Doctor, Doctor…

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

 

When do you accept your current circumstances, and when do you keep fighting for change?

As someone who has lived with chronic illness and limitation for much of their life, this is a question I often ask myself.

I’m off to a new doctor today. Well, not so new. I’ve seen them twice before. I hesitate to write anything else at all about them, such is the culture of bullying and persecution that exists for doctors brave enough to diagnose and treat lyme disease here in Australia.

Anyway…

I saw my first lyme doctor back in 2013. They treated me with a hardcore regime of antibiotics and antibacterials, supplements and diet – saving my life and reversing many of my symptoms. But their practice was closed down fourteen months later, leaving me part-way through my treatment protocol and scrambling to find competent care.

I finally found another doctor to take me on.

Only to have that practice close down too.

I managed to cobble together a treatment plan and find other doctors who would treat me ‘under the radar’ but who couldn’t prescribe the drugs I needed to complete my treatment.

I improved a little more, and stabilised.

But slowly the old symptoms began to return, no matter what I did. Peripheral neuropathy, pain, rashes, facial numbness, exhaustion, mental confusion, neurological incontinence and lyme bladder, terrible headaches, eye pain, loss of vision, impaired balance, slow reflexes, sleep disturbance, fevers, sweats, heart problems.

Then I ended up with the flu at Easter, after which my old Lyme symptoms raged with a vengeance. My thyroid function has been almost destroyed, and my antibodies are off the chart. I have ongoing heart problems and vision disturbance which has not improved.

To have been on the road to well, and then to slide back again is terrifying.

To have gained function and then lost it again has been mental torture.

In early March, while I was in the Philipines I made the decision that I would leave Australia if necessary, to access the drugs and treatment that have been proven to lead me to recovery.

When I came home from Cebu someone in my circle directed me to this doctor, and told me they had discussed me with them, and that they would help me.

So, off I go today. I no longer even sit in a hopeful space. I am resolved and resigned. This is my new Plan A. But I have a Plan B and a Plan C too.

I know I can have a better quality of life. I’ve experienced that. And having tasted it I want more.

I’m not done fighting.

So, I’ll keep you posted. Fingers crossed this one is the last doctor I need for a long while.

The Power of Positive Self Talk

“You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it’s enough. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. Never give up.”
~ Richelle E. Goodrich

 

Sometimes I have to pull out everything in my bag of tricks in order to rise above my current circumstances. Like right now, flat on my back in bed right when I’d been planning a million other things…

One thing I have found invaluable in that bag of tricks is simply talking out loud to myself.

I know. That’s what crazy people do. Right?

That may well be, but research shows that talking to yourself can have a profound positive impact on your motivation and coping skills.

You might have read my blog post earlier this year about being in resistance to choosing my One Big Thing for 2016, where I asked myself Nicole, what’s really going on? You’ll notice that I talk to myself and call myself by name.

I have talked to myself out loud for many years through my illness and despair. Almost always, the words I have used are as a coach, encouraging myself…

Nicole, you can do this. Nicole, you are stronger than this. Come on, Nic, get up and keep going. Nic, you’ll find a way. Nic, you’ll heal this. You’ll get past this.

Talking to yourself is also known as self-talk. All of us run a continuous dialogue with ourselves, but it’s usually in our heads. And often, we aren’t very supportive or kind to ourselves. But when we do start to harness the power of speaking with kindness and encouragement to ourselves, things can really change.

Image by serg_dibrova

Image by serg_dibrova

Studies show that speaking out loud and shifting from using the pronoun ‘I’ to addressing as ‘you’ has a powerful impact on our self-regulatory behaviours, beliefs and actions. To amplify the effect further, call yourself by your name.

Talking out loud to ourselves is the same as having someone else talk to us. It engages a different part of our brain. We listen and consume the message in a completely different way to the way we pay attention to a thought. Talking out loud cuts through our mental chatter and gets the message noticed. And addressing ourselves in the third person (*you) rather than the first ( *I ) moves us away from fear, which clouds our judgement and prevents us from thinking clearly.

Research has proven that talking out loud to yourself can:

  1. Reduce pain scores
  2. Increase coping skills
  3. Improve state of mind
  4. Increase emotional and physical resilience
  5. Improve focus and attention
  6. Heighten the learning state
  7. Strengthen determination
  8. Speed healing
  9. Create and maintain a positive outlook
  10. Build self-acceptance and self-esteem
  11. Better manage stress
  12. Improve physical and emotional health

The way we talk to ourselves matters. It is a simple way that we can help and support ourselves.

We can tell ourselves a different story – one that overwrites the narrative of not-good-enough or never-changing that we (or others) may have been telling ourselves for years.

Speak your name out loud, and give yourself the words that can help you change your life. Talk yourself through the difficulties, the decisions, the hard times. Be your own wise coach and cheer squad. I promise it will make a positive difference in your day.

All my love, Nicole❤ xx

 

Nurse Bert Reports

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“To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect. You just have to care.”   ~ Mandy Hale

 

 

I’m not letting her out of my sight.

Nicole, that is.

Because she’s still really sick.

I’m making her rest. I’m following her if she needs to get out of bed. I want her to know that my job is to look after her. And I take my job very seriously.

Human peoples, Nicole is resting. Rest can make you better. So can love. So I am making sure she has both.

Maybe you need some rest and some love too. I think it is very good medicine.

That’s all for now.

Love from Nurse Bert

xoxo

 

Packing My Suitcase…

“Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both “at one with” and “separate from” the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as “learning to survive” is fundamental to the body. These discoveries are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.”
~ Roman Payne

 

Today I’ll be packing my suitcase. You see, I’m finally well enough to travel. (Fingers crossed, touch wood., etc..)

I’m flying out of Australia tomorrow to attend a conference in the Philippines. It’s my first trip since I was diagnosed with Lyme. It’s also my first solo overseas adventure as an adult. Usually my darling husband Ben is with me, holding my hand, guiding me places, organising everything.

Ben does so much for me, and has done since shortly after we were married. It’s not that I’m a hopeless, helpless creature by nature. Once upon a time I was fiercely independent. But my health has slowly been deteriorating since I was at high school, and for many years my cognitive function and my balance and coordination were so poor that if I didn’t rely on Ben I would never have been able to go anywhere.

I am the Queen of my Domain inside the house, and as long as circumstances are tightly controlled I totally rock within a narrow band of activities. I give the appearance of being high-functioning because I have crafted my life around my limitations.

That hit me last night. Effectively, Ben has been my human guide-dog for all of our twenty years of togetherness.

As my heath deteriorated, so did my confidence. Ben has been able to facilitate the illusion of my independence so capably and unobtrusively that even I had bought into the myth.

I keep reminding myself that I’m much more well now. My brain works. Unless I’m tired or very stressed. My body mostly does too. Still, it’s more scary than I’d realised, contemplating this solo adventure.

And that worrying chest pain, which two years of intensive antibiotics had completely banished, has just recently made a reappearance. That’s okay. I can live with that. I did for years before, didn’t I? See, it sits there quietly now and I’m still functioning and okay. It won’t be a problem. Anyway, I have health insurance and the Philippines has doctors and hospitals.

Our wonderful travel agent has organised for me to fly as far as Singapore, get off and sleep in an airport motel for the night, and then travel on to Cebu the next day. A leisurely trip. Not much to worry about or to exhaust me. I can even access one of those little buggies that takes the old and the afflicted between terminals or across long airport distances. I’m hopeful I can stride out on my own, but I’m not above asking for help if the long flight leaves me so stiff that I can only manage a limpy lurch by the time I disembark. Still, I’ve checked all the details a million times, and worried about it all.

My packing is a little hilarious. I have my laptop, notebooks, pencil case, Year of ME Planner, oracle cards and a few little crystals.And my iPad. And my phone. Yes, I need all of them. And the chargers. And the power adaptor.

I have a quarter of my suitcase devoted to herbs and supplements, medications and first-aid requisites I actually can’t do without.

And then there are the additional issues I might need to consider. Will my neurological incontinence play up? (Thank you, Lyme!) Hmmm. If so, I need to bring incontinence pads and some big-girl pull-ups. (Which induced a worrying amount of God, what if my bladder gives way on the plane? thoughts. The only way to avert disaster is to plan for it and wear something just in case the worst happens. Sigh.) Can you buy adult incontinence products in Cebu? Better pack some, just in case, although I hope I won’t need them.

Will the pain in my legs keep me up at night? Should I pack magnesium gel and some liniment? Yep, I’d better. I haven’t managed more than a night or two without these things in the past three years. Which means I’ll need to pack my essential oils too. Can’t sleep or function some days without them.

Oh. My bag is nearly full, and I haven’t added clothes yet.

Luckily the Philippines is balmy. I won’t need many clothes. Most of what I need can actually be packed in my carry-on luggage. (How ridiculous, right?)

This time tomorrow I shall be taking one last cafe trip with Harry and Ben, before we have cuddles all round and then I am dropped at the airport.

Scary good!

I keep thinking of Helen Keller’s quote – Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

I’m sure I’ll be just fine.

 

Choosing Your Emotional State

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” ~ Walter Anderson

 

I travelled to see a new Lyme doctor yesterday. In Australia they are getting harder and harder to come by. This one lives hours from my home, so we allocated an entire day and my husband Ben drove me. I am still not up to driving most days, and certainly not a trip of this distance.

After 2 years of intense antibiotic therapy which saved my life, I was unable to find anyone to continue my treatment, and had to stop midway through a program of therapy. Why? My first doctor was shut down, and my second stepped away from practice. My third doctor wouldn’t treat me because of the risks to their career, although they were happy to supervise me on the protocols of a previous doctor until my medications ran out. so, like at many other times in my life I was back to doing my own doctoring.My fourth doctor, the one who initially diagnosed me, still refuses to treat me because it’s ‘too controversial’ – although they will put me on a ‘wellness program’.

Since then I’ve supported myself with herbs, diet, essential oils, acupuncture and detoxing. I have a good GP who is supportive but doesn’t know anything about Lyme. I’d been doing pretty well, apart from a few hospitalisations. But now my chest pain is coming back, and some other worrying symptoms. Symptoms that recently eased when I went on a course of antibiotics for something entirely unrelated. So I know I need to be back under the care of a lyme literate doctor.

To be honest, yesterday was a difficult day. As we drove I knew that my friend Liz was above me in the sky somewhere, winging her way to Hawaii with her family. After a recent cancer prognosis Liz knows she has a very short time left on this earth. I was thinking of her, and the conflicting emotions she would be feeling as she made the journey for what might be her last holiday with her loved ones.

When I wasn’t thinking about Liz I was reviewing my thick folder of health notes. These aren’t all my notes and results. Just the ones from the last few years. The entirety of my notes fills a filing cabinet, and that isn’t even all of them. In fact, in peaks of chagrin or frustration I have thrown many away.

As I looked through my medical files, I became increasingly distressed. I’ve been seriously ill since my late teens. This illness has shaped my entire adult life. Restricted my life. Impaired my life. Almost ended my life on more than one occasion.

I looked at all of the notes from doctors and specialists and natural therapists who didn’t believe me, or put the blame on me when I didn’t respond to treatment. I looked at all of my various diagnoses and treatment plans stretching back to my late teens, when I first became very ill.  I am now nearing fifty and was only given a Lyme diagnosis in early 2013. I could fill a notebook with the diagnoses I’ve had before that.

I thought about all of the doctors whose practices have been shut down over the years for electing to help people like me who are falling through the cracks of the medical system.

I thought of the people I know who have suicided because of Lyme when they couldn’t take the pain anymore, couldn’t see a way out, were getting worse despite their best efforts, couldn’t find any support, or whose loved ones grew weary of the burden of their care. Of all of the sufferers who have never been believed or taken seriously, although they are desperately ill.

I thought of all of the lyme sufferers I know who have died from this disease, or the complications that have arisen from this disease.

I thought of how much money and time I have thrown at this, for such limited results.

And I got angry.

So here I was. Angry and nervous.

Nervous because what if this new doctor turned me away? What if they didn’t believe me?

I forgot to say fearful. I was fearful too. Because I am so much better than I have been and this chest pain is awful and I am so frightened of sliding back to where I was. Or worse.

By the time we arrived at our destination I was a churning mess, although I was trying to hold onto optimism.

The appointment itself was frustrating. The doctor wants more information. They are being very careful. Who wouldn’t, in a climate of such persecution of medicos? While they review all my recent results from the past few years, and discuss my case, I will wait. Hopefully this doctor will then take me on and I will finally have a supervised course of action.

As we drove home in a car filled with silence, I came to a profound understanding.

Most of my life I have faced hardship, especially in regard to my health. Despite that I have remained optimistic. I have made plans. I have held to a vision of a positive future. I have lived despite my disease.

This year I have so many lovely things organised. I am blessed with my husband and the love of my two crazy hounds. My little farm fills my soul with peace. I am well enough to work. I am finally well enough to travel. (Yes, I have chest pain and yes that freaks me out, but I have travelled and lived with this before and been fine, and if I croak it, it won’t matter anyway!)

So I decided yesterday that what matters most is my attitude. I just can’t afford to get bogged down in the injustice and awfulness of it all. I can’t get bogged down in my own personal history. I can’t even get bogged down in my current situation. I have to stop opening that damned folder! I need to rise above this, to turn my face towards the sun and stop looking behind me.

When I think of my plans and I sit in gratitude for my life, I can still be happy. I can still feel good inside.

That dark bird of death always sits on my shoulder. Just as she follows each one of us. But I am comfortable with her now, and she helps me to remember what is important and good in my life. Her presence is a blessing because I am reminded to live mindfully, to chose what matters and to live that. No more for me the life of an automaton. I cannot take life for granted and I won’t.

None of it matters, really. We will all die. We don’t know when. But while we are alive, we can live. And what we choose to think and focus on colours every single day.

I cannot always choose my outcomes or my circumstances, but I can choose my thinking. And that is a powerful place to be.

 

 

The Best Spagyric Tincture Deal You’ll See All Year!

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“A wise man ought to realize that health is his most valuable possession.” ~ Hippocrates

 

Those of you who follow my blog know that one of the factors that has been instrumental in my healing journey with Lyme has been to take the Mare Maia herbal spagyric tinctures that have been so carefully and loving crafted using organic plants and time-old methods by my friends Paul Hardacre and Marissa Newell in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

These beautiful alchemical formulas support a return to balance and health from a myriad of conditions, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

 

Paul explains what makes Spagyric tinctures different to ordinary homeopathic or plant-based remedies:

“Spagyric tinctures are alchemical plant medicines that offer a more energetically complete herb or plant extraction. These concentrated extractions contain the three essentials – that is, the body, soul and spirit – of the herb or plant, purified and recombined in an exalted medicinal form. The spagyric technique is part of the ancient initiatic tradition of alchemy – the Art that lies at the heart of the inner traditions of the West.

Ordinary herbal tinctures only partially utilise the curative powers of the plants from which they are prepared. Spagyric tinctures are made according to unique processes which ‘open’ the plant or herb and liberate stronger curative powers. The spagyric technique of confecting herbal remedies embodies another – more synergistic – way of considering Nature and its powers.”

Paul and Marissa became interested in spagyrics and the restorative properties of plants after too many of their loved ones suffered and died with little recourse or support from conventional medicine. Theirs is a small family business, and they are involved in every aspect of the creation of each batch of tincture. They’ve been dear friends of mine for over two decades, and when they found out how ill I was they dispatched the first of many of their tinctures to me.

I can vouch for their tinctures’ efficacy because I’ve been using them for a prolonged period with great results. The tinctures harness the best of a plant’s healing powers, and as an energetically sensitive person I can really feel the strength and clarity of each brew.

On my desk beside me at all times I have Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Lemon Balm and Turmeric. I also have a current love affair with Raw Cacao and Digestive Blend.

So – the good news. If you need to re-order, or you’ve been thinking about getting some, now is the time to buy!

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The Mare Maia Laboratory is relocating, so until this Friday 19th of February, you can buy any three tinctures and receive an additional two tinctures for free. Your purchases will directly and meaningfully help Paul and Marissa to relocate and to expand their current family business, as well as benefiting yourself and securing a massive bargain.

You can go here to read more about the tinctures, and to order:

Mare Maia Relocation Sale

Please feel free to share this post with your friends and family. Let’s spread the word about Paul and Marissa’s wonderful herbal tinctures and help more people to benefit from their work. Thank you.

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Want to Join Me For A Ten Day Health Challenge?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
~ Helen Keller

 

In ten days we’ll be looking at the end of January – the end of the first month of this new year.

I know. You said things would be different this year.

And I also know that some of you are already flagging. (Are you using my Planner? I promise that will make things easier!)

Sometimes, in order to affect change, we need to make new habits. We need to do things differently than we did before. You know this already, on a head level. You may have even tried to make changes in the past. But many of us have not been good at keeping promises to ourselves. Our commitment muscles have become weak. We don’t trust ourselves anymore. It becomes easier and easier to quit on ourselves and our own goals, even as we are holding up the rest of the world with one hand, encouraging and supporting everyone else.

So I propose a Challenge.

Ten days of completing a simple task each day. Every day.

Ten days are enough to start getting into the groove of a new habit. Ten days are enough to see and feel a change. Ten days are enough to find out that we CAN keep our promises to ourselves. We can finish January strong. We can build belief that will help move us through the rest of our year with more confidence and tenacity.

The skills we learn by sticking to one small commitment can then be applied to the bigger things we hope to achieve for ourselves.

No matter what your plans this year, or your One Big Thing, I’m encouraging you to choose a simple health focus for the next ten days. Why? Because you live in your body! Because nothing works well when we don’t have our health. Good health choices are a kindness to ourselves. They are self-care in action. And these choices help us to feel better about ourselves on every level.

Image from cuebc.ca

Image from cuebc.ca

Make your choice a small one. You’ve got lots of other stuff going on. Don’t overwhelm yourselves. Not sure what to choose? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Drink two litres of water each day
  • Eat breakfast
  • Walk every day
  • Yoga stretches each day
  • Make my own healthy lunch instead of take-out
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Green juice every day
  • Eat a particular way (doctor or health specialist recommended, paleo, weight watchers, gluten-free, coffee-free, whatever-way-of-eating-you’ve-been-half-assed-about-in-the-past)
  • Daily exercise of my choice
  • No screens (phones, computers, TV, tablets) for an hour before bed, and none in the bedroom
  • Daily power nap
  • Eat mindfully, at the table
  • Daily fresh juice or smoothie
  • Daily short meditation (I have lots of free ones here on my site – just put ‘meditation’ in the search bar)
  • Take my vitamins, supplements, magical potions every day
  • Ditch junk food and sugar
  • Stop eating/drinking that thing you know you need to!
  • Connect with someone you love and who loves you – by phone, skype or face-to-face. We all need connection.
  • Healthy snacks instead of chocolate and donuts
  • Cut down or cut out alcohol
  • Daily grounding with bare feet on the earth
  • Use essential oils daily, on yourself or in your diffuser
  • Time in nature
  • Sunshine
  • Enough sleep
  • Short breaks and mini-holidays or adventures each day
  • Move my body, every day, for ten minutes – my choice of movement!

Are you with me? Feel free to write your name below in the comments, along with your ten-day focus. And join us over on facebook, where I will be posting daily updates and encouragement, and where you can share your own progress.