In brightest day, in blackest night,
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!
Happy St. Patrick's Day! (I know for 2 time zones in the U.S. St. Patrick's Day is officially over but since I've yet to sleep, I'm just gonna pretend it's still my favorite holiday.)
But we'll get to St. Patrick's Day in a second. First I want to share an update on the EBV treatment I've been doing a little over a month now--I've been meaning to post an update for a while, but alas, this is the first. But I promise if you make it through the entire post, there are some fun St. Pat's pictures at the end. (However, if you're as pressed for time as the white rabbit who was running late and annoyingly repeating it as he ran, feel free to skip to the pictures ;-) )
If you want a refresher on the treatment I'm doing (or if you didn't happen to read it the first time around), this is where you should click.
Earlier this evening, I took the first half of vial number 6 in the first box of 10 for this EBV treatment. For the first month (mid-February through last Tuesday), I was taking half a vial every 3 days. The first several doses I seemed to tolerate okay, other than having severe nausea the day of/the day after taking the dose and having absolutely no appetite or ability to eat on those days. (Think mono, but like 100 times worse as far as that awful feeling where you can't even think about food without being so disgusted/sick, much less look at it, much less eat it....if you've had mono, you're probably at least familiar with the feeling).
Once I got to vials 3-5, though (doses 6 through 10, given my half-vials), it was rough. Really rough. People keep telling me how positive I am--how I don't seem to let anything get me down--how I'm always able to see the bright side to any situation--well, I'm telling you right now those doses were TOUGH. Rog and my mom can vouch for the fact that there were plenty days where I just avoided social media, mainly because I was too sick to look at a computer/tablet/phone screen, but also because I didn't have the energy to connect with people or put on a brave face (I don't get into the whole 'Facebook Facade Phenomenon' too awful much because I like to keep it real, but I'm not really into sharing all my frustrations with my entire friends' list, either). I spent a solid 2 and a half weeks where I would take a dose, not be able to eat or drink the entire next day--and sometimes part of the day after--and only be able to leave bed to crawl to the bathroom and back to bed. And day 3 of the cycle, the day of my next dose, I prolonged taking it long enough to be able to eat a few decent-sized meals, drink several liters of water, and take a shower/venture into the living room instead of staying in bed.
And then I'd take that dose and the 3 day process would start over. And as we all know, not being able to eat is not ideal. Not being able to drink is even less ideal. And coming from someone with a decade-long history of an eating disorder, you know things are bad when you're lying in bed lamenting that all you want to do is be able to eat but you can't because of the effects of this treatment. As Rog lovingly joked, "If I could take a video of this Becca now and send it back in time to the Becca in college she wouldn't believe it!" ;-) Also, despite the couple night each week where I got zero minutes of sleep (which I suspect is actually caused by taking a dose of EBV treatment--I know it sounds backwards but I'm conjecturing that when I first take a dose my immune system gets wired because there are all kinds of new little organisms to play with and then after about 8 hours it realizes they're not all that interesting and my crash ensues), I slept a LOT. During the day. Several hours during each day. Something. I've. never. done, in. my. entire. life. until. recently.
I called my doctor on Friday and he recommended holding off on the Friday dose and calling back Monday (today), and after talking with the office today, we've decided to stretch my doses out to a half vial every 5 days to help my body have an easier time with the detox. Basically we were hitting it too fast and too hard and my body wasn't able to get rid of the toxins at the rate they were entering, which causes a myriad of problems and various assorted herx reactions I've had over the past month. So I took the first half of vial 6 about 5 hours ago (hence being wide awake and writing at this time), and we'll see how it goes.
I'll tell you this, I am detoxing the crap out of my body right now--tomorrow (um, today, technically, I guess) I'm starting a very strict anti-candida diet (basically what I've already been doing as per Lyme diet guidelines, but also eliminating all grains and sugar, including fruit) in an effort to seriously starve the buggers that are eating away at every system in my body. One of my main goals with this is also to get my cognitive function back on track because while this post may seem coherent, I've had more brain fog and inability to communicate lately than I've had in months, along with processing difficulties, inability to focus/concentrate, etc. I actually did a pretty strict anti-candida diet in June/July when I was first officially dxed with Lyme, and it helped with neuro issues as well as leaky gut issues (which have been a big problem lately, again), but I then slowly started allowing myself more fruit here, more fruit there, agave-sweetened food here, etc. And I think all of that has just send the little buggers into an absolute frenzy. And I will gladly forsake my fruit, GF/vegan/RSF cookies, cereal, and anything else that is grain-y, fruity, or converted to/processed like sugar (so basically, a lot of things I tend to crave--because guess what--the bacteria/viruses actually crave the sugar!) if it means a faster healing time and symptom improvement.
On a much happier note, though:
St. Patrick's Day is my favorite holiday of the year. Except for Christmas and Easter because, well, Jesus. Obviously. But seriously, this is my favorite. Has been as long as I can remember. Something about the story of Saint Patrick, the totally awesome Celtic music, the Irish/Celtic folklore, the beauty of the Irish/Gaelic language--I just love it so very much! And I was scared the combination of the full moon and the ridiculous snowfall we had the night of the 16th (March 16th and all area schools were out of session for the zillionth--that's an approximation--time this year) would mean I'd be confined to bed all day on this most favored day, but 'twas not the case!
I personally think it's a God thing, which sounds like a stretch to some, maybe, that God would go out of His way to give me a good day on St. Patrick's Day, but I fully believe that was the case. Sure, it still took hours to actually get up, shower, and get dressed (okay, so I had two different outfits throughout the day--I really really get into this!), but by around 2 or 3 pm, I was up, had fixed my imitation Shamrock shake (spinach, banana, mint, cashew milk=yum central!), and then around 4, Rog helped me out in the kitchen by washing the dishes as I made our St. Pat's dinner.
(Rog also mashed the potatoes for me when it was time, both because I was tied up with the rest of the meal and also because I can't hold the mixer for any length of time--and he had straightened up the house earlier so it was ready for my family to come over, so he's basically Superman, although he'd prefer if we called him Batman or Wolverine)
At 6, mom, dad, Kat, and Adam came over and had a nice, "traditional" Irish dinner with us. I say "traditional" because while it was mostly traditional, I of course had to make the substitutions so it would fit a Lyme-friendly diet (which was actually quite simple because the majority of the meal was made with raw, whole foods). We had Lyme-diet-approved (GF/SF/YF/vegan) shepherd's pie and roasted cabbage. I was beyond thrilled with how it turned out, firstly because even a year ago if you told me I was capable of cooking something like this I would have laughed in your face....a lot....and secondly because everyone else seemed to enjoy it, too!
A few pictures chronicling the event if you're interested:
Okay, so it's taken me an hour or so to write this post, which means it's officially not-St.-Patrick's-Day in the U.S. anymore, but that's okay because in my mind all I have to do is think back to the many years I've enjoyed this wonderful holiday, and meditate on how grateful I am to have enjoyed it this year. Some people say they keep the spirit of Christmas in their hearts year-round (and yes, that's a great idea and I'm all about that, too), but I like to think I keep the spirit of St. Patrick's Day in my heart throughout the entire year.
And yes, that was an exceedingly cheesy and cliche and ridiculous and corny, but I guess that's just the kind of person I am. Particularly at 3:26am.
Bail ó Dhia ort
(The blessing of God on you)
Or each hour....or each minute. You know, sometimes it's literally necessary to take each second as it comes, and that is A.O.K. because it keeps us in the present moment, which means we're not dwelling on the past or stressing about the future, and that's a good thing. But this post isn't about the present moment. I mean, it sort of is, but it's not saying "Hey, I'm a blog post that is one hundred percent devoted to the present moment and the present events that are happening....errr....presently."
Nope, while the present moment does play a role in today's topic, the actual topic itself has more to do with the HOW and the WHAT (as they relate to staying in the present moment). Meaning, I'm going to share exactly how I make it through my days with these illnesses and manage to keep a positive outlook on life (even though there are times I lose it and that sad, overwhelming, anxiety-laden mindset comes in and I refuse to acknowledge positives--basically, I'm human).
But seriously, even though my family *cough*Rog*cough* can attest I have moments where I cry like a little baby about how life currently is, I hope they'd be with me in saying that sometimes I surprise myself at how positive I can be. Or how much joy I'm able to find in the littlest things in life. Or how my hope is never gone, even on bad days.
I don't have a secret "FIVE STEPS TO ASSURED HAPPINESS" headline you'll find on a famous magazine (partially because there's little room left for such things amidst the ridiculous amount of "LOSE WEIGHT FAST, NOW, AND FOREVER" lies that plaster nearly every magazine cover in the checkout lines/magazine racks/women's bathrooms/hair salons). Nope, my "secret" isn't a secret at all. At least, I hope if you know me, it's not a secret. And if it is a secret or comes as a surprise, then I apologize sincerely, because I've not been as outspoken as I am called to be.
But here's my key to remaining joyful, even during trials:
I focus on the Cross, and I pray.
Now, that may sound a little cliche, but let me explain. I can't think of a better time to write this post than now, at the beginning of this Lenten season, the season designed for us to "fast" (which I put in quotation marks because fasting doesn't have to just revolved around giving up food or drink X--there are fasts of all varieties) and sacrifice something we typically have/do/spend time focusing on, and replace that X with time spent drawing closer to God, growing in our relationship with Him by asking Him to bring a radical change in our hearts that so easily get overrun with worldly things, and developing our witness in the world. A simple summary of the goal is that we are preparing our minds and hearts and asking God to help us focus on the Cross and transform our hearts in such a way that we understand Jesus' sacrifice on a deeper, more personal level, every day.
So how exactly does focusing on the cross and praying help me maintain a spirit of joy in my day-to-day life? I'm glad you asked! Or I'm at least glad you read where I asked, as if a reader were asking. Oh, blogosphere, how I love you and how you enable me to hold entire conversations with myself and still be considered sane.
The best way I could describe it is that I get my 1 Thessalonians 5:17 on. Pray without ceasing. (KJV) Or as some other translations say, Pray continually. It seems like such a basic concept, but I've found when I wholeheartedly make an effort to live out this verse, my life and mindset are radically changed from focusing on troubles to relishing the good God continually provides.
For instance, today I had enough energy to fold our laundry, which was awesome! The whole while I was folding laundry, I was praying. Aloud. Since I'm home alone during the day on most weekdays, I don't have to worry about feeling silly for praying aloud--emphasis on the loud, because sometimes I just can't contain myself and the volume level of my prayer session rivals that of Lucy barking-at-the-FedEx truck. And I elaborate this much to say this: I'm not sharing this prayer session scenario to get accolades. I'm not trying to "show off" and I'm not making a statement on how "good" I am. Honestly, if I didn't have this burning desire to share my key to getting through the day--which happens to be prayer--I wouldn't write about the prayer session in detail, because the last thing I want is to come across as the hypocrites Jesus mentions in Matthew 6:5 who " love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others."
But prayer is such a catalyst to my joyfulness and hope that I HAVE to share it.
When I'm praying--whether it's for myself or for any other requests that come to mind or that people have shared with me--my focus can't be on my present struggles. I can't be mulling over my pain, weakness, inability to do X, Y, and Z. Because when I'm actively having a conversation with God, that's automatically where I focus. Not on myself. Not on earthly struggles. On the prayer. On God. On the Cross.
The really neat thing I've discovered when I throw my heart and mind fully into prayer is that it never really ends there. The prayer always, without fail, transforms into praise. And when you have a heart that is prayerful, and consequentially full of praise, it's daggone near impossible to lose sight of the hope and joy that is always present, even when there may be times you don't feel it as strongly.
If you read this far, I thank you immensely. I also apologize that this ended up being quite longer than I intended, but when something is on my heart like this, the possible scenarios are 1.) write it out as soon as humanly possible and hope for a good night's sleep or 2.) not get a single minute of sleep until I force myself to take time to blog about it.
So I choose the former.
And I'm leaving you with one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite bands with gets me reminiscing about some of my all-time favorite memories.