Out of Sorts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoping your day is one full of joy.

-Belle

 

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Trust Thyself?

Howdy out there! Well, yes, the Astros won the World Series, folks, and we here in Houston, Texas are celebrating! Good stuff! 

So, just a quick recap: I’m now officially off all antibiotics for a 2nd time now in my 5 years of treatment for Chronic Lyme disease. Sure, lately I’ve been a bit paranoid, wanting to chalk every.single.everything. up to Lyme. I certainly try to keep track of any weirdness or symptoms cropping up. You know, JUST IN CASE.

Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty fatigued in the afternoons. It hasn’t affected my ability to work, but I certainly do not get much of anything done after work. I’m not really noticing too many other symptoms so that is encouraging. There was one day this past week that I had a lot of stiffness and joint pan throughout the day, and it’s been a few months since that has happened. Again, good news.

But, yeah, the fatigue can be scary. Ever since I was so very sick this past March, the fatigue kinda freaks me out a little, I won’t lie. It’s one of those lingering symptoms of Lyme and especially Chronic Lyme. It’s like a shadow that follows me everywhere. I can’t seem to shake it. Even when I was off during the summer, it was always there, lurking. I feel like I have to always be on guard about the fatigue. It swallowed me up whole this past Spring, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to come out of it. Luckily, I did but it certainly wasn’t a given. Fatigue is stealthy and ninja-like too. It comes on slowly but quickly too and before you realize it, the fatigue takes over everything.

When I’ve been in the dark depths of this illness, in the pit of the chronic fatigue, the pain, the headaches, nausea, there have been times where I have actually doubted my own sickness. What I mean is, there have been times when I have questioned whether if I am really sick. I’ve  thought: maybe I am just  lazy? Maybe I just don’t want to work or maybe I just don’t like my job anymore?  Maybe I was sick, but I’m not anymore? Maybes, maybes. Why would I even question myself like this?

I think some it has to do with being ill for so long. I’m not sure. It took several years if feeling sick to get a correct diagnosis and then, in my case, even when I began treatment, I did not see any real progress in feeling any better for many years. I am sure there are many out there with chronic illness that sometimes doubt themselves. PLEASE DO NOT DOUBT YOURSELF, EVER.

Of course I am sick! In fact, I can almost remember the very day I realized something wasn’t right in my body and that was in November 2009. Then it took almost 4 more years and at least 8 doctors to get correctly diagnosed with Lyme disease.

I know it’s utterly illogical to think otherwise. Whenever I have a little more energy and if I feel a little better, I am doing things I haven’t been able to do in a long time. It’s so stupid to blame myself formy  physical ailments. And yet. Those thoughts have crept in from time to time. Perhaps it’s some sort of weird coping mechanism? I’m not sure. 

But now that I have a reprieve from a lot of the symptoms, I know that these doubts were silly. I have to keep reminding myself to trust my gut and to trust my instincts. They haven’t failed me yet. In fact, they are what saved my life. 

Here’s a tidbit from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance” (we have been studying this in class and seems relevant. Maybe not, but I like it LOL):

“Every man discerns between the voluntary acts of  his mind, and his involuntary perceptions. And to his involuntary perceptions, he knows a perfect respect is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed. All my wilful actions and acquisitions are but roving;— the most trivial reverie, the faintest native emotion are domestic and divine.”

And also Emerson says “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

That’s exactly what I intend. 

Have a happy week, friends. – b

 

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Celebrating 3 Years Here at Read Between the Lyme!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace –  Belle

 

Who am I?

I know we all ask ourselves this same question at any given time of the day, week, or year. But since beginning my journey with a chronic illness, I ask it even more than I used to. And now when I ask, sometimes, I don’t know the answer and that is so freaking scary.

An introspective person by nature, I live in my inside world much of the time. And I like it. In fact, if I don’t get enough of that time on the inside, it makes me a little bit cra cra. Stressed. Deflated. I’m not anti-social, just to clarify. I like people. Learning the intricacies of human nature is something of a calling for me; I am a hard-core people watcher. At least I used to be. I used to be better at people. You know, observing them, listening to them, interacting with them. My core has always been my sanctuary. Then along came Lyme.

Although not a fan of worn out cliches, Lyme indeed threw me a “curveball.” Not in the sense that I had my life all planned out and wham, but in the sense that, well, I never saw it, this, Lyme disease, coming. Then, in reality, everyone can use this cliche. I mean, I would guess that most of us are not sitting around thinking, “oh, today something life-altering will happen to me.” It just does. It happens. We do our best to deal and to move on from whatever is thrown at us.

It’s just sometimes, I feel like I missed the curveball. I missed the pitch, the swing, hell, I missed most of the game. It’s almost as if I have been plunked down onto the field, and we’re well into the 8th inning, and friends, I am not winning. I don’t have a strategy anymore. I’m confused about what inning it is. I’m calling a time out with none left. It’s a weird feeling. Maybe not so much as a feeling of being altogether lost, but a feeling of being very disorientated.

Everything about me seems more vague than it ever was before. Lyme has seeped its way into my neurological system, into my brain. Weaving itself into my memories, my thoughts, my ideas, my authenticity, I can’t navigate my way through any of it. I keep telling myself that my foundation, the true me is there, stable, indestructible, unwavering, and most of the time, I feel that this is true. But there are the other times. The times where I struggle to find my way back to Me, to the inside world. Lyme chips away at short-term memory. It can produce “‘a microedema, or swelling in the brain,’ says Bernard Raxlen, MD, a Greenwich, CT, psychiatrist and secretary of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS)…”

Not remembering how to spell words, how to say a certain word, how to have conversations, are only a few samples of the brain issues related to Lyme that I experience.  “This [Lyme disease] affects your ability to process information. It’s like finding out that there’s LSD in the punch, and you’re not sure what’s going to happen next or if you’re going to be in control of your own thoughts,” Dr. Raxlen adds. Ergo the missing of the curveball pitch. Ergo the forgetting of people’s names, of what I just read, of what I just said 5 minutes ago. Even my long-term memory is in shambles sometimes. I try to recall something, digging deep, sifting through that soupy glob of eating cotton candy at a carnival when I was six, scrubbing dishes at the little Mexican restaurant where I worked when I was nineteen, and throwing bales of hay into the wagon when I was ten, all the while merely just trying to remember how to say “FHA” without stuttering 10 times when I get the the “H” on the phone with a customer rep. And, yes, this did just happen to me. Embarrassed doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt as I struggled to get the sound out of my mouth. Let’s try lost, disconcerted, terrified. Yes, that sounds about right.

How will I be able to stay whole if the very center of myself is starting to fade away? If I can no longer reach my inner sanctuary to have a clarity of vision? To know Who I am, my true authentic self?

Who am I?

Who am I?

 

Holding on with all of my might, embracing all the pieces available to me still, I’m going to get my head back into the game with as much clarity as I can muster, so to speak.

Take care Warriors.

Until next time – B

**If you get a chance, check out “This is Your Brain on Lyme” by Sillia. It explains in much greater detail and with less philosophical musings, the effects of Lyme on the human Brain. A huge thanks to Sillia.