Update from ReadBetweentheLyme :)

Howdy Friends! It’s been awhile, I know. This year has been off to a kinda crazy start. In order not to bore you, I’ve put things into bullet points:

  • My husband had the flu over Christmas break. It lasted about 10-12 days. I tried to make sure he was as comfortable as possible. I also tried to be very patient. He recovered in time for New Year’s. 

  • School started back up, and it’s always a challenge and stressful after a longer break. I mean no one wants vacation time to end!

  • We offered to house our 22 year old nephew who was in-between homelessness and rehab. He stayed about 4 weeks. It was very stressful and not such a good experience. 😦  But, he did get to rehab and is doing 30 days at least.

  • Over the MLK weekend, we had freezing temperatures. Then, we had sleet and ice. We had 2 days out of school due to weather. I won’t lie, it was pretty fun to have “snow days!”

  • I had a severe back pain attack the same week. I ended up taking 2 days off of work because I could barely move. It was awful. My doctor says it is degenerative disc dsease. I ended up having another flare just a  few weeks after this one. I’ve considered going to a back specialist, but I am so over doctors right now!

  • Towards the end of January, my husband caught some upper respiratory infection. This lasted about 7 days. Since we are both teachers, it isn’t difficult to catch the latest crud going around at school. And believe me, there’s been a lot of germies circulating this year!

  • February was a month of Seattle rain and dreariness but in Houston. There was maybe one day that we had some sun? It was seriously depressing.  We celebrated my mom’s birthday, but that was about the only fun thing happening!

  • Spring break just started and my nephew spent 2 days in the hospital with a virus. He is on the mend now. 

  • About 10 days ago, I had a rash start up (again!) on my left eye. It lasted all week and then seemed to go away. But the Saturday, the rash started on the top pf both hands and on my neck. From there, it has popped up on legs and arms. It is so much worse at night. I’ve been downing Benedryl. The last time this happened, my LLMD was clueless (she made me treat for bed bugs which it is so NOT) and the dermatologist said it wasn’t “skin lupus” and sent me on my way. I’m just aiting it out because again – I am so over doctors right now!

  • The weather has been beautiful! Temps are about 70 and it is sunny outside. 

  • I had a list of a few things to get done during Spring Break and I have about 140 research papers to grade, but right now, I am just going to take it easy. 🙂

shrugging

So that is a really quick update! I see one of my LLMDs this Friday, but I don’t expect much at all, if I even see her personally. I’m not trying to be bitter but I am just a little. I’m very grateful that I have my holistic LLMD that I see every 4 months, otherwise, I just don’t think I would have made the progress I have this past year. 

I hope you and yours are enjoying your days. Best to you.

Peace – Belle

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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!

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

You’re Kinda Cool

Howdy out there! In  our neck of the woods, we’re enjoying the 60 degree weather and the World Series brouhaha. We’re also hoping the Astros win!! Fingers crossed.

So, I’m off of all antibiotics now for Chronic Lyme. It’s been about a weekish. In the past 10 days, I have been feeling the fatigue creeping back in. Not drastic by any means, but I can feel its weight. By about 1 p.m. in the afternoons now, I’m pretty much  done and I’m ready to go home and rest. A few nights this past week, I have gone to sleep by 7 p.m. While I’m not noticing a lot of other symptoms, I’m still worried and pensive about not being on medication. I did blood work last Tuesday, so hopefully the results will be back this week and I’ll hear from my doctor. 

I know I shouldn’t worry and that “it is what it is” but easier said than done. It’s hard to find a balance between ignoring and obsession! I am trying to be hyper-vigilant without being a freak. Hmm.

Work is going well. My students are great, and I think we all adjusted after Hurricane Harvey postponed our start for a few weeks. It still feels weird though that Thanksgiving is just 3 weeks away. How did that happen?

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Anyway, being a teacher and one that is chronically ill, 5 performances daily can be extremely difficult (teaching is a demanding job even when one is healthy!). I work hard at projecting an energetic and positive image while in the classroom regardless of how I may be feeling. My audience is 15-17 year olds, and they can sometimes be a very tough crowd, even on a good day! 

But here’s a note I received in my mailbox from one of my students on Friday:

“You’re kinda cool, I guess.”

I literally laughed out loud. Really, this is like receiving an Oscar in my line of work. I’ll take the wins when and where I can get them.

Stay kinda cool, my peeps. Have a great week! – b

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

 

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.

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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!!

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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