So much to consider

Phil 1:12, Philippians, trials, suffering, endurance, Christian, crisis, long term, illness, chronic, humor, gallows12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.”  Phil 1:12

Just as this picture and this scripture present two extremes of perspective for the activities of life, they are united in one theme:  we shall rejoice with Christ as our guide!  Yeah, I know that is a stretch . . . but we do know that the God of the universe has a sense of humor too, right?  I mean he created aardvarks, zebras, and tse tse flies!  What’s up with that?  Oh I know that the Original Adam named them all but just how did he do that?  They were all such weird creatures!  So it follows then that humor can help us endure many kinds of extremes, even the ones you and I are facing today.

Take for another example the thieves that attempted to steal gasoline from an RV.  This is a true story:  instead of tapping off the gas line they ended up tapping off the septic line instead!  When the fluid started flowing it was not fuel it was the polar opposite:  stool!  So sad.  Such a righteous punishment I must admit!  And as a grateful owner of a travel trailer all I can say is:  Tee hee with a smirk.  ;}

I cannot say that I can relate to the paradoxical themes of life with much right now with much lightness of spirit right now, however.  I’ll just keep it simple:  there’s some good and there’s some that is not.

On a good note I am grateful to report a widening of social contacts of late.  I’ve reached out to some old friends and some newer gals have jumped back into my world from my local church.  I appreciate the friends that I’ve met online (and you know who you angels of mercy are) and hope we can extend our fellowship.  All of this is good.  It’s amazing how all believers in Jesus Christ share a common unity even when the circumstances of our lives can be so different.  We all have our daily wants and needs; our Lord cares for the desires of our hearts tenderly and for these we can pray in earnest for one another.

On a less good note, new I.V. antibiotic treatments for chronic Lyme disease are going quite roughly.  Yup, revisiting Lyme since the persistent seizure attacks sure look like the episodes of others dealing with the neurological complications that can happen long after the acute infection has come and gone.  It was 4 years ago that I first started treatment for Lyme when things got sidetracked for treatment of mold and mercury toxicity, dental issues, Candida, parasites, and a possible oxalate burden exacerbating fibromyalgia pain.  Use of a Rife machine brought daily seizure attack episodes and treatment of Candida escalated them from 2 to 5 hours of convulsive episodes per day!  I was bedridden the better part of about 4 days each week this past Spring, Summer, and Fall.  So beginning in January I was started on high doses of IV Rocephin (antibiotic) and I remain sickly but out of bed more of the time.  This treatment coupled with the wintry temperatures below freezing have brought incredible pain.  However, the days that I am up until daybreak every night of the week has cut down; tinnitus, brain fog, and other executive functioning skills are sloooooowly shifting for the good.  Sometimes even the pattern of convulsive episodes shift as well (thank you liposomal melatonin!).  Just maybe these past 4 years have not been wasted after all!  It appears that each new treatment has prepared me for such a time as this:  we just might be able to treat this remaining beastly diagnosis and its co-infections to get well . . .

There is so much to consider.  Will I continue on antibiotics long term?  Will my health insurances help us out or cut us off next week?  Will I be able to get a port to spare my aching skin and forearms from repeated pokes and dressings that trigger more wretched episodes?  When would I transition back to more herbal-with-pharm-grade supplemental interventions?  Will the reactivity to mold and fragrances ever come down or do I have to go live in a pristine environment somewhere for a few months later on to fully detox?  How much more stress can my beloved husband, Steve, be expected to bear?  And how will we pay for all of this?

As the frigid Winter temperatures of the Midwest bring more of a sense of retreat than charging forth into the unknown, we are choosing to press on anyways with my treatment for chronic Lyme disease.  I just wear long underwear everyday to keep warm!  We are starting where we are with a local, Lyme-Literate Medical Doctor who has treated dozens and dozens of cases successfully.  I know that to be true.  I have met many of them when we had a local Lyme disease support group.  I noticed that each of us facing this dreadful disease had chosen a somewhat unique path to his or her recovery based upon the damage the infection caused to our bodies and our individual resources.  (See this link for more info on chronic Lyme.)  Perhaps my case was one of the more severe.  Perhaps the Lord had more than “recovery” in mind when He allowed this serious illness into my life.  There is so much to consider that simply was not on my radar over 4 years ago.

If you have found this blog by way of your own journey through chronic Lyme disease or some other serious illness, know that I am praying for you.  There is hope!  You are not alone, Gentle Reader.  Please comment below and allow me, if you like, to connect you with a larger community of those finding meaning beyond his or her diagnosis.  Our Lord, Jesus Christ, grieves for your suffering, your fear, your broken heartedness.  He sees you and will see you through what you are facing as He has done so for me and Steve.  He loves you more than anyone (including the furry pup above who has found his prize squirrel in the sunshine of a better day).

May we both smile some day in the arms of our Heavenly Father for having connected this day, for His glory.  And, um, when we get our prized prey I’ll just say, “please pass the catsup.”  Squirrel on the Bar-B-Que anyone?  Ewwwwww!  :JJ

From the Do It Sick Chef: Lettuce Roll Ups

No, this entire blog is not being overcome by a crazy foodie!  :J

We all gotta eat and preparing meals can be challenging when recovering from a serious illness.  Enter here another strategy to keep myself sane while the yada, yada, yada nightmare over here continues.  (Yes, made another visit to my fav Emergency Room last night!)  So let’s forget about all that and make some food, eh?

I’ll be adding a few more videos from Vimeo and You Tube to catch up the blog here so please bear with me!  You are invited to follow the Do It Sick Chef videos on Facebook at Hope Beyond too.

Or, by following this blog and clicking on the Do It Sick Chef category, you can also keep track of the latest meals, tips, and survival strategies.

In the meantime, my belly is now full and it’s time for a nap.  The IV fluids helped last night too, by the way.  More testing will be coming regarding the lower right belly ache.  Thankfully it’s not from the fabulous lettuce wraps created above . . .

Lord willing, we are going to get well!

Take care, JJ

From the Do It Sick Chef: Let’s make something that resembles lunch!

The first video of my Do It Sick Chef series is now available on Vimeo!

In “Let’s make something that resembles lunch,” I literally get out of bed to make real food in a real kitchen that includes:  a veggie-n-meat entrée, ghee butter, and roasted turnips.  Roasted turnips?  Yes, you got that right!  Special diets require new and sometimes unusual food choices.  Just Julie will show you not only how to make these dishes but how to prepare the food saving money, time and energy.

Future videos that are already in the works will cover the topics of freezing foods for easier meal planning, a stand-alone segment on ghee butter, kitchen organization to save energy, and more.  You are invited to “Like” my Hope Beyond Facebook page to keep up with future videos and share your meal planning, preparation, sanity tips too.

Take care, Gentle Reader.  Lord willing, those of us battling serious illness are going to get well!  JJ

Known in the Gates: Part 2, The Inside Story

One of the movies that has really resonated deeply with me is, The Breakfast Club.  Please see my previous post for the catchy theme song that underscored the film and one of the most poignant scenes that is also pertinent to Part 2 of this 3-part blog.

In Part 1, I described the isolation that I have felt when enduring a serious illness and how the Lord still gets me through the toughest of days.  His Word is my greatest comfort; the leading of the Holy Spirit and His presence are my greatest companions.  I ended with a question,

But how well does he really know me?

Sure, my Lord crafted me before I was born and set forth all that I would be, all that I would endure and accomplish.  His Words in Psalm 139 declare that He knows my “innermost being.” Does this include the longing of my heart as well?  If it does, why has He allowed me to become so dreadfully isolated?

Maybe someday I will get to see why so many family and friends have chosen to “walk on by” me as it says in the theme song of The Breakfast Club.  Have I not been a good friend?  Maybe I was not.  I remember about two years into this ordeal someone contacted me and asked me about getting together for coffee.  I replied “yes” and then I never heard from her again.  My spirits had soared then crashed and burned.  For believers in Jesus Christ, the answer to the “why” question is usually left for eternity.  We simply may never know “why” this side of heaven.

Those of you not living in isolation may not have any idea how much Satan uses this experience to tear a person down.  He can prey upon all of our negative emotions and be allowed to create havoc in our lives.  (Yes, ultimately God is still in charge!)  Yet I know that it’s really not about resisting Satan or about losing the people in my life.  I resist the devil and his demons with the sword of the spirit:  the Word of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-17.  People come and go in our lives and that is the normal ebb and flow of life.  It really is about my response to the taunting, the loss of these relationships.

My challenge has been particularly great due to the effect that this chronic illness has had on my brain.  Responding to Satan’s lies and the loss of relationships has been affected by the change in brain chemistry that came with chronic illness.  My ability claim victory in the name of Jesus Christ and fully embody the companionship of my Lord have been affected.  Satan’s lies have been magnified.  My social skills have eroded.  My ability to think clearly has been altered.  And I struggled to override these skill deficits but could not, even if I tried.  Allow me to explain.

Only recently did we discover that excessive neurotransmitters called catecholamines (epinephrine, norephinephrine, and dopamine) are likely contributing to my mood changes, thinking and communication skills in addition to possibly causing the convulsive episodes.  This is happening due to the expression or “turning on” of polymorphisms (SNPs) or breaks in several enzymes that help form my DNA code.  The DNA code is the instruction manual or blueprint from which the body functions.  Everyone has a unique combination of broken SNPs that get turned on by illness or significant stressors in the environment (such as exposure to mold).  For me the factors included everything that I have written about in this blog:  biotoxin illness/hepatitis, latent Lyme disease, Candida toxicity, mold illness, infected root-canaled teeth, and mercury toxicity.  That’s a lot of stressors!  These illness and environmental challenges became a trigger for disaster.  I even have the data to prove it, all of it!

methylation cycle, Dr. Amy Yasko, SNPs, Lyme disease, mold illness, mitochondrial, mito disease, methylation, B6 deficiency, CIRS, mold illness,

One version of a methylation cycle from http://ihateticks.me/2014/10/06/methylation-for-dummies/

For some people this process manifests as a Mitochondrial Disease or a disruption in the methylation cycle inside the nucleus of the cells of our bodies.  My thought life was affected.  My mood was affected too.  I had waking and nightly nightmares not based in any reality past or present.  Those were internal things that my beloved husband, Steve, and the healthcare community could not see very often.  Several healthcare practitioners labeled me as having a mental illness of sorts, often without even completing a mental status exam or workup!  Gratefully, Steve believed me.  They all saw the wretched convulsive episodes that have plagued me for hours every day for 3 1/2 years.  And Satan was allowed to enter into the whole dynamic with lies and attacks that I will definitely write about at another time.  Absolute mental and physical wretchedness.

But now the gig is up!  Two days ago I woke up from a lovely nap after starting to treat this condition.  I had my first 16 hours seizure-free!  It’s as if someone turned on the lights in my brain!  Not only do I have a formula for correcting the brain-part of the process but the prayers of deliverance against the spiritual warfare are taking hold.  The cascade of negative mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual suffering is beginning to turn around. Lord willing, I am going to get well!

My Jesus knows all about every aspect of what I have described here.  He also knows the desires of my heart.  How do I know this?  My prayers long before this illness began was to become whole.  I had been broken by the consequences of a hard life:  events out of my control.  Many times during trauma the Holy Spirit would bring encouraging scripture to me that kept me moving forward.  Yeah, finding hope and finding myself has come through horrible, ongoing isolation and trauma.  I have worked hard to recover from so much suffering in my heart, my mind, my body.  Each step of the way has been both painful and meaningful.  Yet I tell you, Gentle Reader that nothing has been wasted!  I have learned to trust the process in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE under the protection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And now the desires of my heart are being realized.  Cool beans.

So how does one rebirth the desires of one’s heart?

Jer 29.11b

To be continued in Part 3 . . .

Time for a change

From Family Practice Physician to Lyme Literate Medical Doctor, from Chiropractor to Obgyn, our medical doctor tries to do it all.  I have benefitted from his expertise yet I am still not well.  And when I saw the redness and exhaustion in his eyes during my appointment this evening I realized that he is not well either!

Everyone who sees this gifted physician knows his crazy schedule, his dedication to help everyone in his care, and his history of nearly dying a couple of years ago with his own debilitating illness.  We used to hear how his office conversion to the government mandated computer system was responsible for incredible stress and delays in appointment times.  For example, it was not unusual to call the office in the morning about an appointment scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and not be called in for my appointment until 4:00 p.m. or later.  Forget the ones scheduled after 3:30 p.m. as they were usually rescheduled.  For awhile about one-third of my appointments were re-scheduled, delaying receiving test results or reviewing the status of a particular medical condition for months.  Frustrating indeed.

Yet when there was an acute issue, the Doc was right on it.  When something new popped up I was sent to the hospital in another section of the medical park for labs or scans, held in the waiting room for results, and sometimes seen back in the office much later that night.  To be seen well into the evening was not an unusual occurrence.  My record was an appointment that started at 2:30 a.m.!  He had one more patient after me and had just received notice that one of his pregnant patients was going into labor.  He must have never gone home that night or morning!  Dedication had become insanity.  We talked about it during that visit.  He agreed.  I understand that some scheduling and office procedure changes were put in place for this new year.  As near as I can tell, the staff and Doc are ending their nights before midnight now.  Virtually the same story, different day.

I recently blogged about some important abnormal test results being misplaced for six months.  That has happened another time as well.  Tonight there was only enough time to go over about half of a detailed genetic cholesterol study.  He handed it to me and said, “here, you take this.”  Whaaat?  He thought the “high CBD hemp oil” that I reported was reducing the seizure attacks 40% was vitamins C, B, and D.  Er, no!  After correcting the computer’s voice recognition software two dozen times, I believe he understood what I was saying:  sitting there with my ventilation mask on to avoid seizure attacks from some mysterious exposure in the office.

Mysterious was the exposure until I asked one of the nurses about it.  I had asked before and a different nurse declined comment.  And yet tonight in her own fatigue, a long-time employee openly shared how their office has routine leaks in the ceiling throughout the summer.  The staff has complained about the musty smell and requested testing for mold spores.  Evidently the tests came back “negative.”  The nurses still battle sickness at work.  A friend of mine who is a patient there can detect the musty smell but I cannot.  I just get tic attacks sitting in the treatment room for 2 hours waiting for the Doc!  My worst episode lasted 2 1/2 hours NON-STOP began after midnight dominated by convulsions most of the time!  My husband came to pick me up around 4:00 a.m.!  I’m sure that exhaustion and stress were a factor being in the office so late that night but hey, I was sitting in a water damaged building to be seen by my doctor for mold illness!  Whaaaat?  Soon after that I started wearing a mask every visit!

I have learned so much from my brilliant Doctor.  He is a Christian man who really cares about his patients.  He has provided better care for me for six years here in this smaller Indiana town than I ever received in the large metropolitan area of Chicago.  When my health got significantly worse 2 1/2 years ago I hung in there with him, hopeful that we would find answers.  I was also unsuccessful finding another MD or clinic to address the intractable seizures, pain, etc.  Gratefully, the Lord has now led me to another clinic in Michigan with two physicians specializing in methylation issues and biotoxin (mold) illness, respectively.  After three phone consultations, extensive paperwork, and additional lab testing completed, my husband and I are preparing for my first in-person visit on March 24th.  We will stop at a lab near the clinic for additional blood work to better match Dr. Richie Shoemaker’s protocols for “Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.”  My current MD and I have worked closely on Dr. Shoemaker’s protocol yet neither of us are officially trained; this led to using the wrong laboratories, incomplete test results when the samples were not processed correctly, and improper sequencing of the treatment plan.  Two very expensive medications from an out-of-state compounding pharmacy either did not work or made me much worse.  We tried!  The biotoxin illness Doc at the new clinic works closely with Dr. Shoemaker and is a Christian too.  I am encouraged.  Lyme disease is not the focus at the moment and that’s o.k.

So it’s time for a change.  I still have appointments on the books with my primary care physician as someone will need to monitor ongoing health issues not covered by the new clinic.  He has asked for copies of all of the testing and reports so I am happy to oblige.  With the Lord’s help I will continue tweaking the dose of high CBD hemp oil in hopes of reducing even further the seizure attacks and noxious symptoms that follow.  The Lord is guiding me step-by-step, including through the spiritual leadership of my beloved Steve.  I am so glad I heeded hubby’s advice and did not start seeing every expert who sounded good on the internet!  When moments are better for me, we celebrate and don’t think about the bad times.  We both see examples of how the Lord has used this season in our lives for His glory.  We are closer than ever, more in love than ever before and for that I am grateful.  I am closer to Christ than ever before as well knowing that He heard my truly desperate cries for help the night before I first started the CBD oil.  I was ready to die and it was not to be.  I was spared from further anguish and suffering, turning a corner to better things at last.

If you are suffering this day, this night:  do not give up!  There’s a blogger praying for you Gentle Reader.  More importantly the God Who created the universe knows your name, sees you, knows your pain, and gave his life so that one day your heartache would end.  Please draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  Everything will be worked together for good someday if you but call upon the Lord and let Him into your heart.  These statements are based upon His Word and promises that are true today and always.  The Great Physician will see you through, always my dear one.  Take care,  JJ