From Rock Climbing to Rocking Chair – by Cara Potapshyn Meyers
I always try to be honest and straightforward with our readers. I feel it allows them to fully know the “me” they have been following. I’ve discussed my never-ending divorce, all of my son’s special needs and my personal and medical concerns or frustrations. Well, my friendly readers, there is a new condition in my life…Lyme’s Disease.
Last August, I found myself extraordinarily fatigued and in the hospital. Something was seriously wrong. I had been pondering whether it could have been my hypothyroidism. I had my thyroid labs checked. Nope, not thyroid. I came upon a book that I will be reviewing in the near future which discusses thyroid conditions. In reading that book, I came across a condition I had never heard of before, but in doing some online research, I discovered I had every single symptom: Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. I made an appointment with our Contributing Blogger doctor, Fred Pescatore, M.D. He not only ran tests for the Adrenal Fatigue, he tested every possible condition that could bring about fatigue. We found that not only did I have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (for which I am being treated quite successfully), but that I had a couple other conditions too. One of them was Lyme’s Disease. I had somehow been bitten by a carrier tick.
Since I didn’t have the “bulls-eye” rash that goes along with contracting Lyme’s (fifty percent of people bitten by tick’s carrying Lyme’s may not get a rash at all), and didn’t have any Lyme’s Disease symptoms at the time, we kept an eye on it with frequent blood tests. We needed to manage the adrenal fatigue more aggressively since my adrenal glands could shut down if not treated, and never recover. So adrenals took priority.
Approximately two weeks ago, I woke up on a weekend and felt as if I had the flu. I had joint and body aches that permeated my whole body exactly the way the flu would. I ran to a Stat Med center close to my home to get a rapid flu test. It was negative. The Stat Med doctors were just as perplexed as me. They said that my symptoms could worsen and that I should look out for fever, runny nose, sore throat, and coughing. If I experienced any of those symptoms, to come back to get retested. I never did. The only symptom that was getting worse was my joint and body pains. The next day I went food shopping and tried to pick up a half gallon of milk. I had to drop the milk due to intense pain in the joints of my hands. I realized that I couldn’t even go grocery shopping.
I thankfully had an appointment at Dr. Pescatore’s office the following week. I was being followed by his medical partner. I sat down across from her and said, “There is something very wrong with me and I don’t know what it is.” I gave her my symptoms. The partner said, “I have a feeling your Lyme’s Disease symptoms are coming out. We need to get more blood taken and get you on antibiotics immediately. You will probably be on antibiotics for a good four months or longer, but I need you in to see me monthly to assess how you are responding to the antibiotics.
I sat across from her speechless. Lyme’s Disease? Now? Antibiotics? Four Months or LONGER? What the…??? She also mentioned that the antibiotics were very strong and that I probably would go through “peeks and valleys” where my symptoms could worsen (my joints could swell and become red, I could come down with unexplained fevers) and at other times I could feel very well, but not to mistake that feeling of wellness and overdo it. I could experience a setback.
I just sat there, sleet coming down outside her window. Six months ago I was rock climbing at my son’s 9th birthday party. Now I couldn’t even go food shopping. How was I going to take care of my very active ADHD son? How was I even going to keep up with him? My head was reeling.
I started the antibiotics at night since I had to take them twice a day. I took it on an empty stomach and I felt some indigestion from the med, but was able to fall asleep. The next morning I woke up. My joint and muscle pain was barely noticeable! Oh, thank goodness! The antibiotics were working! Then I thought, if the antibiotics are working, and so quickly, I really must have Lyme’s Disease. The good with the bad. But I was hopeful.
I didn’t want to take the antibiotics on an empty stomach again, so I ate a large breakfast first. A half hour later my stomach pain and indigestion was worse than the night before. Uh-Oh. Two more days on the antibiotics and I was vomiting the whole day long. Time for a call to the doctor and a change of antibiotics. This time 5 back-to-back Z-packs were prescribed. I’m tolerating them, but the pain is there constantly. Especially in the cold (like today’s temperature high in the mid-twenties) and when either walking/climbing stairs or using my hands. I’d have to say, hands are the worst. It even hurts to type. But I love blogging. So you won’t see me stop, unless absolutely necessary. Even so, I will still try using Siri on my iPad or a dictation software program I bought for my son where you talk into the computer and it “writes” what you say.
Since there are now a few MotherhoodLater bloggers with various medical challenges, and many more out in our world of readers, I have several suggestions to help accommodate us all. The first thing I am doing is gathering a small group of local Mom friends to call upon when necessary. The day I was vomiting, I had to pick up my son from school, but had no one to help. I arranged for his teacher to have someone escort my son to my car, directly in front of the building, vomit bucket at my side…just in case. The very next day I started getting in touch with local Mom’s I knew.
Use online food delivery and laundry delivery services. I can’t shop for heavy food and laundry items. I am having them delivered. I don’t have a lot of choice. I also don’t want to overburden my Mom friends. I want to keep them for emergencies. See if you can find take-out food places and pharmacies that deliver for free. I can’t even make spaghetti because I can’t lift up the pot to drain the water.
Most important, enjoy your “good” days while managing your not-as-good. Spread out appointments and commitments on your calendar, if possible. Enlist your children to help out. I tried to explain my condition to my son without scaring him. I am giving him extra allowance for helping me empty the dishwasher, carry folded laundry upstairs and helping me open stubborn items, among other tasks. You can manage with some assistance and a little creativity.
I may be in the rocking chair for the time being. But I would love to see myself back on the rock wall or some other contraption come my son’s 10th birthday! I’m keeping my fingers crossed! Well, figuratively, since they hurt too much!
For more information on Lyme’s Disease, visit http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/.