interested in starting but had some concerns. Ellie quickly responded back to me and assured me that BVT was the way to complete healing. I was so inspired that she responded so quickly and positively that I ordered my BVT supplies and bees that day.
I started with my first test sting at the end of July 2018. I worked up to 10 stings within five weeks. It was a rough start, but nothing like what I experienced with antibiotics. I was three months into BVT when I experienced my first REAL milestone in healing. I started feeling much more energetic. I was able to start exercising. I started sleeping better. This was awesome! I wasn’t going to die or end up housebound for the rest of my life. There have been rough times. But I always come out the other side better than when I entered the rough patch. I am 19 months in now and on the road to recovery from a neck operation I had three months ago. The operation caused me a bit of a setback. But I am doing much better now. Better than I was even pre-op. Before the operation I was doing so well that I was operating a small mobile coffee shop, going to school full-time, and working a part-time job in the evenings. And I wasn’t even 100% yet. Since the operation, I have had to put a pause on the coffee business to let my neck heal. But it is very uplifting to see where I have come from in 19 months because of Ellie Lobel and God’s little honey bees.