Happy New Year 2018 with Many Thanks

Hello and Happy New Year! I know I’ve been a bit silent lately, but it isn’t for any particular reason. This winter break is going way too fast. My husband has been battling the flu. It hit him the week of finals and is still hanging on. The doctor said this flu hangs on for sure. I think he’s finally on the mend. My fingers are still crossed that I will indeed NOT get this flu.

We had a great Christmas, very sinple. I hope you and yours had a good day as well! I haven’t been up to much really. Keeping the house clean, puppies fed, husband nursed. All things I am so grateful for as a matter of fact. Being off of work has allowed me to rest and do things I normally just can’t manage to do while working full-time mostly due to fatigue and other symptoms. Goingout  to a movie and out to eat are definite treats!

Overall, my health has been steadily alright this semester. I gained some ground over the summer, and I feel like I have managed to keep a grasp on most of that ground. I see my holistic doctor in a few days, and I am curious as to where we go from here. I’m still dealing with afternoon fatigue. My thyroid is not working properly – AGAIN – and a few weeks ago, I started having slight numbness on the lower right side of my face. Nothing that itches or hurts. It just feels like there is pantyhose covering that small area. It is a strange feeling.

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Newton and I taking a New Year’s day walk. COLD!

Yes, I told my doctor here (my original LLMD) this information when I saw here last week – oh wait. I didn’t see her; I saw her PA. Now the PA is a very sweet person, but now it has been 6 months since I have seen my primary LLMD. Seriously.

Anyway, I told her about the numbness and she said, “Wow. Yes, I am sure that is annoying.” That was all. I’m still waiting for my labwork to come back and for the doctor to advise me on what is next. Honestly, I don’t expect much. I shouldn’t be irritated. This is one of the many reasons I went and found a secondary holistic LLMD 2 years ago. However, my 2nd doctor is a 3+ hour trip away from home and does not take insurance and so I have 2 doctors – one near, and one far. I count myself extremely lucky for sure as I know many Lyme disease patients who have no access to an LLMD at all.

Thank you for all of your support throughout my humble journey with Chronic Lyme disease thus far. This blog and this space with you, my friends, has been such a wonderful gift. You have listened to me, encouraged me, understood me, and loved me. I couldn’t ask for anything more. From the bottom of my heart, I embrace you and wish you each the best of everything in this beautiful year to come. Here’s to 2018!

With Love and Joy, Belle

 

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LuAnn is all ready for the freezing temperatures we are experiencing here in Houston!

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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!

stormy_road

 

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

 

The Damn Rash is Back

First, before I start on my rant, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a really good day. The weather was AMAZING. No humidity (say what?!?) and the high was maybe 60? Delish. It was just my mom and me and our 10-12 dogs between us. We cooked, talked, cooked, and talked. It was great to reconnect. My husband and step-daughter arrived home from out of state about 4 p.m. and then we got to visit with them and hear about their trip. I hope you and yours had as much joy as we did!

Now, the RASH. Since contracting Lyme (when this happened I have no idea but….), I have had strange rashes. On my legs. On my arms. On my hands. On my face. I had a bout with hives this past summer. I never really figured out why. It’s been since July 2016 that I’ve had a legit rash. And it was very unpleasant. It was under my left eye across my cheek. It was down the left side of my face and under my chin,

It itched so horribly!! My doctor sent me to a dermatologist (since I had just had this rash in April 2016, same place). The dermatologist tested me for skin Lupus and sent me on my way. The test was negative. She gave me some cream which helped the itching but whatever. It lasted about 10 days. 

My out of town LLMD looked at pictures a few months later and stated it was systemic and not caused by anything external, aka Lyme disease. Or maybe a virus that caught me because my immune system is just plain no bueno.

Anyhoo. It’s back. Same rash but it’s under my right eye and on my right eyelid. It itches something fierce, and I am trying my hardest not to itch it! It is miserable! It popped up Friday night and has just spread a bit. It looks like my eye is swollen. Nice. I’ve been babying it and keeping it contained by not touching it (ok, barely!). And, I’m back at work tomorrow! Yippee!! 

 Look, the last few times it has been much worse, but still. My plan is to go to work as it isn’t contagious (we figured this out the past 2 times as well) and hope that it clears up asap. If my eye gets worse or the area gets more swollen, I may have to take a day off, but I am really trying not to do that if at all possible. 

I’ll be honest, the rashes on my face just make me so anxious. Not because of what it looks like but it’s just a constant reminder that Lyme is still lurking. Lyme is still beneath the surface just waiting for any chink in the defense. It’s a reminder that even though I’ve made progress, I still have miles to go. UGH.

Surface

 

Damn rash. 

Wish me luck with this. Have a good week, friends. Be happy. – b

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

“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

 

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

 

Duck, Duck, Doc…#1 The General Practitioner

*I’m now in year four of Chronic Lyme disease treatment. I wanted to share my journey in trying to get and find a correct diagnosis (not my treatment pilgrimage mind you). Please know that my experience has actually been much easier than many other Lyme patients. Some visit 20, 30, 40+ doctors trying to find a root cause for their symptoms.

I searched for answers for my illnesses from 2009 – 2013. I had many doctor visits with many different types of doctors, some simultaneously. However, I am trying to do a separate post for each doctor. If only all 7- 8 doctors would have paid attention to one another and to me, maybe I could have started on my healing journey faster, but that’s probably not realistic at all, especially in the Western Medicine sphere.*

#1 – The General Practitioner (my doctor since 2006):

The earliest I can remember having symptoms that then continued on for years was in the fall of 2009. I was starting to have other than normal tiredness and that fall, I got the “flu” and I was sick for several days. I remember sitting out on the deck in the sun hoping I would feel better soon. I’m not sure why I remember that moment but I do. I think I realized in the back of my mind that something just wasn’t quite “right.” I was wishing I could stay out of work just one more day to rest. 

The flu like symptoms continued off and on as did the tiredness. When I went to my family doctor, a family practitioner, she of course blew it all of to the daily grind. To working a lot. I didn’t have the flu anymore and nothing else was wrong (supposedly). She told me that my thyroid was borderline but did not send me to an endocrinologist. “We’ll just keep an eye on it,” she said. I got better so I didn’t worry.

But a few months later, I was back to the tired. I went ahead and decided to go to an endo doctor. After blood work, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. My thyroid wasn’t working properly. My GP said “great” and we moved on. I felt a little better once my thryoid meds were adjusted. I also thought “great” and moved on. On the summer of 2010 I had a weird rash on my legs. My GP told me to get someone else to do the lawnwork. I think she gave me some cream and it cleared up. No biggie.

But then in the fall of 2010, the tired was back. I felt sluggish. At this point, I was diagnosed with reactivated Mono. I tried to ask questions like “why” and “how” since the blood work showed I had in fact had Mono before (I had NO idea that I had Mono when I was 25 (in 1995) because it was in combination with a horrible strep infection so the Mono was missed and never diagnosed!). My GP said to stay hydrated and rest. I took a few days off of work which didn’t help, and then I got back to it. It took a few months to feel better but I did eventually.

Hanging

After that, the cycles continued. Between 2010 and March 2013 (when I was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease – CDC+), I had “reactivated Mono” about 6 times. My GP was pretty nonchalant about it. But I wasn’t. My research revealed that usually a person has Mono once in his lifetime and then builds a resistance to it. It supposedly doesn’t reactivate!  Everything I read said that reactivation of Mono (Epstein Barr virus) “rarely” and “hardly ever” happens. And with every cycle the symptoms seemed to last longer. Chronic Fatigue was starting to be thrown around but the GP wasn’t willing to diagnose me with it. On the flip side, according to my endo, my thyroid was working nicely now on the medication prescribed. So what could be going on??

By the fall of 2012, I was exhausted. But I was getting married in November, I was chair of a department of about 40 people, I was sponsoring clubs, etc. I just figured it was all par for the course. Oh, and I trusted my two doctors, the GP and the endo. Yet, on the 6th diagnosis of “reactiviated mono” in October of 2012 and just a few weeks before the wedding, I’d had enough. I pushed my GP on the WHY was I continuing to experience Mono??? I wondered also WHY she wasn’t more concerned? At this point, I figured my immune system was not doing a good job, but WHY not?

She finally and not very willingly, referred me to an Infectious Disease doctor. My appointment was not until January 2013. But that’s another post, my friends!

Conclusion: my first doctor, my GP, did not help me get to the root of my issues.

Coming soon – Duck, Duck, Doc…#2 The Endocrinologist. Stay tuned!

I hope your weekend was a calm and joyful one. -B

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

 

 

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.

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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

Begin Again

First, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  We’re having a very lazy day here at the RBTL casa. I hope you and yours are doing well. 2017 has arrived!

I found the below post in my drafts; I have no idea why I didn’t publish when I composed it but, hey, Lyme Brain here so cut me some slack. Anyway, it actually seems appropriate for today, on our new, shiny bling bling, January 1, 2017. And BTW, I still most definitely recommend the movie Begin Again

A date aroundish August 22, 2016:

First, have you seen this movie, Begin Again? It’s one of those you pick up thinking, eh, it might be OK. I’m not usually a big fan of Kiera Knightley but I am a huge fan of Mark Ruffalo. Anyhoo,this movie is great!! Check it out if you have some time. You won’t be disappointed. Promise.

So, I’m back at work, but without students. As teachers, we have 2 weeks of professional development before students are back. For the past 15 years, usually this is only a week but our school calander for 2016-2017 has changed and so, this is happening. 

So far, it’s been great! It’s always nice to see everyone after an extended break and to also see friends from other schools. My favorite interaction so far has been seeing my very awesome and wonderful first team leader. This lady. She amazes me with her skills and kindness.I love to see her because it brings back those sweet memories of when I began my teaching career 15 years ago. And while I’m sure she is at a point she can retire, she told me that she has no plans of doing such because she loves her work. She LOVES her job. Now if that isn’t inspiration, I don’t know what is. 

Teaching has brought so many gifts to me it’s hard to count them all. I was, shall we say a little late to the game, in that I worked outside of education until I was about 30. Honestly, I’m glad I waited and did some things not related to education. Those other skills, customer service, managerial, have served me very well as a teacher. And it’s always a nice comparison to have when the going gets tough. 

Anyway, as a teacher, I always feel like it’s the New Year right about now and for our profession, it is. We prep, we make resolutions and goals, we plan. And we get to do this with a group of people who are all on the same page. The energy and the collaboration going on is pretty amazing.

Are we idealistic? Yes.

Are we filled with eternal hope? Always. Our students deserve it. We deserve it. 

P.S. I wish you all an amazing 2017. Let our shared journey around the sun Begin Again. Throwing lots of love out to you and into the world – B