I’m not sure where the time has gone. With school closures in March, my SO and I were working every day trying to keep up with the changing directions for remote learning. I’m really not sure why/how time has slipped by so fast!
Without a true final day for the school year (at least for teachers), I didn’t actually segue to summer until like maybe the beginning of July. And now, we’re waiting patiently to hear if/how our district will deal with the beginning of school which as of today is August 24th. As teachers, we’ll be back earlier but we’re not sure in what capacity.
It’s a lot to think about and with things changing daily at the state level, I’ve just tried to opt out right now. There’s no sense stressing over something that might change tomorrow.
While I honestly was not a fan of remote teaching overall, it did give me an opportunity to keep my health in decent shape. I actually was feeling good with only a few lingering symptoms hanging on. There were still days where I would have flares I guess I would call them, but they were few and far between. I was able to do things most of the day, hitting a wall about 4-5 p.m. with a short period of resting.
However, back in May, one of my LLMDs suggested trying out Disulfiram because of my lingering joint pain, sleep issues, fatigue. And after doing some of my own research, I decided I would try it out.
I’ve been on a super low dose for about 2 months now. I was rolling right along with no issues and I was thinking, well, what’s the big deal? Nothing is happening. I started to doubt that it was working at all. And then, bam! At the end of June, I had about 3 full days of feeling like hell. I spent most of those days in bed. All kinds of symptoms were going on fatigue, headache, joint pain, stomach issues. I wasn’t worried about COVID because these were all too familiar to me.
Since then, I’ve felt somewhat better. Symptoms kind of come and go so overall, I’m not feeling great. I had a phone appointment with one of my doctors last week and the doctor said yes, everything I’m dealing with are side effects of the Disulfiram at work. It’s stirring things up and killing bacteria. With the die off comes the symptoms if the body can’t keep up with detoxing. Sounds crazy, right? But it’s called a herx. I’m starting some new supplements that will hopefully help with this process.
Overall, I’m having a bit of a tough time dealing with this both physically and mentally. Physically, I’m trying to keep things stable and I’m trying to listen to my body when it tells me something like I need to lay down. This has been somewhat of an adjustment after these past few months of feeling better and being able to not worry about not feeling well every minute. So an adjustment for sure. Mentally, it’s been kind of messing with me. I feel like I’m being thrown back into being sick all of the time (I mean I’m chronically ill but I was on an upswing), and it’s both scary and depressing all at once. My main goal is to try to remind myself that This Too Will Change. And damn, it’s hard! But things have changed before and they will again. If I’ve learned anything with this disease, it’s that for sure.
Now, you might laugh because after all of this, I’ve decided to switch from one doctor’s protocol with this medication to another’s whose approach is a bit more assertive. This means that in another week, my dose will increase, and so too perhaps will the herxing. Now, I can always, always lower the dose if things get too crazy. Why not stay on the super low dose? Because that means I will have no change in dose for 3 months straight. And from everything I’ve read, dosing should increase periodically. There are other reasons, but I’ll leave it at that for now. So, ironically, I’m pretty much doing this to myself!
However, people really are seeing results from using this medication. People who have suffered years and years with Lyme disease. It took me awhile to decide whether to do this or not, and if I’m going to do it, I want to try to maximize results. Wish me luck!
I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe out there. Happy weekend! – belle
Sometimes, I forget how very sick I have been. I wonder if this is a survival technique the body uses to keep us going.
Sometimes, I forget how very sick I have been. I wonder if this is a survival technique the body uses to keep us going. Perhaps it keeps us from lingering too long in the abyss.
Just recently I’ve had a few experiences that have thrown me back to 3 years ago, or 4 or 5 years ago when all I knew was sickness. Years upon years of 24/7 torture. When it was all I could do to get to work 3-4 days out of 5. When the daily headaches and fatigue laid me out and if not, then the nausea and the mental confusion took over. When I was so exhausted minute to minute but then I couldn’t sleep. I was in a haze, a fog; if there is a hell, I was in it. And in it for years on end.
It’s so hard to describe to other people, people who are healthy or even semi-healthy, how sick I’ve been. Even for me, trying to remember how bad it has been is a challenge. Finding the words are very difficult, finding analogies that will convey the pit of illness are not easy to find.
When I was in the Worst of Lyme disease (at least I hope it turns out to be the worst of it), there were so many symptoms, both physical and mental that were going on simultaneously and sporadically that keeping track of these was near impossible for me. I tried writing things down, but that took just way too much energy and energy of which I had none to spare; I couldn’t manage it. I tried tracking apps but even those proved cumbersome.
Maybe it’s like being in a pool underwater and trying to talk to someone. You’re asking for help. You’re holding your breath, but also trying to communicate, but you are also running out of breath. It’s not an easy feat and in the end, no one understands what you are trying to say and there you are, left alone.
All of this is to say that obviously, I am making progress in my recovery. It’s just sometimes, I forget. In fact, I told some of my friends the other day that while I definitely want to keep improving my health, if this is it, if this is as good as it can get, I will take it. I still have lingering symptoms. I still have flares and cycles where things take a downturn and I’m sinking into the pit once more. But much of the time, I am better than I have been in a long time and damn, that’s something and something to hold onto.
Friends, I hope this finds you and yours safe and healthy. I’m thinking of you all.
Oh, yes. The elusive treatment that will bring the “cure.” I’ve been down that path a few times.
Oh, yes. The elusive treatment that will bring the “cure.” I’ve been down that path a few times. When is it okay to be okay with where I am right now? It sounds like “giving up”, but is it? When does pursuing treatment actually become harmful?
Honestly, I don’t know the answers to these questions, but in a week or so, I am coming up on the 7 year anniversary of my Lyme diagnosis. And it’s already been a decade at least that I have been ill in some form or fashion. So, these questions are on my mind.
I can’t change the fact that in the USA, Lyme disease isn’t treated as serious even though according to the CDC, more that 400, 000 + are infected yearly. Even these numbers are low due to reporting issues. I can’t change that almost no monies go into to researching this disease, that testing is only maybe 30-40% accurate and that there are only experimental treatments beyond the IDSA doctrine of 4 weeks of antibiotics. I try not to think about any of this anymore because it is a waste of brain power. See more about what the CDC says here: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/postlds/index.html
But this leaves me, like thousands of others, in limbo: do we continue to try things that might help lessen our suffering or do we accept where we are right now? These other optional treatments can break the bank and are certainly not covered by insurance, and in many cases, they work for a bit, but then we are back where we started. Now what?
Am I in a better place than I was 7 years ago? Heck yeah. And for that I am grateful. But I’m still dealing with fatigue, memory issues, word loss, joint pain, and insomnia. One doctor tells me that most likely, this will be as good as it gets. Another tells me to try alternative therapies that cost an arm and a leg and/or have not been researched enough. Which way do I turn?
I absolutely love my Integrative doctor, do not get me wrong. This doctor helped me out of a very dark place about 3 years ago, and I have made progress with this doctor. S/He definitely has a good heart and wants to help me. But the last treatment we tried – a nasal spray to be basic – costs a lot. Now, S/He encouraged me saying, ‘it really can be a game changer.’ I couldn’t pass something like that up! I did the pre-testing $200 (to make sure my body was ready for the treatment covered by insurance) – and I ordered the spray – one month supply $250 (not covered by insurance). And while for some this isn’t much money, for my family it is. When I ordered the first month supply, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue if needed another month at $250. I figured we could manage it somehow, especially if it were working!
I began the nasal spray – 4 times a day – around Thanksgiving. I stayed on schedule, making sure I didn’t miss a dose. I mean “game changer”, my people! But you probably already know the outcome – meh. Nothing seemed to change at all. When I asked the doctor through our patient portal is I should continue, the answer was yes, but only if I were seeing results. So.
To say I was disappointed that there were zero results is an understatement. But was dumb of me to put any stock into the possibility that this could be The Thing to help me progress in my ‘journey towards wellness.’ Then I had doubts about my own possible culpability. Was it something I did to somehow mess up the treatment? Did I miss a few doses somehow during the holidays? What did I do wrong?
All of this is just plain old exhausting, isn’t it? While I surely do not expect ‘a cure’ I would like to make a little progress from where I am now – about the same place I’ve been for a couple of years now. But maybe this is it. This is the best it will get. And if so, can I be OK with this?
Yep. Summer has arrived. I’m on break, and I’m trying to make the most of it.
I promise to do a longer post soon. But I just wanted to check in and say hello! I hope your summer is of to a great start. So far, mine’s been good. I’ve had a few doctor appointments and a visit to one of my previous hometowns to visit family and friends.
We don’t have massive plans and that is totally fine with me! My husband will be taking a trio to Colorado with his parents soon. I’ll stay home though to take care of our numerous dogs. There’s just too many for anybody to handle and so it is what it is. I’m a little bummed but also traveling can be tough on me so it may be a blessing in disguise.
I’ll get you caught up on the latest of my Lyme journey ASAP. Again, I hope you are well. Take care, – b
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 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.
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.
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! 🙂
We decided to do an overnight trip to a major river about 3 hours from home this past week. My husband loves a particular spot, and the river is spring fed so it is nice and cold. Temperatures here are now are hitting 95-100 degrees with a heat index of 105+. It’s really hard to find fun things to do that do not require you to be outside between say 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.! Fer reals. I just can’t do the heat at all.
We also decided to take one of our several dogs, Newton, as he has made a trip to Colorado (17 hours in a car) and did very well. He is also very well tempered and loves to socialize. We weren’t sure how he would do in the hotel, but we figured worst case, we could make the trip home that night if needed.
Needless to say – he had a blast! He met all kinds of new people and other dogs. He swam a bunch. He had many adventures! Staying in the hotel went well. He barked just a few times but nothing major. He passed out and slept all through the night. We will definitely be doing this again!
As for me, I did pretty well, too! I’m pretty rested up from not working, and the river has great places that are shaded so I didn’t overheat. My fatigue has lessened over the past month or so and I was able to keep up. Overall, we had a wonderful time. It was great to be outside and to enjoy being active!
This same rash began again on my face and proceeded to foremarms, stomach, legs…
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……
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
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