When you are afraid of everything

Every once in awhile I emerge from the fog of battling serious, ongoing illness and realize that the way I view the world is not the same as that of others around me. I am often afraid of everything!

Folks are dressing up for special Christmas celebrations and with it comes perfumes, colognes, hair spray, and lots of pretty/smelly stuff. I just practice what I call a “virtual hug” during greetings and keep my distance from any close contact where something might rub off on me. It’s awkward but works better than being triggered.

Venture out to a social gathering and I’ll wonder what particulate matter rests in both the upholstered seat upon which I am sitting or the coat that the person next to me is wearing. The mycotoxins from mold persist forever and easily transfer from one cloth surface to another. How many of us have our winter coats dry cleaned each year or launder them? Our vehicles and outerwear can carry with them the toxins from anywhere we have visited in the past. Some items simply cannot be cleaned of these toxins. And even if they can be cleaned, who else but another “mold avoider” uses anti-fungal agents like we do when washing clothing? Or tosses coats in the dryer under the sanitize cycle before putting them back into the closet or wearing them again? Probably nobody I know!

We brought a nasty scent home with us inside our new-to-us truck, from a recent trip. The sour smell is from a water-damaged building where any contact has the potential to trigger a violent convulsive episode. Maybe this low level of exposure that remains will somehow de-sensitize me to this type of mold? Yeah, right. The portable ozone machine that we really can’t afford right now, came in the mail from Amazon today. I’m going to try to zap that stinky smell out of there soon and hope that the remaining fragrance in there from the dealership goes with it. Cleaning, vacuuming, essential oils, charcoal packs, or baking soda haven’t worked on the latter. Driving with the window slightly open hasn’t been enough to ward off fatigue and the risk of pre-tic symptoms when I am in there. I need to drive to medical appointments. We will fix this soon, Lord willing.

Sharp, loud noises have become an instant trigger again and quite a nuisance. Twice in the past 10 days, my husband initiated an innocent action that resulted in a high-pitched, short, loud “olfactory stimulus.” Immediately I felt my ear drum move inward and a convulsive episode ramped up quickly thereafter. These are really bad. One happened last weekend as I was riding home with my beloved from a sweet date viewing Christmas lights, listening to music on the radio coordinated with each display. I could barely open my eyes for the last display as the head-banging had not yet subsided; my biggest fear was that the hand I struggled to push near my head wouldn’t adequately stabilize the wrenching of my head/neck. Steve fed me a rescue remedy when we got home while I still sat in the frigid air on the passenger seat of our truck. My left leg dragged as he was eventually able to guide me into the house (with me struggling yet determined to try and walk under my own power and not be carried). We removed my outer layers of clothing in case the scent of the truck was on them; I crashed into bed and slept for over four hours. I woke up in the middle of the night very hungry, ate a very late dinner of sorts, and was not able to sleep again until after sunrise. The new day was trashed. We had already cancelled attending the Holiday Pops concert downtown to avoid loud music. But I love Christmas decorations and music! This really sucks man.

Everywhere from public restrooms to the open door of a neighbor’s home exudes air fresheners these days. A package of new neighbor was accidentally delivered to our home so I thought, neat, I’ll take it over and get to meet them. A waif of something fragrant washed over me as soon as the sweet gal opened the door; “c’mon in!” she offered in a friendly tone. A quick, I can’t due to sensitivities nearly killed that friendly encounter. Fortunately the late fall day was a little milder and she didn’t mind chatting on her front entryway outside of her home. Sigh.

I would LOVE to invite all of our new neighbors over to get acquainted later this Winter. We did this very thing with our neighbors before I got sick and it was a sweet time of fellowship. FOUR of the eight homeowners have turned over in our neighborhood court in which we live. Someone needs to organize a get-together and I wish it could be me and my hubby! I simply cannot do that. I’ll have to wait until the warmer weather comes and we can sit outside on our patio. I guess that’s alright too . . . five months from now when the weather thaws and warms.

We still practice a relatively high level of extreme avoidance that is getting OLD after all these years. Perhaps progress on treating a particular type of sinus infection will reduce my sensitivities. Let’s repair that blood-brain barrier already! I am grateful that I can finally treat the chronic MARCoNS infection that is characteristic of biotoxin illness. This makes me hopeful that maybe more than the olfactory cranial nerves will heal as well. Over time, of course. More time. The trigeminal nerve that gives rise to TMJ pain and had triggered episodes has already healed quite a bit with my specialized dental appliances from a craniomandibular specialist.

These are only a few of the examples of how chemical sensitivity, mold sensitivity, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) play out in a person’s life. Gene expression gets turned on for persons with particular HLA types for mold illness, contributing to abnormal responses to everyday sensory stimuli. Turning it off or lowering it requires removal and avoidance of triggers, various types of testing (home/work/school environment then specific lab testing), dietary changes, and a hierarchy of expensive treatment protocols. I am grateful that not only am I able to tolerate a complex combination of nasal treatments, there are fewer food triggers of symptoms now than in the past. Some of the labs used to diagnose CIRS have normalized or are only slightly elevated. My local Functional Medicine Doctor versed in these protocols will re-test me for MARCoNs early next year. I am hopeful that I can finally clear this infection; the sinus headaches have already subsided. (This Doc is so very nice to me as well! Love that!) The laundry list of other medical conditions that has come alongside this nightmare are not nearly as disabling as CIRS. I never lose hope that many can get better or even be cured this side of heaven, Lord willing.

When you are afraid of everything, it is really really hard to want to try new things, meet new people, or go to new places. My confidence in virtually every aspect of living has suffered. Expertise, proficiency, and tolerance for the work environment of my profession of occupational therapy have eroded and I am not sure that I will ever be able to get it back (or even tolerate working with all of the potential exposures of a clinical setting). Indeed I have developed new skills during this period of time and you are reading one of them right now. I am grateful to have designed several websites and am the editor/assistant editor of 2 publications. Medical research has become a necessary pursuit. These are worth something I suppose and can be done in the middle of the night when needed. Gardening has sustained me throughout these 8 years of battling a serious illness and 6 of them with biotoxin illness in particular. Sometimes I am taking care of our yard or a public rain garden after dark when I feel better but hey, that’s what flashlights are for, right?

Perhaps I need to re-read John Maxwell’s book entitled, Failing Forward. While this time in my life is not my failure per se, the effect of repeated trials and traumas is very similar. Better pull it out again. In life, the opposite of fear is courage and perseverance is a requirement to succeed thereafter. Somehow I do although this has been one of my greatest challenges when feeling like a beaten puppy. Further, some would say that the opposite of fear is love as in the perfect love that comes only from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For if we truly know His love then nothing in this world can separate us from it, including the powerful tool of fear, fear of failure, fear that things will not change, fear that we are alone to suffer, and so on. The truth is that those in Christ will never again be alone, the same again, or away from the Divine plan and purpose He has for our lives. Knowing this truth brings not only courage to go on but hope. And my Jesus’ love and care has helped me move forward to even get to this day, to think that one day even if it’s in heaven, all will be made new, right, and good. That’s the kind of love in action that obliterates fear.

Sigh. I’m tired tonight. The shingles is healing. Some medical questions are now answered resulting in closing some doors and leaving others precariously open. I’ll need to meditate on these topics some more. Still, I think I have a better perspective, more hope than when I started writing to you, Gentle Reader. Do you deal with fear too? JJ

31, 23, and 6:13

Never could I have ever imagined that I would spend the better part of the 5th decade of my life battling a serious illness. Then on cue from the Masterful Maestro, Jesus Christ, a few tweaks in 1 type of medication and 2 supplements began to turn things around. What has transpired seems miraculous to me.

31 symptoms aren’t as bad right now as they were when I wrote them down on December 29, 2018. A few more are gone.

23 triggers of sometimes violent, convulsive episodes have diminished in severity as they were when I wrote them down on December 29, 2018. A few more are gone. A few days per week I have none.

And in a matter of a few hours from now, at 6:13 a.m. to be exact, I will be able to board a plane all by myself to head back to Rochester, Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic. An aggressive schedule awaits me for my follow-up treatment and medical visits. I’ll stay in a special condominium that will accommodate any ongoing chemical sensitivities; I’ll even learn to Uber and Lyft. Yay!

I am hopeful that things will turn out alright. I am slowly getting stronger and pain levels are coming down with various therapies that are finally working! Master Gardening activities are ticking up and I have a sewing project that I work on in the hours when I am feeling better. Call it my transition back into life.

What a good feeling. Thank you Lord for seeing me through to this day. Thank you also to my beloved, Steve, who has faithfully walked with me during thousands of dark days and nights. I am so blessed. Restoration is coming at last and I am as humbled as I am grateful.

Lord, please hold my heart and my hand as I make this trip. Let’s go! JJ


And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

1 Peter 5:10

That thing on the horizon

Looks shiny, like it could be something good

Been here before yet it always seems different at first

We long for a better day in this fragile shell of being

Tis our nature and a hunt that can only be satisfied in Christ.

He is the One who satisfies our soul

More glorious than the reflection of an earthly sun

Fulfillment leaving no corners empty or draining

Uplifting, transforming even if our frame stays the same.

For off in the distance is not a new truck or cure or home

Down the road is the answers to all for which our hearts long

Nothing in this life will ever compare to His love

I grieve for those whose gaze falls short, never winning the race of life.

We have arrived at “The Station” at the top of the mountain

When we accept His offer of grace

And the journey will be meaningful in ALL of its parts

Each road trip a destination worth the taking in the end. Amen.

JJ

God gave me you

Nor ordinary Christmas we had this day

Sleeping in then slowly moving into life out of necessity more than design.

Broccoli for my breakfast and handfuls of granola for my man

Brought us to our traditional reading of Isaiah before revealing our worldly gifts for I and you.

Who paddles a new long board down the hallway

But two middle-aged lovers holding onto our respective gusto of life?

A rest time had to follow for me again

Not as unusual as the waking episodes that have returned changing my hopes for the day.

Perhaps we would visit or do something fun

Yet return to my bed of sickness I did go for a most unfortunate interlude.

When your husband holds you from joy to sorrow

The same day seems surreal: later he feeds you medicine whilst you seize.

Siiiiiigh. Not that old tune returneth even today

For chronic illness ne’er takes a holiday when you want it to my dear.

This did not matter to you: your love never fades

And my greatest gift revealed its beauty the ten thousandth time: it’s you!

I could never conceive of this way that you have

To give beyond your self with a gentle spirit, still manly all the same.

You spoke only of my rest to your family on the phone

Preserving my dignity when I could barely feed myself with fingers weary from the beating moments before.

Yours is a love from the Father, the Son all in One

The kind that sustains you through trials when Jesus comes near with skin on.

He made you for me oh I am the blessed one

I pray he loves you back tenfold for the task of loving me well done today my love.

A leaning, a leading?

Palisades Reservoir, lead poisoning, testimonial, summer lake

So I’ve had increased convulsive episodes lately and especially since my beloved came home from a trip. There was fragrance on his person and stuff; that night and the next 3 days went poorly. We suspected the fragrances as a trigger and proceeded to clean everything multiple times. It was yet another sad and frustrating experience to endure yet not without some redeeming value.

Just prior to Steve’s departure for 6 days, I began a new treatment for a fungal sinus infection. I was tolerating it well and had the best 6-8 days than any in the prior 7 years! We were encouraged! 3 days into his trip I developed abdominal pain but attributed it to maybe some stress. It never resolved.

When Steve came home, there started to be convulsive episodes within 2 hours of this compounded sinus treatment. Since I have not tolerated medications for this condition in the past, I was pleased when a functional med Doc found a colloidial silver/EDTA preparation to try. The CS treats the fungal infection and the EDTA helps break up biofilms (which makes the infection harder to treat if missed) in addition to acting as a preservative. I decided to tough it out and continue with the treatment. Surely a chronic sinus infection could make me more vulnerable to noxious smells; the membrane between the sinuses and the brain is tiny. It’s why certain smells (like the baking of bread) can elicit such strong memories.

Lying down and tipping my head back also triggered episodes. Yes I have neck and cervical disc issues. The vertebral artery in my neck is positioned in a vulnerable way. Things are better overall with the improved positioning of my head/neck/jaw using specialized dental appliances. Recent application of specific vagal nerve stimulation techniques had helped both prevent and end convulsive episodes. But all of them became ineffective these past few days.

There appears to be another factor and today the Lord showed me what to do. EDTA is also a chelator of lead. For me, just starting a small amount of a detox agent triggers dumping of the respective toxin. Being post-menopausal and osteoporotic has brought increased lead toxicity noted in blood tests. I’ve already drastically reduced both levels of mercury and many other toxins discovered in numerous lab test, treated in numerous protocols. Today it was time to revisit the lead piece of this health puzzle!

It took quite awhile to communicate to Steve a plan of attack as my body was contorting, erupting in maddening/spontaneous screams, struggling to breathe and sequence the facial movements to produce words. My hands bent backwards into an arthritic/extension pose you might say resembled that of a zombie. My legs would flap together-and-apart violently and repetitively, uncontrollably. My head-and-neck and upper torso writhed in slow motion as I struggled to raise my body up to drink the concoction he would feed me through a straw. And finally when there was a break so I could breathe, sequence the oral-motor steps of swallowing, close my lips around the straw, and drink the potion we created:

Aloe water for gastric comfort
Full spectrum binder from Quicksilver Scientific called the Ultra Binder
Fiji water that contains silica that binds aluminum
Large dose of a zeolite product called CytoDetox for lead and any other heavy metals not covered by the Ultra Binder

I often respond energetically to rescue remedies; liposomals are especially powerful due to their rapid absorption into the bloodstream through the mucosal lining of the mouth. I held some of the liquid in my mouth, around the dental appliance. Then I drank more water.

It wasn’t long before the episode slowed then stopped. An hour later, my abdominal pain was half of what it was. Did you know that abdominal pain is one of the primary symptoms of lead poisoning? I suspect that the EDTA being sprayed directly into my nose and quickly being absorbed into my bloodstream got lead moving quicker than I could chelate out of my body on my own. The Ultra Binder has stopped episodes before. Why else would things turn around so quickly if it wasn’t due to a relatively acute toxicity?

We really want to be able to see family for the upcoming holidays without the heartache and drama of this devastating illness. Day by day we seek the Lord’s wisdom and pray for mercy, for healing. Just when recovery looks promising and there is relief, a horrific setback seems to follow. I can’t even embrace my husband right now for fear of having to pull away in another injurious, head-banging episode. Three weeks ago I went in and out of the worst emotional slump of these past 7 years then realized it was the lies of Satan himself I was believing. I covered it with the truth of my Lord, Jesus Christ Who has promised me in His Word a hope and a future.

So I have a new focus for treatment and looks like some really good tools are already on our kitchen counter, within reach. Will it be fruitful? I really don’t know. Tell you what though, I am still not giving up. There IS hope beyond what we can see and the proof lies with the empty tomb, the risen Christ, the reason for the Christmas season before us. And that keeps me going no matter what comes in the day, in the night.

I hope this is true for you too, Gentle Reader. There is hope beyond what we can see.

With love, JJ

UPDATE:   Functional Med Doc says it’s not the EDTA but a mold hit from raking leaves a few times recently.  I dunno.  I continued having convulsive episodes within an hour after the sinus spray treatment and had to stop it.  Time to regroup again!