Gumboot Adventure and a Lyme Update


“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.” 
~ Edward Abbey

*Note: I recommend reading all the way to the end of this post. Past the pictures even. Oh yes, I do.

People are always asking how I am and I almost always say ‘fine, thanks’.

Truth is, I have advanced late-stage Lyme disease, and as with any chronic degenerative illness I have a catalogue of woes so to actually tell you how I am might take hours. Boring. I’m over it long ago. So ‘fine’ or ‘okay’ mostly does the job. I manage. Many days are great, and I am working, living and making the most of what I can. Happy, happy. I don’t dwell on my health or lack thereof.

Mostly.

I’ll level with you, though. The last few days have been rough.

I’m miserable right now.

I picked up a cough while visiting Ben’s mum in the nursing home. After four weeks it has steadily become worse and I can’t shake it. Because of that, my UTI flared up. I’ve been peeing five times a night and my bladder is agonisingly sore. I have been feeling myself slowing getting more run down no matter how good my self-care and health care has been.

So I started on new Chinese herbs two days ago for my latest infections. Great news – they’re working! Less great news? They are also killing Lyme Bugs so I am herxing like crazy as the Lyme dies and releases toxins into my already overloaded body. My eyes are red and streaming and only one is working, only one side of my face is mobile and responsive, my skin is on fire, I’m photophobic, I have stabby pains and night sweats and swollen glands and bone aches and head aches and nerve spasms and tender teeth and numb fingers and toes and neurological incontinence (I wee my pants for no reason!) and generally more misery than I remembered was possible. Yay? But fighting bugs, so yay!!!!! Now we’re working on getting the dosage correct so that I can manage the chest and UTI infections without going mad from herxing. Please don’t worry. I’m in good hands. (And yes, I have cried, screamed and whimpered often this past few days because I’d forgotten how truly awful herxing can be.)

I’m smiling here, honest! It’s just that only one side of my mouth lifts up right now…

In the midst of all of this misery I needed to go open a gate at the farm for Ben. I got out of bed, left my pyjama top on, threw on some shorts and my gumboots and slogged down to the Tractor Shed paddock.

Oh. It was so beautiful there in the misty cold afternoon. The ground was soft and green and lush. The trees shone with a vibrant light, and the birds sang. It felt good to be out of bed and outdoors.

When my short adventure was over I hastened back to a hot shower, fresh pyjamas and more rest.

It was worth it to have that little gumboot adventure.

I’m wishing you little adventures too. No matter how shitty life gets, a little tiny adventure, a small moment fully lived, a simple pleasure fully and mindfully experienced – that’s what makes it all more manageable. I rate my coping skills as high. And that’s one of the reasons why!

Biggest love and hugs from this tired and battered Lyme Warrior. I’ll be back at my best soon, I’m sure. Meanwhile, I’m happy to be herxy. (Well, mostly! xx)

PSS – Thanks if you scrolled down this far. Just a reminder that I am massively sleep deprived and in pain right now. So if you:

  1. suggest that positive thinking might be beneficial or a cure-all,
  2. offer to hook me up with your miracle-inducing network marketing product, or
  3. remind me that I somehow manifested all of this as a learning experience,
  4. or that this is karmic

then I can’t be held responsible for my actions. Need more help with this because you’re itching to do one of the above? Read this first.

Breathe in, Breathe out…

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” 
~  Amit Ray

 

One of my favourite stress-busters is breathing.

That may sound simple, and it is.

Anxious, worried, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, overcome, swamped, exhausted, defeated?

Try this.

Breathe in slowly and mindfully. Close your eyes if it helps.

Hold for just a second with your lungs full. There’s a tiny point of calm there. (Try it and you’ll see for yourself.)

Breathe out slowly until your lungs are empty. Hold for just a moment. There’s that same tiny point of calm again, and a sense of being grounded back into your body. (It might be fleeting, you might need a few slow deliberate breaths but you’ll find it.

Breathe in again slowly and mindfully. Pause for a moment. Breathe out fully. Pause.

Begin again.

With each conscious breath cycle you can incrementally calm your body, relax your mind, bring your scattered energy back to whole.

It only takes a minute, but it can make a world of difference when life gets all too much.

It’s one of my favourite coping strategies, especially when life is fraught and stressful and I still need to be present and to carry on. It’s also great to calm you before sleep.

Sending so much love your way, and my intention that you find your feet on that path back to inner peace today, Nicole ❤ xx

 

Breathing Through The Pain #LymeWarrior

A Breath of Freedom by Iladya Portakaloglu

A Breath of Freedom by Iladya Portakaloglu

“Your breathing should flow gracefully, like a river, like a watersnake crossing the water, and not like a chain of rugged mountains or the gallop of a horse. To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds. Each time we find ourselves dispersed and find it difficult to gain control of ourselves by different means, the method of watching the breath should always be used.”
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

 

Pain and I enjoyed a pretty intense relationship when I began my treatment for late stage Lyme disease at the beginning of 2013. My regime, which will last a minimum of three years, involves intense rotational use of various combinations of antibiotics, as well as diet, herbs and a myriad of other support tools. It’s a long road I’m walking, in order to regain wellness.

Recently, things have settled down a little. I’ve had more energy. I’ve been sleeping better. Pain has become an occasional thing rather than a stealer of breath and life-force. I’ve finally begun to feel good on my current meds combo.

That is, of course, until I brought in Drug Number Four.

I’ve slowly built up the intensity of three other kinds of antibiotic, anti-malarial and anti-bacterial that are the drugs on my current rotation. This combination was brutal to begin with, but I’ve reached the stage where I am now handling them well. Part of my treatment plan is to then bring in this fourth drug. It’s one I took earlier this year. It gave me fabulous longer term results, but it created a firestorm within my body while I was on it.

I’d been dreading bringing it back in. But of course I kept up this optimistic patter with myself, “You’ll be right, Nic. It will be heaps easier this time. It’ll be nothing like the last round.” I delayed taking the drugs too, because I wanted to be my best self for my recent retreat. So I took my first tablets on Sunday, seemingly without incident. I worked Monday, took all my drugs and didn’t skip a beat.

Then it hit me. About six pm on Monday night.

Oh God, I’d forgotten how intense the pain could be. That I would feel like I was dying all over again. That it would take all I had to bring my ragged breath back to some semblance of calm. Over, and over, and over again. All day. All night. Without cessation.

Quote from BullyVille

Quote from BullyVille

The good news? I’ll only need to take these drugs two days out of seven. It will get easier. It always does. Eventually. So, I’m breathing, and counting hours and minutes and moments.

I know, from previous experience, that the pain won’t kill me. That knowledge is my secret strength. I can endure this. One day, the pain will end, and I will be stronger, closer to healed, and I’ll have learned more about myself and the world.

It’s Friday today. I managed a few hours sleep last night. Today I’m a little better. Stronger. More determined. Sunday I’ll go Round Two with these drugs. Hopefully next week will be better than this week has been.

But it doesn’t matter. I’ll breathe my way through it. I’m in the killing zone. The bacteria that have made my life a misery are dying, so they can kick and scream all they want on their way out – just as long as they go.

I have things to do. Places to be. Trails to walk. Books to write. A husband who has his whole life on hold while I heal. So I’ll keep staring these squirmy little suckers in the eye until they back down.

Just watch me!

Image from Quoteko.com

Image from Quoteko.com

 

Day 13 – Gratitude Challenge

Image from basicindia.typepad.com

Every time we remember to say “thank you”, we experience nothing less than heaven on earth.
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

Something magical happens each time we take a breath of air.  Breathing grounds us, it expands us, and it energises us.  Although it is a simple act, and free, it also empowers. The breath alone can be a healing force in our lives. Many cultures and religions believe breathwork to be sacred.

Today give thanks for the air you breathe. Let every breath nourish and support you.  Let every breath do you good.

And of course, as we have done every day so far, let’s begin our day by counting our Blessings.

Counting Our Blessings and Using our Gratitude Rock

If you need a detailed reminder of the process, you can review it here in Day 1 of the Gratitude Challenge.

  1. List five Blessings in your journal, explaining why you are grateful for each one.
  2. Count your Blessings off on your fingers, summoning positive emotion and saying Thank You from your heart for each one.
  3. Tonight before you go to sleep, hold your Gratitude Rock and affirm I am richly Blessed. I have an Abundance of Good in my life. Visualise one thing you have been grateful for today. Swell that positive energy up in your heart like a beautiful golden light, and give a heart-felt Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to the Universe, then imagine a tiny shower of golden light travelling from your heart into your Gratitude Rock.
  4. Still holding your Gratitude Rock, bless your fellow travellers on this Gratitude Journey by sending them golden light, and saying Thank you.  I Bless You.  I intend for you Love, Miracles and Abundance. Know that as you are saying this for them, they are also saying this for you. Feel that connection and gratitude and know that there is real love and support for you here. Place your rock back beside your bed, and go to sleep, cocooned in this good energy.

If all you do today is these four steps, know that is enough.

Are you ready for more?  Try this simple exercise, designed to amplify your energy, gratitude and connection.

Image from larainegordon.com

Breath of Life

Sit quietly, and give yourself the gift of five minutes of uninterrupted time.

If possible, sit with the sun on your face.  If it’s not possible, at least sit near a window, or outdoors, even if it is in the shade, or under a shelter.

Breathe in. Really pay attention to that breath.  Feel it swelling your lungs.  Feel the passage of air from your nostrils down into your lungs.  Feel your chest expand. Have an awareness of that breath.

When you breathe out, once again, pay attention.  Feel the air exiting your lungs, feel it moving softly back through your nasal passages and out into the space in front of you.  Feel your lungs emptying and contracting.  Notice how that feels in your body.

Breathe in again.  Do this mindfully five times, inhaling and exhaling.  Just sitting in awareness.

Image from blisscentre.com

Now, repeat this process, but this time do it with your eyes closed.  Five breaths in, and five breaths out.

Finally, do this exercise one last time, but this time, imagine that you are breathing in energy.  Imagine that you are breathing in love and healing. With each exhale, imagine that you are releasing something that no longer serves you. Feel your connection to the world around you.  Notice if your breath links you to a time, a place or a person, now or at any time in history.

When you are finished, sit quietly for a moment with your eyes closed and give Thanks to the Universe for this sacred breath, for this gift of life, for this wondrous connection to all that is.  Bless ♥ xx

Image from rechabite.com