Stacey Chillemi: Hi Robert! Can you start by telling us a little about yourself and your book?
Robert Groleau: Hi Stacey. My name is Robert Groleau. I’ve worked as a structural engineer for the last 30 years in Austin, Texas. I grew up in Connecticut where I contracted Lyme disease in 1975 without knowing it. So I had Lyme for 25 years before getting bitten by a tick in 2001 in Texas. That episode kicked off my 14-year healing journey covered in my book.
Stacey Chillemi: What inspired you to write your book, “How to Beat Chronic Lyme: Through Physical, Emotional & Spiritual Healing”?
Robert Groleau: One thing is that I achieved a full recovery. I have learned much on my healing journey, but it seems odd to me to write a book about healing until you can show results. The other thing is that when I looked back on my journey, I realized that what I had experienced could be of great help to others. I don’t know of anybody who has traveled the path through emotional healing that I have and written about it. Emotional healing is the key to healing chronic illness, and I knew that information had to be shared.
Stacey Chillemi: How did you come up with the title?
Robert Groleau: I wanted to share information that would help people get over this illness, and not just write about my story. So, my story is in the book, but it’s not the main part of it. The main title “How to Beat Chronic Lyme” is very directly what the book is about. You can beat this illness, and I show how it can be done. The subtitle “Through Physical, Emotional & Spiritual Healing” is just listing the stages of my healing journey as they happened. I’ve learned how to heal myself on many levels which are all interrelated.
Stacey Chillemi: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Robert Groleau: While I talk about three types of healing, which are all important, the main point I would stress is that the key to healing chronic illness is emotional healing. Emotional issues are the underlying cause of chronic illness. I reference some of psychologist Alice Miller’s books where she discusses this. If your emotional issues are deep enough, taking medication alone will not heal your illness. The underlying emotional causes have to be addressed before physical healing can work.
So many people are stuck in chronic Lyme disease because all they do is try to heal themselves on a physical level. Trying to heal without addressing emotional issues is like trying to clean up a polluted lake without shutting off the pipes that are dumping pollution into the water. You can clean the water all you want, but if you don’t shut off the source, the pollution continues unabated. That’s why people get a recurrence of cancer after eliminating it. They haven’t addressed the cause.
Stacey Chillemi: What’s the most important point you’re trying to make in your book when it comes to living and coping with Lyme Disease?
Robert Groleau: The most important point is that you don’t have to live with chronic Lyme disease. You can get over it. I have discovered how to recover from this illness, and I’m sharing what I’ve learned so others can do the same. People are baffled by this illness because they only work on physical healing. The key is emotional healing. If you can heal the underlying cause of the illness, then the physical treatments work better. We already have enough physical treatments.
Stacey Chillemi: Why hasn’t anyone else discovered how important emotional healing is to chronic illness?
Robert Groleau: I believe many know in the alternative medicine community. However, nobody really knows how to do it, other than sending you to therapy which may not work and costs a lot. Plus, patients don’t like to hear about emotional healing. You’ve been through so much with physical treatment for so long, and you are exhausted. Then, someone brings up a whole new direction to move in. So, you’re faced with a huge new project to start on, it’s mysterious, nobody knows how to do it, and it will probably be expensive. So, everybody just avoids the issue.
Stacey Chillemi: What got you to do emotional healing?
Robert Groleau: Desperation. I had worked so hard on my recovery for 10 years, and I reached an impasse. I wasn’t getting better, and I wasn’t ready to give up, so I decided to try emotional healing. The more I did, the more I saw the benefit. I worked with an intuitive healer in Austin weekly for three years, but I also used many other modalities, too. There are many effective modalities you can use on your own without spending any money at all. I list many in the book.
Stacey Chillemi: For people who don’t know a lot about this disease can you tell us a little about Lyme Disease?
Robert Groleau: Lyme disease is typically acquired by the bite of an infected tick. Sexual transmission from a partner is possible as well. If you get a tick bite and contract Lyme for the first time, you can eliminate the infection completely if you get treatment within a couple of weeks. A short course of antibiotics will do the trick. If you are like me, and you had Lyme for many years before diagnosis, then you have a case of chronic Lyme, and it is not easy to get rid of. You may have to take treatment for a long time.
Stacey Chillemi: What are some of the common symptoms that someone with Lyme Disease experiences?
Robert Groleau: Lyme disease can give you bouts of massive fatigue where you can’t move all day. The symptoms often feel like a mild case of the flu. Your temperature goes down a couple of degrees and stays that way. You typically get very little sleep – I was getting about 3 hours a night for years. Lyme can affect your moods and cause depression. The Lyme infection often comes with coinfections such as Bartonella, Babesia, and Ehrlichia, which each have their own set of symptoms, some of which are as bad as Lyme.
Stacey Chillemi: You have Lyme Disease correct? How did you develop the disease?
Robert Groleau: I no longer have Lyme. In 2005, I got over Lyme. I have spent the last 10 years getting over the chronic illness issues that were caused by damaging my immune system by taking antibiotics for 2.5 years. I don’t know how I contracted Lyme in 1975. All I remember is having strange symptoms that summer which again recurred in 2001 when I started treatment.
Stacey Chillemi: How long were you sick before you were diagnosed with Lyme Disease?
Robert Groleau: I was sick for 25 years before getting bitten by a tick in 2001. My lack of response to the treatment in 2001 indicated that I had already had Lyme for a long time.
Stacey Chillemi: Can you describe the progression of your disease?
Robert Groleau: Over the years I have suffered from depression, bouts of fatigue, stiff joints, and other mysterious symptoms. Doctors could never diagnose anything, so I just lived with it. When I got bitten in 2001, I started antibiotic treatment. After 2.5 years of antibiotics, I could not get off the meds without Lyme returning because my immune system was too weak. Finally, my doctor told me it was time to stop treatment and learn to accept my illness. So, I went into alternative medicine.
I eliminated the Lyme infection in 2005, and I’ve spent the last 10 years getting over the chronic health issues associated with the destruction of gut flora from taking antibiotics for too long. Nobody tells you that’s a problem, but then you have all kinds of digestive problems. In my case, 10 years after I quit taking antibiotics I started getting intestinal infections which are difficult to cure without healthy gut flora – 15,000 people a year die of these types of infections.
Stacey Chillemi: What types of treatment did you use to try to improve your condition?
Robert Groleau: My condition only improved after going into alternative medicine. I took the herbal antibiotic Samento which is effective against Lyme but does not harm gut flora. In addition, I took a lot of probiotics for years trying to rebuild my gut flora. I typically used herbal formulations to treat parasites. I used several natural products to treat Candida, leaky gut, and many digestive issues. I did too many treatments to list, but it was all alternative medicine. I list them in the book. I also removed all the mercury in my dental fillings as well as root canals. I explain why in the book. Then I did heavy metal chelation. There are many, many factors that affect your health, and you have to deal with all of them to overcome a severe chronic illness.
Stacey Chillemi: Did they work?
Robert Groleau: It’s hard to tell what works. If you have 100 things wrong with you, and a treatment heals 10 of them, you won’t feel better because you still have 90 things wrong. Given that I have made a full recovery, I would say that most things worked. It was just a long haul. Healing the digestive system was the biggest issue for me. If you have taken antibiotics for too long you may have permanently damaged your gut flora and immune system.
My gut flora was devastated, and 10 years after stopping antibiotics, I started getting intestinal infections that are hard to treat. You really cannot recover all the lost strains of gut flora bacteria that your body originally had. Probiotic products only have dozens of strains while you need hundreds. These intestinal infections can eventually be fatal. So, I decided to do a fecal transplant. It is a way of acquiring the gut flora of a healthy person. The procedure was successful and eliminated the infection almost immediately. People don’t realize how critical gut flora is to their recovery. Gut flora is about 70% of our immune system. If you don’t find a way to heal your gut flora, you are unlikely to fully recover.
Stacey Chillemi: Was it hard to accept the fact that you had this disease and you have to live with it for the rest of your life?
Robert Groleau: I never accepted that I would live with Lyme for the rest of my life. I just kept searching for answers. It cost me 14 years, hundreds of thousand dollars, and a marriage. You just have to keep going. I have come to realize on the spiritual path that there is a purpose to our lives, and the experiences we go through. Illness is not a random accident. Medical intuitive Carolyn Myss has a great quote: “When physical illness is part of your spiritual path, no medical intervention can help you until your soul makes the changes that the illness was designed to inspire.” The illness is trying to teach you something. You just have to learn the lessons.
Stacey Chillemi: Having a disease or disorder that you have no control over can be very frustrating. Did you have a lot of frustration or anger built up inside?
Robert Groleau: I was sick for 8 years before I started to see any improvement at all. That takes a heavy toll on your mind and emotions. Your thinking goes to very dark places which makes you feel bad emotionally. This leads to despair and the belief that you will never get better. So, while Part 2 of my book deals with healing the long-term emotional issues that caused your illness in the first place, Part 3 – Spiritual Healing deals with all the emotional issues you are creating daily through endless suffering, frustration, and despair. In 2015, I learned a great technique from a well-known spiritual teacher to heal these issues which allow your body to heal itself without all the resistance from your anguish. The technique is simple and costs nothing.
Stacey Chillemi: I love how this book you wrote is broken up into three distinct parts – physical, emotional, and spiritual –Tell me more.
Robert Groleau: These are the actual phases of healing that I went through in chronological order. I spent the first 10 years doing all kinds of medical treatments, then 3 years doing emotional healing, and in the last year, I studied nonresistance with a well-known spiritual teacher. However, the book also demonstrates how these levels of healing are interrelated. For example, intestinal parasites were a huge issue for me. I discuss how to treat parasites on the physical level through herbal meds, but I also talk about the emotional issues related to parasites such as giving your power away and having a lack of boundaries. If you have internal parasites you will also find that you have external ones as well – the people that take advantage of you because you have a problem saying no to them. So, the same issue has manifested on both the physical and emotional levels.
Stacey Chillemi: What advice do you have for people with Lyme Disease?
Robert Groleau: If I were to distill the 3 most important pieces of advice from my book, it is 1) strengthen your gut flora which is 70% of your immune system, 2) do work to heal your long term emotional issues which caused your illness, and 3) use nonresistance techniques to heal the new emotional issues you are creating daily due to the suffering and frustration from your illness. These 3 things are a road map out of chronic illness. Your body can heal you, but you have to remove the emotional issues which are blocking the healing process.
Stacey Chillemi: What are your current projects?
Robert Groleau: I have discovered that I have quite a talent for energy healing, so I have started doing that work. I have been doing volunteer work with veterans with PTSD and have found that my work is very helpful in healing that condition. I also run a meetup group called Austin Chronic Illness Recovery where I share info with people on how to overcome chronic illness. And I give talks on Chronic Lyme Disease at various events.
Stacey Chillemi: Do you have a website people can visit? Where can people buy your book?
Robert Groleau: My website is www.robertgroleau.com. It has a page on my book with a link to Amazon.com where you can buy the book.