healthy me header

Up until this point, I haven’t been one of those bloggers who puts it all out there like some of the other bloggers with Lyme who I admire. But yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting in my favorite hospital in a cold sweat on a bed of bloody sheets in one of the classic living with Lyme episodes I can’t wait to put behind me. So as much as I prefer to focus on the positive, I feel like it can’t hurt to acknowledge those less than bright moments that come along with living with and overcoming any chronic health condition.

Today I ended up at the hospital because the kidney pain I’d had for weeks had escalated to the point where I felt like I couldn’t honestly care about Rapper X’s upcoming album feeling the way I felt and the only responsible thing to do would be to finally get it checked out. All the taking it easy, detoxing, cranberry juice, yogurt, and lemon water hadn’t done anything to ease the pain, and  my daily calls to my general practitioner’s office had yielded only a Sept 17th appointment. I was doing my best to hold out until then, but at this point I’m so over living for the next doctor appointment the way some people live for the weekend. It’s one of the many times I’ve had to make the call on which symptoms/potential infections warrant the doctor and which I can treat at home, and I only wish I had the successful track record of someone of average health to make me more confident. As it stood, I gave in and made my way to the hospital to have it checked out on my time.

Say “Lyme” and half of the doctors you talk to will immediately shut down. Either they know nothing about it (“that means you got bitten by a bug, right?”). Or they’ve heard too much of the debate going on in our nation’s courts to want to get involved or make any decision that would look like they’re taking sides. All understandable reactions and all indicative of the place Lyme holds in the medical field right now. But difficult nonetheless when someone who has no choice but to live with this condition gets caught in the cross hairs. Once she saw Lyme listed in my records, the doctor that had been assigned to me decided there was no reason to look for any additional cause of pain. So we did the basic pee in a cup and take some blood routine in which a basic IV insertion went so wrong that both me AND the nurse nearly passed out. It was not pretty.

It’s episodes like these that finally made me want to learn as much as I can about the human body and health in general, if anything to be able to look at things objectively enough not to freak out but to remain calm when everything else is going haywire. Researching Lyme has helped me ask better questions, take more control, and offer better advice to those in the same boat. But as far as understanding it all goes, I still have a lot to learn and most of what I know is based on simple experience. Which is why I had to find out the hard way that I can drink at least 8 cups of water a day and still land in the hospital with “dehydration” (their diagnosis). And why I had to go through the aforementioned rogue IV episode and dirty my fave pair of jeans just to figure that out.

A lot of living with Lyme is acting as your own advocate and nurse rolled into one. How much pain is too much? How often do I need to check my own kidneys, liver, and chemical panel while taking all these prescription drugs? What side effcts do I put up with? What interactions do I risk? And of course there are the more frequent “smaller” decisions that take just as much mental energy: can I get on the train today when I’m feeling like this? Can I smile and fake feeling great in that big meeting today? Can I sit through this presentation without having to excuse myself at least once? Sometimes it’s these decisions and the little things I have to do to compensate for my choices (yes, I’ll take that meeting and I’ll wait until afterwards to have  lunch just in case I don’t feel well when I eat) that leave me mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day and which make the idea of marrying wealthy and retiring young so appealing. (I kid, I kid. But it totally is tempting, right?) 😉

Right now I’m nearing the end of my treatment, and all in I’m doing better than I’ve ever been. But just reaching this point has been a two year uphill battle through diagnosis,treatment, herxes, backsliding and forward climbing that has left me in major need of some time off to do nothing but mentally recover from what feels like a war to win my health. I have no doubt that I’m emerging victorious here, but as as the saying goes, I think a change could do me good.

This summer I’ve been finding my escape in daycations, staycations, lazy weekends, and the inspiring blogs of others who are doing all they can to live their healthiest lives possible. Which is why, on Every Lil Step, I break things down into manageable goals and take them one step at a time. Happiness, health, and spiritual wealth are possible if we just keep on keeping on. This blog entry is the first of my new “Healthy Me” column in which I’ll check back in, talk about my own progress in healing, and keep it real so to speak.

For those of you with no interest in reading about the small victories and minor upsets along the way, look for the Healthy Me header and skip right over. But for those of you reading who know what it’s like, maybe we can inspire each other. Until then…

Oh, and the kidney pain… that reached its peak (I hope) last night before bed after I’d downed probably 8 cups of water in the last two hours of the day. I woke up with sharp abdominal pain around 5:30 AM, continued to down glasses of lemon water and flush myself out as I tossed and turned for the next three hours, and felt better by the time I finally decided to start the day around 8:30 (late as usual these days). Was it just dehydration? Who knows. But I’ll be following up with my family doctor in that September 17th appointment to make sure it’s all good.

xo,
kim

Link of the Day: I Heal Myself on All Levels by Louise Hay [via Eureka!]

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I made it into work both Monday and yesterday, only to be sidelined once again by a major panic attack towards the end of the day yesterday. It was one of the worst I’ve ever had, and I ended up calling my doctor twice thinking I might be having a heart attack from the new beta blocker I started taking yesterday morning (one of the new drugs I’m supposed to be taking to keep these panic attacks in check while I detox). Thank God (literally) that it was nothing more than a panic attack, but it still left me so weak and shaky that I couldn’t even carry my own bag. My coworker helped me out to a car, and I ended up dropping $30.00 on a taxi home since I was just not up to taking the train.

When I got home, one of Steph’s coworkers (and an amazing friend) brought over an incredible amount of groceries  from Whole Foods along with paper plates and plastic silverware, a movie, and two magazines, which is seriously the best birthday gift a girl could ask for. She made me steak (I don’t eat this often, but I couldn’t turn down such an awesome gift and free meal) with roasted zucchini and red pepper and a bunch of grapes on the side. It was delicious, and I felt like I was on vacation just having someone else bring this to me!

I cut it all up into little pieces, which Steph makes fun of me for 😉

Sep 1 - steak

She also brought a box of Kashi cereal, Back to Nature crackers, a block of Whole Foods goat cheese, bananas, an avocado, onion and tomato, a big box of spinach salad, 2 things of orange juice, a jug of apple juice, a carton of eggs, Amy’s pizza, Amy’s enchiladas, spinach ravioli, a Greek  spanakopita, chicken sausages, strawberries, cantaloupe, hummus, milk, grilled chicken and mac n’ cheese from the hot food bar, Lacey’s cookies, and a box full of little cakes for our b-day, all from Steph’s company. There’s nothing like the help of a friend (and a company!) who understands what it’s like just to have one less thing like cooking dinner and washing dishes to think about when you’re not feeling well.

Some of the groceries are outside of what we’re “supposed” to be eating right now, but it’s such an amazing gift that we’ll be using all of it. We froze the ravioli, sausages, cakes and cookies to use later and are going to make meals around the rest of it. It couldn’t come at a better time, too, because both of us are dead broke until our next paychecks come in later this month. The disaster at the last apartment put us seriously off track in our Total Money Makeovers, and having to start from scratch again has stretched our budgets to the last penny. We’ve been seriously, seriously, seriously lucky to have such great friends, family, coworkers, and bosses who have helped keep us afloat through all of this.

Steph and I have been eating a lot of soup and salads while we’ve been cooking for ourselves since neither of us feels up to making actual meals.

This one was a spinach salad with cherry tomatoes from my landlord’s garden, slivered almonds, and avocado. We used olive oil and salt and pepper for dressing and ate this along side Amy’s Split Pea soup.

Aug 31 - salad 1

We also mixed the spinach with Foxy Organics romaine, more of the tomatoes and almonds, and carrots and quinoa and ate this with Amy’s Tuscan Bean and Rice soup.

Aug 31 - salad

I also took my first detox bath last night, which my doctor prescribed to help rid the neurotoxins. I started by brushing myself with a natural veggie bristle brush away from the heart, then drew a hot bath with  2 cups of Epsom Salts and 1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill baking soda swirled in and soaked for 10 minutes. I drank 2 large glasses of cold lemon water while I was in the tub to stay hydrated and also help flush the toxins out. When I was done, I definitely felt weak and sleepy like they said I would. But I also felt really, really good and wasn’t in serious pain for the first time in weeks. I’m going to take one every night for the next few weeks while I rid myself of all these toxins, and I hope I can make this a regular part of my week.

I put Steph in a detox bath of 2 cups Epsom Salt, 2 cups Hydrogen Peroxide, and a couple dashes of ground ginger today to help with her flu and toxin issues, and she said it helped.  

I’m in a really difficult situation right now, where I’m not sure what my next move needs to be. I’ve been doing my best to keep pushing through illness, financial stress, and all the obstacles that come my way. And earlier this year it seemed like it was really working. But this summer I feel like I’ve been slammed with one wave of problems after another, first with the bed bug crises – which cost us upwards of $4,000 combined when I add up our intial security deposit and moving fees in April plus the extermination fees we spent in July plus ANOTHER security deposit and more moving costs just to leave that apartment not to mention the physical, mental, and emotional cost of going through that – and now with a never ending flu and the toxin issues that have both me and Steph sidelined from work feeling almost as worse as we ever have.

I know that realistically, I am past my breaking point and the only real solution is a long, long time off of work to focus on getting better. But I also know there’s no way to pull that off when I’m responsible for rent, groceries, medicine, vitamins and supplements, doctor bills, utilities, and more and an extended leave would probably mean no way of covering all of these costs. Both Steph and I are considering the possibility of moving out of New York to an “easier” city, but I’m also not sure how I can do that when the stress of moving and getting a new job would most likely be worse than any of the stress I’m facing now. And getting a new job in general would be tough, because they’d have to allow me to take more sick days than the average person. The option of moving “back home” is an escape hatch I’d kill for right now if there was a “back home” to move to.

So right now, the question of “what to do” is keeping me up at nights, and I still don’t have a real solution. I know that God provides for all things and that hard times are an opportunity to build strength and character. And he’s clearly shown us this all along. But right now I have some decisions to make and I don’t have the answer. I know someday I’ll look back on all of this and say thank you that I made it through and am feeling better than ever. But man oh man is it hard when I’m in the middle of it.

Next Steps:

  • Detox, detox, detox
  • Buy a bed
  • Re-start my Total Money Makeover
  • Re-evaluate, re-prioritize, cut out what isn’t necessary, and move forward!

I had a late breakfast once again today – mostly because I got a super late start. I worked until 9 PM last night (the old Kim was back, and for some reason I was feeling super productive at work) and then went to a friend’s party that he was DJing for the magazine he works at. I told myself I wasn’t going to do so much of that anymore, but he was very excited about this party and he ended up talking me into dancing to electronic music. Which I *kind of* got the hang of ;). But the party was up in Williamsburg, so I had to take the L train into Union Square and grab the Q train there – which meant I didn’t get home until 2 AM. By the time I showered (I like to shower at night so I’m all fresh and clean when I hit the hay), dried my hair, and had a short bed bug freakout (“what if we have them again?!”) it was 3 AM. Waaaay past my 11 PM bedtime.

So I was half an hour late to physical therapy today (oops), but it ended up being an awesome session. My massage therapist totally kicked my butt. I had no idea just how bad my upper back and neck were from moving, but I had to grit my teeth at times just to get through it. Then she put me in the gym, and I did three rounds of each of my stretches – the doorway stretch, chin tucks, a bunch of stretch with the rubber bandy things to open up my back, and then the basic neck stretches. I really should find out their names. But all that to say, my neck and shoulders were extremely sore, but after everything they felt really stretched out. So hopefully I’ll be reaping the benefits tomorrow. I feel like I’ve made a ton of progress since I first started physical therapy in April as part of my last phase of Lyme treatment. I was skeptical at first, but now I think everyone should have physical therapy three times a week. I never knew I could feel so good.

So just an hour ago I polished off a bowl of Whole 365 plain whole milk yogurt with Arrowhead Mills organic Kamut Flakes cereal and some more of my trail mix. mmm, mmm, good. I kept “breakfast” light since it’s already lunch time.

Aug 7th - bfast

And speaking of Arrowhead Mills, I got a GIANT jar of their organic Valencia peanut butter on sale yesterday at Whole Foods for $4.00. I really had no real need for PB at the office, but I couldn’t pass up that price on such a big jar. I also bought a bundle of bananas, a half loaf of Rudolph’s Rye yeast free bread, Applegate Farms roast turkey, the yogurt, a block of Muenster cheese for only $1.95, and two boxes of bars: Larabars in Tropical Fruit Tart (one of the three new flavors!!! The box was so pretty, I couldn’t pass it up) and Renew Life’s Organic Fiber Bars in Cranberry, which I’ve never had but am PSYCHED to try out. I’m going to split them with Steph – so I’ll keep 8 of the Larabars and 9 of the Fiber Bars at my office, which should last me 2 work weeks at least. And I definitely did not pay the $53.82 price tag on Renew Life’s website. I got my box of 18 bars for about $34.00, which is a little on the pricey side, but I’ll try it out.

Aug 7th - bars

(Blurry BBerry pic. Check out that hot cubicle lighting!)

On the supplement tip, I picked up a new bottle of colloidal silver, which I take once a day, and Nature’s Way Sambucus, which I also take once a day and has done wonders for my immune system. I used to get colds every three weeks on the dot, and silver and elderberry have been huge helpers in keeping my immune system charged up against bugs and viruses.

naturesway_sambucus

All in all, not bad for a quick lunch break trip.

I budget out my grocery money as part of my Total Money Makeover, so as soon as I get a chance I’m going to start adding that into my daily updates. Right now I’m in a bit of a rush.

BUT check out this lunch my coworker just bought me (in exchange for advice on keeping bed bugs away)! I got a mixed greens salad with artichoke, beets, kidney beans, carrots, tomato,  grilled chicken, and olive oil/salt/pepper for dressing with a piece of Focaccia on the side (I’m not supposed to eat yeast products, so thinking this over) and of course a bag of Lay’s potato chips. Confession: I eat a bag of chips at least once every day. It’s my extreme vice. Lay’s are not usually something I go for, but when in a pinch… 🙂

Aug 7 - lunch

Also, I got my blood tests back yesterday, and everything looked great. I basically had them run a basic chemical profile and check my liver and kidneys while I was at it since I’m on so many meds for my Lyme treatment. I actually *really* don’t like getting my blood drawn, but the past few years have taught me to take a project manager approach to my health, so I like to check things out at least twice a year as I get better and make sure I’m running nice and smoothly. Having to learn all of this stuff about my body and medicine has been really empowering even if I still have a lot to learn.

Oh, and before I go, I updated my About Me page last night. Just a little more info about me. More coming soon on my Lyme and TMM pages!

xo,
Kim

Grateful for: Fridays! Free lunch! Physical therapy. And another healthy, happy day. Thank you, God!

Link of the Day: How to Stretch Your Food Budget [CNN.com]

Hi team,

Today I am feeling super focused and completely reinvigorated to work – something I haven’t felt in a LONG time. So at the risk of ruining this, I thought I’d check in and say hi. I’m having a late breakfast today because of an early morning meeting. I do not do well with early meetings, but all those reminder notes all over my new apartment totally helped, and I made it! Woot.

I’m out of my Whole 365 whole milk plain yogurt (the daily standby), so today I’m having Nature’s Path original sugar free oatmeal, with my homemade trail mix on top: raw almonds and sesame seeds from Trader Joe’s with some raisins for a little sweetness. I made this while I was on my potassium kick, because nuts and raisins are both excellent sources of that little mineral. I was afraid for a while that one of my Lyme meds was affecting my K levels, so I’ve been ramping it up in my diet for 2 weeks now, and I’m feeling great. And I had a blood test called in just in case, so I should get those results in today – I’m expecting everything to look good.

Aug 6 - breakfast
I have to admit… while it doesn’t take the *finest* pictures in the world, I’m not mad at my little Blackberry camera as a temporary substitute while I save up for another. One step at a time…

I’ll be back later today or tomorrow to talk about a few of my new favorite things. For now, Puma makes her Every Lil Step debut in a shot of her sunbathing in the new apartment. Look at that pretty kitty.

pretty_kitty

Oh, I almost forgot…

Grateful for: FOCUS! I’ve been praying for renewed focus at work for MONTHS. Yesterday I came up with a great plan to keep myself on track, which involves of course several steps to completing my Total Money Makeover. I’m seriously saying a thank you prayer for this amazing feeling of ambition and praying that I can keep it up.

p.s. I’m trying to make some changes to the blog this week, including a couple pages I really want to start. Bear with me while things look a little funky (cough*myavatar*cough). I have some major WordPress research ahead of me!

I just got this update from the ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) this morning, and I’m PSYCHED for it. I’m running to my big Wednesday morning marketing meeting, so I’m going to paste their words instead of paraphrasing:

We want to keep you informed about everything ILADS is doing to spotlight the historic Infectious Diseases Society of American (IDSA) hearings this week, Thursday, July 30th. We’re hearing from so many people who want to get involved. We thank you!

The hearings are in response to a lawsuit against the IDSA, brought by Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. In his groundbreaking lawsuit, AG Blumenthal charged that the IDSA guidelines for Lyme disease prevent many seriously ill patients from getting necessary treatment. A 2008 settlement resulted in the IDSA agreeing to create a new panel to review its guidelines.

ILADS supporters and other Lyme advocates will gather at our Lyme Watch Media Center, in the Congressional Room on the lobby level at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, from 8am to 5pm. The Marriott is just a few blocks from the hearing.

At the Lyme Watch Center, ILADS will be hosting a live chat on Twitter as we follow the hearings all day. We look forward to your participation! You can find out more about this live chat below.

And they set up a live Twitter chat to follow the hearings all day tomorrow. More info here.

If Blumenthal “wins,” then hopefully the Infectious Disease Society will not only have to use accurate tests (seriously, I can’t tell you how many false negatives I had over the years that cost me so much in time, money, and health), but our insurance companies would have to pay for our treatment. Phew!

Seriously, the ILADS is awesome. And Blumenthal is a real hero for doing this. I’ll be moving all day tomorrow and Friday, but I can’t wait to check in with the Twitter chat and see how things are going!

twibbon

P.S. Just found out about Twibbon and added a green ribbon to my Twitter avatar to support Lyme Disease research. Get one here!