By Lindsey Shaffer
As a dog trainer in east-central Scotland, Donna Grant’s job demanded that she be physically active throughout much of her work days. But in early 2011, symptoms including bloating, nausea, and stomach pain started to cause problems.
Donna visited her doctor, who suggested an endoscopy (a scope of the digestive tract). When the results came back clear, her doctor sent her home with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some medication.
But the IBS drugs didn’t help. Instead, over the next two years, Donna’s symptoms progressively worsened. “I started feeling fatigue and muscle aches, but the doctor told me, ‘Everyone gets tired.'” Donna remembers. Next came sleep disturbances, cognitive problems, and body aches. She pushed herself and continued to work, all the while going in and out of doctor’s offices in her search for a solution. In August of 2013, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
“I figured that was the end of it,” Donna says. “I thought, ‘I know what I’m dealing with now, so I can move on.’” She was prescribed an antidepressant known as amitriptyline, and told that if she improved her sleep, her symptoms would become minimal. But the medication caused extreme fatigue, and did nothing to alleviate Donna’s pain.
“I started feeling fatigue and muscle aches, but the doctor told me, ‘Everyone gets tired.'”
Donna looked to alternative therapies for help. She tried reflexology, Bowen therapy, and reiki to help with her pain. While the alternative therapies helped in the short-term, Donna once again found her health continuing to deteriorate. Her physically demanding job became more and more difficult, and in the spring of 2014, her symptoms forced her to take time off of work so she could try to recoup. From there, she went back and forth between working and taking sick days when her symptoms became too much to handle, sometimes lasting only a few days on the job before needing another break.
“I kept crashing,” Donna explains. “I think at the time, my priorities were mixed up. In my mind, the worst thing was losing my job. My goal was to just get back to work, which put a lot of pressure on me. I thought if I just kept going, I would be fine. It was really hard to say, ‘I’m still not better.’ But I was pushing myself too hard, and it worked against me.”
Eventually, in March 2016, Donna was let go from her job. She was devastated. But looking back, Donna believes that losing her job was actually a blessing in disguise. “It took away the pressure to perform, so I could finally focus on healing,” she says.
Donna’s doctors continued to blame her ongoing symptoms on fibromyalgia flare-ups. “I also started to hear diagnoses like multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome.” She continued alternative therapies, and also started a blog, where she documented her ups and downs.
“My blog was a place for me to record what I was experiencing, and what helped me,” Donna says. She soon realized that sharing her own experiences could also help others. “I started to receive comments and emails from people who had read my blog and could relate to what I wrote.”
“It was really hard to say, ‘I’m still not better.’ But I was pushing myself too hard, and it worked against me.”
In October of 2014, the RawlsMD team came across Donna’s blog. They sent her a copy Dr. Bill Rawls’ book, Suffered Long Enough. “At the time, I was so tired,” Donna remembers. “The last thing I wanted to do was read a book. But I did, and I now credit Dr. Rawls’ book for reinstilling my faith in recovering. I was so low at that point, and it really helped me.”
Donna took a leap of faith and ordered Dr. Rawls’ herbal protocol. She admits, “I felt worse for about a month, but my intuition told me to stick with it.” Soon, her symptoms began to improve.
“Herbal therapy took me from being stuck in my bed, to being able to get up and move again,” she says. “It was gradual and slow, but I started to feel better.”
In 2016, Donna visited a new doctor in England. “We sat and talked about my health history, and he suggested several tests based on my symptoms, one of which was for Lyme disease,” she explains. Donna’s test came back positive for the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, and she was diagnosed with Lyme.
“To see it in black and white on paper kind of knocked me back a bit,” Donna remembers. “When you’ve suffered for so long, and you find out that you could have been diagnosed and treated properly years ago, it’s really difficult to come to terms with it all.”
Donna’s doctor suggested antibiotics, but she chose to stick with natural therapy instead, a decision she made after reading Dr. Rawls’ book. “I continued taking herbal supplements, and added a few more supplements for energy and other things, and it really helped for a while,” she says.
About three months later, Donna felt as though her improvement had plateaued, so she agreed to take antibiotics. “I took two different antibiotics, and I felt so ill with nausea and digestive issues while I was taking them,” she remembers. “After a month, and I just knew it wasn’t the right path for me.”
Donna stopped her antibiotic treatment, and when her doctors suggested more testing, she decided she had had enough. “I was fed up with testing,” she explains. “It just led to more testing — it wasn’t going anywhere.”
“When you’ve suffered for so long, and you find out that you could have been diagnosed and treated properly years ago, it’s really difficult to come to terms with it all.”
Instead, Donna began doing her own research. She read an excerpt Dr. Rawls had written about stem cell therapy. “It’s not proven to help with Lyme disease, but it sounded like a good option,” she says. In October of 2017, Donna began Stromal Vascular Fraction cell therapy treatments at the Infusio Clinic in Frankfurt, Germany.
“Like Dr. Rawls, the experts at the clinic believe in foundational medicine,” she says. “It’s all about rebuilding your immune system to get your body strong enough to deal with pathogens.”
Now, after six months of stem cell therapy combined with continuing her herbal and natural protocols, Donna reports that she has about 80% of her health back. “My chronic pain is gone, and my energy is better. I’ve started to get my life back again,” she explains. “I still have some symptoms remaining, but, as stem cells are a year long process, I have six months of healing ahead of me and I’m really excited about the future.”
“It’s all about rebuilding your immune system to get your body strong enough to deal with pathogens.”
For others who may be going through something similar, Donna offers this lesson learned from her own experience, “You’re not going to get better right away. It can take years. The important thing for me was finding acceptance with where I was, while holding onto the hope that I will get better.”
She also offers this advice for others who may be struggling: “Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right to you, then it’s probably not right for you. We’re all going to walk slightly different paths to get better.”