Chasing down friends, a real world problem for a chronic lymie

I write a lot about the emotional and social aspects of having a chronic disease and the frustrations that come with it.

I know a BIGGIE with the chronically ill is the feeling of isolation and not being able to participate in normal activities, or at least not as many. Now before I continue there is a great spanse in the Lyme world from bed-ridden and unable to go out at all, to “functioning Lymie” who can maybe hold a job and get by but has limited energy for anything else.

I fall into the second category (I have lived through the first), where I can be social but it has to be carefully planned and very dependent on how I’m feeling and whether I’m working (same day as work usually doesn’t happen).

Oh and did I mention mornings? Lymies know about the morning toxic hangover and how hard it is to get moving in the AM. Which is why church is hard, Saturday morning breakfast get togethers or morning bible studies are out.

That said, I find I’m in a season of life where I (mostly) have to chase and pursue friends to get together. You see if I don’t attend the functions where everyone congregates and makes those “dates” together outside of said function, I’m kind of left having to be the electric communication stalker.

Now I’m not saying people don’t care, or that I don’t have some amazing friends that keep in good touch and are very caring, but there are also some who never make contact on their own, or maybe they say “yes we should get together” and then leave it hanging and never let me know what works for them. 

In the age of instant communication when everyone is always on their phones, how did it get to be so hard to communicate and get people to respond? Is it the whole country or is it worse in overpopulated/hyper-busy/rush rush rush areas like Western WA where I live? I mean come on; traffic alone here could keep people wanting to hide in their homes with the blinds closed and huddled in a corner. Driving 10 miles to meet a friend here could mean 40 minutes in traffic and taking your life in your own hands. 

Anway, life just seems to get more challenging with every pasing year, healthy or unhealthy. 

Those are my musings for today. 

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The Judgement & Scrutiny Of Living With Chronic Illness 

(*disclaimer at the bottom of article)
Judgment. 

Scrutiny.

 Those words immediately evoke feelings of negativity. Living with chronic illness is negative and difficult in itself, but have you ever stopped to think that almost every person batting a chronic illness also gets “insult added to injury” (literally) by being judged and scrutinized in everything they do?….. What they post on social media, every choice they make, every event they attend or don’t attend, everything they eat and every purchase they make? Yes. This is a huge part of living with chronic illness. 
   Can you imagine suffering from a condition and all of a sudden even “normal” activities and decisions come under the watchful and judgmental eye of everyone you know?
What do I mean? 
Example: “Shelley” suffers from chronic Lyme. All her friends and family know this. They know treatments are expensive and Shelley spends a lot of time at the doctor. Shelley also says no to a lot of family functions and activities with friends. Shelley also shares her struggles on social media and everyone knows she is struggling financially as well due to all her medical expenses. Some of Shelley’s family are very negative; they knew Shelley when she was active and vibrant and can’t understand how this sickness seems to go on and on without end. They think her posts about illness are attention-getting and that Shelley is needy, especially being that she is single and they think therefore she is trying to get sympathy. They think she is pathetic. Some of them let her know and express their anger. Some of them no longer speak to her at all.
Shelley also feels like she can’t win when it comes to socializing….
(NO) When Shelley says no to an event or dinner (or has to leave early or rest in the middle):
People think Shelley is being a drama queen again, or lazy, or being anti-social, etc. 
“She always says no so why bother asking”
“She is so self-absorbed with her problems. If she just got out more and acted normal she would feel better”
“Sickness has become Shelley’s identity. If she just stopped owning it she wouldn’t be so sick” 
“Shelley is not as sick as she thinks she is. Lyme is an excuse”
“Shelley has some kind of social disorder and is using sickness as an excuse”
“There she goes again, lying on the couch in the middle of a party. Apparently she wasn’t getting enough attention…”
(YES) When Shelley says yes to an event, or dinner: People think
“how can she be sick in bed yesterday and out today looking normal today?”
“She is such a liar, she said she couldn’t go out his morning and there she is tonight out with friends”
“She must be getting better, finally this Lyme thing is going away”
“You look good! You look healthy, you must be better”
“How can she afford to go out when she was just posting her Gofundme yesterday?”
“All this posting on social media about being sick, and yet when I see her she looks fine”
“Should she be eating that?”

You see I am Shelley. If you are ill and reading this, you are Shelley. And I know dozens and dozens of Shelleys that have the same experiences. 
Most people don’t think twice about going out to eat, taking vacations, hanging with friends, going to movies, buying a pair of shoes…

But when you deal with chronic illness things are a little different. Have you ever considered how much judgment someone who is sick receives? And this is on top of all the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and financial suffering. 
That’s why I write. Because most judgment comes from naivety and simply not understanding. 
I have to deeply think before I post anything regarding my illness; TMI? Who’s my audience? Sharing info with fellow Lymies versus relatives that are going to roll their eyes at another health post?

Am I going to get negative backlash?

Are people going to get the wrong idea?
I also think twice before I post anything about going out, being with friends, or anything that has to do with spending money….. 

You see guy can buy new shoes if you need them without a second thought. But if I do I have to assess who might judge me knowing that I struggle financially. See what I mean? And I also don’t want to hurt that friend that I said no to yesterday when I felt super fatigued when they see me out with someone today because I rested and feel a little better.

I also struggle with guilt and and moral questions whenever I do something fun or spend a little money. Am I “allowed” to have fun? Can I justify a purchase for myself? Even though I am. It by any means extravagant (I rarely go shopping, buy clothes, and almost never eat out) I feel funny when I do and feel I have to answer for myself to everyone I know. 
Conclusion. 

This isn’t a perfect essay, and I didnt touch on a lot (including judgment and negativity from the mainstream medical community that doesn’t understand certain chronic illnesses), but there are tons of bloggers out there and they are doing a great job being a voice for this community. All we can do is try our best, and have an extra dose of grace as we raise awareness to those who would judge us. 
*Please note that this essay is on the topic of judgment and scrutiny; There are a LOT of kind and understanding people who do take the time to learn, ask questions, talk and give support. Thank you all my friends and family that fall in this category. 💚

  

The Morning After (Payday)… Fun Isn’t Free

I did something yesterday, oh yes I did. Something normal, something fun.

I treated my sister for her birthday to go see Coldplay in concert. Firstly I had to make the decision how wise it was for both of us for two reasons; financially being that money is tight and medical bills are high, and whether I could justify using some of my personal savings on an extravagant birthday present. Second being that we both deal with chronic illness I had to weigh how much we would be affected by a long night out and take a gamble (being that I purchased tickets ahead of time) whether we would both be well enough to go when the event came. 

I went ahead and did it because Coldplay was here on the weekend right before my sister’s birthday (which seemed fortuitous) and she loves them enough I figured we would make it happen no matter how we were feeling.

We got nosebleed tickets (hey closer tickets were outrageous!), but it turned out fine because it was a great venue complete with fireworks, laser show, and audience armbands that lit up. It was fun.

My sister is happy and grateful and this is one the nicer gifts I’ve been able to get her. Thankfully also we are both having slightly better days with health the last couple weeks, meaning we can manage a bit more.

But, the reason I’m writing this is because this is a chronic illness blog, and as fellow sufferers know after fun comes….. pay day/days. 

It began actually even at the concert last night; I started feeling tired, and even in the middle of something fun I was enjoying I started wishing I could be home in bed knowing that even after this thing is over there would be a long walk to the car, sitting in traffic, and a long drive home.


This morning as I lay in bed writing this my entire body hurts..a lot. I’m swollen and puffy and completely wiped. Not only do I have the deep aching pain in every joint but I also have the deep tissue burning pain that goes with the autoimmune (Mast Cell/histamine) reactions of having some different foods yesterday.

Yes, this is “Pay Day”, and I know there will be more than one of them and I need to be careful the rest of the week.

So, is it worth it? I think so. Simply because I do things so seldom, and it feels good to be more normal once and a while; it gives me hope that one day the normal days will multiply and I can handle more, maybe even… gasp, having more than one activity on a weekend. We shall see.

For today though I’m glad my sister had something special for her birthday, even though she will be having her own pay days to follow. I will rest, recoup, detox, and try and make it to something tonight I promised some friends I would attend… yes, I am going to attempt two things in two days. Prayers appreciated 

A “Good Day” To Be A Lymie

Today is a good day; it’s currently 12:10pm on a Saturday and it’s still my “morning”, being that I’m still convincing myself to get moving and I haven’t done much yet.

I am coming off of several weeks of an antiparasitic/antiviral treatment that was pretty hardcore, and it was phase 2 having completed phase 1 the month before last. I feel like it takes a while for my body to reset and rebuild after the onslaught.  I had a UVBI blood treatment on Monday and I’m still not sure what my reaction is being that I felt energized the day of and not so good the rest of the week. (I was told I could experience some die off).

I’m tired. Even though I’m done with that particular protocol I’m still on a TON of supplements, and as of a few days ago three new prescriptions. Still have to deal with Candida, hormones and other stuff. I’m tired.  But body pain today isn’t too bad, fluid retention (my pesky persistent minion) is at about a medium. All things considered today is a good day relative to how crappy I have been feeling. I might even try and go for a walk.

I am mentally troubled this “morning” as I contemplate where I’m at as far as treatment protocol and what the rest of the year holds as far as medical expenses and whatever the doctors will want to do next. 11,000 went on the credit card just the last 6 weeks for our family’s medical needs 😳

That said; I got confirmation from my main two doctors this week that the protocol to kill the viruses and parasites was very successful and I’m in good shape as far as that goes. Which leaves the remaining battle being the autoimmune disorder factor in this long-term disease, and that’s been a huge battle. 

Bottom line my body hates itself and I hate it. Not a happy cohabitation. So my Mast cells and histamine, cytokines and gut all need to decide to start getting along or my slow decline into self-destruction will someday be successful. 

That said I am hoping that the remaining months of this year will see big changes, that I will start to experience what “normal” feels like, and that next time I have a “good day” it won’t be in parenthesis because of relativity, but “good” will actually be good


Lyme Fund

When Life Punishes You For Living

Here I am again, posting on another “bad” day.

You see I’ve had some decent ones, even though I never feel “great” I’ve had consecutive weeks/months of having a better balance here and there. Inflammation has been acutely worse for weeks, but I’ve been able to maneuver around it to a point. Yes I’ve had days of crashing more and napping more, yes I’ve had to say no to going to church and Bible study because “extras” are too much. (Hey wait a minute! Maybe I’ve been struggling more than I’ve acknowledged). But anyway, then there is today; today when I feel my body is getting revenge for all my betrayal. Today when I feel stripped to the bone. I woke up at 11am (yeah I know), and still felt I could barely climb out of bed. Breakfast happened at 12:30 sitting in a detox bath, and I feel completely horrible: achy, stiff, toxic, beyond fatigued, heavy, swollen, fuzzy-brained. The autoimmune overactivity is high and I can both see and feel the fluid and pain.

So what did I do to myself to deserve this? That is always the question I first ask because self-blame is my automatic go-to. Well what I “did” was try being semi-normal for a few weeks: having to work a couple weeks full time, eating some “bad” stuff here and there (and by bad I mean bad for me personally; like dark chocolate, some organic mayo, some cayenne, a little vegan ice cream,etc.). Am I right in beating myself up? I am never sure how bad to guilt trip myself. It’s so hard when all you want to do is live and your body is just really not into that.

I am still counting the days until my new patient consult on the 14th at Sophia to address autoimmune issues and mast cell activation disorder (assuming that’s what’s going on). I’ve had a couple doctors confirm that Borrelia, Bartonella, Babesia, Epstein Barr, Erlychia…and all the rest including viral coinfections, are”fixed”, so I’m hoping the last hurdle is the autoimmune, but it’s a big hurdle. 

I have not paid any attention to fundraising for a long time; mostly being it makes me feel shamed, embarrassed, unworthy, guilty, and all the feelings that orbit the above. But more than that is my constant guilt of being a drain on my family. Thankfully family medical expenses have come down a bit from around 6,000 a month to around 2,000, which is good but still difficult. As my sister and I are about to embark pursuing this new clinic though they may jump up again exponentially, so I will put a link here so anyone that is able and led to help. Youcaring

So here I sit in bed on a Sunday afternoon wishing I could have gone to church, wishing I could take my dog out, wishing I could be out and about. Tomorrow may be better, I’ve been through this more times than I can count and I know that often things won’t be so bad the next day. On a day like this things always feel so bleak, but I know that tomorrow always brings new hope and a different viewpoint.

I’m glad I write on bad days, when I can’t move and I hurt and can’t think well; Writing gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel I’m still here, still fighting.

See you tomorrow 🌅

A So So Day In The Life

Although I have posted about it on Facebook, I have not blogged about the insomnia I have been experiencing the last several weeks. Now I have experienced insomnia in different levels my entire life, and what I would consider a good night sleep would be waking up a minimum of 2 to 3 times and being able to fall back to sleep without great difficulty and maybe getting around eight hours. But through this chronic illness journey I have definitely gone through periods of time where the insomnia has been much worse. During my initial two years of Lyme treatment after being diagnosed I was put on Ambien by my LLM.D. That drug gave me the best sleep of my entire life, but if it’s not meant for long-term use and it was absolutely excruciating weaning myself off of it.

So during the different phases of treatment over the last several years my insomnia ebbs and flows in severity. The last couple weeks with re-entering a brain detox protocol along with a liver protocol, its been worse again and I have been averaging 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours a night. Fast forward to last night when I decided to really up the sleeping aids to help me get a decent nights sleep being that I do not have to work on Wednesdays. So along with my usual nightly protocol (GABA, L-Theanine, Cannabis Oil) I added Melatonin (which I don’t take regularly for several reasons), magnesium, and a big dose of Benadryl. Well I got the most sleep I’ve had in weeks, but was so hung over today I could barely get myself up off of the floor until 1p.m. It was actually hard to hold my head up and even to breathe for a while. Ahh the trade offs. For those of you that may kindly suggest other sleep aids to me, I want to say I have probably tried them, And the ones I don’t use I don’t use for a reason; either side effects or they stay in my body so long that I am horribly hung over for days. 

Anyway at 1 PM I was finally able to get myself out of the house and go to Les Schwab to get my tires checked And rotated, which I had been putting off for weeks since my tire lights had been on. I had them do a check of the rest of the car while I was there and not too much to my surprise my car is in need of about $1400 worth of work being that it is a 2008 and it is just one of those things. 🤑😫 #stress #financialworries 

I also had a follow up today that was scheduled last minute with my doctor in Anacortes to try and address the autoimmune flare up that has been going on the last several days. I mean seriously, should a very tiny tub of organic hummus cause searing burning pain, inflammation and misery for days? I don’t think so. Thankfully my doctor does not think so too and he still working away at getting the autoimmune overreactivity under control. Along with the protocol he already has me on, he now put me on a Chinese herbal blend to help with shallow breathing and to increase circulation and blood pressure. (Because I am a pretty low, shallow person naturally 😉).

So now at the end of my day I’m sitting in a detox bath and mentally prepping myself to go to work tomorrow. My mind is still heavy with thinking about the negativity online and all the verbal attacks and untruths going on on the internet; in the health community and just the world in general. I was questioning how can someone stand up for truth and be a peacemaker at the same time avoiding getting into heated arguments? The internet is rife with untruths being spread like wildfire, misunderstandings, rash judgements, hard hearts and closed ears. It crossed my mind that Jesus is the only one to ever have done that perfectly; been a truth teller and a peacekeeper…. and they still killed him! 

It is Amazing how so much is taken for granted to be true without actually fact checking,  and other things are so blown out of proportion that they become untruths. (The Pharisees adding hundreds of their own “truths” and laws to scripture anyone?) (bueller?) 

Being an advocate for absolute truth and an advocate for the chronic illness community, I think it is a really hard line when you are attacked. All I Can say is that I pray for wisdom and how to speak truth and kindness and not to waste my time on those whose ears are closed and whose mouths are open and spewing flames. 

So, this is not one of those big advocacy posts to get a point across, or to share something deeply significant about the chronic illness journey, it is one of my more boring and quiet days where I just felt like blogging a little. Blessings to you all 💚 ~Jennifer 

Hope, And A Look Back

12/23/15. Hope,
I wrote the short essay below about 3 years ago. I remember acutely how it feels to be in this place; it is like a living death in some ways… losing yourself.
2012 was one of the worst years of my life even though I finally had a diagnosis of what was wrong with me. It is the year I went through being bedridden during initial treatment, being unemployed and unable to work, unrelated to illness I was devastated that I had been believing something for 7 years that I thought was from God and ended up being false. My faith for the first time in my life faltered and I stopped talking to Daddy.
How much has changed in 3 years. I am however incredibly grateful because I can look at what God has done in my life and how He has changed me (for the better!). He has truly taught me what rejoicing in trials looks like and that I can live the truth that all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He has used me in unexpected ways and brought people into my life that I would not have met if it had not been for my illness. Now that is God.
For those who are still in a place of deep suffering my heart reaches out to. I would be happy to be contacted either through this blog or my Facebook page so that I can do my best to encourage you.
So here is what being a little lost girl felt like:

Little Lost Girl
The Other Toll Of An Auto-Immune Disease

At some point I stopped looking in the mirror; of course not quite literally because I need to do my hair and makeup in the morning, but a long time ago I stopped “seeing”. So it was a bit of a shock when one day I actually did see, and I didn’t recognize myself. I look old, I look sick, I look puffy, I look fat, I look frumpy. Gone is the girl I see in photos from several years ago, and not just physically, because that girl had things she enjoyed doing… people she wanted to spend time with…she had an inner passion for the things she loved, and had so many hopes and dreams….

I look in my closet and there are the clothes that I no longer wear, the digital camera that I have never used, the containers of craft materials that I no longer have an interest in….because life used to be not only about today, but about tomorrow too. Now I struggle to get through just one day at a time, just surviving, there is no energy for anything else, and it is more than physical, my brain is tired too. I used to love crosswords, but sometimes it is too hard to recall the words I know that I know, or to spell words that I know are locked somewhere in my toxic mind.  People are too hard to be around, not because I don’t like them, but talking and engaging takes mental energy, and that is easily used up doing my job everyday (thank God He has given me the strength. So when I am quiet and don’t feel like talking, I am more than likely not in a bad mood, and it has nothing to do with you, I am just shut down.

I miss my personality; it is actually hard to recall who I am. I know I used to enjoy so many things, but I am not sure what they all were. I think that I will need to rediscover myself, and see what emerges when the chrysalis of illness falls away.

So, I am writing this not to whine nor for pity, but just to share what chronic illness can do to the core of who you are as a human being. My sister and I talk and share all the time about what we are going through, and how what we are feeling affects us socially and mentally. How each of us wants to tell everyone we see from our friends to people in the grocery store “You don’t understand, this isn’t me, I’m really someone else…”
But thankfully there seems to be hope. Treatment has been rough, and the different medications aren’t fun, but I believe that finally after possibly two decades of having this garbage in my body and not understanding what was wrong with me, there are answers. I have been told by my two doctors and even by friends and acquaintances that next year everything will be different. I want to hope so badly that this will be true, and if it is, I might emerge again, but will I be who I was or a little different? We shall see…