Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

Hi friends! First, I hope you and yours are safe. And second, yes, we are safe! We do live in the Houston area. The past 2 weeks have been surreal. So much has happened and yet, where to begin?

My husband and I did go back to work on August 16th. We both teach in the suburban areas of Houston. On Friday, August 25th, after securing our campuses for the impending storm, we headed home. We honestly thought we might not start school on Monday, August 28th. Little could we fathom what would unfold.

I also have family and friends who live in Rockport, Texas. I lived there myself for many years and attended college in Corpus Christi. Most people I know did evacuate on Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, our focus was on Hurricane Harvey which hit Rockport directly on Saturday, August 26th. We waited for news, and while it rained here most of the day, we weren’t all that worried about our area.

But then Sunday happened. The rain started early and hard. I swear it didn’t let up for 12-14 hours. The water just kept rising. And rising. By 10 p.m. Sunday night, I started to freak out. While we live in a mobile home and it is feet higher than a regular house, there were only a few feet for the water to go before it would start coming in. My husband went out in the driving rain to try to find some higher ground for my car and my mom’s car. People were texting us and we were texting friends checking on them. A few said they were about to get on their roof to try and get rescued. It was a night to remember. Finally, the rain stopped about 1 a.m. 

I’ve never seen a storm like this in my entire life. The rain continued off and on throughout that Monday and part of Tuesday. Luckily, it wasn’t driving rain like Sunday. We heard from friends whose homes were completely destroyed in Rockport. And then the devastion of Houston. There are people today, September 6, just now able to get into their homes to try and demo and clean out the mess. There are so many stories to tell that it is overwhelming.

School was postponed for our students until September 11th. My husband and I have been trying to get out to help people demo houses. We’ve donated supplies and gift cards to people here and in Rockport. But it still doesn’t seem like enough. I keep hearing about friends who have completely lost everything in Rockport. Their house is just gone. It’s all just so very heartbreaking.

Yet, amidst all of this devastation and sadness have been many stories of inspiration and goodwill.  The way these communities have come together to help one another have been nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Wound_Rumi

I would post pictures but I want to be respectful of peoples’ privacy. Let’s just say that what you may have seen in the news , while accurate, cannot convey the absolute widespread destruction and damage the people of the Gulf Coast have endured over these past few weeks. And this is only the beginning of the journey back.

Anyway, I wanted to stop by and say hello. Yes, after all of the stress and physical labor, some of my symptoms are flaring, but I’m grateful for the energy I do have and for the ablity, however limited, to help others if possible.

Again, I sincerely hope you and yours are safe and healthy. 

Peace. – b

P.S. If you would like to help someone directly this is a great place to do so: EACH ONE, REACH ONE

 

or here:

https://www.youcaring.com/fundraiser-widget.aspx?frid=920324

 

 

 

Advertisements

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

Heading Back to Work Very Cautiously

Honestly, I’m not sure I wrote about trying to make the decision about whether to continue working or not this past spring.  I am a high school teacher in my 17th year now. This past March, my health and mental health were at the breaking point, and I had to go on a medical leave. That alone was tough. I was out lof work 3 weeks (one week was Spring Break). It was much needed time off to rest and get physically to a less fatigued state, and I was able to make it through the rest of the school year when I returned from leave. 

But taking a medical leave definitely made my husband and I have some serious and challenging conversations about whether I should continue to work or not. We’ve actually been talking about it for a couple of years now. But finances weren’t where we wanted them, savings wasn’t enough, we have a daughter in college….blah, blah. You know it all. Yet, in March, I was so bad, everything was so bad, that those things just weren’t that important anymore. If I had to stop working, we would deal with it. 

And yet. After some discussions with my husband, my family, and co-workers, I have decided to return for this school year. I’m worried though. And I may be putting myself into an awkward position if I have to leave in the middle of the semester or at semester time. I agonize over leaving my students like that, over possibly leaving my colleagues like that – basically in a lurch. But, work told me that I need to do what I can and what I want and if it comes down to a decision such as leaving then I will have to do it, and it will work out.  Bottomline is they would rather have me there for as long as possible then have me resign prematurely. This in itself is a relief of sorts. I know I’m replaceable; it isn’t that. I just don’t want to cause issues for others. Teaching is hard enough when everything is going smoothly!

Once I made the decision to go back, I was excited. Then, I transitioned to feeling freaked out. This summer, my health has improved. I don’t know if it is the new antibiotics I am on or my additional thyroid meds or a combo but it has been a real JOY! Yes, of course, I am off for the summer and so I can rest, etc. when I want, but I’ve been doing this for the past 4 summers and I can tell you for certain, this summer has been different. I’ve had days and weeks of energy levels I haven’t experienced in YEARS. YEARS. 

With this new found improvement in health, I am even more anxious now to return to work. Weird, right? I’m afraid I will lose this feeling, this energy. I’m fearful I will end up feeling so overwhelmed and fatigued that I can’t do anything outside of working (and even that became impossible in March). I don’t want this little victory for my quality of life to go away or be whittled away somehow.

I don’t know how I am going to handle the 8-9 hour days. Many of my physical symptoms have improved but what if I go into a flare? WHAT IF? I know I am making myself silly by worrying about thinsg I have absolutely no control over. I logically know this. I keep telling myself that I just have to take it literally day by day. Step by step. We’ll have to see how it goes. We have a Plan B…kinda.

dog-734689__340
Source: pixabay.com

Teachers start back tomorrow. We’ll have a few weeks of professional development and then students are back August 28th. I’ve only ben anxious since Wednesday. Off and On….all of today. The alarm is set, I have my bag packed, there’s not much else I can do, right?

I want to be excited, and I am. I’m beginning my 17th year of teaching, my Awesome department chair gave me the classes I want, the schedule that best suits my health needs, the team I want to work with. There is absolutely nothing to not be grateful afor and about! My biggest WISH is that I am able to complete this school year in a healthy state.

Thanks for reading and for listening, dear peoples. Peace – Belle

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.

stack-of-books-1001655__340

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

 

Summer 2017

Howdy ya’ll! I hope your summer is sailing along smoothly. I always feel extra lucky because as a teacher, I have summers off (kinda). The first 6 years I taught, I worked in the summer. I spent 3-4 summers as a shift manager at Starbucks (I had been a manager for them before teaching) and then I spent about 3 summers teaching as an adjunct.

After that, sometimes, I would teach a summer high school course. This wouldn’t be all summer, just 3 weeks. And some summers, I attended conferences and or week-long workshops. However, these past 4 years, I haven’t done anything of the sort. I struggle to keep my summers work-free so I can rest and try to get my health on track.

I now marvel at the things I used to do before getting severely ill. I also used to adjunct during the school year, usually teaching one evening college class each semester. No can do now. And so, because of illness, I have definitely modified my activities.

deckchairs-355596__340

But back to this summer. So some things I’ve been able to do that I normally cannot manage while working:

1. Hangout with friends. Nothing fancy but stuff like dinner and lunches. Just visiting and spending time together.

2. Go grocery shopping! I’m so not lying. This chore can be so overwhelming and so full of anxiety for me I just cannot manage it. So I’ve actually sort of enjoyed (except the bill!) going grocery shopping for us this past month.

3. Spend time with family. With energy so limited while I am working full-time, it is rare to just get together with family and visit. It’s a total gift to get to do this unplanned.

4. Be upright and not in pain after 4 p.m. daily. Sure, I still have to rest. And yes, I do still have pain periodically any time of day, but it’s nice to know that some days, I can be up and active in the afternoon, on a weekday!!!

So as you can see, there’s nothing too crazy going on here this usmmer. But I’m glad I have the time to do a few cool things I can’t do normally.

I’m off to cook some dinner for my husband. I forgot to add that to my list! 🙂

Happy Summer, friends. Talk to you sooner than later. -b

P.S. I really feel like Bilbo below!!

200w_d

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

 

5 Proactive Ways (maybe) to Balance Work and Lyme

Can you tell I’m a little  MEGA stressed out about returning to work full-time on Monday? Maybe more than a little? Don’t get me wrong; I do love my job. Teaching definitely is my thingy, and I wouldn’t want to give it up for any reason. Yet, there is a big BUT. There always is, isn’t there?

Since my diagnosis in March 2013, working has been tough. That spring semester, I’m embarrassed to say, is a blur. I was extremely sick most of the fall semester 2012 then diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease in the spring. Immediately, my doctor put me on antibiotics and treatment began. Unfortunately, I missed many days that semester. My students were amazing as were my colleagues. I had support everywhere I turned. This made it bearable and motivated me to get to work when I could.

The thought, “I love what I do,” sustained me through many, many hours of pain, nausea, headaches, and much more. It helped me through the 2nd year post diagnosis as well. By the end of the 2nd year, I shed some of the responsibilities I had beyond teaching, being department chair, a sponsor for a club on campus. Letting these things go was so, so very difficult. I felt like I was losing parts of myself that I might never regain. I almost felt at times that I was giving into the illnesses by cutting back on things I just couldn’t do anymore. For awhile, I felt “less than.” It messed with me psychologically and sometimes, it still does. However, it was for the greater good.

Yes, I am glad that I passed the torch to others who can and will do an exceedingly good job. So this 3rd year of post diagnosis found me (and finds me this fall) in a less demanding position with more time to accomplish much needed tasks at work rather than bringing everything home. Strangely though, this past year (school year 2015-2016) almost seemed the hardest one of the past 2.5 years. I’m still trying to figure out the Why it feels like it was such a challenge. Granted, some symptoms have improved. This past year, I didn’t miss as many days and at least 3 of those days were doctor appointments. So, what is the problem? Why am I so dang worried about this new year starting up??

Trying to find a balance
My room awaits….

The main thing I am most worried about is the ability to continue my work. I am down to a very limited amount of paid sick days now; I do not have long term disabilty (although added this August, the wait time is 12 months for any claim). Some money is saved for emergencies but not enough (I never think it is enough!). I hear you, my friend, you’re telling me to take one day at a time, and I agree 110%. I so completely agree. And yet.

While I say that my main concern is whether I will be able to continue to work, yes, while that is the big picture, more disconcerting is worrying about  how I will feel each day. Last spring was really hard. I wouldn’t have made it through without my BFF/teaching buddy, for reals. She was/is my angel, and I never worried about when I might be out because we shared everything. But my angel has retired. I am freakishly happy for her, but I’m not sure how I will make it without my little buddy cheering me on every day.

In January 2016, I had a cold that turned into bronchitis. Then, I went through a severe fatigue cycle, which lasted several months. And to top it off, I missed a week of school in May due to a terrible rash I developed on the left side of my face, my left hand, and right arm. In between all of this, I saw my regular doctor here in town 4 times, a rheumatoligist 2 times, and my out of town doctor once. Oh, right, and I was trying (key word is “trying”) to teach, 5 classes, every day. It got so bad that I would go to work, barely make it through the day (God forbid there was anything scheduled for after school), come home, feed the puppies, throw in some laundry, and then go to bed. Sometimes, the thought of sorting the mail or taking a shower made me cry. No joke.

Most of April and May were this way. Weekends? No, I could not do anything on the weekends. If I wasn’t trying to catch up on grading, then I was mostly in bed resting or dealing with a migraine and nausea. Both total killers and kill joys. The only function I attended in the spring of this year was a dinner with friends and a graduation party. I missed out on many events, a baptism, birthday celebrations, a theater show, baby showers. My life literally passed me by. And I am afraid of going back to that level of non-functioning.

Just a little TLC needed to make this feel like Home…

Well, there it is, boiled right down to the syrup: FEAR. Fear of ending up at that place where all I can kind of manage to do is work. I felt so disconnected from myself and from others when I reached that bottom line, you know, the one below the E?  I know that sometimes, we have to go through the motions so to speak but doing that every single day for months? It’s a dream killer, my people. 

A.Big.Fat.Dream.Killer. Just barely surviving hour to hour takes the fun out of any and everything. It takes the joy rogh out of talking and bonding with students, chatting with colleagues, planning lessons,  etc. I don’t want to go back to that type of physical and emotional state. Did I make it last year? I did. But I honestly didn’t realize how much it took out of me and how much of life I missed every day because I was again, just on the edge of survival.

Maybe you are in a similar situation? Or maybe you need to do a reboot on how to juggle your chronic illness and work? I HEAR YOU! I have to get my head right before Monday.

Here’s my plan of attack, and maybe these can help you too. We (yes, plural pronoun!) NEED TO:

  1. Pace ourselves – uhm, yeah, THIS! And it is #1 for a reason. 

  2. Stay on our special diets! For me this is – No sugar, no gluten, no processed carbs, no soda, AND mucho water! When I am feeling tired and stressed, I have a strong voice telling me to eat sugar or drink caffeine. Just say NO.

  3. Try out 2-3 yoga poses at lunch or during a break every day. Just taking a few minutes to stretch can feel rejuvenating.

  4. Shoot for a 5 minute meditation session every day. I mean worst case, I will do my best to squeeze in 3 minutes. Yes, it sounds goofy and yes, it will be a real challenge for me but I keep hearing great things about doing this. I’m going to use the Insight Timer app for Android. It’s free and has some great sessions to choose from.

  5. Try and do something fun/social once a month. This one will be extra HARD!! It’s not that I don’t want to do things; I am sure you are the same, but like me, I am sure you also experience so many times where you are sick and so fatigued to the point you just can’t do anything but rest and/or sleep. Let’s try to do this one and without feeling guilty if we just can’t sometimes. 

    **Good point. We will revisit these in a month’s time to see how        “WE” are doing!!**

What else can I/we incorporate in the day to day to relieve tension and frustration? Any suggestions or wisdom you can share with me?? Any self care I/we can use to keep it together (like everything together)? Really, I appreciate any feedback, suggestions, advice! 

On that note, I take leave of you for now. Have a great evening. Here at our Casa, we are going to watch some of The Good Wife and chill in the A/C!  Blessings to one and all – B