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

 

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Gettin My Slothy On

There really is a term “gettin slothy!” Who knew I would be so cutting edge with the urban slang! Go me!

Anyhoo, the past few days, I’ve been in this mode. I feel a bit guilty, but I truly feel like doing nothing. I’ve watched a lot of Netflix but that is all I can be bothered to do. No worries though; I have been feeding and watering the animal menagerie. They all seem quite content that we have been laying around in the AC watching copious amounts of television.

I can’t seem to get motivated! UGH. I would blame it on the Lyme but I haven’t been feeling terrible. Yes, I do have to rest off and on especially with the new meds I’m taking but not for 5 hours straight! And overall, I’m feeling better this week then I was last week, so what gives? In my defense, my husband has been really busy all weekend with some side projects and so I’ve been mostly alone. I don’t mind it, I just obvioulsy can’t take any initiative by myself!

tired
Not now, please!

I tried to be better today. Although I told myself I would complete an online class for work and well, that didn’t happen. But I did do some laundry and a few other household chores today so can we call it a “productive” or rather “not wasted” day, officially?

I mean I guess a positive of this situation is I am realizing I’m gettin slothy. Last July 4th, I wasn’t feeling very well at all. In fact, my husband went to a little get together, and I just couldn’t due to symptoms and fatigue. So that is good news. I’m not sure if we are up to anything tomorrow honestly. Maybe a movie. Maybe a meal out. Not sure. But either way, this summer, I will be able to do some stuff if we decide to which is a really nice change, no doubt.

On that note, I hope that you and yours enjoy Independence Day tomorrow (for those fellow Amercians) and I hope absolutely everyone has a great week! Take care, friends.

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

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

 

 

What’s the Sitch?

What’s new in my world?  It’s been a tough spring, I won’t lie. In March, I had to take a medical leave from work. I was just dragging at everything, missing work days, spending every minute at home laying down. It truly was torturous. I couldn’t manage to gain any ground at all even after resting all weekend long.

It was depressing as hell. It was like watching a movie. You could see what was going wrong but no control in changing it. I was just a zombie. The chronic fatigue was impenetrable. I was out of work about 3 weeks. I tested positive for Lyme and EBV again (not new infections but chronic ones) and my doctor put me on antibiotics. I was a little better when I went back at the end of March. It was still a challenge daily to get through each day but it has progressively improved.

Sick and tired

I’m still on antibiotics. I’ll have another follow-up on June 28th, so we’ll see. School is out for the summer and that helps too. I considered not working next year, but I’m hopeful I can gain ground this summer and honestly, I’m scared to not work. I know, it’s weird. It’s all very emotional and right now; I am planning on returning to work in August.

I’ll post an update about my doctor visit I had in May with my doctor out-of-town. She’s offering up some treatments being done overseas that sound both promising and expensive. I’m trying to do some more research. More to come and soon!

I hope your summer is off to a great start! I’ve missed blogging, and I look forward to reconnecting with you all!

Peace – b

I found this book to be the most helpful when I started my Lyme journey.

 

The Pandora Lyme Box

*I wrote this back in July 2015. But all is still relevant, if not more so. When there are over 300,000+ new cases of Lyme a year across our nation, why aren’t the CDC and IDSA doing so much more for the population at large? And why aren’t these organizations being held more accountable for their actions or lack of actions. #LYMELIESCOSTLIVES

Hi out there! Today I listened to the Diane Rehm show and if you caught it as well, it was a program about Lyme disease. Honestly, it didn’t shed any light on the disease for me personally and yet again, some of the guests continued to perpetuate some of the Lyme disease myths floating around. Now granted, I am not a scientist, I am not a researcher, and I am not a doctor. But I am one of the many suffering from this disease so I have read as much information as I can get my hands on about Lyme and I will continue to do so. At this point in my game of Lyme, I feel like I know enough to make fairly decent decisions regarding my own care.

Listening to the program and reading comments on Rehm’s FB page really struck a chord with me in that there are so many people out there suffering from the elusive Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi). And so many of us are not even close to getting the help we need. The medical community is at odds as to what to call the condition where patients suffer symptoms of Lyme after treatment; it is also at odds with whether the bacteria is actually present after treatment or not. On the show, Dr. John Aucott from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center basically agree that yes, in rare cases, patients still suffer from symptoms after treatment but he would not call it Chronic Lyme. He sidestepped this so many times…well anyway. Instead, he made it clear that if, and only rarely, patients have lingering issues, it is due to an immune response but not due to persistent bacterial infection. He stated this as a fact when in reality, this has not been proven as not true in a human subject.

**The two awesome posters above are from a wonderful website and patient advocavy.Please visit http://www.lymestats.org

But how do we even know or how can we even begin to dismiss the idea that this bacteria, one of the most, if not the most, complex and intelligent bacteria we know of, cannot persist? Just because we do not have the means or the way to find out should not lead then to dismissal. I think back to things in the past that were dismissed and then later, after the technology and testing and imaging came to pass, after the WAY to see something became clear, we changed our minds because we actually had the TOOLS to figure it out? Now I am not necessarily trying to make direct analogies here but think about this: women used to be treated as mentally ill if they suffered certain symptoms after delivering a child. Ever read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman? But then as years went on and doctors focused and researched, this “condition” turned out to be a physical one and not merely a “mental” condition we now call postpartum depression. The same comparison be said about depression in general. We didn’t know what it was, we know now, we know it can be hereditary….and on and on.

I just cannot then figure out why the medical community, in this country for sure, is so fixated on sticking to standards set by IDSA, the Infectious Disease Society of America, in 2006. Like many of us, I wonder why more money has not been put into finding out so much more about a disease that is now affecting 300,000 plus here in the states? I just cannot wrap my head around it!

SOURCE: http://nocturny.deviantart.com/art/Pandora-s-box-340317104
SOURCE: http://nocturny.deviantart.com/art/Pandora-s-box-340317104

I know I live in a bubble, don’t get me wrong. I have yet to have anyone in my life doubt that I am still suffering from something, no matter what the terminology. Not everyone has that kind of support system. Why don’t more medical and science professionals care about Lyme? Or why are they staying away from researching Lyme? Let’s just say that the radio show today did not answer any questions for me. In fact, it only made me think about more questions I have about Lyme disease! On that note, dearies, I must take leave of you.

Until we meet again, peace -B

Project H – Shout Out from South Texas

One of the very first blogs I started to follow 2 years ago when I was just a wee one in the blogosphere was A Opinionated Man by Jason. He continues to inspire and support the blogging community constantly. You need to go and check out his blog! It is great! Recently, he graciously allowed me to do a post about my ideas about home for his July Project H.

If you’d like to hear a bit more about me, then just head on over to Project H – Shout Out from South Texas

And for your viewing pleasure:

Donkeys like Texas, too!
What up?