Healing my Lyme through farming.
by Guest blogger: Allie Borovik
Listen to her podcast HERE
My name is Allie Borovik and I have chronic Lyme disease. This is my story of healing Lyme through farming and food. My healing journey spanned seven years of doctors’ appointments, tests, antibiotics, herbal supplements, and frustration. For years, I was told I wasn’t sick; that there was nothing wrong with me. I consulted countless specialists in NYC, San Francisco, Memphis, and Michigan; they all gave me the same answer: “Your tests are normal so I guess there’s nothing wrong.” However, what do you do when you’re 21 and have to ice your joints in the morning before you can walk? You keep searching for answers.
Lyme and co-occurring infections manifest themselves differently in every person who is infected. That is just part of the reason it is hard to diagnose. My symptoms were always ambiguous and changing. Lower back pain so intense that I couldn’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time. Joint pain that kept me up at night. Fatigue, bone deep fatigue. Weak muscles and no endurance. Most days, just doing laundry felt like a marathon.
From steroid shots in my sacroiliac joints to Xanax, I thought I had tried everything. And yet, still no answers. Until the fall of 2015, I was still undiagnosed and in debilitating pain. I was finally diagnosed with Lyme, Babesia, Anaplasmosis, Mycoplasma and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The blood tests had come back glaringly positive. I had an answer. Over the next year, I tried countless different combinations of oral and intravenous antibiotics, antimalarial and herbal supplements, all with a limited degree of success. I was still searching for healing.
In the spring of 2016, I decided to try a different path. I was done with doctors’ appointments and antibiotics. I wanted to try farming. I had always been “healthy.” I played college volleyball, I practiced yoga, I ate all the vegetables, I shopped at farmers markets. But something was missing and I felt that the only healing path left to try was a full on lifestyle change. At the time, I was living in New York City, working in restaurants, eating when I had time between shifts, and always saying yes. So, I enrolled at the University of Vermont’s six month Farmer Training Program.
In March of 2016, I moved to Burlington and started farming. I woke at sunrise and slept at sunset. I germinated seeds. I cultivated carrots. I ate watermelon in the field still cold from the night before. I cooked the food we grew and I had never felt better. My Lyme symptoms abated and after seven long, painful years, I was (basically) pain free.
Let me assure you that there is no silver bullet to healing Lyme. Farming is not a cure all. The romantic vision of growing, harvesting, and eating all one’s food cannot and will not solve every ailment. But I do believe that it was just what I needed to finally heal. It is with this perspective that I became a farmer. I experienced how nurturing good soil can be and I wanted everyone else too as well.
My healing journey has continued since those magical six months in Vermont. There have been flare ups and half marathons, herniated discs and weddings, but I am stable and mostly pain free. Recently, I have been feeling so good that my husband and I decided to start a family and I am currently 7 months pregnant and feeling as good as any 7 month pregnant lady can feel.
The punchline of this journey is that restoration to good health can come from simple places. For me, it was growing my own food. For you, it might be meditating or walking every day. The countless medicines, tests, and diets I tried were not completely useless: I did experience a little pain relief from each experiment, but true healing eventually came in the form of soil. Working in the soil day in and day out and then eating the food and animals that were nourished from that soil is what healed me. So, if you’re sick, tired, unhappy, or just feeling like you need a change — plant a seed. It might be just what you need.
About this author:
Allie was born in Houston, TX and raised in Memphis, TN – not on farms, but always around food. She spent her college years in New York City playing volleyball and studying politics, food, and public health. In 2017, she fell in love with farming at the Farmer Training Program in Burlington, VT. A year later she was growing vegetables and some animals at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture outside of NYC. Just this past spring, Allie moved to Austin, TX to start Neighborfood, a neighborhood-based network of small yard farms. Currently, she has three yards in production and is selling her produce to restaurants and markets around the city. Allie started Neighborfood as a way to feed people, build communities, and combat climate change.
How to reach Allie: