Katina Makris likely became infected with Lyme disease in the summer of 2000, first suffering a flu-like illness but subsequently diagnosed with walking pneumonia and chronic fatigue syndrome. As her health deteriorated her family life suffered and she had to close her private homeopathic practice but the story does have a more positive ending as Makris is finally getting back to health.
The Perpetuation of Lyme Disease ‘Mystery’
Makris uses the first half of the book to detail her personal struggle towards a Lyme disease diagnosis (in 2005) and the second half to discuss holistic therapies for Lyme disease and the difficulties with an orthodox medical approach to the infection. Although many people do spend years feeling sick without being tested for borreliosis the fact that Makris’ doctors did not even think of this a potential cause of her illness seems a little unrealistic (a point made by a number of reviewers). One wonders if, by so fully embracing alternative healthcare practices, including some questionable remarks on Rife machines, Makris fails to make use of the positive elements of scientific progress.
Preaching to the Choir
The book occasionally reads as an overblown personal rant about orthodox medicine in favor of appeals to nature, intuitive medicine and faith healing. Clearly, the book could benefit from editing by an experienced professional but it is unlikely that such a title would attract more eminent publishers. Target readers are likely those already well-versed in Lyme disease mythology and conspiracy theories, looking to rail against mainstream medicine and science. Such impassioned readers are, perhaps, more forgiving of the cliched, repetitive prose and bad Victorian-style nature adoration. Makris is not so much out of the woods as attached, moss-like, to the trees she talks of so fondly, ad nauseam.
Alternative Lyme Disease Treatments
Appearing appealing to those infected with Lyme disease, Out of the Woods may not prove all that helpful as the actual healing regimen employed by this homeopath is described only in vague terms. Acupuncture, yoga, meditation, hands-on-healing, spiritual counselling and energy medicine are all mentioned in opposition to mainstream antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease. Homeopathy is also promoted as a way to beat Lyme disease naturally and there may be those scratching their head when reading this book and wondering why Makris did not simply take prescribed antibiotics to eradicate the infection. There is merit, after all, in combining the best of orthodox medicine and complementary medicine to support the body whilst dealing with a serious infection.
Nothing New in ‘Out of the Woods’
It is tempting to think that there must be a limit to how many tales can be told of being struck down by a mysterious flu-like illness as awareness of Lyme disease grows. Reading about pain and suffering seems, to some, to be endlessly attractive, however, even where maudlin purple prose sits awkwardly on page after page.
Whilst not wishing to detract from the obvious suffering Makris has endured, and the very real problems with Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment, this memoir suffers from myriad problems. There are so many Lyme memoirs in print that this one, written as it is by a professional homeopath, needs to do more to stand out. Instead, the book never quite finds its place in the genre of memoir, alternative medicine guide, aspiring poetic naturalist creative fiction or mythologising of what is, after all, a treatable infection for most patients.
Validating Lyme Mythology
Although Makris holds no science or medical degree, one would expect an experienced practitioner and previous health columnist to understand the importance of public health communication. Such memoirs may provide validation for many who encounter similar struggles with Lyme disease and chronic illness but it also risks invalidating the common experience of short-term, successfully treated borreliosis.
Promoting Lyme Disease Awareness
Out of the Woods: Healing Lyme Disease – Body, Mind and Spirit, has gained some appreciative reviews from those looking for a sympathetic reflection of their own experience and struggle with Lyme disease, which is wonderful for those feeling isolated in their own battle back to health. It may also provide a useful insight for carers into the suffering of such patients but should not be seen as a guide as to how to treat Lyme disease. Katina Makris is on a book tour currently, promoting awareness of the illness. At its heart, Out of the Woods is a highly personal look at the devastating symptoms Lyme disease can cause but it is not a practical text for how-to heal from the condition.