Update on Bella (my fur-baby)

This past Christmas was…interesting (see blog post Happy New Year (and belated Merry Christmas)!).  My fur-baby, Bella, the love of my life (see previous post My fur-baby, Bella) was very sick and we spent Christmas day in the vet ER. Bella was diagnosed with disc disease and it was recommended that she begin acupuncture, cold laser therapy.

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Since Christmas, Bella has done four treatments of acupuncture, cold laser treatment and massage. She is doing phenomenally well! So well in fact, her holistic vet mentioned making her a case study.  However, she still has disc disease and therefore, it is important to being exercising her carefully so that she builds up her core strength and keeps the disease at bay.

 

This is important because as a little dog (under 8 pounds), she continues to jump. It is unavoidable, although I have made life as easy for her as possible by building stairs and keeping her sleeping area low to the grounds. Nevertheless, the more she jumps, the more she aggravates her disease.

 

Hydrotherapy was recommended for managing disc disease. After doing some research and talking to several groups on FB, I decided to see a professional, licensed animal hydrotherapist before attempting it on my own. Pictured below is Bella at her first appointment!

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Bella absolutely detests the water. Even with her Miss-Priss attitude, she did great at her first appointment and walked in 6 inches of water for 18 minutes (an excellent first beginning). The water is heated to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so she doesn’t get too cold while working out.

 

The plan is to do several more appointments with the licensed professional before attempting it here at home. Once I feel comfortable to take over her therapy, I will be exercising her either in the bathtub or a kiddy pool.  The latter option will be much more feasible once the weather starts to get warm.

 

  Bella is my life and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that she is as happy and healthy as possible.  Hopefully, the hydrotherapy will keep her strong and prohibit another painful Christmas!

If you are interested in hydrotherapy for your own fur-baby, check out these links:

http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/how-hydrotherapy-and-swimming-can-benefit-dogs

http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-health-hydrotherapy-how-it-works

 

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Starting to Move On

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This past week, I sent out my resume.

It’s been two years since I had to quit working because my health was so poor, but I’m ready to get back out there. My goal is to start part-time so I don’t push myself too hard.

These past two years have been horrendous but I know they happened for a reason. Once I’m able to afford it, I want to go back to school and begin working in the area of nutrition and health.

I believe my experience can be used to help others who are struggling with their health.

One step at a time…sending out my resume is the beginning, but even though I have a ways to go, I want my readers to be on the journey with me!

Downton Abbey and Chronic Illness

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Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy…I love period drama TV.

  At least once a week, BBC Masterpiece is playing on my television.  If it isn’t that is only because I have a Jane Austen film running.

  You would think a show like Downton Abbey would be my best friend.  I want it to be! However, my chronic illness is keeping me from binging on this current British classic.

  Oh, I tried watching it.  I got through the entire first season and even some of the second.  Although it is undeniable that the writing is superb, I simply couldn’t keep up with the many, MANY storylines. If you’ve ever seen the show, you understand what I mean; at any given time there are at least six storylines being juggled (often more than that) and the viewer has to keep up with the twenty-plus “main” characters.

  With chronic illness, I have a limited amount of brain-space. Keeping up with daily life takes a tremendous amount of space, so when I watch TV I don’t have much left over. Downton Abbey, simply put, took up too much space.

  Besides, when I found out that Matthew dies, I thought, to h*** with this show.

  Someday I will be able to watch Downton Abbey without getting a headache and feeling exhausted at the end.  Today is not that day (thanks to chronic illness) but someday…

  To my readers: what shows do you enjoy watching (whether on DVD, Netflix or other)? What shows can you NOT handle right now?

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What Does “Healing” Mean to You?

What Does Healing Mean To You pic 2 A few weeks ago, my therapist asked me a question: “what does ‘healing’ mean to you?”

 

 It startled me.  Healing? Well, that just means getting better, right? The dictionary defines healing as “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.”  A good, basic definition.  But what does it mean to ME?

 

 When struggling with chronic Lyme disease or any other serious chronic illness, the process of healing becomes very personal.  My journey will be very different from your journey.  The way my body finds relief, whether through diet, supplementation or medications, may not work for you.  In the end though, I believe we all have specific areas in which we want to be truly healed.  These end goals are often in the physical areas, but many of us also desire healing in the emotional and spiritual realms as well.

 

Here are a few suggestions as to what “healing” might mean to each of us, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually:

 

PHYSICALLY:
  • get out of bed each day
  • no more brain fog
  • better digestion
  • no more muscle and joint pain
  • the ability to exercise/get into sports again
  • go back to school/start a new career
  • start dating again/revive your marriage
  • have children/raise children

EMOTIONALLY:
  • no more depression/anxiety
  • no more Lyme rage
  • let go of the guilt over being ill
  • build up self-esteem
SPIRITUALLY:
  • turn negative energy into positive energy
  • let go of any addictions you are using to cope with your illness
  • work through past traumas
  • forgive those who have hurt you

 

 In a few days, I am returning to my counselor to discuss my thoughts on healing and how I want to improve in the coming years.  It  has been freeing to realize just how I want my body and soul to heal, and I now have specific goals to work towards.

 I wrote down my thoughts in my journal on this subject, and I encourage you to do the same: what DOES “healing” mean to you?

My fur-baby, Bella

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Several years ago I rescued my dog, Bella, off the streets.  Since then she has truly saved my life in more ways than one. Whenever I have a rough day I cuddle up with Bella, finding comfort in her silent support.

 

  Rescuing Bella was not easy; because of special circumstances, it took months for me to finally and fully own her.  Those months of waiting were terrifying for me and while I appreciated any moment I could spend with her, I dreaded the times when she was away from me, fearful I would never see her again.  Thankfully, the story had a very happy ending and now, she is my forever fur-baby.

 

 Sometimes, I am a tremendous amount of pain, whether emotional or physical, and I cannot communicate what I am feeling to my support team.  Every one who deals with a chronic illness will understand what I am talking about.  It is frustrating to deal with but I have accepted it after years of dealing with my disease and the symptoms that go along with it.

 

 One such instance happened just a few days ago.  I was in tears.  I tried everything I knew (short of popping a pill) but no book, tv show, or long walk cured the pain.  Finally, I shut myself in my room and sought out my dog.  As always, she was there for me and sat by my side as I fought my silent battle.  After a few hours, the crisis had past.

 

 I share this story because it is just one instance of how Bella has saved me from insanity, or worse.  Not everyone has a fur-baby to confide in; some have family members, friends or facebook groups that allow them to be themselves and share their deepest pain.  For everyone who has someone, something or some group, let us say a quick “thank you” to them for being there for us, no matter what.

To my Bella, I say a million thank-you’s…you are the best fur-baby in the world and I am so grateful to heaven above for sending you my way.

What Do You Expect From Me?

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 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.

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.

Illness and Jealousy

Laying on the couch, watching a show. That is a common custom with me, as it relaxes me and lays some of the stress to rest. There are times however, when my mind is on anything but the show, as was the situation today. I started thinking about Lyme, and sickness, and being sick while dealing with jobs, family, relationships…and jealousy.

Has anyone ever been jealous of you because you are sick?   In a way, people should be very jealous of those with chronic illnesses because of the maturity they acquire just from living daily life. Think about it: those who are sick deal with multiple major stressors every hour of every day, they deal with living with others but feeling completely alone because of their illness, they climb the mountains of financial struggle, inadequate doctors, and medications that don’t cut it. But are you jealous of them because of all this?

Earlier this year, I dealt with people who were jealous of me.   Of course they never came right out and told me what they were jealous about, but I eventually figured out that it had something to do with my dedication towards making myself a better person (health wise and otherwise) along with the intense concentration I gave towards each barrier thrown in my path. These qualities are really lessons that I have learned because of having Lyme.

At first, it boggled my mind. Jealous of me? I mean, come on, who wants my life? Who wants to be sick every minute of every day? Then I realized that they were not jealous of my life. They were jealous of the person I had become because of my life.

That jealously was so intense it amazed me. They threw everything they had into trying to smear my reputation as an honest but dedicated person. Their fight against me was trying, I cannot deny, as lies were spread and delicious rumors among the social world abounded. I grew tired of their attitude and began to tune them out of my life because of the draining effect they were beginning to have on me.   It still puzzled me at the time, why they were trying to tear me down. But it makes sense now.

Because of my 15-year struggle with Lyme disease, I have grown so much and faster than many of my peers, simply because I had to.   Dealing with such intense pain on an every-day basis has made me humble. It has brought me down to earth as far as dreams and goals are concerned and made me face the life I will likely lead forever head-on. It has given me the ability to listen to others, and to understand and sympathize with their pain. It has made me stronger in spirit and more honest. It has broken me a thousand times, and I have stood back up a thousand more. Don’t get me wrong; I have a long, long, long way to go. But thanks to Lyme, I have come a long way.

Jealous of me? Jealous of us? You know what, others should be jealous because they haven’t fought the fight we have and come out stronger in the end. I wouldn’t wish Lyme disease or chronic illness on anyone. But I now understand why someone could be jealous of me and jealous of those who are ill. It shows me that illness can make a person stronger, warmer and more generous, smarter, braver…and so, so, so much more.

Poopy Events Happen

  It’s a little after noon and my eyes are droopy and drowsy from lack of sleep. My body is out of sorts from the schedule I have kept recently. A week ago, my mom had a heart attack.
It was a shock to all of us.  My mom, so strong, heart attack?
Being with her was number one priority, girl with head downso driving an hour to the hospital and then spending hours by her bedside was beyond priceless. However, spending days at the hospital, getting home late, making sure there was food in the fridge for those of us at home while keeping up with my own health regiment was a challenge.

 

  You never realize how much a person does until they are unable to do it. My mom returned home and is doing great but has orders from the doctor to take it easy.  Since my mother is on full-time rest (as she should be!), I have had to kick in a little more with the house chores.

 

  For example, this morning I was lying on the couch absolutely exhausted and completely out of it; my brain was so spaced out and befuddled. I got up to refill my water bottle and noticed there were a lot of dirty dishes needing to be cleaned. As tired as I was, I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. Please understand that when I am absolutely exhausted house chores usually go by the wayside, because I simply have to rest and let my body relax. However, when poopy events happens, sometimes we LYMIES are forced to respond and get into the grind of home duties.

 

  Yep, poopy events happen and those of us who are chronically ill are forced to put aside our illness to care for someone else, work jobs or raise children (to name a few of life’s many duties). Some LYMIES are able to do this but many chronically ill LYMIES find these types of duties very hard to fulfill. Crippling pain and broken-down exhaustion make them, well, dead on their feet.

 

I want to share with you some of the poopy events that have occurred in my own personal life:

  • – I had to give up my dream of becoming a classical pianist
  • – I had to give up my dream of finishing college quickly (it will probably take until I’m 80)
  • – I had to give up working a job that I intensely enjoyed
  • – I had to give up a long-term relationship
  • – I had to give up my dream of being healed quickly

 

My mom is slowly recovering, but even after she recovers I want to step in and do more around the house, if at all possible. I admit, I am still consumed by my many serious health issues, but if I can just help a little, just a little bit…life wouldn’t be so poopy.