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