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

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. 

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….

❤️Facebook❤️ A Window To The World

Well love it or hate it we are over a decade deep now into the online social network that has taken over the world. And I wonder… What did we do without it? Yes yes I know some people still refuse to have a FB account, some people get frustrated and deactivate it, some people complain that it has taken the place of “real” interaction: And if you hate it that’s totally fine, because Facebook is highly subjective; It is made entirely of who you friend, what you follow, who follows you, what  you choose to post and how people respond, and visa versa.

 You want an online boxing ring? You got it; just post highly controversial and political stuff and rant and rave and argue with those that disagree. You want just a way to communicate with a few chosen friends and family members who you don’t see often enough? No problem; keep your circle small and keep subjects personal. 

This may be a slight over-simplification And I am not saying that this formula is perfect, or that negative things won’t happen in the FB universe, because they do to everyone at some point. For example, I got viciously attacked recently just for re-sharing a news story on a hot topic, I didn’t voice an opinion mind you simply shared a news piece… And someone who I hadn’t seen in person in years ripped me apart and actually called me human scum 😔 Wow. Needless to say that person is no longer my “friend” and has been blocked.

But getting to the point of this post: I opened my WordPress app lying in bed this evening prompted to write this because right now I feel like poo poo; Despite waking up late on a Saturday and taking a good two hours to “get rolling” I only lasted several hours before my body and brain just started shutting down and I had to go take my (currently) daily nap. I woke up and it was after seven pm and I’ve done almost nothing today and still feel too tired to do anything this evening. So (of course) I hop onto Facebook to see what the rest of the world is up to (I admit to logging on multiple times a day). But there they all are! Living! doing stuff! being normal… There is a picture of a friend’s new born baby. There is a post and picture of a friend’s new craft space. There are photos of a friend and her kids having a great day. There is a funny video of a cat 😆 Posts, upon posts, upon posts, of life happening. And of course for those that share my world, there are the Lymies; their petitions for prayer in their struggles, questions about new treatment protocols, brave self-videos letting it all hang out there publicly to raise awareness and/or to cry out for help, to ask for understanding…..    And after spending some time interacting, liking, reading, messaging  and sharing, I thought “what would I do without Facebook?” 

Over many, many years of illness and ups and downs (though focusing on the downs for the point of this blog) Facebook has been my window into life itself; I can’t even count the accumulative time that must add up into years of just sitting in my room, on my bed, isolated. I am here all the times inbetween working hours and (those up times when I get to do stuff with people) this is where I spend my life. In an approximate 10X10 room alone. 

I have heard personally from people who suffer from illness or just plain lack of funds how FB makes them bitter seeing all the “positivity” and observing other people always seeming to be doing things and going places. I have to admit before God worked on me in this area of my life I used to be horribly bitter and in a constant state of grief over everyone else who got their normal lives and got to progress through the normal stages of life while I seemed to be left behind in a time capsule, only it was the cruelest kind of capsule because life passed me by but I still aged inside with none of the benefits. 

Long story short, God did a work in my heart in repenting of grief, discontent and mourning and stop giving every new day over to negativity. I will quickly say that I do still have days like that, but they are no longer a state of being and they don’t linger if I give myself back to the Lord.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes, so Facebook has become my way of seeing and talking to my friends that I don’t often/never see and staying in touch with people that would otherwise be lost forever. Like That event I was invited to but couldnt attend? Well there on FB are photos of all my friends who were there and what happened. I can still feel a little apart of those things I couldn’t be at, and it is actually scary for me to think how dark my world would be without FB. 😱

You know what else? For the chronically ill community FB is nothing less than completely empowering! We have forums, we have pages, we friend each other, we offer support and love and help to each other in our suffering and offer empathy where no one else could understand. I think what is one of the most amazing aspects (when you are sick with something that is so hard to treat and misunderstood) is the openness of fellow illness sojourners and the sharing of new treatments, research, articles, new protocols, Doctor information…. It goes on and on. I have actually presented info to my own doctors that other Lymies have shared that they have used to help treat! This is actually how treatment and information regarding chronic Lyme is growing and moving forward; it is the power of the online community. Really! I have even had a doctor tell me that it’s the bloggers who are moving information forward with chronic Lyme.

Thanks to Facebook I have also made some dear fellow-Lyme, fellow-Christian friends. Dear sweet people some of whom I have even spoken on the phone with and prayed with. I have to say some of the dearest Christian women I have met are those that not only love Jesus but have suffered so much and continue to suffer. The difference is that they let their brokenness have its perfect result in self-refinement, stronger empathy, greater love and letting themselves be used for His purpose. 

So thank you Facebook; (ignoring all the hate and the arguing, the negativity and the stupidity, the vicious attacks and naive hatred…. )Thank you for letting us connect, for letting us share and be real, for being a platform for the chronically ill, for letting us see life happening all around us, for letting us support each other and lift each other up in times of crisis, and thank you for no end to funny cat videos 😸

And thank you to the people who use Facebook for good and not evil.

Just ‘Cause You’re Sick Doesn’t Mean You Can’t…..

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Yes you are in bed most of the time. Yes you feel like that possum that got hit by the truck. Yes you are kind of stuck and down in the dumps. You can’t do most of the things you want to do, so it is easy to get depressed, feel worthless and a burden on society. We’ve all been there, no matter what point in our illness we are in right now.

So since it is so easy to focus on the “can’ts” (which lead to feeling worthless), here are some “can’s” you can do right from your bed. And please don’t put these ideas down as cheesy, maybe some are but it’s the little things that sometimes make the day brighter.

 

Image1. Write Thank You Cards “just because”. Are there people in your life that you love and appreciate? How good would it feel to surprise them with a random thank you. Don’t be afraid to fill it full of detail about everything you love about them. And don’t be afraid of the digital Thank You! Are cards a little passe for you? Or maybe you can’t even get to the post office? Send a Facebook message or tribute post praising your friends and family for how fabulous they are.

 

Image2. Movies! Make it through the AFI top 100 Films list….or Best Musicals…or whatever list you choose. Okay I admit to growing up watching a lot of movies, but it is something I really enjoy and I appreciate the old ones as well as the new. Sick in bed might be the perfect time to be able to say  to someone “Why yes I have seen every film starring the great Cary Grant. Who of course was born as Archibald Leach in England and was a circus performer.” (yes, bedridden=time) There is no shame in being a film aficionado! (and may I add that binge watching television series is a lot of fun as well). Make a check list and tick it off as you go, at least you will feel accomplished 😉

 

Okay, these next 2 might be tough for those suffering cognitive issues (I went through years of struggling with reading)

Image3. Catch up on the Classics. Pride And Prejudice, Moby Dick, Tom Sawyer…….. there is a ton of classic literature out there that most of us haven’t read. Sick in bed is the perfect time! Now like I said I went through years of having trouble reading, When I tried I would re-read the same sentence or paragraph over and over and just not be able to take it in. Plus I had Lyme-induced dyslexia and Lyme-induced reduced visual acuity. So what I found (that I still love) are audio books. Especially now with smart phones this makes audio books very accessible. Audible (an Amazon company) has basically saved my life!

 

Image4. Discover art. Whether you are artistic or not everyone can enjoy sketching or drawing. Get some good art paper and some nice pencils, or even water colors or pastels. You might awaken the artist in you.

 

Image5. Scrapbook. Get colored paper, stickers, fancy scissors, glue sticks…. have fun.

 

Image6. Photography. Subject matter is of course limited in your bedroom, but if you are able to take short walks or sit in the back yard just play around taking photos. Try different angles and lighting…. lie on the ground and look up, walk a few steps and look down…you will be surprised at the hidden treasures all around. Play around with your photos editing on your phone or computer. The possibilities are endless.

 

Image7. Get some fish. Fish are easy no-brainer pets. If you don’t want to mess with filters and taking on too much work, get a Betta fish, just make sure the tank isn’t too small. Fishy likes space too after all. Fish are therapeutic to watch and it is nice having something to care for.

 

Image8. Learn. If your poor diseased brain is up to it find subjects of interest and learn about them online. The information out there is limitless.

 

All these ideas are just a starting point. I think just making a list that fits the parameters of where your health is that you can check off will give you a sense of accomplishment. Whatever you decide to do take the step and do it, you deserve it.