After a Lyme Disease Diagnosis, Kelly Bloodgood Brings Life-changing Therapies to the South Bay
- Written & photographed byKat Monk
At 10 years old, Kelly Bloodgood was on an annual family camping trip to Montana when she felt an odd sensation on her stomach that would forever change her life. After years of misdiagnoses and massive frustration, she finally received a clear diagnosis and method for recovery.
Kelly, raised in San Jose with four brothers, often spent her summer vacations in the latter half of the 1970s in a quintessential, pea-green, wood-paneled station wagon heading out on road trips to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon or Nevada. Having a high school teacher and football coach for a dad meant that summer camping trips were a common occurrence.
Kelly moved to the South Bay after attending Loyola Marymount University. She got married, taught English at Hermosa Valley and is now the mother of three children. She had a myriad of minor health issues over the years that were misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
Thinking back on that childhood camping trip, Kelly vividly remembers the disgust she felt when she noticed a black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick, had latched on to her stomach. Quickly, her father ran over and smoldered the tick into submission with a match—the standard protocol at that time.
The risk of acquiring Lyme disease from a tick is only 1.2% to 1.4%, even in areas where the disease is common. There are two ways to have a tick infect a host: first, by not taking the tick out properly, and second, when the tick becomes engorged. The infection lies dormant within the tick and only becomes active after exposure to warm blood entering its gut. To make room for the blood, the tick emits water through salivary glands and passes on the infection, known as Lyme disease.
“Wellness is a lifestyle, not a trend.”
The disease was discovered in 1975 in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Early symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Without treatment, symptoms can progress—leading to arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling. There can be loss of muscle tone or drooping of the face, an irregular heartbeat and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. It is actually quite common for Lyme disease to remain undiagnosed for many years.
Every year since that trip, Kelly would get a cold in the fall that would turn into a sinus infection, then bronchitis, ending with full-blown pneumonia by Christmas. All the while, she was unable to do ordinary tasks including going to her kids’ sporting events.
Lyme disease loves a compromised immune system, and as she started to experience perimenopause—coupled with the stress of a rather straightforward divorce—the disease took a stronger hold on her body. “I started having a difficult time opening jars, and my car door became nearly impossible,” explains Kelly.
Within a year, the joint pain and exhaustion became so excruciating and debilitating that most mornings she would have to crawl across the floor just to get to the bathroom. “The memory loss, brain fog and numbness in my face and extremities was also incredibly difficult to handle,” adds Kelly.
After her diagnosis, her doctor started her on a medical protocol that lasted for almost eight months—designed to boost her immune system by loading her up with large doses of antibiotics, supplements and injections. Determined to get better, she sought treatment not covered by her medical insurance plan, including holistic regimens. The only available locations for these treatments, such as infrared sauna, pressotherapy, red light and IV therapy, required a trek into the Greater Los Angeles area.
Feeling rejuvenated, Kelly decided to start her own business as an alternative healing space. The treatments at Well+Good Health Studio in Hermosa Beach are designed to improve your health and quality of life within a relaxing spa environment—whether or not you have Lyme disease. In fact, anyone can benefit from these treatments, from elite athletes to the chronically ill.
“Kelly has skillfully created a trusted and amazing community of wellness practitioners who bring health and healing to all who they encounter,” says Elizabeth Fong, whose daughter also has Lyme disease.
How do these treatments help those with Lyme disease? First, the sauna pod uses infrared light to create heat in your body at a cellular level. In essence, you are warming up from the inside rather than the outside, which assists in pain relief and muscle recovery. Pressotherapy lymphatic drainage assists in unclogging the lymphatic system, leading to full-body detoxification and reducing inflammation. It uses compression to increase the blood and fluid circulation in your body. Finally, the red light therapy exposes your skin to low-wavelength red light and helps heal not just your skin but your muscle tissues as well.
“Kelly is a pioneer, and one who generously shares the new technologies and treatments she’s discovered,” adds Elizabeth. “She is also one of the kindest, most openhearted people you’ll ever meet, so she has a way of naturally and easily making all who enter Well+Good feel like they are home.”
Kelly’s battle will continue for the rest of her life, but her motto is: “Wellness is a lifestyle, not a trend.”