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

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Blank

imgres

Cell phone technology has rendered us blank.

For all the convenience and efficiency that our smartphones promise, they are quickly stripping away all the nuances that make us human.

Look around you when you go to the store. How many people do you hear talking on the phone? Years ago, you had to wait to get that phone call…on your answering machine. Now, people can track you down anytime. Anywhere. And many people pick up that call because they just can’t live without having that phone in their hand.

In a restaurant or at a family gathering, how many people are actually without their phones and are engaged in face to face conversations?

In the car, it’s easy to spot someone on their phone. They’re either holding it directly to their ear or they are looking at their crotch.

Children are given cell phones by their parents to keep them entertained in restaurants or in line at an activity. What has happened to actually teaching your child to wait? Sadly, people jokingly post photos all the time of their children and family members sitting in a room, each with a phone in their hands, and not uttering one word to each other.

Fill all that blank space with real human connections.

It’s the only way to make us smarter.

 

 

Phase

20160523_084535_resized

My days phase in and out. I’m much stronger now than I was back in the winter, thankfully, but I still have my weaker moments. I remember looking out at my perennial garden back in the winter, sadly thinking I wouldn’t be able to work in it this spring. Happily, I am able to move around and get out there, set up the sprinkler to water, and observe the daily changes of my plants as they come back to life. Some of my purple irises that I transplanted last year have started to open. They are tall and regal, their dark petals dainty and full. It’s a beautiful sight to see, and yet they remind me of those not so far away thoughts from a few months ago.

The worst time of day for me is at night, when the cravings for something crunchy and sweet hit me. Advertisers know their consumers, and I am their best target! Their ads spring up on my television screen, teasing me with foods that I crave but simply should not eat.  My stomach gurgles longingly at the sight of Dairy Queen ice cream or Lays potato chips. I pine away for the day when I can actually eat something so good, but yet, so bad for me, again.

Instead of working for my students, I am working for Lyme. I read books and food labels, go to doctor and holistic practice appointments, try to eat healthier than I’ve ever done before, take multiple supplements over the course of the day, and write about my experiences. I make batches of kale, romaine, and spinach for my salads that I eat at lunch and dinner. I eat eggs and other meats for all of my meals. And I drink water. Lots of water–like 100 ounces a day of water. I’m surprised I haven’t floated away yet.

My latest phase in my ‘get healthy’ regime is to slowly change out many of the toxin-filled products in our home that I use to “greener” ones: toothpaste, hand and body soap, shampoo, facial cleansers and house cleansers, make up, and laundry detergent. It’s another way to try to get healthy and lessen the toxic load on my system, but who really knows if it will help. And yet, nothing beats a failure but a try, right?

Every night, I go to sleep and each morning I wake up, thinking that this may be my way of life for me forever. Even with my latest trip to a new holistic practitioner, my body may be beyond repair, and I will have to live with the joint and muscle pain when I eat anything with carbohydrates.

I can only take each day one at a time, and anticipate that this too shall pass. Much like the irises in my garden, I hope my future will yield a different phase, one which will include my new healthy habits, as well as some of my old yummy ones, too.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

Buddy

best_buddy_by_ivofajardo-d5zie8m

Dedicated to Kate Nolan, Milford, CT

I started teaching Kindergarten in 1999. I was a late hire; the district needed to open two more full-day classrooms, and I was one of the two fortunate teachers that was hired that September.

Just like any kid starting in a new school, I felt a little out of place, especially since I was hired after all the teachers had started and probably knew each other from previous years. I was in Room 6 at the end of my hallway, and Kate’s room was across the hall from mine.

Over the school year, we became teaching buddies. Not by necessity, but more by luck. And what great luck it was! She was a tall, curly haired blonde and very organized. I am a short curly haired brunette and not as organized. I like to say that she is Type A and I am Type X…but between the two of us, we work buddy magic like nobody could ever imagine!

Kate is a special education teacher. By law, identified children need a certain number of hours with non-disabled peers as outlined in their individual education plan. Kate and I were well above the curve on this! We would get our children together for stories and songs after lunch, we had recess and center times together, and we would plan whole team teaching units.   We would do Buddy projects on Fridays, where we would pair up the kids to create a theme based art project. We would marvel at how well the children would work together, nodding in agreement and saying to each other, “THIS is what they should be doing!” instead of the mandated reading , writing, and math work and assessing that gradually was taking over the curriculum for both regular education and special education students.

As each school year progressed, her kids became mine and mine became hers. We’d take pictures of our kids early on and keep them in our classrooms all year. Sometimes, my students would include hers to attend birthday parties, or hers would include mine. That’s when we knew we’d done our job at creating buddies! We’d share gifts around the holidays for and from each of our classrooms, and we created great memories. Our units on the Food Pyramid with Chef Mario and Chef Luigi were always great fun to teach. The Weather Girl video, when we were allowed to show videos, always put us in hysterics, but the kids really liked it! One year, we hosted our own Olympics complete with speed skating and medals, and another year, we worked with our extra active kids to race around the playground multiple times before actually going to play on the playground.

At the end of each year, I’d host a ‘show’. The kids from our classes would select their favorite songs to sing, I’d put them on a CD, and we’d make patriotic t-shirts and sing the songs for the parents. It was always a highlight of my year, and the integration of our kids always brought tears to our eyes when we’d sing songs like “It’s A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong or Celine Dion’s “God Bless America” using sign language.

We have been through many poignant life events together, too: 9/11 and the death of a dear friend of hers, my marriage and birth of my daughter, her daughter going off to college and getting her first teaching position, the death of her dad, the Newtown shootings, her nomination for Teacher of the Year in our district, and the death of my niece. All the while, we would comfort and support each other and carry on with our jobs as teachers.

When the school district was reconfigured to a K-2/3-5 model a few years ago, we were moved to a new school, and we were informed that weren’t going to be teaching together in order to integrate new staff and build a new school community. We understood, but we were devastated. We cried like little kids in front of our new principal when we heard the news. Even though we were going to be right down the hall from each other, it wasn’t going to be the same. We were buddies! How could we be separated? It was heartbreaking to us. Still, we soldiered on in our own classrooms, waiting for the year when we could work our team teaching magic again.

This year, we were finally given the “ok” from our principal to teach together again! The buddies were back! We were overjoyed!

But our new-found joy was short lived when I became ill with Lyme. I had to take a leave of absence from work that started in January 2016 and will continue to the end of this school year.

I have never had to take a leave like this. Even after the birth of my daughter, I was back to work within a few months. Kate has been a buddy to me through all of this. She’s sent me cards and emails. We’ve spoken on the phone, and I know she has been behind the scenes helping my subs (I had two because of the uncertainty of my coming back this year) with my kids.

It’s not often that you find a buddy at your job. But when you do, it’s a magic that can’t ever be replicated.  Love ya, Buddy!

 

 

Stroll

imgres-1

I took my first stroll today since being sidelined by Lyme five months ago.

The weather has been absolutely lousy this past week, and we welcomed the sun this afternoon after a week of cold, damp rain.

We had an early dinner. I put out my Grandmother’s china, and we each had a wine glass to use, to which my daughter asked, “Why do we have fancy glasses tonight?”

“It’s Mother’s Day,” I responded, “Can’t we use fancy things once in a while?”  She grabbed her glass by the stem and took a sip of her milk.

For months, I was told to ‘eat right and exercise’, which seemed futile since I could barely make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my daughter for lunch without having to go back to bed for hours. And tonight, I actually took a stroll. For forty minutes. Progress comes with slow, baby steps.

My daughter zoomed ahead of me on her rollerblades, turning around to skate back to me each time when I was still so far behind her. She wanted to go down some of the side streets in our neighborhood, but I reminded her that our walk tonight was only to the end of the road and back to our house. I wasn’t ready to do more than that.

We passed a man welding in his garage, another bagging the grass he just cut on his carpet of a lawn. Colorful tulips, creeping pink and white phlox, and pastel dogwoods were all in bloom. Squirrels raced across the street, birds flew overhead.

On our way back to our home, my daughter held my hand, skating as I strolled.

 

 

 

Beach

cfiles26611Why is it that even the thought of the beach makes you feel totally relaxed?

My husband and I lived in condos that were built on along a beach prior to being married, about twenty years ago. The town had built a walkway running the length of the beach, and thousands of people walk, ride bikes, rollerblade and take their kids on it every day. Every day seemed like a vacation, living so close to the water.  My commute to work was 15 minutes, which was all on back roads and along the water.

But not all our days were beachy keen while we lived there.  We had a mentally ill lady that lived diagonally across the parking lot from us.  We’d had several run ins with her over time, and each one was more scary than the previous one.  The first time my husband met her, she called him over to her place and he was just being nice by talking to her.  Once inside her doorway, she told him, “I know you!  I heard your voice from the microwave!” He got freaked out, of course, and she continued on, saying “Now I have your fingerprints!”  He quickly wiped the door handle and said, “NO, YOU DON’T!”  and got out of there very quickly.

She’d swear at people walking on the board walk.  She used to urinate in used milk jugs and leave them by the dumpster.  Clearly, this woman was mentally ill and needed more help than she was getting.

One time we were leaving our condo, and she approached us, slamming her hands on the car.  He responded to her angrily, which apparently set her off.  When we came home, she had sprinkled laundry detergent around some trees, and then was trying to cut them down. One summer day, she slowly walked by me, banging a pot,  while I was working outside preparing beginning school stuff. It scared me, of course.

It was unnerving knowing that someone so unpredictable lived nearby.  After she moved, we had some young kids move into a condo on the other side of us who were racist and had wild parties. Needless to say, we weren’t too relaxed living there after a time.

With all the awareness of mental illness now, it is a shame that this woman didn’t have the right help to keep her symptoms under control.  I know she had family, but I don’t know if or when they tried to help her. And sadly, my first instinct was not to provoke her, instead of trying to get to know her and maybe show her a little kindness that she wasn’t getting from people.

Living on the beach gave us some interesting memories, that is for sure.  We became close friends with a couple who still live there today.  And now when we go visit, we look forward to being with them and relaxing on their front porch, which overlooks the boardwalk, with the sand and water just steps away.  Sometimes, we talk about those interesting days when we lived there, too. Someday, I’d like to move back near the beach. What could possibly go wrong?

Abandoned

imgres

If it’s one thing that people don’t like to feel, it’s the feeling of being abandoned.

When you are diagnosed with any severe or chronic illness, that feeling of abandonment can compound your suffering so much that you lose sight of the fight that you’re in. The final bell seems to be looming over your head, and yet you don’t have the energy to get up and give that final knock out punch that is so desperately needed to end your anguish and misery.

I’ve been so fortunate to have many people in my corner. My husband has been my number one cheerleader: encouraging me to keep looking for new avenues to heal,taking over many of my responsibilities early on when I was literally bedridden, and even picking up the pieces on better days when I still need to get back to bed. He’s gone to doctor’s appointments with me when he himself hasn’t felt well either, all the while carrying the burden of his own job and other responsibilities of our family and extended family.

Family members have been very empathetic as well. Phone calls, emails, cards, and hugs have all helped to boost my spirits. When visiting my parents, they ask what I’d like to eat and supply me with huge hamburgers and glasses of water, knowing how sensitive my system is towards any “normal” diet that includes carbs, fruits and dairy. When my mother in law was ill in the hospital before she died, she asked how I was feeling.  That was such a moment for me, and one that I won’t forget.

My co-workers surprised me with a beautiful basket filled with cards from my students, some snack items, a beautiful handmade prayer shawl and wooden cross from Bethlehem, and several gift cards with very generous amounts on them to use while I am home. I’ve received numerous cards from people as well. My boss has also been very understanding of my need to be home instead of coming back to work prematurely.  All of these people have really help me stay connected and not go down that dark pathway of abandonment.

I’ve found solace in other victims of Lyme as well. Misery loves company, but when you are dealing with an illness that is like the invisible man in your system, you need all the company you can get. I stay positive by writing about my illness, adding bits of my own sarcasm and humor to my prose. I don’t want to make anyone more miserable than they already are in dealing with their own issues. I want to share my own misfortunes that I’ve brought on myself to help others avoid some of the pitfalls I’ve fallen into. For example, I recently made nut bread with almond flour because I wanted some kind of “fun food” to eat, and I thought this would be a healthy alternative. And it would have been….if I didn’t react to nuts! But that’s what Lyme does to you…it makes you do things without thinking clearly about it. I also want to share my successes and insights through my writing to those who may or may not understand the complexities of Lyme.

My medical doctors have tried to help me, but their expertise hasn’t been enough to rid me of this nasty bug that is still ravaging my body and trying to steal my spirit. I’ve found that while they haven’t abandoned me per se, it seems like they don’t really understand all my issues in full color, resulting in lingering symptoms and a lack of supportive guidance to get me treated properly.

I’ve found more help from my naturopath and dietician for reasons unknown to me. All I can really point to is that they seemed to have listened to everything I’ve said, and I’ve done a lot of homework prior to meeting with them as well as afterwards to help get me to the head of the class in this university of Lyme.imgres-1

Medical abandonment is a striking place to be in, but it is also a catalyst to push forward and find new pathways to healing. I’d often heard of naturopathic care, but I never really knew anything about it. I was always a little leery of it, thinking that it could amount to a little bit of fairy dust and luck and not real science. But that is the kind of care I’ve been used to: go to a medical doctor, explain your symptoms, and you’ll get some medicine to get better. At one point in my illness, I became so ill with what seemed to be the flu. When I went to my primary doctor, he did prescribe an antibiotic, which helped my flu-like symptoms, but it also caused a new symptom to erupt, which had to be addressed with yet another medication. Should I have abandoned my medical doctor initially and gone to my naturopath? I don’t know.

I’m not ready to give up on the medical community as a result of my experiences just yet. But I am willing to discard my own ill-informed views. I think that being open to many viewpoints and finding the right combination of therapies is a better approach than simply relying on one type of treatment plan that is commonly accepted. That is truly the only way that I can get better and abandon this horrible illness called Lyme once and for all.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL