Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lyme Disease and A Long Overdue Update

It's hard to believe it's been almost three months since my last blog post. If you are a reader outside of Facebook and wondering where I have been all this time, let me assure you that I am still here and still blogging. Life just sometimes takes unexpected turns, which in my case, necessitated an unexpected break from blogging.

In May, my life was greatly affected by a tiny little tick no bigger than a sesame seed. 
I woke up one Tuesday morning to find it attached to my side, a "souvenir" from gardening the previous day, no doubt. Since ticks are commonplace around here, I thought little of it, even when I tried to pull it off and part of the head got stuck inside of me. One week later, however, my lymph nodes were swollen, my body was achy, my neck was stiff and painful, a bull's eye rash formed around my bite location, severe fatigue set in, and a high fever raged. I had just about every symptom in the book for Lyme disease. After much prayer and research regarding treatment options, we decided to pursue a two-fold plan including an antibiotic as well as natural supplements. I was still taking Plexus products, which I felt gave me a strong immune system with which to combat this infection (and the suppressing effects of the antibiotic). It was a huge blessing to learn of a naturally-minded, holistic doctor in our small town who is experienced in treating Lyme, and under her direction, I also started on an herbal protocol called the Cowden Support System.

Within a few days, my initial symptoms of the disease began to clear up, allowing me to feel much better, even though I was still very weak. However, I began experiencing troubling heart and breathing problems that landed me in the ER just to get checked out and make sure I was not dealing with anything life threatening. Thankfully, I was not, and we learned that some co-infections of Lyme can cause hyper-coagulation of the blood, thus resulting in the heart having to work harder, which is what happened in my case. These symptoms only lasted a few days.

Next up, came mild Bell's Palsy, causing half my facial muscles to not work properly which was uncomfortable and inconvenient, especially pertaining to my eye, but certainly livable. About a week after these symptoms began, I started taking Plexus Nerve to help with the problem, and it cleared up about 10 days later! I had read that most people who get Lyme-induced Bell's Palsy, deal with it for 1-2 months, so only having it for such a short time was a blessing!

The timing of getting this disease was not ideal as I was preparing to head into the busiest month of the year to date between various church/outreach ministries I was responsible for in addition to my normal family and farm life, and homeschooling. (We school year round and take off when needed.)  I had to learn a new normal of what to expect out of my body and how to pace myself so as not to over-do things. Our church family stepped in to help by bringing meals, assisting with the children, and even landscaping our yard with plants and flowers while I was recovering. Their demonstrations of love meant so much! 

I am very thankful to report that I have responded well to treatments and have made an almost full recovery by now! My only lingering symptoms include occasional fatigue (though nothing like in the beginning) and slight brain fog. Overall, though, I am feeling good and consider myself to be at about 90% strength once again!  However, due to feeling poorly for several weeks and needing to reserve my limited strength for caring for my family, I had to put blogging and other "extras" in life (like my side business) on the back burner for awhile. I will admit that this need to slow down and let go of some areas has been one of the most difficult aspects of this recent trial with Lyme. As a Type A personality full of vision and desires, I much prefer "thriving" to "surviving." But overall, I can't complain, because I know of others who have had Lyme disease far worse than I have, especially the chronic version of it. My experience with Lyme has been fairly mild overall thanks to catching it quickly and treating it aggressively. Best of all, the Lord has provided the energy needed to keep up with the things I had lined up for the month of June including a community flea market outreach, the start of a discipleship Bible study, various hospitality engagements, and the planning of a church float in an upcoming parade. 

In the meantime, pictures have been stacking up on my phone and camera, so you will have to pardon the extra long post today, but there is much to share! I hope to be back to more regular blogging several times a month as the time goes on, but we shall see what the future holds!

And now I bring you April-June in pictorial form! ;)

In April, I was excited to attend the Great Homeschool Convention being held in Cincinnati with my dear friend, Tasha. It was such fun to attend inspiring workshops and shop the massive vendor hall as I checked into various curriculum for our upcoming school year. It was especially fun to enjoy the experience with Tasha.

A book worm's paradise.

The grand finale session of the event featured speakers Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor who is passionate about Jesus Christ,

and Nick Vujicic, a man with no arms or legs. I enjoyed hearing from both of them!

Meanwhile, back at home, our kitchen remodel has been making steady progress! 

Nathan worked hard to fix up some old wood from an ancient barn on our property that have made beautiful trim pieces for the new openings of our kitchen now that the walls are gone! We are thankful for his dad and sister lending a hand with this job too!

And let's not forget the littlest helper! :)

Back to school with M&M math!

Isaac was excited to receive a package with super cool, kid-sized aprons for our crew from our dear friend back in New Mexico, Ursula!

Making cloud dough cupcakes on the back deck.

We love sensory activities!

It was fun to visit our library during a cold, gray week in the spring when we needed a day out of the house. We go to the library regularly to check out books, but not so often for story times or lap sits. The kids all loved the music and stories at this lap sit, but the bubbles at the end were a special highlight!

Spring finally arrived in all its beautiful colors!

We are enjoying our funny goats!

Why, hello there, Daisy!

Silas loves to eat!

Painting to music...

Josiah asked me to draw him a bird that he could color in. He was excited with the finished product and wanted to show the world! (Even if it does look more like a dinosaur now!) ;)

My little Ducky.

One of the perks of homeschooling is that when your pastor daddy scopes out a local reservoir for a church fishing tournament, you get to tag along!

The littler ones enjoyed the park that was there too!

Painting rocks.

Playing car.

Isaac's pretty picture.

I just love our little town along the Ohio River, especially in the spring and summer!

The day before I started manifesting signs of Lyme disease, the boys and I enjoyed a super fun and special day in town visiting the library, doing a "story walk" at the local French Art Colony, and playing/picnicking at a park. It was a beautiful day of memory-making with my little guys before getting sick!

The red head.

The big helper boy.

The adventurer.

The energetic one.

The kid who is part mountain goat. (He loves to CLIMB!)

Look at that proud face. :)

Group picture at the end of the adventure. Someone was ready for a nap!

Nathan and I still got to go on our 6th anniversary get-away we had planned even though I was in the early stages of dealing with Lyme. We drove down to Virginia where we stayed in an Air BnB and mostly just rested. We did some reading, movie watching, napping, talking, eating, and hot tubbing, making for a super relaxing time. It rained the whole time we were there, which worked out perfectly since I wasn't able to hike like we had originally planned. The last day of our trip, we attended our friend's graduation from Liberty University which was about an hour away from where we stayed. 

This was a splurge massage at the mall in West Virginia on our trip where we also did a some shoe shopping.

I definitely look a little ill in these pictures with my pale skin and Bell's Palsy affecting my eye and smile, but it was worth it to me to document our little time away together. Here, we are checking out a swinging bridge over the James River while Nathan eats ice cream.

So thankful for six years with this guy - through sickness and health for sure! :)

Back at home, the kitchen remodel moved to the next step that a hired crew took care of. They removed our two large windows and replaced them with smaller ones that cabinets and counters will eventually go under.

Nathan then put sheetrock and trim around the windows and also installed a third new one over the sink to match the rest (not pictured). It's coming along!

"Worm art" brought to you in part by spaghetti noodles and paint. :)

On this afternoon, they decided to do every puzzle we own! :)

Getting their faces painted at our library's summer reading program kick-off.

Isaac wanted a tiger face... naturally, Josiah did too!

The tiger duo.

The fruit of a morning's labor on the farm.

I've been enjoying the learning experience of making farmer's cheese with some of our goat's milk! Yummy!

The fire department recently paid a visit to the day care that operates at our church facility, so we joined up with them to hear from the fire fighters and check out their truck!

Isaac recently finished reading one of his favorite books! It took us several reading sessions to get through it since there are some long pages, but he persevered and did a great job!

I greatly enjoyed organizing a community outreach opportunity at our local flea market that meets once a month. We called it the Penny Tent, and by selling all sorts of different items (donated by church members) for 1 penny each, had the opportunity to engage in many meaningful conversations with people at our booth as well as pass out 200 brochures containing the Gospel message and some information about our church.

It was a popular spot most of the day!

I am thankful for all the church people who helped in so many ways! We had such a blast that we are planning another one for September!