Category: Coping

Closet Crying is The Best

I do my best to try and keep it together. I can pretty much manage to do this at work, even on the tough health days, which are many. But once I am home, I just let it all out.

At times, I’m like a pot boiling over. The buildup from the day: hiding the pain, trying to be energetic, fighting the fatigue, dealing with 100 things at a time along with 150 students a day, can definitely wear me down. Then, I get home, there are animals to take care of, laundry to get washed…you get it. And if I am also dealing with symptoms that are heightened such as joint pain, or insomnia, the list goes on….well then something’s gotta give.

When things just get to be too much, I go into the closet to have a good cry. Yes, I said the closet. It isn’t a huge area but it’s big enough that I can lay down and stare at the ceiling. I can turn off the light, and it is nice and quiet in there! At one point, and sometimes still, lights and noise trigger me. So, in the closet, we can block out both!

I head in there and have a bawl, literally. It sounds dumb, but it is a safe place for me. I can just let everything out without censorship from myself or anyone else. While I hate getting to this point because I am usually just brimming with the stress of trying to fake it and/or dealing with the stress of multiple symptoms, along with just daily things in life (daily things I’m not very adept at doing anymore), once I start the big cry, I begin to feel better. In some ways, I think I am just giving myself permission to let it all go.

If my husband is around, he often times will find me in the closet when I am crying, or what I like to call processing :). He’s very supportive, and he’ll just hug me until I am finished. Sometimes, the dogs will sniff me out, and they will come in for support. By the time I finish up the tears, I feel more focused and aware of what is really important and pressing and what is not.

Do you have a favorite place to let it all out? Please let me know I am not the only one who does something like this! 🙂

I hope your week is going well. Peace – B

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Lyme Update

When the anniversary of my diagnosis of Lyme disease comes along each year, I get a little freaked out. It’s irrational. But it does make me pause and reflect (which isn’t a terrible thing to do necessarily).

After about 4 years of experiencing what appeared to me as random and some migrating symptoms, after seeing 7-8 different doctors, mostly specialists, after having an MRI, a variety of blood test (more than once), and after becoming more and more ill, I lucked into seeing a doctor who tested me for Lyme disease. By the time I was diagnosed, I was very sick; I had severe daily headaches, joint pain, numbness in my feet, insomnia…the list goes on.

This March, it has been 6 years of treatment for Chronic Lyme disease. Ten years of being severely ill. And yes, I have seen improvement. The lasting symptoms that seem to never end are the chronic fatigue, the joint pain, the insomnia, and the memory/processing issues. Considering how long this list was in 2013, I can only be grateful for the progress I have made.

However, this anniversary also reminds me of what I am still struggling to deal with on a daily basis. That’s the part of this that gets me down sometimes. It’s hard not to compare the Before and the Now. And this comparison is only amplified by the years that have gone by.

The lasting and most enduring symptoms of this illness, at least in my case, are the fatigue, the insomnia (it’s so bad right now), the joint pain, and the memory/cognitive issues. Sometimes, it’s tough to see if there is any progress. I feel like these are things my doctors and I have been working on for the past 6 years. While I hope they become less severe, I also simultaneously realize this may be as good as it gets. I’m not sure I am at the acceptance stage in this case.

I hope spring is opening its doors in your world. Here in Houston, we are enjoying the mild temperatures before the real heat begins at the end of this month.

Best to you and yours, Belle

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

Let’s do the Monster Rash

Hi fellow travelers! Just a thought, if you are interested in even more mundane things I focus on, then please follow me on Twitter @readbtwnthelyme 

First, let me pre-empt the onslaught of my complaining to say I’m Hella Glad it is Summer! I’m not sure I would be able to semi handle this stupid, horrible rash as such if I were actually working. 

So, you may remember this Monster Rash attacking me..YES! Attacking me! in November 2017 with The Damn Rash is Back and again in March 2018 with Rashes, Rashes, We all fall down….. and here we are again. JOY! Now, I did have this similar rash back in April 2016 and June 2016 as well but let’s just keep it as simple as with my muddled brain this is as best I can do right now! Lord! 

In June 2016 I was seen by a dermatologist who declared NO SKIN LUPUS and Excema and sent me on my merry way. No FU. Luckily, I thought the worst was over and did not have another incident until November 2017. This incident in November also started on one side of my face, then tops of hands. It stayed fairly contained, and I was able to treat it with topical creams and OTC allergy meds. I thought I was in the clear.

Again, though, things got really messed up in March 2018. For a scintallating read see Rashes, Rashes, We all fall down….. This same rash began again on my face and proceeded to foremarms, stomach, legs…..my LLMD (let’s loosely use that term at this point!) started me on allergy shots and things blew up again. I was in rash mode almost all of March. It was horrible to say the least. The solution at this time according to my LLMD? was that I have allergies, and I needed to try allergy immunotherapy. I trusted my doctor. After the crazy reaction to the FIRST allergy shot, the vials were diluted, I was given another pack of steroids and sent on my way to find a dermatologist. Needless to say, I stopped the shots and I could not find a dermatologist I could get in to see at this point (all were 3-4 week wait) before the rash cleared up. 

Look, I knew I was looking for trouble now in retrospect. Not on purpose though. Again, I trusted my LLMD and thought, Well since I’m out of school for summer, Maybe I can try to do the allergy shots again? See how it goes? Let’s just say that I’m a DUMBASS. And also that I have learned my lesson not to ever trust my doctor who is pushing a side scheme to have my best interest at heart. Granted, I’ve had this rash before, before doing any allergy shots, but it is my belief that the shots set it off again on a course that has been a dreadful one.

I began doing these shots at home a few weeks ago. Yes, they sent the vials home with me. Yes, I was administering these myself every 3 days. Now, after seeing an allergist (who was shocked and dismayed that this was happening!) I realize that this was a really bad plan. But honestly, I had no idea. I administered my 3rd shot on Tuesday, June 19th. By Saturday evening, I had one red streak under my left eye. I hoped I was wrong, but withing 24 hours, my entire face was swollen, itchy, my eyes were so swollen, the tops of my hands were itching and the rash was moving up my forearms. The Monster Rash was back!

I arrived Monday morning at my doctor’s office as soon as they opened. After telling my tale of the sequence of events, LLMD? stated that in fact, it could not be a reaction to the allergy shots because there was no way I could/would have a reaction 3-4 days after the injection (again, the allergist didn’t seem convinced). I have no idea. I am not a doctor. I recieved a steroid shot along with a 5 day pack of steroids. I was referred to a dermatoligist – again.

While the steroid shot helped my face a bit, I was beyond miserable. The itching continued to spread. I now had spots on my neck, my shoulders, and my ankles. I saw the dermatoligist I was referred to the very next day. She had no idea why I was there. I just assumed since my LLMD? had sent me to her that communication had taken place, but no. I explained about Lyme, FMS, CFS, about the history of this rash, blah, blah, blah. She looked me over. She said maybe atopical excema? But it isn’t all of the time? Maybe contact dermatitis? But again, no new products? Maybe allergies, but still a strange deal? She told me that I am a complex case. Thanks?!

Dermatologist Diagnosis: I DON’T KNOW. COME BACK IN 2 weeks or 2 months…..!!!??? I was prescribed a much higher dose of steroids for 14 days and prescribed steroid cream for both my face and body. 

In the meantime, I had been in contact with my integrative doctor who is located about 4 hours out of town. It was suggested I add a few natural histmine blockers and see an allergist for possible food allergy testing. The days passed, and I was in utter misery. Trying not to itch, trying to have a minute of comfort, trying to figure out what the hell is going on with me? The mega steroids were maybe helping – no new spots – but they also were tearing up my stomach. I kept at it. I finally saw an allergist last Friday.

While the allergist is nice enough, and I am glad to add another decent doctor to my “team”, I honestly don’t know that I am any nearer to figuring out what is causing this rash each time it decides to rear its very ugly head. The allergist also had to have my history, with Lyme becoming a focal point and one for interrogation. That’s never a fun time.

Allergist Diagnosis: Contact dermatitis. Get rid of all products with perfumes. Perfumes and fragrances are what cause 99% of contact dermatitis cases. But doc, I ask, if contact dermatitis then why/how is it all over my face and then also on my legs and arms and…..? Well, doc says, if you are really extra sensitive, it could possibly be spreading without contact at this point. Oh, like a reaction to the orginal spot? Yes? Maybe? I had so many questions but the allergist was done. I was diagnosed and sent off to change out all of my products, to take even more doses of steroids and not much else. Follow-up is in a month assuming no new rash occurs. If it comes back sooner, I go in and we begin allergy testing…….Not sure why we are waiting but……

Monster
Running from the RASH!

I would like to say here that I am not trying to discredit any doctors nor say that I know more that they. Obviously, I don’t AT ALL!!! I believe deep down that each doctor is trying to do his or her best. But as a patient with complex and chronic diseases, sometimes I feel like I am just pushed along. I’m sure all of you have felt this before. It sucks. 

**And hey, if you are still reading – THANK YOU! I promise, my tirade is almost concluded. 🙂

So here I am, day 11 of The Monster Rash (Season 2, episode 6). The steroids are kicking my ass….more like my stomach and my mood. My face is back to normal (win!) and many of the spots are almost gone. I still have a few places where it itches, mostly in the evenings and early mornings. I’m in the process of changing out all products I use that have fragrances and/or perfumes. The big ones are easy like soap, shampoo, laundry soap. But now I keep running into things like hairspray, dishsoap, shaving cream! It’s all a matter of deducing which possible products might have an ingredient I might be allergic to….OMG. It’s all very overwhelming. And all this ASSUMES it is actually contact dermatitis and not something else.

I see my integrative medicine doctor at the end of July. I wish this doctor was closer. Since being in treatment for Lyme, etc. my IM doctor has helped me the most. She’s never actually seen me with the rash during a visit, but she is leaning towards a possible food allergy and/or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

I’m going to do what I can on my end. This includes no allergy shots anymore from my LLMD. It also includes my not putting too much faith into this particular doctor anymore. It is what it is. I doubt I will go back to the dermatoligist again. What would be the point? IDK.  I’ll stick to the allergist and see what my IM doctor might have to say about all of this when the times comes.

And of course, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed The Monster Rash does not return once I finish up the steroids by the end of this week. Please, just no. It’s been exciting and frustrating enough for the time being. 

Thanks for listening! I hope that you and yours have a safe and wonderful Independence Day! – b

Out of Sorts

I’ve got the Holiday, er, I mean Christmas, I mean Holiday tunes on right now. They’ve been on for hours now. I was really hoping it would cheer me up and make me happy but I guess it isn’t that easy. For this past few days I’ve been feeling out of sorts. I’m pretty sure I know why but i just don’t like to admit it.

It could be all the mess going on in our govenrment right now. I can’t seem to find a balance between apathetic and activist. At least in my brain. There is so much to try to process, so much that is wrong, so much just plain meaness, racism, etc., it’s overwhelming. I keep taking off the Twitter app on my phone, then readding it. On, off, on, off. I try to keep up with the news, but again, it feels like we are getting bombarded from all sides with just MESS. That may in fact be the strategy. To silence people through deliberate chaos. Who knows. But it’s all been demoralizing. For a year now….no, longer.

It could be that we’re in between holidays right now and close to the first day of Winter. Don’t get me wrong, I like the holidays, especially all of the time off to enjoy, and Thanksgiving this year was awesome. But it’s dark when I leave for work and by the time I get home, the shadows are beginning to close in. Living here in Southeast Texas we certainly aren;t starved for sunshine, but I think the short days are affecting me.

And of course there was the rash on my face. It’s clearing up now but it’s just a constant reminder that Lyme is still around. It has more power that I want to give it credit for, and I don’t like the lack of control. You would think after so many years of this shadow companion I would be more accepting and humble. Well, not so much.

And on that note, Lyme disease is the bottom line instigator of this feeling-out-of-sorts mood. I’ve been reminded by the rash, by the increasing joint pain, by the headaches and periodic nausea that indeed it is an illusion to think that I’m a regular person. “Ha ha” laughs Lyme right in my face. HA HA! And while I am grateful that I have had a couple weeks where I only had to deal with Lyme symptoms minimally (they never go away comepletely), I still don’t appreciate the false feeling of “being better.” I get it, but I don’t have to like it.

I’m trying really hard today to shift my focus and not dwell on the fact that I’ve been sick for all of my 40s. That I’ve been treating for 5 years, that I’m still testing positive for this damn disease, that I am still SICK. That the medical community seems clueless in the face of this epidemic and that so many are suffering. That I feel sick today, like a hangover but I haven’t had a drink in months. I could go on but I’m sure you are over my whining by now! Thanks for humoring me!

stormy_road

 

I think I am going to do my best today to put the Holiday back into Happy Holidays. Wish me luck, friends. The road is a hard going and a dark one right now. 

Hoping your day is one full of joy.

-Belle

 

The Damn Rash is Back

First, before I start on my rant, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a really good day. The weather was AMAZING. No humidity (say what?!?) and the high was maybe 60? Delish. It was just my mom and me and our 10-12 dogs between us. We cooked, talked, cooked, and talked. It was great to reconnect. My husband and step-daughter arrived home from out of state about 4 p.m. and then we got to visit with them and hear about their trip. I hope you and yours had as much joy as we did!

Now, the RASH. Since contracting Lyme (when this happened I have no idea but….), I have had strange rashes. On my legs. On my arms. On my hands. On my face. I had a bout with hives this past summer. I never really figured out why. It’s been since July 2016 that I’ve had a legit rash. And it was very unpleasant. It was under my left eye across my cheek. It was down the left side of my face and under my chin,

It itched so horribly!! My doctor sent me to a dermatologist (since I had just had this rash in April 2016, same place). The dermatologist tested me for skin Lupus and sent me on my way. The test was negative. She gave me some cream which helped the itching but whatever. It lasted about 10 days. 

My out of town LLMD looked at pictures a few months later and stated it was systemic and not caused by anything external, aka Lyme disease. Or maybe a virus that caught me because my immune system is just plain no bueno.

Anyhoo. It’s back. Same rash but it’s under my right eye and on my right eyelid. It itches something fierce, and I am trying my hardest not to itch it! It is miserable! It popped up Friday night and has just spread a bit. It looks like my eye is swollen. Nice. I’ve been babying it and keeping it contained by not touching it (ok, barely!). And, I’m back at work tomorrow! Yippee!! 

 Look, the last few times it has been much worse, but still. My plan is to go to work as it isn’t contagious (we figured this out the past 2 times as well) and hope that it clears up asap. If my eye gets worse or the area gets more swollen, I may have to take a day off, but I am really trying not to do that if at all possible. 

I’ll be honest, the rashes on my face just make me so anxious. Not because of what it looks like but it’s just a constant reminder that Lyme is still lurking. Lyme is still beneath the surface just waiting for any chink in the defense. It’s a reminder that even though I’ve made progress, I still have miles to go. UGH.

Surface

 

Damn rash. 

Wish me luck with this. Have a good week, friends. Be happy. – b

“If I Only Had a Brain”…..

So, The Wizard of Oz and Lyme…….

Say what?  Ok, just work with me here…..

Lyme bacteria can enter every single system in the body. Every. Single. System. 

This summer, I’ve been experiencing some really great days, in a row!!!, and then I’ve also experiencing symptoms that come and go, day to day, and sometimes, hour to hour. I think I’m noticing it more because I am off of work right now. I’m not sure. 

I’ve been wracking my brain to think of a way to explain the comings and goings of the myriad of symptoms. There really isn’t a good analogy. Not one that is really accurate nor one that people can relate to, at least not one I’ve thought of!

But I woke up the other morning so freaking stiff I could barely get out of bed. For reals. And I thought, man, I need some of that oil the Tin Man uses in The Wizard of Oz. If only!

Thus, my very weird and strange comparison began to manifest. Just to start, so I don’t scare (haha Scarecrow!) any of you off, I’ll only talk about The Scarecrow today.

Here goes nothing!

Lyme Disease and The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow longs for a brain! He’s searching for a way to get a brain as do I much of the time! While my memory has improved to some degree, I am still having word loss such as trying to find the word “dishwasher” in my vocabulary. Seriously. Easy and well-used words are out of reach at any given moment.

I have now resorted to saying “you know, that THING” or “the dohicky.” It isn’t pretty.  I also periodically (and more than I would like to) have issues with just plain old logic. I try to follow a thought in conversation or in a written piece, I’m doing well, and then POOF. All is gone and I either have to start over, asking random and ridiculous questions of the speaker, or I have to continue rereading the same section of text over and over. Honestly, many times when this happens, I just give up otherwise I will work myself into a stupid anxiety seesh.

So, indeed, like the Scarecrow, I need a brain!  Now, in our beloved story, the Scarecorw has a brain all along; he just needs to realize it and access his brain. In time, I hope to do the same!

I’m off to get the thing-a-ma-jig! Have a great weekend! -belle

 

Celebrating 3 Years Here at Read Between the Lyme!

Howdy! I just realized that this month completes 3 years of blogging here at RBTL! How awesome is that? I appreciate everyone who subscribes, reads, shares, comments and all the other cool things you people do! THANK YOU!

While I realize that I haven’t been posting as much, especially this summer, I am going to keep blogging. It has given me an outlet for writing and for connecting with others that I hadn’t imagined. So upward and onward, right?

Looking back at the past 3 years of posts, my focus has been on my personal journey involving the attempt to deal with a chronic illness. I promise to try to be better about working in some other things that maybe are not Lyme related. I can imagine just reading about How I Am Sick gets pretty boring.

stack-of-books-1001655__340

So on that note, here’s a little tidbit about me you may not know. My profession is education. I will begin my 17th year (how is this possible?!?) of teaching this August. Too soon might I add. While in college, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I flip flopped between Journalism and Psychology as majors. And I went on to get a Master’s in Composition and Rhetoric.

After working a few years at Starbucks as a store manager, I went through and Alternative Certification Program to acquire my Texas Teaching Certification. I started my career teaching 7th grade Language Arts. At this point, I am working with dual credit students who are earning both high school and college credit simultaneously in high school. Oh, and I teach English (or Freshman Composition as dual credit). It really is a great position!

Originally, I was interested in teaching community college, but those full-time-with-benefits- positions are all but over. I did adjunct for awhile when I taught middle school, but then I opened a new school in 2008 as the English Department Chair, and I just couldn’t manage it all.

I am no longer the department chair as Lyme has interrupted me in so many ways. However, it was a good ride, and I learned so much. And since I work at literally the Best Campus Ever with the Best People Ever, I have been able to adapt to a new norm as it applies to “work.” At this point, I’ve been at the same campus for 9 years. We are celebrating our first decade this year.

Teaching definitely ain’t easy. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m grateful that I have been able to continue working these past 4 years after entering treatment (finally!).

Well, so there you have it! A little reveal from me that maybe you figured out before (because I do have the smartest followers!) or maybe you didn’t know at all.

Again, THANK YOU for supporting me as a blogger these past few years. I am very grateful.

Peace –  Belle