Health Update

As many of you know I have had some progress in health and have been winning little battles along the way, but some things persist: autoimmune disease (mast cell overactivation disorder, etc.), and all the symptoms that go with it: chronic inflammation and pain, flare ups and food intolerances, P.O.T.S., chronic fatigue, edema, neurological issues…..
My sister Holly and I are still digging away at getting to the bottom of why some things aren’t getting better. Holly has been having some pretty scary symptoms including brain inflammation, intermittent loss of vision, horrible fatigue and other symptoms. 

We have some excellent health care practitioners who are amazing and doing all they can, and treatments and meds continue to be expensive.
Yesterday there was a breakthrough; I saw one of my doctors to follow up on a test I had run a couple weeks ago; it actually went out of the country to a university that is doing some groundbreaking testing. Not only are they finding things labs in the US are not, but they are developing specific treatments to kill what they find. Apparently what I learned is that most labs here will only test for what is on the requisition, and nothing else, even if they find something they can’t identify it isn’t reported. So because they don’t do this kind of intricate testing in the US there is a doctor here in the states working with a doctor overseas at this university (who actually used to live here in Washington!). In any case several things showed up which are serious, but it’s good news because it would’ve gone undetected otherwise. I have an elevated white cell count, which is nothing new because that has shown up before, but what they did find is that I have some deep chronic parasitic infections one which attacks the gut lining and is deeply imbedded and is not treatable with normal antiparasitic’s, one that is attacking my liver and one my kidneys. 

So if untreated I could potentially be headed towards liver and kidney disease, and kidney disease is irreversible. Since the liver and kidneys have not been functioning properly all these years it makes sense that I can’t detox properly, process things properly, etc. 

As some of you may know because I brought it up in the past, I have been struggling with my liver and kidney function for many many years.

This help explains a lot of why all the autoimmune overreaction, the fatigue, swelling and other symptoms are not getting completely better even though the Lyme seems to be under control. (although Bartonella, a lyme co-infection did show up as still active). Getting treatment for the Lyme and coinfections has made huge difference, but there was still more to deal with. 

All the mast cell overactivation disorder and other autoimmune issues cannot get better until this is dealt with. 

Good news is that it is treatable with some specific medications they have developed at this university that does the testing. Bad news is it is $2,300 for the first round of 21 day treatment, and when I am done with that they have to retest and usually they have to do a second round of treatment at the same cost. (The test is also $788). 

And that is just me! I think our entire family needs to be tested (Holly already has and will be getting treatment too). The costs are big, but God is bigger.

I am asking God to do some miraculous things and we shall see how He provides. 
We could of course also use prayer in all of this, for healing and provision.

As a quick aside I could also use prayer that I don’t at any time have a stroke of blood clot as one effect of all this autoimmune activity is that my blood is thicker than it should be and puts me at risk of clot and stroke. I am on some things to counteract this but I’m still at risk. 

If anyone is able and feels led to aid in financial assistance we would be humbly blessed:

Lyme Fund page
And as always I am more than willing to work for finances so I will share my art page as well: Farfalla de la Luna Art Page

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. 

Yoga Pants: Stop Hating! Fashion’s Love Letter To Lymies….

Ok, so this post is going to be a little tongue and cheek; since chronic illness is such serious business let’s laugh a little while taking a totally honest and truthful look at the oft laughed at yoga pant and legging trend.

Ready? 

Ahh yoga pants; we love and hate you. Your wonderful, stretchy, giving, comfy, form-fitting cotton-spandex (or whatever) blend. Yes you can be brutal. You hide nothing and display our muffin tops, jelly rolls, donuts, jello thighs and all the rest of the glorious imperfections of our bodies for the world to see (and to turn from in horror!). You are not for everyone that is for sure and you leave imprints on our brains of those that just “shouldn’t” wear you that can’t be erased; like a sudden bright light at the back of our retinas.

And yet, to we the invisible illness sufferers, the chronically ill, you, our yoga pants and your cousin the leggings, are our best friends.

You never cut into our tender skin that is always in pain.

You don’t dig into our flesh with your unforgiving seams when our bodies swell and bloat. When we change sizes (sometimes within a few hours) due to our inflammation, you change with us rather than punishing us.

You don’t remind us by not fitting when our inflammation goes haywire and we can’t get into any of our clothes.

And did I mention you are comfortable and adaptable? We can go from lying on the couch with you being all casual and lazy, to putting on a nice long top or little dress right over you and be ready to go out the door. You dress up and you dress down with a cute pair of boots and a pea coat. 

You are also a great friend during doctor visits; because when things get invasive you hug us tightly but aren’t so bulky that you get in the way when doctors poke and prod. Oh and bless you Y.P. And leggings when we get on the doctor’s scale (you don’t weigh much my friend). 

Jeans and slacks have betrayed me (😡) and  I have said goodbye to them now for about eight years as the edema in my legs makes me wear a size 14-16 for my lower legs, which just doesn’t jive with my size 2 waist. 

But all hail my dress black yoga pants which serve me well everyday; lounging, sleeping, working, churching…. yes I still hide my legs in shame and humiliation and never sit down without something on my lap and draped over my knees to hide the hideous bulbous mess that is my lower body… but at least my yoga pants love me and don’t punish or judge 🙂

The swollen foot escaped!



The pants that love you back ❤ (not my butt 😉)

A “Bad Day” in Lyme Recovery

So today is sort of a mini follow up to Confessions Of A Functioning Lymie;

And honestly today wasn’t “bad”, but it wasn’t easy.

At this point after years of treatment I am not as sick as many, so relative to many I have no complaints. I have still been having some harder days lately due to increased work schedule and “?”. It’s the “?” That drives us mad. “What did I do to make things worse?” “Was it that slice of organic cheese? (Not supposed to have dairy)” “was it the fact that I’ve been having some dark chocolate lately?” “Could it be those little cheats can culminate in autoimmune fury?”
I woke up at 9am in order to try and go to church and forwent an extra hour of sleep that I probably would have gotten. But for whatever the reasons, today I woke up with my face puffy, feeling hungover and heavy and my limbs (especially my legs) full of fluid and enormous. (Took me 5 minutes to squeeze into my leggings). 

My POTS seems exacerbated along with the flare up and so standing at the sink to get ready left me a little breathless. I was 45 minutes late to church as I couldn’t get out of the house until after 11 (this time was spent trying to get moving, trying to wake up and doing a coffee enema to see if that helped the inflammation). 

The only reason I didn’t stay home all together was a friend wanted to take me out to lunch after church, and I don’t get out enough as it is.

So I am glad I went and I had a good time, but was uncomfortable the whole afternoon, foggy and in pain. My vision also gets blurry with increased inflammation .

And after this “strenuous” 5 hour afternoon out what did I come home and do? I went straight to sleep for a couple hours.
Still grateful I am mobile and done dealing with the severity of symptoms I used to, but a lot of days are still a struggle and every expenditure costs me spoons.

What a loving caring friend I have despite my struggles ❤️ 

Some Honest Thoughts On A Sunday Afternoon… When Life Reshapes Hope

I have no answers today, no deep wisdom (I don’t think), only a seeking mind on how to perceive life as it stands and on expectations for the future.

I was thinking that our hopes and dreams are built on a foundation of what we feel is possible. We do not tend to realistically hope for things that are not in the realm of possibility; I guess if we do we call them pipe dreams. But when long term illness and passing years rob you of the possibilities that are still reachable for a “normal” person, how do you dream? What does Hope look like now?

Of course the first dream for anyone that has been sick for a long time is for health, and of course health is the gateway to everything else we want in life: relationships, activities, happiness, success, travel,  family…LIFE. 

Now chronic illness looks a little different for every individual; For myself I am immensely blessed that I have come a long way in my (5?) years of treatment since Lyme diagnosis and there has been a lot of improvement. But the struggles continue and I may continue to struggle with autoimmune and other conditions for the rest of my life. So as my “younger” years continue to diminish like a fading horizon line, I am wondering how to rebuild hopes that are now built on a different foundation of what is possible.

I had an emotional reshaping of my hopes with this last downturn in health (Relinquishing hope), and a lot that I had been holding onto for many years got torn down. I have been living in that place of rubble for several months now and I guess I am questioning whether rebuilding the hope tower is worth it. Of course it will look very different than before and be much smaller, but right now I’m not sure what to build it with. Or should I? Is that my job or God’s? Honestly I’m at a loss. I have never stopped believing that my future and hope is in God, that He has a reason and purpose in everything He allows in my life, but what His plans are (obviously) are vastly different from anything I ever envisioned.

So here I sit on a Sunday afternoon in an empty house with a silky terrier puppy for company (who is under my care for the weekend), feeling quite lonely for some reason and pondering all of the above and maybe letting myself cry just a little. I am looking at turning 38 the last day of this year, and the years don’t slow down. Life for the chronically ill is like a treadmill; running in place and never getting anywhere but expending energy all the same and there is no end for exhaustion. 

So friends, as I have said goodbye to children, to love, to independence, to fulfillment, to financial stability, to success, to travel, to normalcy, and all the perks that come with those things…. how and with what do I rebuild my hope tower? We shall see. 

The Things That Slip Away….

My posts usually start with a moment of introspection; today is no different. I was standing in front of the mirror and happened to look at my ears, and what I noticed (not for the first time) was that my piercings have grown in. I sought to try and remember the last time I wore earrings and surprisingly I realized it may have been as long as a year or two. The significance of this is that it is just one more thing that would in different circumstances be just part of a normal routine… a no-brainer part of life. 

I don’t think many people understand how drastically different the day to day life of a chronically ill person is and I am realizing what is lost is in the small things. You see people may understand when illness keeps you from not attending events, not being as social, tiring out easily, the limited diet and all the rest, but I think they may not comprehend how the life perspective of an ill person is so very different and how daily life has been stripped to it’s bare bones and what is lost is all the small things. 

If it’s “extra” it doesn’t happen

So I’m a girl and many things I may mention are specific to my gender (after all guys let’s admit we are higher maintenance). 

My routine when I am going to leave the house is not what it once was. I remember the days when I spent more time on my hair, when I wouldn’t leave the house without full makeup, when I actually put thought into an outfit and (gasp) yes used to have a decent fashion sense.

This isn’t true anymore for a few reasons; apathy/lethargy/indifference/listlessness/dispassion/detachment… fatigue. It is that thing I have talked a lot about I call survival mode. You just shut down and live one foot in front of the other, shuffling, not running or thriving. I am learning that beyond just chronic fatigue and brain crud there are some real physical reasons for this apathy/detachment that accompany long-term illness, but that’s not the point of this post, rather it’s the effects of this on your life.

💠I can’t recall the last time I used a flatiron or curling iron. 

💠I almost never wear lipstick.

💠I almost never think about jewelry, much less bother to wear it.

💠I do pretty minimum with makeup just enough to make sure I don’t look heinous. *

*accept for some doctor or IV appointments, when I don’t care so much about looking heinous.

💠Personal hygiene suffers. No I don’t mean I don’t keep clean, but anything extra like plucking eyebrows, shaving, taking care of my nails and other stuff doesn’t happen.

💠My shoes only get changed and replaced when they have holes in them. 

💠I haven’t enjoyed clothes for years and I don’t like much less enjoy anything I wear. Clothing for many years has been about nothing but covering up my edema and the parts of my body that betray me. And it’s not like I have extra money to buy much in the way of clothes anyway. 

Confession: I am never comfortable in my body and it is almost it’s own entity that I am tied to with no release. It’s constant pain in varying degrees, the water retention is a constant source of discomfort and embarrassment and even if you think you have my full attention when I’m with you, you don’t. A piece of my mind is always occupied with my physical self and the aforementioned manifestations. 

There is probably a lot I’m not thinking about right now, but I guess I am just getting to convey what bare minimum looks like for the chronic illness sufferer, and how there is no such thing as fullness or completeness, everything is only a measure including your access to yourself. 

We are all only pieces of a whole, percentages of 100, slices of a pie. You may not see much of us or get 100% when we are with you, but we don’t get that from ourselves either. It’s all those little things that have slipped away….

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…