Ah, My Life

 

WORK, WORK, WORK

The other day, my boss scheduled a store meeting.  As I prepared to drive to work that morning, I wondered just how this meeting would go, considering the personality differences encountered in the few months I have worked there.

 

At the start, my boss “suggested” we take notes, to make sure we remembered everything.  Here are a few notes I took:

  • Store is too neat.
  • Store needs to be more clean.
  • When writing on a piece of paper, use every line.
  • When putting storage boxes back under tables, be sure to line them up exactly with the edges of the table.
  • When handling storage boxes, be gentle. They are showing signs of wear.
  • If using Windex and paper towels to clean the windows, don’t let the paper towel become too wet. It can leave streaks.
  • Don’t line up the coffee mugs. Place them randomly on the display.
  • Don’t tell her (boss) about things she already knows about (no one knew she already knew about those items) but communication needs to improve.
  • Go slowly when ringing up a customer.
  • Don’t go too slowly when ringing up a customer.
  • Count correctly.
  • Check that you counted correctly.
  • Do it right the first time and there won’t be any problems (even if no instructions are given on how to do it right the first time).
  • Ask more questions (at which point a co-worker asks a question; the response was a rather dismal attempt at enduring the fact that questions were asked)

 

  Having just turned 30, it made me feel like I was fulfilling my purpose in life, listening to an hour and a half of instructions such as these. 

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‘TIS THE COLD/FLU/FEEL LIKE CRAP SEASON

  In the past 7 weeks, I have been ill.  Normally, I deal with numerous symptoms each day from Lyme disease, but in the past weeks symptoms such as runny nose, inability to breathe, inability to sleep, and headaches due to the massive amount of sinus issues have been added to the list.

Finally in desperation, I called my doctor.  To counter the cold/flu-like symptoms, I did things such as:

  • Make Elderberry syrup (great for fighting infections) multiple times
  • Make bone broth soup
  • Double up on Vitamin D
  • Triple up on probiotic
  • Quadruple up on Vitamin C
  • To name a few…

After hearing my list of attempts I have made on my own, my doctor decided to put me on antibiotics. Ugh.

 

Although some would tell me to “suck it up,” that “everyone gets the flu,” my story is a bit different. I’ve dealt with Lyme for nearly 17 years. In the past 6 months I have bottomed out my adrenals at least once, messed up my hormonal balance (which affects everything), endured multiple migraines that lasted up to a week each, and now, dealt with a “cold” for almost 2 months.

 

I’d really like a break.

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For selfish reasons, mostly.  I’d like to find a new job.  Something that doesn’t make me feel like an idiot…something that allows me to make a difference in others lives.  I would like to go back to school.  Education is important when thinking about a career.  And yes, I’d like to pursue a career.

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So in asking for a break in life, I’m really asking for a chance.  A chance to prove that my life means something, something other than defeating the daily challenges that come with Lyme disease.

 

  Ah, my life.

The life of a Lymie.

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Oh Tooth Pain…how you suck!

These past few days have been…interesting.

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First of all, I worked all weekend, which was great. I’m truly enjoying my new job and it is giving me confidence to pursue more from life. Every morning I wake up to go to work I am grateful, knowing all too well that any form of independence for a body riddled with Lyme disease is a sort of miracle.

I have a few complaints of course…I’m not perfect! My feet hurt tremendously by the end of the day (I don’t normally stand for hours upon hours…for my last job I had to force myself to get up and move around whenever possible). Also, my uniform is exceedingly plain. I’m dressing it up as much as possible (and getting many curious comments from co-workers for doing so) but I refuse to go over to the dark side by donning Dockers-like pants with tennis shoes. That’s just me, of course. But I’m still allowed to complain.

Other than those tragedies, work is good.

Then, a few days ago, a tooth starting hurting. Hurting like cra-cra…hurting like, as I so respectfully put it, “a son of a b****.”

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This tooth has been sensitive for a while (at least a year) and I’ve been successful at treating it delicately enough not to cause tears. Yes, I needed to get it looked at a long time ago. Those who are also chronically ill will understand the need for SOME semblance of standing on your own two feet at times…I wanted to wait to treat my tooth until I could pay for it myself. All was going as planned until I got careless a few days ago.

And holy crap, have I been paying for it.

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Tooth pain can be both fantastically painful and exceedingly annoying…like running your nails down a chalkboard while sticking a needle in your eye.

I’m seeing my dentist, but the soonest I could get in is four days from now. So, to help handle the pain, I’m taking over-the-counter pain pills while trying to numb the tooth area with Clove oil (it actually does help – Google it if you’re curious!)

The filling in my tooth may have cracked, or there may be an infection going on. Either way, it’s painful.

Thankfully, I had today to wallow in my sorrows so I drove to my local Redbox and rented several movies. I’m almost done with the latest Mission Impossible  (not a huge Tom Cruise fan but I was curious what they would do after four previous storylines). For my British fans, Tom Hollander is in it…I think he and Tom Cruise are about the same height.

The funny things you notice when in pain.

Time to go. Need to make sure Tom Cruise will save the world yet again…and need to take something more for the pain. Extra-strength Advil, anyone?

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Stress, Anxiety and Life

 

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Good and bad run on parallel tracks and they usually arrive about the same time.

That was a favorite quote of mine when I was younger. It rings true; you can’t have sunshine without rain, flowers without dirt, love without pain.

After 2 years of being too sick to get off the couch, I have begun working again, a fact that excites me and fills me with overwhelming gratitude.

And then this morning, I woke up with overwhelming anxiety.

I tend to worry about more than just the present  (something my counselor tells me is true with many people). Anxiety over past mistakes or situations, along with concern over the future are tendencies I battle on a daily basis.

Yes, taking care of my life TODAY is stressful, but add onto that worrying about the parts of my past and future I have no control over? It gets a bit insane.

Why do I do that? A wise man tells me every time I see him, “you have no control, so let it go.”

Well, screw that.

My mind says, if I worry enough, I will be prepared. If I think through it enough, I will know how to react. If I analyze everything, answers will become clear.

Question: when has that truly, ever worked?

  I hear your doubts, your arguments. I hear them because I still struggle with them.

Here is my personal experience.  Worry produces anxiety and stress. Stress causes me to become muddled. A muddled mind makes irrational decisions. Irrational decisions lead to second-guessing, which leads to self-doubt and lowered confidence. Low confidence leads to worry about what I’m doing wrong and stress over how to fix it. Stress becomes….well, you get the idea.

Of course, we still have to work through anxiety in SOME way. How do we handle it in a mature manner that does not lead to stress, muddled minds, irrational decisions and low confidence?

Again, here is my personal experience.

Using my journal helps tremendously. Writing my thoughts down, in a place no one can see them, helps to clear my mind.
–  Talking to someone I trust. This list consists of only a few people, friends that I know for sure will not judge me no matter what is going through my mind.
–  Deep breathing exercises. They help get me “out of my head.”
–  Walking – a short walk though, since I don’t have the energy for much. It’s really more about change of scenery.
–  Leaving it alone by turning on the tv or picking up a book.

I don’t have any magical cures and will be the first to admit that this issue is one I still struggle with on a daily basis.

Readers, do you think worrying helps you or hinders you? How do you deal with stress?

I’m looking forward to the day when I can pick up an alcoholic drink again (responsibly of course) and deal with anxiety that way.
That was a bit of humor to all you who over-think and over-analyze (like me).

Sickness Sucks

  Being chronically ill is a pain in and of itself.
  Each day is different from the last and even though I’m a pro at this (I’ve been fighting 16 years), some days just suck.
  Really suck.

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  The feeling of being completely overwhelmed, even by the simplest of tasks, is unendurable at times.

  Many people have said to me over the years, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I’d like to amend that statement: “God will let you sink under the waves at times. He will allow a storm so ferocious you cannot keep your head above water. It’s during those storms when you become the strongest swimmer, but because of the water crashing around you, it will feel as if you are getting nowhere.”

  Do you ever sink at times, despite swimming your hardest? How do you deal with those stormy days?

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  So far I’ve been battling by using supplements such as chamomile (to calm anxiety), magnesium (again for anxiety, and muscle tension), green tea (to boost my immune system), apple cider vinegar drinks (read up on those), funny tv shows, cuddling with my fur-baby, and the all-important rest.
  These help, but I still have a storm raging on.

What Do You Expect From Me?

What Do You Expect From Me Pic Feb 2016

 When dealing with chronic illness, a  person, understandably, thinks quite selfishly.  Their thoughts revolve around how to survive each new or recurring symptom of their disease with maturity and patience.  Others may consider those who are chronically ill as self-centered and, to a degree, we are.  This is because of necessity, not because of a character default on our part.

 

 Therefore, when healthy people interact with the chronically ill without previous understanding of their condition (most likely because they have never been through anything similar themselves), they place expectations on the performances and response of those ill individuals.  A sick person lives in their own world full of pain, while healthy people tend to focus much more on the world around them, such as their jobs, relationships and social standing.

 

 To be frank, dealing with others’ expectation of those of us who are ill can be just as hard as dealing with the disease.  At one time in my life, I adhered to others expectations of me and made it my goal in life never to disappoint those close to me.  Because of that demand I placed on myself, I lived a very unrealistic life where I worked full time, attended school, volunteered, kept the house sparkling clean (even the trash cans were cleaned weekly), kept up a busy social life and maintained a long-distance relationship (which brings its own unique difficulties).  The end result was, of course, a breakdown from my body.  Unfortunately, it took multiple breakdowns, physically and emotionally, until I learned my lesson.

 

 As chronically ill individuals, we will never be free of expectations from others. NEVER.  Most likely, they will always expect more from us than we can ever give because, if they are healthy, they get those results from the other healthy people surrounding them. It is not our job to make other people happy, nor is it our job to fulfill their desires for us.  The only way to maintain a healthy relationship, both with our own body and with others, is to live according to the restrictions set upon us by our disease.

 

 Sound harsh? It is.  But once we accept our own limitations and have confidence that we can still live a wonderful life in accordance to those limits (and we can!), we actually give others the freedom to accept us exactly as we are and to back off on the pressure they place on their own lives.
 I am not giving you the freedom to be lazy; however, as I have learned, there is still much you can accomplish from the couch.  You may appear lazy to others, but trust yourself and your body to tell you when you can get up and do something, and when you can’t.  Your gut instinct will not lead you wrong. Don’t pay attention when others get angry with you for not accepting that dinner invitation or pursuing that high-powered career; do what is best for you and you will be much happier and in turn, make those around you happier.

Brain, Brain, Where Art Thou?

Yesterday I was at the hairdressers, ready to get my hair cut.  I went to a new hairdresser this time, so I was unfamiliar with their system.  Also, I only had a limited amount of sleep under my belt and though I thought I had enough brain power to see me through, my experience proved otherwise.

Walking up to the counter I was greeted by a woman.  “Are you getting a shampoo, cut, and blow dry?” she inquired, obviously having asked that same question a million times.

  “Haircut,” was all I could mumble after a brief moment of dead silence.  She watched me then nodded. Suddenly, my mind began to spin – wait, did she say shampoo, CUT, and blow dry? That was exactly what I wanted, and that was the only combination they were offering. Holy crab cakes.  I just made myself look like an idiot.

And I wasn’t done.

When the hairdresser began asking me questions about the type of cut I wanted after I showed her an example on my phone, my brain went blank again.  Didn’t I just show her the picture of what I wanted?  Shouldn’t she know how many layers to cut now?  Why is she asking me questions?

  “Um…yeah,” I responded blankly to her questions.  Wait, what did I just agree to? Then she began to shampoo my hair, and proceeded to ask more questions.  What questions, I have no idea.

“Mmmhmm,” was my response to whatever she was saying.  My brain went blank again.  Doesn’t she know customers can’t hear others with shampoo all up in their ears?

All I knew was I had showed her a picture of what I wanted my hair to look like.  I felt so tired sitting in that chair as she cut away, tense but also very tired.  My brain had shut off.  Turns out, she butchered my hair and I walked away a very sad customer.  But I couldn’t argue, or even tell her that she had cut it completely wrong.  By that time, the energy source to my brain was zapped and it was all I could do to drive home, where I fell onto the couch.

Oh brain, where are you when I need you?

It’s Not Easy Being Home/How I Lost My Job

February 28th, 2015
It’s funny, being out of work due to illness. Spending so much time indoors changes you. When working I was guaranteed to be out and about every day, however now I sometimes spend weeks without starting up my car.
I’ve found that the great indoors fools with my mind. Once, I was full of self-confidence. Now I find I doubt myself all the time.   Questions such as the following constantly flood my brain: can I try and succeed at something new? What if I fail at a task, like I did towards the end of my previous employment (due to illness, but still I felt that I failed at keeping up with a normal job)? What if I can’t learn or catch on to a new undertaking?
Adjusting to life at home has had its rewards, but I feel like my brain is pulled in two different directions. On the one hand, I’ve proved to myself a million times over in the past that I can try and succeed at new things. On the other hand, I have been removed from serious employment long enough to think, will I ever do well at something outside of this house?
Perhaps more time on the couch will reveal the answer and boost my self-confidence. That would be nice, since my self-confidence has taken a real dive in the past months. It’s not easy being home.
Have I ever told you how I lost my job?

May 2014

Dear Journal,

 I’m 27 years old and have fought Lyme for over fourteen years. However, I just experienced one of the lowest experiences I’ve ever had throughout my years of fighting. To put it lightly, it was hell.

I’ve been back at work for several weeks now; after over five months on Antibiotic IV Infusions, I was done with the unsuccessful treatment and ready to move on. My stress level was high at the time, owing to the fact that I had recently received the news that my boss was trying to fire me while I was on Medical Leave from work.

Fighting for my health, fighting for my job, I managed to begin to form a plan on how to proceed physically and I made a pain in the ass of myself, by constantly calling and emailing higher management within my company to try and save my job. Although I loved my job and appreciated it’s close location and relaxed atmosphere, mostly I wanted to prove to my boss that I would not take his bullshit lying down.

I saved my job, and walked back into work with my head held high. Although able to do the physical job itself, it became immediately clear that rumors and gossip had been spread about me and my coworkers not only avoided me, they disliked me to a great degree.

   Walking into a room meant walking into many conversations discussing yours truly and the ways I had ruined something, anything. I heard accusations, said in front of my face so that I was meant to hear them, that shocked my mind. Fueled by the fierce jealousy of a young woman who, for someone reason, had taken up the sword of jealously against me some time ago, the atmosphere continued to be… almost unbearable.

This girl did everything in her power to undermine me and point out my mistakes. Once, I made an error and she gleefully, as I looked on, walked up to each of my coworkers and discussed it with them. Anytime I colored outside the lines I was punished by her in some way. One day I had had enough and snapped in a frustrated, though only slightly, attitude and made the fatal mistake of indirectly questioning her ability to do her job (which, strangely enough, was simply to write information on a chalkboard). She, in turn, had my boss publicly question my professionalism in the workplace.

Towards the end of that particular day I was fighting back tears… tears that had come unbidden to my eyes as a survival tool for my body. My chronic illness and the symptoms that go with it began to take over my body.   I fought back two anxiety attacks, before rushing to my car and driving to a remote location where no one would see me.   I parked my car and immediately began to cry.

Gasping and clenching my hands took over before tears began to flow. I fought for air and leaned my head against my steering wheel as the depression, anxiety and exhaustion took over. I passed out three times in my car because of my desperate gasps for air as I cried with overpowering emotions.

“Why me? Not me, please, not me, please, please not me.” I screamed to no one. My car alone knew how truly ill I was beginning to feel. As I passed out again and again, I lost control of my senses and my ability to control anything in my body. Although my workplace had pushed me to this desperate point my Lyme was showing its true colors as it took over my body.

After that day, things changed. I could no longer handle the jealousy, the gossip, the rumors, and the accusations. Although I tried to simply due my job and not pay attention to the rest, my Lyme disease had changed me and proved to me that it was time to leave.

February 28th, 2015
This story was written almost a year ago, although I never posted it. Recently I was re-reading it and it brought to mind other Lymies who have gone through similar experiences in losing their jobs. Posting this story now seems like a good idea, as I want to reach out to those who have lost employment and say, you may be home but you are not alone. You are not alone! Take heart, for there are others out there who know what it is like to leave employment because of their health. Know that I am one of them.

Taxed to the Max

Today was an awful day. It was more than awful; my poor health made it a horror of a day. Both mentally and physically, I was taxed to the max.

 

The clear memory of a terrible nightmare greeted me as my eyes opened to a new day. Nightmares, although they only plague me every now and then, leave me shattered mentally and shaky physically. I rose out of bed and went immediately to my couch, hugging myself in an attempt to eradicate the memories burning in my mind and soothe my aching body. “Fight or flight” mode hit my body however, and “flight” was the winner. Outwardly my skin became cold and clammy while inside my heart began beating irregularly and my breathing came in gasps and gulps.

 

I quickly realized I was experiencing a panic attack but was powerless, absolutely powerless, to do anything about it. Tears began to flow. My mental state took a nosedive and never recovered until late evening.  

 

At one point, I was screaming while I was crying. My mind could think of nothing positive and therefore, all I could dwell on were the negatives in my life: my chronic illness and how it is not getting better but worse, the terrors of not knowing my future but realizing it will likely be so much harder than I ever believed, the fear of continuing to live a life that isn’t really a life, but an illness. Mentally, I was in shock. Physically, I was a mess.

 

Of course, the day went on and I struggled to regain some kind of composure. But fear had wrapped itself around my soul and pain had beaten my body to a pulp.   My mind wandered into dark places every chance it got. My body was continually spasmodic, a sure sign that it had given up the fight to remain tough under pressure.

 

I was taxed to the max, I cannot deny. The late evening eventually came, however, and a relief came with it. Not only was the day almost done but also my tears were drying up and my mind was regaining some of the sanity it had lost.

 

My story does have a point, dear reader. It is nothing brilliant or flashy, but simply this: days like my day today will come, but they will end. They are not forever, only for now. Even with all the struggles, I am now writing this to you, proving that my body has chosen to fight for even a few moments. I am writing this to you, proving that my mind has a little bit of sanity left after the last sixteen hours. Tomorrow may prove an even worse day than today, but the day DOES END. Just as my story ends now.

Sorry Again, I Have Lyme

  A week or so ago, I invited a friend to dinner.  We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while and I wanted to catch up on their life.  When the day of the set appointment arrived however, I had to cancel; my Lyme was flaring up and I couldn’t safely get out of the house and drive, let alone keep up an intelligent conversation with another human being.
“Sorry, I have Lyme.” It’s a true reason for not being able to do something, although many people do not understand how complicated the disease can get and how Lyme can get in the way of life so very often.
  I rescheduled with my friend, hoping that the next date would bring sunny skies and less pain. Unfortunately, that day was worse; I couldn’t even get out of bed all afternoon.
“Sorry again, I have Lyme.”  I tried explaining my circumstances as best as I could, in such a way that someone without Lyme would understand.  Instead of rescheduling yet again, I suggested we catch up over text messaging, something I can do in bed or on the couch fairly easily. THAT plan worked.
  It bugs me when Lyme gets in the way of my life. But I have no control over the matter and must except what each day brings.  It’s discouraging when basic social outings cannot be accomplished because of how ill I feel, and depressing when I must stay inside on my couch instead of enjoy the company of friends.  However, as I learn my limits, I learn that I can still communicate via text or phone with friends and family. It isn’t the same thing as actually seeing them, but it is better than having no communication whatsoever. And it’s certainly better than saying, again and again, “sorry, I have Lyme.”