One Year Ago

December 2016

 

One year ago, I was diagnosed with Lyme.

lymeheadAnd I still can remember all the difficulties I faced as my Lyme progressed from annoying symptoms to full-blown pain, brain fog, dietary issues, weakness, and exhaustion, and finally, being out of work for six months.

I can remember early on, trying to keep a semblance of routine at home and make my daughter’s lunch for school. That 10-minute job caused me extreme exhaustion, and a return trip to bed for two hours.

I remember trying to exercise on the advice of medical doctors, which never went well.  Later on in that winter, I tried vacuuming a 5×7 rug. I needed a three-hour nap after that.

I remember starting what I call my Lyme Bible.  It contained sections with each doctors’ contact information, copies of my blood work reports, diagnoses, as well as my food diary and symptoms tracker.  DataScientistJobDescriptions

I remember my husband asking me one morning, “Where is the jelly?” And I literally did not know. I couldn’t tell him, and I got upset because I knew my brain was literally fading a way bit by bit, and there wasn’t anything that any medical doctor was telling me that was helpful or hopeful.

I remember being frustrated listening to people with MD after their names giving me any number of diagnoses: Lyme, not Lyme, fibromyalgia, coxsackie, EBV, a virus…and even, “Yes, you have Lyme, coxsackie, and EBV in your blood work, but we don’t know what is causing your symptoms. Just eat right and exercise.” I’ve got letters that I’ve started that I intend to send to all these medical professionals to both ease my conscience and anger, but also potentially change how they actually address a patient’s course of treatment when they have Lyme disease.

I remember hearing about a holistic practitioner that helped a cancer patient who had tremendous results after major health issues. At that point, I was ready to find a new avenue that didn’t lead me to another medical doctor whose hands were tied against me.20160413_103853

I remember thinking during my first appointment, his methods seemed so strange and out of the box in terms of medical treatment as I knew it, and yet, after only 4 months, I was back at work full-time and able to conquer my full teaching day without turning into a puddle by 10:30 am!

I remember feeling so tired from work, I was in bed by 5:30, and still not rested to face the next day. Squeezing the shampoo bottle in the shower bothered my right thumb, and drying my hair with the hair dryer made my elbows hurt tremendously. Even driving would bother my elbows.  And reading…forget it.  After ten minutes,  I could feel my mind drifting away from the words on the page.

I remember a time last year when I didn’t put the my prized under-the-counter radio on when I was in the kitchen.  It’s presence changed from a comfort to just noise. The feeling of wanting music on had left me, and it didn’t bother me for many months that I didn’t put the radio on to keep me company.

Tonight, I connected my Bluetooth Pandora on my phone to that radio. I listened to a Martina McBride holiday channel, and I sang along to almost every song. It was  like a drug to me; I realized how much I had missed my music and I finally had the chance to enjoy it again.  I had to force myself to turn it off and go sit down when tiredness of the day trumped the music.

As I am writing this, I am thinking of how fortunate I am that my health has returned almost to normal and I am enjoying things that I couldn’t do a year ago.

What a difference a year makes!

Yours In Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Holiday Chaos Conquered in 5 Ways

When you are living with a chronic illness, even every day tasks require pre-planning and thought…and just that thought ALONE can send one running back under the covers.

Here are 5 ways to make managing the holidays a bit easier and hopefully more enjoyable.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER

After having a bickering weekend recently, fueled only by my OWN issues with worrying about getting housework done, I started defining small weekly tasks on my calendar, like laundry, ordering groceries (see SHOP SMARTER below), dusting and vacuuming, and bathrooms.  Each night is designated for ONE task so that my weekend isn’t consumed by cleaning.  Tuesdays I’m not home until 7 pm, so that night I give myself a break from a chore, but the rest of the week is planned out.  AND FOR ME, IT ACTUALLY WORKED! Sunday was indeed a day of rest, so I am sticking to my pre-planning habit through the holidays.

img_0357DELEGATE

I like to be in control of things in my home, but found that I need to get better at doling out tasks for my family members to do to help around the house so I’m not feeling like the sole worker bee.   My husband is great with cooking for me–he’s the grill master, for sure,  so he will grill up meat for me over the weekend for my lunches for the upcoming week. And he’s learned how to make my tea, so he’ll put a pot on for me if he sees the kettle out. And my ten-year old can easily vacuum the stairs with a hand vac and organize the couch pillows if I let her know.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help and sharing the load–many hands make light work, right?


SHOP SMARTER, NOT HARDER

I discovered that I could order my groceries online several years ago, and this has been quite the weekly lifesaver!  I can either have them delivered or pick them up, depending on which store I shop at.  I mostly order non-perishables and things like milk and eggs; meat and veggies we get elsewhere.  But truly, this is the BEST WAY to get my grocery shopping done without having to fight aisle antics, crying children, and blinking lights that signal coupon issues at the checkout.

I also shop for many of my holiday gifts online and have them delivered to me at work. It’s wonderful since I can get my goodies without having to worry about them being left on the front porch in the bad weather.  I can also squirrel things away from my husband and daughter.

Shopping smarter can really pay off in terms of your sanity.  Two years ago, I went out on Black Friday to a local chain store near my home.  The line to pay literally went down to the back of the store, and as much as I wanted the few items I selected, they didn’t warrant me standing in line for hours. So,  I snapped a few photos of the items and their UPC codes on my phone, then went home and ordered them online.   I received the same deals –and with free shipping–without having to wait in line!

That was a magical moment!

SANTA’S LIST ISN’T JUST FOR HIMimg_0356

We have a very large extended family, and add in the kindly neighbor, the classroom teacher, the dance teacher, the bus driver… it’s plain to see, the holidays can become very expensive very quickly!

I create a holiday table in Word on my computer each year, and I don’t necessarily delineate dollar amounts per person–that seems a little too Scrooge for me– but I do itemize who I’m giving to and try to get some shopping done early prior to December so I’m not scrambling for money or gifts.

Since I do this each year, I can look back to see what I’ve given and not repeat the same gift.  I also try to avoid the same candle/mug/tie gift.

Truly,  who really needs another Santa mug or holiday tie?

 

SHOP OUTSIDE OF THE BOXimg_0359

This year, if I do venture out of my home to shop,  I’m going local to shop to support ‘the little guy or gal’. I’ve got plans to go to a local book sale at a library near the town I grew up in over the Thanksgiving weekend.  They held a similar event over the summer, and I found some wonderful reading treasures there for myself.  I’m going to try it out and see how many family members I can surprise with a literary gift this year.  It shouldn’t break the bank, and I’m glad to be supporting library events instead of a CEO’s wallet.

I’m also going to gift the gift of my time this year.  My sisters and I are planning on getting together with our kids over the winter break and do something together instead of the usual present in a box that never gets seen again.  I’d rather create some memories that will leave a lasting impression.

Isn’t that what the holidays are about anyway?

Yours in HOLIDAY Lyme Adventures,

TWL

Three Ways to Help Your Custodian

 

imgres-3
Google images

Have you ever tried to wash and wax your kitchen floor in 90-degree heat? Most logically-thinking people would say, “Of course not! The floor will never dry!” Most people wait for cooler temperatures to wash and wax floors, since high temperatures directly impact how easily and quickly the task can be done.

images-3
Google images clipart

And yet, that’s what our faithful custodians in my school must do every summer. The teachers pack up as much of their classroom materials as possible in June, storing things in cabinets, closets and cubbies. The custodians then remove all the furniture and any supplies and materials that didn’t fit in the classroom storage areas to the hallway. The floors are then washed and waxed, then the room is reassembled according to a map left by the teacher. Once all the rooms are done in the wing, then the hallways are done. It’s an exhausting, heat-infused, time consuming job. One wing in our building has at minimum 10 rooms. Multiply that by 4 wings…it’s a lot of work.

This year, we had both summer school and a preschool program running in our building, which impacted when the custodians could do their yearly summer routine. Since our summer school and pre-k programs weren’t completed until August 12th, it left only two and a half weeks for the custodians to get their work done, as our new earlier start date this year is August 29th. The classrooms in the wing that was slated for summer school were washed and waxed prior to summer school starting, but that still left the hallway to be done as well many classrooms left untouched until the Pre-k program let out.imgres-4

When I went in on the one day in August that the school was open to start working in my classroom, (Yes, teachers DO work in their classrooms over the summer to get ready for their new scholars!) the three custodians were busy all over the building. One was waxing the upper floor in my hallway, and the other two were in another section of the building, unloading classrooms and beginning to wash and wax those floors. It’s a thankless job made more stressful by the fact that school is set to open in two weeks.

This madness got me thinking of a few solutions to make their job a little more bearable in 90-degree temperatures with no air conditioning and possibly make the summer cleaning schedule a little more productive.

images-1
Google images clipart
  1. Start school after Labor Day if summer school and other programs must run through mid-August in school buildings. The extra few weeks will give the custodians ample time to do their work without having the pressure of school starting at the end of August.
  1. Hold summer school in a different town building, like a Recreation Department or Community Center, freeing up the school buildings for custodians to use the months of June through August to work and get the schools ready for another school year.
  1. Set up a schedule for all custodians to rotate through all the schools over the summer, helping to move all the furniture and clean the classrooms and hallways in each building, so there are more people to assist at each school and get the buildings ready sooner. A team of three custodians in each wing for a week could get more done than merely 3 per building. Many hands make light work, right? 

    imgres
    google images clip art

I intend to send an email to our Superintendent about this issue once school starts. My hope is that those who make the school calendar for next year take into account the hard work of the custodians over the summer months, especially those who have to work around summer school and other educational programs. Without them and their efforts, we wouldn’t have the sparkling windows, doors, and floors that greet the children and staff every year.

What type of job do you have? Can you just leave your office at the end of the year, or do you have to pack up and set up each work year?

 

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL