One Down, and I don’t Know How Many to GO

Happy Sunday, my people! I hope this finds you well and happy. So, I completed my first week back to work following our summer break. So far, so good. And granted, there are no students until August 28th. That may prove to be a different story. Of course, I may be running on a tad bit of adrenaline right now, what I have of it. I’m trying to pace myself if that is even possible. I’m not sure if it really is most of the time.

This past week was a lot of sitting and listening. It was also a lot of being around peoples and many of them for about 8-9 hours a day. The first few days, I struggled with over-stimulus. I also struggled with so much sound. About a year into my Lyme treatment, sound and light sensitivity became a real issue. I had never experienced either of these in my life so at first, I thought I was just being extra paranoid about my health or something. Then, I asked my doctor about it and she said both of these are Lyme related! I am not overly sensitive all of the time, but sometimes they both can really wreak havoc. At a couple of points throughout the week, I just had to go and find a quiet place to sit for a few minutes. I also utilized my migraine glasses for light sensitivity. I sincerely LOVE these Axon Optics glasses

We have another week of professional development on our campus. There isn’t much time set aside for working in our classrooms which is really just too bad. I’m not that stressed about that aspect because I know I can get it done in time, but I feel for new teachers. I am sure they are feeling mega-overwhelmed by now as I remember I did the first year I taught!

Nooooooo!

 

I am worried about sitting for so long every day in not-so-comfy-chairs. In fact, they are really uncomfortable. I figure I will get up and move as much as I need to in order to keep the fibro at bay as much as possible. I also worry about my brain functioning correctly. I seem to be ok in the mornings but depending on many things such as sound, lighting, peoples, pain, etc., things start shutting down up there and I just feel like I am running into a wall every time I try to have a thought. I hate that feeling but I’m trying not to fight it. It doesn’t help to get mad or stressed about it. It is what it is. I am merely trying to use my brain as much as I can when it cooperates! You know what I mean?!?

I hope you had a great weekend. And here’s to the week to come: May we all have a smooth and pain-free week. Peace – B

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“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

 

What’s Going On?!?

WOW! So my out of town doctor (OTD) at my last appointment in May looked over my labs (the ones where my ITDoc said my thyroid was “fine”) and said the numbers weren’t where we should have them. OTD then added more thyroid meds and told me to start tirtrating up from 5 mcg and to continue to add another 5 mcg weekly until I hit 20 mcg. OTD told me to stop at the dosage anytime I began to feel better and more energetic. Since the middle of May, I have added the thyroid meds and maxed at 20 mcg around May 28th. Again, this is medication in addition to the Synthroid I have been taking for years on a daily basis for Hypothyroidism.

With the first 5,10, 15 additional mcg I really didn’t notice much. Maybe a little more pep but nothing too noticable. Then, I hit the 20 mcg. Again, not much felt different the first week of this dose. But after about 2 weeks, BOY HOWDY! This past week has been seriously amazing.

Some things I’ve been able to do this past week that I haven’t done for months on end……and that I definitely haven’t done all in one week for YEARS are: Go out for dinner with friends, go to a movie (at night!), go grocery shopping (I am not kdding), go to lunch with a friend, mow the entire yard (like an acre), clean the house, do laundry, cook dinner, go do errands and actually enjoy said errands! Stay upright most of the day! I also have added small increments of excercise on my old elliptical machine.

No Way!
Source: Netflix GIF

I’ve had the best time! I know that most of the above a normal person can do without much thinking about it, but for me, it has been something else. Have I still had some joint pain? Yes. Have I still hit some energy walls? Yes. Am I not working right now? Yes. But still!!!

Now granted, I probably have absolutely no idea what “normal” is anymore. After 4 years of treatment and about 7 years of being ill what I can remember is most likely skewed. But I honestly haven’t felt this good and full of this much energy in….well, I have no idea how long. While I have had some hours and maybe a few days sporadically over the past year where I felt well enough or I had enough energy enough to do a few things, I have never had an extended period of time – a whole week! – where I felt like this.

I’m savoring every single minute, my people. Every. single.minute. My husband says we’ll take what we can get, and I say Amen to that. I know I’m not “cured.” I also know that my being off from work for the summer helps. I also realize that I’m starting a new treatment protocol of combination antibiotics and high doses of those antibiotics in just a few days. There will be fallout from this treatment. I will have to detox, to deal with new symptoms, to handle herxes. I know. I know. The thought  of lsoing this momentum makes me want to not go ahead with this protocol. But, I need to try it. I’ve never been treated with combination therapy and if I’m going to do it, the summer is the best time for sure.

But until I start the new meds, I’m going to kick it up as much as possible. I’m going to try to squeeze in everything I physically can while I feel good. So I’m off to do some projects. I hope your weekend is wonderful. And a Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Take care of yourselves.

Peace and joy- Belle

 

 

The Voice by Mary Oliver

Ironically, I do not know the origin of this photo. Twitter or Instagram? I also tried to find the author but with no luck. If you know of the author please let me know so I can add it to the photo.

The sentiments of these words are just perfect for today.

Peace to you! – Belle

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

Hey Tired, Meet FATIGUE

Over the summer, I’ve felt like my cognitive issues or the neuro Lyme, have improved. In June, my LLMD here in town (I have another doc out of town) started me on a supplement, ATP Fuel. Since being diagnosed with Lyme disease in March 2013, severe fatigue has been one of my major, and quite consistent soul crusher, er, I mean symptom.

It’s continued to be a lingering symptom. Now, when I say fatigue, or severe fatigue, I don’t mean “tired.” There is a chasm of difference, one I never understood anywhere near well enough BLD ( Before Lyme Disease).

You know what makes me “tired”? Staying up too late, doing too many activities, physically or mentally exerting myself ( this excludes Pokemon Go).

But fatigue? A whole other ball game, my friends. Being “tired” means you need sleep so you sleep and wah lah! You wake up feeling like a million bucks! You are King of the World!

But with fatigue not so much. Instead, waking up is a never-ending continuation of the fatigue you’ve been feeling for the last 3, 6, 9 months, or even years. It’s like a prison sentence that you don’t even have enough gumption to get angry about. It’s like being in a cave without light. I could go on but basically FATIGUE is not being “tired.” Fatigue sucks the f-ing life force from your body. And the most depressing thing about chronic fatigue (well, there really is a list of things), is not knowing when or IF it will end. No matter how much rest and how little of everything else, that’s always the question. Will it Ever End?

I’ve written about fatigue before HERE and HERE. Hopefully, these posts can give you an inkling of the severity of the fatigue many Lyme patients as well as many chronic illness patients experience.

Happy belated Martin Luther King day!

Peace -b

A Week Long Lyme Headache

I woke up this morning, early, and I was really excited because I didn’t have a headache! Yippee, thought I. And then I realized that I’ve had a headache for over a week now. Maybe 10 days? It subsides off and on, but I think it is the same damn headache. Maybe not, but that really doesn’t matter all that much. The pain matters more.

It may be the insane weather we are having. Last week at this time, it was 80 degrees. Then by Sunday, it was 27 degrees out. And today? A rainy and moist 75. Seriously. So, yeah, there’s that. It may be that the semester just ended and even after 16 years of teaching, it’s still pretty stressful. More stressful when chronically ill. So, there’s that too.

There have been a few days these past few weeks where I just keep taking medicine and hoping one of the many selections will just give me some relief, and periodically something has. Usually it is maybe an hour or so at a time. Then, the monster returns. It isn’t a migraine. It’s just a constant pain inside my skull.

Before Lyme disease, I rarely had headaches. The only headaches I experienced were either alcohol induced or hormonal. Indeed, I was a lucky duck. My mom has had issues with headaches her whole entire life including migraines. And my husband also has migraines periodically that lay him out for most of the day/night.

Then, in the fall of 2012, I began to have daily headaches. Not crippling, mind you, but just enough pain to not be able to ignore. Every day at work, by noon, I could feel it coming on (or maybe it never really went away). Sometimes, nausea would accompany the headache. The Daily Headache continued for months on end. Of course, there were a multitude of other symptoms going on but the headaches were something quite new and stood out more than say the fatigue or the periodic joint pain.

When I saw the Worst Infectious Disease Doctor Evah (although statistically, ID doctors are NOT LYME LITERATE) in January 2013 with a solid 25 symptoms including the onset of the new Daily Headache, he told me to drink more water (since I was hospitalized with a horrible kidney infection in 2006 I drink almost a gallon of water daily). The ID doctor dismissed every single symptom I explained to him but the bitterness of that particular doctor visit is for another time. Needless to say, almost all of my symptoms were classic LYME DISEASE symptoms and luckliy, I was diagnosed (and CDC positive) less than 6 weeks after this visit with the dismissive ID doctor. Anyhoo!

As I moved into oral antibiotic treatment, the headaches continued except at some point, I can’t pinpoint when, I began to have migraines. WTH! Migraines really suck! I now can empathize way more with my mom and my husband and others! Hours and hours of pain, nausea, ugh. For a while, and I can’t be more specific because of my short-term memory issues (LYME symptom as well), I had daily headaches and then migraines in between. Good times. I am so sorry if you suffer from headaches and/or migraines, my peoples!

When my LLMD took me off of antibiotics full-time last November 2015, I still had the headaches. And the migraines. But, slowly and surely, these daily headaches and the migraines began to let up a bit. So, for the past few months, probably since say June (again, short-term memory loss!), there’s been a reprieve from the daily headache. Since June, I’ve had maybe 3 full-blown migraines. This has been progress! I think that this progress has been the result of many things coming together at once, such as Lyme treatment (after so many years going untreated) and dietary changes.

migraine

But, since Thanksgiving, my diet has been seriously not so good. I had cut out all sugar, carbs, cut down on wheat and corn products. Oh, Thanksgiving. I mean, I haven’t gone totally CRAZY with eating sugar, etc. but I have been drinking more soda and well, I sure haven’t been grain-free. I plan on getting right back on my diet after Christmas. I can see now that it has helped me to control some symptoms and while it was a bit of an adjustment to new eating habits, it certainly is worth it.

Like I said, this headache started about a weekish ago. On my last day at work, before Winter Break, I sat in my classroom, in the dark, just trying to work through the pain (no worries, I didn’t have students LOL).  Saturday was much of the same. At least this week the headache hasn’t been a full-blown migraine but still. I’ll tell you though, I most definitely appreciate the time I have without headaches now. Pre-Lyme, I never noticed how wonderful it is NOT to have a headache. Chronic Lyme disease continues to teach me lessons. Hey, just trying to stay positive! 🙂

And, here comes my little friend. Back again today. Time to rest a bit. 

Toodles friends – B

 

Just Well, No.

Hi my people. Yep, I’m missing you too. But, I am struggling with inspiration and with life in general at this point it seems. These past few months have been tough. I know I am being vague in a way, and I am so not trying to be evasive. Overall, it’s been a challenge to keep working. A real challenge. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. But overall, it has just been a struggle to keep it up while dealing with the chronic fatigue and a myriad of illnesses I contract due to my sucky immune system.

isayno

So, yeah, both the emotional and the physical challenges of working a full-time job have pretty much consumed all of my time in recent months. Unfortunately, I am also trying to dig deep to find joy. Even in the little things. I don’t know if it is the time of year or the incessant constant day to day barrage of symptoms, or the trying to escape some of the chronic symptoms that seems to have made me shut-down a little on the inside. I’m trying to figure it out but honestly, I have found even that kind of thinking and reflection just exhausting. IDK.

I just wanted to check in becasue, well, I miss the blogging world and my blogging people. I promise that I am making a concerted effort to get myself back on track and back in the Game so to speak.

I hope this finds you well and full of JOY. Peace. -b

The Lyme Long Con Continues

I am sure everybody hits points in their lives when they sit back for a moment and reflect on where they are, what their plans are for the future, how will they get things accomplished, etc. I know I used to do this periodically. Reflection has always been a part of my life. Pre-Lyme disease, I was always positive that the future would always be filled with unending growth and opportunities, both personal and otherwise.

Now? I’m in the midst of trying to treat a real illness, one that has been in my body silently and insidiously taking over. Lyme bacteria – a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi – has played the Lyme Long Con with me and hundreds, I mean THOUSANDS, of others. For years and years it has slowly but surely, patiently, illness after illness, entered almost every single system in my body.

But the CDC and IDSA  (Infectious Diseases Society of America) panel are also complicit in this LONG CON, the Lyme Lie, the Lyme denial, against all of us. For years, the CDC has claimed that Lyme disease is difficult to contract and easy to treat. Yet, in the past 40+ years, science has confirmed that there are 300+ strains of Borrelia bacteria  with Lyme being merely only one of these 100s of strains that are all transmitted by ticks, fleas, and mosquitos worldwide.

This is so ludicris at this point that I honestly don’t understand how the CDC can still be promoting this misinformation. Just a few years ago, the CDC changed its number of newly contracted Lyme infections from 30,000 to 300,000 yearly. Yes, from 30,000 to 300,000!! A YEAR. And many believe that this number is much lower than actual cases each year. 300,000 PER YEAR. Let that sink in. Just to give us some perspective, there are about 50,000 new HIV cases and 200,000 breast cancer cases each year in the US. Yet, almost no money is going into researching Borrelia complex diseases.

I want to scream that BORRELIA INFECTIONs are real. LYME IS REAL. CHRONIC LYME IS REAL. CHRONIC LYME IS HAPPENING TO thousands of PEOPLE, not only in this country but globally as well!  As patients, we need to have access to treatment, individualized treatment, treatment that lasts more than a mere 2-4 weeks of antibiotics. You may say, but what the heck does this have to do with your first paragraph. Well, everything, my friends.

Lyme has stopped me, as well as thousands of others, in my path. It has stalled me for awhile, off and on for years, and I unknowingly placed faith in the CDC, the  American healthcare system, in my doctors, faith in health insurance companies. I placed my FAITH in these entities sure that they would find out why I was dealing with strange health issues off and on over the span of 3-4 years. They didn’t. 

Then, I put faith into the fact that once diagnosed, I would be treated, and I would have a recovery plan. Alas, getting a Lyme diagnosis almost means nothing. The USA has done absolutely nothing to improve research, diagnosis, nor treatment since the disease was discovered (it’s been around for thousands of years) in 1975. Yes, take that in. 1975. We know almost nothing more now than we did then. In the meantime, THOUSANDS of people have gone undiagnosed and untreated. Thousands have been misdiagnosed with MS, Lupus, and ALS, along with other diseases and gone untreated for Borrleia infections. Why??? The treatment for Lyme and other Borrelia infections has not and cannot be easily monetized – YET. So we wait. And 300,000+ and more become infected every single year.

So here I am. Halted. Stopped for much longer than anticipated. Perhaps, stopped here permanently. I know, I know. I need to be positive. I need to buck up. I need to stop focusing on my illness. Most days, I can manage this. But this past month, not so much. Sometimes, we just need to GRIEVE a loss.Sometimes, we need to be ANGRY. Sometimes, we just need to BE.

If you would like more information about Borrelia infections (this includes Lyme bacteria infections) then please watch Under Our Skin. It provides some basic information regarding Lyme disease as well as information about how the CDC and the IDSA are working in tendem, not only to discredit Lyme doctors and patients daily, but on a much larger scale, how these two organizations are undermining the most dangerous health crisis of our time.

 

 

Please be careful. LYME IS EVERYWHERE – WORLDWIDE. Take care, my friends – B

 

 

 

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…..