Saturday, November 12, 2011

Struggling With Lyme, Pursuing Acceptance And Trusting God With The Rest

The struggles of living with Lyme Disease are myriad, absurd, and often unexpected, just as they are with many chronic debilitating illnesses. This past week, I was reminded of this fact yet again.

Out in a store with my Mom when suddenly, I feel the familiar sensation of vestibular dysfunction arising. Subtle at first. Slightly woozy, dizzy. I'm sitting down in my wheelchair, mind you. I feel it in my eyes. There's pressure in and behind my ears and at the base of my head. I feel my neck begin to ache and tighten up. I can't believe this is happening. Rolling around in and out of isles, maneuvering people and small spaces, only makes it worse. So does too much input. Fatigue begins to wash over me. Mom takes one look at me and knows; t's familiar to her because she's seen it so often. 

We're both surprised and disappointed and we leave as soon as we can.

I'm thinking a lot of things.

Vestibular stuff. I haven't felt this in a while. Why is it happening now?

Ginger. I have no ginger with me. Shoot.

Whole Foods is just across the street. We'll go over there and get some.

By the time we get to the car, I'm running a fever and feeling more tired and woozy, a little nauseous. I'm feeling drained. I have no stamina.

What's happened? I used to be able to tolerate a couple of stops before anything like this. And I haven't had vertigo in quite some time. I feel like I've taken two steps backward.

And then it hits me.

I remember just how bad I have felt this year. How, since spring, I have not been out except to go to doctor's appointments, and many times, I've had to drag myself to those. How the Lyme treatment has been so taxing; how CMV and EBV levels got really high again this past summer, and we had to direct our focus on that too; how my spleen and liver have been so congested and dysfunctional; how tender and swollen they've been; how I've had visceral adjustments, and the last one wiped me out for two weeks.

I think I know why this happened. It happened because I've been more debilitated this year (no wonder I have such low stamina). It happened because I've been physically unable to hardly get out. It happened because I have had some better days at home since breaking from the Lyme treatment this fall, but I mistakenly thought that could translate into a better day out shopping in a store.

After many years of living with chronic illness, I know better. Having better days at home and better days out are two totally different things. I know that. I've lived that. But for some strange reason, it didn't dawn on me that I couldn't handle a store or two like usual, even though this was only my second time being out in one since early spring. And there it is. I was expecting the usual. But these are not usual times. And I have had an unusual year of feeling unusually bad.

As difficult as the past 17 years have been, this year has been uniquely complicated and challenging. I began a full Lyme treatment protocol in September 2010. Since then, between treating Chronic Lyme and multiple co-infections (Ehrlichia, Babesia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Mycoplasma, Epstein-Barr, and Cytomegalovirus), it's been a rough ride, to say the least. There are no words to fully articulate the depth of it all. If you've not been here, you can't possibly know. That's all I can say. It's as simple as that.

Ironically, I had planned to post something quite different today, a post I worked on a few days ago describing the mild, quiet, beautiful days I'd been having at home the week before last. I will still post that but what happened this past week is ever a reminder to me that there are some things we absolutely cannot do for ourselves. Only God can change certain things.

My Mom did run into Whole Foods and grabbed me a bottle of ginger. It always helps, and that day was no different. About 30 minutes after taking 1,000 mg of ginger root, I started feeling some better. Better enough to briefly stop at a store I love and then have lunch at a place I love (you learn to go on and enjoy some part of your day if you can). By then, though, I was totally spent.

One of the ongoing challenges in all this is acceptance; acceptance of what my body can and cannot do at any given moment, on any given day. On the ride home, I felt like I'd had a setback. I have felt this way many times over the years, and it still doesn't feel good. However, I've also learned it's not productive nor healthy to feel frustrated with my body for what it truly cannot do.

Instead, I must practice the love, self-care, and acceptance that I need. I know my body is working hard to repair, restore, and balance to heal. I know I help aid this process through eating good, whole nutrition, proper rest, treatment, therapies, prayer, etc. 

Being critical or harsh with my body accomplishes nothing. I remind myself to be as gentle and caring with me as I am with my Lyme and other chronically ill friends.

So I went to bed when I got home that day - I needed rest. I needed quiet. I needed hot tea. And I needed the total acceptance of where I am. That doesn't mean it will always be this way. It means I accept what I cannot change at this moment and trust God with the rest.

Michelle Holderman 
Copyright © 2011 

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