My Dalliance with Lyme disease

In February of 2008, I got sick, really sick. On and off for 24 hours, I was feverish and had debilitating joint pain. I attributed it to the fact that I had shoveled my entire driveway the day before in order to get a furniture delivery. For those who are unaware, my driveway is a 400 foot long hill. In the winter, my kids sled on my tire tracks like the Olympic bobsled team.

It was one of those times when I realized that I was not quite as young or spry as I used to be. I shoveled downhill (because I am both lazy and sane). And when I reached the bottom, I found myself humming “The old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be.” In victory, I walked back up and happily awaited my fabulous new living room furniture. My happiness was short-lived when I started feeling tired that night.

By the next day, I was ensconced in a blanket on my new couch. I could barely get up because the pain was so bad. At the time, my kids were 3, 4, 5, 6, 15 and 19. Unfortunately, my 19 year old was away at college. It was frustrating that I couldn’t even open a Ziploc bag with my claw-like hands. Thankfully, it only lasted 24 hours. The bad part was that when it was over, I had arthritis for 5 months.

I saw my primary care provider who ordered a slew of tests, including ANA titer and Lyme antibody. My blood work was amazing (which always stuns my medical providers because I’m fat, lol). But the arthritis persisted. As a nurse, I had access to many medical professionals who I peppered with questions. Their closest guess was Lyme disease, although one doctor who originated from Venezuela mentioned seeing post-viral arthritis. After 5 months, I woke up one day and the arthritis was gone. Life went on.

Then in January of 2009, I had the same thing happen. At that point I realized that as long as I had a fever, the joint pain was gone. I stopped taking Ibuprofen and survived the day. It seemed odd that this had happened again and yet none of my kids got sick so I mentioned this to my primary care provider, was diagnosed with a sinus infection, and went on my not-so merry way.

Still, no one could account for the return of the arthritis. Shortly after that, I was at work when I felt one side of my face start to droop. I had to wait for relief to take care of my patient and by the time I got checked out in the ER, the Bell ’s palsy had mostly resolved. I remember the ER doctor saying that it never comes back after it resolves, so the next day I headed down in my rattling old farm pickup (my SUV was out of commission) to visit friends a few hours away.

The Bell ’s palsy did, indeed, return with a vengeance. My friend, Pat, a natural remedy fan made me some licorice root tea for the trip and put it in a pint canning jar. It was a sweet gesture and a well-known treatment for Bell ’s palsy but I don’t think she grasped the hilarity of the situation. Here I was in my beat-up farm truck with a droopy face, slurred speech, and a canning jar of what looked like moonshine.

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“Granny” and her homemade moonshine

Feeling a bit like a Beverly Hillbilly I headed north, arriving home without any run-ins with the PO-lice.  After being referred to a neurologist, I had a ton of tests done including an MRI. My neurologist called me when the lab results came in and referred me to a Lyme specialist out of the area.

Interestingly, the infectious disease docs in my area were still denying that Lyme was this far north in PA. When I told one about the Bell’s Palsy later, he just said that I was probably one of the few true Lyme cases. I endured 3 months of antibiotics and more antibiotics because the symptoms persisted.

In the meantime, I had been doing tons of research on my own. I had plenty of time since I couldn’t work while my face was flaccid. (Imagine having to blink your own eye while in isolation or a sterile procedure…not cool) By the end of three months, I had been on a bunch of antibiotics with no sign of relief of Lyme symptoms but my Bell ’s palsy was resolving slowly! I took vitamin B-12 as methylcobalamin and licorice root tea. I also did physical therapy (And boy, did I look goofy doing that! Think Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady…AAAAyyy).

After 3 months of antibiotics, my gut was a mess and I wasn’t any better off. I asked my Lyme doctor if I could try some natural routes before doing more antibiotics. I consulted Mary Theresa at Jurnack’s Naturally who recommended Silver Shield (a physician-formulated colloidal silver from Nature’s Sunshine). Within 1 week, my symptoms started to abate. Within 2 weeks, I was feeling great except for the arthritis which still plagues me to this day.

Unfortunately, I was still having a recurrence of symptoms every time I had an adrenaline rush (a frequent event as an ICU nurse). About 30 minutes after an adrenaline rush, I’d get fever, chills, and fatigue. The first time it occurred, I went to the ER. Because it was during a period of Avian Flu panic, they even swabbed me for that. Once again, I went to Jurnack’s Naturally for advice. This time, Mary Theresa explained about stress and the adrenal gland and recommended Chinese Stress Relief formula. It worked like a charm.

Over time, I have added Magnesium Complex for muscle cramping related to arthritis (with the added benefit of it taking away my acid reflux), vitamin D because my level is chronically low, and zinc and Chinese Stress Relief at times. I have slowly been changing to a better balanced organic or natural diet. It has been a hard change since I have a large family and organic isn’t cheap. I have also found other means for dealing with leftover symptoms, such as the elliptical for arthritis pain relief.

Even now 7 years later, I still struggle with some of the side effects of Lyme but I’ve learned how to cope and live with it. I’m sharing this, not because my way is the only way, but because I hope that somehow this might improve the life of someone somewhere!

You are cordially invited to my pity party. Feel free to bring your own whine or wine.

I was cleaning out and organizing the files on my hard drive when I found this gem that I wrote a few years ago.  I write to vent since murder is against the law and I don’t look good in orange.

Got up early so I could do some paperwork. Emma decided to get up too. Did miscellaneous housework the elves forgot to do overnight. The kids were practically howling at the moon during breakfast. Got them on the bus without killing them or myself. Took Jeffrey, (yet another stray cat) to the vet. Clawed me and my new purse. Tried to drop said cat off at home but he wouldn’t get out of the car.

Took measurements for the door trim that Danny destroyed. Went to Lowe’s. Spent 2 hours ordering flooring for the kitchen, dining room, and living room, luckily I remembered the trim before I left. Couldn’t pay with my debit card because I had put a cap on it to prevent theft and I don’t have checks on that account. Feverishly ran from bank to bank to transfer money. Realized it was 2PM and I hadn’t eaten yet so I ate in the Walmart parking lot. I know…I’m classy like that. Stopped at Walmart for a few things.

In every aisle, I was behind a person who was leaning on their cart and slowly shuffling down the center of the aisle. After two light years, I grabbed my stuff and got in the checkout lane with the chattiest clerk and customers. Listened to a discussion of the merits of each can of dog food, beans, seasoned diced tomatoes and bagged cat food. Said customer also left the line during check out to “grab a few other things.”

I.hate.Walmart. Literally ran to my car. It was not a pretty sight. Ran into Aldi to get a few more boxes because 4 large boxes weren’t enough to hold the books I culled from my overburdened bookshelf. Felt like a thief because I took the empty boxes without buying anything. Really??? That Catholic upbringing still has me feeling guilty for everything?

Mailed package at Post Office. Flew home to get the kids. Unloaded the car and started dinner. Started having pity party because my kids need so much help with each part of their homework. Became drill sergeant extraordinaire since unoccupied kids decided to be mini hurricanes throughout the house. More homework. Took dinner to my parents. Had to listen to the details of the socks my dad wanted me to order him…read word for word from the cardboard insert that I was taking home with me.

Was feeling very crabby because I had hoped to finally sit down with my kids for a dinner together now that basketball season is finally over. Finally had to cut my dad short while feeling like the worst.daughter.ever. Moving into full fledged pity party. Had family dinner with hormonal preteens. Oh. joy. Next thing on the bucket list…a lobotomy. Finished homework finally. Kept having to send kids back to really do the clean up. All the while, I fielded calls and texts from half of my family members and everyone that I called earlier in the week while playing referee between my kids.

Joyous occasion culminated in Day 10 of friendship bread with 3 witchy preteens assisting. Had major freak-out over bad attitudes, bossiness and my exhaustion. Let’s hear it for friendship bread building the ties that bind. Heard stupid song “Everything is awesome” Refrained from punching the wall. Threw a spoon in the sink instead. Put friendship bread in oven and sent everyone to bed…

I should have gone to work today instead.

Things to do away with in 2015

In keeping with New Year’s tradition, I’d like to offer my own ideas of what 2015 would be better off without.

Online reviews: Since companies started suing for poor reviews, the online review system is not worth the paper it’s, well, not printed on.  Instead, I’m just going to put something like this: I cannot afford to honestly review this company.

Celebrity Bare-alls: What is the deal with celebrities flashing us? Do they really think that their bodies warrant sharing? Seriously, if your acting or vocal skills are not up to par, just go home.

The Race Card: I’m so tired of self-serving media hogs claiming that race plays a part in every white/black interaction. The violent protests and targeting of law enforcement personnel take away from the true message of equality. People are misjudged every day based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion but they’re also judged (positively and negatively) on the way they talk, how their bodies look, where they live, what they drive or don’t drive and a whole lot more. In the immortal words of The Youngbloods, “Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together try to love one another right now.” And don’t forget that despite our legal system being flawed, it’s the best we can do since it’s designed and run by all of us who are equally flawed (a common characteristic, I might add, despite our skin color).

Republican and Democrat cat-fights: I’m so tired of both parties holding up progress in a grown-up version of a temper tantrum. It’s time for politicians, as a whole, to put the long-term interests of the country ahead of the short-term election-grabbing gains. Perhaps the problem is that we the people are no longer governing the country. Stop trying to have it your way all of the time or I’ll be tempted to head to Washington and put you all in time-out!

TXTing SHRTCTS: It is my firm belief that our grammatically challenged youth should stick with whole language until it is mastered. There’s really no need anyway since they text at the speed of light. PLS STP U R DRVNG ME CRZY.

Welcome to my crazy life!

Welcome to my New Year’s Resolution! Despite the fact that this is, in fact, being written on January 5th, I created my blog and website on the 1st. This is important because it highlights a great weakness (or strength, depending on how you look at it) of mine. I am not a risk taker. I needed to define my own desires for this project and then do beaucoup research. I also read blogs and blogs about blogs and blogs about bloggers who are blogging.

This blog originally started as a way to share my thoughts and experiences with my children and grandchildren. It was driven by fear…a fear of not being able to tell them later. You see, my mother has dementia. Since much of my self-worth has historically been derived from my intelligence, a decline in my mental capabilities seemed worse than a death sentence. I have since come to terms with the fact that dementia may or may not be a part of my future. The difference now is that I don’t plan on sitting around worrying about it.

So, here I go! Thanks for joining me on this journey!