Shall We, YouTube?

I can’t proclaim that I am actually branching out but I am venturing into some possible video options to add to this blog. I’ve never done this at all so thanks for trying it out with me! It’s something I’ve wanted to experiment with for awhile now, but honestly, I was too scared to do it. For lots of reasons. But watching my husband use Snapchat and Instagram all the time, I figured, “why not?” 

I hope my first video isn’t too horrible. I know I need serious practice with this medium. I hope your Sunday is going well, and thanks for checking out my first video and my YouTube Channel! Take care, friends!

 

 

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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

Muddled Brain

Hi my people. I know, it’s been a minute. I’d like to say “Oh, hey! I’ve been feeling SO much better that I am off having mad adventures!” but that isn’t the reason for my absence. Unfortunately. However, it isn’t because I’ve been so bad either. The honest truth is that, well, I’ve been doing my best to finish up the school year and cross the finish line for 2017-2018. And here I am!

Lately, the muddled brain is back. I guess it is brain fog, but it feels different than when I first was sick. Back then, my brain didn’t and wouldn’t work at all. It was a struggle to read even and that was despairing. I couldn’t form thoughts, my short term memory was null, and trying to say basic words? No way. It was frustrating and scary all at the same time.

Slowly, and I mean soooooo slowly, my mental skills have been improving. Reading has become easier, although I still struggle with longer texts, and I have started to join conversations again without fear of completely forgetting my train of thought.

But,  recently, maybe in the past 6-8 weeks, things have started to sneak in and/or get worse when it comes to brain function. It’s worrisome. Yet, I wouldn’t describe it as “fog.” At this point, it’s more a jumbling of thoughts in my brain that I can’t sort out. I concentrate and try to spread the thoughts out or I try to separate them into like categories, but I just cannot.

It’s more lik I have 50 thoughts going on in my head and when I try to follow one thought logically and progressively, I just cannot. So the thoughts spin and spin and then maybe, if I am lucky, they just hit a wall and stop for a bit. However, none of this is helpful when trying to actually do something that takes any concentration, say like, Problem-Solving. OMG. And it is frustrating becuase behind all of the basic shallow ideas and thoughts I am able to have and to follow to get me through the day to day, I know there are more in-depth things going on in this brain of mine that are just inaccessible. 

But otherwise today, I just want to say HI and get back to it with you. I hope your all is going well. I hope you have had some, I mean many, joyful moments. – belle

 

Update from ReadBetweentheLyme :)

Howdy Friends! It’s been awhile, I know. This year has been off to a kinda crazy start. In order not to bore you, I’ve put things into bullet points:

  • My husband had the flu over Christmas break. It lasted about 10-12 days. I tried to make sure he was as comfortable as possible. I also tried to be very patient. He recovered in time for New Year’s. 

  • School started back up, and it’s always a challenge and stressful after a longer break. I mean no one wants vacation time to end!

  • We offered to house our 22 year old nephew who was in-between homelessness and rehab. He stayed about 4 weeks. It was very stressful and not such a good experience. 😦  But, he did get to rehab and is doing 30 days at least.

  • Over the MLK weekend, we had freezing temperatures. Then, we had sleet and ice. We had 2 days out of school due to weather. I won’t lie, it was pretty fun to have “snow days!”

  • I had a severe back pain attack the same week. I ended up taking 2 days off of work because I could barely move. It was awful. My doctor says it is degenerative disc dsease. I ended up having another flare just a  few weeks after this one. I’ve considered going to a back specialist, but I am so over doctors right now!

  • Towards the end of January, my husband caught some upper respiratory infection. This lasted about 7 days. Since we are both teachers, it isn’t difficult to catch the latest crud going around at school. And believe me, there’s been a lot of germies circulating this year!

  • February was a month of Seattle rain and dreariness but in Houston. There was maybe one day that we had some sun? It was seriously depressing.  We celebrated my mom’s birthday, but that was about the only fun thing happening!

  • Spring break just started and my nephew spent 2 days in the hospital with a virus. He is on the mend now. 

  • About 10 days ago, I had a rash start up (again!) on my left eye. It lasted all week and then seemed to go away. But the Saturday, the rash started on the top pf both hands and on my neck. From there, it has popped up on legs and arms. It is so much worse at night. I’ve been downing Benedryl. The last time this happened, my LLMD was clueless (she made me treat for bed bugs which it is so NOT) and the dermatologist said it wasn’t “skin lupus” and sent me on my way. I’m just aiting it out because again – I am so over doctors right now!

  • The weather has been beautiful! Temps are about 70 and it is sunny outside. 

  • I had a list of a few things to get done during Spring Break and I have about 140 research papers to grade, but right now, I am just going to take it easy. 🙂

shrugging

So that is a really quick update! I see one of my LLMDs this Friday, but I don’t expect much at all, if I even see her personally. I’m not trying to be bitter but I am just a little. I’m very grateful that I have my holistic LLMD that I see every 4 months, otherwise, I just don’t think I would have made the progress I have this past year. 

I hope you and yours are enjoying your days. Best to you.

Peace – 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.

dog-734689__340

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