Being Real

I wanted to speak to all of you from the heart for a few minutes (besides a health and circumstances update). I know that my posts can be a little wordy, but if you can stick with me to the end I would really appreciate it. I have had some serious ups and downs recently, not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually too, and that is something I am going to try and be raw and real about.
As you all know these health difficulties have been plaguing myself and my family for decades, but especially my sister and I. And with this recent setback (again) it is so easy to feel depressed, lonely and hopeless….
Today on this sunny Saturday I think of all of you out there, socializing, having fun, seeing friends, being outside, doing things…. living normally. And for me this morning my POTS is acting up and it is hard for me to even stand without feeling breathless and weak and having waves of heat. (More on POTS below). Another day of my life sacrificed to the Lyme gods as they accept my life as an offering one day at a time (please no one be offended by this little metaphor). 
So this is going to be another in a long line of weekends for me basically in bed resting. I have given about 2/3 of my adult life to this: go to work, go to bed, repeat. I’m back in that cycle where I have just enough strength to work my part time job….and not much else. I call these cycles many things, including Survival Mode and the Chronic Illness Coma. I feel isolated, forgotten, left out and lonely. I keep seeing the years of my life tick by and my life eroding away, with opportunities disappearing on a fading horizon. 

Try and picture for a moment if this was your life for years and years, and you found yourself in your late thirties having your youth behind you having never properly experienced it. You are alone. You’ve never had a significant other or even an opportunity to get one, and you watch most of your friends live there lives from a distance doing “normal” things that you have never experienced and are not normal for you.
I had a very bad weekend last week; besides having a scare and being in the ER on Saturday, I was also very depressed and the enemy saw an opportunity to open a wound. 
The mind can go down Dark rabbit holes so easily: This isn’t living. Alone. Single. Sick. Struggling. My brain and body betray me. Thinking about eventually having my parents die and (gulp) Shiloh in time, and being utterly alone and destitute with no one to be a support is not a fun thought. I also feel like I am such a financial burden and my parents would be so much better off and more secure if I just died. (That’s a major one Satan like to come at me with). 
Thank you to a couple friends who encouraged me last Sunday and reminded me who I am in Christ, and who just listened and let me be real with my feelings.

That said, I am peeking back out of that dark corner and God is reminding me that faith and Who He is for me and His power over my circumstances have nothing to do with my emotions or mindset or the infections in my body and brain that are effecting those things.

After all, faith is all about what we do not see, what we do not feel, and relying on He Who dwells outside the shallowness of those things. 
Why did I share all that? I don’t think it’s because I want pity. I want to be normal, I just want to live, I don’t want to be a person that needs pity! No, rather I just want to be heard and understood and I feel like when I drop off the face of the earth that I don’t do so to the people in my life as well, and I’m just forgotten. 

I do want to thank the couple people who do stay in contact with me, it means the world. Just a text, just a “hi”, nothing fancy, just knowing I’m not forgotten.
Why The Chronically Ill Post TMI

Thank you so much for reading this far.
As far as myself and my sister Holly as you know we are going through treatments right now to deal with some deep parasitic and other infections in our bodies that are not only gut related but are attacking our livers, kidneys and other organs too, and the treatment has been rough. I just did my retest lab work this last week to confirm what infections remain after phase 1 and how to approach my Phase 2 in this next round of treatment. I have had it confirmed that (among other things) I do still have Bartonella: What is Bartonella & its Symptoms?

 Babesia: What is Babesia & its Symptoms?

which are the two major Lyme coinfections. 

My POTS which is usually mild also goes to more of a moderate degree when I have a flare up, and that’s been difficult ( Lyme & POTS )
My sister and I could use prayer that these treatments work, and that maybe this will be the beginning to the end of this multi-decade battle.
Lyme (collective term for Borrelia, coinfections and complications) is so hard to treat because it can change form, hide from the immune system, be antibiotic resistant, cross the blood-brain barrier and infect any and all parts of the body, and treatments are basically going layer by layer, getting deep stuff to come to the surface, and repeating the process. 

A good metaphor would be weeding a garden: you pull weeds, you rototill, you use poison, you pull up roots and do your best with what you see. But you miss a few roots, you can’t always identify every weed, and the “poison” ruins the soil so you have to keep replenishing as you’re killing, and just when you think you got it all…. you find there’s stuff you missed that starts growing and taking over again.
Here is also a good link on why treatments make you feel worse: What is a Herx?

Wow guys, thanks for sticking with me and hearing me out! Even with all that writing it is still just a summary. 

Please also pray for God’s financial provision as for this season expenses have again skyrocketed into about 5,000 a month.

I have been unable to paint again, and that has been disheartening. If anyone has any clever ideas for fundraisers let me know! (It would have to be in the realm of my capacity). 

Steidl Family Lyme Fund
Jennifer’s Lyme Fund
Thank you again for taking the time to read all this. 

So What DOES Happen When A Person With Autoimmune Intolerences Cheats?

So because this is highly subjective and everyone’s body is different, I can only share what I go through when I “cheat” on my diet. 

Last night myself, my sister and our “brother” Dave visited my grandpa who is a recent widower and also just had back surgery. We had a wonderful very long visit, and ended up ordering dinner in the way of pizza. Now my sister and I had to find an alternative dinner source because of our food restrictions, but…..pizza! Besides our other food last night we both ended up picking off and eating some toppings off of a slice (dairy, processed meats, tomatoe, sulphates….). (I do draw the line even in little cheats at grains or gluten, that would put me under for weeks.)

Now baby cheats happen all the time, simply because my food restrictions are caaaraaazy! (See below). So having low reaction items sneak into my diet in the way of a little seasoning, or a little taste, happens all the time. And I beat myself up over this! because I always wonder “if I was 100% good all the time would this autoimmune stuff get better”?

I should clarify that on the iGg there are low reaction items and high reaction items, the “medium” one I struggle with on a daily basis is chocolate. (Hallelujah I was able to get off coffee, which makes me horribly sick). 

Okay, Back to what happens after pizza stripping: I woke up in th middle of the night feeling hot and restless, I went back to sleep but woke up several more times feeling agitated and with a growing headache that ended up being a pounding that encompassed my head and went down my spine. This morning my usual twenty pounds of fluid retention and inflammation had kicked it up a notch and there is an extra layer of squishy water under my skin all over my body. My eyes and face are all puffed up and I don’t look like “me”. Along with the extra inflammation comes burning pain. Then there is the extra acne that made a grand appearance this morning. My brain is foggy like an English moor. Besides that I just feel heavy and toxic and downright gross 😑

This will more than likely last for a few days. What I can do about it is detox like a mad woman, take binders, drink lots of water, make sure I get as many doses of my anti-mast cell suspension in the next few days as I can.

And there you have it. But What would have happened if I had had a major cheat? I don’t even want to think about it. 
The iGg allergy list. 

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 

Living a half life

It’s 5am, I’ve been up since 2:30. Another night of insomnia where my mind and my body are betraying me again. My brain won’t shut down, and I’m having waves of heat, systemic irritation and an upset gut. My buddy edema which never leaves or forsakes me is also having a great party.  I have to get up at 7:30am for work and I am hitting a wall right now physically, mentally and emotionally. 

How do i keep going on? How much more of this can I take? And with this emotional crash comes all the old hurts and devastations, anger, garbage and the “lies” that are really true but just a matter of perspective (is my liver causing me this crisis?): I am such a waste of a human being. I’m a black hole in a world of people who have value. My health has cost about 100,000 and where am I now? Am I living and thriving? No. Do I believe the doctors that say they can help and keeping pouring money out while I still live a half life and feeling like crud, or would it be better just to stop everything and give up?

My body is angry. It likes being angry. It likes to punish me for every bite of food I eat. It likes revenge for any bit of fun I have or energy I expel…. The only difference is in degree. So I made myself soup tonight all healthy and diet friendly, save maybe for garlic. Is this the way it’s always going to be? A night of sleeplessness and misery for something stupid like eating a little garlic? 

Why won’t the fluid retention/autoimmune/pain/fatigue get better? Is it mast cell like we are exploring now? Is it lymph virus? Toxins? Liver? Kidney? Pancreas? Spleen? Leaky gut? Celiac? All of the above? Parasympathetic nervous system?….

I have been told all of the above, treated for all of the above and more (and we’re not even talking about the Lyme and coinfections anymore). 

What hurts right now is thinking about all the normal people who live “whole” lives and don’t know what it’s like to live with access to  pieces of yourself, to never be whole or wholly alive. On your good days skating by at 70%, having to choose between obligation and everything else that makes up life. Obligation always wins and then years of your life just pass by and you find yourself in the south side of your thirties and possibilities for the future keep narrowing with every passing year until they are a pinhole and the things you have never done and never experienced far outweigh what you have, and I’m not even talking about big bucket list stuff… I’m talking about life experiences most take for granted.

A tear just fell on my pillow. I know tomorrow is another day and I know realistically I will not be so negative when I’m not out of my mind with lack of sleep, grief and discomfort. It’s just tough as I am getting another wave of heat and agitation thinking about a full day of work on an empty battery…