I ran into a friend/reader the other day, who reminded me that you can’t read my mind when I leave these pages blank. Sorry about that.
When last you looked in, I was rededicating myself to the lovely pool, and feeling good and rather full of myself over several silky blue laps in my new bathing suit. Also, I’d just been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and had started taking antibiotics to treat it.
And then I melted. I soon learned that when left unchecked for a few years, the bacteria that cause the infection we know as Lyme disease, can really dig into various tissues, and when they’ve done that, they don’t want to leave.
When we send in the big drugs to kill off that scum, a toxic response ensues, and a delicate girl like me can go from sick to wishing-I-wouldn’t-wake-up-again very quickly.
That sums up the past couple of months for me. I’ve been struggling to clear this nasty sludge from my system, injecting heavy antibiotics straight into my heart through a Picc line every day, and trying to put out flares of inflammation hop-scotching through my body while managing side effects from heavy antibiotic therapy that accompany the death and destruction of all your friendly bacteria.
All the while, slowly getting better. Big improvements in my brain. The horrible and constant headaches I called migraine were probably a form of encephalitis common among people infected by tick-borne bacteria for a long time. Those have diminished dramatically.
I’m thinking much more clearly. Lyme can rob you of language skills, both comprehending written and spoken language, and speaking — finding the right words. Other kinds of comprehension — decoding traffic lights and dashboard controls, for instance, can disappear with Lyme too. I didn’t talk about that much, because, because I was terrified, I guess. But now that I’m confidently reading, writing, and driving again, I’m coming out with it. And if you were the poor man driving the pickup behind me when I attempted to step on the clutch that I haven’t had in my car for 20 years or so, coming to a full fast breaking stop in the middle of the street a few months ago? I’m really sorry about that.
A Picc line, if you’re not familiar, is a flexible line in your upper arm, inserted into a vein, and run up into your vena cava. The other end is anchored to your arm with a bracing device and a couple of stitches, and then kept under sterile wraps for the weeks to months that you have it in place. It ends in a receptacle for the syringes or the IV infusion pumps used to deliver meds.
It does not allow swimming. Nor showering, really. Not at all. And I may be stuck with this thing until all of my symptoms subside. The symptoms still left are mainly painful joints, problems sleeping, a little trouble focusing, and balance problems. I’ve been falling down.
My struggle with fitness right now is finding something I can do that doesn’t hurt and trying very hard not to feel sorry for myself. That emotion almost always finds me face down at the bottom of a Ben & Jerry’s container. So my weight just creeps up and up.
But I’m coming around. Walking more. Trying out the elliptical machine (handrails are my friend!). I’m writing more (Did you see? We’ve launched middlesexmd.com!). And working with friends on a new writing project.
I’m interested in hearing from people with arthritis. What do you do with your sore joints? How do you give yourself enough exercise to stay fit and keep your metabolism humming? What can you tell me about how to work around or with balance problems? Give me hints. I’m all ears!