Preventing Lyme Disease, Part 2

As those of you who have read my bio know, I have suffered from chronic Lyme disease for seventeen years. Lyme disease is not only transmitted through a tick bite; it can also be sexually transmitted or passed from mother to child in uterus.

 

Unfortunately, because of the intense controversy surrounding this disease, these and other facts are not widely known.

 

It is not my intention to deal with the politics of Lyme in this post. For myself, I have multiple blood tests to prove that the Lyme is active in my body.  For others, there is proof showing that more than 800 new cases of Lyme is detected EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Lyme does not discriminate and it is possible that you may contract this disease as well.

 

This past winter was unusually mild. That means that the tick population this summer will be rampant, and we will all need to be exceptionally careful. The following posts will give you multiple ideas on ways to PREVENT contracting Lyme disease, as well as information about TESTING for ticks if you, your children, or your animals are bitten, to discover if the tick carries any diseases.

If you are confused as to what exactly Lyme disease is, and how difficult it can be to treat, check out my post Preventing Lyme Disease, Part 1.

  As many say, “Prevention is the best form of medicine.” Let’s get to it!

Please note, dear readers: I am not a medical professional, and the following information is my opinion only. Any changes you make in your healthcare should first be reviewed by your doctor.

PREVENTION TIPS

  •   Stay out of tall grass

This is a basic guideline. While ticks abound everywhere, sticking to close-cut grass allows you to see more of the creepy-crawlers that may choose you as their new home. Staying out of woods and dense areas is also important, as these places often make healthy habitats for ticks.
  • Daily tick check

After coming inside from a walk, check all over for ticks. Important areas include in between your toes, armpits, behind knees, and groin areas. Ticks love to hide and can do so easily, especially the smaller species.
  • Protect your clothing

Using a bug spray that contains tick repellent is an excellent idea whenever you venture outside. Permethrin can be found at major chain stores, including outdoor stores like Cabela’s, and can be used on clothing and outdoor equipment (such as tents). Never apply Permethrin directly to your skin.
There are also several essential oils that help to repel ticks (see below for a possible recipe).
Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled around outside, especially around doors and windows, to keep all crawling insects out of your home.
There are also multiple plants (including Citronella, Lemongrass, and Peppermint) that you can keep indoors to help repel bugs.
Another choice available to you is already treated clothing; check out companies such as Insect Shield and BugBeWear to find options that work for you.
  • Dress sensibly

Wearing light or brightly colored clothing allows you to better see any ticks or bugs crawling on you. If wearing socks, tuck your pant legs inside to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs, and tuck your shirt inside your pant to keep bare skin unavailable to unwanted guests.
  • Keep your body healthy

Generally speaking, the healthier you are, the more likely your body is to fight pathogens such as Lyme and co-infections. A healthy immune system is essential for fighting any illness. Avoid GMO’s, and keep to a low-sugar, organic diet, while boosting your immune system with vitamins such as C and D as well. Exercise routines such as yoga or Tai Chi can help bring you back to your center and regulate your breathing.

 

  Keep posted for more information readers!

 

Essential Oil recipe for tick repellent:

  • 20 drops Lemongrass oil
  • 20 drops Eucalyptus oil

In a 4 ounce spray bottle, mix these oils together, then fill the rest of the bottle with water. Shake before each use, and reapply every 4 hours.

Other possible essential oils for repelling bugs include Cedar, Tea tree, and Peppermint.

Preventing Lyme Disease, Part 1

As those of you who have read my bio know, I have suffered from chronic Lyme disease for seventeen years. Lyme disease is not only transmitted through a tick bite; it can also be sexually transmitted or passed from mother to child in uterus.

 

Unfortunately, because of the intense controversy surrounding this disease, facts such as these are not widely known.

 

  It is not my intention to deal with the politics of Lyme in this post. For myself, I have multiple blood tests to prove that the Lyme is active in my body.  For others, there is proof showing that more than 800 new cases of Lyme are detected EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Lyme does not discriminate and it is possible that you may contract this disease as well.

This past winter was unusually mild. That means that the tick population this summer will be rampant, and we will all need to be exceptionally careful. The following posts will give you multiple ideas on ways to PREVENT contracting Lyme disease, as well as information about TESTING for ticks if you, your children, or your animals are bitten, to discover if the tick carries any diseases.

But first, let’s go over some of the basics regarding this disease. Follow my blog through email to keep up with the follow-up posts, in which I’ll discuss prevention and testing!

Please remember, dear readers: I am not a licensed medical professional. All statements provided below reflect my opinion only. Please discuss treatment options with your doctor.

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PART 1:  WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?

  • Lyme disease is an infection, often caused by a tick bite
  • It’s not only ticks that carry Lyme; any biting insect is capable of transmitting a variety of pathogens (including fleas, mosquitoes, flies and mites)
  • You are ten times more likely to contract Lyme disease than West Nile, but even so, Lyme receives significantly less funding
  • Lyme has far surpassed AIDS as the #1 infectious disease within the United States
  • Co-infections are also often transmitted along with the Lyme disease. Common co-infection include Babesia, Bartonella, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Powassan virus, and more
  • Lyme and co-infections can be transmitted in as little as fifteen minutes after a tick first bites
  • Children and pets are particularly at risk, due to the amount of time they spend outside
  • Standard testing for Lyme (and co-infections) is EXTREMELY inaccurate, because they are testing for the presence of antibodies and not bacteria
  • Few medical professionals understand the seriousness of Lyme disease, and even fewer realize how easily it can become (and stay) chronic
  • For a large percentage of cases, the recommended dosage of antibiotics for a 28-day cycle is nowhere near enough to completely kill the infection
  • Lyme is often misdiagnosed with “autoimmune diseases” such as MS, ALS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Lupus, etc
  • Lyme bacteria can enter the nervous system, bloodstream, and organs, often causing severe neurological damage
  • Once Lyme becomes chronic, there is no cure. It often becomes debilitating, forcing patients to try a variety of treatments in desperation
    fight lyme pic

 

Keep posted for the next installments!

Mommy, What’s a Toxin?

  In my last past, I discussed my DIY efforts to rid bathroom of toxic-filled products in order to reduce the chemical load on my body.

 

However, I didn’t discuss what kinds of toxins are found in common products, or what those toxins do to the human body, or even what the word “toxic” means.  Although there has been a lot of research showing that the chemicals used in everyday products are harmful to your system, we are still unsure of how this affects US exactly.  For myself, I am still learning a tremendous amount in this area.

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So, I decided to share what I have learned so far regarding toxins, chemicals, and how they are used in products that we buy all the time.

 

  What does “toxic” mean?

 

There are generally speaking, four types of toxins: chemical, biological, physical and of course, radiation.  For the purposes of this blog post, we will be dealing with the first type, chemical.

 

Chemical toxins are substances such as lead, mercury, formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine, parabens, aluminum, talc, phthalates, triclosan, and propylene glycol (and all the derivatives of these substances) that are dangerous to your health when ingested, absorbed or inhaled.

 

Here are some common products that we all buy and use: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant and lotion.

In those products, here are a few ingredients you will find within:

  • phthalates
  • lead
  • fluoride
  • formaldehyde
  • sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)
  • aluminum
  • triclosan
  • (to name a few)

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Let’s all be honest…while all of those chemicals sound bad, what do they actually do to your body?

For an example, let us choose shampoo and conditioner (something that we all use on a constant basis). Common brands (such as those you would find at Wal-Mart or any other major store) usually have sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan, polyethylene glycol, and fragrance added.  SLS has been linked to cancer, liver damage and depression. Triclosan can disrupt major organs and cause skin, eye and lung irritation. Polyethylene glycol has been directly linked to cancer, and the fragrance can clog the lymphatic system and cause major toxicity to organs.

 

Shampoo and conditioner are products you use constantly, and these toxins are just a few of the ingredients you will find in each bottle.  When you consider how much you use these particular products, the results from putting these chemicals into your body becomes extremely concerning.

 

Now, let’s move on to toothpaste. Keep in mind that your mouth is highly absorbent and that during the span of one lifetime, one human being uses approximately 20 gallons of toothpaste.

 

Toothpaste often contains triclosan, SLS, artificial sweeteners, fluoride, and propylene glycol. Triclosan, as we have already discussed, has been linked to cancer.  SLS is registered as an insecticide and has also been linked to cancer, as well as liver damage. Artificial sweeteners (most commonly, aspartame) can cause a type of poisoning in your body, resulting in gastrointestinal problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and ear buzzing. Fluoride, once absorbed into your system, causes a mirage of issues such as neurological and endocrine dysfunction. Propylene glycol is used not only in toothpaste, but in antifreeze, paints, enamels and the de-icers for aircraft. This little gem is an irritant to skin, eyes and lungs and can cause major organ toxicity.

 

What about that body lotion that we all use? I admit, this one was hard for me.  I loved my Bath and Body lotion and used it religiously.  The harmful chemicals found in standards lotions include parabens, TEA and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole).  Parabens, as previously discussed, have been linked to breast cancer.  TEA, also previously discussed, causes kidney and liver damage. BHA can interfere with hormone function and has been linked to cancer.

Moving on to another item that we all use daily: deodorant. The main concern in deodorant is aluminum, but other concerns include parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan, and TEA/DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine). Aluminum has been linked to breast cancer and may possible alter your body’s DNA.  It has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, bone disorders and kidney problems.  Parabens have also been linked to breast cancer.  Propylene glycol and triclosan have already been discussed. TEA and DEA can cause kidney and liver damage as well as allergic reactions; in fact, both of these chemicals have been banned in Europe, due to their known effects.

 

The harmful chemicals discussed are truly just the tip of the iceberg. For the sake of brevity in this blog post, I have chosen a few common bathroom products, but I encourage my readers to look into more than the items on your counter.

 

Interested in switching from toxic to natural? Let’s keep in mind: change takes time, especially when you are facing multiple products that you no longer want to use due to their harmful qualities.  For myself, it’s one step at a time.  I started with changing my shampoo, and have gradually moved on to changing conditioner, deodorant, body scrub, body lotion, face wash, eye makeup remover, eye cream, lip balm and nail polish.  After realizing that what went on my skin went into my body, I decided to start switching to all-natural products as quickly as time, money and energy allowed.  That’s really all that any of us can do!

 

So now you are aware of what the term “toxic” means and how it can affect you and your daily life.  The journey continues towards better health in every way!

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Officially Past the 2-Month Mark!

working girl Aug 11 2016

Hello readers!

 As of the end of July, I officially passed the 2 month mark of being back in the workforce.  My new job is going well, all things considered.  Of course, adjustments have had to be made however this was expected since not too long ago I was considered bedridden from my illness.

 It was a wise decision to enter the workforce slowly with something part-time.   I work 25 hours every week and my body has needed the other hours to rest and rebuild.  In the near future it is my hope to continue progressing either to something full-time, or going back to school while continuing to work.  Time will tell.

 Retail is nothing new to me, but getting used to answering to a boss and working with different personalities has taken some time.  My co-workers are, honestly, exceptionally pleasant and make the hours pass quickly.  My boss is a bit of a different story.  She is extremely OCD and anal (the word “perfectionist” is often used as a nice way to describe her personality) and as expected with those traits, she focuses on the negative far more than the positive.  In fact, in the time I’ve been there, she has never complimented or praised me on the many things I’ve done right.  I have, however, gotten several notes about how the storage boxes are not being put accurately under the tables.  They make me laugh.

 Perhaps I am used to impossible standards with bosses but I highly doubt it; I’ve worked for sexual predators, lesbians who hit on their underlings and Vicodin-popping authority figures in the past. I’ve even been an authority figure myself and while I was certainly no perfect example, I learned that the attitude of the boss often directly relates to the success of the workers.  Thankfully, my age and maturity (haha) have helped me realize that my attitude is mine alone, and I am the only one responsible for it.  Therefore, no matter how many times I am corrected on the “proper” way to fold a t-shirt or the amount of tape that should be used when sealing an envelope, I am determined to smile and remain the person I am: in short, an energy-giver who, to the best of her ability, encourages and looks for the good in those around her.

 

 After all, this job is temporary and I’m certainly not making a career out of it.  But I am grateful for it.  I often wake up with a smile on my face because I realize just how far I have come with  my health struggles.  Yes, I am tired because of my new job and the added responsibilities, but it’s a GOOD tired.

muffins Aug 11 2016

 During my days off I am constantly reminded that life as an adult revolves around dishes, cleaning, laundry and paperwork.  It never ceases to amaze me how much time and energy these responsibilities entail and yet they HAVE to be done! No wonder rich people hire maids, accountants and personal secretaries; I certainly would if I had a few extra dollars laying around.  However, there is a silver lining: my cooking has drastically improved and I feel much more confident when attempting new recipes.  As I wrote about before, I am even at the point of creating a few of my own recipes.  These past two months I have made approximately 20 dozen cookies and muffins (many of which were passed around to friends and family).  My grilling techniques are also improving greatly (I used to be afraid of the grill but the intense heat of the summer made it even more miserable to turn on the oven).  A few weeks ago, I even grilled bacon. I highly recommend this method.

wedding pic Aug 11 2016

 Also, in less than a month, I will be a bridesmaid at the wedding of a dear friend.  I must admit dear readers, this wedding has caused me a lot of anxiety.  Mostly about my weight and the continued struggle to lose the last 30 pounds (I’ve shed 75 pounds in the past year and a half).  The intense desire to be “thin” has brought back some of the thought patterns of those eating-disorder years (I struggled with an eating disorder for nearly 5 years during my early 20’s).  It came as a surprise because I had been fully recovered for years when these thoughts suddenly began taking over my life again.  It didn’t help that one of my doctors began harping on my weight as well.  I understood her desire for me to be completely healthy, but “thin” often doesn’t equal “healthy” and many struggle to comprehend that. However, I’m eternally grateful to my family and close friends for continually reminding me that a number on a scale does not a person make.  This struggle has made me even more grateful for the victories I have made, including losing that large amount of weight and getting my body back to “working” condition.  One thing is sure, I’m willing to work exceptionally hard for my health.  That is far more important than being a certain size, just like financial responsibility is much more important than having a lot of money.

 Despite my struggle, I am excited for my friend and grateful to be a part of her day.  My dress, shoes and jewelry are ready to be shown off, and I’m looking forward to downing a few drinks that day.  It IS a wedding, after all!

 

 Dear readers, thank you for your faithfulness.  My struggle with Lyme disease is very real but it helps me tremendously to share my story with YOU and helps even more knowing that you are reading my little blog. Until next time, keep fighting my fellow warriors.

Still Working, Still Baking

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I have officially completed my first full week at my new job!!

This is huge for me, considering it’s been two years since I’ve been able to work.

My new job is part-time and at most, I will work 25 hours a week. However, this kind of schedule was exactly what I wanted. If I am able to keep this job, I will confident that my health is good enough to sustain a more difficult schedule with, perhaps, a few school classes added.

Meanwhile, since I last posted, I have been baking.
My mom made a large batch of quinoa and I frequented Pinterest looking for recipes with quinoa. For dinner one night, I made a quinoa pizza crust that turned out to be quite delicious; the next morning, I baked Quinoa Blueberry Bars that were dairy-free, grain-free and sugar-free.

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Also, I created my own recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin cookies. They passed the test after my 2-year-old nephew consumed several with a smile.

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Yesterday, I worked on perfecting another recipe I created for Chia and Flax seed Bread. This bread is grain-free and sugar-free but quite incredible (in my humble opinion). It doesn’t hurt that it is guilt-free as well; the chia seeds and flax seeds are both considered to be super foods by many health critics.

Tomorrow I see my LLMD for a follow-up. I am excited to tell him that I am back in the workforce and enjoying life!

Last Day in May

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Today ends my month of daily blogging in recognition of Lyme Disease Awareness month.

Don’t worry, I’ll still blog – just not every day!

To end this month, I would like to make a wish.

My wish is that, by May of 2017, doctors are telling patients that a negative test result for Lyme is not reliable.

It seems so simple, but it would mean a world of difference for so many.

If I dare to dream, a reliable test will be available to patients by next year but that would be a bit of a miracle (even though, again, it seems so simple).

Fingers crossed that my wishes come true. Next year, I will review this post and update you of the changes that have/have not taken place.

Keep fighting, fellow warriors!

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Lyme Disease Facts, in pictures

Here are a few facts about Lyme Disease. Feel free to share these with family and friends – they are more likely to glance at pictures then read a lot of information (I know from experience).

Lyme disease awareness month is almost over, but the fight continues for accurate testing, proper diagnosis, knowledgeable doctors and insurance coverage!

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You read it: NO RELIABLE TESTING, yet there are over 800 cases per day!

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My treatment has taken over 16 years and the Lyme is still not in full remission (that’s just sad).

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True. I don’t.

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It is called, “The Great Imitator” for a reason.

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Lyme does not discriminate. Neither do co-infections.

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These are just A FEW of the symptoms of Lyme disease.

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Hello yoga pants!

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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).

My First Day

Yesterday was my first day back at work after two years of being too sick to keep up a job.

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It was an excellent day, all-in-all. I was expecting to just fill out initial paperwork but my boss actually clocked me in for a shift. We ended up spending the majority of our time outdoors (in 85 degree heat, no less) which was a very unusual situation and most likely will not occur again. However, I not only learned the basics of my new job, I also started my summer tan.

Watch out ya’ll 🙂

As previously stated this is a part-time job (see my posts “Starting to Move On,” “Hired!” and “Working”). My next day isn’t until next week.

This suits me just fine considering this weekend is Memorial Day weekend and I am planning to attempt crab cakes for my family. A lot of energy will be expelled on those since it is my first time making crab anything.

My boss seems to be a genuinely decent person (haven’t had many of those) and the other employees that I met were very friendly and encouraging.

It didn’t hurt that I baked delicious Cinnamon Muffins for everyone and made sure they were passed around.

Today, I’m a bit warm and tired. Tanning for several hours in the sweltering heat while trying to learn new job skills will do that to a person. However, I knew today would be a slow day and I was fully prepared to rest on the couch with the air conditioning/fan on. My fur-baby Bella missed me yesterday and is sticking close to my side.

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For the rest of the afternoon/evening, my tasks are to prepare dinner (fresh salad, Shepherds Pie and perhaps Flaxseed cookies) as well as do some laundry, cleaning and sauna time (bring on the heat, again!)

Thank you so much, faithful readers, for following me on this journey towards a better life and better health!