Sunday, January 1, 2017

Goodbye 2016!

It's been a long time since I blogged and I felt the desire to share how things are going now that a new year is upon us. It has been one heck of a year for me with so many things that have happened, it truly feels like several years have passed.  My sister keeps a "memories jar" every year and goes through everything she puts into it on New Year's Eve. She text me a picture on the last day of 2016 to share with me her recorded memory of us going out to celebrate the end of my Lyme treatment. I have to say it gave me tears not just because she thought enough to save that date in her jar, but also to see how far I've come.  Praise God!

As I go back and re-read some of the posts here on my blog, it amazes me what the Lord has done in my life and put on my heart to share in times past. I am so grateful for all the Lord has accomplished in me these past few years.  I am so thankful I started this blog and shared all He has done because it's my own personal account of His faithfulness in my life that I really need to read and re-read more often.

As of my last post, I had finished my treatment for Lyme and was starting to get my life back together, and praying for the best outcome off of medication. I'm happy to say that, six months later, I am doing really, really well with no relapse!  The first few months off of medication, my body seemed to still go through a cycle of every 4-6 weeks not feeling well and then better again, but my only real symptom was the fatigue and just feeling "off". I couldn't get back into any kind of aerobic activity or strength training without feeling too wiped out to face the next day. However, I was still way more than 50% better than ever and symptom free, so I kept plugging along. It wasn't until September of 2016 that I made the decision to cut all refined sugar out of my diet. (I have been told that sugar feeds the Lyme bacteria) At the same time, I was introduced to Pilates workouts online by a friend and decided to give them a try. Ever since I changed my diet and scaled back the intensity of my workouts, my healing has jumped from over 50% to just about 100%. I really credit the even more dramatic improvement to giving up sugar.  The past 4 months of Pilates and walking have been the first time in years I have been able to stay consistent with exercise and I feel better and stronger than ever.  I rarely need my afternoon naps anymore. I feel GREAT! I have even gotten well enough and strong enough to start hour long water aerobic classes that I am also enjoying!  I never thought I'd ever be back to the fitness level I'm at again, but here I am. Praise God!  I just want to be strong and healthy to have a body that's fit enough to serve Him and I know He is honoring that motivation.

I'm not sure I've talked much about care-giving for my grandma (who lives with me) on the blog, but I have been doing that full-time for the past 3 years. I took care of her before my diagnosis, during my treatment and now after being sick myself and that has certainly been a story of God's strength in my weakness in itself. This year has been a very difficult one for her health and has tried and tested me more than ever as well. She has had 3 hospitalizations, developed dementia, went from walking to wheelchair bound, and was even dying and on hospice just a few short weeks ago. God is not done with her yet though because He granted her a miraculous healing and she is home with us again (another long story in itself)!  Just as He used my sickness to shape and transform me, He has been using my situation with my grandmother to do the same.  She is 99 years old and will be turning 100 this November!

This past year of 2016 has certainly been one of the longest and most trying years, but I'm thankful for all the blessings too. While I'm happy to leave it behind at the start of 2017, I'm so grateful to look back on my healing, my grandma's many healings, all the ways the Lord has provided for us and the success of my Etsy shop! I'm still selling paintings to whomever the Lord leads to my store and that has been a blessing too. I don't know what this new year will hold, but He does. If the Lord had told me all I would endure last year, I would never think I could survive it all.  Looking back on not only surviving it all, but thriving, I know I can face anything that comes my way because He is with me.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Living Word Decor on Etsy

I mentioned in my last post that I started painting and have really been enjoying it. I wanted to share some more information about that here.  

A few months back I started searching Etsy for wooden scripture signs to decorate our home. Since God's Word really transformed and healed me in so many ways during my chronic illness trial, I wanted to grace our walls with it. I found a few things we really liked and bought a few pieces; however, most of it was just too expensive. I got the idea out of nowhere to try and start painting some signs myself.  I say the idea was "out of nowhere" but I know it came from the Lord. I never considered myself crafty in any way but have had from time to time the desire to be! I dug out of the bottom of my closet an old tool box kit full of Apple Barrel paint samples my husband had bought me years ago (I knew I was keeping them for a reason ;)) and started painting some verses on scrap wood.  To my surprise, things were turning out okay and I was really enjoying myself!  Fast forward dozens of trips to Hobby Lobby later (for more paint, stencils, wood transfer paper, new paint brushes, spouncers, etc.) and I opened an Etsy shop full of some paintings and made my first sale as of yesterday!

I named my shop Living Word Decor, as God's Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12) and it also heals, gives life and peace, it transforms, it increases faith and accomplishes its purposes (Proverbs 4:22, John 14:27, Romans 12:2, Romans 10:17,Isaiah 55:11). We are commanded in scripture to keep His word before our sight (Proverbs 4:21) and what better way to do this, besides reading your Bible, than to hang His word on our walls to always see!

I'm posting a few pictures of some of my paintings. If you like them, please take a look around my shop (link above)! My greatest desire is to bless others with God's Word as it has so greatly blessed me.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lyme disease remission

I suppose this post is past due.  Just as the title says, I am officially in remission from Lyme disease! Praise God! At my last doctor's appointment, about a month ago, he declared me in remission and took me off the antibiotics (although I had already taken myself off them, more on that below). I am still supposed to be taking my herbal medicine (grapefruit seed extract, burbur, pinella, stevia, banderol & samento) but I'll be honest, I'm slacking in that area. I guess that's the part of me that just wants to be done with it all. I'm praying about it and seeing how the Lord leads me as to whether or not I should continue with all that stuff. 

Towards the end of my third month of treatment, I started having stomach issues at which point, my doctor added flagyl. I couldn't handle the flagyl so I took it upon myself to stop ALL antibiotics about 2 weeks shy of my doctor's appointment.  It was a gamble but I felt it was time.  I listened to my body and trusted the Lord. It only took about 24 hours after stopping the antibiotics for my stomach issues to resolve and to feel MUCH better so it was further confirmation that I made the right decision. 

Overall I would say it's been about 6 weeks since stopping the antibiotics and I'm still doing really well.  I'm just so thankful for having energy and not needing to sleep all day! I do still have days here and there where I'm tired and I take my afternoon nap but it's no where near (and I mean NO WHERE NEAR) how tired I used to feel!  My joint pain and muscle aches are gone, no more being off balance, no more daily nausea, no more insomnia, no more blood pressure issues (POTS syndrome), no light light/sound sensitivity, no more numbness/tingling/extremely cold hands & feet, etc., etc. I do still have my ocular flutter issue but honestly, I've learned to live with that.  I thank the Lord that it's not severe.  I supposed He is keeping that healing all to His miraculous self.  

I'm slowly getting back into working out, walking my dog most days and working on building back up my endurance. I've gotten into painting which I really enjoy and may share on here at some point in the future.  I'm just living life one day at a time and truly thankful for all that this experience has taught me.  On to the next season! 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lyme treatment, Month 3

I got some excellent news from my doctor at my last Lyme follow up a few weeks ago! In a previous post I had mentioned that some of my blood work, specifically the comp protein C4A test, showed high levels of inflammation in my body (my blood level was 19,000 and anything over 2,000 is considered abnormal inflammation).  Well, my repeat blood work after 1 1/2 months on antibiotics showed my blood levels have gone down to 747!!!  I can honestly say I'm not surprised because I have had a dramatic increase in energy and overall feelings of better health this past month.  My joint pain is all but gone, my energy has increased 10 fold, my blood pressure issues are so much better and more.  Even our friends and family have been commenting on how much better I look, and more "chipper". :)  My vestibular issues of feeling off balance and dizzy have even improved, although still there somewhat but I'll take an improvement!  I do still have the ocular flutter condition and am hoping that resolves soon as well.  I'm not expecting a miracle because I know I'm in this for the long haul, but I know my God is capable of all things! 

With all that said, I'm going through a major "herx" like reaction today since starting my antibiotics again after a week long break from them. I just keep telling myself, it's more bacteria dying! I noticed last month that after each bad day, I felt SO MUCH BETTER the next day and I'm just hoping for more and more improvement. 

In addition to my other medications I'm taking that I listed in my last post, my doctor has added Samento & Banderol. They are herbal medicines that he said I may need to take for life. It all depends on how things go. We're hoping this will be my last month of antibiotics but we shall see.  Aside from the herbal medicines, we discussed my need to adhere to a healthy lifestyle long term to keep the Lyme bacteria in check.  I stopped the Resvoxitrol and Crypto-Plus for now due to side effects (crypto gave me the WORST dry mouth I ever experienced and the resvoxitrol made me dizzy). I may re-introduce the crypto at some point and try again, but not now. 

All of my test results regarding my low potassium came back normal and my postassium levels are now back to normal so that's no longer a potential issue! 

I hope this post encourages someone by showing that it is possible to get better from Lyme disease! While I'm thankful for my excellent doctor the Lord has blessed us with and the medicinal regime he put me on, I have to credit my better health to my faith. I thank the Lord Jesus that I have Him to walk me through this and I pray that you will know Him too!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lyme treatment update

I've been through about a month and a half of treatment for my Lyme disease since I last posted so I thought I would give an update on how things are going. As far as feeling better, I can definitely see in some ways I am improving.  I have more energy on certain days than I have had in a long time and I can see my old self coming back! I still have days of feeling quite ill though, most likely from the treatment, and my neurological issues persist (the ocular flutter and dizziness/off balance). I know the central nervous system issues will take longer to resolve and I'm in this for the long haul!

As for my first month of treatment, I did very well on the antibiotic and herbal supplements. However, I couldn't seem to tolerate the Alpha Lipoic Acid, Glutathione and NAC so we discontinued those. My doctor thinks it may be an issue with sulfur intolerance but in any event, my progress doesn't seem to be hindered in any way by not taking those supplements. 

My second month of treatment started the day before Easter and we switched my antibiotic to Azithromycin and I have to say, it's not agreeing all that well with me but I'm plugging along. It certainly makes me nauseous (no vomiting though thankfully and it subsides within a few hours), and it also makes me dizzy.  It's hard to explain the dizziness.  I guess it's kind of like I just don't have my footing, but then I guess I'm used to that!  I'm still functioning well and dealing with it.

In addition to still taking all of the supplements I listed in my last post for my first month of treatment, my doctor added the following to my second month of treatment:

  • Azithromycin
  • Resvoxitrol (the jury is out on this one. I get extra "spacey" after taking it so I may not continue)
  • Crypto-Plus
  • Nystatin

Also, due to low levels:
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin A

In addition, I had some issues with low potassium in my recent blood work so we're exploring that as well and I will most likely be put on potassium supplementation at some point in the future. 

Overall I'm doing okay and like I already mentioned, I can see improvements in some ways. I definitely feel a lot more "off" though overall with this second month of treatment. I believe it's the new antibiotic so I'll be happy when that's done in 2 more weeks!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's officially Lyme Disease!

My last two posts revolved around my new Lyme literate doctor giving me the clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease based on my symptoms, history and "indeterminate" Lyme tests. I'm here to share in this post that my Igenex test results are officially CDC guideline meeting positive!  I found out last night at my latest follow up and I can't even begin to describe the feeling. I was overcome with so many emotions and brought to tears. This has been a 2 year journey and all of my prayers crying out to the Lord "WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME????" have finally, without a shadow of a doubt, been answered.  Now that we know what's  (been) wrong, I can focus on my treatment. I'm not thrilled at the idea of starting antibiotics and lots of supplements and herbs, but it must be done.  So, here is my treatment plan for the next 30 days:

*I do not endorse or encourage the following treatment plan for anyone else who has, or thinks they have, Lyme disease.  This is specific to me.
  • Minocycline 
  • Stevia whole leaf extract 
  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Transfer Factor Multi-Immune
  • Probiotics
This treatment goes along with the following detox, which I wrote about in my last post:
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine
  • S-Acetyl Glutathione
  • Burbur detox
  • Pinella brain/nerve cleanse
  • Magnesium
In addition, I am taking the following supplements due to my low levels:
  • Vitamin C
  • B-Minus (the Transfer Factor Multi-Immune has 5-Methyl folate & B12)
It's kind of an overwhelming list of things to take but I made out a timeline of when to take what each day and, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13)!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

It's Lyme Disease: Part 2

"They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord" 
(Psalm 112:7)

I met with my Lyme doctor yesterday to get the results of all my recent blood work. While my latest Lyme test was indeterminate yet again, I did have some results that prove some type of chronic, raging infection is going on inside me. I tested positive for active infections of mono, herpes virus type 6 (no, not the sexually transmitted kind), brucella and chronic fatigue syndrome (based on the results of various IGM/IGG testing performed). The positive herpes result indicates immune system suppression and a test called comp protein C4A indicated very high levels of inflammation (anything over 2,000 is considered inflammatory and my levels were 19,000). Some other highlights: low testosterone, low VEGF (some experts believe this may be linked to mold), extremely low Vitamin C, low Vitamin D, B1 and high TSH (thyroid level). 

My doctor still believes this is Lyme Disease, noting that his other Lyme patients present with the same active infections. Something is causing all of this, that is undeniable. So, I'm going to have some more tests first to gather even more information before coming up with a treatment plan (Genova Ion TestIgenex Lyme TestComprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis and maybe a repeat of Doctor's Data Urine Toxic Heavy Metals).

In the meantime, my doctor advised me to take the following supplements to begin a detox regime:
  • Alpha-lipoic acid, 600mg 2x/day
  • NAC 600mg 2x/day
  • S-acetyl-glutathione 2 capsule, 2x/day
  • Pinella, 10 drops 2x/day
  • Burbur, 10 drops 2x/day
  • Magnesium 300mg 2x/day
  • Vitamin C 1000mg 2x/day
  • Epsom Salt baths
  • Infrared sauna use (if possible)
  • Drink at least 60oz of water per day

I'll be the first to tell you that I'm tired of having to take supplements after what I went through last year.  For now we're starting with the magnesium, Vitamin C, Pinella and Burbur and praying about the rest (also searching for cheaper prices as supplements can be very expensive). I'm increasing my water intake and may try an Epsom salt bath but the sauna is out of the question. Even if we had the money to go out and buy one, which we don't, there's no room in the house to put one!  

I left the office last night feeling very overwhelmed, a little discouraged and somewhat scared.  I know these are normal feelings but I also know I have a sovereign God with everything under control. I was praying this morning that I would leave all of this in His hands and just continue to trust Him and He brought me the encouraging scripture from Psalms that I quoted above. I've been reading through a book on encouragement for caregivers and that was one of the scriptures she mentioned in my reading this morning.  That is so like God and His timing, knowing just what I needed to hear. So, I will have no fear of bad news as my heart remains steadfast, trusting in the Lord.