Monday, April 7, 2014

Check Yoself Before You Wreck Yoself: A Springtime PSA

It's fifty-five degrees outside, perfect for a meandering walk or a bike ride. Perfect too, apparently, for
another day on my knees in front of the toilet.

It's been over a year since my diagnosis.

Thousands of shots.

Thousands of pills.

I stutter and tremble. I've pissed myself, crapped my pants, convulsed, seized, cried, drooled and I vomit more often than many people sneeze. At times I've been unable to grip a pen or to spell my name.

All because of an itsy bitsy filthy little tick the size of a poppy seed.

I remember crying in relief the day I got the diagnosis. Finally! An explanation for years of bizarre medical troubles. Finally! A path back to normalcy.

Because A leads to B, right? Diagnosis begets treatment which provides recovery. RIGHT? I'm learning that it's not that simple, especially when the infection has spread to one's central nervous system. After thirteen months of hardcore drugs my systems are exhausted, my bank account is zero and my improvements are modest albeit certainly appreciated.

I'm weaning myself off all the medications to give my body a break. I need to reassess. I need time to decide what's next. I was told that recovery is a marathon and I don't know which mile markers I've passed, but I'm sitting down for a bit on the curb.

As the weather turns warmer and you head outside, I beg of you:

CHECK YOSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOSELF

If you find a tick on yourself, proceed immediately to your doctor and do not pass go. Do not leave their office until you have a fistful of antibiotics. I wouldn't wish Lyme Disease on my worst enemy. Had I been treated initially, as a child, I might have been spared this hellfire. I can't change that but I can shout from the rooftops so it doesn't happen to you.

Actually, that's a lie. I can't shout.

But I can stutter and d-d-d-d-ammit, I c-c-c-care about you. W-w-w-watch for these tiny m-m-m-monsters.




Friday, March 7, 2014

Cowabunga

It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission, so let me start with an apology to everyone who demanded I check with my doctor before participating in a Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics. (I also feel the need to clarify that I was raising money for the Special Olympics, not competing in them - because as my brother says, I'm no athlete.)

My cousin caught me in a weak moment on a day I felt good - and once I'd said yes, I was screwed. I couldn't back out at that point, so why ask the doctor if my death was imminent or merely a possibility? Some things are better left unknown.

And so it was that my soft spot for Daryl and my inability to admit to poor judgment led me to the precipice last Saturday.

Paul and I stood with him at the edge of the hole in the ice, the three of us with linked hands and fluttering hearts, the wind like icy knives. It was two degrees below zero, but if we were going to die a frozen death, we'd go out holding hands and knowing that we were loved.


Except that at the last minute, Daryl released my hand and briefly had 
second thoughts - about either loving us or jumping in the 33-degree water. 
Or possibly both.


He mustered the gumption, though, and I love the look on his face as 
his legs hit the water and he realizes what he's done.


The look on my face, however, cannot accurately depict the horror that is Lake Calhoun in Minnesota in March after the coldest and snowiest winter of my life.

People asked what it felt like but I can't really tell you. I wasn't there.

When my body hit that water, I left this world. I didn't feel pain then, because I'm pretty certain I died. My legs buckled and I went under (which was NOT part of the plan) and when I came back up I was astonished to realize I was blind. Or maybe my eyelashes had frozen together.

All I knew was that I needed time to think about it and what better time than the present? So I stood there in the frigid water, leisurely contemplating a life of blindness. Paul pulled me out before the medics could. He said I was just standing there with a dazed look on my face. I don't remember that. Or the people. Or the cameras.

But I absolutely remember the numbing pain of getting out of icy water into the windchill of ten below zero. All that pain that I couldn't feel? In the water? By golly, here it was!

It was worth it, though, right?

It was for a good cause, right?

Once warmed and dried, the trauma behind us, I swelled like a peacock and thanked my cousin for inviting me to be a part of his special day. I asked how he decided to select me for the task.

My pride was popped faster than a soap bubble when Daryl admitted he'd invited damn near everyone he's ever met.

"Nobody else was crazy enough to say yes."








Friday, February 28, 2014

Just in Case

This time tomorrow I'll be walking the plank.

A cold ass ice-plank that ends in 32-degree water.

Since I'm hoping not to die of a massive heart attack brought on by shock,  I packed meds to last through the weekend. This morning - just as I was about to write another fundraising plea -  I heard a crash from the kitchen and found a naughty orange kitten playing hockey...with my drugs.

Paul and I picked up as many as we could find and blew off the floor dirt (free probiotics!) and now I have to reassemble my dosing schedule. And before you get all judgy about swallowing dirty pills, let me point out that you're looking at roughly a thousand dollars worth of medication.

Anyhoo, back to the fundraising.

I can truthfully tell you that without the love and support of many, I wouldn't be here today.

Last year a benefit was hosted in my honor, to raise money for my Lyme drugs, and I said all along that I won't be at peace with that until I've helped to 'pay forward' every one of those dollars to another cause. So while a jump in an icy lake sounds fairly close to my idea of hell, it's something I can do with and for my cousin Daryl, a special Olympian.

All moneys raised support the Special Olympics programs that enrich the lives of disabled athletes.

I'm no athlete but I've learned plenty about being disabled and you know what? It sucks.

It sucks to be dependent upon others.

It sucks to be in constant chronic pain.

It sucks to feel like everything is so much harder than it ought to be.

It sucks to feel alone in this world.

The Special Olympics have provided ways for my cousin to shine and to feel a part of something bigger than himself. He's so excited that Paul and I are joining him this year and I have to admit I'm pretty excited too.

A baptism of sorts, a rebirth.

Or possibly instant hypothermia culminating in cardiac failure.

If it's the former, I'll see it as a sign of better things to come. For Daryl. For me. For you. For anyone who has ever felt ostracized by life.

If it's the latter, please have Chad Daniels and Pete Lee officiate at my funeral. And Leslie - I'll need you to clean out my nightstand drawer, kay? Thanks.
 
 
 




Monday, February 24, 2014

Dunking with Daryl

1983-ish
Every summer we spent two weeks at our grandparents' lake house, a bunch of wild little cousins.

Daryl was the adorable curly haired tot who wet the bed on my brother and took the rap for all of our transgressions. There was a hard wooden time-out bench in the kitchen and Daryl spent the bulk of his summer vacations there. If I pinched my brother Neil or wouldn't share a toy, Daryl had to take a time-out. If Dana bit me, Daryl served the time.

Thirty years later he's an Olympian and he's asked me if I will jump in a lake with him.

In Minnesota.

In March.

To support the Special Olympics.

I figure I owe him a solid and when my guy said he'd jump with me, I had no choice but to say...

"Of course I will jump in an ice-cold lake with you, Daryl!"

Shit.

I support friends and family when they do charitable things but I can't ride a bike 150 miles or run a marathon. I'm too weak to walk for three days. Or miles.

I've been holding down my bed since Christmas, and trying to hold down all the meds. I've contemplated death pretty seriously - not in an active or dramatic I'd like to jump off a bridge way, but rather in a defeated my body often feels like it's going to quit on me kind of way. I get a burst or two of energy each week where I feel decent for a few hours, and therein lies the trouble.

Daryl caught me on an afternoon when I felt 60% normal, which was a 60% improvement over previous days. The Polar Plunge sounded invigorating. Exciting. Something I could actually accomplish, as it will require only fourteen seconds of energy. A chance to pay it forward just a tiny bit.

A chance to feel alive instead of just existing to fill a bed.

Then I realized that hopping in a freezing cold lake sounds pretty much like hell. But I'm locked and loaded and have decided that it's a worthy cause - hypothermia be damned. And also my boyfriend's kids will laugh at us if we punk out, so there's that.

Won't you consider supporting our insanity and - more critically - the Special Olympics? My guy and I are jumping for Daryl's team and you can donate to any of our pages - it all goes to the same wonderful organization.

 
 
 
 








.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

She Talks to Angels

2014 has started out harsh.

I started a new drug combo the day after Christmas and have spent all but two or three days since then flat on my back. The yellow liquid looks like acrylic paint and it tastes like pennies and the herxing has been spectacular. I see double a lot now.

Three weeks ago I was supposed to have dinner with my friend Gretchen but neither of us felt up to it, so we agreed to reschedule. Last Friday I spoke to her and I knew it would be the last time. After battling cancer for several years, Gretchen's body gave in.

This is the letter I wrote to her small son.
________________________________

Dear Wylan,


I’m writing you a letter because I talk kinda funny. Your mom talked funny too there, for a bit, huh? See, I knew your mommy back when we were not much older than you and I want you to know about the kind of kid your mommy was.

When I was nine I had really long pretty hair like your mom used to but I whined a lot about combing it. My mama warned me that if I didn’t stop crying about it, she was going to cut it all off but I was a kid so I cried anyhow. She cut off my hair and we moved and the kids at my new school had to ask if I was a boy or a girl.

But your mommy was my friend right away and she didn’t care what I looked like. We had sleepovers and rode our bikes and played games. We read books together and talked about everything important like God school and boys and Guns-N-Roses. We liked to walk barefoot and sing songs. One day it was raining and we sang her favorite song, She Talks to Angels, at the tops of our lungs while we splashed in the puddle.

She keeps a lock of hair in her pocket
She wears a cross around her neck
Yes, the hair is from a little boy
And the cross is someone she has not met
Not yet

 
The little boy is you, Wylan.

She was smart and curious and we got in lots of trouble growing up together because we liked to explore and try new things. Here are some things your mom might have forgotten to tell you not to do.

Don’t climb out the window onto the roof. Don’t prank call boys. Don’t smoke and don’t sass the police officers who yell at you if you do. Don’t skip school or drink screwdrivers without orange juice because you will throw up and it will sting.

Even though we got in trouble sometimes, we were mostly good kids. We went swimming and put lemons in our hair and wondered if we would ever get a tan (we didn’t). She played the piano almost every time she was at my house. We wrote very important notes to each other in class and told each other’s MASH fortunes. I was there when your mommy first fell in love with your daddy.

I know something special about your mommy, Wylan, because I got sick too. We talked about it. Even though sick people sometimes are too tired to play with you or talk funny or have silly hair, the special times with you are extra awesome because of it. So I bet every hug and kiss and game of Legos lately has been your mommy’s favorite time with you.

When your mommy left this world, she met the angels and they let her pass her mommy wings to some of us here while she’s gone. Your mommy has so many girlfriends, like sisters, and we are all your mommies now - every single one of us. We’ll help your daddy take care of you until we all see your mommy again.

Lots of love from one of all your mommies,


Tricia

__________________________
 
A celebration of Gretchen's life will be held this Saturday. I'm looking forward to seeing so many of the other mommies.
 

 

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Holiday Card

I've been MIA. First my hands went numb which interferes with my words per minute, then it seemed like I'd best say something important since it had been so long. That paralyzed me, as I have little to say of importance, ever. Next I got caught up in the wonder of the holidays and spent my whole ten hours of energy this past month baking cookies, making presents and rolling around in the snow like a Goldendoodle.

So we'll just call December a wash and this my holiday letter mmmkay?
 

Merry Christmas, friends!

I'm allowed to begin with Merry Christmas. Not because my butt is in a pew every Sunday but since that's what I've always said. And if you celebrate something other than the birth of Christ and the resurrection of Santa Claus, feel free to pretend I wished you a happy whatever offends your tender ears least.

2013.

The first year I attended more funeral services than weddings.

The first year I haven't worked since I donned a chicken hat at Cajun Joe's when I was fifteen.

The year I lost my job, marriage, driver's license, car and complete control of my bladder.

The year I found my boyfriend, and two girls who inspire me to do great things, like get out of bed when it hurts, because sometimes there are waterslides that need to be ridden or giggles that must be unleashed. I don't like the word soul mate, but I think he is my puzzle piece. We seem to fit.

The year I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease, which depending upon who you ask may or may not exist. I've seizured and stumbled and passed out and drooled and pissed myself and cried and I explode from everywhere like a nuclear bomb. I've slept, at best calculation, 6570 hours this year - or 273.75 of the past 365 days. I've wished I were dead at times. I've felt like I am already.

After 1080 injections (precisely) and 7500 pills (conservatively) I have definitely made progress, as detailed in the graph below.
 
 
During my peak health and energy this year I decided to return to school and enrolled in the massage therapy program at Northwestern. I was a schoolgirl for six weeks before puking, pooping myself and collapsing in exhaustion. I memorized a hundred flashcards and received a bill for four grand. For that I'm now qualified to work anywhere within walking distance where the hours are noon to two three days a week and I need to recite the bones in the human body. Also I have my fond memories of being an A student (except that one stupid class) and a sick Trapper Keeper.
 


I'm in bed today with double vision and itching red-hot tender legs debating whether to begin swallowing the latest drug in my cocktail, which looks radioactive and unfit for human consumption. On the plus side, it ought to drive that graph further upward and if I happen to catch anthrax or plague I'm already covered (seriously). Downsides include rupturing tendons and further numbness and nerve damage. Also, at $65 a dose, vomiting is a concern. Some helpful folks have suggested that if that happens I can always Play Dog.


But for all this griping, 2013 has been amazing as well. I have been lifted in love countless times. That progress on the graph? From IV meds that aren't covered by insurance. They were paid for with the generosity of friends all over the world and pumped straight into my heart for almost five months.

I owe thanks to so many, many people. For driving me everywhere I went. For encouraging me. For donating to my Lyme benefit. For hugging me when I drooled. For laughing with me. For loving me even when I'm broken.

I have big goals for 2014. I'm going to speak again without a stutter, so I can practice lines for the school play with BF's daughter.  I'm going to get my driver's license back, so I can go pick up my own prescriptions. I'm going to figure out what kind of work I can do with my spectacular resume.

And I'm going to remember to stay humble and grateful. Those were the themes of 2013 and I can't lose sight of that as I get stronger. I have a lot to repay.

Be well, all of you, whatever you are celebrating lately.



Monday, December 2, 2013

Cyber Monday

Thirties, dark and snowing.

Perfect day for cyber shopping, there are no crowds in your pajamas (we hope). I've compiled a handy list of folks I know who make cool stuff and sell it online. You're welcome.

10. My friend TJ Lubrano paints the prettiest watercolors ever - buy a beautiful hand painted card.
Illustration: TJ Lubrano


9. You need a Chad Daniels standup CD for your car. You'll be laughing too hard to care about Monday morning meetings.

8.  Bodylish bath goodies are made by a friend of a friend and they smell yummy enough to eat.

7.  Delphine French twists mad jewels when she's not hanging from a tree.

Necklace: Rebecca's Whims
6. Another delightful choice for comedy is Pete Lee. Watch a video or two. Buy a t-shirt.

5. Serana Rose of the Show Devils. This freakshow dolly whips up funky hairpieces and curios when she's not chewing on chainsaws.

4.  Rebecca's Whims is the shop to find handmade baubles you can't live without.

3. Good nature photography never goes out of style. Grab a calendar for your office.

2. Matt Johnson's prints are fantastic for kids' rooms or for gamers and they're priced to snatch.

1. There are twenty remaining copies of my book Confessions of a Recovering Cynic. Follow the link at the top of the page to share the magic.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey with a Side of Humble Pie

I seem to have lost a week or two somewhere.

I haven't blogged. I marveled in my mind but last Monday I was down hard with tremors, one of the latest fun symptoms. I was in bed all day Monday. And most of Tuesday. Actually until Friday. Then back in bed by Sunday. The fatigue is almost violent.

Eight days out of the past ten I've been facedown in my pillow or doubled over the toilet. I lose feeling in my face, an arm, my toes. My bladder. My vision keeps doubling up and getting fuzzy like there's an Instagram filter on my eyeballs. The tremors have overtaken me a few times this week.  I shake and I sweat and I sleep - oh, how I sleep.

I'm learning that multiple truths can coexist in us, if uneasily.

I hate feeling this way and I swear I can't keep doing it. I am stunned by how much I am loved and blessed and how many amazing people are in my life.

These seem to be such contradictory things, but they are both undeniably so.

In two weeks I've done nothing and everything.

I've been to Hayward to see some of my favorite folks. I've seen the mister's daughter's middle school play, including her triumphant solo bellowing about her husband's corpse. I've sold half my remaining books and lunched with friends. I've snuggled in a hogpile with a cat on top for movie night. I usually get a few good hours each day, I just don't choose when.

I'm running like a car on fumes - sputtering, stuttering...Lyme has slowed me down to rolling along in neutral and I just don't know which corner I'll stall on or if I'll crash hard. Or how long it will take to jump my battery.

So all I'm really doing during my 'up' hours is spending them with people I love.

This means I'm generally miserable and content all at once.

Trapped and free.

Sick and happy.

Sad and grateful.

Shitting myself and laughing.

Yes.

At Catching Fire* today with my mother. One of my symptoms is migrating numbness and today it migrated to my ass. For the third time in six weeks, I pooped my pants**.

I had no choice but to laugh.

I threw out my skivvies, cleaned myself up and laughed until I cried.

Long-term illness is oddly sentimental and I find myself choking up a lot. French toast with family is more fulfilling than a corporate service career. I feel like garbage so often that my good moments are magnified to saccharine sweet. I get teary over coffee and just thinking of my friends makes me happy, even when I can't muster the energy to return a call. I know you're there. I love you.

This Thanksgiving I have so much less in my life than years past.

And I have more.

I am grateful.

*Not a bad flick, solid B
**OHMYGAWDTMI

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday Marvels on Tuesday

The Top Ten Reasons to be Thankful for Monday, November 11th?

10. I'm thankful for Friday night kid craft parties because where else does one find such amazing
hippie pillows? The bedazzles fall off but it's OK because you definitely know when you step on one.

9. I'm glad I'm the boss of this blog so I can write Monday Marvels on Tuesday because yesterday my fingers were too Parkinsonian to type.

8. I'm thankful for my largest organ. My skin has been doing a heckuva job standing up to the mustard peroxide baths that feel like bathing in liquid sandpaper. It's not very spa-like.

7. Shout out, too, to my liver and kidneys. I don't know what all this stuff is you're puking out of my system but hats off, guys. We'll take a break in March. Hang in there.

6. I'm relieved that Bozo (age nine) has my number in her First! Cell! Phone! in case 'there is an emergency and I am the only grown-up around'. We've had several emergencies already, most of them involving an urgent need to text the word TOOT to each other.

5. I'm stupidly excited about partnering with Wise Ink on my new book Tiny Monsters and can't wait to share details.

4. I'm deliriously excited about heading to Hayward this weekend for bonfires and a book signing with some of my favorite people.

3. I'm thankful for my craft supplies since Christmas is exploding everywhere already which reminds me I'm broke so you're all getting homemade gifts and you'd better pretend to like them.

2. I feel loved and it's awesome.

And the number one reason to marvel over Monday, November 11th?

1. I'm very, very grateful for privacy on detox days. Y'all should be grateful I have this privacy as well, you just don't realize it. Lyme is disgusting.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday Marvels

The Top Ten Reasons to Marvel over Monday, November 4th

10. I am thankful for the opportunity to wear zombie makeup and give away $25.00 worth of candy to fifteen kids. I didn't even get to see one fat baby dressed like a lion or a strawberry, but I'm not bitter about it or anything.

9. I'm grateful for hot running water. I realized it would really suck to try to take a mustard ginger detox bath without it.

8. Mr. Man put some ram in my laptop and it's running like a champ. Giggity!

7. I'm relieved my forehead head isn't swollen anymore. I had a fit Saturday afternoon and flung my noodles off my fork because my hands were shaking so badly. I hit my head herxing in the car, too, which was delightful.

6. I love upcycling. I found an old ottoman (free) and mirror ($6.99) and made a fishnet and fur vanity set for a girl's room.


5. Word on the street is that the JADN8R* resurfaced at a daycare facility on Halloween. I'm so proud that it stood up to a three-year-old this long!  *The badass cardboard car I made for a kid's costume last year


4. I'm thankful my left leg isn't as sore as my right leg after the muscle convulsions this weekend. Every other step is searing pain but it could be twice as bad.

3. I loved that extra hour of sleep from rolling the clock back an hour because it's terribly hard getting only fifteen hours a day.

2. I'm excited for the day when number three is no longer actually true.

And the number one reason to marvel over Monday, November 4th?

1. I just did the math and am pleased to report that if all goes well, I might be done with Lyme drugs by St. Patrick's Day next year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Marvels: Lyme Soup Edition

It's chilly today so I made soup. Lyme soup with me as the main course. I've been researching detox
baths because my muscles and nerves have been banshees lately and kept stumbling across the same doozy of a recipe.

Run a bath and toss in four cups of Epsom salt, two bottles of hydrogen peroxide and a buttload of ginger and mustard powder. I plugged my nose and hopped in. Since I was supposed to steep in this tea for 40 minutes, I contemplated my Monday Marvels.

Here's what I felt thankful for tonight, sweating and shivering at the same time in the stinky bathwater.

10. I love ranimals. Ranimals, for new folks round here, are random animals I accost during the course of my. Since I can't have a pet of my own I shamelessly chase down random animals on the street. Yesterday's ranimal was a mangy fat bulldog an elderly gentleman rescued. Her name was Annie, just like Mama Bird. And just like Mama Bird, Annie gives good hugs and snorts when she's happy.

9. Speaking of bulldogs, sometimes I get overexcited and think I'm a regular person. On Saturday we went to a comedy show and I had Colorado bullogs. Fat, mangy ones. I love the cool feel of the bathroom floor on my cheek. I also love that I haven't thrown up in nearly 24 hours now.



8. By now, my skin is starting to feel like it's going to blister and peel off and I'm thinking I'd love to get out of this tub.

7. But I'm grateful to have the tub because as soon as I get out of one now, I'm freezing and want to get back in immediately to warm up. My temperature is bipolar.

6. I'm glad I was able to express my inner HGTV, it hurts to hold it in too long. I distressed a couple of dressers and rubbed them down with hideously bright leftover paint to match the girls' hideously bright rooms. Shabby chic, oui?


5. Also I made a cabochon, a fridge midget magnet. How often does one get to say that?



4. My thoughts are bouncing wildly from midgets to mustard to realizing that I'm sweating ginger salt into my eyes and holy bejesus that hurts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. Think positive. Ignore your throbbing eyeballs. You're going to Hayward soon for bonfires and crunchy leaves and old friends and a book signing. Think how great it will be!

2. I'm thankful I was able to roll myself out of that tub without passing out. My skin feels like it's on fire, like I used habanero lotion. I smell like damp socks.

And the number one reason to marvel over Monday, October 28th?

1. I finally joined Pinterest. Why didn't anyone tell me how much fun it is to decorate my imaginary house?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Marvels

The Top Ten Reasons to Marvel over Monday, October 21st

10. I'm thankful for my new bath pillow...shaped like a tick. No, I'm not kidding. What? You don't
have one??

9. I'm grateful to Leslie for saag paneer and girl time yesterday.

8. I'm thankful that Leslie wasn't around today when the saag paneer made an encore appearance. Puking curried spinach is exactly as gross as it sounds.

7. On that note, I'd like to give a shout out to my stomach for all the times it allows fistfuls of antibiotics through without revolting. I guess I can't blame it for fighting back sometimes.

6. I'm grateful that I don't have to fake my way through class now, though, on the days when my stomach is fighting back.

5. I'm lucky to be thoroughly decked out in fashion-forward looks for fall by my underage stylists.



4. I'm relieved my veins didn't explode the other day. I had a weird sensation like my blood was on fire and it felt like my veins were 'throbbing'. Sounds crazy, right? Changed into my jammies and all the veins on my legs were bulging out like crazy! Brief research taught me that it's just yet another symptom of Lyme toxins flooding my system. I pretty much get sexier every day.

3. I'm deliriously excited for my beautiful friend TJ, who is illustrating a children's book. Her artwork is whimsical and magical and I have no doubt that the book will be charming. Pre-order your copy today!

2. I'm so grateful to my sweet friend Heather for the lovely birthday surprise in the mail and I'm dying to see her in a few weeks in one of my favorite places on earth for bonfires and beer.

And the number one reason to marvel over Monday, October 21st?

1. I've been reminded countless times that sometimes the darkest parts of life also have the brightest moments. Today I saw that the 7-week-old nephew of a friend of mine passed away suddenly. He started a fundraiser to pay for the burial cost for his sister's family and I immediately saw the chance to help give them a bright light in their grief. Were you going to buy a pumpkin latte this week? Please considering spending that five dollars to support little Nolan's memorial fund. They already have to bury their baby, let's not let debt bury them as well.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hold or Fold

Kenny said you gotta know when to walk away and when to run. I don't run unless I'm being chased by a bear, but today I walked away...with the song Beauty School Dropout from Grease playing on a loop in my head.

I underestimated the physicality of massage therapy training. Or overestimated my progress with Lyme treatment. Just semantics, really, as the bottom line is that until I can perform moderate levels of physical activity for 60-minute increments without vomiting or shitting my pants, I'm not an appropriate candidate for a massage therapist.

I wrestled mightily with the decision since - of course - there will be financial penalties for withdrawing from the program, but I have to put my recovery first. Transitioning from IV antibiotic therapy back to orals has torn my guts to shreds. I'm too busy deciding which end to hang over the pot to give you a soothing petrissage session, my apologies.

So with that, my illustrious six-week career as a health sciences student has come to an end and I'm back to square what-the-f-do-I-do-with-myself-now?

I don't have the answers.

Perhaps as my treatment progresses I'll regain control of my body and return to school. Or maybe the nerve damage has already progressed too far for a career that physically taxing.

I don't have a crystal ball and neither does my Lyme doctor.

All I have control over at this point is my voice and I'm going to use it to tell my story. I can't tell you what I'll be doing in three months, or two years. I don't know what my future will bring.

But I do know that I won't go down quietly.

Late Lyme is a complex disease that robs people of their independence and function, leaving a wake of financial devastation and unanswered questions. If sharing my story can help even one person get promptly diagnosed and treated in time to avoid permanent complication, then I've served a purpose.

Just don't ask me for a massage.

Yet.
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