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

 

Nurture in cups and bowls

Pumpkin soup

“I think that women just have a primeval instinct to make soup, which they will try to foist on anybody who looks like a likely candidate.”Dylan Moran

 

It’s been a hard two weeks for me. Meds issues. Doctor issues. Mobility and pain issues. Crushing insomnia. Nausea. And a myriad other bothersome things. Ah, the joys of Lyme disease and all that entails… It’s like my body decided to rifle through the junk drawer and bring out all the remnants of crap I thought I’d dealt with by now.

I’m back to two finger typing again, so that means blogging is back on my agenda!

Thankfully I am home at my farm, and it’s a farm with a freezer full of kindness I had made as gifts for other people. All things my husband has been able to defrost and reheat for me:

Pumpkin Soup (That’s it in the photo above!)

Chicken Soup

chicken soup

Bone Broth made into easy meals with noodles and vegetables

bone broth soup

Spaghetti Bolognese

spaghetti-1

Lemony Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with some mashed potato and vegetables from the garden

lamb shanks lemon

Nana’s curried sausages, made with homemade stock

curried sausages

Easy Thai Chicken Soup

thai chicken soup

I’ve also enjoyed a few meals of simple but delicious Soft Boiled Eggs and Toast Soldiers, which Ben has made his own signature dish. (Eat your heart out, Master Chef!)

soft boiled egg and soldiers

If friends and neighbours have come round for a cup of tea we could still offer them some tasty Easy Date Loaf or a piece of Moist Boiled Fruitcake as I had both of these in the freezer as well.

scones-and-fruitcake

By the time I’m back on my feet I think I’ll have eaten everything I’d put by, but gee I’m glad  took the time to do that cooking. Ben’s a wonderful husband, but let’s just say that cooking’s not his greatest strength! :) We’ve both been grateful for all of those frozen and easy-to-put-together meals.

Maybe there’s a recipe here that you might find useful too – either to make for yourself, or to take to a friend or family member who could use a little extra kindness and support right now.

Lastly I’ve been enjoying a little Warm Spiced Turmeric Milk made fresh each night to help me sleep and to kill more Lyme bugs. I heartily recommend it!

turmeric milk

I have missed you all very much, but I’ve held you in my daily prayers and meditations, so we’ve not been that far apart from each other.

I’ll record you a guided meditation today too, as I have a couple to catch up on, so watch out for that on the blog tomorrow. Lots and lots of love, Nicole xx

A Quick Update On Me!

Image from Modern Kiddo

Image from Modern Kiddo

“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.” 
― T.F. Hodge

“A bruise is a lesson… and each lesson makes us better.” 
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ” 
― Goldie Hawn

 

Hi Lovelies, I thought I’d better update you on why I’ve been so quiet…

One of the drugs I’ve been on for my Lyme treatment has an unfortunate side effect in some people of shortening and stiffening ligaments and tendons. As they lose their elasticity they become prone to tears and rupture.

A few weeks ago I tore ligaments in my right knee as I was getting into bed. It’s healing, slowly, but it has certainly slowed me down. Then on Monday night after I came home from my Lyme Doctor I had a tear and a bleed in my left Achilles tendon caused by Harry the dog bumping into me.

Rolling over in bed a few nights later I ripped ligaments in my right shoulder and injured tendons in my right thumb.

I would not be lying to say that right now I’m feeling a little over it. :( If I were really truthful, I might even admit to having indulged in a full-on howly little emotional breakdown for a minute or two.

So for now I am on bed rest, being well looked after, and trying not to injure myself further until these drugs get out of my system.

I’m also not having such a fun time on the new ligament-friendly lyme meds I’m on either (think vomiting, pain, blurred vision and misery) although that’s a whole other story…

But on an up note I AM getting better. It’s just a lesson in patience right now, like typing this blog with my left hand so at least it’s done, even if it is a very slow process.

This morning my mum rang, and gently suggested I should try and blog something, anything, just to let you all know that I am okay.

I am mostly okay. :) Really.

Forgive me if my blogging remains a bit erratic until I get my body under control. We’re working on it, but like most things, it shall take time. Still, I’m already feeling a bit brighter. Fingers crossed this uphill trend shall continue. I’ll post as I can, so stay tuned.

Thinking of you and sending love, Nicole xx

PS – here’s a useful little quote for times like these:

o-INSPIRATIONAL-QUOTES-facebook

Slowly Slowly Better…

Image from Mental Floss

Image from Mental Floss

“I saved a man’s life once,” said Granny. “Special medicine, twice a day. Boiled water with a bit of berry juice in it. Told him I’d bought it from the dwarves. That’s the biggest part of doct’rin, really. Most people’ll get over most things if they put their minds to it, you just have to give them an interest.” 
~ Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

“Though the doctors treated him, let his blood, and gave him medications to drink, he nevertheless recovered.” 
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

 

I’m off to see my Lyme Doctor today. Another date to tick off my calendar, another date to record my progress, update my meds and share my journey with a physician who truly cares.

Slowly, slowly I feel like I am being returned to myself. I’ve made a few short solo trips this past week, driving myself in the car. That’s a major breakthrough. I’ve begun a slow return to work. I’m having fewer terrible days, and more stretches of consistent energy. I’m writing. A lot. And that’s the most exciting thing of all.

There’s still a long way to go, and I’m still exhausted easily and often, but oh, how hopeful I am that this slow journey will take me back to the flow of life, where I can be fully immersed instead of simply cheering from the sideline.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Thanks again for your love and support, and for being here with me through all of this. Much love, Nicole xx

 

Update from Lyme Land

Image from Norway Street

Image from Norway Street

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
~ Winston Churchill

 

It’s been eighteen months since my Lyme diagnosis, and fourteen months since I began treatment with an intensive regime of antibiotics and specifically targeted herbs.

On top of all of the other good things I was already doing that had sustained my life, but not healed me.

For those of you who’ve been following my journey, you’ll know it’s been a long and tough road. And I still have a long way to go. Perhaps another two years of treatment yet. Maybe more.

But truly, I can FEEL the progress I’m making now. Little by little I am beginning to reclaim my life. I am having, on balance, more good days than bad. The bad days are bad, but not nightmarishly so. I can cope with them.

I am still suffering pain, and insomnia. I still suffer from periods of intense fatigue. I have days where I can barely lift my head from the pillow and the night brings only more pain and no relief. But on a good day I have a sense of returning strength. My brain works – almost all the time. I have the energy to do a little housework, to do a little gardening – and not be completely wrecked afterwards.

I’m writing. And writing. And writing.

I am beginning to think in possibilities. There is once again room in my life for dreams.

Above all, I want to say thank you. For sticking with me. For sending me messages of support. For helping me hang in there when I truly didn’t think I could go another step.

I have no idea what ‘well’ will ultimately look like for me, but I’m excited to have the chance to find out.

Much love to you, Nicole xoxo

PS: I love the wisdom of the quote below:

When-things-fall-apart-consider-the