Personal Experiment – the Hangover

I probably shouldn’t be writing, but I wanted to be able to see, in writing, how unclear my mind gets when I get these periodic feelings of being hungover. I’m already seeing that my spelling is way off, and I’m going to have to come back eventually and clean this up. Other than correcting typos, I’m going to leave it be.I want to see for myself how my thinking and communicating is effected by this disease.

I consider myself a fairly decent writer. Ok. Maybe I should say I “fancy” myself a fairly decent writer. I have my own voice, and it usually comes across very clearly in my writing. I also believe I’m fairly articulate. I pride myself on my ability to communicate to others effectively. I want to see how all this decays when I’m not feeling up to snuff.

The weather here is pretty lousy. It’s grey, and it’s been raining for the past 72 hours. It dreary an cold to boot. It’s nearly May and yet I had to put the heat back on yesterday because if the chill in the air. 

I’ve been on my current drug protocol since April 9, and consists of one antibiotic, one drug used to treat malaria, and a handful of vitamins and herbal supplements, mostly from Buhner’s website, as recommended by LLMD. 

I re-started my daily fasting. That is to say, I try to limit any and all food intake between the hours of 9ish am and 6ish pm. That leaves 14 (?) hours where I am not consuming anything. I’d like to check the math on that, to be honest, but I promised myself I wouldnt change more than spelling in this entry. Ideally, the doc would like me to fast 16 hours out of every day, since the act of eating can be an inflammatory response in and of itself. 

And I’m feeling pretty horribly inflamed these days. I awake sore and achy, and I go through my day sore and achy. I turn in at night sore and achy, and I repeat the process when I wake up the next morning. I’m hoping the fasting will be the nudge I need in the right direction so the pain isn’t as pervasive. Even as I write this, my back is killing me and I want to go lay down.

But the fogginess, the hangover I feel today has prompted this writing. I have emails that I need to get to, reading to do, and I really need a clear head to do it all. I start classes in 3 weeks. Pre-reqs so that when my classes begin in earnest in August, I can focus on the harder stuff. There is PTA obligations I still have to meet, and when the PTA secretary is in the grips of a brain fog, any emails risk being unclear. That is not the impression I like to leave people with. (And there it is, ending a sentence with a preposition… ugh… my grammar nazi friends should have a field day with whole entry)

So I’m not completely sure what has caused the hangover feeling this morning. Is it the weather? Is it the drugs? Is it the fasting? Perhaps I ate something, hidden gluten? Way too many variables for this self proclaimed scientist to evaluate. 

24/7 illness vs 24/7 motherhood

I’m tired. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. So my question is, exactly how much caffeine do I need to shake this? Are we talking a venti cup via Starbucks? Or a concentrated slug of Turkish coffee?

I think I’ve been going at break neck speed since early last week. And anybody who has fought chronic fatigue, or an illness like Lyme that often comes with chronic fatigue, knows that such a pace of life can’t be kept up for long. I’ll compare the situation to that of a cheetah. Sure, it can reach 70 mph while chasing prey, making it the fastest land animal, but it can’t keep up that speed for very long.

And I find myself collapsed on the Savanna, breathing heavy, and not much to show for my efforts.

Alright. That sounds a bit dismal. The truth is, I did accomplish some necessary things so that I can start those dared pre-reqs come mid-May. My parking stickers are in place. I have my student ID. I even have what I need to get started with the FAFSA forms. I’m even already registered for my BLS course for future health care providers. My obligations as PTA secretary are also done for the moment. I’ve also managed to keep the household running, making dinners and doing laundry, and all the other glamorous tasks that goes along with having a family.

The added stress I’m experiencing this week is actually due to typical 14 year old girl “drama.” And like all “drama,” its actually all very silly and completely inconsequential in the long run. But it serves to remind me that while my daughter is very largely self-sufficient (we’re talking a straight A student that rarely needs mom’s help with homework anymore, knows how to make her lunch and get her chores done), I still need to step in as mom to protect her, and also use moments like these as teaching tools for larger lessons in life, about how to comport oneself, and how to cope when things get crazy.

Next year is going to be a doozy for all of us. I’ll be starting my courses in earnest come August, and my daughter will be starting her first year of high school. From what I’m told, middle school drama is kid play compared to how the claws can come out in high school. And my poor husband will be supporting the family, my education, and likely putting in close to the 100 hours a week he puts in now. And no, that was not a typo. And yes, he is a saint. Almost 😉

So ideally, this little wrinkle in my daughter’s social and educational world will serve as good place to start getting some basic tools in her tool belt to deal with these issues which are likely to be on a grander scale come next school year. And while I’ve begun that process, there is still so much more that needs to be done, and like I said, I’m tired.

So this cheetah is going to rest among the tall grass on the Savanna, catch my breath, and hit the ground running again.

 

Frustrated

Sometimes I get so flipping mad.

I’ve been at home for 2 solid days, doping myself up on motrin and flexiril, because I sustained a back injury about a year before I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

So what is it about this injury that makes me so insane? It’s the fact that I didn’t have to be in this position if it wasn’t for some glib medical advice.

About a year before I was diagnosed with Lyme and it’s counterpart co-infections, I saw a new doctor. He was a DO, and I thought maybe he’d be more open to listening to my vague list of symptoms. Symptoms like low grade fevers, inexplicable aches and pains, debilitating fatigue, and fogginess. 

His diagnosis was flippant and his attitude dismissive. He said that I was just getting depressed and that I needed to lose weight. Like, immediately. He didn’t hear me say how I fell ill, and then the weight began to creep on. He didn’t ask me about all the activities I used to be involved in, like hiking, horseback riding, dancing, and even running. He just assumed I was another lazy, depressed, fat chick that didn’t know how to put down a fork.

He gave me a script for some antidepressants (which I promptly tossed out), and urged me to start exercising. 

So out of stubbornness, I joined a gym. And I worked hard, despite always feeling worse after every work out. I refused to listen to my body when it was screaming at me to treat it gingerly. Until about a month in, going 3 times a week and doing some light weights and low impact aerobic exercise, I was in the middle of a squat and I felt my back pull.

My gym visits ended before they ever really got started.  I was in physical therapy 3 times a week for 2 solid months, with no improvement. I also tried months of chiropractic visits. And to add insult to injury, I was still responsible to pay my monthly dues for an entire year. 

That was in 2012. And I still have back problems because of it. Once a month, to once every six weeks, my back decides, “nope, you’re not going anywhere or doing anything today. Park your ass for a few days.”

Maybe if that D.O. just listened… If he just delved a little deeper, asked a few more questions… maybe I wouldn’t be in this situation. 

And he still has the bedside manner of a cold, dead, haddock. I went to him recently for a refill on my asthma meds, I updated him on my medical situation, and he completely shrugged it off. I showed him test results and explained what meds I was on, and he still took no interest. 

Some people have no business being in health care. 

Lesson I will take away: When I begin seeing my own patients, I will follow Doc C’s example, and listen to every little detail a patient shares. I will dig into their history with the tenacity of a pit bull, and I will not dismiss any of their concerns. 

 

Yesterday’s Doc Appointment

I pulled out my notebook when she called me into the room. Doc C has no nurse, just a receptionist who answers the phone and makes appointments, and file insurance, I’d imagine. I sat down on the love seat across from her treadmill/desk. (Have you seen these things? She walks very slowly as she enters notes into her computer while she talks to patients. I’m not sure when I’ll finish my medical education and join her, but this will be my first purchase!) I quickly debriefed her on my experiences with the past month’s regimen, and we hammered out that I’ll be put back on something that worked better in the past. She had thought that the neck and shoulder pain was due to the Lyme bacteria, but conceded Babesia could be part of the issue as well. (I tested positive for Bartonella, Borrelia, and Babesia. Go big or go home, I always say.)

So, I’m back on one of the first antibiotics that I was prescribed, and she decided that we’d keep one of the two of last month’s anti-parasitics. (I hesitate on giving details, since I’ve heard of consequences when some people have chosen to do so in a public forum like this.) I’m also back on some of the basics of Buhner’s protocol.

After we got that out of the way, she wanted to talk about her newest bit of reading, which was about a marathon runner who became severely ill with MS, and how she managed to heal herself. “Seaweed and Organ meat,” Doc C declared enthusiastically. At first, I thought, “nori.” I can easily do nori, but she specified that kelp is a far better source of the nutrients than the seaweed used for nori. My countenance darkened further when she went on and shared her experiences in organ meat. 

She was a vegetarian for many years, but has gone strictly paleo for her own health, and so she admitted to the struggle she was having with organ meat, going so far as to say that the family dog was the only grateful recipient of her experiments with pate. I have already been working up to including organ meat in my diet, since I had also been reading that the health benefits are worth the effort.

Luckily I come from a family who, before coming to this country from Europe, were poor enough that not a scrap of food was ever wasted, and so my relatives assure me that with a little tinkering, organ meat like liver can be quite tasty. My husband actually loves organ meat, and he grew up on a farm (again in Europe) where everything the family ate was either grown or raised on the family farm. The flour for bread, to meat and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, and even their wine – they would only buy things like white flour and sugar during the holidays for baking. I’m absolutely convinced that this kind of healthy eating has made him as healthy as he is, since he didn’t come to the US until he was nearly 30. 

The good news is that the next farmer’s market isn’t until Saturday, so I have until then to work myself up mentally for making that kind of purchase. 

Sometimes all it takes is a good friend…

… to get you up and going again.

Friday, I had a visit from a long-time friend. It was a good visit because it forced me out of the funk I was in. He dropped by, for the better part of the day, and I have to admit, I really like those kinds of visits. The all-day, hang around the house, shoot the breeze, listen to tunes, and snack on whatever is in the pantry before more conversation over cooking dinner.

Granted, I’m not feeling any better physically, and even he saw the fatigue in my face enough to mention it, but it was good for the soul. It picked me up emotionally, and that does more for me than any anti-inflammatory.

And for the next two days, I had quite the hangover, but that was my own doing. I *knew* what having dessert was going to do to me: increased pain, and a dizziness and brain fog that would rival any hangover brought on by a bottle of cheap tequila.

I’m feeling more clear this morning, but I ran out of meds on Saturday, and while I could have refilled the antibiotics, I dreaded doing so since I know they make me so nauseated. I’m hoping that when I see Doc C on Wednesday that we try something different. I’m hoping that the stomach issues clear up by then, and that the pain doesn’t worsen during my short hiatus.

I read about a lot of “Lymies” being treated with IV antibiotics, but Doc C has her hands tied on that one. She says it’ll just invite problems, and she risks her practice if she were to ever prescribe IV meds. Still, I wonder what I’m missing. I wonder if it could be the missing link in finally kicking this infection to the curb. And I’m confident I’ll overcome this. I’m certain I’ll be back to my old self soon. It’s just going to take more time than I anticipated. But that’s ok. Because. Good Friends.

Case of the Blahhhhssss

I’ve developed a case of the blahs recently, and it’s entrenched itself pretty deeply. I feel so completely unmotivated. If I’ve managed to get showered and have an evening meal put together, then I’ve done a lot. And I know that part of it is because this month’s medication regimen that leaves me feeling nauseous most of the day interferes with my ability to get crap done. And I know that the other part of it probably has something to do with more and more sugar creeping into my diet, which leads to a vicious cycle of malaise and more sugar, and malaise and more sugar.

I’m in a rut and I don’t know how to pull myself out.

Most of the time, I’m disgustingly positive. I nauseate people around me with my cheery attitude and affirmative outlook, despite my struggles. After all, I’m convinced that a good part of this is mental, and I need every edge I can give myself. But today, and for the last few days, I’ve just wanted to wallow in my own self-pity, and frustration, and grumpiness.

Sooner or later, I’m going to have to suck it up. Sooner or later, I’m going to have to pull myself up, slap a smile back on my face, and reengage with the world around me. I start some classes I’ll need for graduation on May 19, and then the program begins this August in earnest, and I’m going to *really* need to stay focused and positive. I keep thinking of all the patients I’ll be able to help once I’m finished with my education, and how Doc C is counting on me to join the team. And in the meantime, there is my family that needs me, PTA commitments I have to see through, and friends who count on me for support.

But before all that, can I take just one more day? My blankets and kitty are calling…Image

I just needed a break.

I just couldn’t stomach another day of nausea. Literally. I was up at 4am this morning, and it began with a sense of a big rock sitting in my belly. Try as I might to roll over and ignore it, the pain grew, and rather than toss and turn and deprive my husband a full night’s rest, I got up and went to the couch.

I turned on the TV, and rocked quietly back and forth, my face distorted in a grimace that only relaxed when my kitty came over for a little early morning lovin’. In an effort to ease the pain, I took a small espresso cup, filled it half way with water, and added a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar.

It made things worse.

Maybe you’re not surprised, but I was. I had treated similar feelings in my belly like this before with decent success, but today, for some reason, it only exacerbated my pain.

I decided right then that I was not taking any pills today. Nothing. Not one antibiotic, not one anti-parasitic, not one herbal or vitamin. Instead, after the sun finally rose, I nibbled on some unsweetened applesauce. That helped. A few hours later, a banana made it down, and stayed down. Granted it took an entire hour to consume said banana, but hey, I wasn’t going to complain. Around lunch I managed to get a slice of (gluten free) bread in me, and a cup of chamomile tea.

And then eventually dinner rolled around, and my XXL pill (X2) containers were staring at me. But I just turned my back. I wanted one day without nausea. I wanted one meal to go down smooth, and not combined with a handful of pills every time I took a swig of my drink. Just one meal, the way it used to be.

I know it’s important to take my pills. They have helped bring me from a place of complete debilitation to some decent functionality. And I am truly grateful. But this month’s regimen has really felt like a kick into my stomach. And while I’m usually very good about taking all my medicine, even I have my limits.

My next appointment with my LLMD is a week and a half away. I’m hoping that the regimen will change, but until then, I’ll be back on my meds, starting tomorrow morning. Scout’s honor.