I Still Gots the Lyme!

Hi all!! I know it’s been a skip and a beat. The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey ate up much of my time, then school started. Starting school 2 weeks late has thrown things off and so, I admit, it has taken me awhile to get back into the swing of things. I honestly didn’t realize that it had been so long since I had posted.

I hope this finds you and yours well. While the first day of Fall has come and gone, I can attest that it certainly has not arived whatsoever here in Houston much to everyone’s dismay. In fact, yesterday, the high was 90 degrees. No bueno. Yes, the shadows are changing, birds are gathering, and clouds look “fall-like” and yet, it is no cooler. I believe there is a cool front rolling through this evening (LIES!), but I don’t dare to look at WeatherBug and be disappointed again.

Pumpkins1

But hey! I still have Chronic Lyme disease! However, the months of July, August, and most of September were the best I have felt in the past 4 years!!  It has been like the clouds in my brain cleared away and the sun felt brighter and life was more beautiful. Sincerely.  When I saw my OT (out of town doc) in September, she asked me what I thought was working and making the difference. Here’s what I told her:

  1. the additional thyroid medication she put me on in May,
  2. being off of work (I had all of June, July and half of August off completely),
  3. and maybe the combo therapy of antibiotics ahe put me on in June.
  4. But really, I don’t know for sure.

I started back to work in mid-August, then the Hurricane/flooding, then 2 weeks off, then back to work. This is week 6 of being back to work full-time. So far, it hasn’t been bad. But I can start to feel a change in my body. It feels like I’m slipping somehow, albeit very slowly.

At my OT doctor appointment in early September, my doctor decided that it was time to start weaning off the antibiotics. I was hesitant but I also know that we have to see if I can manage without them. I have been on Rifampin since March and on Ceftin and Zithromax since June. I eliminated Zithromax first, then Ceftin, and this is my last week on Rifampin. I felt alright without Zithromax. But the week I stopped Ceftin (about 3 weeks ago), the daily headaches seemed to return. 

At first, I blew it off thinking it was becuase I had a cold. But I can say for sure now that the headaches are back. I’m also feeling a little less energetic. Again, I doubt myself and make excuses – I’m back at work, I’m not sleeping as much, I’m…..but I know deep down that it is Lyme related. 

I’m giving it this week, and then I will contact my OT doc. She said to let her know if I start having symptoms again as I come off the antibiotics. Of course, I am having all kinds of thoughts, worries, emotions about this but that is for another post. 🙂 

I just keep telling myself not the dismiss ANYTHING nor any SYMPTOMS. I have to trust my gut on everything and that is OK. Lyme became CHRONIC in my system because it was left to go bonkers for years in my body.

That ain’t happening again. Not on my watch.

Pumpkins

 

Peace to you, friends. Until next time xxoo – Belle

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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.

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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

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

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.

 

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.

migraine

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. 

Starting the year off right.
Source: http://www.pixabay.com

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

Just Well, No.

Hi my people. Yep, I’m missing you too. But, I am struggling with inspiration and with life in general at this point it seems. These past few months have been tough. I know I am being vague in a way, and I am so not trying to be evasive. Overall, it’s been a challenge to keep working. A real challenge. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. But overall, it has just been a struggle to keep it up while dealing with the chronic fatigue and a myriad of illnesses I contract due to my sucky immune system.

isayno

So, yeah, both the emotional and the physical challenges of working a full-time job have pretty much consumed all of my time in recent months. Unfortunately, I am also trying to dig deep to find joy. Even in the little things. I don’t know if it is the time of year or the incessant constant day to day barrage of symptoms, or the trying to escape some of the chronic symptoms that seems to have made me shut-down a little on the inside. I’m trying to figure it out but honestly, I have found even that kind of thinking and reflection just exhausting. IDK.

I just wanted to check in becasue, well, I miss the blogging world and my blogging people. I promise that I am making a concerted effort to get myself back on track and back in the Game so to speak.

I hope this finds you well and full of JOY. Peace. -b

Axon Optics – A Review

** “I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers  network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.” **

I’ve always had sensitive eyes. My eyes are blue, and so anytime I am outside, even on a cloudy day, I have to wear sunglasses. But since contracting Lyme disease, the light sensitivity has increased, and I have to be careful about too much exposure to light, both outside and inside.

With this light sensitivity sometimes comes a migraine. I never had these either before Lyme disease. Now, I have daily headaches and periodic cycles of migraines. I have found that light can be a trigger for a migraine. I am especially sensitive to fluorescent lighting which is pretty much everywhere!

Axon Optics to the rescue!
My new pair of glasses!

So when I was given the opportunity to try out Axon Optic eyewear, I jumped at it. Axon Optics offers special glasses and sunglasses for light sensitive migraine sufferers. As a part of the review, I was able to pick from 3 different frames. Axon offers their eyewear with prescription and without. As I wear contacts most of the time, I opted for the glasses without prescription. Axon offers a wide variety of frames both modern and classic making it easy to select a pair of glasses that complement the wearer’s face shape.

When the glasses arrived, I was really excited to try them out, especially at work where all of the lighting is fluorescent. The glasses were the exact frame I had ordered and the lenses were a tinted rose color. Hmm, I thought. These will be pretty different from other glasses most people wear.

At first, I was hesitant to wear them while I was teaching. I teach teenagers and well, as we know, they are not forgiving when it comes to fashion. Again, the rose tint makes these glasses stand out. But one morning while at work, I felt a bad headache coming on, and I bit the bullet. I began wearing them about 8 a.m. Pleasantly surprised, I received many compliments on these glasses from both co-workers and students!

Happy

I wore my glasses all day that day, and I kid you not when I say that I began to experience relief within a few minutes of putting them on. It was almost like a protective screen immediately came down between my eyes and the lighting. The rose color was soothing. Since being diagnosed with Lyme and chronic migraines, I do have migraine medication that I can take as needed. But since receiving my Axon Optics lenses 2 months ago, I have only had to take the migraine medication twice.

I carry my glasses with me everywhere I go now. When I begin to have even the slightest headache, I pop on my Axon Optics glasses. These glasses are also very versatile; I wear mine both inside and outside in the blaring sun. No need to switch over to sunglasses when I leave work. My Axon Optics do the trick!

If you suffer from migraines or even light sensitivity, I would highly recommend a pair of these glasses. Not only have they helped me reduce the number of headaches and migraines I experience, they have also helped me to cut down on the medication I have to take. In the future, I am going to invest in a pair of Axon Optics prescription glasses so I can have a pair to wear with and without my contacts in.

These glasses do everything the company promises and more. Please take a minute to visit the company website, Axon Optics, or their blog for more information.

P.S. Right now, Axon Optics is offering Free Shipping on all orders through November 15th!

Thank you for your time! -B

Hitting the Mark

Make it happen!
Make it happen!
Lately, I have been feeling like I haven’t been hitting the mark. What is the mark, you ask? Just feeling like everything is balanced. Right now, I don’t feel balanced in my work nor in my personal life. The scale has been unavoidably tipped, and all of my time seems spent on How I Feel. I am diligently working towards getting this scale balanced again, but now, throwing work back into the mix, it feels like an impossible mark to hit. While my job is rewarding in so many ways, it also drains every ounce of physical and mental energy I can muster each day. By the time I make it home, I feel wasted and withered, no matter how easy or how difficult the day has been. I can’t seem to change these dynamics, which is so frustrating!

After years of fatigue and physical pain, I still haven’t figured out how to squirrel away any energy for myself and my personal life while I am working. I wish I had like a bank where I could deposit blocks of energy, then withdraw as needed! How awesome would that be! When I feel this way, Guilt stealthily creeps in, the guilt involved with not feeling like a productive partner in my marriage, like an active participant in social events with friends, like an emotional engaged human. I know guilt is self-imposed and controllable, but it is my go to feeling when I am worn out and stressed. No bueno. Trying to play psychological games with myself, every time I feel “guilt”, I am working to replace it with feeling “Grateful” instead.  Am I hitting the mark? Who knows. 

Yesterday, I started feeling Guilty for not immediately reading a student’s novel she wanted to share with me. I asked her to email it to me for future reading. Realizing the Guilt was moving in quickly, I endeavored on removing the Guilt and replacing it with the Gratitude that this person is willing to share a piece of herself with me. I will read the novel, and I will give feedback. I just couldn’t manage it during my lunch break yesterday. It’s all good. 

Do you feel Guilt? Do you feel like you are hitting the Mark? 

Peace -B