I’m no stranger to major loss. As a teenager, I lost my beloved family home and other ties to childhood in the wake of huge financial losses for my parents.
Then came the death of my father after a five-year struggle with lymphoma. Later came the excruciatingly slow passing of my mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s, and my own mother’s declining memory.
Then, the nearly unbearable abyss of divorce. A few years later, I’d only just started to approach feeling whole when a tiny tick transmitted the lyme that knocked me to my knees—and even further down.
The holidays, a touchstone to the past, intensify the grief. I feel it in every cell of my being.
Recently I said to my therapist, who is helping me get through the many stresses of chronic lyme, “A year ago, I thought I had a handle on the losses lyme has sent my way. And I sure thought I had processed all that grief from childhood, and all that terrible pain from the breakup of my family. Why am I so overwhelmed all over again?”
And she said, “Because grief is like a rubber-band ball.” Continue reading
Mom at 96, September 2012.
Credit: Catherine Fox
I’m very sad today. My mother, 96, one of the most extraordinary, life-filled people I have every known, has entered hospice care in my sister’s home, where she has been lovingly cared for over the past several years.
Naturally, I wanted to travel there to see my mother and to support my sister. I know I don’t have the stamina to drive almost five hours, and when I am sickest my lack of concentration makes me a danger on the road so I don’t get behind the wheel.
I decided to try the train. All I have to do is sit there, right? Amazing how the voice of lyme denial tries to get me to do things I shouldn’t.
My doctor told me that since we are adding meds this month for the next level of treatment, I should go now if I must, before the herxing increases. Note the “if”; she understands that I want to go—that this is my mother—but I could hear the reservations in her voice.
Today is the day I’d planned to go. I made the decision last week when I felt better. I came to my senses two days ago. Continue reading
Taking care of yourself isn’t, well, rocket science…
[Dr. Robert Goddard. Credit: NASA on Flickr/The Commons]
I’ve had the misfortune of getting re-infected just as I was pulling out of two-plus years during which I was largely sidelined by lyme and other tick-borne infections. There’s a bit of good news, however. I learned a few things the first time around, and I’m doing things differently.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned. Maybe you can benefit by taking them to heart now, instead of learning the hard way like I did over time and missing out on benefits you could have enjoyed much, much sooner. Continue reading
I always keep a pile at hand, in case a book doesn’t grab me.
I have fond memories of reading days in college before exams, when I holed up in the university library to immerse myself in my studies. My life is a bit like that now, with many lyme-imposed reading days spent in bed or on my red sofa.
And right now, I have an added challenge. I had a couple of good days, so I thought I was cured. Right. Will I never learn? I did ten leg lifts lying on my back—and blew out my lower back. I did too much too soon. Excruciating muscle pain on top of lyme symptoms mean I’m literally flat out today.
Fortunately, stepping up reading time is a pleasure for me. In grade school, when our public library limited check-outs to three at a time, my mother got special permission for me to get ten so she didn’t have to make the long drive into town from our farm quite so often. On a lazy summer day, I could knock out a couple pretty easily.
For the past two decades, I’ve met monthly with not one but two book groups, reading and talking about everything from plays to fiction and nonfiction. In one group, we decide on a reading list by committee. In the other, the hostess of the month chooses a title. The latter gets me trying books I might not have voted for, and I’ve made some great discoveries.
Needless to say, I have missed most of the meetings over the past year—but I have read all of the books. I also have many book-loving friends who share recommendations. Yet sometimes it can be hard to find those books that draw me in, the writers who take me away from my world and fully into another. Continue reading