"It's not religion, it's a relationship."
If that line turns you off because of the number of times you've heard (or said, in my case) it, don't worry, please stick with me and you'll see just how that sentence structure/concept (it's not ____, it's ____) ties into my year and the New Year.
I've got a little more of an unconventional New Year's Eve post for this year. Partly unconventional because I haven't really been able to type a full post for months, and partly because of the format. I'll try to keep it as short as I can for all our sakes.
2015 was one heckuva year here in the Doss house. I'd reckon to say a lot of others would share the sentiments (because I've seen them echoed on Instagram, Twitter, etc.), but I really want to get past the whole "this was the hardest year of my life thus far" thing, even though it was.
Thanks to instagram's #BestOf2015 tool, I was able to develop a unique-to-me perspective on the whole thing (meaning, I had never thought about it before, it's very possible others have). If you're unfamiliar, it's very similar to that Facebook feature that shows you your "top posts" based on number of comments/likes, but since I currently have no Facebook account (deactivated back in the Spring for emotional/mental health reasons--at this point in life the Facebook Facade Ph(F)enomenon is too much for this girl to handle if I want to be able to keep my mindset a positive one, a hard enough task as-is, even for the healthiest person, but il tell you this much: if you've ever thought about going off of Facebook even for a short period and then said something like what I claimed for years, "I couldn't LIVE without Facebook! It's awesome and I don't know what I'd do without it!" trust me, the first few days you may try to click the phantom app icon you deleted off your phone but the sense of freedom I have--not that Facebook is inherently bad, it just brings me down while I'm in the position I currently am--and the burden of scrolling mindlessly through posts and posts of 1,600+ people and seeing them live their lives...it was just too much for me to handle and that burden has been lifted. I'm sure I'll be back someday...maybe. Or maybe I'll just, I don't know, not use Facebook as a primary means of communication (aka alienation due to lack of actual contact), but here I go again on a diatribe about Facebook and that's not my intent for this post, so please forgive that brief aside), I was curious what the Instagram community had decided were my "best of 2015" moments.
At first glance, the pictures range from all points on the spectrum of health-illness-discouragement-happiness [insert any other point/word here]. So instead of telling you about it, I took screenshots of the picture as well as the caption I wrote with it, so I'll show you those below before I add my closing thoughts:
So here's the deal, and here's how the concept/format of the first line of his post relates to the above:
A few things 2015 was NOT:
2015 was not my best year--like I said above, it's been the hardest year overall I've endured thus far in life and the hardest we've endured as a married couple, leaving me bedridden all day, every day, except for a few occasions where I was able to use all my detox tools and spoons and spend a few hours on the couch with the love of my life watching a movie or a ballgame or anything else like that.
2015 was not the year of miraculous healing (but I'm still a firm believer God drivers modern-day miracles, and we are living one right now, we're just waiting for it to unfold) we wished it would be. It was also not the year of staying free from a couple bugs we had mostly gotten rid of in the past 2.5 years (like H. pylori and a resurgence of significant systemic candida overgrowth, nor was it the year of avoiding the "normal" bugs, which I picked up as soon as Rog started work at the middle/high schools again).
2015 was not the year where I was again able to drive (3 years now since I've been behind the wheel), skate (again, 3 years, and even before that it was very sparse for a while), walk (except occasionally with a walker or cane or arm draped over my husband, although the second half of this year walking has become a foreign concept as I have to be carried and/or crawl/"army crawl" (aka drag myself) the 10 feet from our bedroom to bathroom.
2015 was not the year I was able to start attending church regularly again, not the year I was able to walk Lucy around the block or even let her out the back door when needed, not the year I was able to fix my own food and meals, not the year I got relief from trigeminal--or other--pain, light/chemical/sound sensitivities, or a daily migraine, and not the year for [insert any number of commonplace, everyday things I took for granted before they were taken away from me here].
There are plenty of things 2015 was not...
But there are also several things 2015 WAS:
(I don't like dwelling on the negatives above, but they were necessary because 1.) I try to be completely transparent as I travel this road and 2.) they provide the context for the positives below.)
2015 was the year we started (and later put on hold due to a too-fragile body) 8 months of my bartonella homeopathic treatment, but we realized my body couldn't handle it, despite all our extra efforts to ramp up detox, so we switched to the borrelia (Lyme) homeopathic series after my November appointment with my Godsend of a doctor and I seem to tolerate it better than the bartonella series thus far (meaning painful herxes still abound, but in different, and more manageable, forms than the bartonella herxes), and it was the year that we finally are able to say I'm almost 100% EBV-free* (see note at very end).A long process but 2015 is the year where we've seen the light as far as ridding one infection from my body completely, so the long road, while windy and bumpy and painful and herx-filled, has been worth it. We know there are still many buggers to treat and get out of my body, but this is, majorly, a big deal!
2015 was the year I (re)learned a lesson that needs relearning many times, sometimes daily, I've discovered. The lesson being: my body is not something I need to berate when it's not working properly and is instead a temple of the Holy Spirit and should be treated as such, which not only includes my treatment plan, restorative supplements, whole/raw/health-boosting nutrition/food and water, and healing physically, but healing on a much deeper, spiritual, emotional level. Toxicity invades your mind as much as--if not more than--your brain (mull that over for a minute). Our bodies truly are intricate, delicate, beautiful masterpieces made by the Creator, even if a body may be physically beyond help or just overall in poor health. When that's the case, it's easy to dwell on it, which actually, in turn, makes you feel physically worse because if you're feeling emotionally/mentally/spiritually down, it transcends that level and permeates every cell, tissue, organ, and system in your body. Which ties into the next "2015 was" item:
2015 was the year I was able to release pent-up anger and grudges I've had for years about a couple of different situations and relationships, as well as relearn the importance of living in the present moment, putting away technology for a while, and practicing just "being," and even if it involves aforementioned pain, it can be surprising how useful meditation techniques even as simple as breathing more deeply can help your overall state of health and well-being, especially if you've never tried it before. Chemicals and synthetic products are toxic to all bodies and systems (everyone, not just those with Lyme, co-infections, or other chronic illnesses, should be wary of what you put ok or ok your body when it comes to food, drinks, makeup, soap, shampoo, detergent, air fresheners, etc.), of course, but so are thoughts that make you feel negatively about your situation. It's the last day of 2015 as I write this post, and if you're reading this it means you're alive--and I'm alive as I type it--so since that miracle is evident, remember: mental detoxing is just as important, if not more so than, the physical detoxing we do daily.
2015 was the year my baby sister (who isn't a baby anymore--she's 21 and about to start her student teaching) got engaged to the man she will spend her life with, and they are a perfect match for each other! (This made the "best of 2015" Instagram collage along with with a couple I'll mention below, but they're also in the screenshot of he caption so you can also read it there, the picture of the caption for the original Instagram post.) I can't wait till I'm able to fulfill as many of my matron-of-honor duties as I can--thankfully they're not getting married until summer of 2017 so we have plenty of time between now and then to get some more healing going on!
2015 was the year Rog and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and found a way to make it special, even though we were out of town for 2 weeks getting daily treatments at my doctor's office 5.5 hours away while living in a hotel those 2 weeks. We also got to watch season 17 of Big Brother together (Team Johnny Mac! Also loved Steve.), a show we got in on really late but is now part of our summer ritual.
2015 was the year I was able to see one movie in theaters again due to those two weeks of treatments--and while movie tickets are exponentially more expensive in the Nashville area and I was worn out the rest of the day, it was worth every second of normalcy and laughter as I watched the movie with Rog ("Spy" starring Melissa McCarthy, so plentiful laughter abounded) with my wheelchair parked beside me and my own movie snacksand ater brought with me--shhhh, don't tell...medical necessity.
2015 was the year I was able to finish up a research study I've been involved in since July of 2014 at UNC as part of their eating disorders program research (the study is only open to adults who have been in the program in the past and it was really important to me to be able to finish what I had started). Against all odds, we kept pushing the 1-year appointment back and went in early November instead of early July--I may have slept the whole ride there and back between bouts of crying in pain, but I DID finish my participation AND as an added bonus, we stopped at the enemy of all enemy campuses and took pics in front of Cameron Indoor Stadium, swagged out in all my UK gear, including my "I STILL HATE LAETTNER" shirt and Neni's UK sweatshirt on my lap, expressing my distaste for dUKe and everything that goes with it, the basketball program, and Mike Krzykwbdgcownwbejsbwgaickwbwgdifownwgdicoebdgcydiwjwbewski😉. (This pic made the "best of" collage, as did the engagement pic, among others)
2015 was the year I didn't really leave my house except for appointments, the year I spent a week in the hospital between here and Lexington, and 2 weeks with a feeding tube, which mom became an expert at flushing since I had to live at mom and dad's for two months as Rog started band camp and school--needed someone with me 24/7 at that time for sure. I can't imagine the horrible flashbacks it gave her, especially at first, having to do that, given I've only ever had NG tubes while in eating disorder treatment facilities--heck, it was hard to handle for ME, and I should be used to it, but it was an emotionally hard pill to swallow, albeit a necessary one because for a couple weeks I couldn't swallow any food/supplements/meds/water)--BUT it was also the year I realized that having a feeding tube for solely medical reasons was easier/better for me than having it for emotional/mental health issues (the two are really one, physical and mental health, but that would require a whole new post), which was a major mental milestone for me. In the past, my eating disordered brain would have seen it as an accomplishment, but my brain now, even though the eating disorder "voice" is still there, it's much quieter and was drowned out by my desire to heal, which included eventually getting that tube out and continually includes striving for optimal nutrition as often as my body will allow, because physical healing can't be fully realized if your body is undernourished/malnourished/not absorbing the things you do eat/drink.
2015 was the year that we were "adopted" by our Tomcats for Tomcats family, which is a semi-local group (started by the Ashland Tomcats class of 1975--members are actually scattered all over the country but it was started with hometown men and women who have fond memories of their Tomcat years and have hearts that are exponentially bigger than the Grinch's after it grew 3 sizes and busted out of its little box) that helps a number of people with their needs each year--a blessing beyond words. It was the year I got a surprise (and very welcomed, in this case) visit from a friend I've known over 2/3 of my life, visit me in the hospital in Lexington and put a huge smile on my face and in my heart, and those moments elicited tears of thankfulness and happiness. It was the year two of my very best friends from college drove 2 hours one way (4 total) one Saturday morning in early December just to see me for an hour (another college friend got married in Lex that day and one of these friends had flown in from Boston, while my friend from Louisville picked the Bostonian-by-way-of-Tanzania up from the airport and drove both of them here), which was one of the best hours of my year, even though I was in bed, ratchet-haired and in pajamas and dark sunglasses, and they were in chairs Rog had brought from the dining room to our bedroom. Again, a smiling face and heart, along with tears when I heard their voices--before they were even inside our house--from feeling the overwhelming love and dedication of true friendship. (See pic immediately below)
2015 was also the year God spoke to my heart more clearly than ever before, telling me that it's not optional, I MUST use Christian hip-hop/rap as part of my witness/ministry/testimony, and the year I was fortunate enough to receive the beginning items of what will one day possibly be a recording studio, or at least a semi-decent home studio to record the mounds of lyrics I have written/typed on my phone but haven't been able to record yet.
2015 was so many things, good and bad, but perhaps the best of them all, in spite of all the pain and new bumps in the road, my wonderful husband, Roger, finds a way to make me smile or laugh (even inwardly) every day (even when I know he doesn't always feel like that, and has some pretty intense things, outside of taking care of me, on his heart right now), and who goes above and beyond what should ever have to be expected of a 32 year-old who has been his 27 year-old wife's caregiver for 3 years, showing extreme patience and love and commitment even when I know I get irritable, impatient, and am , honestly, unlovable at times
I never want to paint myself as a perfect patient, because many times I'm downright difficult to handle/live with, but he continues to live out the "in sickness and in health" part of our vows every single day, knowing God is going to get us through this together and let us get fully back to our lives, and knowing He's holding us up even when we are weak. And he's been able to get back in the praise band at church on Sundays, which is just amazing in my eyes--it'd be easy for someone in his position to want to sleep in every minute he possibly can on any given weekend, but nope, Rog makes a conscious decision to serve the Lord through music alongside the praise band because He knows our God is greater. I have no clue what I did to deserve a man of such character, but for some reason he chose me more intently and consciously than Ash Ketchum chose Pikachu, so I'm not complaining about that for one minute.
(I've finally converted him to a Pokémon fan--a feat years in the making, and we're sometimes able to play against each other with cards on the bed, OR even use our iPads, which I've had for a few years but he just got for Christmas, and literally sit beside each other in bed and battle--this is the go-to for days when I'm able to move my hands a little but not able to move well enough or have enough energy to set up a legit playing mat with cards and everything else)
So to sum up 2015:
It's not a year of only-bad things, it's a year with both good and bad things, but more so, it's a year that leaves me excited for the promises of 2016--such a pretty number--and the progress I know will be made this year, not just for me. It for many...I just have a feeling it's going to be a year of healing, not just for me, but for all of us.
Until then, I'm going to sit tight and enjoy this last day of the year as much as I can (AKA under an electric blanket, cold packs on my head, resting in bed after I post this (*cough**cough* may or may no lt be typing FROM bed *cough**cough*) to hopefully be able to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve with Rog till the ball drops in Times Square), and I hope you're all able to do the same to the best of your ability.
Happy New Year (tomorrow) to all, and may God pour out the blessings of healing this year, so much so that you won't even have room enough to receive it (channeling my inner bible drill 4th-6th grader-Malachi 3:10 with that paraphrased verse).
Wishing all of us a happy, healthy 2016,
Much love and God bless,
*Author's note (from above): I haven't been able to update my treatment section of the blog (mainly due to bartonella herxes from March through November) but I hope to go more in depth as soon as I'm able. Basically we're working on an EBV "insurance plan" to make sure all the bugs get out and stay out--and we know we're practically there because I'm taking the 10M DesBio series (which may mean nothing to those of you who aren't. familiar with DesBio--if that applies to you, you should be able to find a detailed description of this treatment method on my "Treatment/Treatment Blog" tabs--but this is the highest dosed box of vials and the last box of the series, even though we'll probably do another round of the 10M box just for precaution), and taking the vials as full vials once a week, the actual instructions on the box, with minimal herxing, and I'm halfway through this box (we had to start with half a vial every 5 days of much lower graduated doses for almost a year, then every 3 days, then a full vial every 3 days, then the 1M series, and now we're finally nearing the end of this one).
I meant to add my resolutions at the end of this post. Resolutions are something I don't usually make, because often they add undue pressure and feelings of failure if you don't complete it perfectly, but guess what--even if you make a resolution and break it once, you get to start right from that point forward and keep trying to stick with the resolution. In other words, just because you slip-up on your resolution once in January, February, March, or multiple times throughout the year, it doesn't mean you can't still have--and live out--your resolution. So, that said, here are my resolutions for 2016:
1.) Be a better wife in any and all ways I'm able on a day-to-day basis. (An achievable, adaptable goal, so it's perfect as a resolution)
2.) Keep a more positive mindset--the first year and a half or so of fighting these illnesses after they sidelines me and put our life on pause, I actually became a more positive person than I had been before. That's not been the case for the past year and a half and I want to change that. So many people tell me how positive I am and how amazing it is to see someone keep their faith so strongly during hard times and every time I receive those compliments I feel like a hypocrite, given I rarely--if ever--feel like a positive person...but with resolutions comes the element of choice, so I'm choosing to make this year a more positive one, as far as my mindset and attitude are concerned, come what may when it comes to health battles.
3.) Remind myself daily that God is in control, that His plan is perfect and unfolds whenever and however it's intended to happen, and that He already knows the very moment my body will be healed. Meditate on this daily, and if I find my thoughts straying, I'll listen to praise and worship music to focus on what's true and right.
4.) Never end lists with an odd number. Seriously, though, so an actual resolution can be here: my fourth resolution is to make some sort of progress towards what God has called me to do regarding writing/recording Christian Hip-Hop/Rap. I've got the basics I need and I'm trusting God to give me the energy to take a step or two (or more) towards my goal of fulfilling what He has called me to do.
And because this is really the only picture appropriate for a New Year: