Category: chronic illness

End of Spring Break

We head back to work tomorrow after a week off. It was a much needed break. Looking back at the time span between January and March 8th, I’m only just now realizing how stressed I was.

It took 2 days to decompress. The stress had compounded, and I didn’t do a good job of handling it. I drove myself very hard to try to finish all work within the work day schedule; it is difficult to muster the brain power and energy to do much of anything when I get home. And so I pushed and pushed. But I was still bringing home planning and grading to do week nights and weekends.

I’m not sure how or why after 18 years of teaching I forgot that this job will break you if you let it.

And I let it. By the time this break started, I was a complete mess and many symptoms were flaring up, especially the Neuro issues and the pain.

I did spend time on work – about 5 hours- this week. It was on things that have a deadline asap. But I limited the time I spent. Because, if I had finished everything else, I would have worked 4 days of this break at least. No lie.

Of course this means that this coming week, when I’m back in classes, that I’ll have 150 research papers to grade, the marking calendar to finish, along with grading the writing and quizzes we complete this week.

It will get done. I just need to pace myself better. My health should be my priority, and I let that out of my sight. Time to get back on track.

I hope you’ve had a good week and that signs of spring are evident! Happy Saint Patrick’s day, friends! 💚💚💚-b

Newton at San Marcos river
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What A Week

I wasn’t sure I would make it through last week. It’s almost Spring Break, and I teach  high school dual credit English courses. We are in the midst of our research unit. Must I say more? Truly, it is the unit I love and despise the most. I love it because I get to talk with students about their interests, what they think about topics, and their ideas. I despise it because students usually have not been required to do any kind of research in the past (or if some, very little) and so there are so many things they need to learn that it becomes very overwhelming. Especially when there are 145 of them and one little ole’ me.

But every year, I consider changing up this unit, and I just don’t. One of the most challenging things for students is that they get to pick their own topic and narrow it for the paper requirement (take a position). This really throws them for a loop. Choice? What do I want to do? I have freedom?  While I could just assign them all the same topic such as: Take a position on whether we should continue to use the death penalty in Texas, I just can’t do it. I feel like doing it that way just isn’t authentic.

And so here I am. Tackeling so many different topics from all kinds of perspective which I love/hate. Plus, this past week, my brain has been very, very jumbly. I don’t quite know the exact word for it. But while on a good day I still struggle with cognitive issues, word loss, brain fog, last week it hit an all-time high of barely functioning. And while I am a little worried, I honestly think it is worse right now because of all of the stress.

A new symptom though that has popped up, is changing aroung letters. That hasn’t happend to me before. Yes, I can’t remeber certain words many times. Easy words like door or watch. But this past week, when I would go to type or write out a word, I would begin to jumble the letters. Strangest thing ever. I would never get further than about 3 letters in and realize – What the Heck- but again, I’ve never had this before.

 

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And of course, between struggling for words, short term memories, and spelling correctly, the angst from that caused more stress for me. I am fully aware of what I can’t do. But no matter ho hard I try to get my brain to work correctly, it doesn’t. To some degree, it’s easier to be at work with these issues that anywhere else. Sounds a little cray, right? But I think that after 18 years of teaching, that environment I have to some degree mastered in a way I can function and cover up my brain issues.

In other areas, not so much. My husband has been frustrated with me because I can’t communicate well. I sometimes don’t remmeber things he tells me. I can’t speak well. I told him the other day that I was really struggling with brain issues and that it was way worse this past week. He said, “Well, it’s nothing new.”  And while I think he was trying to be nice and blow it off, I won’t lie; it really hurt my feelings. But maybe it’s the truth and one I don’t want to hear. I see one of my doctors March 11th and I’m definitely bringing these issues up.

Anyway, back at it tomorrow. The weekend helped a bit, but my brain is still not back to a good place. I’m hoping during Spring Break, my brain will get back on track. Or at least seem that way to me so I can pretend I am doing better!  I hope your week went well.

Take care – Belle

Living the Dream

Hi my people, well to say it’s been awhile would be an understatement. It’s been months, lots of them. I’m not really sure how I got off track, but I sure did. I hope this finds you all well. I hope you managed through the holidays and Happy New Year!

I wish I could say I’ve been kickin’ it up and having a grand ole time. And maybe some of the time during my lapse, I could say this. Of course, some of the time has been surviving, making it to work, and trying to not miss too many days at work so, you know, I get paid. So far, so good.

Treatment-wise, let’s see. Really not much has changed. I’m completely off of antibiotics, and I have been now for a good solid 2 years. I still take supplements and those change off and on. My thyroid seems to be working well and overall, the fatigue is less.

Sometimes, I can almost forget about the Lyme disease. But not completely. Last summer, I battled a weird rash and had about 6-8 doctor appoints in a 2 month span with my LLMD, dermatologist, allergist…all to the conclusion that we really don’t know what is causing it. I haven’t had an issue with it since last summer, so I am hoping there won’t be any recurrence. Fingers crossed-always.

Many symptoms have cleared up – the migraines, the lower back pain, the neck pain; I could go on….  But I am still dealing with fatigue and memory issues. I’m unsure if these things will ever be optimal again. My integrative doc has me on iodine drops, and we’re working on hormone balancing now too. She would like me to try the 3 Pass at my appointment in June, but i’m kind of a scaredy cat about it! I have no idea why!

It’s coming up on the anniversary of 6 years treating this disease. It is also then been about a decade since I first started having very noticeable symptoms. It’s strange then to wonder what I would actually be feeling like a decade older with the Lyme disease. Hard to say.

I’ll definitely try to be more on it and post more! I just feel boring.  And I’m not sure what people might want to hear from a person with Chronic Lyme disease. Hey, I’m still sick! LOL!

If there’s anything you want to hear about or questions I can answer, please, please let me know. Until next time, take care.

Peace – Belle

P.S. We love dogs and have several strays, so lots of puppy pics! 🙂

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Zola all snuggled up!

And the Thunder Rolls

It’s 9:20 p.m. and lots of thundering going on. Not much else though. If we get rain, that would be awesome. It rained all day on the 4th which is unheard of for the most part here in this area of Texas. We were grateful then. If we get more tonight then, boy, howdy!

The summer seems to be speeding right along and while I’ve learned over the years, unwillingly I might add, not to have nor to set any crazy goals for summer break, I do it anyway in the way back of my mind. I know I’ll be disappointed because well, chronic illness. All the magical thinking I conjure doesn’t change the facts that there is much I just can’t do anymore or I can’t do for any extended period. Ugh.

I wanted to start adding some exercise. Maybe yoga. I used to get up early before work years ago and do a 35 minute yoga session daily. I loved it. But that’s way too much right now. I got a yoga stretch DVD. I’ve done it a few times but nowhere near what I thought I would/could.

I need to work on school stuff but every time I sit down to do it, I just can’t stay focused. I reset but it only helps for a bit and then- what was I doing?

The more time goes by, the more I realize what I haven’t done, what I haven’t accomplished, what I haven’t produced. It’s all just expectations I’ve put on myself. I know this fact, but I still feel unsettled about not doing more with my time off.

But it’s been good to be off of work. I can rest when I need to. I can do basic chores. I can cook. I can clean. We’ve gone to the lake a couple times-just for a few hours- as the heat is killer for me. I’ve also been reading a lot. Picking up reading again, longer pieces, has been a true joy. I lost the concentration skills when Lyme showed up, and during my first 4 years of treatment I was so sick I just couldn’t manage it well at all. I have like 10 ebooks checked out from the library and several others on hold. I’m very happy about being able to read longer texts again!

Well, the thunder has moved out of here with nothing to show for all of the drama. I guess it’s just a heat storm.

I’m going to try to get some sleep. Happy dreams, friends. xoxo – B

Rashes, Rashes, We all fall down…..

Happy Sunday out there! We are having some very unseasonable cold weather with the high yesteraday at a 50 degrees! WHAH? In April? It’s been pushing 80 this past week but then a cold front rolled in. It is probably the very last until September so we will take what we can get and enjoy it fiercely!

The past 30 days have been pretty unfun. I mean overall, it’s been a good month. But healthwise, it’s been well…strange. Since and before contracting Lyme, I have dealt with weird rashes. I have very fair skin and red hair so it comes with the territory. But in the past 2 years, I’ve had some bouts with rashes on my face and hands that have been really challenging. There also seem to be no answers to the Why I get these cropping up periodically.

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Right after Thanksgiving, a rash poppped up on the right side of my face. It itched like crazy. But I babied it and it cleared up within a week. I didn’t bother to go to a doctor because in the Spring of 2016 had  had the same, even worse though, and did the whole shebang of treatments including a dermatologist visit that rendered: No skin lupus diagnosis. Let’s just say it was a massive waste of time and I found no answers. You can read more about it here The Damn Rash is Back. 

So back to 30 days ago. The rash again started on the left side of my face. My eyes swelled up. Patches began showing randomly on my arms, legs, neck. UGH. I had an appointment with my LLMD already so I waited until I saw her about 10 days later. The rash still hadn’t cleared and was making me crazy, espeically in the evening when it flared up and itched so horribly. I literally had no expectations as my faith in my LLMD here in town is seriously wavering.

But, she gave me hope! She tested me for alleriges and I tested nigh for all. She put me on a steriod pack and gave me a steroid shot. She wanted to start me on allergy shots. Things were looking up! Within a few days, the rash was clearing up. I could sleep and wear my contacts again! Yippee!  But not so fast.

On March 26th, I went back to the doctor’s to begin the allergy shot regimine. The rash from the previous 3 weeks was all but gone. I picked up my shots, instructions, and plan. I also received 2 small shots to begin. I would take another 2 shots on Thursday and 3 days from then on for 6 months.

Then, Tuesday happened. I woke up. Both eyes were seriously swollen and red. The rash was back on my face. I called the allergist. She was very surprised as I was started on the lowest dose. By Wednesday, the rash was all over my stomach as well. WTF???!!!

I had to take another day off of work and returned to the doctor the following Monday. She insisted that I see a dermatologist again. She also told me to take the shots again on that day….WHAT?!….and told me if it got worse….WORSE???? ….to take another steroid pack she was prescribing me. I refused to take the allergy shots and left very angry.

Side note: While my LLMD here in town did diagnose me with Lyme, thankfully, and she did save my life I believe, she just doesn’t not have the time nor the tools to treat chronic illnesses in a  capacity needed. Or maybe in my case. I’m not sure. I continue to see her because she is close. And I need a doctor here that knows Lyme. And she does. However, increasingly, I get frustrated with her and her lack of assistance now that I am starting to improve but still no where near well. My other LLMD is about 3-4 hours from here so I cannot run to her when I have thes kinds of issues. I also can’t get in to see her ASAP. Appointments for her are booked out 3-4 weeks. 

I tried that Monday to get into a dermatologist. But they are also booked up. One office I called said May 2nd was earliest appointment. The rash was killing me. I finally broke down and started the 2nd steriod pack this past Thursday. The rash is almost cleared up again.

I have no idea what is going on. I also do not believe a dermatologist will be helpful. Plus, I have no rash to biopsy now. I refuse to try the allergy shots again right now. They are sitting in the fridge but I just can’t chance it. True, I could get the rash again just due to regular allergies. BUT I am not tempting fate by giving myself a shot right now. 

I’ll see my out of town LLMD in July. I tried to get on standby this past week but no dice. She has an email service that cost annually I am considering. It gives complete access to her as needed via email. I’ve heard good things abut this especially for the out of town patients such as myself. 

So that’s been my eventful month! How are all of you doing? I hope your journey in recovery is going well, friends. Until next time.

Hugs, Belle

 

Happy New Year 2018 with Many Thanks

Hello and Happy New Year! I know I’ve been a bit silent lately, but it isn’t for any particular reason. This winter break is going way too fast. My husband has been battling the flu. It hit him the week of finals and is still hanging on. The doctor said this flu hangs on for sure. I think he’s finally on the mend. My fingers are still crossed that I will indeed NOT get this flu.

We had a great Christmas, very sinple. I hope you and yours had a good day as well! I haven’t been up to much really. Keeping the house clean, puppies fed, husband nursed. All things I am so grateful for as a matter of fact. Being off of work has allowed me to rest and do things I normally just can’t manage to do while working full-time mostly due to fatigue and other symptoms. Goingout  to a movie and out to eat are definite treats!

Overall, my health has been steadily alright this semester. I gained some ground over the summer, and I feel like I have managed to keep a grasp on most of that ground. I see my holistic doctor in a few days, and I am curious as to where we go from here. I’m still dealing with afternoon fatigue. My thyroid is not working properly – AGAIN – and a few weeks ago, I started having slight numbness on the lower right side of my face. Nothing that itches or hurts. It just feels like there is pantyhose covering that small area. It is a strange feeling.

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Newton and I taking a New Year’s day walk. COLD!

Yes, I told my doctor here (my original LLMD) this information when I saw here last week – oh wait. I didn’t see her; I saw her PA. Now the PA is a very sweet person, but now it has been 6 months since I have seen my primary LLMD. Seriously.

Anyway, I told her about the numbness and she said, “Wow. Yes, I am sure that is annoying.” That was all. I’m still waiting for my labwork to come back and for the doctor to advise me on what is next. Honestly, I don’t expect much. I shouldn’t be irritated. This is one of the many reasons I went and found a secondary holistic LLMD 2 years ago. However, my 2nd doctor is a 3+ hour trip away from home and does not take insurance and so I have 2 doctors – one near, and one far. I count myself extremely lucky for sure as I know many Lyme disease patients who have no access to an LLMD at all.

Thank you for all of your support throughout my humble journey with Chronic Lyme disease thus far. This blog and this space with you, my friends, has been such a wonderful gift. You have listened to me, encouraged me, understood me, and loved me. I couldn’t ask for anything more. From the bottom of my heart, I embrace you and wish you each the best of everything in this beautiful year to come. Here’s to 2018!

With Love and Joy, Belle

 

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LuAnn is all ready for the freezing temperatures we are experiencing here in Houston!

Trust Thyself?

Howdy out there! Well, yes, the Astros won the World Series, folks, and we here in Houston, Texas are celebrating! Good stuff! 

So, just a quick recap: I’m now officially off all antibiotics for a 2nd time now in my 5 years of treatment for Chronic Lyme disease. Sure, lately I’ve been a bit paranoid, wanting to chalk every.single.everything. up to Lyme. I certainly try to keep track of any weirdness or symptoms cropping up. You know, JUST IN CASE.

Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty fatigued in the afternoons. It hasn’t affected my ability to work, but I certainly do not get much of anything done after work. I’m not really noticing too many other symptoms so that is encouraging. There was one day this past week that I had a lot of stiffness and joint pan throughout the day, and it’s been a few months since that has happened. Again, good news.

But, yeah, the fatigue can be scary. Ever since I was so very sick this past March, the fatigue kinda freaks me out a little, I won’t lie. It’s one of those lingering symptoms of Lyme and especially Chronic Lyme. It’s like a shadow that follows me everywhere. I can’t seem to shake it. Even when I was off during the summer, it was always there, lurking. I feel like I have to always be on guard about the fatigue. It swallowed me up whole this past Spring, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to come out of it. Luckily, I did but it certainly wasn’t a given. Fatigue is stealthy and ninja-like too. It comes on slowly but quickly too and before you realize it, the fatigue takes over everything.

When I’ve been in the dark depths of this illness, in the pit of the chronic fatigue, the pain, the headaches, nausea, there have been times where I have actually doubted my own sickness. What I mean is, there have been times when I have questioned whether if I am really sick. I’ve  thought: maybe I am just  lazy? Maybe I just don’t want to work or maybe I just don’t like my job anymore?  Maybe I was sick, but I’m not anymore? Maybes, maybes. Why would I even question myself like this?

I think some it has to do with being ill for so long. I’m not sure. It took several years if feeling sick to get a correct diagnosis and then, in my case, even when I began treatment, I did not see any real progress in feeling any better for many years. I am sure there are many out there with chronic illness that sometimes doubt themselves. PLEASE DO NOT DOUBT YOURSELF, EVER.

Of course I am sick! In fact, I can almost remember the very day I realized something wasn’t right in my body and that was in November 2009. Then it took almost 4 more years and at least 8 doctors to get correctly diagnosed with Lyme disease.

I know it’s utterly illogical to think otherwise. Whenever I have a little more energy and if I feel a little better, I am doing things I haven’t been able to do in a long time. It’s so stupid to blame myself formy  physical ailments. And yet. Those thoughts have crept in from time to time. Perhaps it’s some sort of weird coping mechanism? I’m not sure. 

But now that I have a reprieve from a lot of the symptoms, I know that these doubts were silly. I have to keep reminding myself to trust my gut and to trust my instincts. They haven’t failed me yet. In fact, they are what saved my life. 

Here’s a tidbit from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance” (we have been studying this in class and seems relevant. Maybe not, but I like it LOL):

“Every man discerns between the voluntary acts of  his mind, and his involuntary perceptions. And to his involuntary perceptions, he knows a perfect respect is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed. All my wilful actions and acquisitions are but roving;— the most trivial reverie, the faintest native emotion are domestic and divine.”

And also Emerson says “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

That’s exactly what I intend. 

Have a happy week, friends. – b

 

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You’re Kinda Cool

Howdy out there! In  our neck of the woods, we’re enjoying the 60 degree weather and the World Series brouhaha. We’re also hoping the Astros win!! Fingers crossed.

So, I’m off of all antibiotics now for Chronic Lyme. It’s been about a weekish. In the past 10 days, I have been feeling the fatigue creeping back in. Not drastic by any means, but I can feel its weight. By about 1 p.m. in the afternoons now, I’m pretty much  done and I’m ready to go home and rest. A few nights this past week, I have gone to sleep by 7 p.m. While I’m not noticing a lot of other symptoms, I’m still worried and pensive about not being on medication. I did blood work last Tuesday, so hopefully the results will be back this week and I’ll hear from my doctor. 

I know I shouldn’t worry and that “it is what it is” but easier said than done. It’s hard to find a balance between ignoring and obsession! I am trying to be hyper-vigilant without being a freak. Hmm.

Work is going well. My students are great, and I think we all adjusted after Hurricane Harvey postponed our start for a few weeks. It still feels weird though that Thanksgiving is just 3 weeks away. How did that happen?

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Anyway, being a teacher and one that is chronically ill, 5 performances daily can be extremely difficult (teaching is a demanding job even when one is healthy!). I work hard at projecting an energetic and positive image while in the classroom regardless of how I may be feeling. My audience is 15-17 year olds, and they can sometimes be a very tough crowd, even on a good day! 

But here’s a note I received in my mailbox from one of my students on Friday:

“You’re kinda cool, I guess.”

I literally laughed out loud. Really, this is like receiving an Oscar in my line of work. I’ll take the wins when and where I can get them.

Stay kinda cool, my peeps. Have a great week! – b

I Still Gots the Lyme!

Hi all!! I know it’s been a skip and a beat. The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey ate up much of my time, then school started. Starting school 2 weeks late has thrown things off and so, I admit, it has taken me awhile to get back into the swing of things. I honestly didn’t realize that it had been so long since I had posted.

I hope this finds you and yours well. While the first day of Fall has come and gone, I can attest that it certainly has not arived whatsoever here in Houston much to everyone’s dismay. In fact, yesterday, the high was 90 degrees. No bueno. Yes, the shadows are changing, birds are gathering, and clouds look “fall-like” and yet, it is no cooler. I believe there is a cool front rolling through this evening (LIES!), but I don’t dare to look at WeatherBug and be disappointed again.

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But hey! I still have Chronic Lyme disease! However, the months of July, August, and most of September were the best I have felt in the past 4 years!!  It has been like the clouds in my brain cleared away and the sun felt brighter and life was more beautiful. Sincerely.  When I saw my OT (out of town doc) in September, she asked me what I thought was working and making the difference. Here’s what I told her:

  1. the additional thyroid medication she put me on in May,
  2. being off of work (I had all of June, July and half of August off completely),
  3. and maybe the combo therapy of antibiotics ahe put me on in June.
  4. But really, I don’t know for sure.

I started back to work in mid-August, then the Hurricane/flooding, then 2 weeks off, then back to work. This is week 6 of being back to work full-time. So far, it hasn’t been bad. But I can start to feel a change in my body. It feels like I’m slipping somehow, albeit very slowly.

At my OT doctor appointment in early September, my doctor decided that it was time to start weaning off the antibiotics. I was hesitant but I also know that we have to see if I can manage without them. I have been on Rifampin since March and on Ceftin and Zithromax since June. I eliminated Zithromax first, then Ceftin, and this is my last week on Rifampin. I felt alright without Zithromax. But the week I stopped Ceftin (about 3 weeks ago), the daily headaches seemed to return. 

At first, I blew it off thinking it was becuase I had a cold. But I can say for sure now that the headaches are back. I’m also feeling a little less energetic. Again, I doubt myself and make excuses – I’m back at work, I’m not sleeping as much, I’m…..but I know deep down that it is Lyme related. 

I’m giving it this week, and then I will contact my OT doc. She said to let her know if I start having symptoms again as I come off the antibiotics. Of course, I am having all kinds of thoughts, worries, emotions about this but that is for another post. 🙂 

I just keep telling myself not the dismiss ANYTHING nor any SYMPTOMS. I have to trust my gut on everything and that is OK. Lyme became CHRONIC in my system because it was left to go bonkers for years in my body.

That ain’t happening again. Not on my watch.

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Peace to you, friends. Until next time xxoo – Belle

 

 

Heading Back to Work Very Cautiously

Honestly, I’m not sure I wrote about trying to make the decision about whether to continue working or not this past spring.  I am a high school teacher in my 17th year now. This past March, my health and mental health were at the breaking point, and I had to go on a medical leave. That alone was tough. I was out lof work 3 weeks (one week was Spring Break). It was much needed time off to rest and get physically to a less fatigued state, and I was able to make it through the rest of the school year when I returned from leave. 

But taking a medical leave definitely made my husband and I have some serious and challenging conversations about whether I should continue to work or not. We’ve actually been talking about it for a couple of years now. But finances weren’t where we wanted them, savings wasn’t enough, we have a daughter in college….blah, blah. You know it all. Yet, in March, I was so bad, everything was so bad, that those things just weren’t that important anymore. If I had to stop working, we would deal with it. 

And yet. After some discussions with my husband, my family, and co-workers, I have decided to return for this school year. I’m worried though. And I may be putting myself into an awkward position if I have to leave in the middle of the semester or at semester time. I agonize over leaving my students like that, over possibly leaving my colleagues like that – basically in a lurch. But, work told me that I need to do what I can and what I want and if it comes down to a decision such as leaving then I will have to do it, and it will work out.  Bottomline is they would rather have me there for as long as possible then have me resign prematurely. This in itself is a relief of sorts. I know I’m replaceable; it isn’t that. I just don’t want to cause issues for others. Teaching is hard enough when everything is going smoothly!

Once I made the decision to go back, I was excited. Then, I transitioned to feeling freaked out. This summer, my health has improved. I don’t know if it is the new antibiotics I am on or my additional thyroid meds or a combo but it has been a real JOY! Yes, of course, I am off for the summer and so I can rest, etc. when I want, but I’ve been doing this for the past 4 summers and I can tell you for certain, this summer has been different. I’ve had days and weeks of energy levels I haven’t experienced in YEARS. YEARS. 

With this new found improvement in health, I am even more anxious now to return to work. Weird, right? I’m afraid I will lose this feeling, this energy. I’m fearful I will end up feeling so overwhelmed and fatigued that I can’t do anything outside of working (and even that became impossible in March). I don’t want this little victory for my quality of life to go away or be whittled away somehow.

I don’t know how I am going to handle the 8-9 hour days. Many of my physical symptoms have improved but what if I go into a flare? WHAT IF? I know I am making myself silly by worrying about thinsg I have absolutely no control over. I logically know this. I keep telling myself that I just have to take it literally day by day. Step by step. We’ll have to see how it goes. We have a Plan B…kinda.

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Source: pixabay.com

Teachers start back tomorrow. We’ll have a few weeks of professional development and then students are back August 28th. I’ve only ben anxious since Wednesday. Off and On….all of today. The alarm is set, I have my bag packed, there’s not much else I can do, right?

I want to be excited, and I am. I’m beginning my 17th year of teaching, my Awesome department chair gave me the classes I want, the schedule that best suits my health needs, the team I want to work with. There is absolutely nothing to not be grateful afor and about! My biggest WISH is that I am able to complete this school year in a healthy state.

Thanks for reading and for listening, dear peoples. Peace – Belle