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Have you tried what seems like all-the-treatments and there seems to be a missing piece? Check out the 12-week program, Empowered Healing, and learn how to reclaim wellness! Click to read more!

Empowered Healing: Reclaiming Your Health & A GIVEAWAY

This giveaway is sponsored by Innovative Medicine and is open through May 31, 2017 at 11:59 pm PST. Scroll to the bottom and follow the directions to enter!

Over the last few years I’ve done anything but lie in wait for healing. I have made a lot of sacrifices, faced incredibly difficult treatment protocols, and put a huge daily effort into supporting my body’s healing.

My diet has shifted dramatically, and multiple times at that. I relied on an expensive supplement plan just to keep functioning. And up until 3 months ago I spent the majority of my days at home. Not out of choice, but because my unimaginable fatigue and symptoms demanded so much rest.

But in the last three months I’ve seen tremendous healing come from adding in an entirely new treatment program called DNRS. And because of that I’m truly starting to get my life back. DNRS is based on the foundation that we have the ability to heal ourselves by rewiring our brain. You can read more about that here.

Because of this new addition to my healing protocol, I’ve become absolutely fascinated by reading up on neuroplasticity. I’m always intrigued to hear about other treatment programs with similar, yet unique perspectives on healing.

So when Monica from Innovative Medicine reached out to share more about their Empowered Healing program launching on June 1, I was all ears!

Psssst…spoiler alert: they are giving away FIVE of their 12-week programs here on the blog! You can scroll down to the bottom for more info on how to enter.

What is Empowered Healing?

Empowered Healing is a 12 week program designed to put you in the driver’s seat of your health. EH is founded on the idea that we all have the ability to reclaim our natural state of health and functioning. And their program gives you the tools you’ll need to do just that: to activate your journey back to health.

What you’ll learn…

(taken from their website):

  • A holistic understanding of the underlying causes of illness and the critical (yet often overlooked) mechanisms that determine how people truly heal.
  • How to start feeling better instantly and optimize your recovery response by learning and applying the scientific evidence that the body can heal itself.
  • The 7 key fundamentals of health and how to address each of them in a personalized way that starts with your current individual-based priority.
  • The ‘Healing Blueprint’ framework: A five step process for charting your own unique course back to health, starting from right where you are.
  • How to solidify your newfound vitality, step fully into your healthiest self and sustain your new ‘set-point’ for the rest of your life.

The program consists of a 12-week guide, video lessons, interactive exercises, personal accountability calls, email coaching, research, and an online community to foster your healing journey.

I also found it super compelling that the program has been 12 years in the making…12 years! The creators of the program spent that time interviewing doctors from around the globe and learning from them. And now have used what they’ve gathered to create a comprehensive system that offers tangible steps for healing.

One of the creators, Ben Ahrens, suffered years with Lyme disease and has seen tremendous healing through implementing some of the practices presented in the program. You can listen in on his fascinating story he shared on a TED talk here.

“Could the program help me?”

As I was reading some of the info on the website, their description of who the program is for tugged at my heart. Simply put, it’s because I feel like it resonates with so many of us that have been working hard at healing:

“Whether you’re chronically ill and looking for ways to optimize your success outside the doctor’s office, wondering why various treatments don’t always lead to long-term health, or simply curious about what you can do in your personal life to compliment your medical treatment, this 12-week program will show you how to implement all of the discoveries and principles that Innovative Medicine is based on to empower yourself and reclaim health outside the medical office.”

How many of us have tried yet-another-treatment that helped someone else, but our body couldn’t tolerate it? Or it made us worse? And how many doctors have we seen that left us wondering if there was possibly a missing link? Perhaps something they hadn’t thought of that could help.

I know I, for one, could answer so many of those questions with a head nod. Or a blank look while trying to add up the number of times I’d been there.

Empowered Healing is a program designed to help you reclaim your body's natural state of health. And if you're tired of a one-size-fits all healing plan, this program may be just the thing you need! Click to read more!

So what do I think?

I have to say that I’m excited about this program! I’ve seen firsthand how powerful neuroplasticity based healing can be. And with that being just one component to Empowered Healing, I’m embracing it with open arms.

I’ve had a chance to look over their beta program and will be diving into the full program in June. And I’m impressed just from my first exposure to the program!  The science behind it, their teaching style, and holistic approach really resonates with me.

And if you’re one of the lucky winners, maybe we can swap our experiences as we go through the program together! 😉

The GIVEAWAY:

Innovative Medicine was kind enough to offer not one, but FIVE lucky readers their brand new 12-week program!

Here are the deets:

  • Giveaway winner must be 18 years or older.
  • You may earn up to EIGHT entries.
  • Submit all entries by 11:59 PM, May 31, 2017
  • Winners will be contacted by email and must respond within 24 hours to claim their prize.

To enter click this link or enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

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Why would you like to win the Empowered Healing program?

Enter to win an Empowered Healing program from Integrative Medicine: the 12-week program that's designed to help you reclaim health and wellness through a holistic approach to healing.

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After spending years chronically ill I began researching the DNRS program as a natural alternative to healing. I've seen great results and am sharing 3 important questions I've been asked - and answering them! Want to know more? Click here to learn more about how the treatment works!

3 Things You Should Know About DNRS

This is not a sponsored post. These opinions are entirely my own and are in no way endorsed by the Dynamic Neural Retraining System.

If you read my post last week, you know that over the course of the last six weeks I’ve been adding in a brand new treatment. And it’s a program that’s, well…outside of the box.

It doesn’t come in the form of capsules. Or an injection. And it doesn’t involve a device, for that matter.

Because this treatment, interestingly enough, can’t actually be seen.

Sure, the information and instructions for DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) are delivered in the form of a DVD series and a personal workbook. So there’s something tangible you have in hand as you’re learning. But implementing the program involves working on/with your brain.

Which means it’s a lot of internal work.

The techniques presented in this program are based on research surrounding neuroplasticity. Which, in short, refers to the brain’s unique ability to change itself. Wild, right?

So today I thought I’d answer some of the questions that I’ve been asked the most since starting DNRS:

  1. What is DNRS?
  2. How would retraining the brain help current health challenges?
  3. Is it worth the $250+ investment?

These are all questions I’ve asked before starting the program so you’re not alone! Information on healing through neuroplasticity is still relatively new to me, but I’ve been seeing profound shifts begin since starting DNRS.

So how about we just tackle these one by one?

What the heck is DNRS?

As I mentioned before, the program arrives at your door with a set of DVDs and a personal workbook. You’re encouraged to complete the program (which consists of 14+ hours of material) in 4 days in order to get the most benefit, but I’ll be honest: it took me a bit longer. But I gave myself some grace and, as I’ve shared, am still seeing positive shifts in my health.

In a nutshell, the DNRS program aims to first educate you in the science behind neuroplasticity and then equip you with both the tools and techniques to help you repair your limbic system.

I wasn’t familiar with the limbic system prior to this treatment program. So in case you’re like me and your thoughts are starting to drift toward what you’ll be eating for lunch, let’s quickly cover the basics.

The limbic system consists of several parts of the brain including the hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala and cingulate cortex. Together, these structures make up the “feeling and reacting” functions of the brain.

Now if the limbic system is impaired due to injury or trauma (whether that’s an infection, chemical exposure, mold toxicity, emotional or physical trauma, etc) it becomes hypersensitive. And in this hypersensitive state it will overreact to even the smallest stimuli that would otherwise be passed over as harmless.

Since our limbic system works intimately with our endocrine, autonomic and immune systems, it inappropriately activates those systems which can end up in a “party” of symptoms we never invited.

The DNRS program gives you a system to implement that will help rewire the limbic system so that it’s once again functioning properly. The treatment you implement includes both daily brain exercises you work on throughout each day and one hour of devoted time of “practice”. Practice each day involves a combination of mild movement, vocal exercises, and mindfulness techniques – all to help restructure the pathways in the brain.

I obviously can’t share exactly what the practice outlines for you to do each day, but something that may be helpful to talk about is the reality that I was very limited before starting this. And even I was able to implement these practices in the beginning. Sometimes I just had to do it in an abbreviated way, such as lying down or sitting during a portion of the daily one-hour of practice.

Want to learn more about the Dynamic Neural Retraining System? After years of treatments, doctors, and way too many years spent home-bound this method is helping me HEAL! Click to read more as I'm responding to my 3 most asked questions about the program.

 

How would retraining my brain help my current health challenges?

Great question! And one I asked over and over again before purchasing the program.

One of my first thoughts upon looking further into the program was that it seemed like everyone was “drinking the Kool-Aid.” But heck, I was desperate. And if  the Kool-Aid actually worked, I couldn’t care less about the modality. I just wanted to be better!

And while I am getting better, this most definitely is not brain washing. (Or sugary Kool-Aid for anyone wondering). There was an important distinction I knew I needed to make early on in the program. As I learned more about the brain and neuroplasticity it became clear I had to treat my brain just like I was treating my body.

My magnesium has been regularly low for years now, which is why my naturopath has been supporting my body’s diet with magnesium supplements. My blood pressure has also been regularly low, so I frequently drank Himalayan salt water to help keep it from dipping too far.

So for me, it was helpful to view my efforts in neuroplasticity retraining as working with the organ of the brain.

As in: utilizing my mind to retrain my brain’s pathways. And while a huge part of this program is working with your thoughts, it’s more specifically working with the thoughts/messages your brain is inappropriately sending.

The aim is to redirect the neurons that are firing incorrectly (i.e. sending symptom and pain signals) so that over time they are no longer wired with the same old pathways. The outcome is rewiring the brain with new, healing pathways so the limbic system can be properly functioning once again. Which results in lessening symptoms!

I’ve heard all sorts of “just think positive” mantras and over these past years of health struggles they’ve felt like a big ball of blame. The message received was “you’re not positive enough, therefore it’s your fault you aren’t getting better.” And I don’t buy that one bit.

Any mindset shifts I’ve experienced (or been able to set in motion) in this program have been a direct result of experiencing tangible healing. Meaning: literally feeling a difference in my brain and body. It’s been like a fog has been slowly lifting. A fog I simply did not invite or entertain. Because believe me, I wanted all of the symptoms and discomfort GONE. 

This program isn’t about just thinking positive, but rather learning how to communicate with your brain to help it reach wholeness. And what I’m finding with each passing week is that I do feel lighter. Even happier, but genuinely so. And it coincides with the healing that’s begun in my brain and body.

How did I decide it was worth the $250+ investment?

First off, I can tell you one thing that didn’t help me decide: a guarantee I would get better. Because there wasn’t one. I knew that just like every other treatment I tried, no one could tell me this would 100% work for me.

But the following things really did help.

    1. A money-back guarantee. This was a first for me. We have shoveled out tens of thousands of dollars, much of which we fundraised, to pay for treatments over the years. Never once have we seen this. If you commit to the program for the full 6 months and don’t see significant improvement, they’ll refund you. That’s quite a statement of belief in their program!
    2. It’s really not that expensive. I probably don’t need to say more after what I just said about “tens of thousands”, right? But in case you need a further statement: $250 doesn’t begin to touch how much my supplements cost us right now each month. If getting me better means being able to go off of those, it’s well worth it.
    3. The research speaks for itself. The more I’ve studied about neuroplasticity through the program (and now after), it JUST MAKES SENSE. Variations of the techniques in this program have been proven effective in so many others. Want to be really amazed? Watch this TED talk given by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor who suffered a stroke and talks about her experience and neuroplastic healing.

The following contains affiliate links which means that if you purchase something through one of these links I may receive a commission – at no extra cost to you. As a reminder, I only promote things I have personally tried or believe are beneficial. Any commissions earned help me keep this blog running. So, thanks! 🙂

You don’t have to take my word for it. Learn more yourself!

Since starting the program I’ve had a craving for learning more about the brain, specifically neuroplasticity. So I have a running list of the books I’d like to read and recently checked out my first one from our local library by Dr. Norman Doidge, called The Brain’s Way of Healing. I’ve just started and already it’s a fascinating and helpful read! I also plan to read his first neuroplasticity book, The Brain that Changes Itself.

Since watching the TED talk video I mentioned earlier I’ve been eyeing Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight, for a future read also. Because after watching her tell her story I just have to know more!

Finally, of course, the Dynamic Neural Retraining System’s website contains more information about both the program and understanding the science behind their approach. And it’s a great way to check it out more before deciding if it makes sense to purchase the program for yourself. Let me know if you do! I’d love to connect.

Have you read any books on Neuroplasticity? Have you done the DNRS program or something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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How the DNRS Program is Helping Me Heal

If you’ve been following me here for awhile, you know that here in this blog-space I share the grit and guts of what I’ve experienced in the realm of the sick life. But if you’d like to catch up on my story to understand how powerful the news I’m about to share is feel free to check out this post. It’ll give you a look at what used to be an average day-in-the-life for me. Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here til you’re done…

Ready? Okay.

So a little over a year ago I met a doctor through a friend and my goodness has she been a godsend to me. Quite frankly, I believe she is one of two doctors that has helped keep me alive. Well, them and a nurse who quite literally gave me back my life in 2015.

Through her care I’ve seen some beginning signs of improvement as well as experiencing a much lower # of ER visits (1). But I’ve still been largely home bound. Weak. Frail. Experiencing way too many symptoms to be normal. She was feeling hopeful that by the year’s end I’d see some marked change. And I tried my best to hope with her.

But then I was sent a message from an Instagram friend that told me I needed to check out the DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) program. She said it had completely changed her life and since our stories were so similar I thought I should at least look into it.

So I clicked over to the website and began to read. My first response was honestly, an eye roll. “‘Retrain the brain’? Do they think this is all in my head? This sounds like another load of positivity B.S. So…I’m outta here.” I replied to the friend with a thanks, but this just isn’t for me. And I thought that was it.

But it KEPT. POPPING. UP.

A few weeks after I said ‘no thanks’ it popped up again. Then a couple days later a friend messaged me about it, asking if I’d heard of it. Call it what you will: a sign from the universe, or God, or my own body/brain trying to send me a message, but I just couldn’t get away from it.

So I looked at the website again. I watched tons of the testimonial videos as well as a presentation by the creator of the program, Annie Hopper. Her story, though different than my own, also held so many similarities. And she confirmed what I knew to be true: this illness is NOT all in our heads. So I softened.

I felt like her heart was compassionate toward others who had gone through what she had. And her incredible story was this: I learned to retrain my brain and I healed myself.

That’s quite a bold statement, no? So I looked at the price of the program and I talked it over with Trevin. A couple weeks later I had the DVD program in hand. It came right after I’d finished running my very first workshop with some of the readers here at Living Grace. The timing felt perfect.

Have you heard of the DNRS program based on the research of neuroplasticity? It's a fascinating program that is helping me heal from years of chronic illness. To read more of my one month update, click here!

I entered the DNRS program with a lot of skepticism.

I just feel like you should know that. It definitely wasn’t as if I bought into this deal right off the bat. But there were some aspects of the research I found online surrounding the brain’s ability to change itself (neuroplasticity) that I couldn’t ignore. And seeing how it had helped so many others similar to me gave me enough hope to give it a shot.

The program is designed to help you rewire your limbic system so that it builds more functional neural pathways. As I learned more about the brain and limbic system in this program, the cause and effect of why I continued to grow sicker or only experience small amounts of relief started to make more sense.

In the DVDs Annie explains that when the brain experiences various forms of trauma, whether that’s viral, physical, emotional or otherwise,  a maladapted stress response can be triggered. Essentially that means that our brain’s instincts to protect us get kicked into overdrive, leading our limbic system into a constant state of fight or flight mode.

And how on earth could I get better if my brain constantly thinks it’s under attack?!

This video documentary on neuroplasticity is quite fascinating if you’re interested in understanding more. (Just feel free to ignore the creepy music.) Variations of these concepts have been proven effective in the treatment of physical injuries, such as stroke patients or those who have suffered brain damage. And it’s also helped those who have suffered psychological PTSD or have OCD. 

Next week I’ll be unpacking a bit more about neuroplasticity and the design of the program, but until then you can also check out the website to watch some tutorials and read up on the science behind it. (<—that’s my affiliate link, which means I may earn a small commission if you click on it and purchase the program. As a reminder, I only share things I’ve either tried or believe in the value of. In this case: I’ve tried it and it’s helping me heal!)

My one-month improvements:

I’ve been on the program for just 4 weeks now and the changes in that short period of time have been quite amazing. Especially when Trev and I compare it to the life I’ve been living the last few years. And while I have more healing to work towards, I’m truly grateful for these beginning signs of healing.

As a pre-cursor to my improvements here’s a list of most of my diagnoses: Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, Mold Illness, Heavy Metal Toxicity, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MTHFR genetic mutation and POTS).

  • I’ve gone from barely being able to walk a couple blocks on a very good day to walking almost daily the last week+.
  • My fatigue levels used to be at an average of 7-9 every day (on a scale of 10 being “I can’t move”) and now my levels are averaging below 5 consistently.
  • The inflammation and joint pain I’ve consistently lived with hasn’t been this low in over 4 years.
  • My strength is slowly growing and my litmus test is being able to do the dishes almost daily. They used to sit an average or 2 days before I could get through another round.
  • Dizziness used to be one of my most debilitating symptoms. Now? It’s at an all time low also.

The healing process continues…

There continue to be new things that pop up and surprise me as I continue to commit myself to the program and work toward further healing. And in my commitment to the program, this post will be one of my last to mention diagnoses or symptoms for awhile. It’s a necessary part of retraining my brain in this critical stage of early healing.

Guys, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you: this treatment is not easy. But then again none of what I’d done for healing has been. Seeing improvements and feeling genuine hope is most certainly worth sticking with it.

With all that said, I feel so happy to share that I believe I’m in the process of healing. And while I believe in God, I’m going to keep my feelings on this experience ultra-real for you: this is not something that I’ve seen sprinkled down magically into my life. 

I’ve fought for this. For years.

I’ve committed myself to countless supportive supplements, doctor’s appointments, injections, blood draws, detox, nourishing myself, gripping onto my pebbles of hope, so-much-waiting and now I continue to reach for healing with this program. (And I continue to maintain my supplement protocol under my current doctor’s care while on the program).

So I’ll leave you with this one-month update and hope that this program may also help some of you sweet struggling ones on your own healing path. To reclaim your own health. To heal your brain’s limbic system. And begin to see yourself able to dream again… of living a healthy life, of travel, and of pursuing the things you’ve been waiting for.

Have you heard of DNRS before? Or tried it? Have questions you want me to answer in another post? Drop your thoughts below in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

As a heads up: I’ll be largely taking a break from my Facebook page indefinitely, so if you want to stay in touch be sure to sign up for my email list. Or connect with me on Instagram!

 

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Thanks for supporting this blog and my health!

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Chronic Illness has a way of turning every day tasks upside down. I've set out on a mission to find items that will help make my life, and even pain management, at least a bit easier. Click to read more about my top 5 favorite gadgets for making the day to day of illness more manageable.

5 Useful Gadgets That Actually Make A Difference For Me

 

*This post contains affiliate links. Your purchases through these links help keep this blog running, so thank you!*

Chronic illness has single-handedly turned my health and day-to-day into a jigsaw puzzle. From navigating all my symptoms to pain management, life looks much different for me these last few years.

Normal things that I used to never think twice about, I have to plan for (or around) in order to make them possible. A myriad of other adjustments have had to happen.

I subconsciously (and sometimes vocally…color me weird) ask myself questions that I never did before. “Can I load the dishwasher today?” “How much will my body have to pay for taking a shower right now…can I still make dinner after?”

Some symptoms are harder to manage than others. Managing pain can often feel like playing hide and seek with a ghost. Fatigue is another beast that’s really hard to wrangle.

But for some of my symptoms, I’ve found tools – aids, if you will – that make my life just a bit easier. And that little bit means a whole lot to this girl! From saving me effort to supporting me (literally), these have become my must-haves for navigating my day-to-day. All while living with a list of diagnoses I’m working hard to heal.

Update: I’ve actually been able to stop using some of these wonderful aides after starting a program called DNRS that has helped me begin to heal! You can catch up here.

Slim-Fit Earplugs

Do you suffer from sound sensitivity? These slim fit earplugs have been a godsend for me! Super soft and comfortable on sensitive skin, too. Click to read more about these and other handy gadgets I use to help me navigate chronic pain and symptoms!

One of my top 5 most debilitating symptoms might surprise the healthy, but for those who live with sensitivities YOU FEEL ME. I’m not talking about emotional sensitivities, but sensory. I’m highly sensitive to noises, some triggering me more than others.

The simple sound of plastic crumpling, glasses tinking, or the faucet running, for instance feels like someone is taking a bristled bottle brush, adding electricity and shoving it through both ears. Yeah, it’s fun. With continued healing I’m confident this symptom will get better, but for now: earplugs are a must!

These slim-fit earplugs by Mack were recommended to me by a dear friend who uses them for the same purpose. And boy are they a godsend! They’re smaller than regular earplugs which makes them more comfortable for me. The set of 10 even comes with a travel tube so I can always have them on hand and easy to find in my bag!

Neck pillow

A couple of years ago I noticed that my head and neck pain would consistently rise in the car. Once I realized how much having neck support would help, Trev picked up a basic neck pillow for me. I was amazed at the difference it made!

As with anything I’ve purchased to help me manage my day-to-day, this doesn’t remove my pain, but it makes riding in the car more manageable. Even short rides used to spike my pain more than they do now that I have that bit of support.

I actually attach my neck pillow to our headrest in the passenger seat by turning it backwards and “hugging” the top portion. Not all seats will allow this, but thankfully the design of ours does. It feels more comfortable to me that way.

Walking Cane

Healing with a chronic illness looks different for every person and every illness. But through the process of healing and treating, we can find ways to offer support and relief to our overwhelmed bodies. Click here to check out my top 5 tools that have made a difference for me!

 

If you follow me here or on social media you may already know this, but I like to name things. My oxygen concentrator is formally known as O2D2 (I grew up watching Star Wars with my siblings, can you tell?). So I couldn’t help myself to name my cane Hugo. It was easy since his tag said so.

My husband suggested I get one that had more than one pod on the bottom for extra stability since my balance varies from day to day. And, as he would smile and tell you – I wasn’t thrilled with that idea. Oh vanity. As if four prongs somehow makes my cane more noticeable. 😉

I found this one and thought it was a perfect fit. And after using it for over six months now I can say I’m so happy I went for the quadpod version. It gets a good grip on the surface and the handle has enough traction that your hand is not likely to slip. I even used it in a snow-packed icy parking lot recently, while also being supported by Trev on the other side and it worked really well supporting my weak side.

Pill Organizer

This is, by far, the BEST pill organizer out there. Each day's doses are in individual containers which makes it easy to grab and go to doctor's appointments, meals out, and a day or two of travel. Soft silicone lids make for easy opening on arthritic hands. Click to read more about this and 4 other handy gadgets that have actually helped me LIVE, even if in small ways, in spite of chronic illness.

Okay, I’ve been raving about this since I bought it so I HAD to include it here. I saw someone share the link for it in one of my Lyme support groups and I loved it at first sight. I’m a romantic, after all.

Why was I willing to drop $35 for a pill organizer, you ask? Because I was confident it would make my pill routine easier. From accidental missed doses, to opening pill bottles every day with sensitive hands, to packing meds for travel – I saw this as a huge help. And it has been just that.

Its soft silicone lids make it ultra easy for opening and the ‘x’ opening easy for sliding in each day’s supplements. My hands are so much happier! Not to mention individual containers make for easy access when you have a meal you’re eating out or a day or two of travel. Since I’ve already sorted out the week’s doses, it’s just grab and go! This had made for less occurrences of late or missed doses which is always a positive.

Motion Sickness Bands

For a year and a half, nausea was a frequent – if not constant – companion to me on this healing road. I’ve always had motion sickness, but this was different. And it grew worse when coupled with driving.

I always ride in the front seat and I’m pretty cautious about anyone else driving besides Trev because of how sensitive my bod is. He’s the only one who knows just how fast things can turn for me.

Motion sickness bands like these made by Sea Band have actually helped this for me. It took me a bit to figure out the right spot for the pressure point, but once I did I noticed a difference. You do need to put them on at the start of the car ride, I’ve learned – and adjust them if you’re not feeling the benefit.

Be gentle with yourself.

In the chronic life there are many things we can’t change immediately. Healing that doesn’t come overnight. But if we can take even a bit of the burden off by making a few aspects lighter, why not?!

You’ve just heard my top 5 current faves for navigating my day-to-day symptoms so now I want to hear yours! What is your favorite(s) pain/symptom/make life easier gadget?? Let me know in the comments!

Have you snagged your copy of the FIVE gifts to give yourself when going through a hard time? Be sure to download yours here.

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Are you struggling with chronic illness and disconnected from the idea of New Year's resolutions? I feel ya. This year I'm embracing a word for the year and the word that came to mind first threw me for a loop!

My Word for 2017: From Surprise to Embrace

 

New Year’s resolutions used to be a stress inducer for me. Each year I’d come up with some grand goal of doing xyz and come January 12th I’d be so far off track it felt like there was no point.

In sickness I’ve tried a resolution or two. One year it was to hand-write a letter each month to send to a friend. I think I made it two months? And then, YOU GUESSED IT. No more letters. Last year my goal was to focus more on the blog…and that I DID do. So all is not lost.

But you know the hardest thing about the idea of New Year’s resolutions in sickness? We never know what to expect from one day to the next. I may be able to put in a total of three hours of blog/business work one day and be in bed unable to move for the next three.

So resolutions either have to be highly qualified and realistic for me or they have to be ditched altogether.

As I began to think about 2017 I decided I wanted to land on a word for the year. I thought it could either be an intention or something I wanted to embrace, or even just a word that resonates deeply.

The word that came to mind almost immediately stunned me. And that word was HOPE.

Why the stun, you ask? Well, it’s because I have a hard time using that word if I’m honest.

It’s a hard word to wrestle with when you feel as if you’ve been beaten down year after year by disease for the last 3.5. When it seems there’s no end in sight. Or in the moments when you’re literally just trying to breathe. (Thank you, Lyme & mold illness).

Hope can feel elusive when you’re held under the heavy weight of suffering. And when it’s portrayed by others as a feel-good-feeling or that it’s something you “just” have to choose? It can feel like an even more distant idea.

But hope is more than a choice.

And it’s very essence stretches beyond a happy dose of the feel-goods.

It’s more than a choice because sometimes we can know we want something, need it even, and reach for it…but not be able to grab hold of it.

On any day of the week I could need a heavy item pulled out of my cabinet. But in my current state of health I couldn’t safely make it happen. Between my POTS symptoms and lack of strength I wouldn’t be able to lift the item, let alone bring it down (or up) to my level.

So Trevin gets it for me. He carries the weight so I have access to what I need for the day.

Sometimes it’s the same with hope. We may barely have the strength to say the word out loud, let alone FEEL hopeful. And there are times our spirit is so weak that we need someone else to hold onto hope for us. To stand in the wet and cold with us, to support us as we stand, or sit, or crawl through the brokenness.

To hold onto the light of hope for us in the moments that we can’t.

So this year, just as years past, I will hold onto whatever fragments of hope I can manage. I will endeavor to give myself grace when I feel doubt or fear and I’ll continue to pursue healing in all its forms.

I’ll make an effort to regularly define what hope means to me. And let go – as many times as I need to – of impossible standards of what hope should look like in struggle.

I also want to hold hope for you.

That this year will be one that brings comfort for your weary soul. I want to hope for you that the thing you’re waiting for will begin to realize.

Through my writing, sharing, listening, living – I want to be a hope holder. A shoulder to lean on. To shed light in the dark corners of heartache, suffering and pain.

I’ll be here in your corner. Reminding you that someone out there is holding hope for you. For healing. Restoration. A source of income. Community. Family. Fulfilled dreams.

And the beauty of holding hope for others? It teaches us. Stretches us. And it means something deep, both to us and to the person we’re hoping for.

It reminds us we’re not alone. And that we’re in this thing called life together.

And that truth, in itself, is full of hope.

Want to join me with your own word for 2017? Comment below or join the discussion over on Facebook today! I’d love to hear from you.

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Susan's novel, The Last Letter, is a story for the brave souls fighting Lyme disease. But it's also for their families - to gain understanding and insight into the struggles of their loved one.

Meet the Author: Susan Pogorzelski & The Last Letter

A few weeks back I had an email drop in my inbox from the lovely Susan Pogorzelksi, a Lyme author who released her book, The Last Letter back in September. She offered to send me a copy of her book and I am so happy to now share the love with another Lymie!

I asked if she would join me here on the blog to share a bit of herself and the passion behind her book and she happily agreed to have me interview her. Having her here with us today is such a treat and I hope you enjoy connecting with her story and passion. She is such a light for the Lyme community!

Meet Susan

I invited Susan onto the blog to share more about her book, The Last Letter, a fictional reflection of her personal journey fighting Lyme disease.

Thanks so much for joining us on the blog today, Susan!

Thanks for having me, Kami! It’s a pleasure!

When did you first start writing?

When I was in kindergarten, my best friend and I would recite stories to our teacher, who would then write them down for us. We’d illustrate them with rudimentary crayon drawings and make covers out of cardboard and contact paper, punching holes in the sides to bind them with metal rings. These were our first books.

I think I knew then that there was something special about books–about the stories within the pages and the magic they create. I was fascinated by the fact that I could play a part in that–actually, I still am! It’s nice to know that feeling has always been with me.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Writing wasn’t my professional goal until I think I was in middle school–when I learned that was something people could choose. It was just always something I did, a part of who I was.

When I was younger, I was a voracious reader, and my stories emulated what I was reading at the time: I wrote mysteries after consuming the books in the Fear Street series. I wrote a book about a group of friends who were runaways after reading survivalist/dystopian books by Scott O’Dell and Lois Lowry (stories which will never see the light of day!).

But then when I was around twelve or thirteen, I discovered A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and coming-of-age literature, and I was hooked. I learned that I could use writing as an outlet to figure out what I was thinking and feeling–to figure out life–and stories became that much more powerful. I think that’s when I decided I wanted to be an author. I wanted to be able to share a part of myself in that way.

I’ve started reading the copy of The Last Letter you sent me and am finding it such an intriguing approach to sharing about Lyme. Can you describe the book to readers?

Written as a series of letters between 1999 and 2003, The Last Letter is a coming-of-age story about Lia Lenelli, a teenage girl struggling to shape her own identity while a chronic illness threatens to tear her world apart. While the book is primarily a work of fiction, it’s a semi-autobiographical account of my own struggle to find a diagnosis and subsequent recovery from Lyme Disease, particularly the emotional toll that having such an illness can take.

From Susan: "I realized that fiction could be the perfect conduit to help those with Lyme feel like they’re not alone while bringing awareness to an illness that is so easily (and dangerously) dismissed."

What made you decide to write the book as fiction as opposed to an autobiography of your Lyme journey?

I’ve been blogging and journaling about my own journey through Lyme since I was first diagnosed in 2012 (and through fifteen years of misdiagnosis before that) but never had any intentions of publishing a book on the subject, despite prompts from friends and family to share my story–a story I know thousands of people can relate to.

Whenever I did consider it, I couldn’t bring myself to write–I felt like I’d already said what I wanted to say and what was left, I didn’t have words for. But then in 2014, right after I reached remission, I wrote the beginning of what would be the first draft of The Last Letter: a letter from a teenager named Amelia to a stranger, to be placed in a time capsule as a reminder that she had once existed. I didn’t know where it was leading, and so I put it aside.

The idea of leaving something behind as a reminder that I had once lived–the idea of legacy, identity, and survival–began to haunt me, especially considering what I’d been through with Lyme. And so, as I began to write more, I realized that I could tell my story–our story–in a way that provided some emotional relief while really exploring these themes.

As I’ve been reading the book I’ve thought of how hard it can be for us to revisit moments of our past when we are fighting illness. Whether it’s a moment of pain or even a memory of not being sick, they can be hard to relive. Did you struggle with this when writing this story?

This is so true and part of why it was necessary for me to craft my story around a fictional narrative. I think life has a way of anesthetizing our experiences–once you’re healthy, you forget what the worst of it was like, how bad it really was when you were sick.

When I went into remission, I thought I’d put Lyme behind me, but then in early 2015, I had a severe relapse from which I’m still recovering. I knew what I’d been through before, but I was so eager to move on with my life, I’d forgotten how bad it was until I found myself back there again.

Writing this book through my relapse made me not only remember that pain, but it forced me to confront it. Fiction provided enough of a distance that I could do so safely.

I read my book the other day for the first time since the release. I wanted to read it objectively–not as the writer or as an editor with a critical eye, but as a reader. I’ll admit, it was hard.

Because now that time has passed and I’m slowly getting better, I’m again forgetting all those days when I couldn’t lift my head from the pillow, or when I writhed from the pain in my legs, or how I fought for every word when I was writing the book because my neurological issues were so bad, I had only brief pockets of clarity before the fog took over.

Because I was writing the book as fiction, I could lie to myself and pretend it was Amelia’s story. Now I’m reminded that it was mine–that it’s all of ours in some way or another–because everything Lia experiences both symptomatically and emotionally is what I’ve experienced, too.

That’s always the hardest part: knowing how much truth there is even in fiction. But there’s also a sense of pride there. Because reliving those experiences, I’m reminded of what I survived–that I did it once, and I can do it again. It’s what keeps pushing me forward in recovery.

What do you hope readers experience when reading your book?

Part of the reason I chose fiction for this story is because fiction is a powerful form of storytelling. When you’re reading a memoir, the thought that this is someone else’s story is still lingering in the back of your mind.

But when you read fiction, you become the characters–you think, feel, and experience what they do. I realized that fiction could be the perfect conduit to help those with Lyme feel like they’re not alone while bringing awareness to an illness that is so easily (and dangerously) dismissed.

That’s all I could ever want for this book–for it to help someone. For someone to recognize themselves in it and know they’re not alone in their suffering–that there are people who are fighting along with them.

And for those who don’t have Lyme, I hope it brings to light what those with Lyme endure on a daily basis and why we need support, acceptance, and unconditional love more than ever.

What’s next for you? Are there dreams you have for 2017?

It’s been a long journey through recovery, so I’m hoping to keep getting better so I can be in a position where I can be of service to people. On the Lyme front, I’m hoping to do a lot more as far as advocacy and building awareness, especially when it comes to healing emotionally from this illness.

I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but I’m happy to be playing a small part by contributing my writing on The Mighty and the Global Lyme Alliance blog. I’m also working on my next novel, which I hope to release next fall.

Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?

If I could speak directly: I want you to know I think you’re some of the bravest, most inspiring people I’ve ever met. This disease is ruthless, and it often feels lonely and isolating and like no one understands. To be able to face that takes so much strength and so much courage, and I hope more than anything that you’re able to recognize that strength and courage in yourself.

This Lyme community is something truly special. When you cry, someone is there to dry your tears. When you fall, others lift you up. When you feel weak, we’ll remind you that we’re fighting with you. Please don’t ever forget that you have people on your side and that you’re so much stronger than this disease makes you feel. Stay strong. Be brave.

And to you, Kami: Thank you for being such a strong voice in the Lyme community! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to share my book.


A big thank you to Susan for joining me for this interview. And for being a voice of hope and compassion to Lyme sufferers around the globe. Your story is one that so many can relate to and find comfort in the reminder they’re not alone.

You can find Susan’s Lyme book, The Last Letter on Amazon and other online book retailers. Or you can purchase signed paperback copies on Susan’s website

To connect with Susan, look for her on the following social media outlets:

Twitter | Instagram | and Facebook at her page Lost in the Lymelight, a community focused on healing from the emotional impacts of Lyme disease.

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Enter to win this Holiday Prize Pack on Living Grace Blog!

A Living Grace Christmas Giveaway!!

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase. But don’t worry, it’s at no additional cost to you!*

This giveaway has ended.

If there’s anything we can all agree on, perhaps it’s that giveaways are so-stinkin-fun. Amiright?!

The excitement. The anticipation. All of the FEELS!

(Can you tell I don’t get out much?)

I have been hoping these past few months that I’d be able to offer something this Christmas season for all of you readers to have a chance at winning. So many of you face your own battle with chronic illness, and many more may be navigating their own hard circumstances as we enter this next holiday.

We have connected here on the blog and on social media and your support has been such a gift to me this year. Without you, this blog would just be me writing words out into nothingness…so I truly value you being here!

Which makes me extra-very-excited and grateful to announce (as if you didn’t already read the title of this post, ahem) that I have rounded up a prize pack to send some Christmas cheer to one lucky winner!

[Insert me throwing sparkly garland around the room. It sounded festive.]

So what do we have for you, sweetums? Well let me just show you!

Enter to WIN this Christmas prize pack from Living Grace Blog!

The winner will receive:

  • One (1) Rising Above tee (your choice of Rising Above or Rising Above Lyme), designed by yours truly! (worth $19)
  • 10 Handcrafted Christmas Gift Tags from my retired craft shop ($7 value)
  • One (1) set of Holiday Cheer nail wraps by Jamberry ($15 value)
  • $15 Gift Certificate to my shop Eight Fourteen Designs

This makes for a total prize pack value of $56! All for one of YOU. For FREE. Are you excited yet?!?!

Here’s a little closer look at each item you will win:

Rising Above or Rising Above Lyme Tee

I first shared the story of this cozy American Apparel printed tee with you last month. In short, Rising Above Lyme reminds me that my value, talents, and purpose make up more of me than my illness. It represents the small and not-so-small ways that we dig deeper, find meaning, and look for the beauty in spite of the hard.


Rising Above in and of itself calls us to grab hold of the values that take us beyond the things that threaten to hold us down, the things that divide instead of unite. It gently brings us above hate, above greed, above discrimination. And into the freedom of kindness, compassion, and community.

These tees are fitted, so if you like a slightly looser fit (like me) you’ll want to size up. I typically wear XS/S and the one you see me wearing from time to time is a medium. There’s also a design available that’s a relaxed fit style by Anvil if you prefer that!

10 Handcrafted Christmas Gift Tags

A couple of years ago I was working my little hands like a madwoman, crafting handmade greeting cards and gift tags to sell on Etsy. I have taken an extended break from making and selling these, but I do have these beauties from my inventory just waiting to don your packages with cutesy little reindeer this Christmas!

Holiday Cheer Wraps by Jamberry

Aren’t these nail wraps so pretty?! They’d make such a lovely Christmas mixed-mani to wear this year and you can apply them yourself at home – all you need is a blow dryer! They have a beautiful sparkle to them in person.

Check out this Holiday Giveaway on Living Grace Blog!

This sheet of nail wraps includes enough wraps to give you 2 manicures and 2 pedicures, so you could even apply these with a friend or sis to be twinsies! 😉 A built-in friend date.

$15 Gift Certificate to Eight Fourteen Designs

If you like art prints and/or changing up your decor, my shop has a variety of creatively designed printables that are super easy  to download and print at home! They also make great, affordable DIY gifts for Christmas. With your gift certificate you’d be able to score 3 designs!

Win a Gift Certificate to Eight Fourteen Designs so you can get this print for free! Enter the giveaway at livinggraceblog.com - Ends 12/16/16
OR if you need help with business/blog design, I also offer that as well. My premade designs are a great, affordable option for giving your brand a new look (which you could get for FREE with the $15 certificate). Or we can start with a custom package to craft something that’s uniquely yours!

Looking for an affordable face lift for your blog or business? Check out these creative premade blog headers and logo designs at Eight Fourteen Designs!

The giveaway ends on 12/16/16 and you can earn up to six entries today and come back to earn one additional entry daily until it closes! So if you’re committed to getting all TEN entries, be sure to bookmark this page. 😉

A little shout-out to my readers that live outside the United States: I really wish I could open this internationally, but just don’t have the budget to do so this year. I’m planning to have one that’s for everyone in the coming months, though! Be on the lookout, dear ones. <3

Here are the deets for entering….

We have a winner! Congrats, Carrie! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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"How beautiful it is when together, with arms linked, we rise."

This is Where Hope and Reality Coexist

Awhile ago I designed this shirt and it sat in my files. It sat because I was unsure of what it really meant to me.

Why were these words the ones that settled into my heart? I feel like I’m doing anything but rising above. I sit on the couch the majority of my days. And if I’m lucky I’ll sit on my porch for a few minutes.

I spend my time detoxing, treating, resting, treating, resting, detoxing, Netflixing, and treating again. I load the dishwasher as my biggest task many days.

I cry tears. Lots of them. I ask questions I don’t have answers to, feel deeply and ache hard.

But ‘rising above’?

I more often feel like I’m barely hovering below (whatever that means…let’s just go with it). I think of how slow my days are. How deeply I feel the weight of this intense struggle with Lyme. And I don’t view myself as exceptionally positive or optimistic. In fact, lately I’ve described my feelings as “meh”.

Yet these words kept coming back: Rising Above Lyme.  For weeks I wrestled with them until their truth sank in deep.

These words echoed in my heart for weeks before I officially released the t-shirt design. When the truth of the words "rising above" fully sank in, it wasn't at all what I expected.

‘Rising above’ doesn’t mean we disconnect from our reality. It doesn’t mean we cover up the scars, deflect, or pretend the hard isn’t there. That the trauma, the memories, the fear or the pain doesn’t exist.

Rising above can simply say: I will breathe in this moment of laughter, however rare it is.

I will appreciate and give back to the new friendships I’ve found in the midst of this sick life. I’ll choose to be real and honest, even when it’s hard.

Rising above can happen from our couches, our sick beds, our pile of tears tangled up with the layers of illness.

Because this is not the “positivity train”. This is where reality and hope coexist in even the smallest of moments. 

We rise when wrapping arms around another who needs someone to hope FOR them, WITH them.

We rise in the moments we advocate for the voiceless, the oppressed, the marginalized.

We rise when we listen to our body’s need for rest, for nutrients, for treatment.

We rise when we open our eyes to see someone that’s different than us with kind, compassionate eyes.

And how beautiful it is when together, with arms linked, we rise.

Rising Above Lyme: The story behind these words that have settled deep within my soul.

I designed this shirt to promote Lyme disease awareness as well as another to offer a universal “Rising Above” design that can be worn by anyone. You can see all of my designs and grab your very own here!

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Three bloggers share about the moment they were diagnosed in this collaboration piece. Their words are real, honest, and validating to anyone who has waited for their own answers.

When You Finally Get a Diagnosis

If you have a chronic illness, do you remember the moment you were diagnosed?

I remember the first diagnosis I received. How mixed my emotions were. How strange it felt to finally have an answer after a grueling year of tests and many years prior filled with strange symptoms. Only to find out several years later that I had, in fact, been misdiagnosed. Instead of MS, I had Lyme disease, and a late stage at that.

I wanted to give space to a few other bloggers to share their own experiences here on the blog. To talk about what they remember of that moment a doctor found the answer they’d been searching for. And how their life has changed since.

Each of these stories you’re about to read are so important. They are a reminder of our humanity in illness. The reality of being a patient searching for clarity amidst the madness of our unique illnesses.

I hope their stories resonate with you as much as they resonated with me. Their courage in sharing is oh so beautiful and I’m honored to have them here. Thank you Kate, Shelley and Alisha for being a voice for so many others. <3

When you've waited months or years for your diagnosis, that moment is filled with mixed emotions. Of anxiety and fear, but also relief and validation. Three ladies share their experience of the moment they were diagnosed...

Shelley Smith

Chronic Mom
Find Shelley on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

As I sat waiting for the doctor to come in, I realized I was tired of feeling vulnerable. I was weary of placing my life in doctors’ hands and having them let me down again and again. I was done listening to doctors who thought I was crazy because I knew there was something wrong with my body. After two years of looking for answers in all the wrong places I didn’t even care what the diagnosis was, I just wanted answers.

When the moment finally came I wasn’t fully prepared for the answer. I could hardly believe that after all this time the strange symptoms I’d been living with for so long added up to something, and it was something real. I wasn’t crazy, depressed, or lazy, I was sick. All my symptoms added up to a real diagnosis and now I could get my life back.

It wasn’t until two years later that I realized I was never going to get better. It took me so long to find a diagnosis that my body had been permanently affected. This was my new life with chronic illness and I had to learn to accept that my life was going to be different. Acceptance didn’t come right away. There was a lot of grief I had to process first, but eventually I was able to find peace with the messy version of myself that was created by illness.

Because even messy and broken, I’m still me.

Do you remember the moment you were diagnosed? Read these accounts of the moment patients were diagnosed and all the emotions that came flooding in.

Alisha Nurse

The Invisible F
Find Alisha on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I’ll never forget the day I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was flooded by emotions. Finally, there was a name to what I’d been suffering my whole life. There was validation.

I recalled the countless times I’d squared up to guilt after being asked what was wrong by family and co workers when I couldn’t go to work or social events. I felt absurd rattling off the myriad of symptoms I exhibited, and felt exasperated every time good meaning people offered the same advice – ‘you need to exercise’, ‘you need vitamins,’ ‘maybe it’s a mental thing,’ – I was living that hell and no one understood. Nothing helped.

Then uncertainty and fear. Now I knew what to call the monster but I wasn’t sure exactly how to fight it. The doctor gave me a little brochure but said there was little information on it. My Google searches offered little results, and no one I knew had ever heard of it.

I started off very dismayed; for years, I spent most of my days in bed, never went out, because I was in so much pain, so exhausted and dizzied. I fought the best I could but felt like I was a spinning top in mud.

A lot has changed since then. A series of events, including finding a full time job forced me to push harder against the gale storms. I changed my diet, lifestyle and outlook, took time to understand my triggers, find the right medication and detox from the things/people that made me flare. It’s been a tumultuous journey but it led to me reclaiming my life, and discovering what I’m really made of.

Having a doctor who is determined to help you get to the root cause of your medical issues is such a gift. There is validation, relief, and so much gratitude wrapped up in the moment they are able to give you insight or a diagnosis.

Kate Eastman

Make It, Bake It, Fake It
Find Kate on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Really?! All these crazy things my body was doing; from breathing difficulties, to forgetting how to add up numbers, body pain, to extreme fatigue and nausea…”maybe I was imagining it“?! I left that doctor’s appointment with tears running down my face.

By the time I got home I was fuming. I threw on my running gear. “If this is psychological”, I chanted in my head, “I will go for a huge run and outrun it.” At a steady pace I started off, pushing harder and harder. I was used to running 10 kilometres. This should be easy. 300 metres later I lay collapsed on the bench at the side of the oval. My chest ready to explode. My body in agony. There was definitely nothing psychological about this.

Weeks later, I walked into an appointment with a new doctor my friend had recommended. Was I game to trust a medical professional again? My list of symptoms and inconclusive tests clutched tightly in my hands. She listened patiently and asked the right questions. She even did a psychological screen to prove to me it was not in my head. She ordered more tests. Yet, then and there she suggested I probably had ME/CFS.

Two weeks and I returned to her office. The tests were clear. I met all the criteria. I had ME/CFS. I left the office that afternoon in disbelief. I had a diagnosis. Yet, I promptly turned around and played sport that evening. Life had no time to stop for this diagnosis. It took me years to truly accept my diagnosis and to admit that I was sick. I continued working, exercising, and being busy. Until one day my body had enough and wouldn’t do anymore!

My body continues to do weird and (not so) wonderful things. However, I am thankful I now have a doctor walking that journey alongside me. Who when I lose my faith, continues to push me forward, opens up new treatment options, and supports me in navigating the welfare and insurance systems. Four years in I can see how God is walking every step alongside me, and how there is nothing psychological about this disease!


Do you remember the moment you were diagnosed? Or are you waiting to find the answer to your own medical mystery?

the-moment-we-were-diagnosed

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There is a silent epidemic sweeping the globe that medical institutions are failing to recognize. Meg's story is just one of thousands who are slipping through the cracks in our healthcare system. Read her story to be informed and spare yourself and your family from this life of suffering with chronic Lyme disease.

Being Misinformed Led to the Fight of My Life

*Please be aware this post contains a use of profanity.*

A few weeks ago, one of my fellow Lyme warriors and readers reached out to see if I’d be willing to share her story. Due to the nature of this illness Meg and I share, thousands of patients go without diagnosis (or are misdiagnosed) for years due to the gross misunderstanding of this disease. She and I hold the same passion for raising awareness and her piece is a powerful extension of that. It is raw, heart-wrenching and real…and an important message for us all to hear. 

Written by Meg Walling

Many people know of Lyme Disease. Maybe you’ve heard of it, or know some general information about it. You probably think you’d know if you had it, right? I know that’s what I thought. Wrong. You probably think that if you go to the doctor and they test you for it, you’re all set, right? I know that’s what I thought. Wrong.

I have chronic tick-borne diseases, generally referred to as chronic Lyme disease. But as all those with chronic Lyme know, it’s not just Borrelia (Lyme) and co-infections. It’s also a multitude of systems in your body that have been attacked and caused to be dysfunctional.

Lyme, with its screw-like nature, has the ability to invade every nook and cranny of your body. It can literally drill through – and into – whatever it desires. These complex, multi-systemic, immunosuppressive diseases corrupt and wreak havoc like nothing I would have ever imagined.

Now, imagine it.

Let me take you back, and tell you a piece of a story about a 20 year old girl. A girl that grew up with loads of dreams, a crazy sense of humor, and in love with nature and country life. Hardworking to the core, she held onto the belief that love was always the answer, and honesty, trustworthiness, and helping people was the best kind of foundation. That part of being strong meant not showing your weaknesses.

At 20, this girl should have been coming into the prime of her life…

It was December, she was just finishing a semester at college and had a wonderful trip slated for the near future. However, she got sick a couple weeks before the semester’s end, with symptoms that mimicked a viral infection. Sore throat, swollen glands, aching, fatigue, fever.

For many years prior to this, she dealt with an onslaught of sickness, each time presenting itself in the same way – upper-respiratory, fevers (boy were those fevers brutal), tiredness, and unbearable aching. The doctors would tell her it was a virus, or “You’re just going through a phase. That happens to people sometimes.” Oh, really? A phase where you’re sick every month, endlessly for years?

Anyway, I digress. If you haven’t guessed it already, this girl is me.

"All I wanted to do was have a doctor believe and validate me."

Although similar, this sickness felt a little different, but I gave it some time and then called on the doctor. Of course, “virus”, what else could I have expected to hear? The only thing is, it didn’t go away.

Eventually the sore throat got better, but everything else didn’t. It actually evolved, with my whole neck feeling swollen and hard to swallow, along with some other seemingly disconnected, random symptoms. Months went by to no avail as I saw many primary care physicians and specialists. Over the course of my illness journey, I think of this as my first bad crash.

The litany of what those doctors claimed to be wrong and what they claimed NOT to be wrong was endless. I was told I had an infected salivary gland. That I had nodules on my thyroid. That it could possibly be cancer. That it was a Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis flare. That I had PCOS.

That there was nothing wrong with me.

I traveled to local and big city doctors. I had ultrasounds done on various parts of my body; a needless cat scan; an unpleasant regimen with the steroid prednisone; several different prescription medications; and among other things, a big dose of “fuck you” from our medical system.

I had an esteemed specialist look at me, smirk like it was all in my head, and offer me a big fat nothing. Less than 10 minutes of her time, zilch of what could help my ailments, zero redirection or referral, and told me the only thing I could do was wait – that time would make it all go away. Just wait.

And that is exactly what I did – waited. Waited. All that time when I had a serious infectious disease in my body and I was waiting for time to make me better. At the time I didn’t really second guess those doctors. I mean, after all, they have years of schooling, degrees, and certifications. I believed them and trusted the system. But, I had a lot to learn.

The above is just a blip into my Lyme journey that had actually started years before, and just a speck of my long list of symptoms, doctor’s visits, procedures, treatments, and medical experiences. While I don’t know exactly how long I’ve had Lyme (over 13 years), I think that this is an important piece of my story to tell. Because I feel it was a turning point in my illness. A time when my body was trying to tell me something, and I had a chance to go up or down. To get better or get worse.

Over 4 years went by after this, where I struggled in every aspect – physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. I became top notch at hiding what was wrong and a fabulous actress. I did my best at being strong, or what I thought was strong. Deep down I knew there was something wrong, but I tended to believe the smirk on that doctor’s face. That it was just me – “Am I crazy?”

All that came to a grinding halt at age 24.

Sadly, Meg's story is one of so many others who had to fight for their Lyme disease diagnosis. It is a grossly misunderstood disease across the medical community and an all too real fight that thousands are faced with across the globe. The truth that hurts? This disease can be prevented, yet few are even aware of this. Read Meg's story and share with your loved ones to help raise awareness!

In 2013 I crashed very badly, and my life as I knew it was forever changed. Over the next year+, this mysterious illness took hold – doctors, specialists, ER visits, cardiologists, etc.…the list goes on. Paralyzed by fear and panic that was not from me, that I was unaccustomed to, and not able to control. Unable to move from the bed or couch all day, not fit to be alone, afraid of going to sleep because I thought I might die, needing someone to sit with me until sleep finally did fitfully take hold.

All I wanted to do was have a doctor believe and validate me. I wanted to cry out – “This isn’t me! This is not who I am!” What happened in 2013 was like sticking dynamite in a cave and having it explode, implode, and crumble down.

It wasn’t until 2014 that I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, other tick-borne infections, and associated issues. I like to say that I got sick very gradually and in an instant. Because, in reality, that is what happened. For years and years I very slowly declined (telling myself I needed to be stronger), and then all of a sudden everything changed, like a snap of your fingers, and the sickness consumed me.

You know the cliche, “Without your health, you have nothing?” Well, it’s not just a catchy phrase. It’s true – too true. When you don’t have your health, everything else fades away and nothing else matters. Petty things fall to the wayside and what you once thought was so important, no longer is.

What would you do if you couldn’t hold a job, go to social events, or maybe travel and adventure? Or if you were mostly home-bound, incapable of driving a car safely, too weak to wash your own hair? How about if you were unable to do what you love? If the mere life element of breathing was onerously hard? What would your life become, who would you be? This is the reality for many people with chronic Lyme.

I am not writing this for pity or for sympathy, in any way, shape, or form. After all, understanding is what we yearn for. But instead, I am writing this because there was a time when I could have been more easily treated and my life path would have taken a trajectory less towards pain and suffering. A time when I completely trusted our medical system, and believed they knew best.

Because I was misinformed about Lyme, I never gave it a thought.

Now, I know that my first symptoms and swollen glands that I experienced all those years ago are hallmark signs of tick-borne disease. The amount of times I’ve kicked myself, blamed myself, regretted, been so angry with the doctors I saw – most of which really didn’t care about my well being, and instead followed ridiculous guidelines and were led by money.

I am writing this because people all over the world are suffering from chronic illness, and most doctors just use band-aids to cover up their symptoms. Doctors are human, and they don’t know everything no matter how great they’re “supposed” to be. You know yourself better than anyone, so don’t let a doctor or anyone else make you feel like you are lacking a brain…trust yourself.

I am expressing this for you – the people that don’t have Lyme, your children, your loved ones. I want, no, you need to know the truth about Lyme disease – that it is hard to diagnose and hard to treat. Some people that catch it early take antibiotics, get well fairly quickly, and stay well. Those are the cases most hear about, and that is what most people believe about Lyme.

"In 2013 I crashed very badly, and my life as I knew it was forever changed."

The truth is that more cases of Lyme are actually not like this at all.

Most cases? They are people like me, who have gone undiagnosed and misdiagnosed for years. People that can’t just take a simple round of doxycycline and call it a day. They are people with a chronic illness, that struggle everyday just to get by. There are people all around with Lyme, but sadly enough have no idea. Lyme is not easy to diagnose. Read that line, then re-read it…then do it again. It can be mistaken for all sorts of autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, arthritis, Parkinson’s, ALS, panic/anxiety, etc.

I am writing this because, unlike I was, you don’t need to be ill-informed about Lyme – an alarming epidemic that is not rare or uncommon. Read, then re-read that line.

I’m also telling this story for those searching for answers to their own health problems, and for those just diagnosed with chronic Lyme. I hope this gives you some sort of solace knowing that you’re not alone in what you’ve been through. It’s a fight, but it’s a fight worth battling.

And finally, I am sharing a part of my Lyme journey because of the fellow Lyme warriors that continue to inspire me every day. To open up, to be brave. We’re all in this hellish war together, and even though it’s hard not to feel alone, know that you’re not. You’re not alone.

And to that girl that grew up believing strong meant not showing your weaknesses – you were wrong – what you think are your weaknesses are what give you your strength.

To connect with Meg, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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