Okay, so Disney isn't really making a movie about Lyme & Co, but can we all agree that if we wanted to reach the largest audience possible without having to engage in worldwide combat and become the supreme leader of humankind, Disney would be the way to do it? I personally wouldn't mind Disney showcasing a chronically ill princess (or prince, but this is Disney, folks, the prince has to save the day because we must teach young girls their number one goal in life is to be rescued by a handsome prince who sweeps them off their feet and then happily ever after is just a hop, skip, and jump away--honestly, I don't have a problem with Disney, even though yes, they've historically furthered every stereotype that feminists and advocates of oppressed/misrepresented groups have worked to eradicate, but it's Disney, and I will love Disney until the day I die because Disney is magic).
Like I was saying, can you imagine a Disney film centered around a princess/female lead who had chronic Lyme? 10% of the film would be footage of the girl and her family traveling to various doctor appointments, and the remaining 90% of the film she'd be in bed, taking dozens of supplements/pills, piling blankets on only to take them off within two minutes, crawling on her hands and knees through the house just to get to the bathroom, unable to take a shower every day (one hot protagonist, right?), requiring someone else to make her gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, yeast-free etc. meals (on the days she's able to eat) and bring them to her while she tries to sit up in bed, and the tears--oh, the tears!
No, we're not likely to see this film in theaters anytime soon. But I submit the answer to, "Why not?" isn't as simple as, "Because it'd be a boring film." Because trust me, we Lymies are anything but boring! But the deeper answer really is that the formula wouldn't work. You know what I'm talking about--the Disney formula (and the formula of the majority of movies in existence): Exposition/setup of an intriguing premise and introduction of characters, rising action throughout the film that also introduces the central conflict of the film, an unavoidable climax throughout which viewers feel uncomfortable and want the film to just hurry up and get to the ultimate happy ending, which will tie up all lose ends (or just pretend there are none) and leave everyone (except the villain for whom we're all supposed to harbor anger/distaste) with a huge smile on their face, singing about how happy they are. And usually there's a kiss involved. After all, no matter how many times you've seen Prince Eric jump on the deck of a wrecked ship and steer the splintered bowsprit into the larger-than-life Ursula who has Ariel trapped in a maelstrom and the rest of the merpeople embodied as whatever those creatures are, you worry about whether or not Ariel and Eric will end up together this time and whether or not Triton and the rest of the merpeople will be restored to their original form. Or is that just me? Okay, if it's just me, let me think there are others. Eases my mind a bit.
But I digress.
The reason we won't see a film starring a character with chronic Lyme (and co-infections) is because there is no way to present a happy ending in an hour and a half. It's not realistic like giant evil sea witches being defeated and beasts turning into princes and wooden puppets becoming human are. In all seriousness, though, it's not a situation that would lend itself to being portrayed in a movie. Or even a mini-series or a TV show that runs a few seasons.
Because dealing with/healing from Lyme & Co often feels like a never-ending epic film (epic in the Homerian sense, not in the "dude that's epic!" modern day cool sense). One that goes through the entire movie formula, usually for years--except the happy ending only comes once, at the very end of an exhausting fight, and sometimes seems nowhere in sight as Lyme sufferers experience their first introduction to the disease, followed by the rising (in)action of their day-to-day lives, the countless conflicts and setbacks that lead to a climax of severe panic and anxiety and pain and tears which feels unbearable, and the falling action during which there may be periods of relief or glimpses of their former life with hope that they will be back to it someday, that flows directly back into another period of exposition/introduction each time they uncover another layer (or another co-infection, condition, or other health issue) of the illness, which results in more rising (in)action....and the cycle goes on and on.
And throughout the arduously long process, it's easy to lose sight of the progress you make along the way, but no matter how small the progress may seem, all progress is significant and deserves being celebrated.
For instance, it's possible for anyone reading this post to assume I've had a good-for-me day. I mean, who can go on such tangents about Disney (a source of enormous happiness and magic, as established above) unless they've had a good day? Doesn't the fact that I've written (what I hope is) a coherent post indicate that I've had a good day? Didn't I just ten days ago write a post about how much better I felt overall and the things I was physically able to do and how the full moon wasn't affecting me for the first time in a year?
Well, let me set the record straight. Yes, ten days ago that's exactly what I wrote. And it was all 100% true. It was also 100% falling action (which as we know sometimes brings the aforementioned periods of relief and glimpses of hope). The past 9 days have been an overwhelming downward slide (with the exception of being blessed enough to go to church on Easter, even though I had to leave early, and being able to have friends over for Easter dinner--I'm not discounting those wonderful blessings in the least). Most days I haven't been able to leave bed until late afternoon/early evening, and even then I'm using my walker or crawling on all fours into the living room, where I sit/lie on the couch until bedtime, but at least then I'm in the same room as Rog for the rest of the evening and we can feel a tiny bit of normalcy. Every single day of the past 9 days I have had unrelenting, excruciating stabbing pain in my ear and eye, and the all-too-familiar "Lymegraine" (Lyme-type migraine) where my brain feels like it's trying it's darnedest to explode and break out of my skull, and I've had to wear my trusty adjustable ball cap (for compression), along with my sunglasses and/or a cold pack over my eyes/head. And it'd be embarrassing to tell you how many different essential oils I've had to cycle for the head/eye/ear pain (Panaway, Valor, Peppermint, Copaiba, Frankincense, for starters) as well as the pain flares formerly known as just an "arthritis attack," which also makes it impossible to sleep, walk, sit, or have a conversation without screaming in pain. One other issue worth noting is that from two Saturdays ago until this past Saturday, I only slept every other night (meaning that 4 out of 7 nights I literally didn't get one single second of sleep).
But guys, I'm not focusing on all that. I'm not focusing on the pain, or the limitations, or the weakness or nausea. Sure, in the middle of a flare (or, even worse, one of my sudden onset herxes with hot flashes, muscle spasms, and the works), it appears like I'm focusing on it because I cry about the pain, but as far as my mental state goes, I'm not focusing on the pain or the setback because this is how recovery from Lyme goes.
I may be in the middle of a week and a half of consecutive bad days, and there's no telling when another period of falling action with glimmers of hope will happen again, but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because even in the midst of all of these struggles, heck, especially in the midst of our struggles, God's command for us is to trust Him and stop worrying about what we can't control.
His plan is perfect, and I have no business telling Him I'm not up for it, or telling Him I don't think it's a good plan, or trying to convince Him that my plans would be better. And giving up my need for control and order and planning in advance is easier said than done sometimes (okay, all the time), especially when my personality has always rivaled that of a(n?) AAA Energizer battery (so type A to the extreme), but it's absolutely integral for my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being to willingly surrender all of this to Him, because He's the only one who can continue to give me the peace that passes all understanding, a promise on which He's already delivering.
Plus, when I think about these 9 days and how bad they really have been, I'm able to recognize (with some help from Rog) that there have been times during this week and a half where yeah, I may have been in bed, but I've been able to sit up in bed and work on my mom's Mother's Day present or fiddle around with my website or read comic books. So we can always find something good if we look hard enough, even on the bad days. And what's even cooler is that last fall/winter/even just a couple months ago I was still having regular stretches of 9+ bedridden days with no relief whatsoever, whereas now, during just as long a stretch of bad days, I'm having moments of relief. And those moments, coupled with the existence of the occasional good days (like the one I wrote about 10 days ago) which were formerly nonexistent, is confirmation that I am still on the path to complete healing and God will bring that healing in His perfect time.
And until then, I'll keep fighting this fight against Ursula--er, I mean Lyme & Co--with every ounce of true love--er, I mean strength--I can.
Until I'm once again part of [my former] world.
(It had to be said)
Not much time to type tonight, but I'm making time because I have an oh-so-very-exciting praise report to share with you all and I personally like sharing these praises as they happen because my heart just yearns to share the hope it feels!
Anyone know that there's a full moon at full force in approximately 5 hours? I'm sure Lymies do, because full moons are not typically a Lymie's BFFs. But what would you say if I told you that I forgot it was a full moon day until, oh, about an hour ago? Yeah, I wouldn't believe me either.
BECAUSE TODAY IS THE FIRST FULL MOON DAY IN AT LEAST A YEAR WHERE I'VE BEEN FUNCTIONAL.
Seriously, guys, this is kind of a big deal. I literally forgot it was a full moon because every full moon that I can remember for the past year (or longer, possibly, but I've been tracking it the past year) I've literally not been able to even leave the bed. That means not able to take a shower, not able to hold a conversation, not able to sit up, fix/eat meals, change out of my pajamas. But today I've been pretty darn functional for a Lymie on a full moon, and I want to give all the praise and glory for this good day to the One who deserves it--God! I was able to wake up at 7:45 (which rarely, if ever, happens, and usually means I sleep for at least a few hours later in the morning/early afternoon) and feed Lucy InTheSkyWithDiamondsMae Doss, and take a shower, and assemble my own lunch, and have Rog take me to the upper cervical chiropractor, and fix a quick dinner for myself, and switch out my winter/summer clothes. And write this blog. Like I said, kind of a big deal. I still had to use my walker to get around the house (more for balance and just in case I started blacking out which happens at least a few times every day) and my wheelchair at the chiro's office, but I repeat, kind of a big deal. And by "kind of" I obviously mean "definitely."
And I don't think it's a coincidence that this functional-full-moon day is coming at a time during which I've been completely grain-free and sugar-free for the first time ever in my life (almost a month now!), and you can read more about that here. I also don't think it's a coincidence that this good full-moon-day is happening at a time when my mindset (even on days like this past Saturday when I was bedridden all day after an intense herx on Friday night, unable to lift my head from my pillow, with all symptoms flaring 100%, unable to even drink water or eat anything at all till around 6 or 7pm) is in such a good place and my prayer life and spirit of thanksgiving are at an all-time high--all of which automatically lift my mood because, let's get real....when we make it a point to stay in fellowship with God, and when He's the first one we go to when we're thankful, joyful, heartbroken, angry, or any other emotion, it's impossible to remain in the trenches of hopelessness.
All of you fellow Lyme warriors out there understand to such a great extent that this road is long, and hard, and unpredictable, meaning that tomorrow I could have another day where I'm unable to move or eat or anything (because at this point in my journey those bad/not-so-good days still tend to happen more frequently than the good). And meaning that even if I'm fortunate enough to have another good day tomorrow there undoubtedly will be days ahead where I'll completely out of commission and be thoroughly reminded that I'm living with multiple debilitating chronic illnesses and that Lyme is still Lyme and its primary goal is to destroy me and wear me down, but GUESS WHAT--God is still God, too, and He always will be, and He always takes care of His children.
So tonight I am giving Him all the praise that He deserves as fervently as I can--and He deserves it just as much on my bad days as He does on my good days, so no matter what tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, or next month throw my way, I will continue to praise the One who delivers healing.
And I have one of my favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite artists to share with you before I wrap up. Listen to it. It's worth it. I promise.
P.S. On another note, Willie Cauley-Stein and Marcus Lee are both confirmed to return to UK next year, so that's another reason to celebrate. Although the functional-full-moon-day takes the cake today. But only because WCS and Lee will help take Number 9 next year, so they're feeling generous enough to skip the cake today. And now it's Becca's bedtime because she's talking nonsense. In the third person. Third person nonsense. And she's upset because she doesn't like odd numbers so "third person" really bugs her.
Hello wonderful readers!
Thanks for stopping by. I apologize it's been a few weeks(ish) since I've written, and that's simply because my days have either been rough to the point of not being able to leave bed, not being able to eat, not even able to open my eyes due to pain, etc., or good-for-me days, meaning I was able to do things like go to church a couple Sundays ago (always wonderful!), get really involved in the NCAA tournament (C-A-T-S!! Cats!! Cats!! CATS!! -- Number 9 will have to wait till next year, boys, but man, it was a great year and a fairytale of a tournament!), or sit outside on our porch for 5 hours this past Saturday (with hat, sunglasses, and electric blanket because it was 46 degrees!) while we had a yard sale. So even though the bad days are still here and can happen whenever they decide to, there have been good days sprinkled throughout, too. :-)
I originally wanted to clue in the blogosphere (okay, at least those of you who read this) on a few different updates about my personal journey over the past few weeks, but instead of making this a super duper long post, I decided to write about them one at a time over the course of the next few days/several days/few weeks as I'm able to sit and type. First on the list is possibly one of the single most imperative-to-functioning changes I've made throughout my journey thus far:
The Anti-Candida Diet!
I briefly mentioned this in my last post, I believe, but I have now been on a very strict anti-candida diet for over 3 weeks. Some of you may have no idea what I'm talking about, and if you're curious about all the ins and outs of this lifestyle change, allow me to direct you to this website, which is a good, comprehensive resource about all things candida/ACD related. But if you're just looking for a brief explanation/summary (in layman's terms, because sometimes it's just easier that way): Candida albicans is a yeast that exists in just about every single one of us, but typically peacefully coexists (within reason) with all the good bacteria that live in our gut (which is where the majority of our immune system lives). However, in someone with a chronic illness or leaky gut syndrome or any similar condition (*cough* including myself, along with other Lymies out there *cough*), this yeast/bacteria essentially overtakes your body, become a systemic (whole-body) issue that has to be taken care of along with any other illness, because even if you treat your other illness(es), you're not going to heal as long as candida is a problem for you. And candida overgrowth can cause a myriad of health problems/symptoms--so many that I'm not even going to list them here because this paragraph would be substantially longer than it already is, but if you're interested, here you go.
Now, yes, there are lots of people out there who will tell you that systemic candida and an anti-candida diet is just the latest health craze/diet fad and that it's not worth your time, but I'm here to tell you it is a BIG deal, especially for those dealing with chronic illness. And in order to resolve the candida issue, you have to go on an anti-candida diet and continually detox, detox, detox! (The detoxing all Lymies should be doing daily, anyway, but it's important for this, as well). Basic guidelines for the anti-candida diet are this: no grains (not just eliminating gluten, but all grains because they contribute to inflammation in the gut and are counterproductive to healing), no sugar (yeast thrives on sugar, including sugar in fruits, sweeteners such as agave nectar [that was a hard one for me but I've managed just fine without it]; plus, sugar feeds Lyme buggers, too, so just get rid of it), no dairy, no yeast. You also have to make sure you do eat lots of vegetables, antimicrobial/antiviral/antibacterial foods and spices, and make sure you're taking good quality probiotics to restore your digestive flora. Some variations of the anti-candida diet allow low-glycemic fruits throughout, and as you progress through the different stages of the ACD you're able to add other foods back in slowly, at the pace you're able to tolerate them. Here's a link with some good, basic guidelines about ACD foods in PDF format if you want to look into it further, but remember everyone's body is different so listen to yours and do what works for you!
The reason I've now rambled so much about the ACD, though, is that I credit a large portion of my good days to following this diet so strictly. In the past two weeks (14 days), I've had probably 3-4 days that I would consider good-for-me (I say it like that because these wouldn't be considered good days to the general public, but for me they're a welcome change of good!), another 4-5 days where I've had at least some decent moments where I've been able to fix a meal or two or do a few small things around the house, and only the remaining 5-6 days where I was bedridden all day/in massive pain of some kind/couldn't lift my head from fatigue/lack of energy. THAT IS AWESOME TO ME! I truly think this change has been one of the most significant I've made in my treatment thus far, and I plan on continuing it indefinitely because when something so basic can yield such positive results, why would I not do it? Yes, it was probably a little easier for me to make the switch than it would be for someone who doesn't already have to follow a strict diet like the Lyme diet (I've not been able to eat gluten, dairy, eggs, refined sugar, yeast, and multiple other foods for a year now), but it is doable.
Is it always easy to come up with a variety of meals that a.) taste good, b.) are easy to fix, even on bad days, c.) comply with every ACD guideline? No, not always. BUT the longer I stick to this diet strictly, the easier coming up with meals becomes.
Becca's tips to make the process easier:
Like I said, it's not easy at first (even though I haven't had refined sugar in a year, I had sugar cravings when I eliminated fruit, agave, etc.), but it does get easier. Even though I know that's one of those things that everyone who had ever done a low-whatever diet says about cravings. Just trust me, it gets easier. And it's possible to maintain this as a healthy lifestyle since you're feeding your body what it needs to heal and you're not putting things into it that will cause further damage or impede your healing ability or ability to function.
I'm not saying I'll never have dessert again in my life, but I am saying that for the foreseeable future the ACD is a way of life for me. Because during these past 3+ weeks, by undertaking this challenge of letting food be my medicine (in conjunction with the supplements and the treatment protocol I'm doing), I've realized to the greatest extent yet that God truly designs our bodies to be efficient machines--masterpieces even--and when we utilize the natural goodness He has placed on this earth in an effort to restore His temple (our bodies), and we acknowledge the healing power that is inherently part of all of us, we realize we've already been given one of the greatest tools for healing.
That last paragraph got a little rambly, but just trust that in my mind it made perfect sense.