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

That’s What You’re Thankful For?

Here are 5  items that a year ago, I wouldn’t have put on my ‘thankful’ list. My, how times have changed!

My Nutritionist, Maureen Wasik

Maureen, without you,  I wouldn’t be eating all the green vegetables and protein that I need to function like a semi-normal human being.  Heck, before last December, I didn’t even HAVE a nutritionist! And thankfully, I’ve not had to go back to you since the summer since I’ve kind of surpassed what I needed your expertise for in terms of my own food intake and needs.  But truly, if I hadn’t found you when I did, I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am now. Thank you.  (I still haven’t eaten liver since that first time….I hope you understand.)

Kale and Brussel Sprouts20160525_121345_resized

Kale and Brussel Sprouts, you are the two greens who have helped to turn my cells around and give me back some of my energy lost from Lyme. A year ago, you wouldn’t even be on my grocery list, let alone in my refrigerator! Now, you are my friends that I love to eat and must have every.single.week.  I find that when I can’t get my fix of roasted brussel spouts with garlic and bacon, I’m missing you terribly..not in the same way that I miss chocolate, but almost. Thank you.

Green Tea20160629_183000

Green tea, you have allowed me to have one more fluid to drink besides water, and for this, my taste buds are truly appreciative.  I love to have some kind of ‘taste’ in what I eat and drink, and without you, I’d be stuck drinking plain.old.water. Thank you for giving me something different to drink each day, as well as provide some more ‘green’ in my diet.

Olive Oil

You truly know how to make a gal happy!  Just a few turns of you around the pan, and my eggs easily release and taste delicious, too! You also help keep my cholesterol and blood pressure low. And it goes without saying, my kale and brussel sprouts just wouldn’t be the same without you.

My Woo Woo Guy, Dan Court

And last but not least, Dan Court, my “woo woo” guy, you have started me on a healing road with the supplements that I faithfully take. I call you my “woo woo” guy because truthfully, your methods are so “woo woo” to my own experience.  And yet, your non-Western medicine methods helped me tremendously when the medical community, with their regulations and man-made medicines and by the book diagnoses, weren’t correct and didn’t work.  Yes, you are a long drive away from my home, and yes, I wish you took insurance to make my wallet a bit more full. BUT….had I not heard of you from a friend of a friend of my husband’s ,  I believe that I wouldn’t be as well as I am.

And I most certainly wouldn’t be back at work handling my 20 scholars with the full energy level that I currently have and need this year!

Thank you for opening my eyes and getting me back on the road to wellness!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Baby Steps Towards Healing

20160619_115230_resized[1]

It’s been six months since I started down my Lyme journey, and I’ve learned so many different ways to manage my symptoms and my health. My experience reminds me of when my daughter first learned how to walk: one foot in front of the other, slowly bobbing and weaving forward, trying to get ahead without falling.

I can remember standing at my back door this past Winter, looking at the snow piled up over my garden. It broke my heart to think that I wouldn’t be working in it the following Spring. Thankfully, I proved myself wrong. But it wasn’t without taking little baby steps every day-even when I wasn’t feeling like doing anything but laying down.20160619_093838_resized

Once the warmer weather hits, I like to wake up each morning and check out my garden. I like to see where the sun is hitting, noting which perennials are coming back to life and which ones should be moved so they get the most sun. Sometimes, I photograph my flowers, and I mentally note the progress others. On Friday, I worked at edging my garden for over an hour, without stopping to rest. I can remember when, back in the winter, I tried vacuuming a 5×7 carpet in my house for a few minutes. That minute task sent me to the couch for a few hours! So being in my garden for a good length of time, with a laborious task at hand, was not only a huge improvement, but also a sign to me that I am on the right track towards healing.

20160619_093814_resized

It’s not been an easy process, being that I’ve had to seek out other natural practitioners for help. It is a costly part of my healing, since none of my practitioners take my insurance. But I’ve gotten better advice, support, and more importantly, better health over time, than what I received from my insurance-covered medical doctors that I sought out early on. My small gains in health have been worth every check I’ve had to write out these past few months.  Each month has led me down a different path to healing, one which I wouldn’t have ever encountered if I hadn’t gotten Lyme.

20160619_093912_resized

I was out of work for 5 months, and thankfully, I had enough sick time accumulated that I was able get paid. I went back to visit my students and colleagues on the last day of school a week ago. It was so good to see everyone, and I burst into tears when I hugged my principal.

My kids’ reactions were priceless. Some hugged me, others were noticeably more excited and talkative with me, and one little boy just kept giving my side glances with a “Why are you here?” look on his face. It made me laugh inside, but it also made me realize my kids weren’t “my kids” anymore. They had changed so much since when I left because they had a different teacher in my place for so long. Little things that I taught them, like our snack song before eating, or reciting a chant for getting lined up calmly and quietly, seemed to have been forgotten.  They were one of the best classes of my career, and I sadly had to pass the reigns to a sub this year. It was a hard decision, but one that I had to follow through on if I wanted to get healthier.

Even though I have much more energy, I know that I am still healing and have more healing to do. I must keep on top of my food, fluid, and supplement intake every day to continue feeling better. I still have brain fog and need to write down even the smallest of items to remember or most mundane of tasks to complete. You can’t ask me where something is and expect a quick search and rescue response like in my pre-Lyme days. I am still limited in what I can eat, and it hampers going out to restaurants or when we entertain at home. We had company here last night and my husband made a dozen pizzas in our pizza oven while I ate my kale, broccoli, sausage, and garlic meal. I miss eating my favorite foods, but it is a small price to pay when I know other Lyme victims are hospitalized, suicidal, or even dead.

20160619_093900_resized

I am thankful that I am out and about, and not standing in my doorway, eyeing my garden and wishing to be out there, pruning and weeding.

Even if it has meant, and continues to mean, taking baby steps to get there.