Attack of the Gorn

“Of all the things we can feel with our minds and bodies, severe pain is the purest, for it drives everything else from our awareness and focuses us as perfectly as we can ever be focused.” ~ Dean Koontz

 

There is this thing that happens to me on my current Lyme drugs.

It started in a small way. Bacteria began dying in my nerve endings. As they die, they release toxins. Awesome…

One night, delirious with fever, I thought that small lizards were hiding in my sheets and biting me. That was exactly what it felt like at the time.

And those lizards were mean!

Then it settled down for a while, and I’d thought that was the last of it.

But as I’ve ramped up my meds, the lizards have come back, and this time they’re bigger!

Now it feels as if large mean lizards are taking random chomps out of me with their hard plastic mouths. These are some hungry lizards, that’s for sure. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

Chomp on my cheekbone. Chomp on my thigh. Chomp on my belly, my eyelid, the top of my foot. Chomp on my lip, my hip, the very tip of my nose. Chomp, snap, chomp.

Image from Gweenbrick

Image from Gweenbrick

The sensations are horrid. Breathtakingly painful – somewhere between a stab and being tasered, although that only lasts a moment or two, after which it subsides to a less agonising sting. That’s exactly what a villainous lizard with a nasty mouth full of needle-sharp teeth would feel like, right?

Sometimes I can’t help myself and I will gasp with the pain of it. Or flinch and go all wide-eyed.

Which does look a bit odd when you’re out and about. But of course, how are you to know that I am under invisible attack?

My husband and I have developed a code for this now. I call it Gorn Attack.

“You okay?” he’ll ask me.

“Yeah,” I’ll nod. “Just Gorns.”

Have you met a Gorn before? Gorns are a brutal lizard-like race that Captain James T. Kirk fought so valiantly in Star Trek.

Where is Captain Kirk now, I ask? I could really use some help here.

Image from Kotaku

Image from Kotaku

Gorns then made a reprieve visit when Sheldon Cooper was conversing with Tiny Spock in Big Bang Theory. Sheldon was horrified to be attacked by a Gorn. It was his worst nightmare.

I know how he feels. :)

I guess it is kind of interesting. Maybe all of this will come in handy some day for a sci-fi story, or if I ever do meet a real live Gorn or end up in a parallel Star Trek universe. I feel I am developing quite an expertise when it comes to handling Gorn Attack. My weapons are primarily meditation, ninja mind control and magic.

When that doesn’t work, epsom salts baths, infrared saunas and Himalayan salt with vitamin c drinks often do the trick.

I have another four and a half months on these particular drugs. Maybe more. And there is no way I’m quitting.

So, Mr Gorn, bite me!

Image by Jim Doran

Image by Jim Doran

A Big Green #Lyme Anniversary!

Image from The Cake Trail

Image from The Cake Trail

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”W. Somerset Maugham

I was talking with my sister yesterday, and she said to me, “Hey, are you planning anything special for your thirty year anniversary tomorrow?”

“Huh?” I replied.

“You know, this Saturday is the same weekend  thirty years ago when you were bitten by the tick that gave you Lyme disease. Ekka weekend. That anniversary!”

Simone remembered because I glued the tick into her school diary, which, weirdly, she kept for all those years! Thanks, Sissy :)

tickindiary5 (1)

Wow. Thirty years. That’s such a long time.

It made me sad at first, to think of how much of my life has been claimed by this disease, and then I decided that enough of my life has been given over to sadness. I thought long and hard about how Lyme has changed me.

This is what I came up with.

If I hadn’t been bitten by the tick I would have gone on to become a lawyer, and my ambitions would have taken me far, far from here. I would have never married my first husband. I would not have gone to the Kimberley for my life changing connection with the Aboriginal Aunties. I would have continued to ignore or hide my psychic gift. I would have shunned this thing that I am, in favour of something more conventional.

Lyme has stripped almost everything away from me. My ability to have kids, to study, to live a normal life, to work in a normal job.

But it left me two things. My ability to love, and my ability to live and work within the metaphysical planes of existence. I had always seen that as a diminishment, and now I see that Lyme distilled me down to my essence, and forced me to live as a psychic. It was the only thing left that I could do.

That’s actually a beautiful thing, hard a journey as it’s been.

Now, as my health slowly returns, as I walk this hard journey of healing, things are being added back in to my life. My ability to think, to write – these two things have become such precious, precious gifts. When I was young I took it all for granted.

No more.

Tomorrow I shall celebrate my essence. The gifts of love, compassion, psychic connection, perseverance, moral courage, gratitude and hope, and the return of words, imagination and the ability to write again.

That’s worth a good cake, don’t you think?

The owl in the tree outside my window agrees!

barn_owl

Are You Giving Yourself Space To Heal?

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ~John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

I’m on a fairly savage regime of drugs and herbs for my Lyme disease just now. Both the treatment and the illness place a burden upon my body, and so doing what I can to support healing and detoxification is paramount.

To cope, I’d developed quite a routine, actively including everything I could to detox myself. The routine itself was exhausting, and I was earnestly looking for whatever else I might add to make the process even better. Did I mention I’m in a hurry to heal?

As I was lying on a treatment bed with needles protruding from me, and a smoking box burning on my belly, I asked my acupuncturist for his advice. What was I already doing, he asked me. Dutifully I rattled off my long list, feeling rather proud of myself.

He paused for a few minutes, feeling my pulses, tweaking a needle or two. He was quiet. Thoughtful.

Do less, he said.

Image from Full Her Life

Image from Full Her Life

Less? That threw me. Shouldn’t I be doing EVERYTHING I can to get better?

No, he said. Being so busy, so consumed with wellness, puts a stress upon the body too. I had made healing a job. Withdraw a little, he said. Read a book. Have a nap. Sit quietly in the sun. Make things easier for yourself.

He’s right, of course. Sometimes we think that doing all we can is better, when really, less is more. Healing happens in the quiet spaces, the down time, the growing sense of ease.

How about you? Are you giving yourself space to heal? Maybe you’d be better off having an early night, a slow weekend, a simple diet, more rest.

Here’s to wellness and balance in our lives. Be kind to yourself this week. Bless xoxo

Image from My Peaceful Soul

Image from My Peaceful Soul

Herbal Tea Recipe for Adrenal Fatigue

ginger tea

“My love affair with nature is so deep that I am not satisfied with being a mere onlooker, or nature tourist. I crave a more real and meaningful relationship. The spicy teas and tasty delicacies I prepare from wild ingredients are the bread and wine in which I have communion and fellowship with nature, and with the Author of that nature.”
~ Euell Gibbons

If there was an herb put on earth to assist those with Adrenal Dysfunction, licorice root is that herb.” ~Dr. Andrew Neville

 

In our modern world of high stress Adrenal Fatigue is becoming increasingly common. It is caused by the adrenals working too hard over too long a time, leading to this system in your body becoming tired and less productive. Adrenal fatigue often goes hand-in-hand with thyroid issues, and it is a common complaint for those with chronic illness such as diabetes, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include decreased libido, mild depression and anxiety, sleep issues, that ‘flat battery’ feeling where rest and sleep doesn’t restore you, feeling rundown, being easily overwhelmed and unable to cope, and feeling generally exhausted and unwell.

This is a very useful tea for supporting your adrenals, and for soothing your digestion and supporting your immune system. The tea is anti-viral and anti-inflammatory for your body. It is also a mild electrolyte, so this tea will help to rehydrate you as well. If, like me, you suffer from Lyme disease, this delicious tea will also aid your body in kicking those bacteria to the kerb!

Dried licorice root is available in many health food shops or Asian herbalists or grocery stores. So too are fresh ginger and turmeric roots.

Ingredients:

6 pieces of raw dried licorice root, 6 slices of fresh ginger root, 2 or 3 thin slices of fresh turmeric root or a pinch of two of dried turmeric powder, a pinch of Himalayan or Celtic salt, a pinch of stevia, a lemon.

*Note – turmeric has a tendency to stain things yellow, so don’t use your best teapot, or your Mum’s prized china!

If your immune system needs a bigger boost feel free to add more turmeric and ginger.

Method:

Place the licorice, ginger and turmeric in a teapot or thermos that holds one litre (4 cups). Let steep for ten minutes. It will go a very pretty shade of yellow.

licorice and turmeric tea

This tea can also be made in a saucepan on the stovetop. Bring licorice, ginger and turmeric to the boil, then turn off the heat and let steep for ten minutes. This produces a stronger tea.

adrenal tea

To finish the tea, add the pinch of salt, the pinch of stevia (or to taste) and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. For convenience you could also slice the lemon and add a wedge or two to your cup, teapot or water bottle after the boiling and steeping process.

I sometimes make this tea in a 1 litre stainless steel water bottle, replacing the lid once the liquid has cooled to warm rather than boiling. The tea is very pleasant at room temperature. When I have drunk it down to about a quarter full I refill with hot water, and get another batch out of my ingredients. It’s a very easy way to get my water allowance over the day.

herbs

Requiem For A Lost Poet – #Lyme

Photo of Heather Askeland

Photo of Heather Askeland

“I don’t need a cloak to become invisible.”
~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

 

I found out earlier this week that a fellow Lyme sufferer in the USA took her own life. I never met Heather, but I know her journey. All late-stage Lymies know, and understand, because so easily, that could have been us. The news of Heather’s death made me sad. So very sad. And angry. But anger won’t bring her back.

The news of Heather’s death made me feel helpless too. I never knew of her struggle until it was too late. This wretched disease that has wreaked havoc and destruction in the lives of so many, including mine, became too much for this young woman to cope with on her own. People need to know. It isn’t right.

Sadly, Lyme disease, like most ‘invisible’ illnesses has a very high suicide rate. Sufferers get worn down by their illness, by the cost of treatment, by the contempt of friends, family and many in the medical fraternity who don’t believe that they are sick. When you are desperately ill, and you can’t work, and you have no money and no safety net of family or friends (or you wore out your welcome, or spent your family’s last dollar) and you can no longer take care of the most basic survival tasks in your life, you run out options pretty fast.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

I’m writing to honour Heather Askeland as a poet, and an artist. I wanted to share her work with you. I wanted her to be remembered with the fullness of who she was.

This is a poem she wrote about selling her beloved violin to help pay for treatment:

the sold violin by Heather Askeland

the A string keens, a notch flat, lost
songbird carrying morning.

the sun is a steak knife slicing dust.
you crouch, release the zipper’s

low whine. case like a toothless mouth.
there is no music here.

no wooden neck to cradle
like a newborn’s head,

no thin steel creasing prayer
into fingertips. no satisfied tendons,

no sweat
other than the nightly fever.

you used to play Tchaikovsky.
your fingers were silverfish,

the audience thunderclap your
favorite drug. now bright lights spin

you like a top. snap you in two,
a severed dandelion.

you are lucky. illness is expensive.
you trade horsehair and childhood

recitals for antibiotics.
how many centimeters of soundpost

for homeopathic injections? for the
metronome of an IV drip?

how much varnish for hair loss?
for the skipping stone

pulse, for each battle between gut
and bread? which Bach sonata

for the skeleton memory?
your neurons are sunken ships,

the dead fish sing you lullabies, let meat
rot in cupboards and crackers grow freezer crystals.

for a moment you panic. wonder why
the case is empty. check the windows. the cats

are two otters in their sun pools.
you remember: the violin is gone.

the violin is everywhere.
it is white cells, methylation pathways

morning yoga sessions. medication three times
a day and herbs that taste like molding twigs.

the 1812 Overture blasts its cannons
with each push of blood from chest to toes.

no one can hear it but you.
your arms are warm.

the music never left, is waiting for you
to turn it up.

Image from wall alpha coders

Image from wall alpha coders

And this is the final video Heather made, her one last shot at trying to find help. As you already know, it never came.

 

Spare a thought for Heather today. Say a prayer, send a blessing, wish her peace. Honour her short life for the artist she was – not as her disease, not as a lyme warrior – honour her for her poetry and her caring heart.

Heather Askeland

Heather Askeland

Two Steps Forward…

 

2014-07-21 09.45.26

“Progress, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step.” ~ Samuel Smiles

 

It’s been a frustrating few days for me.

I’ve recently changed Lyme doctors, and begun a new regime of drugs and herbs for my Lyme and co-infections. I’m filled with optimism for my return to health, and although I’m tired it had all been going well until the tail end of Monday.

I’d taken the first dose of a new drug that morning, and been fine.

But suddenly on late Monday afternoon my speech began to slur, words vanished from my brain, my eyes blurred until I could not see at all, I walked like a drunk woman and I forgot how to do the simplest tasks, like cleaning my teeth. My night was filled with hallucinations. I was sure that lizards (Lizards? Oh, Nicole!) were hiding in the bedclothes and coming out to bite me when the lights were out. Of course there were no lizards, just the sting in my nerves and skin from the herxing as the bacteria within me died and flooded my body with their nasty neurotoxins.

A little bit scary, but also a familiar road. This happened last time I took this particular medication too. But this time my reaction has been less severe, my pain less too.

All my symptoms are finally settling down again, but it’s a good reminder that with Lyme treatment it’s so often two steps forward, one step back.

And you know, two steps forward one step back is STILL one step forward when you do the math. :)

PS – Don’t you love that photo of Bert? He looks how I feel!

Image from Inspirably

Image from Inspirably

Lyme and Making Plans

“She had learned the lesson of renunciation and was as familiar with the wreck of each day’s wishes as with the diurnal setting of the sun.” 
~ Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge

“Success is when everything that goes wrong, fits in your plan.” 
~ Gary Rudz

 

When I was diagnosed, finally, with Lyme disease, back in January 2013, we did a lot of shuffling of plans. A much-looked-forward-to holiday was called off. I cancelled workshops and retreats. My clever PA began adding a footnote to each appointment she made for me, letting people know that I was being treated for Lyme and that I may need to reschedule their session at short notice, depending upon my health on the day.

I’ve had to do a lot of that anyway, in my adult life. Cancel things. Say no. Pull out at the last minute. Always because of unreliable health. Too often that has made me the unreliable friend, family member, or neighbour. The only area I have managed to be mostly reliable has been work. But doing that has meant creating a business where I can work from home, part-time, and where everything else suffers so that I can get that work done.

Sure I’ve gone ahead sometimes and done the thing, but too often afterwards I’ve paid the price. An afternoon of socialising might mean three days of crippling exhaustion. A few hours of gardening could leave me flat out for the rest of the week.

“Gee Nicole,” a friend said once, frustrated at my lack of energy, “we all get tired.” Yes, we do. But Lyme tired is something else. Lyme tired is truly chronic fatigue. Lyme tired is neurological fatigue, as well as physical. It’s the kind of tired where after just a few hours work I am in bed by seven and asleep by ten past. And that’s on a good day. :) Lyme tired is the kind of tired where I can struggle with basic daily living – like showering and dressing, holding a conversation, preparing a meal or attending to the simplest kinds of housework. The kind of tired where my arm stops working, or my eye starts twitching, or my brain goes on strike.

My exhaustion is an ocean, under the influence of some great unseen force. Sometimes it recedes, leaving a gleaming bright shore of possibility. I get stretches where I can do so much more, and I settle in to that as my new normal. But then the tide comes back, and I find myself with a smaller and smaller window of available time where my brain works, or my body works and I can get things done.

To be honest, I’d hoped that this far into my Lyme treatment, an aggressive protocol of drugs and herbs, that I would have been back to much more glorious planning again by now. That I would be saying ‘yes’ more often, and ‘no’ much less.

But as I’ve travelled this road I’ve come to realise that there’s still so far to go. I might be in this hazy half-life place for a while yet.

So, I’ve gotten smarter.

Now I make plans EXPECTING to be tired. I create my business around what I can do on a bad day, or an average week, rather than what I might be able to do if I had a sudden upsurge in energy or was miraculously well again. I plan socialising around my best times (mornings), or for early nights.

I am planning my whole future around having a flat battery.

It’s not pessimistic. I fully intend to get back to well. Or as well as it is possible to be, for me. But oh how it takes the pressure off, knowing that I am catering for low energy, or sudden patches of incapacity.

Anyway, my heart is on the way to being completely normal, and I have my brain back. There is no longer an imminent threat of dying. I can write and think and dream again. And I’ve always been able to do psychic work – no matter how ill I’ve been. That’s a gift that comes through me, and it’s never influenced by my health. In fact, it has often been the thing which has energised me and kept me going during my darker days. So, planning is possible. As long as my plans make space for down-time, disaster and the unexpected.

I even changed my whole business model, so that I can run an ever-expanding enterprise from bed, on a few average health days a week. Imagine how much lovely free time that will give me as I move back towards well. Imagine how much writing I will be able to get done. How much living. That’s exciting for me!

Maybe you don’t have lyme, or some other kind of incapacitating situation in your life, but I can guarantee you that making plans based on reduced energy and reduced input isn’t a bad thing. Instead it’s a plan for life that makes room for life. It’s about designing a life where there is space for you to grow, to heal, to love, to change your mind, to move in new directions, to spend the afternoon napping, or with your lover, or catching a series of perfect waves.

I’m all for planning. Planning moves us purposefully in a direction of our choosing. It enables us to be effective with the use of our time and resources. It helps us to actively design our lives.

But I am also for living honestly, and being realistic about what’s on our plates. I am also for being kind to ourselves. I am all for making room to breathe rather than heaping responsibility, duty and endless tasks upon us.

What kind of plans have you made in your life?

Have you crammed so much in that there is no room for downtime, rest or fun?

Lyme has proved to be a wise teacher for me. I hope that by sharing my story, it also helps you to be kinder to yourself, to be more trusting of the process of life, to focus on your most important priorities and still leave space.

All sorts of miracles and wonderments can happen when we leave enough space for them. It’s not up to us to have to fill in all the blanks. Where would be the magic in that?

Much love to you, Nicole xx

Life-is-a-miracle