OK…I have been thinking about this post for months, and been writing and re-writing and re-reading it for a month. This feels by far the most vulnerable thing I have ever written and I don’t use the word “vulnerable” lightly. I talked about it the other day with a friend and expressed my hopes and also fears for it, and ultimately the hopes won out. I hesitate to write it because I do not want pity or to draw attention to myself. But even if that happens, if this helps anyone, then it will have been worth it.
I chose to write this and want to share for 2 groups of people:
1. For anyone who is unknowingly struggling with any of these health problems, I want you to be aware of what could be going on with your body. There are things I have struggled with for years that I am just now treating, because for years those problems were missed. We simply did not even know to test for these things and I do NOT want someone else suffering with something just because they are unaware of it. If you have health problems, THESE COULD BE UNDERLYING ISSUES TO TEST FOR.
2. If you are dealing with any of these ailments, or any illness similar, the latter half is filled with with some practical things that I do and things I tell myself. It sounds cliche, but you’re not alone. I have always found comfort in being understood by people with the same things. I have been blessed to have friends put in my life who I can relate to. I know so many people suffer alone, so hopefully this can bring comfort and you might even meet other people in the comments!!
My prayer is for this simply to reach who it needs to reach and that the Lord will bring physical and spiritual healing through it.
So here we go…
I’m here with what I guess is a health update? A practical health update and maybe some tips to offer you, and what I’m learning through it. I just had someone ask for a practical side of helping lyme, so I’m going to share a few things I have found helpful, for my physical and emotional well-being. Honestly this all does feel weird to share though, but I want to use this platform of my blog to reach anyone out there looking for help or reassurance or connection. Chronic illness is a lonely weird world, and I feel such comfort talking to friends or people who are in the same boat. It brings so much validation to me when I read someone else’s story and I’m like “Me too! I’m not crazy!” or just feeling like I can handle it because someone else is!
A year ago I started going to a new doctor and I am so thankful I found her. Her name is Jeanine Talty and she is in Roanoke,Virginia. She’s a holistic doctor and I have appreciated her so much. WOW. So much. Right off the bat we did blood work and boy was I surprised by my results.
First off, yes lyme came back positive along with some co-infections. I think babesia was one of the co-infections. And also Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
A B-12 deficiency was reaffirmed.
We also discovered some hormonal imbalances and hypothyroidism.
This is just a random thing, but I explained to her how my back ALWAYS hurt and under 5 minutes she figured out that the arches in my feet were different, causing my hips to be out of place and causing my spine to be out of place. She gave me inserts for my shoes and here I am a year later and my back feels 99% better!!! Such an easy fix!
She also ran a food allergy test (cannot recommend doing this enough!! It’s a lab that tests like 60 or something different types of food!) and turns out I am allergic to quite a lot of things. I would have had no idea otherwise because the allergic reactions can take 1-3 days to start.
We also discovered I am carrying mold in my body. Apparently if you have Lyme disease you are very likely to be sensitive to mold.
She also discovered I had candida overgrowth throughout my whole body.
So being vulnerable with you guys because I want you to consider some of these tests if you’ve already got some health problems or have not been feeling right for a long period of time! So many issues went under the radar for me and I wish I could have found them years ago!
I’m treating a lot of these things right now and honestly its been really hard, physically and emotionally, but I am SO hopeful. Last February I started my food allergy diet. At first it was really difficult and I felt like I wasn’t seeing any results. About 3 months in I could tell a huge difference. All of those foods had been causing allergic reactions that left my whole body feeling inflamed and exhausted and irritable among other things. I cut gluten out about 7 years ago and cut dairy out 2 years ago, and would definitely suggest that to pretty much anyone, but I saw really big changes with the food allergy diet and thats going to vary person-to-person. Like for example, I have a severe allergy to pineapple (!?) and a moderate allergy to green beans (?!?!)…so weird.
Our diets play a HUGE part in how we feel (I still haven’t watched it but my family is obsessed with the Magic Pill). You can try different diets out and see how you feel- I tried vegan for a while. It only made me feel worse but I’ve heard it does wonders for others. BUT the food allergy lab can tell you exactly what you can and can’t eat for YOUR body. I am not kidding when I say I have recommended this to nearly every person I know. Totally worth it.
Being on the candida diet, my already short “allowed food” list was cut in half, so right now my diet is superrrr strict. If you’re in the same boat and doing a candida cleanse I’ve got a ton of recipes on my Pinterest! If you do this, I’ll go ahead and warn you that it’s not easy, but it does get easier after the first week!
So what are some practical things I do?
Recommending doctors gets tricky because everyone responds differently to different treatment. I really speak from watching my dad who has suffered horribly with this for over 10 years. He’s gone to doctors all over the country and has not improved, through I have had lots of people recommend those same doctors, saying they worked for them. I am liking my current doctor, Dr. Jeanine Talty. My dad has actually been living in Mexico and receiving treatment there for the past month or so. He is at Lyme Mexico and he is very hopeful. To quote him when asked if I could share this: “Heck yes! I don’t think theres anywhere better.” I can come back with an update on him in the months to come, but we have heard very good testimonials from that place. Some of the top lyme doctors in the world are in Germany, and they work with the clinic in Mexico.
In the past year I’ve learned to give myself grace. I’m still learning it, but it feels good when you finally give it to yourself. This time marks a year that I had to stop working out. I’ve always enjoyed being active. I liked to do the Sweat with Kayla circuit workouts. I also loved going to classes at the gym and cycling there. I also would go on short runs and do body weight exercises. Over the past several years the workouts started to take more and more of a toll on me. Last fall semester I would go to a fitness class but the day after the workout I was pretty much nonexistent to the world- I could barely go to school and after those couple hours at school I was just kind of stuck on the couch for the rest of the day. I’m kind of hard-headed though so I kept pushing through it. I did know that my sister, who is also sick, couldn’t work out. I had seen short hikes do bad things for her. For a healthy person exercising will give them more energy. For a lyme patient, it zaps the little you have. I was so freaking determined though to keep going haha. I felt like I was lazy if I wasn’t working out and on top of that had struggled for years with body-image issues and my view of food. Finally I told my doctor and she told me I needed to stop. No more high-intensity or cardio workouts. Honestly it was a relief hearing her say that. It felt like she wrote me a permission slip that I had been too prideful to write to myself even though I knew I needed it. Now I just walk in the mountains behind my house and I turn around when I need to. I don’t push my limits with that. I’ve learned to give my body what it needs.
I am learning to tell people what I need. If I need rest I tell people. I used to make up excuses because I think I was in denial about being sick, but honestly now I just say “Hey I’m so sorry, but honestly I’m feeling bad right now, can we hang out another day?” My friend Annie called me out because she could see me struggling internally. John Luke and I were deciding if we’d go out one night or stay in and Annie was standing beside us. I SO badly wanted to go on to sleep because I was exhausted, but I could tell John Luke wanted to go, so we kept going back and forth on it because I didn’t want to go but wanted him to be able to go (long story short: particular situation where we needed to stay together). Finally Annie just said, “Mary Kate what do you need?” I needed to go to sleep. I honestly needed to go to sleep about 5 hours ago. So I said it and of course John Luke was fine with it and we went back. We had talked about the enneagram earlier that day and realized me and Annie were both 2s. She knew I struggled with telling people what I need because she does too. I am a people-pleaser and often times I put everyone else’s needs above my own. It’s totally not a bad thing to help people (I mean its Biblical!) but when I never stop to take care of myself I eventually have a breaking point and thats not good for me or anyone around me. I can’t expect others to know what I need if I won’t tell them myself. Most of the time the people around me have my best interest at heart and want me to be functioning the best I can. If they don’t, then those are opinions I don’t need, because I am already my own worst critic and the one who best understands the needs of my body.
One thing I am still working on and just wrote a blog post about, is being ok with being misunderstood. I have had my illness mistaken as me “not being any fun,” or “boring” and me “being too serious,” or “in a bad mood.” This is one of the hardest things for me, but I’m coming to realize I have to be coming from a place of being so immersed in the thoughts and love of God that I am ok with being misunderstood. I simply try my best to love others and be kind. That’s all I can do. As longs as I am doing that I’m learning that I have done everything in my power. If someone is seeking to understand I am more than happy to explain things and tell them what’s going on, but I cannot be upset with someone for their lack of understanding. I can’t wait until someone understands me to love them.
So I will sit on the couch and watch a show or movie and I won’t feel bad for sitting and resting. I guess this falls into giving yourself grace. I try not to compare my lives to others. It’s in the low and lonely valleys where I have learned a lot about myself. I realized I put a lot of my worth into how well I perform. There are things I have to do and things I want to do, and in my head I can do it all- I want to do it all! But I’ve learned not to spread myself too thin and if I’ve got too much on my plate I can scoot something off. Right now I am finishing school and thats got to be a priority.
Although I make sure I rest, I also make sure I get out. There have been times in the past where I didn’t want to leave my house, but then I would get lonely and have that as an issue. So I make sure to see my friends! They encourage me so much and I so appreciate their encouragement. Especially if I am having a bad day. My friend Rachel is always willing to listen and always has a word of encouragement. I also obviously still travel. It’s not that I magically feel better, but honestly I do believe God has blessed me with “good days” a lot of times we travel! But I go into a trip with the mindset, “Ok if we get there and I need a break I can spend a day in the hotel room.” It would probably be much more difficult if I couldn’t sleep on planes. Or buses. One time I sleep 13 hours on a 16 hour flight haha. Eating is harder when we travel, but I do my best.
I also have found it vital to talk with people who are also dealing with chronic illness. They don’t have to have the same illness, but suffering brings about a bond and that understanding is just such a comfort. If you don’t know anyone personally, 1) if you open up about what you’ve got going on, you’re bound to find someone else. 2) listen to podcasts or books by someone with health issues! ALSO, listening to Dr. Caroline Leaf has been HUGE for me. She’s got a podcast and is on Youtube. I’d recommend starting with her 4-part YouTube series- “How to Detox You Brain” parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Also speaking from a place of watching my family struggle with their health…be there for them. Pray for them. Speak life in to them. Encourage them. Show them that you care. Don’t forget about them.
And then ultimately, I believe the Lord is redeeming everything. My relationship with Him is what truly carries me through. Such a beautiful book that I recommend is Hinds’ Feet on High Places. I believe even in the ugliest and darkest situations, He is working things out for my good and His glory. As a human I so badly want comfort and would settle for that, but He is working on my holiness and my making me more like Him. It’s always painful situations that brings out beautiful and good things. Grapes are crushed for wine; wheat is ground into flour, and gold is refined in the furnace. Something my friend Katherine told me that I think of often is “Good and hard aren’t two separate things…good and hard can go together.” Just because there is something hard going on in your life, does not mean that you cannot live a good life. It may look different than you imagined, and it may look different from people’s lives around you, but it can still be GOOD.