How I Learned To Boost My Immune System And Take A Lifetime Antibiotics Sentence

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Jessamy Calkin rebuilt her immune system after losing her spleen following cancer treatment – Andrew Crowley

When I was told after a PET scan three years ago that “lesions” were discovered on the spleen, I remember thinking, “What exactly is the spleen? where is she And what’s that about?” I had pretty much only heard in connection with “air intake of the spleen”.

But the answer is that spleen is an organ located on the upper left side of your abdomen; Apparently the size of an avocado, it is part of the lymphatic system and its job is to filter the blood and produce white blood cells that protect against infection – essentially antibodies.

It is an important but not essential part of the immune system. Simply put, without one you have no more chance of getting anything, but there is a chance that the things you do get can get serious quickly because the antibodies act slowly. And you may have a higher risk of infection – particularly bacterial infection.

However, I had no symptoms from whatever the lesions were; the reason for the scan was that I had breast cancer the previous year; and the idea behind the PET scan was to verify that it had not spread anywhere else.

It wasn’t. They thought the lesions had nothing to do with it. Breast cancer can spread to the bones or lungs—rarely to the spleen. It was probably something else – some form of infection or scar tissue. I had blood tests but it showed nothing; I had more blood tests, more extensive and much more expensive – still nothing.

So I had a biopsy. In general, doctors are reluctant to biopsy the spleen because it comes out easily. they may bleed. There appears to be “significant morbidity” associated with spleen biopsies, but all other tests have failed.

Jessamy Calkin, who was prescribed lifelong antibiotics after a splenectomy – Andrew Crowley

The results showed that both lesions were tumors and that it was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The probability of developing two different types of cancer within a year is very small. (And according to my oncologist, it was very unusual that the spleen was the primary site and the lymphoma was not spreading to the spleen from the bone marrow or the blood. So I also had a bone marrow biopsy – excruciating pain – but nothing came up.)

Targeted radiation therapy was a theoretical possibility to explode the tumors, but this was ruled out as I had already received radiation for breast cancer in that area. Therefore, splenectomy was recommended.

I duly went to the hospital and they had general anesthesia and keyhole surgery. I was amazed that the “avocado-sized organ” could come out of that small incision – the scar on my stomach was tiny – but they just folded it and pulled it out. I stayed in hospital for a few days – I had a drainage tube coming out of my hip and a bit of pain, but it wasn’t a big deal – then I came home. I have to have blood tests every three months to check lymphocyte levels. Not a problem.

belt and straps

But – much more alarmingly – I was told that due to the increased risk of infections such as pneumonia and meningitis, I would have to take low-level antibiotics prophylactically for the rest of my life and carry stronger antibiotics. with me all the time, all the time. a case of “major bacterial infection” such as Sepsis.

I have been prescribed a low dose of penicillin to be taken twice a day. Under pressure, one of the consultants admitted that there had never been comprehensive medical studies to prove the need for antibiotics. That would be very expensive — they would probably have to find hundreds of people who had splenectomies and were taking antibiotics for comparison, and a similar number who weren’t, for comparison.

Because penicillin is very cheap, it just wasn’t worth it for the drug companies to do these extensive studies, so a protocol was made to recommend it “just in case”. It’s an annoying expression you often hear from oncologists: “belt and braces.” But it is not a protocol anywhere else in Europe, I have to learn.

Under pressure, I duly took penicillin 5 mg twice a day. After three months I was feeling very down – although this could have been an after effect of the surgery. I did some research and discovered that long-term use of antibiotics can contribute to gut problems and weak immunity – because antibiotics don’t distinguish between good and bad bacteria and destroy mitochondria, which are vital for the normal cell function.

There have also been some anecdotal cases of depression, and a recent study suggested that for people over 40, long-term use of antibiotics increased their chances of developing inflammatory bowel disease by more than 50 in – a hundred I went against my doctor’s advice and decided to give up my daily penicillin and look for other ways to boost my immune system.

Unconventional aid

The Merano Palace in northern Italy is not a classic wellness spa. It is one of the few places in Europe where a combination of Eastern and Western medicine is practiced. It was originally opened in 1906 and has been extensively refurbished over the years and has recently been completely refurbished. It is testament to its high standards that most of the staff are the same as when I first visited 10 years ago. (Their mandate varies from 15 years to – in one case – 30 years.)

The Merano deals with all sorts of health issues; I had been there before and I knew that Dr. Massimiliano Mayrhofer, one of their specialists, would help me with my plan to come off antibiotics, strengthen my immune system and increase my health before going back to work.

Meran specializes in detoxification and revitalization, medical diagnostics and programs tailored to your needs; They treat musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, diabetes and immune issues, and have state-of-the-art equipment, knowledgeable doctors and fantastically experienced therapists. It is located on the banks of the Passier near the quaint town of Merano. His medical qualifications aside, the location is superb – just a stroll along the river bank with the really rushing river and huge cedar and pine trees was relaxing in itself.

The center is divided into seven departments and there is a unique detox program – a method that has been practiced in the facility for more than 20 years.

East meets west

After various tests – full body scan, body composition scan, nutritional assessment, toxemia level assessment, bone density scan – I had a consultation with Dr Max, as he is known: a doctor and a qualified surgeon who developed an interest in holistic medicine. and traditional Chinese medicine, which combines all these skills in an incredibly kind and understanding way. He seems terrified of antibiotics (“It’s destroying all the flora and fauna!”) and suggests several things to help boost my immune system – Zinc and Vitamin D3 are essential, as are Echinacea, Immun ‘Age (dried papaya); and the homeopathic preparation Engystol.

He prescribes melatonin mixed with daisies and hypericum for my terrible sleep and tells me to change my diet and cut out sugar. Sugar feeds bacteria, fungi, parasites, mold and viruses and weakens the immune system. (A university research study found that white blood cell phagocytes — our infection-fighting immune cells — decreased in effectiveness after consuming sugar, with effects lasting up to five hours. )

I see a nutritionist put me on an anti-inflammatory diet – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, some low-fat milk, and olive oil (numerous studies have found that a diet high in these -immune function).

He also recommends intermittent fasting two days a week — it triggers an anti-inflammatory response in the body, and basically when the body is not digesting food the energy can be better used elsewhere. I’m fasting for three days while I’m here – drinking only broth, which certainly tastes like dishwater, but it doesn’t break the fast. The rest of the time the food is excellent. And I compensate for the hunger with all sorts of soothing and relaxing treatments – lymphatic drainage, acupuncture, mud therapy, swimming in the beautiful pool.

Jessamy Calkin says she felt “toxicly strong” after leaving Merano Palace – Andrew Crowley

The regime isn’t just about restraint and willpower: between treatments, tips, and swimming, I spent time reading at the bar, which has an inventive Romanian bartender who makes mocktails that look like the real thing. I really wanted a Negroni, but settled on a shot glass of faux “limoncello” – which had lemon juice and turmeric in it and was very uplifting – and fresh mint tea in adorable little tea cups.

I stayed at the Merano Palace for five days – a week is recommended. I felt intoxicatingly healthy when I left, took the diet sheet home with me and mostly stuck to it. Since having my spleen removed two years ago, I’ve had Covid twice – the small kind – and a few colds. Nothing more.

After six months of mostly sticking to the program (avoiding sugar is a challenge) and 18 months off the antibiotics, my blood work was so good that I was promoted to see an oncologist only once a the year. I religiously take Echinacea and Engystol when I feel under the weather, as well as a daily dose of Stimuno Complex – a mitochondrial dietary supplement containing a blend of bioflavonoids (antioxidants and anti-inflammatories) and beta-glucans (soluble fiber benefit to the immune system). which was recommended to me by a nutritionist in London.

I may not have a spleen and have to be very careful about what I eat, but I am cancer free and no longer considering taking antibiotics for life.

The six-day Revital Detox for Longevity program at Palace Merano is available from €4,050 (£3,570) per person plus €302 for three medical examinations.

Nights for seven nights in single occupancy from €2,520 in a comfort room. Six days of treatment include: the Revital Detox diet, toxicity assessment, five bioenergy appointments including a check-up, body density measurement (DEXA scanner, subject to a doctor’s visit), nutritional examination, post-treatment nutritional plan, six energy massages, hydro-energy treatments including six Hydro-aromatherapy sessions, six phyto-mud therapy sessions and six hydro-jet massages.

Stimuno Complex is available from

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