• Dr. Nicole Vumbaco | DVM

Update 1: 14 Weeks into Treatment

Updated: May 12


This disease is THE most complicated relationship I have ever been in!!!! It is abusive, selfish, needy, unreliable, inflammatory, easily angered, always hungry, emotionally draining, calculated…! BUT we do still have our good days! I had every intention on posting an update much sooner than today…July 24th… but am working on Bartonella’s schedule for now! In fact, this exact post was written almost 5 weeks ago, then delayed, then updated 3 weeks ago… So, here we are. I am exhausted, with another fever, head pain and all the things Bartonellosis does best! Not a really good day for me but going to attempt giving this a final read and if you see this timestamped 7/24, then it was a success!

July 5th, 2020: 14 Weeks into Treatment

Goodness!!! Japanese Knotweed packs a punch! Been MIA for a good while, might finally be starting to level out! Today is July 5th… My birthday is next Thursday, the 16th! The big 3-8! I am excited, This birthday is different than the last few. We have a definitive diagnosis, an aggressive treatment plan and have learned so much more about the disease. Hoping it is the year of healing and maybe some rebuilding!

Okay, Phase 1 (of 3) has been quite productive. Treatment was started on March 30th, 2020. As I mentioned previously in the "What's the Treatment Plan section" of blog “Part 2”, my protocol incorporates both Eastern and Western medicines. Our primary antibiotic is Rifamycin-based, but cannot be started until there is improvement in my adrenal function and hormones. This protocol builds, using poly-antimicrobrial therapy to combat the bacteria’s complex characteristics, lag phase (the period where the individual bacteria are maturing but not yet dividing), stationary phases (the period where bacteria remain consistent in population so the rate of death equals the rate of new growth) and niches. Our protocol plan includes RX: Bactrim, Clarithromycin, Rifampin, +/- Rifabutin, Methylene Blue (for Interstitial Cystitis like symptoms, also has antimicrobrial properties) and herbals: Japanese knotwood and banderol.

Phase 1 goals were to introduce all additional supplements, new dosages, hormone replacement therapy, more aggressive adrenal support, and to slowly up-titrate Bactrim (TMS) and herbal antibiotics (Banderol and Japanese Knotwood).

Another integral part of this phase was to focus on my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and Interstitial Cystitis-like symptoms (IC). It took me a good bit of time to complete. We had to adjust for the side effects, flare-ups and in addition to usual symptoms of chronic cyclic bacteremia, there are secondary die-off reactions caused by the antimicrobrials (called a Jarish-Hexheimer Reaction). A blog post discussing this reaction and it’s significance is coming soon. In short, it is an adverse reaction that occurs in response to endotoxin-like products released by bacterial death within the body during antibiotic treatment (what I call a “die-off” reaction). Basically, the bacterial death occurs at a higher rate than our body is able to clear. We get a backlog of dead bacteria in our bloodstream which takes time for the body to expel. The build-up makes our symptomology worse but also comes with it’s own specific, sometimes unbearable symptoms. This is not a new reaction, but i