Review of 25th Edition of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

 

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Notice the post it notes…

When I was first dealing with my Lyme disease during the fall and winter of 2016, I was doing lots of research, both online, in books, and in person. With so many issues popping up daily, there was never enough information to help me find the right solution.

By spring, I had starting feeling better, after having several months of a new diet and numerous appointments with medical and holistic practitioners. I was ready to try something else to help me heal even more, and I had the opportunity to learn about essential oils at a workshop at a local organic nursery. I also spoke with a few representatives who sold them for various companies. While this newfound knowledge was very informative and helpful, my own experience with Lyme taught me that my body had become extremely sensitive to foods and compounds. I wasn’t really looking to sign up for programs and pay money for products I may or may not use or may be a source of more pain and complications for me.

In end, I decided that the best route for me to take would be to find a good book to help me learn which oils to use for what purposes. And that is when I discovered Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Aromatherapy, New World Library, 1991.

As a ‘rookie’ in the essential oil world, I loved this book. Not only was it easy to use, it was also very comprehensive in its approach of how to use the oils for what purposes. There were recipes for any type of use: cooking, cleaning, or germ fighting. In the back, there was a listing of reputable oil companies to purchase from, which for me, was great information. With my own immune system so compromised at the time, and so many companies were jumping on the EO bandwagon, this was very helpful information for me. Interestingly enough, she does list the two major essential oil companies, Young Living, and doTerra, in her first book. But due to my own knowledge of the bad blood between the two businesses, I personally boycotted those two and purchased other recommended oils at local stores in my area.

The 25th anniversary edition has recently been published, (2016) and I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from the publisher. And much like the first volume, this one also is a great edition to anyone’s library.

Ms. Worwood’s does a deeper exploration of the history of essential oils in this volume; and for me, this is a great asset to the book.   My epiphany about the health value in using essential oils came when reading this section. Our ‘advanced’ technological and medical age has overshadowed the fact that these oils have been used for thousands of years by various cultures across the globe. My own health issues combined with this knowledge about essential oils really indicated to me that the medical community needs to takes notice of ways to help people heal from aliments without the use of synthetic or manmade compounds. Imagine if more doctors used more natural ways to healing the body!  They may be out of a business, but we’d be a healthier community, for sure!

The 25th edition has great reference charts for oils as well—a dilution chart, conversion charts, a quick reference chart about oils, and also more detailed profiles on essential oils which grace the pages of this book from beginning to end.

What I love about the new book is that there is notably more information for all types of ailments at any age, from birth all the way to what she gently describes as the ‘maturing’ years.   I have family members dealing with stress, fatigue and other more serious health issues. Ms. Wormwood details explicitly how oils can be used in any number of situations. While she does specifically state that this book is not intended to heal or substitute for medical advice, I do find that as a Lyme disease warrior, there is something in here for everyone. Whether you are interested in more ‘green cleaning’, ways to use essential oils in cooking, or just want to learn something new about a very old and everlasting health practice, this is an informative and easy to reference book to have on hand.

As someone who is now at the point in my learning to start to experiment more with essential oils to improve my health further, I am happy that this book is gracing my coffee table. ( I reference it quite often—it hasn’t made it to the bookshelf yet!)

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL

Diffusing the Confusion About Essential Oils

Below are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way in my research about essential oils.

Not All Oils–Or Companies–Are Alike!img_0769

When I began to learn about essential oils, I learned of these two companies: doTERRA and Young Living. From my limited understanding, do TERRA branched off from Young Living, and there was a falling out and a lawsuit brought on by Young Living—you can look it up online if you want more details.

But in my mind, both get a lot of exposure caused by the split and therefore, these consultant-driven businesses are in competition with each other. This doesn’t stick well with me in my “all-natural” craw, if you know what I mean. If you talk to anyone who is a consultant for either one, they will naturally espouse the goodness of their own company and not go into detail about the rift, if you happen ask about it. I’ve spoken to consultants from both companies, and they’ve all been lovely, well-informed people when it came to essential oils. But the bad karma between the two enterprises turned me off to BOTH companies.

Being the rebel that I am, I did my own research and found reputable oils that are easily purchased at local health food markets. I can pick the ones I want to try out and avoid being locked into ‘beginner starter kits’ and other programs that are pricey.

Knock It Off!

I can’t say this enough: avoid purchasing oils that you find in your drug stores or chain stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Essential oils and diffusers seem to be the ‘in’ thing right now, and I’ve seen different unknown brands pop up in different stores . You need to know what is in the oils that you are diffusing, ingesting, or using topically. If it says “100% Pure Frankincense” on the bottle, and it’s only $4.99 at Target, you can safely assume that it’s not PURE Frankincense in that bottle! (Frankincense is one of the most expensive oils you can purchase.) If you diffuse oils that aren’t really pure, you can be putting worse things into your system than you bargained for. And who wants that?

Do Your Homework!

There are literally HUNDREDS of resources available online and in print about essential oils. I like to keep my options open and use both types of sources.

searchPintrest, of course, has quick information for all your essential oil needs, but I also love to have books on hand, because sometimes, it’s just quicker to be able to bookmark a page and turn to it in a pinch. My favorite book is Valerie Worwood’s The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. It is very comprehensive and outlines the history of various oils as well as which oils to use topically, diffuse, and/or ingest. Valerie provides recipes to use with oils for any kind of ailment or household task or beauty regime. She also lists reputable essential oil companies in the back, which was extremely helpful to me in my research, since I was definitely waging a private campaign against both doTERRA and Young Living. (And she does list these two in her book as reputable companies.)

Basically, don’t just start diffusing because ‘everyone is doing it’. If you’re not sure about an oil, be investigative and find the answers you are looking for. Work smarter, not harder! Look for book titles online, then go to the library and check out the books that interest you. I love doing this because I can make sure the book (s) have the information I require before purchasing. I made the mistake once of purchasing a cookbook before I really reviewed it. I’ll never do that again!

In this case, doing your homework means the difference between being informed or spending money that really can be saved for a better purchase.

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way!

The oils are potent, so after you have researched what oils you want to use and how to use them safely, do it drop by drop. I learned that I could use Frankincense, Rosemary, and Oregano in combination to help combat my Lyme disease. But after applying 3-4 diluted drops of each to each foot, I felt somewhat stomach sick within a half an hour! I should have just used one oil at a time and rotated, but live and learn, right?

I also discovered that Geranium and Lavender, which smell wonderful together, are not a good combination for me when I am dealing with congestion; the two actually made my symptoms worse!  But a Lemon and Eucalyptus blend were perfect for me in the bath or in the shower when I was all stuffy.

So in the case of essential oils, a little bit does go a long way. It’s better to start of with one or two drops and build up. Rotating oils is also recommended if you notice that you aren’t getting the same effects over a period of time.

Diffusers Don’t Need To Be Expensive to be Worthy

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This is my Wal-Mart diffuser. Isn’t it pretty?  It also lights up!

Now that you are ready with oils, you need to get a diffuser.  And just like anything else on the market, diffusers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices.

Three things I learned to consider when deciding on a diffuser:

Ease of Opening

Room Size

Price

Personally, I have three diffusers. And the easiest one to open is the cheapest one that I bought at Wal-Mart, made by Better Homes and Garden. Both the outside glass cover, much like a bell jar, and the inside cover, are easily removable. Because the square footage of my bedroom is relatively small, I can put the diffuser on, shut the door, and within a half an hour, the air in the room is filled with any beautiful oil that I put inside.

The one I bought from my classroom has a plastic cover that you need to twist on and off according to arrow indicators on the outer lid and diffuser. My hands are small, so this one is hard for me to grasp and as a result, it is difficult to open and close. I purchased it because it is larger in size, and has a timer for how long you want it to run. Its size allows it to run up to 360 minutes, which is great in the classroom! But I didn’t consider how to opens (I bought this one online) and because it’s harder to open, I end up just leaving the lid in the unlocked position to avoid having to twist it open when it is time to refill.

I have another one that my husband purchased as a Christmas gift. It is made out of wood—it’s very pretty and looks lovely in my livingroom, but again, it’s a little trickier to open and close due to the design.

The square footage of my living room is much larger than that of my bedroom. The room also opens up to a stairwell, so when diffusing, it seems to require more drops of oil to reap the same benefits as in an enclosed space like my bedroom.

So, consider all these factors before purchasing and diffusing. And if you can, purchase your diffuser in person and not online, so you can actually see the diffuser and test out how it opens and closes.

 

Well, I hope these tips help clear the air when considering using essential oils!

Let me know how it goes!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

New Laws for 2017

 

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With the advent of a new President, laws will be overturned, changed, and created.  I began thinking about the laws of my own castle, and came up with a few for my family.

Here are a few laws I’d like to put in place for my family this year.

Dishwasher Law

Whoever runs the dishwasher must empty it within 12 hours of said action. And all items in the dishwasher must be put back in their correct place.  If the emptier is unsure of an items location, that person must inform the Queen within 1 hour and learn where the item should be placed. It should not be left on the kitchen counter for the Queen to later find and put away.

Clause #1: Any pots or pans that are washed and left on the stove to dry must be put away within 12 hours of drying.

Clause #2: Any plastic items left on the kitchen counter to dry must be put away within 12 hours of drying.

Clause #3: When the dishwasher detergent gets down to 5 tablets, the Queen must be informed so more can be purchased.  This clause also includes dish soap, hand soap, shampoo, paper goods, and other home cleaning and personal cleansing items when they become low and need to be replaced. Users shall not use up all products without having replacements readily available.

Personal Belongings Law13563367_10206797327347133_996769700_n

Whatever personal belongings are NOT placed in their correct place within 12 hours of being left all over the castle, the Queen has the direct authority to do whatever she wishes with said item(s). The King and Princess have NO AUTHORITY on this matter and must abide by this law. The Queen has jurisdiction over all areas of the castle, including the kitchen counter, kitchen and dining room chairs, living room couch, staircase, bedrooms, and bathrooms.

This includes but is not limited to keys,  belts, hats, shoes, winter wear, backpacks, toys, and other personal items. The owner of the item(s) may or may not see the item(s) ever again, depending on the mood of the Queen.

Laundry Law

All folded laundry shall be placed neatly in the owner’s drawers and not left on floors, chairs or in baskets.  Any laundry left in these areas longer than 24 hours will be subject to removal by the Queen. (See Personal Belongings Law for clarification of the fine for breaking this law.)

Tomato Sauce Lawimg_0693

If you made sauce, you must clean up the spatters on the stove upon completion of cooking.   This law also applies to when sauce is reheated on the stove. The Queen shall always have non-toxic cleaners available.

Box Law

All boxes shall be either burned or ripped up upon opening and emptying of the boxes. Boxes shall not be thrown down the basement stairs left to create a pile of cardboard resembling the Eiffel Tower or the New York skyline.

Royal Pet Law

Whomever is the first to arrive home must feed the Royal Pet food and water.  The Queen will provide food and bowls for said job.

Clause #1: If a subject ‘forgets’ to feed the Royal Pet, that subject shall be forced to eat food of the Queen’s choice.

Clause #2: More than one incident of not feeding the Royal Pet will result in further punishment to be determined by the Queen at the time of the infraction.

 

Healthy Eating Law

20160525_121345_resizedAll members of the castle must try kale and refrain from any grimacing or negative comments. Punishment for breaking this law will be determined at the time of the infraction.

 

Do you think they these laws will can be implemented and followed ?

Yours in New Year Adventures,

TWL

 

 

A Tourist’s Guide to Lyme Disease

 

Are you just starting out on your Lyme Adventure?

Do you feel like a tourist, making many stops along the way, but not getting anywhere?

Read on to learn how to have a successful Lyme adventure!

Foods To Help You Heal

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Kale, broccoli, bacon and chicken cooked in olive oil

Each person’s Lyme adventure is different, since Lyme affects body chemistry differently. HOWEVER, one constant with Lyme is that it LOVES SUGAR! Who doesn’t, right? So, your number one job is to eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you can. The sooner you do this, the better for your body and cells to heal!

Below are some foods that may help you feel better and will help your cells to rejuvenate:

Olive oil

Organic proteins like chicken, pork, and turkey (5 oz or more per large meal to help maintain energy levels)

Organic liver and organ meats

Leafy greens like kale and spinach

Fresh Garlic

Green Tea (brewed at home, not purchased with artificial sweeteners)

Green vegetables like cucumbers, asparagus, and broccoli

Plain water

FOODS THAT MAY EXACERBATE SYMPTOMS:

Carbohydrates (bread, crackers, desserts, cereal)

Fruits (Lemon is a fruit! Be careful adding this to your water to detox–it may not help you feel better!)

Nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers

Nuts and seeds (and their “cousins”, like nut flours)

Eggs (organic eggs may also cause a problem, so watch how you react after consuming)

Dairy

Artificial sweeteners like those found in Gatorade, Vitamin Water and Seltzers

An important note about Gluten:

Many people are advised to eat ‘gluten-free’ when they are diagnosed with Lyme. But I caution you. Instead, become a label reader and compare the carbohydrates in gluten-free products like bread, chips, and crackers to wheat made ones. What do you notice? Exactly. They are pretty much the same in terms of carbohydrate content. So skip the gluten-free processed products because it will only make the Lyme bugs happy to have sugar in your system, and your inflammation worse.

What’s Your Pain Index Today?

Each day is a new adventure in pain! Realize that your pain levels can be directly linked to the food you eat, so document what you eat and drink each day. Document how you feel on a 1 -10 pain scale. After a few days, you should start to see patterns emerge as to what foods your body likes or doesn’t like.

Supplement City

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Make sure the supplements you are taking are ‘whole food’ supplements and not synthetically made ones. Your body needs all the whole food it can get, and if you are adding toxic chemicals to your already compromised system, you can be wasting valuable healing time.

A tip about taking all those supplements: Use a Sharpie to label the bottle cap with the number of pills and how many times you need to take it each day. It will make refilling your weekly pill-box that much easier!

Fluids are Good!20160629_183000

Be sure to keep all those whole food supplements flowing through your body. Get yourself a 20 oz container to refill throughout the day. You should be drinking up to 90 oz or more a day! It seems like a lot, but if you keep that water bottle with you, you will find that you can easily drink between 32-40 oz per meal….that gets you very close to or even over 100 oz just on meals alone! Drinking in between meals only adds to your daily totals.  So get yourself some 20 oz refillable bottles and starting drinking!

 

The Lyme Bible

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Having Lyme is truly an adventure! Below are the steps to help you create your own Lyme Bible that grows along with you as you trek along the winding roads of Lyme disease.

Get yourself a 3 inch binder in the color of your choice—green perhaps?

Put in pocket sleeves, at least 6 to start. Different colors for each practitioner can help you stay organized.

Put a post-it note on the front of each pocket with the name, address, phone number and fax number of the doctor or practitioner.

Each time you go to a doctor, take a notebook and write down all pertinent information. Date and label the page and be sure to note the follow-up appointment in your notes as well.  Add your notes to the corresponding pocket at home. (You may want to invest in a large, fashionable tote bag instead of a purse so you can carry your Bible and notebook more easily to appointments.)

Add pockets as needed for blood work results, MRI scans, food charts, or whatever information you feel will be important to remember on your journey through Lyme.

Create a working document that lists your medical history prior to and including Lyme. Note any physical, mental, and emotional changes as you go through your healing process. Update this chart monthly so you can see positive or negative changes along the way. Share information with your practitioners so adjustments can be made if needed.

 

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!

Your best way to confront Lyme is by thinking like Watty Piper’s Little Engine …I think I can…I think I can…I think I can….

Being positive, even angry some days, will get you farther in your treatment then sitting back and ‘waiting’ for things to change.

Look for new ways to heal. Read, research, and revise your thinking. If a method of healing sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so double-check any quick heal claims with reputable clinicians and practitioners. The only way you will get better is by putting in the effort to learn and find what works for you!

Surprise! Medical Doctors Don’t Have All The Answers

20160619_093832_resizedIn your Lyme adventure, realize that you will be making many stops along the way to wellness to take in the sights and scenery, mostly found in doctors’ offices. And yet, once  there, you may slam into bumps that slow you down. You may decide to make appointments with various medical doctors, only to discover that they listen to only one symptom, and in turn, misdiagnose you. You may receive a diagnosis like “eat right and exercise”, that won’t give you the guidance you need to heal.  And you may find that those with an MD after their name aren’t the ones who can really help.

LLMD’s are very good at their treatments, but they can be costly and not very timely for you in scheduling appointments.  This author heard of an LLMD about an hour away from her home, but needed to wait 6 months in order to see him! Not wanting to wait that long for her symptoms to become even more debilitating than they already were, she researched a naturopath, a dietician, and a later on in her healing, a holistic practitioner.   While this is not the conventional route to healing, she found that those without an MD after their names actually were willing to take the time to work with her and help her begin the healing process. Instead of being laid up in bed or in a hospital, six months later, she is working in her garden, reading for a half an hour or more at a time, and genuinely being able to get through her summer days without requiring to rest every few hours. Every person has their own path to follow, but be assured that it may not be the one you have been taught to follow all of your life! Be willing to try new treatments and protocols. Your body will thank you!

BRAIN FOG SLOWING YOU DOWN?

TRY THESE 5 TRICKS TO KEEP YOUR SANITY WHILE YOU HEAL!

  1. STAY IN ONE PLACE AND COMPLETE THE TASK AT HAND. Zipping around the house like a squirrel running up a tree leaves too many little jobs to finish!
  2. USE POST IT NOTES to remind you to do simple jobs like switch the laundry. Put these in high-traffic areas that you will see.
  3. TAPE INVITATIONS RIGHT ON THE CALENDAR after you write the information down.
  4. ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE. Many stores save your lists, so review your last week’s order before adding new items. 
  5. EAT LOTS OF LEAFY GREENS! Kale has many nutrients in it that help rejuvenate cells, especially those foggy brain cells!  Create your own ways to eat kale in salads, eggs, and meat dishes.  (I don’t recommend Kale brownies, however…)
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I hope you enjoyed this guide to Lyme and tricks to healing.

Remember: your attitude is everything and will determine how quickly you heal!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

Losing With Lyme Makes You A Winner!

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I grew up and still live in Connecticut, where Lyme disease was first discovered in 1975. I just recently heard through a cousin about a connection between lab experiments at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York and Lyme, Connecticut. Smaranda Dumitru writes about the possible connection and the medical community’s attentively blind eye approach to this rampant disease, on the State University of New York at New Paltz’s website, Tick Talk.

Whether you believe in the Plum Island/Lyme disease connection or not, according to the CDC, over 300,000 people are diagnosed each year.

Even though I had heard of Lyme, Connecticut, and I had heard of Lyme disease, I was completely ignorant of what it can do to the human body until I contracted it.

Having Lyme disease has opened up my life to so many new discoveries about myself. One of the greatest discoveries is unlike that awful meal at your favorite restaurant or your idiotic ex-boyfriend, Lyme disease is a lasting, every changing relationship that never gives up on you!

It’s not all that dreadful–you really can benefit from having Lyme disease. Below are some of the positive losses that you can experience living with Lyme.

Hair loss

You can save a lot of money on hair coloring, cuts and shampoo.

Memory loss

Now, you really have an excuse for not sending in your child’s field trip money or why you didn’t reply to that birthday invitation!

Energy loss

Now, your spouse or partner can do all those mundane and annoying jobs like wash the windows and empty the cat box.

Job Loss

Yay! All your dreams about not dealing with unrealistic demands and crazy coworkers have come true!

Weight Loss

You can’t eat your favorite foods, but you sure look good in those jeans that used to be too tight!

 

Some other benefits of Lyme disease are you always get complimented on how well you look, even if you feel awful.

You have a bon-fide reason now to stay at home in your jammies and be lazy on the couch.

imagesYou turn into a little detective, honing your research skills to find new treatments, new doctors, new protocols, and new recipes to try.

You reach out to complete strangers for answers and information, willing to try even the most obscure of methods to ease your symptoms. And some of these strangers become new friends.

You really get to know your body and how it reacts to different compounds and foods.

And you find healthier ways to keep on living.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/humancases.html

https://sites.newpaltz.edu/ticktalk/social-attitudes/story-by-smaranda-dumitru/

 

images from Google images

Research

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Dedicated to Michelle Armstrong, Shelton, CT

When I was in college, I became enthralled with a computer game called Tetris, thanks to my roommate Michelle. The object of the game is to create rows of lines using geometric square and rectangular shapes. A four-line group is called a Tetris, and the computer would start slowly dropping pieces from the top of the screen and increase speed until the pieces were flying down, the player frantically trying to place them correctly to make lines. I recently found another version online, and I am once again obsessed with the game. Only in this version, you are playing against another person, and each time you complete a line, it sends another line to your opponent. You still need to clear lines and try to beat the other player in a 2-minute time frame, but it moves more quickly since your opponent can easily send over more lines than you are ready to handle if they are really good at placing their pieces before you.

This game requires you to be able use what you have as well as think ahead, much like addressing a pressing problem. Right now, my problem is Lyme disease, and it’s a tougher puzzle to figure out than a Tetris game.

In my research about Lyme, I’ve come across different books. My go-to book right now is The Top 10 Lyme Disease Treatments by Bryan Rosner. The 11-chapter book is clearly written and has sections about antibiotics, detoxification, and detailed information about supportive supplements. What I really love about this book is that it gives a holistic approach to treating this disease. Rosner has a detailed portion as well about how there are two very different views in the medical community about how to treat Lyme. He advocates for being knowledgeable about Lyme and to use all available resources, both traditional and non-traditional. Relying on one particular therapy will not help treat or cure your condition, since Lyme is a multi-faceted disease that mutates and has co-infections attached as well. He does state that it is crucial to find the right combination of therapies and also realize that time plays an important role in healing.

I’m also reading Terry Wahls book, The Wahls Protocol. She reversed her debilitating MS symptoms through diet, after researching cellular growth and health. And what a diet she has! It’s all healthy fruits and vegetables, and you need to eat 9 cups a day each of sulfur rich vegetables, leafy greens, and colorful fruits. Not an easy task! The most of the leafy greens I can do a day is 4 cups. My body can’t handle any fruits right now, as much as I’d love some grapes or pineapple, or even an apple, which is not my favorite fruit!  She does advise building up to the 9 cups, however slowly you need to do it, but she urges to just start eating the right foods now to rebuild your sickly cells.

One of my favorite mantras that I gleaned from my graduate work is, “Work smarter, not harder”. And I’ve tried to put this into practice whenever I can, especially with my Lyme issues. A few months back on a more healthy day, I had visited the bookstore and was astounded at all of the gluten-free, vegan, and paleo cookbooks out there! But I refused to buy even one cookbook as my food sensitivities made it hard to actually use any of the books I’d seen. I’d made that mistake early on, buying a smoothie cookbook, only to find out after a big swing of a healthy yogurt and strawberry smoothie, my body couldn’t tolerate the fruit or the dairy. Live and learn.

So, I hit my library instead. After first searching the internet for book titles, I’d then go and peruse the stacks, leaving with about 10 or so cookbooks, thinking that maybe one of the books would be helpful in finding some recipes that my body could tolerate. Many cookbooks later, I was able to photocopy 10 or so recipes. There are just so many foods that my system is sensitive to right now. Sugar free recipes include sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. Gluten free ones include flours made out of almonds or rice, which I can’t tolerate. But I haven’t given up yet. I’ve got two more books on hold at two different libraries–one called Recipes for Repair and another Breaking the Vicious Cycle–that I am hoping will be returned soon. It seems like I’m not the only one with food struggles!20160413_103853

My Lyme adventure is just like a Tetris game: some of the pieces fit, and some don’t. There are gaps in my healing that need to be filled. I keep hitting a wall, but someday, I’m hopeful be able to clear out the lines with the right combination of building blocks.

I’ve already had some success when I started with my naturopath and my dietician back in March, and I just recently went to another holistic practice. The owner who runs it has given me some extra supplements to try. He has helped other people with Lyme, as well as a particular client with very similar issues to mine, so that gives me confidence that I am on the right track.

I am anticipating even more positive results with the start of this new regime of mine. And with the inclusion of more books, of course! I just have to keep finding the right ones to help with my personal Tetris puzzle!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

Buddy

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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

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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.

 

 

 

Sugar

imgres-1This is not an article about being overweight or even trying to eat healthier. This is a true story, about a true love affair, one that is dissolving away slowly, due to a nasty little disease that is attacking my body any time I eat anything that resembles sugar.

I wasn’t a fruit eater growing up. Instead, I developed a sweet tooth for all things sugar-related that you don’t find in nature. I preferred the white, powdery kind sprinkled on donuts or the more granular kind poured lovingly into the chocolate chip cookie batter. Cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on my toast in the morning was perfection. Or better yet, strawberry jam slathered all over the warm, buttered bread! Waffles and pancakes with Aunt Jemina’s syrup were just heavenly to me. My favorite part was dipping my bacon or sausage into the left over syrup on my plate.

I’d drink soda when we’d get hotdogs from Rawley’s, a local greasy spoon joint, or the occasional trip to McDonald’s or Luigi’s Pizza. When we’d go visiting at my Grandmother’s house, us kids would get to pass out the hors d’oeuvres- cheese and crackers, or potato chips in a brown basket, or Goldfish in a pewter bowl with fluted edges. My parents would have drinks with my Grandmother, and we kids would have soda with our carb-laden snack. I remember drinking Fresca at her house.

And foods that broke down into sugar, like bread, pasta, potatoes, corn…. I loved these, too! Milk, oh I loved milk! I could drink a gallon of milk in just a few days! One of my favorite treats was milk and cookies. Even as an adult, I’d love to buy different types of cookies, or bake, so I’d have my treat at night.

And don’t get me wrong: my parents weren’t the kind to keep tons of junk food in the house. Generally speaking, we ate pretty healthily for the time when I was growing up in the 70’s. The worst food we ate was probably Chef Boyardee’s spaghetti and meatballs or ravioli from the can. And that wasn’t a weekly or even daily thing! My mother was a good cook, and she always made home cooked meals every night, complete with meat, potatoes, bread or rolls, salad, and green vegetables. I just really liked sweet things to eat!

My body never seemed to have a problem with all this sugar growing up. I was active as a kid, always riding my bike, zooming around outside on roller skates, playing on the swings or running after one, if not all, of my four other siblings. It seemed that it didn’t matter what I ate, I’d never gain any weight. People would make comments about how skinny I was throughout my life. Even after I had married, I’d still get envious looks and comments from family and friends about my petite size. But inside my body, things were happening.

When I married and became pregnant with my daughter, I developed gestational diabetes. imgres-2My initial glucose tolerance test was so high that I was sent to an endocrinologist and started on insulin right away. My body was struggling so much that I needed to check my sugar before and after each meal. I also need two types of insulin—one for the day, and a slow acting one for at night. It was terrible learning how to eat with this new body of mine. I had to be sure I was getting enough carbs for the baby, but not so much as to spike my blood sugar. And when I was pregnant, all wanted to do was eat. I can remember feeling so hungry and only being able to eat ¾ of a cup of pasta for dinner. It seemed horrible to me then, but hindsight is 20-20.

Once my daughter was born, I was considered borderline diabetic, and was monitored for several years, taking various drugs to help with my sugar levels. At one point, my primary doctor told me I didn’t need to take any meds anymore. Hallelujah! I ate and drank all the taboo foods to my heart’s content! (I wasn’t a big soda drinker, but I still enjoyed a glass or can now and then…)

Well…it was a false hallelujah. My new primary doctor informed me this past winter that I am pre-diabetic. I began testing my sugar faithfully again, and also taking another popular pharmaceutical drug used to treat my condition.

Fast forward to January 2016. I am being treated for Lyme, and I am taking antibiotics and other supplements as well as my pharmaceutical drug for my blood sugar. I speak with my cousin, who is a pharmacist. She tells me, get off that drug and take either Grape seed pills or Mangostene. Each of these is a natural supplement that breaks down sugar! So, I stopped the pharmaceutical drug, one which could possibly cause more damage to my already tick infected bloodstream and organs, and began taking the Grape seed pills with each meal. And what do you know? It worked! My levels have been so good that a recent trip to an endocrinologist ended in, “You don’t need to come back for another appointment. Your A1C is normal.” Oh, Happy Day!

Sadly though, I haven’t enjoyed happy sugar days here in the dawn of my great blood sugar levels. I have such food issues with the Lyme in my system that I can’t eat anything that has sugar or breaks down into sugar-no carbohydrates, no fruit, no dairy, no nightshade vegetables (potato, tomato, peppers, eggplant), no nuts. If I do, I feel stinging and burning in my muscles and joints. And the sensations seem to be directly linked to sugar or carb content of the food: the higher the number, the more intense and lingering of the pain.

I’ve never had any allergies to food my whole life. And outside of my gestational diabetes/ pre-diabetic state, I’ve been very healthy. I can only surmise that my pre-diabetic state has added this sugary layer to my Lyme issues. And if I get an urge to eat a cookie, or a tomato, or cheese, my body quickly reminds me that sugar is really bad for me. Nothing like aversion therapy to add a little spice to life! It gets tricky when you are in the store and just happen to walk down the cracker aisle. Or the commercials on TV all highlight chocolate covered strawberries as a wonderful, delicious gift for Mother’s Day. Or a family member takes  a bite out of crunchy, warm garlic bread, and you are eating your kale and romaine salad with olive oil dressing.

All in all, it could be worse, I tell myself. Just don’t eat that cookie in front of me, please.

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Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL