Friday, April 29, 2016

Life On Hold

For me, one of the most difficult aspects of living with Chronic Lyme Disease is living a life on hold. I have been chronically ill for years, but as discussed in earlier posts, I was refusing to listen to my body. I was over-working and over-committing myself--to the detriment of my body--yet still not living a 'normal' life.

I spend most of my days the exact same way: in bed, going to the doctor, or having treatments done; setting up to 6 alarms during the day for taking different medications at different times. To my frustration, I am usually in too much pain or have too much brain fog to function enough to do anything productive. When I gather up enough energy I am able to write. This blog has given me a sense of purpose with the hope that I am helping others who are in the same situation, feeling lost in the darkness that is Chronic Lyme Disease and the battle to treat and fight it. After writing each post I am left both physically and emotionally drained, but since I began this blog the overwhelming flow of love and support I have received and the hope of helping others makes it worth it all.

I am able on my good days to get out of bed, do yoga, go on (extremely) short walks, and spend more time self-healing. When I am stuck in bed, I am still able to do my detoxing regimens..even if I have to force myself to do so. Ironically during a herx (caused by too many toxins built up in your body), the last thing you feel like doing is detoxing. I will save more for a post on the importance of detoxing during treatment--it is literally a matter of life or death, but back to living a life on hold.

One of the more frustrating aspects of fighting this disease is losing your former self; your identity. I previously (incorrectly) identified myself by my accomplishments and my activities. If you have read my blog before, you know that I was working a minimum of 60 hours a week and served on several charitable boards. I also loved working out, going hiking, climbing, being in nature, playing tennis, etc. The way that I previously identified myself became a major source of anxiety and guilt once my body said, "no more." Using my former standard, I am worthless...unable to help myself in many situations, not being very productive or accomplishing anything. This is why I learned, through pain management counseling, to redefine how I judge my self-worth.

I try not to judge myself, although this is a difficult task. I am working to find peace with my body as it is and not judge my health--to recognize it, or the lack thereof, accept it, and move on and only focus on fighting this disease. I will also touch more on this subject on a post about guilt, which is another ugly monster that rares its head while you are undergoing treatment for Lyme. More on that later.

So here I am. Stuck in bed. Unable to concentrate enough to read or watch anything on television that requires any brain cells (hello my new obsession with The Real Housewives and other non-thought inducing television shows). I lay in bed, fighting this internal battle within my body, but externally doing nothing; accomplishing nothing. I see (rather, hear) my friends getting promotions, exciting new jobs, getting engaged, getting married, and having children--living their lives the way God intended us to.

I am almost 27 years old (give it a week). This should be a very exciting time in my life, but I have lost my 20's to this disease. I have an amazing boyfriend and would probably already be married if I were not so ill. My boyfriend and I have discussed the topic at length and have come to the decision that it is unfair to both of us to start a marriage with me being unable to care for myself. He is more often my nurse than he is my boyfriend, although he tells me it is one in the same.

My little sister just got engaged and I have already started to hear the "it will happen to you, too...one day" condolences. Like I'm really sitting on the edge of my seat (bed), waiting to be whisked away so that I can stumble down the aisle (if you have Lyme, you know the impossibility of being able to walk in a straight line, if at all in some cases). Can you sense my sarcasm?

I want to enter my marriage with my health, something that doctors tell me that within a year and a half I will have 80% back. This is a true blessing--as horrible as this lifetime journey has been, there are many who have it much worse. Many Lymies are completely debilitated--they have hospital beds instead of a real bed, they have to have a nurse bathe them in their own home (if they are not in the hospital), and they are bound to their wheelchair. Many do not survive this disease; it has taken so many lives. I am one of the lucky ones and am blessed to have arguably the best Chronic Lyme Specialist in the country. And I look forward to the day when I have my health back after all of these long years.

Until then, I sit and watch as life passes me by. Missing out on so many experiences--being forgotten about by so many former friends. Watching as former best friends get married and not being asked to be in the wedding. (Technically I was asked once, but the topic was not mentioned again once my friend realized how sick I was. I sat and watched as she and her bridesmaids walked down the aisle.) This all has been a big blow to my ego and has caused my heart to break.

I apologize that this particular post is not an uplifting one. I will write later about the scientifically studied "normal" reactions people have to a friend who has a disease that they cannot see or do not understand. It helps me to make sense of my loss of peers and their reactions to me being sick, but this post is about what I have lost.

I have lost my favorite hobbies, all of which included being physically active. I have lost what makes me feel most alive--going to events, being with friends, raising money for charity, and most importantly being active and in nature. So many friendships that have disappeared have given the lyrics from "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" new meaning for me.

Lyme has stolen so much from me and from others who suffer from this horrible disease and its co-infections. It has taken away from me so much of what I once loved. Again, I apologize for the lack of positivity in this post, but my decision to be brutally honest on here has outweighed my desire to always come across as positive and strong. Lyme has taken too much from me, even parts of my sanity, and I am fighting every hour of every day to get back as much as I can.

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