Inviting Help into Your Life

Showing the way

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”
~ Charles de Lint

 

Divine Guidance.  Signs. Help.  Answers to prayers.  Last-minute reprieves. Dramatic turn-arounds. Miracles. Most of us have asked for them at one time or another, but are we actually heard?  Can we really reach out like that and expect things to change?

I believe that the answer is yes. But it is useful to understand the process.  Our job is not only to ask. (I’ve written about that process here: Asking for a Sign) Our job is also to be receptive to answers, no matter what they look like, or how they come to us. Our job is to ACT on those answers and synchronicities. Our job is to know that we need to trust in Divine Timing. Especially when what’s happening in our lives is not going to OUR timing – the timing we want for ourselves and our plans and dreams.

Let me explain…

Back in November 2012,I stood on a moonlit beach in Thailand thinking of a particular set of circumstances in my life. My beloved Nana had just died, and I would not make it home for her funeral. And earlier that day, when I still suffered from congestive heart failure, I’d been crippled with severe chest pain. The pain had gone, but it had left me frightened and bemused. Once again I’d hit a wall with my health, and no matter what I’d tried (and the list was exhaustive) nothing was working. I realised I had reached my limit. No matter what I did, I was dragging myself through life, not enjoying it at all, but trying my best. For my husband. For my friends. For my clients. Every day was a struggle. And every day I was getting worse. Again.

I missed my Nana. I felt like more of my cheer squad was now in heaven than down here on earth.

My deteriorating health was impacting my marriage, my work, my very ability to draw breath. I knew in my heart I couldn’t go on like this. I didn’t have it in me any more. I’d found the end of the line. I stood there on that beach, oblivious to the beauty, with tears streaming down my face and I said, “Do you know what, God? I just can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”

I was ready to go home.

Image by Richard James

Image by Richard James

I meant it.  I said what was in my heart.  There was no neediness. No wanting or hoping. So it wasn’t really a prayer, or even a request for help.  I just said it how it was.  A definitive statement without expectation. I was squared away with dying. In fact, I fully expected that death was where I was heading. I was okay with that, sad as I would be to leave my husband. I was so very tired. I had no fight left in the tank. I really was done. I turned on my heel, went back to our room, and then forgot all about this seemingly one-sided conversation in the days ahead.

Less than a week later, I bumped into a friend in Bangkok who told me that she’d been having thyroid problems.  She mentioned that it could sometimes cause chest pain.

We talked some more…

Oh, she said. You need desiccated pig thyroid, not that other stuff you’re on. There aren’t too many doctors back in Australia who prescribe it, but there’s one in Brisbane. And she gave me his name.

A few days later I was back in Brisbane, and I called that number. By some miracle I ended up with an immediate appointment with a doctor who usually took a year to see. In fact, I’d tried to see him three times during the past ten years and been unable to get an appointment at all. But he was in his office, it was a Friday afternoon, his secretary had gone home with the flu, and he’d just had his last appointment of the day cancel. Could I come in straight away?

I could, and I did.

Before I saw him I had to fill in a very long and exacting health history. Standard procedure for doctors who think outside the square.

I wrote it all down. All thirty years of it. Something I hadn’t bothered to do for a long time.

He called my name and I went into his office.

I looked around at the pictures and the box of toys on the floor while he read my history. It took a very long time.

Finally, he looked up.

“This is textbook Lyme Disease,” he said. “Ever been tested for it?”

I’d never even heard of it.

He gave me forms so I could send off some blood samples, and that was the day I began to get my life back.

He was right. I did have Lyme Disease. I told my sister. She stumbled upon some information concerning another doctor who was about to open a new clinic, specifically treating this illness. I was one of the first patients to be seen.

These two physicians changed the course of my trajectory forever.

Now I am healing.

One day I fully expect to be well, whatever that may look like.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I know that somewhere, right now, someone is reading this who needs to know that they are not alone. That our thoughts and prayers are heard. That answers sometimes come from left field, and in manners that we could never have imagined.

Sometimes we need to ask for help. Sometimes we need to surrender.

And it usually doesn’t happen in the timing we’d hoped for.

But…

…wherever you are at, know that miracles are possible.

Change is possible.

Help is possible.

Healing is possible.

And you are worthy of all these things.

Sending you much love, and holding a candle for you in my heart, Nicole xx

Image from Vastu Chai

Image from Vastu Chai

Me and That Owl

Clothes line owl

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” 
Oprah Winfrey

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” 
Socrates

 

Last Monday, in my Doctor’s rooms, I received the best kind of news. Although I am still unwell, I have definitely turned the corner in my struggle against Lyme disease. I am no longer dying. I am healing. My life is once again unfurling a sense of possibility.

On Tuesday we came home from the city to our little farm. That night I stood in my backyard and communed with an Owl. An hour earlier my computer had locked me out, and my other one had powered down, unable to be recharged. I couldn’t blog. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t be all ‘business as usual’. I managed to get one last message to you. I’m taking time out, I said. In my head were visions of relaxing, laughing, sleeping, a little crying, and complete replenishment.

This is what really happened…

As I stood outside with the Owl, I felt as if somewhere upstairs God, or at least someone with a plan, slammed shut another door in my life, leaving me standing in an empty corridor.

Behind me were all the doors I could have taken, and all the doors I thought I should have taken.

Behind me were all the doors that will never open for me again.

For a moment I felt peace. Relief flooded over me. Not dying. Healing.

And then, and I must be honest here, I was consumed by panic. I looked behind me at all those closed doors.

Oh, I knew that wasn’t the best of plans. But I couldn’t help myself. Even if I hadn’t turned I could feel them. The weight of them. The sound and space of them.

What should I do? Where should I go? Was it too late? Could I rush back down that corridor into the dark and salvage a few things?

How was I meant to do this next bit? What was my life meant to look like?

I couldn’t see any open doors in front of me.

Image from Frontview

Image from Frontview

The Owl on my clothesline hooted, getting my attention and pulling me out of the maze of my mind.

What should I do? I asked her.

Breathe, said the Owl.

It was good advice. I stood barefoot on the lawn under the moon, letting air fill my lungs and then empty. Over and over again. Eventually I calmed.

The Owl was still there.

What shall I do now? I asked.

Sleep, said the Owl.

Tearily I put myself to bed.

On Wednesday morning I was bright-eyed with excitement. My new life! All the things I might do.

I made a cup of tea. I sat at my desk.

I unravelled.

All of the doors that were closed…

I shed a few tears.

I became angry. I shouted at the walls. At the bigness of the sky, and at the stupid smallness of me.

I pulled myself together.

I busied myself tidying things and making lists. These are the old ways I have fallen back on time and again to soothe myself into that sense of control, although I know it is an illusion. I am fine, I told myself. I am coping. Better than fine. Better!

That night the Owl was there again.

I stood outside with soft rain falling, misting my hair and skin with its gentle caress.

Owl, I pleaded, I don’t know what to do.

Rest, said the Owl.

I put myself back to bed.

On Thursday I breathed out. I mean really, really just let it all go. I felt myself break into a thousand pieces.

They glinted and shone up at me from the floor. It was not frightening. It was simply real. It was what it was.

I knew then, that I had actually been broken for the longest time, but my sheer stubbornness and momentum had prevented those crazy shattered shards of me from falling to the floor. I had only looked intact. That too, was an illusion.

I am not coping, I said to my husband. I am not coping, I said to the Owl.

I know, they said. Rest, they said.

I woke on Friday. Still broken. But knowing that too was an illusion. How could I be broken, surrounded by tiny glistening shards as I was, when part of me was still so solid and whole?

Awareness came. Just like all of the characters in my favourite books, my life hasn’t gone to plan. I have been tested and challenged. I have faced torment, loss and pain. So many of my dreams have been thwarted. There is still a long road ahead of me as I move back towards wellness. But the beauty is that the story of my life isn’t finished yet.

My dear friend, Kim, helped me to put things in perspective;

“All those things you missed… I know they seem real to you, but you have done other things that some of us can’t dream of. I’m reminded of Odin, who gave up one eye so he could “see” and know the mysteries of life. So he has crap depth perception but he can see things nobody else can.”

I am okay, and this is just how my life is, I told myself. And it was true. I was gentle with myself about the grief and sadness still within me. Life touches us all with some suffering. I felt the truth of my friend’s words, and acknowledged my psychic experiences so few others get to share. I laughed at myself a little, for the crazy ambitious plans I’d held for so long, for when I was ‘well’.

Those plans exhausted me just to think about them. I let them slither through my fingers and fall to the floor. I watched those plans streak off to find others to help them with their becoming.

The Owl was sitting in a branch of the old teak tree outside my window, eating her breakfast, as I sat at my desk, sipping a cup of tea.

What do you think? I asked Mistress Owl. This time I was comfortably empty. There was no neediness left inside.

Write, she said. Write.

Write what you know.

Oh, I thought. All the things? That’s a bit provocative. How might people react?

But all the while I was thinking yes, yes, I can write what I know. Who cares how people might react. I shall write. It’s something I can do while I’m healing. It’s a way to contribute.

Even more than that, as I sat with my decision, and this gentle new direction, I found a place of understanding within me. The things that I might write? I wish someone had written that book that for me. To hold something like that in my hand, at the times where I was breaking, reforming, emerging, well, it would have been an enormous comfort.

Beautifully brave Hermione Granger, with her head always in a book. Image from 100 Classics

Beautifully brave Hermione Granger, with her head always in a book. Image from 100 Classics

And then my lovely friend Sally sent me this:

“Yet, I get to tell my truth. I get to seek meaning and realization. I get to live fully, wildly, imperfectly. That’s why I’m alive. And all I actually have to offer as a writer, is my version of life. Every single thing that has happened to me is mine.” ~ Ann Lamott

To help others make sense of their journey, through the sharing of mine. That’s something I am well qualified to do. There has to have been a reason for all of this. My job now is to reflect deeply upon that, and to turn my wounds to wisdom.

Last night there were three Owls. Teach, they said. Share. Help the others.

Mistress Owl is there in the tree outside my window again this morning. We went flying together last night, the Owls and I, and I had a vision of what comes next. There are no doors involved at all. We’d risen way beyond doors to a clear, open space. And it was beautiful.

Bless xx

Image from the Matinee

Image from The Matinee

Heartbreakingly Wonderful News

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.” 
Elizabeth LesserBroken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

 

Would you be surprised if I told you of the bittersweet joy that is my healing journey?

I have experienced deteriorating health since 1984, when I was bitten by a tick during a picnic in Brisbane. For thirty years I have fought to obtain a diagnosis and effective treatment for this invisible illness which has slowly but surely stolen my life.

In January, 2013, I was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

Yesterday I went back to my Lyme doctor to investigate my progress, one year into our aggressive treatment plan which uses antibiotics, herbs and diet. One year on, both my doctor and I needed some kind of tangible evidence that this treatment plan was working.

Since my late teens, when I first became ill, I have tried so many things in my efforts to regain my health. Until last year I’d actually tried EVERYTHING I could think of except antibiotics.

EVERYTHING.

Natural therapies, complimentary therapies, medical specialists, psychology, hypnotherapy, past life regressions, chelation, ozone therapy, detoxing programs, every kind of diet, nutritional supplements, all kinds of machines and energy work, every network marketing product, spiritual healing, positive thinking, meditation, prayer…

Everything.

Three decades of my life, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ‘everything’.

Some of that ‘everything’ kept me alive.

Some of that ‘everything’ even gave me limited improvement for a time. But still, I ended up with lesions in my brain, cardiomyopathy, and on a fast track to my own imminent demise.

A year ago I was dying.

I had my affairs in order. I’d made my will.

At the end of 2012, life, as I knew it and lived it, had diminished to such an extent that I knew there was nothing left to sacrifice. Piece by piece, year by year, I have given up on things. On dreams. On hopes. On normal things. Simple wishes. I kept making choices based on a smaller and smaller view of the world.

I found clever ways to keep existing, and to be grateful for being alive, despite those limitations. I made choices, not based upon the wishes of my heart, but simply based upon what I might cope with, while still managing to shape this small world of mine with meaning. And I told myself that was okay.

Sept10 110

I kept up a running commentary in my head, in my meditations, even in my dreams. I would be okay. I would get through this somehow. All of this misery must be for some higher purpose. One day, I’d tell myself, as I desperately tried to cling to the tattered shreds of my life. One day I would make sure that my life truly did count for something. One day, I would find a way to heal. I hung on and would not let myself face the possibility that it might turn out otherwise. One day I would be well again, I told myself.

No matter how hard it was some days to believe that this could possibly be true…

And then I did find a way. Through a set of divinely synchronistic circumstances, a brave and clever doctor diagnosed me with Lyme. Another brave and clever doctor was prepared to take me on as a patient and treat me. I was prescribed truckloads of antibiotics. Ridiculous amounts that made me more horribly ill, even as they were supposed to be making me better. If I wasn’t herxing, I wasn’t healing, I was told.

It took all I had to hang in there with the treatment. I’m glad I did. Under the care of this kind and compassionate doctor I have made incredible progress.

I still have a long way to go. But the lesions in my brain? Gone. The cardiomyopathy? Resolving. In fact, my heart is on its way to being normal. Do you have any kind of idea how big of a deal that is?

My bloodwork has improved.

I can feel strength returning to my body.

My mind works again. I mean REALLY works. Works so that I can write. Works so that I can function.

I’m not independent yet. I have another two years of drugs ahead of me. I still can’t drive. I’m still in pain. I am still fatigued.

But I am healing. I am alive. And finally my horizons are expanding rather than contracting, after just one year of intensive antibiotic therapy on top of all the other good things I was already doing.

I should be overjoyed.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I am overjoyed. My husband is. My family are.This is the best of news.

It’s just that I am also so very achingly sad right now.

As I stood in the shower on Sunday, Mother’s Day, I cried. Because of Lyme I have miscarried five times. I shall never be a mother. Lyme took that from me, and so much more.

My husband gave up his career to care for me, and it is too late for him to get that career back. The career that was his passion, his pride, his life.

We have both missed out on family time, and time with friends. Our finances and future security have been impacted, and our resources dwindled in my pursuit of health. Over the years we have watched genuine caring doctors, willing to think outside the box for patients like me who had fallen through the cracks, be persecuted and closed down.

Because of Lyme I have given up career paths, education, business opportunities, dreams, relationships. I have said no to so many things. I have been unreliable in my life, and with those I love. I have endured the criticism, judgement and contempt of many, including health professionals, family and friends. I have been in bed, in a quiet dark room, or living small, while life moved on without me.

I will never get those years back. My husband will never get those years back.

I held my Lyme drugs in my hand this morning. A few tiny pills. Pills that are making me well. Pills that could also have given me a whole other life, if I had only taken them earlier. I have recently learned that my government was advised back in 1990 that Lyme disease existed in Australia, and that doctors needed to be educated to better deal with this new threat, which was expected to become more common.

lyme letter

Imagine, if I had been diagnosed back then, at a time when I was already so ill, when my family and I had already suffered so much.

I’m grateful for all that this disease has taught me. I’ve learned humility and compassion. I can honestly say that living with Lyme has grown and shaped me in positive ways. It has forced me to walk a spiritual path, and to explore that path with a dogged determination as I looked for answers.

But in the end, my answer came largely from modern medicine. Alternative medicine and my spiritual practices kept me alive, against all hope. Modern medicine is what is giving me my life back. Antibiotics, anti-microbials, anti-malarials. Tiny little pills.

All that misery, all that pain which my family and I might have been avoided if only I’d been diagnosed earlier and been given those tiny little pills.

2013-07-12 08.28.13

For all of you dealing with Lyme and its co-infections, I urge you not to give up. Healing is possible. I am healing. You can too. Something in the mix will work for you, as it has for me.

This bittersweet symphony that is life is still beautiful to me, and I am grateful beyond words to be given a way back to health.

I am also grateful with everything that I am for all of you who have encouraged and supported me, who have sent me messages and cards and gifts that were often the ONLY bright moment in the darkest of my days. You deserve credit too, for keeping me alive and helping me to hang in there. Thank you.

Yesterday as much as I celebrated this glorious victory, this incredible come-back in the fight to become well, I mourned my losses, and grieved the life I gave up on the way to becoming who I am. I know that there is more loss there yet to be acknowledged. I know that grief can tap me on the shoulder, and cut me off at the knees when I least expect it. That’s okay. It’s part of my healing process too.

Today I am stepping forward with optimism, and renewed purpose. My life matters. I am here for a reason. In stripping so much of my life away I have come to know my core, my essence, and I know this next part of my journey is to embrace that fully.

I love that I am healing. I love that there is still time for me, and that I will be well enough to use that time to a greater purpose.

My progress is heartbreakingly wonderful news.

love-quotes-on-life-193

Some useful links:

Lyme Disease Association of Australia

Karl McManus Foundation Australia

Lyme Disease Association, Inc United States

The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

#Lymetime – The Big Day Looms…

Image by KicsterAsh

Image by KicsterAsh

“I still think that everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a singular tragic encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. That moment is the catalyst – the first step in the equation. But knowing the first step will get you nowhere – it’s what comes after that determines the result.” 
Robyn SchneiderThe Beginning of Everything

 

It’s a little over a year since I began my treatment for Lyme and various co-infections, and this morning my husband is taking me back to my doctor to get the results of a huge barrage of tests to see what progress I have actually made since beginning my drug and herb regime.

There will be a lot to talk about. In this past month I have had brain scans, heart scans, bone scans, and innumerable blood tests. Among other things…

I admit to being nervous. I want for this appointment to go well. I want to hold in my hands some tangible proof that all of this suffering has been worth it in the name of progress.

Truth be told, despite the horrendous nature of the drugs, and the herxing, and the misery, I really do believe that I have turned the corner. My brain is working again. I can feel a strength in me that wasn’t there even a month ago. But will this feeling translate into some kind of scientific evidence?

Yes, I am the psychic who needs proof. I don’t want to trust ‘just a feeling’. I want that feeling validated by objective data!

This morning I’ve meditated, sipped tea, hurried down a little food so that I could take my meds, and now I’m dressed and ready to go just as the sun is coming up. It’s a long drive, and today I will be the first appointment in my doctor’s day. Oh, the butterflies in my stomach. Oh, the apprehension.

Fingers crossed…

I promise I’ll let you know how it all goes. :)

Zucchini Bread Recipe – Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free

2014-04-26 12.13.16

“When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat.” ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

 

I should have titled this post The Great Zucchini Loaf Challenge! I have a friend who is always telling me that they positively hate zucchini. This friend last ate zucchini thirty years ago at boarding school. They tell me often that it is a waste of a vegetable, that it tastes like soggy watery nothing and that no-one in their right mind should enjoy it. Boarding school ruined many culinary experiences for my very food-unadventurous friend.

However, I have witnessed this same friend gorging on stuffed deep-fried zucchini flowers with no idea what they were eating! They maintain that they positively hate beetroot but once gobbled down almost an entire chocolate beetroot cake I’d made. When I explained that beetroot was the main ingredient they just shrugged their shoulders and smiled as they stuffed the last crumbs into their mouth. I knew they’d eat zucchini in a cake, so I decided to bake some zucchini bread to prove my point.

But I’m back on my Lyme drugs, and following a fairly strict diet. It seemed so unfair that I would make a delicious cake that I then couldn’t eat! So I have modified the ingredients so that this cake is healthy, delicious and suitable for people like me who are on restricted diets. Let me assure you that the modifications in no way limited the yumminess.

Some people don’t like the taste of gluten-free flours, but the spices and flavourings I’ve added totally mask them. This cake is moist, flavoursome, full of nutritional value and so scrummy that people who cringe at the words ‘gluten-free’, let alone ‘sugar-free’, shall chomp it all up in happy oblivion.

As predicted, my zucchini-loathing friend adored this recipe and even asked if I could make it for them again once they knew what was in it!

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Ingredients:

1 cup of plain gluten-free flour mix, 1/2 cup of almond meal, 3 teaspoons of baking powder (I use Wards, which is gluten-free),1 cup of grated raw zucchini, 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts, finely grated zest of one lime and 1 tablespoon of lime juice (a lemon can be substituted), 3 heaped tablespoons of Natvia or your favourite sugar substitute (if you are happy to use sugar use 2/3 to 1 cup of raw sugar – to your taste), 2 large eggs (vegans – use your favourite egg substitute or 1/2 cup of mashed banana), 1/3 cup of oil of your choice (olive, coconut, rice-bran, vegetable etc), 1/4 cup of coconut milk (or soy, almond etc), pinch of good quality salt (I like pink Himalayan), 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 level teaspoon of ginger powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste.

Notes: If you need this recipe to be tree-nut free just use more gluten-free flour instead of the almond meal, and omit the walnuts. A nice variation would be to replace the walnuts with finely chopped dried apricots.

The lime tang is quite prominent in this recipe. If you don’t like a citrus flavour swap the lime or lemon out and use an extra tablespoon of coconut (or your favourite) milk.

You can also make this recipe with conventional wheat flour if you prefer.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a loaf tin (23cm x 12cm – 9 inch x 5 inch) with baking paper.

Place the flour, baking powder, almond meal, walnuts and spices in a large bowl and mix well to combine.

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Put the grated zucchini in some paper kitchen towel and gently press the liquid out of it, then place it into another large bowl. Add the natvia or sugar, the two eggs, the oil, vanilla, lime zest and juice, and the coconut (or other) milk. Stir until well combined.

Now add the wet mix to the dry mixture and stir well to combine. The mixture will look quite wet. Don’t panic.

The picture below shows my wet mix BEFORE I added turmeric, which was a last-minute flash of inspiration.

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Pour the mixture into your prepared tin. (See what a gorgeous colour the turmeric gives the batter!)

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Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake springs back lightly when pressed in the centre, and a skewer inserted in cake comes out clean.

Cool in tin for five minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

Serve with a mug of your favourite beverage. The bread will keep for about a week (if it lasts that long) and toasts well after it is a day old.

You could get fancy and ice or glaze the zucchini bread, or serve it buttered (or use your usual non-dairy spread). It is also lovely served slightly warm with a dollop of yogurt or coconut cream. Enjoy! :)

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A Boat Called Insomnia

Tattered Sails by Joe Bonita

Tattered Sails by Joe Bonita

“But Pooh couldn’t sleep. The more he tried to sleep the more he couldn’t. He tried counting Sheep, which is sometimes a good way of getting to sleep, and, as that was no good, he tried counting Heffalumps. And that was worse. Because every Heffalump that he counted was making straight for a pot of Pooh’s honey, and eating it all. For some minutes he lay there miserably, but when the five hundred and eighty-seventh Heffalump was licking its jaws, and saying to itself, “Very good honey this, I don’t know when I’ve tasted better,” Pooh could bear it no longer.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

 

Insomnia is a boat that travels a vast ocean.

The motor of this boat has broken.

The sails are torn to tatters by some long-ago storm that everyone only vaguely remembers.

The boat itself is enormous and seemingly deserted, but once you have walked her decks a while you realise that some of your friends are stuck aboard too, although you may never meet in these rusty corridors.

Insomnia is a boat that makes you rage inside from futility.

But when the rage abates you find that there is something beautiful about the haunted emptiness, the quiet solitude, and the stopping of all movement which leaves you stranded in the company of your good self.

Insomnia is a place for soul poetry and cups of tea, a journey to acceptance of whatever is, and, eventually, at some point beyond this horizon, shipwreck on the shore of dreams.

Catching My Breath

Image from ScienceLakes

Image from ScienceLakes

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” 
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

 

The past few days have been a bumpier ride than I had expected. I’m off my Lyme drugs while I get all my various tests done, and I’d hoped it would be a picnic.

I was wrong.

Some of the symptoms I thought I’d done with came back with a vengeance. The severe pain I endured last week abated, only to be replaced with a different kind of pain.

Meditation. That’s what’s gotten me through. Again. Thank goodness for my daily practice, for that life-saving place of calm and peace.

I know this will all ease eventually, if I just stick with the treatment protocol. In fact, I already feel better than I did a few days ago.

Problem is, I don’t ever get a proper break from Lyme. I can’t take the weekend off from being in my body. This is the poor broken body I’ve been living in for years. I love it, and I’m grateful for it, but sometimes it all gets too much and I wish I could run away and be someone else for a few days, or me, but in another better-working body.

That’s the truth of it.

But we all feel like that sometimes, don’t we?

One thing I know for sure – meditation helps.

Here are a few guided meditations I recorded earlier. Perhaps you might find them helpful for you right now. Follow the post links to access the recordings:

  1. ♥ Guided Meditation for healing Inflammation and Dis-ease
  2. Bee Breath Meditation for reducing stress and opening and healing the Throat Chakra
  3. Tibetan Singing Bowl Healing Meditation
  4. Guided Meditation for Emotional Support

Know that you’re in my thoughts, prayers and daily meditations,

I’m wishing you peace in your heart today.

♥ Nicole xx

And if you want to know more about Lyme, this terrific documentary, Under Our Skin, is a great place to start. It’s movie length, but well worth it. That’s my life, people. That’s my life…

Measuring Progress

“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.
If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” 
~ C.S. Lewis

 

I spent the morning with my Lyme doctor yesterday. It’s been over a year since I embarked on a strict regime of diet, supplements, herbs and industrial quantities of various drug combinations. On top of my pre-existing meditation and alternate therapy practices that have kept me alive and functioning thus far, defying conventional prognosis.

Yesterday was all about evaluating my progress this past year, and determining our next course of action.

I went to my appointment armed with a list of symptoms: those which had improved, those which had worsened, new symptoms and those which have resolved and gone away. My list was only slightly shorter than War and Peace.

Image from Claire in London

Image from Claire in London

So, how did I go?

I can’t actually tell you yet.

I have a fistful of blood work tests that need to be done. I have to pee in a jar and poop in a cup.

I have to make appointments for a brain MRI, ultrasounds and scans of various organs and body parts. There is every kind of test for my heart.

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And in the meantime I shall be drug and herb free. Two glorious weeks without this punishing regime of horrors. I feel like a kid at the beginning of summer vacation, with all those beautiful clear days stretched out ahead of me.

Once my results are in, we’ll formulate a new treatment plan, my doctors, alternate therapy practitioners and I.

I am looking forward to comparing where I am now with the results of previous tests and scans. I am hoping for good progress.

In the past thirty years, while I have dealt with declining health, often the only way to evaluate my progress or response to various healing agents was how I felt. I know lots of people who use that technique for evaluating their progress with Lyme treatments. And I think that is valid to some extent. If you feel better, you must BE better, right? And if you feel worse…

Truth is, I have felt WORSE, sometimes much worse, over the course of the previous year, as I have knuckled down and followed this healing path.

And I have had many times in my life where I have experienced a lessening of symptoms, or an upward swing for a while. When you live with chronic illness any kind of better day or improvement in energy and function, even if that improvement is marginal, seems like a really BIG thing.

But until last year, few of my improvements have ever lasted. And scientific evaluation of my condition over time, using evidence based medicine, prove that prior to 2013 I continued to deteriorate. Although, in my defense, I have stubbornly refused to die, even if that was my expected trajectory! :)

So, I welcome this next barrage of tests. I welcome being able to use the best that science and modern medicine can give me. I want to be able to critically evaluate what’s working, what isn’t, and working out from there where we go next. Yes, I am the psychic who embraces quantifiable results and proof of change!

I am hoping for measurable improvement. I’ll keep you posted as to how I go.

Image from Chronicles of Illusions

Image from Chronicles of Illusions

PS :) Thank you to everyone who has contacted me with advice and suggestions.   Some of your ideas and treatments have been happily embraced by myself and my very open-minded doctors. An especially big thank you to all the lymies who have given me tips on coping with herxing or who have suggested alternate therapies, herbs, essential oils and so on to compliment my current drug regime.

Thank you to my friends and readers. Your healing energies, prayers, letters and words of encouragement have meant the world to me, and have kept me going through the darkest of times.

 

And for all if the people who have contacted me with suggestions about changing my obviously-flawed thinking which caused my disease (Dude, get with the 21st century – they are actually called pathogens and you can see them under a microscope!) , repenting of sins, God’s cursing of psychics, past life regressions as THE definitive treatment, multi-level marketing product miracle cures accompanied by pages of written testimonials about people feeling better, and stories of people who have cured their Lyme disease with a crystal, drinking their own urine (I went there already and it didn’t work!) thirty-day water fast (tried that too), psychic surgery,  amazing technological device or  a simple solution of bi-carb soda or other common household product, thank you. I’m always opening to expanding my knowledge and trying new things. However… If you can claim a cause or cure, I would appreciate your evidence and long-term results to back this up.

A Short Walk

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“Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors…disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.”
~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

 

I’ve been cooped up for days, and yesterday afternoon I just needed to be outside. I’m not up for walking far right now. One of the meds I’m on for my lyme treatment has a potential side effect of stiffening ligaments and tendons, giving them increased risk of tear or rupture. Getting into bed last week I did my knee. As I lifted it off the floor I heard it go pop, pop, pop like a zipper unzipping, and the next thing I knew my knee hurt A LOT, and then of course it swelled. Off to the awesome physiotherapist (Thanks Simone!) next morning and then my knee had to be iced, elevated, strapped and rested.

On top of everything else…

But isn’t that always the way? :)

Yesterday I took a short stroll (hobble actually) around my front yard. Just to breathe the air, fresh from rain. Just to feel the sun on my skin. To put my face against the bark of a tree.

I stood outside and drew some breaths deep into my body. It made me feel better.

Maybe a short stroll might help you too.

Here’s my walk, in pictures…

Lilies in the cattle trough.

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Orchids flourishing in a crevice of the fig tree.

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Gazing up through the branches of the fig tree, my face pressed to its cool bark.

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Blue sky peeking through the clouds.

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The Hoop Pine in our front yard. Just beyond the fence is the eucalypt glade where Mr Grunty, the big male koala hangs out.

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Late afternoon view down to our front gate.2014-03-31 17.26.03Thanks for coming with me on my little stroll.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

 

The Power of Story

Image by Kathy Fornal

Image by Kathy Fornal

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” 
~ Philip Pullman

 

The past few days have been rough for me. It’s a lyme thing. Partly because of the pathogens that have invaded and taken up residence in my body and partly because of the ongoing treatment to evict them.

I’ve been in excruciating pain. Pain that sets my face into hard lines during the day. Pain that has me whimpering, crying and howling in agony each night. The pain has been slowly escalating over the past few weeks, and now, at its crescendo, my bedroom is no longer a refuge. Nights no longer bracket my days with healing sleep. Instead I descend the stairs into a fiery hell.

I keep everyone awake; my husband, the dogs… even when they sleep in the guest room. My muffled sobs and screams are difficult for them to hear. They find it hard to settle, and they want to be near me, as much as I keep sending them away.

The night before last Ben stole back to our room and held my hand as I struggled. Nothing was helping.

Finally, he began to tell me a story. A story about a little girl who wakes up in a big old house in the middle of the night. She is wide awake and the rest of the house is fast asleep.

She takes her small suitcase and goes to the kitchen, where she packs a few snacks.

Image from Pickcute

Image from Pickcute

“What are the snacks?” I ask.

“Two small square sandwiches, four biscuits and a pot of jam.”

In my head I see each of these things. I wonder about the size of the sandwiches. I wonder about many things. It prompts another question. “What kind of jam?”

“Strawberry.” He strokes my hair tenderly and goes on with the story.

The little girl opens the big front door and heads off into the moonlight.

Soon she comes to a pink forest. All the trees are pink. Their trunks are like glass, lit from within so that they create a soft pink glow. Their leaves are every other shade of pink.

As Ben is creating this imaginary world I am still convulsing and writhing in pain. Tears are streaming down my face. But my mind is no longer so distressed because I am now the little girl wandering alone through this glorious pink forest while the rest of the world sleeps.

Some time in the early morning, I fall asleep for a few merciful hours. And when I wake up my head is still filled with pictures of this night-time escapade.

Over a cup of afternoon tea I ask Ben something that I have been pondering all day. “What is the ground in the pink forest made out of? Is it grass? Or dirt? Or snow? Or something else?”

“I’m sorry,” he says, smiling. “I can only tell this story at night. You’ll have to ask me then.”

Finally, amid all of this current misery, something to look forward to. My beautiful husband is helping me reclaim my nights instead of fearing them.

Image from HDWallIMG

Image from HDWallIMG