Strong Words from a Brittle Boy

Last night, I was cuddled up, under my blanket, with my head on the arm of the couch in Lyme Flare-Up mode, feeling sorry for myself. I’d spent the last few hours, freezing my butt off at the kids’ Flag Football game. As I sat there, I focused on the pain radiating up and down my body and started to sulk. I flipped through the TV channels and landed on Little Big Shots, where 12-year-old Sparsh Shah very quickly put me in my place.  Sparsh is an amazing young man, who was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. (He was born with more than 30 broken bones.) He tells Harvey he’s had more than 125 bone fractures throughout his life, “I have a fracture right now,” he says. When Harvey asks “Then why are you here?” Sparsh says loudly and proudly, “I want to inspire the world.”

Wow, this 12-year-old blew me away. “Why waste your life in sadness, when you can enjoy a life of happiness,” he says when Steve Harvey asked him how he was doing. Really? This child is wheelchair bound, suffering from a debilitating disease and he can have that kind of attitude? Didn’t I feel ashamed?! Here I am throwing myself a pity party because I’m having a Lyme flare-up and my body is achy from watching my healthy, happy kids play sports. Whoa is me.

This past week, I’ve spoken with two different women that are just now starting their own Lyme journey (technically one has been suffering for years, but is now ready to take the bull by the horns and become her own advocate). As I listened to these stories, it reminded me of how far I have come. Yes, Lyme is still and probably always will be a part of my life. But it doesn’t have the same control over my life that it used to. I’m once again, a contributing part of my family. Just today, I’ve done three loads of laundry and cooked dinner – that’s quite an accomplishment for the old-Lisa. I’m still trying to walk that fine line between being productive and active, without over-doing it. Sometimes I’m more successful than others…. but it’s a work in progress.

I find myself looking up all of the local 5K races and actually consider signing up for one, but typically I chicken out at the last minute when it comes time to click the SUBMIT button. I fear that when I finally do sign up for one, I’ll wind up having a Lyme flare up on race day and end up being stuck in bed, instead of crossing the finish line. But I’m close. I’m considering it. Three years ago, I couldn’t say that.

But what would Sparsh say? I don’t think that boy has a fearful bone in his body. And if he did, it’s probably broken and he’s ignoring it 🙂 So, maybe it’s time for all of us to step out of our comfort zone and take that leap of faith. Sign up for that race, without fear of the being able to finish. Stop letting life pass us by, while we watch others live.

Maybe I really was born for a time such as this . . .  as my favorite bible verse quotes. In Mark 4:40 Jesus says one word – SILENCE. And the stormy sea calms and the whirling wind stops.  He asks the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? He asked. “Do you still have no faith?” 

I say I have faith . . . . but do I really? The key is to step out of the boat,  just like Peter did, but not make the same mistake he did – not take our eyes off Jesus. If we all stay focused on HIM, we can accomplish any task, no matter how big or small. So, what’s stopping you? I dare you to be like Sparsh . . . find joy in your current situation and go out and inspire the world! 

Hiding from the Light

Tuesday nights are Read to the Dogs at our local library. This program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a dog.  But not just any dog.  These are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their handler as a team, going to schools, libraries, and many other settings. However, Tuesday night is also one of my late nights at work, so there are many times that I’ve promised to bring the kids to this program, but due to my ongoing bout with Lyme Disease, I often have to cancel.

My daily work commute ranges anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes depending on the day. Traffic, weather, construction, time of day – they all play a factor in how long it takes me to get home. Lately the sun has been another issue. One of my lingering Lyme symptoms is my extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Some days it’s worse than others. Most days I function relatively normally (ha ha – my days are far from normal) and other days this sensitivity stops me in my tracks.

Most recently the drive home seems to trigger this symptom, which can lead into a full-fledge migraine. Some days just the way the sunlight hits the dashboard, or reflects off something in my car it can begin. At night, it’s the glare of the oncoming headlights. It starts out as a dull pain in the back of my head,  that slowly radiates to the front. Then ZING. Something happens. It’s like my body screams, “Enough! I’ve reached my limit!” and I get a sharp pain in the side of my head. This is when I know the migraine is inevitable. Usually by now, I’ve got my huge, old lady granny sunglasses on, a hat pulled down over my eyes, the sun visors pulled down as far as they will go, and I’m holding one hand up blocking the sun from my line of vision, with the other hand on the steering wheel …. all while navigating through rush hour traffic. I’ve actually considered getting a note from my doctor saying I can’t drive at night anymore…. but then I realized that it happens during the day too.

By the time I’ve reached this point of the sensitivity, I can pretty much assume that I’ll be spending the rest of my night in bed. My husband does a great job keeping the kids quiet and the house dark.  He even brings my dinner (which he cooks!) to me in bed. So, on this particular night instead of reading the dogs, my kids tucked me in and kissed me good night, while I fought to hold back my tears.

This past week was pretty brutal. After a full week of intense migraines, my week ended with the arrival of my period . . . . another trigger for a full blown out Lyme flare up. Althought, we may not have control over our menstrual cycle, we do have control over what we put into our body. Limiting my sugar is one of the smartest things I can do no matter what time of the month it is. I’ve also started taking Melatonin. My amazing doctor, Dr. Molly suggested I try it for ten days. I take one pill about an hour before bed, or at the first signs of a headache and to my surprise, I haven’t had a single migraine since I started this regiment.

One of my favorite bible verses is Matthew 5:16 | Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. . . .

I pray everyday and ask God to help me be the light in this very dark world of ours.  So, I find it ironic that light is what causes so much of my physical pain. But the bible also says in John 16:33 that in this world we will have tribulation and that we should be of good cheer, because HE overcame the world.

But what he says right before that is what’s really important . . . .  “in Me you may have peace.” Althought most days I find myself doing everything humanly possible to hide from the bright lights of this world, I have a sense of peace knowing that it’s all part of HIS plan for my life and when my suffering has come to an end, the biggest, brightest, most magnificent light that I could ever imagine will welcome me into HIS kingdom, where I will never have to hide from the light again.

My prayer for you is that whatever trial or tribulation you’re going through right now, you find the peace that only HE can bring. No matter how DARK things may seem. HE is the light of the world and HE loves you. And no matter what kind of disguise you put on, you can’t hide from HIS love.

 

The Natural Solution

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Driving along, minding their own business, looking forward to hanging out with their family – the lives of Sylvia and Nate were about to be changed forever. With only the small frame of her Jeep Wrangler to protect them, they were T-boned by a tractor trailer going 55 miles per hour. The force of the impact caused, a broken hip, two punctured lungs, a ruptured spleen, two concussions, bleeding on the brain and the list goes on.

Sylvia was airlifted to Jefferson Hospital where she stayed in critical care for almost three weeks. It’s all quite a blur for Sylvia, but what she does remember is the lack of answers. The lack of communication among her medical team of various doctors and specialists. Not knowing what was going to happen next.

Dr. Molly, Ph.D. founder, and director of the Cherry Hill Clinic was a regular at the restaurant Sylvia worked at. When Dr. Molly  learned of Sylvia’s terrible accident, she reached out to the family to help.  Let’s stop there for a minute. Meditate on that for a moment. This is just the tip of the genuine compassion iceberg found at her clinic.

Dr. Molly sent for Sylvia’s records and began to put all of the many pieces together.Sorting  through the pages and pages of medical history she was able to put together a plan. . .  a road to recovery. Sylvia was transferred to a rehabilitation center where she spent another week. Sylvia was prescribed a laundry list of medication to help her simply get through the day, but the side-effects of the medication that out-weighed the benefits. And as a single mom of a special needs child, Sylvia knew she couldn’t take all of the drugs that were prescribed to her. She began to see Dr. Molly once a week for holistic/all natural IV treatments. Sylvia started to see improvement almost immediately.

One year later, Sylvia is now going to the gym with her son, walking daily and even considering going back to work. Although she still suffers from the lack of mobility, dizziness, stiffness and just the ability to move like she used to – Sylvia is surprising everyone, especially her doctors!

“I just went to see my spine doctor. I still have a herniated disk between by shoulder blades. When he asked if I was taking my pain medication, I told him no and he shook his head in disbelief. He couldn’t believe I wasn’t taking anything for the pain,” explained Sylvia. Everyone who knows her is blown away when they see how far she has come. Although, it’s hard to get the medical field to accept her progress because of the connection of homeopathic medicine.

“Dr. Molly became my saint during a very dark time. I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone.” At her last Neurologist appointment, the doctor spent most of their time together looking at the x-ray and not talking to Sylvia. Even thoughSylvia still gets dizzy, and light headed, because those symptoms are not related to a brain injury, her time with him was done. Case closed. Come back next year for a follow-up.

That is simply not the case at Dr. Molly’s clinic. What makes Dr. Molly different from the rest of her field is her patience and willingness to listen. “You can’t tell doctors anything… they already know everything! But Dr. Molly will sit and listen for hours and she gives input when needed, but never tries to step on other’s doctor’s toes.  It’s nice to have alternatives,” says Sylvia.

When you come to the Cherry Hill Clinic it’s more like a therapy session than a treatment center. You can sit and listen to the stories of all of the patients around you. “During my first visit, I was still not quite ‘with it’ in the head. So, I just sat back and listened to all of the stories of the patients around me. It helped me to realize that no matter what I was going through, someone else was going through their own trial. It helped me to keep a positive attitude,” Sylvia explained.

“I believe in being in tune with your body… if you know your body, Dr. Molly can help make sense of things that are going on. She helps make it all a little bit clearer but stays true to nature. She prescribes a lot of homeopathic items to help with my symptoms. It’s a shame that we live in a world that is all about prescriptions.”

We all struggle with medical issues, whether large or small. But what you may not know is that you do have options. There is more than one way to tackle the medical issue that you suffer from. It’s time for you to be your own advocate. Not all of us will have a Dr. Molly coming to our place of work, following up on us. Sometimes you have to take that first step. Trust your gut. Ask those hard questions, get that second opinion or seek alternative therapies.

If you’re in the South Jersey area, and you’re considering a homeopathic treatment whether for something as serious as cancer or a minor as allergies, call Dr. Molly. Get a FREE consultation with a doctor who will actually listen and provide more than one solution.

The Silver Lining in the GREEN Slime of Lyme

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It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written. There are a few reasons for my absence.  The first is, I’ve been feeling really well and I didn’t feel like I had anything worth contributing. That’s crazy, right? Just because I’m not feeling super crappy and whiny doesn’t mean I shouldn’t share, right?

Life is good. God is good. And even Lyme is good. It doesn’t have to be the ugly label that we’ve assigned it. It has brought me to a place in my life, where my priorities have been shuffled around and my new normal is yet again redefined. I thought when the triplets were born, our “new” normal would be the craziest phase of our life. Not so much!

But I’ve learned these past few months that it’s okay to test the boundaries of my diet, my fitness and other areas of my life. Just like my pre-Lyme days, there will be good days and bad days. But Lyme doesn’t define who I am, or how I feel. My faith and my outlook on life do. And I’m the only one in control of those! Yes, a healthy diet, lots of rest, an AMAZING doctor, a low-stress lifestyle, and a family that loves and supports me –  absolutely contribute to the success I’ve had with this disease – but they are not the ultimate answer.

It is going to sound silly and cynical, but no matter what the question – God is always the answer. I’ve found that my crappy days are crappy because I didn’t choose Joy. I didn’t set aside quiet time for me and my Lord and Savior. I chose to jump into the chaos of life, the way I used to. But when I slow down, take time to read, not rush through  a couple chapters just to say “I read the bible today” – but when I actually slow down, read, study and meditate on the Word – that is ultimately when things change for the better.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are going to be things that we can’t control and these things absolutely have an affect on us. For instance, the sudden change in weather, severe thunderstorms . . . obviously, these are out my control  – and, believe it or not, they wreak havoc on my body. Research proves that sudden changes in Temperature, Barometric Pressure, Humidity, Precipitation, and Wind affect those who suffer from Lyme, Fibromyalgia and other similar diseases. I can be perfectly fine one moment, and once a storm hits – INSTANT MIGRAINE. It can send me right up to my room for the night. BUT, what I’ve learned (this is the beautiful thing about life – you can either learn from your experiences or keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over again) is that when I choose JOY in these moments (just like Paul and Silas, in Acts 16:16-40 praying and singing at midnight), when you sing the praises of God, even in the darkest moments, your darkest moments don’t seem so dark anymore.

I pray that whatever challenges you are facing right at this very moment, whether it’s the piles of toys and mounds of dirty clothes making your blood boil; broken appliances and empty bank accounts stressing you out; or something more devastating like a Cancer diagnosis that is tearing you apart – remember one thing – you have the choice to sing His praise or wallow in the sadness of the moment.

However, the ultimate choice is not only in HOW you handle these daily situations, but how you choose to live your life and ultimately your death. When you choose to glorify God and choose JESUS, there are no questions. You know how it all ends. You know where you will be when this chapter ends. But when you don’t choose HIM – that’s when life and death ultimately become unsure. Be confident – choose HIM and you will never look back! I know, I never have 🙂

Getting out of the Lyme pit!

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I had a great week. I ate well, got in several workouts – even an incredible spin class! In fact, my week went so well, I actually considered cancelling my appointment at the amazing Cherry Hill Clinic. But, I figured giving your immune system a boost is never a bad thing.

I actually felt guilty walking into the clinic; like I shouldn’t be here anymore. I walked in, saw my name on my IV bag and a rubber glove, filled with warm water waiting for me. My veins have not been cooperating lately, so the caring nurse (Lovely Linda) always warms up my veins with a home-made heating pad 🙂 I had to smile when I saw this. It’s little things like this that make me feel at home at the clinic.

Once we got my IV started, Nurse Linda mentioned that Dr. Molly added something new to my Lyme Juice –Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), an all-natural, anti-inflammatory. It was music to my ears. Since losing the fight to that tick three years ago, I’m now inflamed from head to toe! The amount of symptoms that I suffer from has DECREASED dramatically over the past few months, but one of the few lingering symptoms still bugging me (haaa… bug – that’s funny!) has been my newly acquired asthma.So, the only downfall to having enough energy to work-out (if you can EVER complain about that) is the wheezing afterwards.

So, I was excited to see how I would feel after this particular treatment. I finished my Lyme Juice and headed into work. I immediately felt the benefits. My mind was clear. I was super productive and then during my lunch break, I grabbed my work-out buddy Colleen and we got started. An hour later, my legs were jello, I was dripping with sweat, but to my surprise, I was breathing just fine! No wheezing! There really is a first time for everything!

I started this journey with a laundry list of symptoms, no diagnosis and not much hope. In just a few short years, my life has completely turned around. For the first time in my life, I wake up early and start my day off in the Word. Before tackling breakfast, tangled hair and missing socks – I quiet my heart and spend a few moments with the Lord. For years, I tried to convince myself to do this, but I always chose 30 extra minutes of sleep over the Lord. I’m embarrassed to even admit it, but it’s the truth.

Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.

No matter what time of slimy pit you’re in right now – depression, drugs, Lyme disease – cry out to the Lord. He will hear you. He will lift you out of your pit, just like he has lifted me from mine!

Love – the only qualification you need

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I was sitting at my desk, when I was overcome with this bizarre desire to help someone. The strange thing was, I didn’t know who or what. So, I started to randomly reach out to people in my life . . . my spouse, a friend, a co-worker, no one needed me. Then I reached out to my pastor’s wife. To my surprise, she was just praying about a special needs program for our Sunday School. I was blown away with God’s timing and how very specific His message was to me. For years, I had been volunteering with my local Autism Group, raising money for Social Skills programs and coordinating the annual Autism Walk – but it never seemed to be enough.

It’s great to be able to provide much need therapy programs or respite for parents – but none of that compares to being able to give parents the opportunity to sit and listen to an amazing pastor teach God’s word. And having  the confidence of knowing that your child is attending a Sunday School class, with teachers and aids that are equipped to handle their special needs – that’s priceless.

When the triplets were young, we tried several times to attend church. Packing diaper bags full of snacks, juice boxes and toys to keep them entertained, while we tried to pay attention. But, sitting in the “baby room” was just that . . . a room filled with babies. The distractions were endless. No matter how hard we tried, we always walked away feeling more frustrated and never being “filled.” Often times, we left feeling more frustrated than when when we arrived.

Mike and I were both raised Roman Catholic. Our oldest had just made his Holy Communion and that’s when it dawned on us . . . how on earth were the boys going to be able to attend CCD? With the amount of services listed in their IEPs, we knew that a traditional CCD class would not work for our boys. That was one of the many reasons, we decided to start looking for other churches. After “test driving” many churches, we found our home at Calvary Chapel in Bellmawr (now Calvary Chapel of South Jersey).

A sound bible based teaching, sunday school classes that were age appropriate, and now we are going to offer a special needs program. It’s perfect. I’m so blessed to be a part of this church and this new program. I’m not a special needs teacher, I don’t have any experience in behavioral therapy. In fact the only degree I have is in Marketing. So, what makes God think I’m qualified to raise not one, but two special needs children?

After one extremely challenging ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) melt down, I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed. I pleaded to God and cried out, “What am I supposed to do? I don’t know how to do this? I’m not qualified to do this!” I wasn’t expecting what happened next . . . . He said, “Just love him.”

So, now matter what type of meltdown or crisis you’re dealing with right now. Remember the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples:

John 13:34-35New International Version (NIV)

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

Snuggle Time

It’s sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone,” because it’s released when people snuggle up or bond socially. It’s also been called the bliss hormone due to its effects on behavior and love.cats-cute-snuggle-Favim.com-217652

I’ve been taking Oxytocin (no, not Oxycontin!) for about two months now and it has changed my life!  For a girl who just stopped her anti-depressant medication after six years, Oxytocin has been a life saver!

Unlike your typical anti-depressant, it doesn’t chemically change your brain. It’s a natural boost of love! Other patients at the Cherry Hill Clinic have described it as, “The feeling you get when your kids run up and give you a big hug!”

I find myself snuggling up to my kids more often; being more affectionate to my husband; seeing joy in situations that may sometimes be stressful (Mary Had a Little Lamb over and over again from a first-year saxophone player).

Whether you need a little love in  your life, or maybe you’re just curious and want to learn more, Dr. Molly from the Cherry Hill Clinic will be on Talk Radio 1210 this Sunday, answering your questions. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, be sure to tune into 1210 AM this Sunday at 8:00 am. Oxytocin might just be the boost you need! Couldn’t we all use a little more love in our lives?