Sitting in the warm, inviting front room and savoring every bite of tart, creamy deliciousness and crumbly graham cracker crust was the perfect celebration of my first day without Lyme symptoms in five months.
It was definitely a bummer seeing all the things crossed out on my kitchen calendar.
I heard an excellent idea from a former Lyme patient who now makes her living helping others manage all the ins-and-outs of this disease. She suggests ditching pens for pencils when it comes to writing down calendar entries.
Because back when she was ill, she started noting social events and appointments in pencil. That way, she says, if she had to cancel something, she could erase it and move on. She didn’t have the stress of seeing her calendar filled with all the thing she crossed off because of Lyme.
That’s an idea we can all use as we move into 2013. In the past few days alone, I have had to miss the funeral of a friend’s mother, pass on my wonderful brother-in-law’s major birthday celebration four hours away in New Jersey, and cancel a reunion lunch with a dear family friend.
At least when I look at my kitchen calendar now, I’m not reminded of all that, and can look to the next week with a fresh outlook.
Many days, I wince when someone says that to me. I want to shout in frustration “I FEEL AWFUL!” And when I try to explain, I want to hear “I believe you”—not “But really, you do look great!”
I’ve felt hurt because even those closest to me don’t see my suffering sometimes. But I’m realizing it’s hard for them to believe how awful lyme can be if I don’t clue them in. Especially when it comes to pain.
Not long ago, my longtime neighborhood book group got together for a potluck dinner. I was just getting to the point in my recovery where I could leave the house occasionally. So I said I’d love to come if I felt okay. Especially because they let me off the hook when it came to cooking a contribution for the table, which I knew I couldn’t manage.
Happily, I made it to the dinner. A few days later someone sent around a photo that included me. By the time I checked my email, a couple of others in the picture had piped up, making jokes about how the picture should have been photo-shopped…the usual chatter of people who hate photos of themselves.
I’m usually one of them. But I opened the file and had to admit I looked, well—great. Yes, great.
On a day like today when pain and other symptoms ratchet up and I am totally lymed-out, I can’t get outside to restore my spirits with a healing dose of Nature.
I’ve found, however, that online natural history videos can be a decent substitute. I’ve really been missing my work in ocean conservation, so this one called “Saving Valentina” by the Great Whale Conservancy caught my attention.
I share it here not only because it is one of the most amazing wildlife videos I have ever seen, but also because it says so much about life. Sure, it conveys the stunning beauty of whales.
But this story also celebrates the individual action that can make a big difference: Action by a few people in a tiny boat with one small knife saving the life of one of the largest creatures on Earth.
Today everyone at my office is getting ready for the holiday party. I can just see them all, arriving in the kitchen in a flurry to stuff the fridge with their pot-luck contributions for later this afternoon.
I talked to Sonya on the phone last night while she made bread pudding. Charlotte can always be counted on for a gourmet surprise. I, however, will not be there with my hot buffalo chicken dip complimented in years past. I’m into my third month of being unable to go to work.
I know I should avoid whining, but I’m going to embrace it and indulge in a little pity party. Then I’ll get on with my day. I decided to follow this approach after seeing a cancer patient interviewed on a t.v. talk show (yes, I watch talk shows these days, another lyme-inspired low). Continue reading →
I tend to call it “going around the mulberry bush.” My therapist calls it circular thinking. But the best analogy, the one that truly tells you how irritating repetitive negative thinking can be, is “like a broken record.”
To those of you too young to have heard a record skip, trust me. The grating sound sets you on edge just like this destructive thought process.
Negative thoughts start zooming around in your brain, one begets another, and pretty soon they are following each other in a maddening loop that keeps playing over and over. The loop invades your days, and it wakes you from slumber at 3 a.m.
“What if I never get better. What if I can’t get my life back. What if I can’t keep my job. What if I lose my house and savings because of out-of-pocket medical costs. What if my spouse/partner/friends abandon me? What if…”
I have two words for you from the great comedian and t.v. therapist Bob Newhart: Stop it. (Sure, this video is tongue-in-cheek and there’s certainly a time for professional therapy. But sometimes you can change the perambulations of your mind all by yourself. And humor definitely helps.)
Cultivate the mental discipline to cut those thoughts off with one swipe of a magic scythe. Because you don’t have room in your life for stress right now.
To recover fully, you need more than medication to kill the bacteria; you need a strong immune system. Do all you can to avoid stress. Start by watching this video. Hopefully you’ll enjoy a laugh.
Then, listen for Bob Newhart’s voice whenever you catch yourself pointlessly repeating worries. And just stop it.
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