The Big Ten

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If you are a sports fan, you may be envisioning a football conference right now, or the number of your favorite player’s jersey.

For me, it reminds me of my daughter’s upcoming birthday in a few days.  We’ve been planning for a few weeks now, and this morning on my bike ride, it hit me that this will probably be the last birthday that will be more ‘kid oriented’.  I’m a Kindergarten teacher by profession, and I LOVE to use my creativity for projects and activities.  So every year, celebrating my daughter’s birthday has been an extension of my classroom, allowing me to have fun decorating and planning ‘birthday fun’ for her and her friends to experience at home.

A few times, we did her party outside of our home. Last year, we held it at a popular kid’s nail salon at her request. It turned into a bad scene the next day when on of the girls had a skin burn appear across her fingers. Imagine those phone calls! We finally determined it was a reaction due to the chemicals that were used to clean the tables. (Anyone in my area want to know the name of the salon, let me know.) Needless to say, this unexpected event further supported my view of having house parties for birthdays.

To me, being at home to celebrate life events is a nice memory to look back on. Sure, it’s a lot of prep work to clean and organize beforehand, but it’s all part of the party process.  In the end, I’d rather have the cake and candles blown out in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by the people we love.

This year, my daughter is having a Star Wars themed party.   It’s been a big to-do as far as planning.  My husband, a fabulous graphic artist, made an extraordinary invitation that would put any self-respecting Pintrest parent to shame.  I admit, I have been using that website, that sometimes makes me feel like a creative failure at times, to find some cool project ideas. While many are from parents of younger Jedi warriors, we found some pretty good ones for the older crowd. All the party goers have been instructed to wear their best intergalactic gear on party day, and her aunt is making her costume. And my husband has a few surprises in store, too!

I’m looking forward to this party, even though it is a gateway to my daughter’s teen years. I hope her friends will enjoy it, and I hope my daughter remembers all the fun we had getting ready for The Big Ten celebration.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

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Ride of my Life

It was a clammy, overcast summer morning, late in July. The kind of morning when you go outside and you instantly feel the moisture on your skin and want to hibernate in the air conditioning back inside.

Automatic sprinklers were going on neighbors’ lawns; the garbage truck was making its rounds. People were up walking themselves or their dogs. Some were even braving the humidity and running.

And I was taking my first bike ride of the season.

My husband had given me a new bike for Mother’s Day a few years ago, and I loved riding it. I’d take my daughter for rides around the neighborhood almost daily, and in the summer, I’d get up early and go for a solo ride before he went to work. I loved having my bike and even though I am not much of an athlete, I love the motion of being on two wheels.

One of the “pearls of wisdom” I received when first diagnosed with Lyme was, “Eat right and exercise.” Both of these directives proved to be the most inadequate and unrealistic advice I’ve ever received in my life, because 1, —I couldn’t eat anything of great nutritional value without being in pain and 2, –I had no energy to exercise because I couldn’t eat!

When I felt up to it, I’d try to do 15 minutes of walking in front of my television , my arms briskly pumping back and forth. But it was a boring way to exercise. Sometimes, I’d add a little running in place just to break it up. I’d set my timer on my phone and constantly check it, thinking, “When is this 15 minutes UP ?????”

But today was different.

I got up early, threw on some biking clothes and my helmet, and Rode.My.Bike.

It was short 20-minute ride, only around my neighborhood on the level streets because I knew I wasn’t ready to tackle any hills yet, but it felt good to FINALLY get out there and exercise.

My knees definitely felt creaky and achy, so I know I need to keep doing this to get rid of the Lyme bugs in residence there.

But it was a good ride, and I’m looking forward to another one tomorrow.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

I AM THE BIONIC WOMAN

“Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”

-Opening narration to The Six Million Dollar Man

I grew up watching this classic 70s show, along with the Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman. I loved these shows for what they represented in both a magical and scientific sense. The creators of these shows left me with an excitement for what science could possibly do for the human body in the future. The fact that these characters were human with flaws and downsides, but were also touched with either scientific or outer-worldly improvements to help improve society, was a very enthralling idea.

I worked in my garden yesterday against my own plans to sit and read. It’s my own fault: I went out to check on it, then I gazed at the azalea bush that was in need of pruning, and that was the beginning of the end. 20160718_095757In my head, I reasoned it would only take me a minute to do, and I had neglected to do it for several weeks now, so I grabbed the electric trimmer and extension cord from the garage. And, of course, that bush led to another, which led to another bush, which led to the lilac tree on the other side of the house…and before you know it, I was outside for about an hour and a half, dripping in sweat, weeding, trimming, and pruning several bushes and plants, and beginning to clean out a side garden. I also dug up some feisty day lilies that have started to grow outside of my fence and moved those little guys into that side garden.

Yes, I felt like the Bionic Woman yesterday. Until I noticed the red rash on my left arm later that evening.   I was sitting with my daughter and started to itch my arm when I noticed the familiar raised red bumps. Ugh.

I went immediately to my medicine cabinet to wash with my Burt’s Bees Poison Ivy soap. 20160718_100737Normally, after working in the garden, I would wash with the BB soap just as a precaution, but yesterday, I forgot. I had purchased the soap years ago and found that it worked better for me than the Technu soap that is highly promoted for poison ivy care. I wondered after having it for a few years if it would still be potent, but I tried it anyway, and it seemed to work.

This morning, I remembered I had read something about poison ivy treatment with essential oils. After a little digging, I found in one of my books, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood, that lavender, eucalyptus, or chamomile oils applied neat or with a cool compress also work to calm the poison ivy itch.   I had some lavender castile soap in the bathroom, so I used that today in the shower just to try that out. It seemed to calm down the itch down a bit, so that’s promising. Later on today, I’ll try adding some lavender essential oil to it and see what happens.

I’m not the Bionic Woman, but I feel pretty close!

Now…off to the garden to water those little day lilies!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deadly Venom or Saving Grace- Is Bee Venom Therapy the Answer to Lyme Prayers?

 

20160714_131829I worked for kids. I was a vibrant Kindergarten teacher for 16 years. I loved creating my own puppets and lessons, and I had a loyal following every year! My students and colleagues loved a puppet that I created out of a wooden fork from the dollar store. I used him daily to teach sight words, and on Fridays, I’d invite the whole Kindergarten and special education classes to my classroom for a “show”. It was funny and silly and sometimes off the cuff, but none-the-less, it was a great way for my little scholars to learn abstract words like ‘here’ and ‘will’. They loved these lessons, and I would try to improve on my lessons each week with various props, songs, and little stickers to give to the children. Even the adults would get into the act. One of the paraprofessionals gave me different seasonal-themed bow ties to put on my puppet friend, which I still have and use each year. My principal wanted to create a theme song for him. And I loved every minute of it.

Now, I work for Lyme. I took a leave of absence from my teaching job this past January, becoming my own Lyme doctor, working towards better health. I read books and articles written about Lyme by doctors, researchers, and victims. I search blogs and websites, trying to find any new information that can assist me. I cross-check any healing therapy that seems to be too easy or too good to be true with a friend who has been a Lyme warrior for many, many years. I create my own recipes because my system is so fragile and can’t digest even the smallest amount of carbohydrates without feeling like I’ve gotten stung by bees. I limit going out to eat since I don’t have access to the foods I can eat or the 40 oz. or more of liquid I need to drink. I record and track my food, water and supplement intake each day, as well as check my blood sugar to ward off diabetes. I listen to advice from all sorts of people who are either suffering themselves or know of Lyme victims and have information to share.

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I have numerous appointments with my primary doctor, naturopaths, and up until recently, my dietician. I am always on the look out for other avenues to help me, obscure or ‘out there’ as they may be. Lyme is a smart body terrorist, so I need to be smarter to beat it. It morphs and changes and knows when you are on antibiotics, hiding in your joints and muscles, waiting for you to show your weakness so it can attack with pain, fatigue, and loss of concentration and focus. It causes multiple levels of damage to your body and brain. Everyone’s chemistry is different, so everyone’s reaction to Lyme also differs. I have to work to be sure that I keep my stamina up and reactions under control while fighting Lyme every day.

20160606_111639_resizedI write about my experiences as a therapy but also as a way to help others. I ‘post’ and ‘follow’ on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. I seek out ways to help the Lyme community by sharing my own experiences to educate and inform those who are misinformed, misdiagnosed, or both.

Working for Lyme has led me down very different paths to wellness. My most recent experience has informed me about Ellie Lobel and Bee Venom therapy (BVT), which is pretty ironic, considering that is how I describe how I feel when anyone asks what my inflammation feels like! She was a scientist before being bit by a tick when she was 27. A chronic Lyme sufferer for 15 years, she was in complete organ failure and was on the road to her death. She had moved out to California, and had unexpectedly been stung repeatedly by a swarm of bees, which turned her whole immune system around. You can read more about her story here:

http://mosaicscience.com/story/how-bee-sting-saved-my-life-poison-medicine

She now travels around the country, educating people on using bee venom from live bees to combat Lyme disease.

This seems like a ‘too good to be true’ type of solution, and yet, if it worked for Ellie after 15 years of living with the ravages of Lyme disease, could it work for me? And what would my results be after having only been dealing with Lyme for almost a year versus her 15 years? Would my results be quicker, or would I have an adverse reaction to the venom?

According to Ellie, you need to start a detox process prior to starting actual stinging, which outlines on her Facebook page. Additionally, you need to have an EPI pen and Benadryl available at each stinging session, just in case. Her method is very controlled and specific, which is in an effort to both kill the Lyme as well as limit the herxing reaction that will come afterwards as the venom works its way into your system. If you are unsure how you will react to the bee stings, you do a test sting first. After the initial test sting, you add one more, and then you increase the stinging by two’s, slowly adding two additional bee stings over time, so you are up to ten stings in one sitting. OUCH! Depending on your herx, you may stay at only two stings for several weeks. You only add more stings as you feel you are ready. And you continue to use your detox protocol in addition to the stinging routine. Since this is a controlled method for killing bacteria, you sting 3x a week, which allows you the weekend to also detox and recoup. Stinging is also very specific on your body: one inch on each side of your spinal column, spaced out up and down, to allow the venom to travel through the nerves to your extremities.

Many people across the country and the globe have experienced success with BVT for centuries, and for a variety of illnesses. And yet, I am torn with trying this method, because I know that with every plus, there is a minus. On the one wing, if I can contract an illness by an insect, why can’t I utilize another insect’s natural body chemistry to combat it? Makes sense, right? But then I on the other wing: what if BVT doesn’t work for me? I want to know about any anomalies in BVT and Lyme disease before I get involved with the whole process. With my luck, I’d be the one person who doesn’t take well to BVT and have an adverse reaction that won’t let me live to tell about it.

I am still working for Lyme, and I have found that my work with my diet and whole food supplements have started to change my immune system. I have more energy, my brain fog is slowly lifting, and my nails are no longer thin and brittle. Perhaps a little more work with the bee venom will set my immune system completely straight. Or perhaps it’ll set me back another six months! I still want to research it a bit more before I buzz into the BVT hive.

Have you utilized BVT to treat a chronic illness? What have you experienced?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

Brain Fog Blows Your Reading Mind!

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When I was first so sick in the winter months from Lyme, I couldn’t read for more than ten minutes at a time.

It was devastating to me.

I’m a teacher, and I love books. Even before I became a teacher, I loved books.  I couldn’t go into a bookstore without walking out with at least one book either for myself or for my classroom. When I received my first Kindle, it was like manna from heaven. Access to so many books without having the weight of lugging them around was just too good to be true. I get the NY Times book review in my email, and it is just crushing to me how many good books are out there, just waiting for me to read. It’s like brain candy is being thrust at me with an enticing coy finger, because truly, there’s never enough time to even BEGIN to read even 1/10th of the books on the list each week! Just thinking about all those books is making me salivate…

And yet, this winter, my brain was literally reduced to mush just as quickly and easily as turning a page.

Over time, with a lot of help from various people and a lot of dedication to eat right and take numerous whole food supplements, I am starting to see little glimmers that my brain is starting to work again. It must be all that kale and green tea I’ve been eating and drinking!

Around March or April, I noticed a slight shift in my reading stamina, and I could read for up to about a half an hour before I began to lose focus. It was a slight increase, but that was a sign of progress to me that my brain was starting to heal.

I went to the library with my daughter about 3 weeks ago, and took out a bunch of books. Even with my Kindle, there is something to be said for holding a real book in your hands. So I am a multi-format reader reading “the real deal” and the electronic book format.

In spite of the fact that I already had a few books started at home: Above All Things, by Tanis Rideout and The Last Runaway, by Tracey Chevalier, I still came home with more books. And both of those books had to take the back burner once I picked up All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Ana’s Journey by Jenna Bush. I also selected a drawing book and two other ‘how to’ art books.

I finished All the Light We Cannot See over the July 4th weekend.  Finishing it before the month due date was as a huge task to personally celebrate, seeing that the book was about 700 pages. Better yet, I could actually recall what I had read previously, which was yet another wonderful milestone to recognize. If you’ve read the book, you know that it is not written in a linear fashion, which makes it an even more complex and enjoyable read.  And if you haven’t readit yet,  I highly recommend it as your next book to read!  I’ve started a Pulitizer Prize winning list on my Goodreads account as a result of this book.  Why not read the best of the best, right?

Ana’s Journey I read in a day. It wasn’t a complicated read, so that short time frame didn’t really surprise me.

My brain is on fire, (key in Alicia Keyes here….) so I went back to the library yesterday, and I’ve read two more books in a span of two days.

I read Murder in Connecticut, by Micheal Benson, about the Petit murders in Cheshire, Connecticut. And today I started and finished reading Blood Brother, by Anne Bird, a long-lost sister of Scott Peterson. She recounts how she reconnected with her biological mother and Scott about two years before pregnant Laci went missing and was later found dead in San Francisco Bay. Again, not complicated reads, but still pretty cool to me that I read two books in two days, considering that only a mere six months ago, I couldn’t read for more than ten minutes!!

It seems like my brain is now on overdrive, wanting to make up for lost time not being able to read for so many months.

Next up: Left For Dead by Pete Nelson, about the USS Indianapolis and a young student who wanted to clear the ship captain’s name. This is yet another book purchase that I actually acquired from the library’s used book sale.20160710_192632

I told you I can’t leave a book store, or a library apparently, without purchasing a book!

Happy Reading!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL

 

 

 

Feel The (Inner) Burn, And I Don’t Mean Bernie Sanders!

 

20160629_183000Summer is  tanning season, but it is also burning season. Beach goers and parents alike lather up on the tanning oils and sunblock to either draw in or ward off the rays of the sun.

Luckily for me, I can easily feel the burn without having to go outside and bake in the sun to actually get burned, thanks to my tick sick blood.

People ask me with a concerned look on their faces what it feels like when I eat something that bothers me.  I tell them it’s like having a million bee stings in your body or a sun burn from the inside out. My skin even has a little red tinge to it all the time if you look closely.  Even more curious about my inside burn is that different parts of my body will react with different foods that I eat.  I ate some forbidden spreadable cheese and crackers the other night to see how I would feel. My knees were stinging all night.  Those yummy Hershey bars make my upper arms sting and you can actually see the redness on the backsides of them. “You are what you eat” really means something to me!

I’ve learned through burn and error that basically anything green seems to be the best food to reduce, but not eliminate, the sensation of my inner burn. Kale, green tea, roasted brussel sprouts, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers are good ones.  Even olive and green tea soap seems to soothe my skin. Peppermint, not so much.

It’ll be interesting to see how I feel once the New England winter comes…will I still have the raging burn inside or will the going out in the winter chill bring some relief?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

Kale Supreme

Here is my own recipe I created for the Kale Supreme dish I am bringing to a family gathering tomorrow.

You can adjust the ingredients to whatever veggies and meats you like, just be sure you have enough meat to balance the veggies.  Since I am limited in what foods I can eat, I use at least 2 meats when I make this dish. For this event, I chose to add bacon as well…who doesn’t love bacon?  It gives the dish enough salt and complements the sweetness of the roasted brussel sprouts.

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Ingredients:

Olive oil (in a pourable hand-held container…you will be using a lot of olive oil!)

Garlic- 2-3 cloves, cut up

Kale -1 bunch,  stems removed and leaves chopped up (you can put it in a processor or cut the leaves with scissors)

Brussel sprouts 1-2 containers, depending on your own taste (I used 2 here) cut in half pieces

1 lb bacon cut up into bite size pieces

1 lb chicken cut up into bite size pieces

1 lb sausage either removed from casings or cut up into bite size pieces

Any other veggies you like: red peppers, broccoli, or asparagus cut up would be good in this

Steps:

Pre-heat oven to 375 or 400, whichever you prefer.

Mix chicken, sausage and bacon in separate bowls w/ olive oil.  Place each meat separately in baking pans and cook until done. I line my pans with foil just to make clean up easier. Put some olive oil in the pans as well to discourage sticking.

Put kale into a bowl while meat is cooking.  Mix with more olive oil to coat the leaves.  Add salt if you like.

Cook garlic in olive oil large pan (like what you use to make a large pot of homemade sauce in) and add kale once the garlic is almost browned.  Add a little more olive oil if the pan is dry.  You can put all of the kale into the pan, (it will fill to the top of the pan!) putting the stove on a medium flame or temp. It will cook down to cover the bottom of the pan in about 7 minutes or so. Stir the kale from time to time and continue to add olive oil as it cooks so that it doesn’t stick to bottom of the pan.

Once the kale is done, add the meats to the pan just to mix it all together.

After you halve the brussel sprouts, put them in a bowl and again, toss them with olive oil. Put some more olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish and put the flat sides of the sprouts on the bottom of the pans.  You will need to let the brussel sprouts roast  for about an hour at 375.  If you want them darker, just roast them longer!

Once the sprouts are golden brown, put the kale and meat mixture into a pretty serving dish.  In the picture above, I used a lasagna dish.  But any rectangular or other heat-resistant dish will do.  Add the brussel sprouts on top.  Try not to steal a few to munch on!

Cover with foil or a top and keep in the fridge until you are ready to heat it up and eat!

I suggest taking the dish of the fridge and letting it get room temperature before heating just to hasten the heating time if you are serving the whole dish.

A few notes:

This makes about 3 or 4 individual meals for myself. It keeps very well in the fridge for a few days.  And when I want to heat it up, I just put the portion I want in a sauce pan with some olive oil to keep it from sticking to the bottom.

Another variation would be to make the kale and cook some shrimp with lemon and olive oil  and bacon as the meat addition.  I would cook the shrimp on the stove and bake the bacon in the oven as directed above, since shrimp cooks very quickly and you don’t want to to over cook it.  I can’t handle the shellfish, but I am sure that would be yummy! Salmon or cod might work well, too.  You  just want to be sure you have enough of the fish to enjoy with the kale. And the fish may not last as long in the fridge, so you want to be sure to eat it before the fish gets too fishy!

What other variations can you come up with?

Enjoy!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

The Jewels of Life

I love jewelry. Not costume jewelry, but family jewelry. I love a little glitz and glam on my fingers or hanging from my ears or wrists or neck. But what I love even more that the sparkle and twinkle is the family connection behind the jewels that I wear.

When I wear a piece of jewelry that belonged to a family member, I feel as if it’s a deep connection to that person who is no longer here physically. It’s a small measure that I take pride in doing by the wearing the jewels of their life.

When my daughter was christened, my husband’s family had a christening ring that had been worn by every baby in his family since his oldest sister, who is now in her sixties, was born. He is youngest of ten, and I believe that ring was even worn by his father when he was christened. Truly, it is a family treasure, and I loved that my daughter was able to be a part of such a rich family tradition. We have a beautiful picture of her with the little diamond gold band around a tiny finger, a length of ribbon secured through it to her dress as well.

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Even diamond chips are a girl’s best friend!

The first pair of grown-up earrings I ever received were a gift from my mother when I turned 13. They are little gold triangles with diamond chips in them. Not very flamboyant, but I treasured those earrings and still have them. She also gave me a pretty amethyst and gold bracelet from an antique shop as a birthday gift one year when I was growing up, and still another beautiful garnet pendant another year. I love these pieces because they are not traditional, and I wonder about the women who wore them before me. I wear them often and people will comment on them I because they are so different.

 

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Family charms that hang from my wrist.

My husband just recently had a charm bracelet put together for me of with various charms that I have collected over the years. He had given the bracelet to me early on in our relationship, and now, almost 20 years later, I finally have it adorned with various charms from two of my grandmothers, my mother, and his mother. All of these women have passed on, but I treasure having the bracelet to wear to keep them close to me.

I also have beautiful pieces from Italy. My mother in law went years ago, and brought me back a pair of gold hoop earrings that I love and wear almost every day. My husband and I also went four years ago, and I purchased two pairs of earrings that just scream “Renaissance” at me. I just adore them and but even more than the earrings, I relish in the stories of the women that could be behind them.

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Italian earrings from Tuscany

I’m in love with pieces that belonged to both my mother and grandmother that have been graciously given to me to keep. A cameo pin that I put on a chain, a gold and pearl bracelet, and many pairs of stud earrings are a few of my favorites. I also have several cocktail rings that belonged to my grandmother. One is a stunning garnet ring that I wear with my garnet pendant. It’s almost like the two pieces were meant to be together.

I also have been wearing two rings on my right hand, one, which was my mother’s, and the other which was my mother in law’s. While I would rather both women be here right now to share in my life with my husband and daughter, I am thankful that I have these pieces to keep their lives close and remembered each time I wear them.

 

What special objects in your life keep you connected to loved ones?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

Ice On The Window

https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/9-november-2012/ice-on-the-window/

 

Ice on the window.

Snow blocks the door.

Peering out into the yard is impossible.

The Blizzard of ‘78 dropped

Never ending white mounds of snow all over the yard

Too high to climb

Too arduous to make tunnels through

Too heavy for my Father to move

In his jacket and winter gloves.

It’s easier to look at the ice on the window

And remember Spring.