Last week I had a follow up appointment with Dr. Nina Foley, the dentist who did my latest cavitation surgery. I wrote about this surgery and the recovery here and here. Some of the sutures had already dissolved when I went to see her and one of her assistants took out the remaining sutures. My gums and cheeks were still a little bit sore, especially on the left side, but overall I actually feel pretty good as far as the surgery sites go. I am back to chewing food, I am able to pop my removable partials (I am missing teeth #s 19 and 30) in and out, and my energy is coming back slowly. I am still on a higher dose of hydrocortisone than I was before the surgery, but I imagine I will be able to start weaning pretty soon and hope to get back to my pre-surgery dose in a few weeks. I could probably write an entire post about that so won’t go into anymore detail here.
Everything seems to be going pretty much as I had expected, but I am dealing with way more detox than I thought I would. Aside from a coated tongue and some other signs that I am detoxing, I am dealing with quite a bit of anxiety. It had flared up a few times before the surgery, but usually when I increased anything that can cause die off or will facilitate detox like cilantro (really tough on me), Clear Way Cofactors, and some other supplements. I had to cut back on my antimicrobials, on GcMAF, and on said detox supps. However, when I talked to Dr. D last week I discussed doing a gallbladder flush followed by a short broth fast and/or coconut oil cleanse. I did the flush yesterday and started the coconut oil cleanse today and it is kicking up my anxiety again.
All this made me think of how most people, when they first find out that I have an illness, look at me like I am crazy. I have written about this here and have mentioned it on Facebook. The usual response is, “really, but you look so good/healthy?!” You can hear the doubt in the tone of their voices. I am not sure exactly what having an illness looks like to people, especially considering the multitude of illnesses out there, but my guess is they are noting the following:
- I have hair
- I don’t have dark circles under my eyes
- I am not pale but actually have a nice tan
- I am not walking with a cane
- I am not in a wheelchair
- I am not bedridden
Those are the few things that come to mind. What people don’t see is that I have dealt with quite a bit of hair loss on and off and my hair is much thinner and more dry than it used to be. They don’t see that I don’t sleep well and wake at least once during the night (and no, that is not normal!), therefore waking up tired and out of it every day. They don’t see how dry my skin is despite all the effort I put into keeping it moisturized and eating a healthy diet. They don’t see the headaches and backaches I deal with. They don’t see that I have to take a beta blocker to be able to go for a walk or just walk up one flight of stairs or otherwise my heart will start racing. They don’t see that I went from running, playing tennis, hiking, riding my bike everywhere, lifting weights, going out and having fun with friends, and working a full time job, to spending a considerable amount of time sitting on the couch because I am exhausted and having difficulty working a part time job from home. That’s only part of what I am dealing with. And they don’t see the anxiety, the difficulty concentrating, and the trouble remembering things (also not normal even if you are over 40 or 50 – please don’t tell me it is because that’s just BS and probably another post I will write!).
Sometimes I can’t remember how to get to Whole Foods for example, although I have been there many, many times. Anything I haven’t done in a while I may not be able to recall. The other day I couldn’t remember if Jerusalem is a city or a country and if it is a city, whether it is in Israel or not. It’s like the information is in my brain, but for some reason I can’t access it or if I can access it, I am not sure if it is accurate. Unfortunately to those that don’t know me, or that don’t know that Lyme and Co-Infections affect the brain, I seem pretty stupid when stuff like that happens.
So the anxiety I have been dealing with has centered around past failures, my career or lack thereof, starting over at age 47, 48, or later, and what to do with my life when I am healthy. Do I go back to database programming although I am utterly behind and will not only have to get caught up with advances in technology, but also re-learn some old stuff? And how do I explain to any prospective new employer that I have 16 years of experience but my coding skills are that of a programmer with maybe 5 years experience? Do I go into a different field and if so, what? These are all things I am pondering. In addition, once I found out that I have Lyme disease and 3 other tick borne diseases and 3 chronic stealth infections, and a host of other issues, it all sort of started to make sense. At one point, due to the physical illness which affected my brain, it became harder and harder to concentrate, focus, and learn new, more complex database programming strategies. I figured once I am healed I will get back to working and will get caught up. But now suddenly I have this concern that it was the other way around. I started to worry that my lack of confidence and fear of failure led to the physical illness and now the physical illness is a way to avoid failing at my job.
In a way that does not make sense. It is true that I have always had confidence issues and some self doubt, but it is also true that I have never let that stop me from moving forward. I was terrified of moving from Germany to the US, on my own, and going to college. Actually, back then I was pretty negative and probably had myself convinced that I couldn’t do it. But I did it anyway and I graduated with a degree from the University of Texas. I have had fears about applying for and starting new jobs, but always did anyhow. And in just about every job I have been in I was moved into some sort of a leadership position, which also terrified me, but I did it anyway! So where is this sudden anxiety that I am a failure coming from? Why am I suddenly focusing on and thinking of the times I failed or messed up in past jobs, rather than on the times I succeeded? I have no idea but it feels pretty awful to doubt yourself this much and go through all this anxiety. And that is what people cannot see when I say I have an illness! In some ways the emotional torment I go through is worse than the physical pain and fatigue I experience on and off.
What I am learning about myself, as I am going through this anxiety, is that I do not do well with making mistakes or having failed at something or possibly not being smart enough to learn more advanced programming techniques for example. If I can blame it on Lyme affecting my brain then it’s OK, but what if it’s not because of Lyme? What if it’s because I am simply not smart or intelligent enough? I don’t like that thought but I also realize that I am being really, really hard on myself. I have friends with PhDs in high paid jobs, I have one friend who is an MD, and I have friends who have a high school diploma and work a minimum wage job. I like all of them for who they are and their personalities and characteristics, not what they have accomplished in their lives, how smart they are, or how much money they make. So why can’t I do the same for myself?
The other thing I am realizing is that I am not really sure what I want to do when I am back at full capacity. I am not really passionate about database programming. It’s kind of fun, I enjoy it to a degree, but I can’t say that I am excited about sitting around all day writing code. If someone said to me right now that I have to sit and read for an hour and I can either read about database programming or I can read about nutrition and health, I would definitely choose the latter. Health, science, diet, how our lifestyle affects our health, etc. are fascinating to me. The thought of helping someone else who is struggling with health issues is exciting to me. I have a heart and passion for people struggling with their health, yet on some level it feels like I am running away from my current “career” because I am afraid of failure. And what if I switch careers, go into the health field, and I hit a wall like I did with programming? What if I get to a certain level of knowledge in my new chosen field, but then can’t seem to move into a more advanced stage because I can’t wrap my mind around things or remember stuff? It’s hard to imagine that you will do well at anything when your brain is not working right in the present moment.
So how am I dealing with all this? I have posted on a Lyme forum and gotten good feedback, I have researched and read about the psychological effects of Lyme and co-infections (this article was particularly helpful), I have prayed and asked God for relief and for the truth, I have done EFT, I have talked to wonderful friends who get it, I have sat quietly and just allowed myself to feel the feelings, and I have asked others for prayer.
I have also tried to just apply logic:
- I was born with Rh disease and nearly died at birth
- I had 2 blood transfusions within the first 24 hours of being alive and did not have contact with my mother until I was 5 days old
- I was not breast fed
- I grew up on a high carb diet
- I grew up mostly with my mother and her parents and all of them are rather negative and were doubting not only themselves, but they were doubting me in anything I wanted to attempt
- I had tonsillitis repeatedly until I finally had a tonsillectomy at age 18
- As soon as I started my period around age 12 I had pretty bad pain (I was later diagnosed with endometriosis and uterine fibroids)
- I had digestive issues for as long as I can remember
- I took antibiotics various times throughout childhood, my teen years and even my 20s and 30s
- I took the birth control pill from roughly age 17 to age 24
- I ate a high carb, high processed food, very low to no fat diet for way too many years as an adult
- I had jaw surgery to correct a cross bite at age 27 and therefore have a ton of metal across my upper jaw
- I had an appendectomy at age 34
- I had a hysterectomy and left oophorectomy at age 37
- I struggled with an eating disorder, alternating between anorexia and bulimia, for many, many years thereby abusing my body
- My doctor recently said that most of her patients are on the spectrum (meaning the autism spectrum)
All that to say, I have never been a truly healthy person. I may have felt relatively good, but I think I have probably had underlying health issues from birth and it just kept getting worse and worse. I believe my gut was probably messed up from birth and gut issues equal brain issues. Considering all the above, and a bunch of things I dealt with as a child that are too numerous to list right now, I think I did pretty well for myself. And I am not surprised I ended up with all the current health issues. Still, I cannot seem to get rid of the anxiety or feeling like a failure.