Mommy, I love laying on your belly. It’s so soft and my head sinks in. And when you laugh it goes up and down. It’s like my own little moon bounce.
Just want I always wanted to hear!
Mommy, I love laying on your belly. It’s so soft and my head sinks in. And when you laugh it goes up and down. It’s like my own little moon bounce.
Just want I always wanted to hear!
Think of all of the people that graduate from high school and head off to college taking courses for a degree that they’re never going to use. I have so many friends that went to school for one thing and ended up on a radically different career path. In fact, I’m not sure many people graduate from high school and head off to college knowing exactly what they want to do. In fact, I think it’s probably the norm to switch your major a few times before you graduate.
But me– I’m not the norm! From the time I was a pre-teen watching the popular sitcom Who’s The Boss, I knew who and what I was going to be when I grew up. I was going to be Angela Bower. Advertising Executive, mom and bread winner, all wrapped up in one beautiful package.
I took as many business courses as I could, joined the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) in high school and even graduated from college with a marketing degree. To top it off my first job was in the marketing department at the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Not too shabby for a recent college grad! Granted, I was the Administrative Assistant, but still . . . I was the Assistant for the Sales/Marketing Director, so technically I was doing what I went to school for. I just had to climb the corporate ladder, which I was very willing to do.
I remember walking through “the big city” every morning and checking out my reflection in the shiny buildings. I was so proud of that reflection. The trendy suite, the black stockings, the high heels, the finely manicured nails, the brief case. There I was…. Angela Bower!
Fast forward 18 years later. The 21 year old me might not be too impressed. I’m sitting at my desk, which is not quite the corner office that Angela Bower had or even as nice as my first cubicle. It’s more like a very long countertop with four computer stations. I’m the lucky one that gets to sit at the very end, so the left side of my body is flush up against the wall. At least I have a head rest, when I’m tired. The young executive in me is not impressed at all.
She is also surprised at how I arrived to work. No train commute into the big city, but instead a 45 minute drive in an old, disgusting, crumb filled, lollipop stuck, finger printed window, no frills, cloth interior, stained up mini van. And the destination? Not an advertising agency or a corporate office, but an animal hospital? Wow – far cry from the account executive driving her jaguar to her own agency. Where did I go wrong? And look at that outfit! She’s wearing those old-lady Naturalizer slip on shoes. What happened to the heels? Is she wearing her son’s socks with those shoes? They have skulls and cross bones on them! Look at that sweater! It is SO six years ago!
If the 21 year old me looks close enough she can see toothpaste and deodorant marks on the long sleeve t-shirt under my sweater. And the manicure? What happened to our salon manicured nails? Are they store bought press on nails? How embarrassing! This is like Ebenezer Scrooge’s The Ghost of Christmas Future. This is a nightmare! I had no idea it would be this bad! What’s that sound? Oh, her phone is ringing. Well, it is now the year 2014, so I’m excited to see how far technology has come. Wait, is that a FLIP phone? You have got to be kidding me! I’m pretty sure in the year 2014, they have phones with the internet, email, and video cameras – and this is what we have? We really went wrong somewhere.
The BMVM (Before Mini Van Me) answers the phone. It’s the school nurse calling because our son came to school with a cardboard super hero power source stuck to his head. When the teacher asked him to remove it, some of his skin came off with the circle – hence the phone call from the nurse. As the nurse inquires about the circle and how/why it was stuck to his forehead, the 30 something me just smiles and says, “As long as the kids get to school fed, dressed and on time – we don’t really ask questions.” Odd response.
Rewind a few hours, BMVM is watching the morning routine. Wow! I guess that explains the toothpaste and deodorant. Holy cow, that’s a lot of kids. I was supposed to have two children. One boy. One girl. This was NOT in the plan. There’s so much yelling and chaos. Did those kids pick out those outfits themselves? What is she doing now? Is that a double sided foam sticker? Why is she putting it on that circle? Isn’t there enough chaos in this house, now she’s doing crafts! Wait a second . . . . that’s not a craft. Do you mean to tell me that she – no, I – put that thing on his head and sent him off to school like that? No way! I would NEVER send my child to school like that! That is so embarrassing!
Fast forward a few hours, it’s dinner time. Almost quiet. BMVM is very impressed. We actually cooked dinner – and it’s not macaroni and cheese. We’ve come so far! She’s checking out all the kids….. they are very cute (even if there are a lot). The food is gently placed on the table, drinks are poured into those little plastic cups with the built in straws and we all get ready to eat. BMVM looks around. We grab the hand of our best friend, and smile at each other. One of kids raises their hand with excitement and proceeds to give thanks to God for this beautiful day, this meal that He has provided and for their family. Everyone smiles and says AMEN.
I guess we didn’t do so bad after all.
Growing up in the 80’s in a neighborhood called Oak Valley, couldn’t have been any cooler! We were the Valley Girls, before it was cool to be a valley girl…. LIKE TOTALLY! Yes, it was definitely the cool side of town. Everyone wanted to be from “The Valley.” And if you weren’t cool enough to live in the Valley, you would aspire to hang out with the Valley kids…. in the Valley of course.
But the valleys that I’m talking about are not the childhood memories that I adore. They are the crappiest of crappy times in your life. Kinda like right . . . . . NOW. Yes, this valley that I am in, is not so glorious. I did some research last night about (go ahead, guess!) Lyme disease and now the associating term of the day “menstrual cramps.” I will keep this as bland as possible and not include too many gory details incase there are any men reading (damn you men!).
So, last night, I’m laying on the couch watching Duck Dynasty with the hubby, and all of a sudden I get really bad menstrual cramps. Why is this odd? 1) I’m not due for my period. 2) I don’t usually get cramps. 3) These were very intense. So, I google menstrual cramps and Lyme to find out that YES Lyme messes with your cycle and can throw you into menopause; can make your period MISERABLE; and it can even make your period come more frequently and last longer. WOW! Thank you Lyme – because it’s not enough that you have wreaked havoc on the rest of my body, you have to go there too?
Okay, vent over. Back to the topic. My point is this . . . . Lyme is crazy. I’ve been taking adrenal supplements to help boost my energy. They have been amazing. In fact, they worked so well, that I was starting to second guess myself. Maybe this was all in my head. Then BOOM – I fell into the valley!
At first, I was thankful because it reassured me that my symptoms are real and just because they disappear for a few days, doesn’t mean that I am not sick. I am sick and this is real. My pain is real, the cramps were real and in the middle of the night the intense pain that woke me out of a sound sleep was definitely real. I’m thankful that the Lord led me to those internet sites, so that it would be fresh in my mind, as I tried to decipher the pain.
Could it be possible that an ovarian cyst was causing the cramps, and then in the middle of the night it ruptured? It sounded way too similar to stories I had just read on a local Lyme forum. Panic set in. I froze with fear. When I was 16 years old, I was hospitalized for two weeks, due to an abscessed ovarian cyst that ruptured. It was painful, I almost died, and it destroyed my fallopian tubes, making it impossible for me to have children (without medical assistance). The idea that this could be happening again, in the middle of the night, freaked me out. The only thing that kept me calm, was knowing that this cyst was not infected. There was no fever, no infection . . . so it wouldn’t necessarily be the same outcome.
I woke my husband and asked him to google, what to do if an ovarian cyst ruptures. We also called my OB/GYN. She said it sounded very much like a rupture, and that there is nothing more to do – except to take some ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation. And of course call if the pain continues after a few days. That’s it? Seriously? Take two ibuprofen and call me in the morning? That’s almost comical.
My amazing hubby (amazing doesn’t even begin to describe him) went out at 4:00 am and got me ibuprofen and tucked me into bed; then went off to work. By the time my alarm went off a few hours later, I was actually feeling pretty good, considering the night I had.
But I had such an overwhelming desire (maybe the Holy Spirit leading me) to write about this today. Maybe it’s because no matter how bad things seem in one moment, if you pray and follow HIS plan, you’ll realize it’s not so bad. Or maybe I just needed to realize that Valleys aren’t that bad. Because after all, it’s a Valley that brought me to the Lord . . . . and without HIM I would still be floundering down there. But instead, I’m standing on the mountaintop praising and worshiping HIM! If you’re stuck in a Valley – look up. He’s there for you. You just have to go to HIM.
God is sovereign, which means that God is able to do what He pleases with whomever He chooses whenever He wishes. The prophet Jeremiah said, “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course” (Jeremiah 10:23, NLT). And we read in Proverbs 20:24, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT). That is the sovereignty of God.
Family is about not yelling at the kids when they break into a brand new box of diapers and start throwing them around the house. But instead, having a diaper fight and savoring that moment . . . knowing that you will never get it back. It’s about my husband breaking the tension of a disagreement, by picking me up, throwing me over his shoulder, and hurling me into the pool, fully clothed . . . just to put a smile on my face. It’s about laughing at each other when we slip and fall in the snow, or stub our big toe on the leg of the kitchen chair. But it’s also about gently rubbing foreheads, squeezing hands, hugging til it hurts and sneaking in just one more kiss.
It’s erie. I can hear the My Little Pony movie in the background. I can actually hear the patter of the dog’s paws as he runs across the laps of the kids sitting on the couch. But that’s all I hear. This is NOT normal; not in my house. Maybe if I was home alone, but not with a full house.
Have they finally hit the age, where they really can just sit down and watch a movie in peace? Can they really enjoy each other’s company? Is it possible for them to be in the same room and not torture each other? Is it possible for me to actually get some work done, without constant interruption?
There’s one rubbing my leg, awww – he’s so sweet. He’s such a cuddle bug. Wait, now another one is trying to climb on my lap. Maybe he just wants to snuggle too. I LOVE them, they’re so sweet. But, there’s no room – I’m working. I can’t reach laptop. Wait, I hear growling. He is playing WAY too rough with the puppy. He’s going to get bit.
“I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?”
“Leave him alone!” I holler. “No snacks until Daddy comes home.” “PLEASE stop – you’re going to rip his teeth out!” I yell as he tugs harder on the chew toy.
“He’s going to bite you. Stop!”
Alright – enough. Break over. Back to work.
The jaw pain is getting worse. Almost unbearable. I broke down and called my dentist today. I’ve been putting it off, because I know all of these random problems all fall under the Lyme umbrella. I feel like I’m so close to getting the diagnosis and treatment, that it’s silly to involve more medical professionals at this point in the game. But I had to do something. The earliest I could be seen (without taking more time off of work) was the end of the month, so reluctantly I took the appointment. I’m hoping they will be give me some suggestions on how to deal with this pain, until the underlying issue is resolved.
I saw online that ice and heat both tend to help with inflammation, so I decided to start with the heat. I don’t have one of those nice bean bag heating pads that Haverford Wellness Center had, so I made my own home-made bean bag. One microwavable Ten Minute Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice (still in the plastic) shoved into my husband’s (clean) sweat sock. I popped it in the microwave for a minute, and instead of a side dish for dinner, I had a my very own heated bean bag. It was warm and cozy, but the smell was a bit disturbing. Not sure if it was the plastic, the brown rice, the sock . . . or maybe a combination of all of them. But honestly, I didn’t care. The fact that it took the edge off of the pain, I was very willing to suffer through the stench.
We know that Lyme affects the joints and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. The TMJ is the fourth most commonly affected joint in Lyme disease. Symptoms may include ear pain/pressure, ringing in your ears, dizziness, vision problems, headaches, jaw pain and limited ability to open your mouth. When my jaw pain first started, I stumbled across this website. It’s a great feeling to know that you’re not alone — especially on a crazy journey like this one.
I was having a “woe is me” kind of afternoon, because I had been feeling pretty good all week and then BOOM the TMJ kicked into high gear and my aches and pains returned. There was also a break in the freezing cold weather this week, so there are more people than usual outside running. The more runners I drove by on my way home (as I struggled to stay awake at the wheel), the angrier I got. When was I ever going to be able to run again? The physical challenge of my day has become, being able to stand long enough to cook dinner. Last week, I had to leave the dinner table, because I was exhausted from trying to cut my chicken. I left the dinner table, collapsed on the couch and just laid there, while the tears streamed down my face. It was devastating.
I know that I am one of the lucky people (blessed people — there is no such thing as luck). Because I have educated myself on this disease, I have become my own advocate, very early on in the game. I know that this is nothing compared to what a lot of Lymies suffer from and I am thankful for that. So, when it seems dim and the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away, I have to realize that the finish line may seem far away, but at least I’m in the race.
Monday I had my first appointment with the Lyme specialist. In a strange way, it reminded me of running the Broad Street Run. I was over flowing with excitement before the race started and when they fired the gun all I wanted to do was sprint full speed ahead! But I was smart enough to know that I had to keep my calm and pace myself or I would never make it to the finish line.
The first thing that I noticed was the LYME branding all over the place. Maybe it’s because I’m in the marketing field, or maybe it’s because I’m sensitive to Lyme now – but I couldn’t help but notice that they had green decorations, green office chairs, and of course the big bold words: LYME SPECIALIST on the door. I found that very interesting, because if you were to look in any health insurance directory, you would find Haverford Wellness Center under the heading GENERAL PRACTITIONER, not Lyme Specialist. Oh – that’s because technically there’s no such thing as Chronic Lyme Disease, therefore no such thing as a Lyme Specialist. Interesting, right?!
Every online review that I read mentioned how caring and compassionate the staff at Haverford Wellness Center was – and they definitely lived up to my expectations. Everyone from the front desk, to the nurse that drew my blood and even the patients in the treatment center made us feel very comfortable, like we had been patients of theirs for years. The physician assistant spent over two hours with us. He answered all of our questions and was beyond thorough when it came to getting my background. He never once made me feel uncomfortable, as I explained my laundry list of random symptoms. I even shared more about my personal battle with depression than I ever intended. We talked about the tests that I’ve already had done, how the Thyroid levels affect my energy level, as well as what tests still needed to be done.
After the consultation, I was sent to the treatment area. There were five or six patients hooked up to IVs receiving antibiotic treatments. It looked like (from what I’ve seen on TV) a hospital chemo treatment room. It was very erie at first. But then one of the patients actually told us to grab a seat and make ourselves comfortable! Then the nurse came over, and after tying that giant rubber band thing around my arm, she warmed up a bean bag and gently placed it on my arm. Then I remembered one of the reviews that I read. “Only a Lyme Specialist would be thoughtful enough to have heated bean bags!” I didn’t understand it when I first read that review…. actually I was imagining a giant bean bag chair that had a heat/massage feature on it! Guess that’s my creative imagination gone wild. Anyway, I guess warming the veins makes it easier to draw blood. Because when the nurse came back, she got my vein right away – which in itself is a miracle! And there was no pain… it was a beautiful thing.
Like the Broad Street Run, I wanted to run and get to that finish line – diagnosis and treatment. But unfortunately, this is only the first mile. During the next few miles, I have to (unfortunately) look for another doctor. Like most Lyme Specialists, Haverford Wellness Center does not accept insurance. Despite the fact that my husband and I both have health insurance, we paid over $500 for that first visit. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we are already in debt way over our head. If there are doctors out there, that treat chronic lyme disease, and are in my network, I have to consider switching . . . even if they don’t have heated bean bags.
But with or without the heated bean bags, and the really, REALLY nice staff, I know that I will end up with the care that God has planned for me. I may not like it, I may not understand it, but I am thankful for it – because I’m just a lost sheep. HE is my shepherd and I just want him to bring me home.
1-Peter 2:25 “Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.”
I’ve been researching local Lyme literate doctors in the area and I found one about an hour away that could potentially be a good fit for me. From their website, they portray themselves as a caring facility that treats each patient individually. They also “work” with your insurance company, which helped me to feel at ease. I’ve called other Lyme literate doctors and when I asked about the financial aspect of treatment, I was told to get a credit card! Yikes . . . are we talking a Kohls charge with a $500 limit or are we talking a Gold card with a $20,000 limit! Either way, I can tell you right now, I’m not getting approved. Having four kids in two and a half years can put you into debt, even without fertility treatments. Add IVF into the mix and you’re talking a whole new kind of debt.
So, yesterday I spoke with someone from a wellness center that specializes in Lyme treatment. They answered all of my questions thoroughly, did not make me feel like a hypochondriac, and really just made me feel at ease. After researching the doctor, reading many online reviews and speaking in-depth with the staff, I felt confident about trusting this facility with my diagnosis and treatment.
I was still a little uneasy about pursuing the Lyme literate doctor so soon. I felt like maybe I should just follow protocol and see doctor after doctor, until I’ve exhausted all options. But after reading so much about Lyme and hearing so many horror stories, I can’t just sit back and wait. I have to listen to my mommy gut, and go with my warrior instinct. It hasn’t proven me wrong yet. But more importantly, I have to continue to pray about it.
My appointment with the Endocrinologist is still a month away, so I went ahead and scheduled a consultation with the Lyme specialist. To my surprise, they were able to see me in less than one week! I spent the rest of my day on cloud nine, just dreaming about having a diagnosis and finally receiving the right treatment. It was a good day – a really good day!
But it gets better . . . . today I received a call from the Endocrinologist letting me know that they have to cancel my appointment for next month, and reschedule for a later date. WOW! Talk about confirmation that I’m doing the right thing. It’s HIS plan. I just have to follow his lead, listen quietly and not try to knock down doors on my own.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
An amazing website to help you on your Lyme journey!
It was just a matter of time before the NIGHT SWEATS made it to my own personal symptom list. I was feeling a little left out, not having EVERY SINGLE symptom that I’ve seen other Lymies post 🙂 Kidding! But yes, they have hit. The first couple times, I thought maybe I just had the heat up too high, or maybe I wore something to bed that made me sweat – but last night, it was 22 degrees outside, the winds were gusting up to 28 mph, it was snowing and I went to bed in a tank top. When I woke up from my sound slumber (another sarcastic joke) my winter wear AKA tank top, was covered in sweat. Well, if I’m too tired to workout at least, I can get a sweat going while I’m sleeping. I guess rolling around in the middle of the night, is the most exercise I get during the day! Oh, I’m on a roll today!
Well, the good news is that since I don’t sleep well and I wake up in a puddle, I’ve actually been getting up before my alarm (or at least when it goes off the FIRST time) and I’ve been reading the bible before I start my day. I have tried, and tried, and tried to fit this into different parts of my day – convincing myself that a mom of four who works full time, just doesn’t have the time to carve out time in her schedule to do this. I’ll just talk to God throughout the day, praying in my car, while I’m cooking dinner . . . yes, that’s all well and good, but it’s not enough. I realized that the day I was waiting for my first lyme test to come back. I couldn’t sleep, was terrified about getting the results. Instead of being upset about not being able to sleep, I was thankful. Thankful that HE gave me that time to be able to drop to my knees and reach out to HIM. I had been waiting and waiting for the right time. I had the urge for emotional prayers, I was tired of my monotonous prayers. I wanted to be more passionate in my prayers, but I didn’t seem to have the need or desire.That day, I certainly had a reason. This is what I wrote in my journal that day:
“I know in my heart that God is working. He has a plan to slow me down, to rid my obsession with vanity through this suffering. I am excited because I know this is HIS will, I’m excited because I know that through these trials I will come to him, like I have this morning. I am excited about the future, because I know that the outcome of this will be wonderful and HIS will, so it has to be perfect.”
I asked God to lead me to a verse that would speak to my heart. I turned to 1 Samuel 25. I read for awhile, nothing seemed to click, until 1 Samuel 26:24 And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation. I realized that when the Lord reached out to Saul, he did not stretch out his hand. But when the Lord reached out to me, when I was at rock bottom, I went running to him with open arms. I knew he was the light. . . . the only way out of the darkness that had become my life. I finished that journal entry with this, “He is with me. He LOVES me and there is nothing else I need or want. Thank you JESUS!” God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. Are you?