The People Society Forgot

Have you noticed how insanely busy everyone is? And I do mean insanely!!! Life is non-stop running from this place to that, calendars are full, people have very little time to invest in each other anymore or cultivate relationships.

It is almost hard to remember days gone by (hey I’m getting old) before cell phones and social media when people actually talked to each other more. They had time for their friends, getting together to visit was simpler… it didn’t involve so much coordination and stress. Oh, and people cared for each other. Remember that? 

Now before I come off as bashing the character of everyone in our western society; I’m not sure who to blame, it just seems to be what happened to all of us, and most people are not unkind or unfeeling, it’s just that they’re so darn busy.

For the chronically ill that have fallen off the conveyer belt of this life that drives, drives, drives and never stops moving or let’s anyone take a breath…. we often feel forgotten. 

Now what’s great is that when you are not well enough to be uber social, cell phones and social media are a life saver, at least in some ways. You see we also have a window into the world that has forgotten us; people that goon hikes, hang with friends, go out to dinner, spend time with everyone but you because everyone else is up and mobile and, frankly more fun.

Ahhh the chronic illness suffer, we are like a low budget B movie that was made 20 years ago that most people forgot even existed, until someone says something like “hey wasn’t ‘_____’ like at that thing with that other person we went to way back when”?

Now you (normal person) may actually think of us from time to time, pray for us, have us run across your mind…. But guess what? We don’t know that!!!!!. 

Silence= I don’t matter and you don’t care. 

Again, I’m sure the person reading this is a good person, and a busy person, but maybe just as a favor to me, when “_____” comes to your mind and you haven’t seen them in a while and you know they are struggling, send a quick text, an IM, or maybe one of those old-fashioned phone call things. 

Please Imagine being too sick to do what you are out doing right now, and instead that you were home alone most of the time,  imagine (some) of your friends staying silent, for weeks, months…. 

Now Imagine now if they weren’t.

Thanks for listening readers 💚

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. 

I want to hear from you!!! A call to all Lymies

I was thinking this evening as I made a post about having extra pain and inflammation today because my mast cells are high (Lyme complication). It made me think that anyone who saw me earlier today would be confused by this post because I functioned well at work today, and of course I “looked fine”.

As any Lymie knows many of us do look fine and can even speak and act fine despite pain, fatigue, brain fog and the other myriad of symptoms that might be plaguing us. If I had a dime for every time I could have whined and complained and didn’t….. 

that said,  I would like to do a post featuring the faces of chronic Lyme (that’s where you come in); For anyone who is comfortable to share a headshot and a short bio (how long you’ve been sick, your symptoms and how you function and maybe some negativity you have experienced from others). I will leave that up to your discretion. 

Since WordPress won’t let you share photos in comments you can share your photos and stories with me on my Facebook Lyme page: My Color Is Lyme. You can post in comments where I will. E sharing this blog post, or message me.

I am looking forward to your responses to help raise awareness and understanding. 💚

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

Don’t Miss Out On The Collateral Beauty 

I just watched a movie called Collateral Beauty; (you probably saw the trailer at Christmas time), a tale of a broken man and a call back to life from unexpected sources. Well not what I would call a great or life-changing film, I would say it was a good one, and it had some good life lessons that were given to us by “death”, “time”, and “love”.
One line in the film spoken by “love” to a hurting man who lost his child was “yes I was there in her smile, there in her laughter, there inside you in the happiness…..But what you need to know is that I am here also in your pain. I am in everything and the reason for everything. ”
I found this incredibly profound and in a sense very true; but instead of simple love as the world would understand it, I replace that with the person of Jesus Christ; Who in himself is the embodiment of love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son….”

He is the reason. He is the purpose. He is as relevant in our joy as He is in our suffering. He catches every tear and often we feel Him more closely in pain than in joy. 
In the blindness of our own humanity so often we fail to see Him working underneath the surface, but He is, even (especially) in our misery.

For He said He causes all things to work together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose. That is where our faith and our hope lies; nothing, I repeat nothing is wasted when we are in Christ. Quite the opposite. All things are redeemed for his glory and our good.

Sometimes we are lucky (blessed) enough to catch glimpses of Him working miraculously in the most difficult and tragic circumstances. When we get these glimpses of his hand at work sometimes we call it a miracle. But may I propose that this is the normal and not the extraordinary? Do we need to see with our eyes, or do we need to know what God is up to in order to believe that He is always, always working underneath the surface of all things at all times? For his ways are higher than our ways, his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And in his omniscience He weaves webs with a million strands of intricacy with multi-faceted intentionality in every life circumstance. Not because of who we are, but because of Who He is.
So no matter what is happening, whether you see a purpose or not, whether you simply see the circumstance or maybe get a glimpse beneath the surface into the divine….. “just make sure you notice the collateral beauty”. 

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. 

Brick Walls, Speed Bumps, Painting & Needy Dogs

What do you title a mish mash post that’s kind of an overview of random life stuff with no real object in mind? The above of course.

It was a rough week with fatigue and not quite feeling like myself (disconnected from reality), and dealing with some intense pain and yuckiness that only some girls know about… I’m still stretched kind of thin as far as having to be less social 😦  

So It is Saturday night and it’s been rainy all day and well, not much has happened. I missed a friends get together last night because of “too tired” (which I think shall henceforth be known as “TT”.  I didn’t do anything active or productive today also because of TT. And my fear is that “it’s happening again”; all we chronic illness sufferers know what “it” is. It’s being in that slump (which I’m so sad to say some of us never leave) where you kind of crawl out of bed, sort of eat, maybe take a bath, try to get moving, find acceptance in the “blah”, take pills, miss pills, forget pills, don’t feel like taking pills…. Another day in the life.

So why I am afraid? Because I’ve been blessed enough that even though I haven’t been great lately, I’ve been creative; creative to the point it feels like I’m making up for the years of losing that part of my brain. It’s been a huge a blessing, and God has been giving me abilities I’ve never had and never thought I would have. Today however besides just being tired and in pain I hit a wall while painting something prophetic that had been on my heart. I got frustrated, grumpy and stressed out and couldn’t go further. So rather than sit alone in my room (where I’ve spent what seems to be half of my life) I felt like I’d rather get out, tired or not and lose myself in a movie. Thankfully the theatre is only two miles away and sitting on your bum watching a movie takes no energy. So for over two hours I watched Wolverine’s last stand…. 

I got home to the love of my life Shiloh who laid her head on my arm and looked into my eyes like I had abandoned her for a year. This dog loves me like I’m her sun and stars 🙂 

Now I’m in bed, just feeling headachy and still pondering the chest pain I’ve had for over a week, and hoping that maybe tomorrow I can knock down that brick wall with the power of a paintbrush, and that TT won’t show up tomorrow.