The things we do for some sun

We’re home from our whirlwind trip to Florida that almost didn’t happen so soon after being diagnosed with new gut issues then battling the flu followed by it’s aftermath for 2 weeks thereafter. We did it anyways! Four long days of driving for 3 days in the Sunshine State. Here was our itinerary:

4:00 pm January 9th decide to pursue reservations and plans to go to Florida; finish seemingly endless packing, food and other preparations.

2:00 pm January 10th: Elle pup is the first in the truck as we depart Huntertown, IN for the campground south of Atlanta. Arrive around 2:00 am.

1:00 pm January 11th depart for Seminole, Florida. Arrive around Midnight. Set up our campsite at Bickers RV Park.

My mobile clean room amidst the palm trees!

9:00 am January 12th was Steve’s first day of the USCA Annual Meeting. I rested from various convulsive episodes en route and travelling.

6:00 pm we make our way to the banquet at a seaside restaurant. Had episodes later yet I was grateful for a dinner out with my beloved Steve.

8:30 am January 13th: Steve heads out for the wrap up of the USCA Meeting, lunch, and paddling 6-man outrigger canoes on the ocean. Great fun!

11:00 am My day begins with self care, laundry, doggie care and some time sitting outside. Some restoration begins, however convulsive episodes persist at night. Make pre-planned dinner anyways and prepare for appointment tomorrow.

10:00 am Appointment with Craniomandibular Specialist, Dr. Ralph Garcia, for adjustments to dental appliances. Begin to question where the 80% improvements of last year have gone? Drop off thank you gift to a friend, lots of driving in the Tampa area, and fit in a 45-minute walk along Clearwater Beach before returning to the campground. Even 60 degree weather could not keep us away! Episodes were discouraging to both of us later that night.

11:30 am Pack up and depart for Chattanooga, TN. Arrive after midnight. My Nissan Frontier is a workhorse yet requires stops for gas every 110 miles! Elle pup made the entire trip nicely.

1:30 pm Pack up and re-winterize Camplite for our return to freezing temps back home. Depart for Huntertown, IN by way of Nashville.

3:30 pm EST meet up with Steve’s sweet daughter, Rebekah, for early dinner. Ramp up of convulsive episode at older Thai restaurant prompted me to leave, scramble to the truck, and take some Prednisone. Episode resolved (meds prevented further episodes later on this night), so we head to Panera Bread across the street for a nice visit. Got back on the road around 6:00 pm.

3:00 am arrive home and start unhooking the travel trailer, unpacking, decontamination procedures, urgent laundry. Grateful for the ability to do all this work on a short night of sleep followed by long days of travelling. The Lord added His increase once again!

5:30 am: heading for bed with prayers of gratitude for safe travels, the Lord’s provision of this trip, some sweet moments, and fewer symptoms between us of the flu/cold that began 3 weeks ago. I’ll spend the next week cleaning the Camplite, doing laundry, restocking, and reorganizing as required when camping in our “mobile clean room.” Maybe I’ll get to finish 2 sewing projects for the bunks soon too?

How amazing it is that I got to go to Florida! “Warm sunshine” is very therapeutic as is getting a change of scenery. Yeah God! I love travelling with my Stevers. My heart is filling back up again . . .

Just doing my job

occupational therapy, O.T., home care, home health, assistant, therapist, accessibility, tub transfer, adaptive equipement, Hope Beyond, therapist heal thyself, tub bench, transfer, gait belt, bathroom treatment, therapy
An O.T. assisting a client in a tub transfer using bathroom safety equipment.

When I was working in my career as an Occupational Therapist, I coined the following phrase to describe my role to my patients and their families:

An Occupational Therapist takes a look at how a person occupies his or her time and the skills needed to get through the day.

This definition worked well, given the diversity of populations, conditions, and treatment interventions utilized in O.T.  Having a simple, quick definition helped me better communicate my 30+ years of licensed and skilled interventions from a variety of treatment settings that might be called upon at any stage over a course of therapy.  Together we then crafted a course of action to get the person back into his or her life as best as possible.  Funny how the person that may have benefitted the most from all of this is the one writing to you this evening . . .

Recovery from a serious illness has been a case of the phrase “therapist heal thyself” coupled with the expertise of a few other licensed professionals.  My part was to study, research, document, evaluate, revise, manage, and just hang in there by my fingernails to get through these past 4 years.  However I will credit the Lord, Jesus Christ for providing the courage and hope that my husband, Steve, and I needed to actually start seeing some progress.  And guess what, it is starting to happen!  The Lord has allowed recovery to begin!

Six weeks ago I began an ongoing, intensive course of IV antibiotics for the treatment of chronic Lyme disease.  In the interim I experimented with liposomal melatonin, 5-HTP (a precursor to serotonin), and now CBD oil (from industrial hemp).  I believe it is that latter that have helped to move my sleep/wake cycle from that of a brown bat to a gal that is just slightly a night owl.  I am starting to dream again and have a little more energy, clarity of thought.  Also the years spent chasing down mercury toxicity, mold illness, dental issues, and secondary infections have prepared me to tolerate this level of intensive treatment.  Are you ready for the biggest change of all?

The two to five hours per day of violent convulsive episodes is diminishing in intensity and duration!  This has been consistent for about two weeks now.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!!!!!!

We are thrilled for some positive change in my condition!  We are now hopeful that the powerful doses of antibiotics will help kill the Lyme bacteria and co-infections likely causing the seizure attacks and other noxious symptoms.  Whoa.  So how do I fill my days?  I am continuing my full time job of daily detoxing, preparing  a specifically crafted diet, maintaining a detailed treatment log, medical appointments averaging daily, supportive relationships, study-and-research, medical treatments (some complications came with the IV treatments), connecting online to forums critical to these efforts, the “stuff of life,” and taking a walk at least once per week.  Maybe this week it will be twice?  Yeah God, the pup will love that one!

Like in the past, right now I am just doing my job.  I am grateful that the Lord saw fit to lead me into the profession of occupational therapy as it provided me the skills needed to manage the mechanics of this illness.  Along the way my beloved Steve has been the greatest friend, confidant, witness, and spiritual leader that I could have ever asked for to walk this road with me.  He has labored tirelessly night and day for me, for us.  Thank you Jesus for Steve.  There are many unknowns and many more months of treatment yet to follow for sure.  No problemmo.  With my Lord and Savior at the helm, I will be fine.  Lord willing, I am going to get well!

Just thought you might like some good news from the “Hope Beyond” blog, eh?  Take care Gentle Reader.  And thank you for your support.  You rock!  JJ

He really cares: Part 2

Please forgive me for leaving you hanging, Gentle Reader!  I left you hanging by a thread in this blog almost 2 weeks ago.  Clearly I made it out o.k. from the doctor’s office!

charcoal sketch, sketch of woman, side view of woman, head shot, female drawing, picture of lady

Since there were many hairy details in the horrible situation I was in on July 29th, I will shorten things up a bit here.  In my last post, I ended whilst lying on my side, paralyzed and inches from the floor after a convulsive episode in the exam room of a Physician’s Assistant (PA).  The second of two severe seizure attacks had occurred since entering this room and the second of two episodes of neurological collapse was in progress.  Eventually the PA returned and forgot everything I had ever told her about what to do in this circumstance; she even forgot that in the first episode (that she had witnessed) I was unable to speak or move.  All she kept asking was, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

Finally I was able to break through what was happening in my brain to express the greatest need in my life at that moment, “PLEASE REMOVE MY GLASSES!”  As she wrenched my neck and lifted my head I screamed in excruciating pain from having had my eyeglasses and sunglasses wedged against my face for so long.  Extreme sensory sensitivity accompanies the worst convulsive episodes; pain in particular is magnified as if you had tried to electrocute me!  So when the PA tried to remove them, it was as if a bolt of lightening had jolted through my face!  She asked again about the ambulance.  “Did I want to get up onto the table to be more comfortable?”  I could not speak or move at all.  Then she left.  A long time later she returned.  Then she left.  A long time later she returned.  Then she left.

To pray was my focus since the trained medical professional was of no help!  Thankfully after a long time, it was the Lord Who helped me twist and turn my torso so I could lie on my back across two chairs with my legs pulled up underneath me.  It took about a dozen tries before I could lift my head segmentally to reach a sitting position with my head supported by the wall behind me.  Never did a wall seem so comforting . . .

Eventually a nurse, the really sweet one, came into the room with a wheelchair so I could be taken to the bathroom.  Herein I benefitted from my training in transfer techniques as an occupational therapist.  My arms were starting to regain motor control but my legs were like dead weight .  I lifted them one at a time with my right arm (more functional than my left) off of the leg rests of the wheelchair and onto the floor, braced myself with the grab bar along the wall next to the toilet and pivoted myself around; I reversed the procedure with more adaptive techniques to do all of the things I needed to do in the bathroom.  By the time I was wheeling myself out of the bathroom, the really sweet nurse had returned to take me to the hospital in the building next door.  At last, over three hours later and feeling majorly beat up, I would be getting the IV fluids as ordered!

Unfortunately the IV “Lactated Ringers” didn’t help me much.  The nightly convulsive episodes returned followed by wake-up tazoring the next morning.  I was so beat up from everything.  The following evening I did make it to the grocery store when things had temporarily stabilized.  Such an ordeal!  Calming my anger at my medical providers has taken every day since then.  The doctor never mentioned it when I saw him last week.  He did not even ask if the IV fluids helped me to feel any better.  Sometimes that guy is just too focused on test results (or whatever) to examine the overall process of this patient’s sickness, the clues that might be hidden in plain sight.  Oh well.  The second appointment to review additional test results last week was cancelled (as are about 35% of his appointments).  A minor flare up of the ol’ anger distracted me once again, gratefully for less time . . .

So who really cares if I live?  Suffer?  Die?  I have spent the last 15 days meditating on this.  The real question emerged beneath these cries and it was not to find out if anyone really cares or not.  There are people in my life who love me and for this I am grateful.  The real question turned out to be whether or not I had submitted this illness to the Lord as a living sacrifice.  Who is really in charge here?  Did I offer it to the One Who sees all, loves me more than anyone?  Could I view laying this illness at the Lord’s mighty throne of grace as an act of both obedience and worship?  He calls believers to do this, by the way in Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12)

The Lord knows that our bodies are not perfect and that our world is not perfect.  Why would the God of the universe desire me to make alms to Him with my weaknesses?  He desires our devotion in all things and loves me and you just as we are.  But wouldn’t he rather have a tithe or act of service?  NO!  He is God not some distant authority figure or Santa Claus.  He loves us, has mercy on us, completes us, pours out His blessings, defends us, and promises to make good out of the fallen things of this world no matter how ugly.

1 Peter 5:6-11New International Version (NIV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 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. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

I am holding out for the promise that lies within these words.  He will restore me in due time.  Who cares for me?  Who cares for you?  The Lord Jesus Christ, that’s Who!  In Him we will find rest no matter what may come our way.  We can be sure of it!  JJ

When you are no longer brave

If I were left to my own resources this day, I would not make it.  Thankfully, there is more.

And the only resource worth pursuing is the One that is perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present, love incarnate, eternal, and dwelling in my broken heart.

If I were to merely go with what feels right or good, I probably would not get well.  Thankfully, there is more.

And the only emotion worth feeling is that of humility as I lay down my metaphorical sword and let the One who weeps for me wail His own mighty hand of power.

If I were to measure my patience, my progress by the time already invested in recovery or making things right, I could not find a tool with a good enough warranty to last long enough to even bother.  Thankfully, there is more.

And the only period worth measuring is the one I must accept:  the time that is indefinite, outside of a calendar or watch and yet fully calibrated and infinitely accurate in the hands of the Creator of time itself.

So if I were to admit that in the convulsive state of my existence that I can no longer go on I must proclaim on faith that there is more out there somewhere.

And my only hope lies in the protective wings of my Lord and Savior, the Alpha and the Omega, my Immanuel and King.  So Here I am Lord .  .  .

A hymn:  Here I am Lord.