Doc Talk v. 3

Update, my pretties! 

Today, I had my 6 week follow-up with my doctor. Six weeks ago, after the 3rd CDC positive Lyme test in the 4 years I’ve been treating (not a new infection), my doctor put me back on antibiotics. I had been off of ABX for about 18 months. 

My doctor wanted to try Rifampin. It is an older Tuberculosis medication but supposedly, some patients who have been sick with Lyme for a long time and who continue to have bands show on bloodwork are finding this medication is helpful, particularly in treating persister bacteria. I figured “Why Not?” Let’s give it a go.

So here I am six weeks later. The fatigue is definitely better but it’s still there. I have some short bursts of energy (or energy for me at least!) periodically. At least the fatigue is not as ridiculous as when I had to take medical leave from work in March. Oh, Snap! I don’t think I mentioned that before – time for a post about THAT and soon. But otherwise, I don’t feel much different than I did 6 weeks ago.

migraine

Luckily, I’ve had no issues with this particular medication. I’m just trying to take probiotics religiously!! Since my doctor takes insurance, I literally see her for about 8-10 minutes per visit and today was no exception. In fact, today, I think we had a whole 5 minutes together. Insane.

Yes, there are other doctors I could possibly see. However, in Texas, the options for docotrs who know and BELIEVE in Lyme disease are very, very few and far between. Yes, I’ve had some more wise and more dedicated Lyme patients tell me to “Go out of state” and/or “do experimental treatments.” (Uhm, yes, there is a saracstic tone in the last sentence). While I sincerley wish I could do and try EVERYTHING to try and get better, the reality is that I don’t have the money for all of that. Not even close. I’m just doing the best I can with what I got.

Conclusion of said visit? Keep taking the Rifampin. Check on Lyme and the fatigue through blood work (results in 5-7 days). Revisit in 2 months. Like I said, short, short visit.

I will see my other out-of-town doctor mid-May. She is no longer taking insurance so I’ve been saving up my shekels so I can at least have an hour with her. This will run $299+. This will not include any extras. I would love to do a Vitamin C IV ($175) and a Glutithione IV ($175+) but that isn’t going to happen. Honestly though, I am looking forward to spending a whole hour with my doctor. An hour! That’s more that I spend with my doctor here in town in a year. No lies, people. 

Lyme disease, once chronic as it is for me now, it a very difficult and complex beast to tame and treat. I know that seeing a doctor for 5-10 minutes every 3 months isn’t working anymore and probably hasn’t for awhile. I’m really counting on this May visit with my other doctor to be awesome. I’ll keep you in the loop!

Hoping all is well in your world. I’m going to do my best to post more frequently. Let’s just say that March was a real *biatch and leave it at that.

Peace – b

More Fatigue and No Surprise

The only metaphor I know that makes any sense in trying to describe how I have been feeling since the beginning of the New Year is this: I feel like that for about the past three months, I have been holding my breath underwater, and I am just now breaking through to the surface. Hell, I know this is an old and used up cliche/metaphor. But it is a good one. Maybe it is also like having your head under the covers for too long; it gets hot, you can see, but you just want to come out for fresh air.

As I shared here Lyme test, after 4 years of treatment, I have tested positive again for Lyme. This is not from a new / recent tick bite. This is from the infection I have had all of these years. That was at the beginning of March. So in order to catch you up and not in the really long boring way, here are the highlights:

March 2 – I’m suffering from crushing fatigue and have been for several months. My attendance at work has been patchy at best. My doctor decides to put me on medical leave (honestly, such a relief). Tests for Lyme disease, Epstein Barr Virus, and thyroid are conducted.

March 8 – Results are back and I am once again (3rd time) postive for Lyme disease. The EBV is also reactiviated. Thyroid is ok (other than the Hashimoto’s). I’m a little freaked out that I’m positive for Lyme again. But this is at least the 15th or more time in the past 7 years the EBV is active again. All of my symptoms in the past few months have pointed these things, but since I feel bad that I am not at work, at least the tests validate my need for rest.

March 15 – Follow-up with my doctor. I haven’t been on any antibiotics for about 18 months. I’ve been treating the Lyme holistically. And I am happy taking that route. However, with the Lyme being active and in force, we decide that another round of an antibiotic I haven’t tried might be in order.  I am put on another week of medical leave and I add a six weeks regime of new ABX to my treatment.

 

Sleeping dog image by zipclick on Photobucket_1263059849863
Source: thesleepingdogs.net

March 27 – I head back to work, and while I am glad to get back, I am also very, very aprehensive. While at home, I rested a ton. I was able to keep to my routine treatment wise. I actually could do a few things such as sweep the floor and make dinner (not every day but still!), things I can barely if at all manage while working a full-time job. I also realize that for the past 6 months, since school started back in the fall, my like has been so limited due to the illness and to the severe fatigue. In fact, I realize that my life has literally become this cycle, Rest, Work, Rest. Every afternoon evening of a eork day is Rest. All weekend: Rest. No outside functions, no regular activities others  can accomplish such as grocery shopping, running to the bank, etc. My world has become so limited, and I am beginning to understand that the approach I have used in tackling Lyme and friends for the past 4 years is just no loner working.

April 1 – I did alright after this past week at work. But I can feel the fatigue sneaking back in. I will see my dotor for a 3 week follow-up on Wednesday. We’ll see how and if the medicaton is working and if it is helping. If I had to give a report today I would share that really not much has changed. While I do feel a smidge less fatigued, I don’t know if that it because I just came off 3 weeks of complete rest and minimal stress or if indeed the medication is helping. I’m hopeful but I just can’t be too invested in the outcome.

Today – I have to rest. I have to physically and metally prepare for the week ahead, both work and otherwise. I’ll plan on cooking us dinner this evening and possibly do a bit of laundry but only if I can manage it. It’s a rainy day and so I’m dealing with joint pain and just overall soreness and pain so we’ll see if anything actually manifests. 

I hope you and yours have a wonderful Sunday! Peace to you – Belle

 

 

 

Dear Western Medicine: The Break-Up Letter

Dear Western Medicine,

While you and I have had a long, steady and committed relationship, it hasn’t always been a bed full of roses. However, I would like to begin by celebrating what has worked for us. First, thank you for delivering me into this world safe and sound, and making sure my mom had a speedy recovery. Also, thank you for doing this for my two younger brothers as well. You had a good heart at the beginning.

Your diligence and kindness did help me through my teenage years; I wasn’t sick very often so there wasn’t much of a strain on our relationship. Things were simple then, and we had a strong bond. I knew I could count on you if anything minor would happen like a broken arm or leg (don’t all kids long for a cast?) Check-ups went well with no major injuries or illnesses, well except for a severe case of mono and strep in my mid-20s.

We coasted along you and I, only periodically needing to reassess our relationship, always determining that we were continually committed to one another. But then things started to become tenuous. In 2009, I began suffering from fatigue and malaise. At first, you told me that I was having another episode of mono. I believed you. I rested, and I got better. Yet, this cyclical issue continued for 3 years. The answer for my sickness was always the same: mono – again. By 2011, you diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s. Ok, I thought. All relationships go through periods of growth and change. Compliantly, I added thyroid medication to my routine and assumed that I finally understood what was happening to me. But our relationship continued to be rocky.

Alas, Western Medicine, you deluded me.  By the fall of 2012, I had already experienced 4 relapses of mono or Epstein Barr Virus and the fatigue was getting worse and lasting longer. I began having daily headaches and joint pain. The lower back pain and the neck pain were the worst. I began having trouble getting through a day at work. I saw 7-8 doctors of yours who all professed a specialty. I put my faith in these doctors. Batteries of tests were run. And yet, every result came back negative. How could you fail me this way?

Letter writing
Breaking up is hard to do.

You took away years of my life! If only I were diagnosed in 2009 with Lyme disease (which I tested 100% CDC positive for in March 2013), maybe, just maybe, I would not now have chronic Lyme, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and chronic EBV along with a few other choice conditions. If only you would have seen me as a person, as a person dealing with REAL symptoms, as a whole person rather than just parts, maybe we could have stayed together and worked things out.

But you pushed me aside for bigger and better things, for easier diagnoses and for illnesses detected and treated in the 8-10 minutes you are able to give each of your patients. You told me that my symptoms weren’t real, that my daily headaches were caused by dehydration, that my neck pain was from carrying my purse on the same side all of the time. You told me that chronic EBV doesn’t exist. You did MRIs and told me that there was no reason for the neuropathy in my feet. I was sent on my way at every turn without answers and most of all, without any support.

It was because of my own perseverance and my own belief that indeed there was something wrong I was able to get a correct diagnosis finally. That all of the symptoms I was experiencing were in fact REAL. And just because you couldn’t figure out what was going on didn’t mean it wasn’t happening to me. But even after my Lyme diagnosis, I stuck with you, scared to go on without you and your “modern ways.” I subjected myself to the self-doubt, to the scrutiny of a multitude of Western Medicine doctors, including my Endocrinologist who, when I told her about the Lyme, repeated my Lyme diagnosis in disbelief and disdain.

Even after all of this time, you are able to deny me the care of another. For more holistic and natural approaches, I can’t use my health insurance. You dictate that Lyme disease be treated with only 3-4 weeks of antibiotics and that is only if one of your doctors knows even a smidge about Lyme (and most know nothing).

It is time to let me go. I need to move on, and I need the opportunity and the freedom to explore other relationships. I deserve the best possible care for the chronic conditions I am experiencing right now. I need to be believed and not neglected because I don’t fit into the role of the good patient you want me to be. So, from here on out, we part ways.

While I wish you the best, my main hope is that you can someday soon expand your horizons and build better and more positive relationships in the future.

Sincerely,

Your Ex-Patient

 

Don’t Dream It’s Over

Good Monday morning, my people. What a most glorious weather weekend! Finally, we here in the bowels of Texas have had some fantastical temperatures. Way better than the 90+ temps from last weekend. I was able to get out and enjoy some of this myself. Awesome!

So I am at the gas station on Friday afternoon and I hear this song “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House blasting through the outside stereo system (I mean, who in their right mind can pump gas without a soundtrack?) except, unfortunately, in our skewed one dimensional universe, it isn’t Crowded House I hear singing this melody. Actually, I’m not even sure who it is, but it freaks me out all the same. I mean, this song isn’t THAT old and someone has already remade it? And the remake isn’t even a good one. Seriously? Can we not come up with any new ideas, songs, writing, etc. that isn’t just a remake of the old? I know, I know. Most likely, my aggravation is just a sign of my aging.

But the song takes me back to when it was first released in 1986. Ok, ok, that was 30 solid years ago, but it certainly doesn’t excuse the horrible remake of the Original. Yes, I was in high school, a sophomore or junior, and it was a song that was popular and played on the radio incessently.  This was BL, Before Lyme, and I was into so much, and I had the energy to do pretty much whatever I set my mind to! In high school, I was a member of the school paper so I went to all kinds of high school sporting events (my entry level postion was a sports writer – too funny), and then I worked my way up to editor my senior year. As most teenage kids, I was very social. My circle of friends was far and wide. At 16, in Kansas, I could drive already and so, this made getting together with friends way easier than not. 

All that energy! If only I could have bottled some up and saved it for a rainy day or a rainy year! My world is so limited now that I am dealing with a chronic illness. Hey now, I am not trying to be depressing nor morose, it’s just the hard truth right now. I am sure if you are dealing with a chronic illness also that you “get it.”  There’s no one to blame and no one at fault about this situation. It just IS.

At this point, in the throes of severe fatigue, I work and I rest. These are pretty much the only 2 things I can manage at present. Sometimes, I move out of my body for a few seconds and view myself as an outsider. And when I do this, it feels so weird. How can I be so tired and fatigued all of the time? How do other people manage to work and be social? How does anyone have the gumption to get up early on a Saturday, take care of children, go to events, and other things? All in one day???  

But then, of course, I remember these are all things I used to do as well, without a thought about how I might be able to juggle all kinds of things going on each and every day. 

I guess I am living in an alternative universe for now. A universe where fatigue rules, and Miley Cyrus sings, “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”  Hopefully, here soon, I’ll be back in the real world where I’ll “Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief.” Until then, my pretties, take it easy and enjoy the REAL SONG: 

 

Peace – B    #LivingwithLyme

Circling Back Around

Hi there. I know, I know. It’s been awhile. Too long in fact. I hope things are joyful in your world. Between going back to work (over 2 months ago), and dealing with this severe fatigue, I haven’t really done much at all besides try to get to work each day. Nothing to write home about, you know? It’s kinda boring to write Hi Guys, I still have Chronic Lyme, Chronic Fatigue, and Fibromyalgia and some other stuff. And even more boring for you to read! But we’ll forge on. 

While things at work are going well considering my limitations, I’ve been struggling physically and emotionally, mostly because, well, first, we are getting close to the 4 year mark of this diagnosis and the beginning of treatment for said diagnosis. And, yes, as I’ve shared before, there has been progress made, man, it sure feels like it hasn’t been much. I mean not much for a 4 year mark. As the patient, it is very difficult to be objective about measuring “progress” as well.  Another reason I have been struggling is that the severe fatigue is back, yet again.

There’s no way to plan when dealing with severe fatigue. I can’t rest one day, and then feel so much better the next. I can’t save up energy to use as I would like to. Not that there would be much energy to save up at this point. Still, if I could save up energy, I would totally be strteggically planning! But, severe fatigue is somewhat or more like always unpredictable. Anyway, it’s back and rearing it very ugly head! 

As many chronic fatigue sufferers try to explain severe fatigue to a “normal” people, there don’t seem to be enough metaphors nor analogies to clearly describe what severe fatigue feels like. The Spoon Theory is a good start, but on some days, we have no “spoons.” So we get up, maybe, and start the day with a zero balance or a deficit of energy. And this just keeps going on, day to day. Month to month. It can be a spirit breaker for sure. 

My doctor, at least my local doctor, looks at my labs and says, “yes, of course you are having severe fatigue.” All the numbers doc watches are low when they should be high. The EBV is flaring again, so that adds to the crazy chemistry going on in my body. Inflammation markers are off the chart too even with my dietary changes. Add that to the fatigue as well. Doc tells me to keep doing the B12 shots, the ATP Fuel, the Glutathione shots. I say, OK as I wonder when I might be able to make it through a day without feeling the crushing tiredness. I know (or at least keep the flame of Hope lit) that this cycle will end but sometimes it is hard to remember when every day, every hour is weighing on me like a heavy stone. 

I feel bad when my friends ask how I am doing. They try to keep up with me, but I move at a snail’s pace anymore with nothing new to report for months, and now, for years. They ask, How was your weekend? Are you ready for the holidays? What are you doing next Saturday?  And right now, unfortunately, I honestly don’t know how to answer. 

  1. How was your weekend?                           A:  It was great. I spent most of it in bed.
  2. Are you ready for the holidays?              A:  My head explodes, LOL – God, no.
  3. What are you doing next Saturday?       A: Uhm, I think I have an important                                                                                                       appointment scheduled – with my bed.

Speaking of my bed, I need to go change the sheets and get it made so I can climb back up in there. Hoping this Sunday brings you cooler weather and happiness crafted for the soul. 

Peace -B

P.S. Thoreau makes me happy. I hope he makes you a little happy too.

Chronic fatigue returns
Keep on keeping on…..

 

 

Be Good to YOU

 

So we’ve (as in my husband and I – we are both teachers) been on summer break almost a month now. It has been pure heaven. What have I been doing? Producing? Well absolutely nothing, my dear friends. I’ve had some doctor appointments, dentist, eye doc, you know, just those things that have been impossible for me to manage while working because of the massive fatigue.

But otherwise? I have nothing to show. And how do I feel about this? Delightful!! Fantastic! Superb! It is down right, totally fine. I used to feel guilty about not doing anything, or not being productive every minute of the day. I was always busy. Now, at the time, I enjoyed being active, working, exercising, socializing, and such. But Lyme disease changed all of that.

Over the years (even before I knew I was ill), I’ve struggled with a lot of guilt and angst about not doing enough (these are, of course, self imposed standards of “enough”). I would push myself, as I always have, to make “things happen,” to “get er done” as we say in Texas. While resting, I would stress out about the things I had (self imposed!) to accomplish that I hadn’t completed. Then came along nausea, headaches, joint, pain, severe fatigue. Well, all of this made for a witch’s brew of toil and trouble!

Now, I admit, it has taken time to make this change and there are still times when I click into that previous me mode, and I take it to the limit. It’s usually not a good thing though and if I can catch myself before that manic phase kicks in, well everything is better overall. 

Looking back over my 15 years in education (I worked 10 years outside of education so I most definitely appreciate the time off), I realize that I have worked almost every summer for the first 10 years. First, out of necessity, and then, for the extra money and experiences. These past 3 summers of Lyme have been about treating and resting. Actually, the first summer after being diagnosed I taught a 3 week class. What was I thinking? At the time, I thought, oh good, extra money and this Lyme thing will probably be done by the end of this summer after treating for about 4 months at that point. HA HA!!! That was BEYOND wishful thinking for reals!

Anyway, I know this post is kinda all over the place, but I guess one point I am trying to make is Take it Easy. Don’t Kill Yourself trying to do everything you did before. Your body has to heal. You beating yourself up about it is certainly NOT GOING TO HELP your recovery process. Believe me, I learned this the hard way. 

keep-calm-and-be-good-to-yourself
Source: http://www.Keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

 

 

What are some ways you treat yourself well? In what ways are you kind to yourself? Please add your ideas to the comments below. 🙂

Remember Please:

BE GOOD TO YOU!

Peace – B