After another dead end in the road

So many times I have chosen the road less travelled.

  • Finally detaching myself from toxic, addicted friends and family members beyond the proverbial geographical cure that didn’t work.
  • Working hard in Al Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics as I discovered the extent to which abuse, dysfunction, relying on survival skills alone, and the absence of a Christ-centered view of the world made my world smaller and darker than it needed to be.
  • Accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
  • Pursuing my goals of higher education degrees in a family where at the time, only one blood relative had done so.
  • Starting and operating a home business several times despite not having all of the strengths needed for success.
  • Divorcing the man instrumental to my coming to faith in Christ when he would not return to our marriage nor his faith of sorts.
  • Embracing the Lord’s restoration of my life after much tragedy: a life total makeover of sorts.
  • Moving out of State to marry my Intended Beloved and start a new life in which I knew no one else but Steve.
  • Finding things that I could learn and still do despite a serious decline of my health and loss of my profession.
  • Never losing hope in the Lord or that better days lain ahead somewhere despite wretched convulsive episodes virtually every day for ten years.

Tough stuff, eh? Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace through it all! Tonight I’m not sure what to make of things when I find myself at the end of another road, another lifeline of a rope that has given me so much. After 3 1/2 years, I have decided to step down from my role as Editor of the monthly newsletter for the Extension Master Gardeners in our county. My 42 newsletters have been a labor of love for me: challenging my creativity, communication, and computer skills as applied to my favorite topic of gardening. I need to open up some time and energy to find new solutions to boost my health. Working on a newsletter in the middle of the night (because that is most often the time I am stable enough to do so) then being trashed all day the next day, then repeating this pattern a few times per month is just too much. It has become a dysfunctional pattern of living just to earn 15 volunteer hours every month. Regardless, I am sad to let it go. I need to let it go. I need to let it go not knowing to where the Lord will lead me from here. I will miss being “in the know” about our local volunteer gardening activities, upcoming events, and exciting developments on the horizon. Gee, I did ask myself about taking the next step towards becoming a board member and advance within the organization: a logical next step. Supervise the new Editor in addition to two other communications coordinators? No, came the answer to my prayer. Not this time or in this way. Sigh, I just wanted to figure out my next steps ahead of time. That’s not the type of road I am travelling on right now. The GPS is stopping right here. I have arrived at a blank screen. But why not?

Geez oh man. Talk about what is looking like another endless path with no answers. Let’s add a few more.

  • Why haven’t the thousands of hours of medical care, excess of a hundred thousand dollars of expenses, many hundreds of hours of research, and prayers of the faithful including my own yielded more fruit so to speak? We don’t know. No one knows.
  • Why did my Mother die right before I met my Intended Beloved? She never got to meet him. She would have loved him dearly.
  • Why did my former supervisor’s house burn to the ground the day before she intended to cancel my trip to see my estranged father right before he died? I didn’t know he was dying and had not seen him in 30 years. Turns out that I got to see him and she didn’t return to work until months later.
  • Why did my Grandmother die the day after I discovered my former husband’s affair? I couldn’t get out of bed to go to work, so overcome with grief.
  • Why have I survived all of the members of my immediate family with no one to carry on the family name? This leaves me feeling pretty empty at the holidays or special occasions.
  • Why did I get to marry the man of my dreams only to not be able to fly with him when he lifts off to so many cool places?

Just because, Gentle Julie. This isn’t heaven. You live in a fallen world marked by sin and evil with only glimmers of my majesty and goodness sprinkled amidst the darkness. Even so, I am God. I am doing a different kind of work in your heart, in your life with a different kind of reward for your faithfulness to follow me instead of the way of the world. I know all of your story. I know all of your sorrows, including ones that only I can see. I know because I am there loving you and seeing you through it all. Thank you for letting me in . . . could you do so even more? I grieve and suffer with you in ways that you can only imagine from what you can see, from my Word. Meet me there. I promise you that the strife, the unrelenting striving that leads to seemingly dead ends will be redeemed when I come again in glory. Lay your cares at the foot of my cross. I will hold them tenderly with your tears. Trust me. I will never leave you or forsake you.

So this blog is a bit of a downer tonight but it doesn’t end there. I write the truth as I know it and about the truth that sets me free. Me and you too, Gentle Reader. Do you know many sorrows too? Weep with me. Weep for your losses, your hurts, your unanswered prayers. Then take each one and place it beneath the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ right next to mine. He will take them for us from here. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know where the path we are on is leading us when we are living unto the Lord and following Him. What matters is the trail we are leaving behind. JJ

If this but that

If this were to occur but not that

Or rather if that were to occur but not this, well then

What if this but that and then again but this?

Then if this isn’t good enough but that is then what?

But if I cannot talk to that but that is the only option then I shall do this

Until but that tells me this is the only way to go.

Then this but makes me go that way and I am left in limbo this time, again

Ugh! But that never happens in this situation! Imagine that! This did!

But this but that, I raise you one “this more” and take that you fiend!

For the medical merry-go-round of late has me all but thisserated!

But it will go away soon. This is the only way. Until that happens again. And it will. This always does me in that way.

I digress.

JJ

Almost Worse than the Sticker Man

Hear ye, hear ye, my nemesis is about to speak!

He once reigned supreme but his sticky residue is now de-throned

For the foreign help desk at the electronics’ website

Is now a chat box with hours-long delays, okay, you win!

Just go ahead and try to get a new phone, I dare you twice, he warns

Your angst with paper stickers on produce that stick in your teeth

Can’t light a candle to the one you never see or can’t understand

Should the bot wizard become akin to a blood-thirsty human

About to challenge your mental stability as your life agonizingly slips away.

Go ahead again. Try to get your throw-a-way, $1,000-phone-on-a-20-year-payment-plan to work better, NOT!

I prescribe a lobotomy to cope since rationality isn’t a trait of a programmer abroad.

Think I am exaggerating? No, your turn is coming. It’s only a matter of time as they say.

One day we will all succumb to the Son of the Sticker Man, the Help Desk with forked tongue

Just bring your alcohol, chocolate, potato chips (family-sized bag please) and expect PAIN

And don’t even try to click over to a new window while waiting my dear friend. The torture will intensify with a prompt for password you don’t even know as you get blasted out of rationality again and again.

I suppose it all makes a flip phone sound really good about now, eh? JJ

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

Holding on for the Win

As if losing 2 dogs within about 5 weeks time wasn’t hard enough

Our hearts just hurt with the passing of Elle then sudden adoption of Luna.

Only the Lord knows both the desires of my heart and my heartaches to date.

He has walked with me when lungs gasp for air, the body seizes, and screams erupt from within.

My beloved has seen it all as well, taken it in, stood by as best he could albeit weary from the road.

Then Steve pegged the improvements between dogs, setting me on a hunt for answers

I found them or so I think. It explains so much. Even my genetic testing confirms the link.

Will I really recover from the histamine intolerance and DAO deficiency that goes beyond allergy

And will these two culprits really be at the center of chronic illness for me?

Sadly, my first attempt to treat this above my exhaustive cleaning and decontamination

Created new issues as a supplement high in DAO is also high in iron, making me worse!

So back to the version recommended by my chiropractor I go, still overthinking this all

Just a day later the headaches, pain, seizing, irritability, nosebleeds, and more are coming down AGAIN.

What a nightmare this journey has been! Will I ever get to “The Station” as Dear Abby once shared?

If I get there will I recognize Just Julie or the shell of my former self? I digress once more.

Really I hope someone new comes forth from this suffering. Or perhaps she is already here?

For alas there is always purpose to our troubles, for those in Jesus Christ, who believe in His sovereignty.

No matter what happens, Gentle Reader, He holds it all tenderly in His strong hands. He does.

Choose to trust that there is something more for each of us in this life or beyond,

That’s where we all will win, you and me both. Honestly, what else ya got anyhoo?

JJ

The Lunar Passage

It’s 2 days before we may be sending off our stunningly beautiful, 2 year old German shepherd dog to her new home and I am struggling with the whole thing. She came to us probably too soon after our 13 1/2 year old Elle GSD and beloved fuzzy family member had to pass on. Elle was deathly sick so it was the humane thing to do to put her down. Steve and I both cried. Then along came Luna on a rescue website 10 days later and we were off and running in a caper that had more surprises and trials than we could have ever imagined! Now all I can do is sob some more when I think about where we have landed with our furry family members. Soon, both will be gone.

I am struggling again and largely bedridden most days. The drainage from chronic sinusitis is both gross and bloody; nausea has been profound and triggered by a recent ’bout with a cold then the flu. The convulsive episodes are stranger now, with an aura of spaciness leading into them that is atypical for me. Rescue remedies leave me with massive fatigue, if I have not already passed out when in bed. And shaking episodes of up to 20 minutes make it difficult to function even if I do happen to be upright when they occur. What keeps me from despair in this current downward trend is that there appears to be a causative effect of an allergy to our German shepherd dogs. Only as Elle was dying, inactive, and no longer shedding did all symptoms get better for about 2 weeks. My improvements continued as I removed older rugs and cleaned all of her favorite places in our home. And now as Luna enters her 3rd week with us, her gorgeous long hair and dander dropping everywhere, my health has headed into a significant decline. But I have never tested as allergic to dogs! What could be going on?

You know I share all this stuff because writing clarifies my thoughts and research findings. Perhaps there will be a secondary benefit of a fellow sojourner with chronic illness finding something in my story that resonates with him or her. More importantly, Gentle Reader, I hope you see the Lord’s hand working for good and His glory through the seemingly most impossible of circumstances. Ten years of virtually daily convulsive episodes and reactivity is hell to endure. I have tried to live around and through the shroud of pain and suffering, without losing my mind or life itself. Life’s lessons rarely come from the good times. Even so, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ IS GOOD, has a plan and a purpose for every paw print traipsed along the way: hers, hers, and my own. What if Luna is a gift from the Lord to show me how to get well? Would the tears of sorrow from losing one more thing give way to joy if I gain so much more in the end? My husband and I both are about to lose a fun, furry companion but he may re-gain his life partner, his wife! My activity level and health had dramatically improved during the week before we got Luna. What if I could be almost fully restored?

We can hope so, eh? Here we go again with some new ideas, some new notes:

  • Histamine is chemically classified as an amine, an organic molecule based on the structure of ammonia (NH3). In humans histamine is found in nearly all tissues of the body, where it is stored primarily in the granules of tissue mast cells.  The blood cells called basophils also harbour histamine-containing granules. Once released from its granules, histamine produces many varied effects within the body, including the contraction of smooth muscle tissues of the lungs, uterus, and stomach; the dilation of blood vessels, which increases permeability and lowers blood pressure; the stimulation of gastric acid secretion in the stomach; and the acceleration of heart rate. Histamine also serves as a neurotransmitter, carrying chemical messages between nerve cells.
  • Histamine, is a prominent contributor to allergic disease. Elevations in plasma or tissue histamine levels have been noted during anaphylaxis and experimental allergic responses of the skin, nose, and airways. Thus although histamine is only one of many mediators of allergic disease, it plays a primary role in allergic rhinitis, urticaria, anaphylaxis, and to a lesser degree, asthma.
  • Hypersensitivity reactions (HR) are immune responses that are exaggerated or inappropriate against an antigen or allergen. Coombs and Gell classified hypersensitivity reactions into four forms. Type I, type II, and type III hypersensitivity reactions are known as immediate hypersensitivity reactions (IHR) because they occur within 24 hours. Antibodies including IgE, IgM, and IgG mediate them. There are tests for these antibodies, however, our Family Doctor states that these tests aren’t as accurate as they could be, creating false positives.
  • Other classes of disease including histamine include Mast Cell Activation Disease, dietary and digestive considerations, neurological and psychological conditions, migraine, brain trauma, and more.
  • Apart from its central role in the mediation of allergic reactions, gastric acid secretion and inflammation in the periphery, histamine serves an important function as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. The central histamine system is involved in many brain functions such as arousal, control of pituitary hormone secretion, suppression of eating and cognitive functions. 
  • The central histaminergic actions are mediated by H1, H2, H3 and H4 receptors. The histamine H3 receptor regulates the release of histamine and a number of other neurotransmitters and thereby plays a role in cognitive and homeostatic processes. Elevated histamine levels suppress seizure activities and appear to confer neuroprotection.  So far, H3 receptor antagonists/inverse agonists have garnered a great deal of interest in view of their promising therapeutic properties in various CNS disorders including epilepsy and related neurotoxicity. 
  • The role of the brain histaminergic system in neuroprotection remains a challenging area of research that is currently under consideration. Based on recent findings, which include changes in H1 and H3 receptor expression in a KA-induced epileptic model, it has been proposed that the brain histaminergic system is involved in experimental SE (status epilepticus) and subsequent neurodegeneration (Jin et al., 2005Lintunen et al., 2005). (Ibid)
  • Histamine is considered to be an anticonvulsive neurotransmitter as its low levels are associated with convulsions and seizures (Kiviranta et al., 1995Chen et al., 2003Hirai et al., 2004). In the review referenced here, an attempt has been made to scrutinize the recent experimental evidence that has evoked the possibility that the histaminergic system, via modulation of H3 receptor function, can be engaged to mediate a neuroprotective effect in epilepsy-related neurotoxicity and also to address the possible mechanisms involved. (Ibid)
  •  H3 receptor antagonists (particularly Pitolisant and Ayurvedic preparations) appear to possess both anticonvulsive and neuroprotective and/or disease modifying activity as suggested in numerous experimental findings. But this could also occur from a non-histaminergic mechanism. On the basis of the substantial experimental findings generated so far, H3 receptor antagonists can be envisaged as having a therapeutic effect on epileptic and associated neurodegenerative disorders. (Ibid)

So herein we find a correlation between histamine, allergic reactions, and epileptic-type disorders. Now I don’t have epilepsy per se, as determined by several EEG studies. But I definitely have a biologic if not neurologic basis for a Convulsion Disorder that worsens with several distinct triggers and physiologic/chemical factors, not the least of which is the recent exposure to a significant allergen. As soon as Luna settled into our home, it felt like many different systems in my body went haywire including itchy skin and the gastric upset. I had fewer symptoms when away from home for a treatment at our local hospital on Tuesday. Elle was a short-haired dog and Luna is long-haired, active, and came to us in heat. Hormones don’t typically make a dog more allergenic, however pheromones might do all kinds of crazy things. Luna certainly had more of a scent during her first 10 days with us than we recall Elle ever having, even after bathing Luna and as her heat cycle continued. Luna also weighs 10 pounds more than Elle. The earliest we can have her neutered, per our vet is about a month from now. I really don’t know how I would make it until then as I am definitely reacting to her right now! Anyways, getting a dog spayed doesn’t change the allergens that reportedly come from her fur and saliva.

All of this is to say is that there may be a scientific reason that I cannot turn off an allergic, histamine reaction that may exacerbate a neurologic condition when that trigger remains in our living environment. There is a possibility of a loading phenomenon that occurred over the decade of serious illness when Elle was with us. My body got overloaded with so many medical insults that we didn’t notice the hidden allergy; I did have other signs of system overloads such as shingles and chronic headaches. Then just recently, the headaches diminished significantly by changing to a low tyramine diet! Who knew this could happen? It’s very similar to a low oxalate diet but years on a LOD made no impact on daily headaches that had worsened over the past 2 years. I would wake up every day with my head pounding before even trying to get out of bed. Another take-away here is that things do change over time. For this reason we must be vigilant to keep observing, continue researching, change our treatment protocols, ask questions, and seek the best sources we can find for help again and again. Is there more to know even a decade later? Yes, there certainly can be. And when all is submitted to prayer, then I have found that the Great Physician can order my steps through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Renewal is always possible.

Right after Steve and I started putting some of this story together, made our decision to put her up for adoption, and made Luna available on the same animal rescue site in which we found her, Steve got an email from a wonderful family who wants to meet her. They sound just like us in many ways. Perhaps we can serve as the dog foster parents for a formerly sheltered pup who blossomed under our care. I wish you could meet her, Gentle Reader. She went from being terrified of everything and everyone to wagging that bushy, bushy tail when you approach her soft brown eyes and smile that nudges your hand to pet her just a little bit longer. Scratch my belly! Seeing her running alongside Steve as he cross-country skiis is an awesome sight to behold! I wonder what she will be like after she gets her vaccines and runs free at a dog park, lap after lap after lap. Oh Luna bean, I do believe your best days are ahead of you.

Maybe me too!

Luna and Steve in their element of snow!

Enjoy this video of Steve and Luna coming home. https://photos.app.goo.gl/y4Gd6FRfPCQ6AnCe6