my story, thoughts

Life without major relapses

It’s been about 2 years now since I had a major relapse (meaning weeks and weeks of more severe symptoms). This is huge — it means that I am willing to take risks like signing up for a work trip, taking on something larger at work, and being more responsible for things at home without a backup.

Most recently it meant I could say yes to being on a program committee, a work event that I have not been able to participate in much over the last few years because I have restricted my travel to (mostly) no plane flights, and (mostly) no time zone changes. In other words, it means I can live my life a little bit more like I did before lyme, before 2006. But does it mean I am cured?  Continue reading “Life without major relapses”

symptoms, thoughts

Feeling better and a few firsts

First some news — I am happy to say that I am no longer suffering from constant headaches, have less dizziness, am not totally soaked when I wake up (though still sweaty) and generally seem to be improving. I still tend to need either an early bed time or a nap or both and have regular swollen and/or painful lymph nodes, but I am less dizzy, less out of breath, and generally happier with how I’m feeling. The improvement started as slowly as the original downturn, and definitely before I changed anything in particular. However it may have spread up as I began taking large amounts of vitamin D and starting the new energy-device. I can’t say for sure, and would not want to draw conclusions at this point. I probably won’t want to draw any real conclusions until I see either a total lack of symptoms (almost never happens) or I go for a year without a relapse. For now I’m just grateful for what I’ve got.

As for the firsts, I have in the last week for the first time had a doctor tell me he thinks I probably never had lyme disease in the first place, and had an acquaintance ask why I didn’t use make-up to cover up the fact that I look tired. Both of these, I am sure, are not uncommon experiences for others in the community. Neither threw me — I’ve been dealing with this long enough that I have fairly stable opinions about what’s going on and how I want to deal with it. However, they were a reminder of the ongoing mismatch between the expectations and views of the average outsider/doctor and who/what I am. I won’t even both to discuss why I think the doctor was wrong, I’ve spent plenty of time already on that in this blog.

But the use of make-up — that deserves a response, at least here if not in person. I know there are many opinions on this, and I have acquaintances with chronic illness who work very hard to make it as invisible as possible. I do not mean to criticize those choices in what I write. But for me, personally, make-up is not a solution. I don’t use it normally, and putting it on just to hide how I’m feeling seems counter-productive. My illness is invisible enough already. I appreciate the fact that people who care enough to look can see that I’m not well when I’m not. It makes it easier when I need to ask for help, or simply contribute less to an event, conversation, etc.  Additionally, while having Lyme disease does not define me, it is part of who I am. I am many things, and I don’t hide any of them. I  don’t see a reason to single this one out.

treatment

Off antibiotics!

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I last wrote in … I certainly haven’t forgotten about this blog or having Lyme disease, but as an academic the beginning of the semester always rolls over me in waves leaving little time to step back and reflect. Fall is especially bad because there are many conferences to travel to (I just returned from a trip) and I always submit to an important conference in my field around mid September (just before my trip this year).

It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come in a year, but as I roll through my second year since diagnosis I often find myself reflecting on where I’ve been. Two years ago I was desperately seeking a diagnosis, unsure what was happening to me, and floundering at work as I attempted to sprint through what felt like molasses. A year ago I had finally come to terms with the prospect of long term antibiotics, only to descend into one of my worst periods ever. I will never forget my attempts to submit to that same conference deadline, which consisted of hours and hours of painful attempts to look sideways at my screen as I edited the most mindless parts of my papers interspersed with occasional moments of clarity in which I would sprint away from anything that could stop me from writing with an over the shoulder request to my husband to take over if kids were involved, and dive in to do as much as possible before the pain and cognitive dysfunction descended again. In contrast, leading up to this September’s deadline, I had only brief mild headaches and not even every day, with no other major cognitive impairments. Continue reading “Off antibiotics!”

my story, symptoms, treatment

Running the Numbers (June/July, 2009)

I have entered another two month’s worth of numbers into my stats program and analyzed them. I had my best month ever in June, and it is easily visible in the chart included below.  I had many days with only one or two symptoms, and felt much better, than I have since I became ill. The mean number of symptoms per day was 4 in both of these months, as opposed to 8 or more in past months.

Continue reading “Running the Numbers (June/July, 2009)”

my story, symptoms, treatment

Running the Numbers (Apr/May 2009)

I have entered another two month’s worth of numbers into my stats program and analyzed them. Of note is the fact that I was apparently hyperthyroid in Feb/March (and maybe before that) but went into remission in April. I’m gaining back my weight now, which apparently was caused at least partly by that.

I’ve created a new way of visualizing my data. The next image summarizes major symptoms since symptom onset (Fall ’06) through August ’08. Major events (such as the mold bloom) are marked at the bottom.

Continue reading “Running the Numbers (Apr/May 2009)”

my story, symptoms

Running the numbers (March 2009)

I expect this will become an (approximately) monthly post as long as I am still in treatment. I have entered another month’s worth of numbers into my stats program and analyzed them. This month is of note because I switched meds half way through –Penicillin was begun March 13th. At that time, Zithromax, Mepron, and Ceftin were stopped. I also lost 12 lbs sometime between when I last weighed myself (maybe over christmas?) and now, probably due in part to Ceftin causing me to have about 4 bowel movements a day.

The news continues to be good. The charts below illustrate the change in various symptoms from last month to this (click on them to see close ups)

Continue reading “Running the numbers (March 2009)”