Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Choices, choices, choices

One of the biggest lessons that's been right in my face with this whole Lyme thing is that you have the power to choose how to respond - to whatever it is that happens to you.  That sounds so simple, but it really isn't!  You can look at the facts of the situation: lots of pain, feeling yucky all the time, dropped out of school, leave of absence from work...sounds awfully depressing, doesn't it?  And it is, but instead of letting go and sulking about it, I finally realized that I had the ability to catch myself and stop. The key really is looking on the bright side.  When I felt myself starting to think more about how it stinks, I have to make the effort to say to myself, 'Yea, ok, it stinks - but at least _____.'  And holy smokes, does that help!  And, of course sometimes it's harder to do than you would think.

Wow, there is so much to be grateful about.  First, I feel like my history with seeking Naturopathic Medicine really saved my life, I really do.  It taught me to pay attention to my body, which I hadn't really done before.  I developed this skill of being aware of what's going on in my body which allowed me to 'catch' things before they became a big problem.  It's a lot like when you feel a cold coming on - catching it early and then taking action like taking vitamin C and taking it easy will make your cold much shorter - or maybe you'll even avoid it altogether.  I think that, had I not learned to 'listen' to my body, I would not have gone to the doctor when my joint pain happened. 

 I first sought care in I think 2005 when my sweet husband-to-be helped me realize that my fatigue was so bad that it was interfering with my life.  I used to sleep a bare minimum of 10  hours per night, usually 12-14, sometimes 16 hours per night; drag myself out of bed and have enough energy to go to work, then come home and go to bed.  I got sick really easily and frequently (1-2 times per month).  I had always been tired, but I didn't realize just how much I wasn't able to do until Matthew somehow showed me.  It turned out that food was the culprit.  Food.  What?! My test for food sensitivities came back pretty positive for lots of food like: dairy, gluten, eggs, turkey, peanuts, cane sugar, and more.  I had 'Leaky Gut Syndrome' (no, not Leaky Butt Syndrome) and this was a big surprise because I never had any stomach/digestive issues.  Turns out there were tiny little holes in my intestines so undigested food was getting into my bloodstream and my body thought it was a virus and attacked; so my immune system was so overworked.  My poor immune system.  :)  Two weeks of avoiding my reactive foods and it was an astonishing difference - I slept the normal 8 hours per night and had energy to do things.  Imagine getting 5 more hours added to every day - and the energy to use that time!  It was a miracle and I was totally sold on Natural Medicine. 

I am also so incredibly lucky that my Lyme Disease was discovered very quickly - after 1-2 months.  On average, Lymies see 10 doctors and spend $5,000 out of pocket before they are diagnosed with Lyme.  And it just sounds crazy, doesn't it?  You would think that doctors would know how to take care of your health in every possible scenario, but because Lyme is such a smart bug, it is very difficult to diagnose - it's often called 'The Great Imitator' since its symptoms are so diverse and change frequently.  That's a big reason that Lymies look 'crazy' - you know, they start off wincing because of terrible headaches, then have to quick cover their ears because the hypersensitivity to sound kicks in, then can't stand for very long.  But THEN, they won't have problems with those same things the next day.  Most Lyme Disease patients aren't treated with complete respect from their doctors and a big reason at the heart of that is the different opinions that doctors have about Lyme Disease.  One camp has a tagline that Lyme is 'hard to get and easy to treat' with a short course of antibiotics.  Since, in reality, that short course doesn't work in many cases (remember my mantra, Lyme is one smart bug), there is another camp that acknowledges that Lyme is complex.  And since it's a bacterial infection that gets into your blood and all your organs - your brain, your heart, your lungs, and in my own personal experience - with 10 weeks of antibiotics and still feeling sick (and not from the antibiotics because I'm being supported from all the 'collateral damage' antibiotics can cause), I know to which camp I belong.   I am so lucky to have an amazingly supportive medical team that has been on my side from day one.

The timing has been really fortunate, too.  I can't imagine being this sick and having kids to take care of.  Thanks God we waited to have kids.  And with lots of other things going on in my life, I am so grateful I got Lyme Disease in the fall, instead of over the summer when our family dealt with some very significant losses. 

These are the things I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself about whenever I get down in the dumps.  And I know everyone has something they can be grateful for when they get down in the dumps.  And it's hard not to indulge feeling depressed, and it's a fine balance of acknowledging your feelings and not letting them overwhelm you - you bet.  It is so much easier just to complain and dwell on how sucky things are, and it's okay to do that sometimes - but that should be considered a luxury, not day to day perspective. We'll see how well I do with that.  Ha ha ha

So that's what I think.

Soon enough, I'll post my treatment plan and how it's going.  But for now, I'll tell you one of the things that has helped me the most: FOOD!  I still have to avoid a lot of my food sensitivities, but eating a more alkaline diet has really cut down on my pain level tremendously.  This means eating mostly vegetables and fish.  And little to no dairy, eggs, or meat.  Grains and oils aren't great either.  Doing this creates an environment in my body that is more anti-inflammatory, thus, reduces pain.  

I liked ending on a quote last time.  So here's another one.   :0)

"Be thankful for what you have. Be it small or big, beautiful or ugly, bad or good, came in or still to come. Say "thank you" to the Lord in advance when asking for a favor. He will answer you in three ways: yes, no, and wait...and sometimes, your prayer will be granted right away." — Remy Danglacruz


  1. Hannah thank you for sharing your story. You have such an amazing outlook. My son who is 18 has Lyme Disease. He had it for a few years, we're not really sure how long. He's been getting treatment now for 1 year and we all wish there was more progress. They are smart and annoying. He also has Babesia and Bartonella. I hope you have many smiles today along with greater health.

  2. Thanks, Diane! It makes me feel great to think that you like it. :) Sorry to hear that your son has to go through Lyme and the progress is slow. I too have Babs & Bart! Definitely a narrow and windy road to feeling better. Funny movies help! It also helps me to think of it like a temporary situation. Just a lllloooonnnnngggg period of temporary. Hope all is well and things get better.

  3. I was diagnosed in Oct 2011. Probably had it for at least 4 months. Went through the standard 4 week course through a PICC line and then a very long blood clot was found where the PICC line had been, so now have been on Coumadin/Warfarin for a few months. It's been awful. I've developed anxiety and depression issues and strive SO hard to have the outlook you do. When I have "good" days, it's easy to think positive. When I have bad days...well, it's bad. I was running half marathons last summer and now I celebrate being able to walk a few miles on my good days. I love your comment about this being a long temporary. I really really look forward to the day when this is behind me. For me, I have decided no more antibiotics. I don't know where to go from here, but I know my body wouldn't handle lengthy antibiotic treatments...the 4 week Rocephin almost killed me to get through . I'm so glad I found your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It feels good knowing I'm not alone in all that I'm going through. Xo

    1. Hi Cali ~

      I am SO sorry to hear this! I have been lucky enough to avoid the PICC line so far, but I've heard how invasive it is. We all go through some anxiety and depression with this, it's natural. Not only is that part of the package with Lyme, consider how much we have had to give up - it's definitely a loss, and we've got a whole new way of life now, of course it will be stressful and anxiety-producing, you are not alone! It is HARD to be thankful on those bad days, you bet - really, really hard. And it will take some time, but as long as you make the effort each day (like writing down 3 things you are thankful for or remembering that each time you laugh is a gift to be thankful for), and eventually you will get better at it. Hang in there! Congratulations on deciding how YOU want your treatment to look! That's the first step! Finding an LLND (Lyme Literate Naturopathic Physician) is going to be key - they know what to do to eradicate Lyme without the use of antibiotics. To find one, go to, Click 'Find a Doctor,' choose one in your area and give them a ring ask if they have someone in the office who treats Lyme, if they don't, they ought to know who the 'Lyme ND' in your region is.

      Sending some hope & healing your way,

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