About Jason T. George

Husband. Dad. Founder and President of Narrowtrail Ministries. Itinerant Speaker. Host of The GRIZ Podcast. Owner/Operator of Home Touch-Ups, LLC. Lyme Warrior.

Right Now I'm NOT Happy, NOT Rejoicing, and NOT Giving Thanks!

It’s worse than usual this week, and I’m not sure why.

I can do very little physical work and I hate that. I want to be working my job, going to the gym, trail running, working in my yard … FREGGIN’ DOING LIFE! But lately, when I physically exert myself, excruciating pain shoots through my lower left abdomen up into my left rib cage and sometimes up into my left chest. It’s so bad that it floors me. I mean I literally have to lay on the floor until it subsides. After multiple tests, doctors have no answer as to why this is happening.

The abdomen pain frequently triggers what I call “the forehead headaches.” These are not typical tension or migraine headaches. They’re different. They bring on a wicked feeling of confusion, disorientation, and weakness. It’s not mere “brain fog.” It’s much worse than that. It feels like my brain is going into shut-down mode and disconnecting from my body. When it hits, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I just have to wait it out.

Then (if all that were not enough), my anxiety can suddenly spike for no apparent reason. It’s so intense that I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. I don’t like calling it an “anxiety attack” or “panic attack” because I’m actually not being attacked. What’s really happening is my brain is unconsciously trying to protect me from what’s going on inside of my body so it triggers my nervous system to go into “fight or flight” mode. I do my best to passively accept it. If you try to escape it or fight it or if you freak-out over it, you’ll only fuel it. I’ve learned that passively accepting it and giving it time to pass is the best thing to do to activate my parasympathetic nervous system to trigger “the relaxation response.” One of the many things that late-stage Lyme Disease jacks-up is your nervous system and/or your vagus nerve.

When I have these “episodes” (with the abdomen and rib pain with the forehead headaches with the anxiety spikes) … it’s extremely difficult for me to talk because I feel so mentally off, disoriented, and not even present. I literally have to talk softly and slowly, and even that takes incredible effort. It’s so weird and frustrating. When all of it is hitting at once, it actually hurts my brain to talk. I know that must sound strange to most people.

(feeling some confusion right now)

I’m not sure if these “episodes” are just a bad herx reaction to the homeopathic/herbal medicines that I’m taking. I think that’s what’s going on and I actually hope that’s what’s going on, because if they’re herx reactions then that means the bad stuff is dying inside of me and I just need to do a better job of binding and detoxing all of it.

This Thursday, I go back to see my Lyme Specialist in Frederick, MD (Greg Lee). I’m hoping he can help me understand what’s going on with these “episodes” and help eliminate or at least reduce them. I remember what he and another Lyme Specialist told me during my first visit, “This isn’t a drive thru, Jason. It takes time to recover … and I hope you’re not a Girl Scout.” I was like, “Yeah, I’m tough. I’m in it for the long haul. I’ll be okay.”

Well, I’m not okay. I haven’t been “okay” for quite some time, but I just kept trying to “cowboy up.” ENOUGH! Today I actually met with a therapist to talk about what I’m going through because I’ve finally come to the point where I admit that I can’t handle this on my own. I’m not smart enough or strong enough. Its just too much for me to try and go solo. Did you know that the leading cause of death among Lyme sufferers is suicide? Don’t worry … NO, I’m not having suicidal thoughts. I’m just admitting that I need help … not only physically, but also mentally … and I sincerely don’t give a rip what people think or say about me seeing a therapist for all of this.

Bottling-up my negative thoughts, fears, questions, and emotions is NOT healthy. It’s toxic, and that’s what most men do, and in my opinion that’s the reason why more men than women are alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, and suicidal. Trying to be “an army of one” with chronic physical and mental suffering is not only foolish … it’s EXTREMELY dangerous! So I did some research and found a therapist to work with, and guess what? She’s also fought through Lyme Disease herself. Dude, she gets it! She can finish my sentences!

I think our first session went pretty well. It was basically just a time to get to know each other, and I got some things out that I needed to.

This evening as I type this … I’m NOT happy … I’m NOT rejoicing … and I’m NOT giving thanks. I’m hurting, and I’m trying to stabilize physically and mentally. Today I’ve been so tempted to go to back to the ER, but I know it will just be more of the same tests with the same results with the same clueless doctors with another medical bill to pay. No thank you.

(long 10-minute pause)

Writing this blog post has been kind of therapeutic. It’s actually helping to trigger the relaxation response. Finally the waves are beginning to die down. I wanted to write while I was in the midst of an “episode” … when everything feels so negative, frustrating, overwhelming, and hopeless. Just keeping it real people.

Man, I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again … this disease is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life (and if you know me, then you know I’ve been through some serious $#%@ over the last 44 years … physically, mentally, and emotionally)! Those of you who are fellow Lyme Warriors, you know exactly what I’m talking about with how hard it is. Some of you reading this will roll your eyes at what I’m about to say, but I’ve had fellow Lyme Warriors tell me that giving birth, passing kidney stones, battling cancer, and even being shot (he was a police officer) … were nothing in comparison to battling late-stage Lyme Disease. Don’t misunderstand me … I’m not in anyway trying to minimize those other struggles. I’m just trying to help people understand that this disease is much worse than most people realize (including medical professionals).

If you’ve never seen the documentary Under Our Skin, you should check it out.

Under Our Skin from DecimalZero on Vimeo.

I would appreciate your prayers during this agonizing part of the climb. I’m definitely praying for many of you who’ve shared your pain and suffering with me.

My email is Jason@Narrowtrail.com

Don’t give up.

Reach out and get help if you need it (physically, mentally, emotionally, whatever).

You’re not weak for doing that.

Battling with you,

Jason

Jason T. George is not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read, seen, or heard from Jason T. George.

"Give Thanks in All Circumstances" … Are you serious God?

God commands us to give thanks in all circumstances1 Thess. 5:18 … and that means even when life sucks. Man, that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re new to pain, suffering, loss, and disappointment. When life sucks, giving thanks can “feel” utterly impossible, but it’s not. It just “feels” that way, and you can’t trust your feelings. Let me repeat what I stated in one of my recent blog posts (Life’s Not Fair!) …

NO MATTER WHAT IS HAPPENING TO US, WE STILL HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE HOW WE RESPOND!

When life sucks, the easy and natural response is to wallow, whine, complain, envy, worry, and get bitter. The difficult and courageous response is to pause and give thanks for the many good things in your life. You have the power to choose your response … and giving thanks is the response that God wants from us … and He has good reasons for that which I’ll explain shortly.

It’s no coincidence that God chose the Apostle Paul to be the man to write those specific words of Scripture … “Give thanks in all circumstances.” God did not choose a man who was enjoying a pain and problem free life. Far from it, God purposefully chose a man who deeply understood pain, suffering, illness, injury, loss, betrayal, loneliness, frustration, anger, anxiety, depression, and despair (far more than any of us). In 2 Corinthians chapter 11, we learn that the Apostle Paul endured multiple imprisonments, countless beatings, and was often near death. Five times at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders, he received a beating of 39 lashes. Three times he was beaten with rods. One time a mob stoned him and left him for dead. Three times he was shipwrecked at sea, and after one of those shipwrecks, he actually spent an entire night and day adrift in the sea. On his cross-country missionary journeys, he was often in danger from river crossings, from the wilderness, from robbers, from fake Christians, and even from his own people. He also mentioned that he constantly endured toil and hardship that involved many sleepless nights and was often without food and water which of course led to many days and nights of hunger and thirst. On top of all of that, he was constantly exposed to the brutal elements of cold weather on his missionary journeys and also during his imprisonments in nasty dungeons. Internally, he also battled anxiety. He mentions all of this in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. This is the man that God intentionally chose to tell all of us to “Give thanks in all circumstances.”

Paul is not the type of guy we we can look at and say, “Who do you think you are telling me to give thanks in all circumstances? You have no idea what it’s like to go through __________________.” You can fill in the blank, but no doubt … whatever it is, Paul gets it. He knows all about pain and suffering and life not being fair.

Over the past two weeks, I keep thinking about what it means to give thanks in “all circumstances.” I can’t get those two words out of my mind … “all circumstances.” At times, I’ve been angry over those two words and I’m like, “Really God? You want me to give thanks in ‘all circumstances?’ Do you not see what I’ve been going through for the past few years? This suffering that I’ve continually asked You to deliver me from, but You haven’t? Is this some kind of cruel joke that You play on us? It just doesn’t make sense! Why would You tell me to give thanks when you don’t answer my prayers and You continue to allow life to suck?”

Over the last two decades of reading and studying Scripture, I’ve noticed that there are actually quite a few things that God commands us to do that often don’t make sense to us, but I’m learning that this is where REAL FAITH comes in. When we trust and obey God even when it doesn’t make sense to us … even when it’s the complete opposite of what we naturally “feel” like doing … THAT’S REAL FAITH. So with this particular command of giving thanks in all circumstances, I’ve been daily trying to trust and obey Him, and here’s what I’ve been discovering …

When we make a practice of giving thanks, we actually experience incredible personal benefits (especially during those times when life really sucks). Not only does giving thanks glorify God, but it’s scientifically proven to personally benefit us: mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Scientific research has revealed that the practice of gratitude literally rewires our brains to give us a happier mood. In 2005, research was done by Psychologists Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami … and they found that the participants in their study who kept a daily journal of things that happened throughout their week that they were thankful for ended up feeling more positive about their lives than those who didn’t continually recognize and write down what they were thankful for.

Other scientific studies have shown that routinely giving thanks also improves our sleep quality and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. There’s also research/evidence that shows that people who routinely gives thanks have less fatigue, less inflammation, and they even reduce their risk of heart failure (even for those who are more susceptible to that particular condition). I also found it super fascinating that one of the neuro-chemicals associated with the practice of giving thanks is dopamine (the pleasure chemical). – Source Link

After reading about all of this, it began making sense to me why God commands His children to give thanks in all circumstances. He’s not trying to play a cruel joke on us. On the contrary, as our Creator/Designer, He’s known all along how much giving thanks will personally benefit us: mentally, emotionally, and physically … especially during those times when life really sucks … and He wants us to experience all of those personal benefits because He’s a good Father who always wants what’s best for His children.

So here I am, realizing (once again) that even when God’s commands don’t gel with “common sense” or with what I naturally “feel” like doing … I still need to trust and obey Him because I don’t know everything that He knows … especially when it comes to the intricate connection and function of my brain, biology, thoughts, beliefs, self-talk, and conscious choices.

Stop and consider this … with these scientific studies regarding routinely giving thanks … science has unintentionally validated that God’s Word (the Bible) is not some outdated book that has no application for modern man’s complex mental, emotional, physical, and relational “issues.” God actually knows what He’s talking about. Ha. Go figure.

Listen, I know how difficult it can be to give thanks when life really sucks. I know it’s the last thing that you naturally “feel” like doing, but it doesn’t matter. You still have the power to choose your response regardless of what is happening to you in any given moment or situation. I did it last night as I was trying to fall asleep. For dinner, I ate something I shouldn’t have eaten, and severe stomach pains had me tossing and turning as I tried to fall asleep. In that moment, I decided to take control of my thoughts and I began thanking God for all sorts of various things (even my painful health issues). Did it miraculously and instantaneously heal me of my Lyme Disease? No, but within a few minutes I actually fell asleep. There was no more tossing and turning with frustration. Giving thanks obviously triggered the relaxation response in my body which allowed me to fall asleep more quickly.

God is showing me that regardless of what sucks in my life, there are still numerous things to be thankful for. It all comes down to my perspective and what I choose to focus on. Most people in this world choose to focus on the negative, the pain, the suffering, the loss, the symptoms, the suck, or what they don’t have that others do have (envy). That has often been me. I still struggle with it, but I’m battling to be different … to be better than that.

I encourage you to do what I’ve been doing … take time daily to write down what you’re thankful for in a journal. The next day, write down more things that you’re thankful for. Do it and keep doing it until it begins to transform you.

Another way I’m giving thanks is to take time to regularly thank the people who’ve been a blessing in my life. You need to do the same. Appreciate them. Write them a letter. Shoot them a text message. Post on their Facebook wall. Or tell them in person. Don’t wait to thank them at their funeral. That’s selfish! Tell them now while there’s still time. You have no idea how much they might need that word of encouragement in that moment (and of course, thanking them will also benefit you too … you’ll get yourself a fresh hit of dopamine).

I really encourage you to join with me in making a habit of giving thanks (REGARDLESS of your situation or circumstances). I’m daily battling to do this, and it’s not easy for me, but here’s something interesting that I’m discovering … when I continually focus on my symptoms and pain … I feel worse and my healing does not progress like I need it to. Also, if I continually look at social media and focus on other people who seem to be living a better, healthier, and happier life than me … I also feel worse and my healing does not progress like I need it to. The mind/body connection in regards to healing is legit and amazing. I’m just starting to tap into this realm of healing. Yes I still believe in going to doctors and taking your meds, vitamins, supplements … but I’m beginning to realize how much my thoughts, beliefs, attitude, words, and actions can either help or hinder my healing (and pain levels). I’ve been reading a fascinating book on this subject called Mind Over Medicine by Dr. Lissa Rankin – Amazon Link Here. I’m sure I’ll write about it in the future.

I’ll wrap this up by showing you the many blessings I wrote in my personal journal the night of Thanksgiving

  • Had a good night’s sleep last night.
  • Was able to enjoy a little coffee and read Scripture this morning.
  • Was able to eat some normal Thanksgiving food and it didn’t cause major issues.
  • Got to watch a movie with my wife.
  • Got to play a game of chess with my son and had no cognitive issues.
  • Got to play with the dogs.
  • Got to talk to my brother and sister on the phone and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.
  • Got to talk to a few friends and family via text.
  • Was able to do some stretching and go for a two-mile walk in the neighborhood.
  • I have medicine, vitamins, and supplements to help me with my “issues.”
  • I have warm clothes and a warm house.
  • I have clean filtered water to drink.
  • My rib and abdominal pain were not as bad today.
  • I’ve been experiencing less headaches the last few weeks.
  • My anxiety has not been flaring up this week.
  • My wife and kids are healthy.
  • All the bills are paid on time.
  • I was able to speak at a recent youth event.
  • I’m forgiven of all of my sins.
  • Heaven is my home.
  • I’m eternally secure in God’s hands.

Typically, that’s not the type of stuff I write in my journal. Typically (for the last few years), I list out all of my recent symptoms, problems, issues, etc. Yes, it’s important to track your symptoms when you’re battling a chronic illness, but if that’s all you’re doing with your journal … it can often leave you frustrated, discouraged, anxious, etc. So now when I write in my journal, I still track my symptoms, but I also reserve a separate page to write out what I’m thankful for on that day. I now consider this part of my recovery just as much as I do taking meds, vitamins, herbal supplements, etc. Call me cooky if you want, but I think the scientific research says I’m a wise man if I do this.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Hope this blog post in some way encourages and motivates those of you who are also in the midst of enduring some serious pain and suffering. You’re not alone. I know you may feel very weak and scared right now, but you’re a WARRIOR! It hasn’t beaten you! You’re still alive! You’re still breathing! You got out of bed this morning to face another day even with the pain and suffering … just like I did!

Good job.

Keep it up.

One day at a time.

That’s how we roll!

Battling with you,

Jason

Jason T. George is not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read, seen, or heard from Jason T. George.

Don't Take the Little Things for Granted!

I think the last few months (and especially the last few weeks) have been the hardest I’ve endured thus far in this battle with Lyme Disease, co-infections, chronic pain, and nagging anxiety. In June of this year (2019), I had two more tick bites, and even though I caught them and removed them right away, I believe they made my health much worse than it already was. Since then, my pain has intensified and been relentless (especially the last week) … just day after day of nausea, abdominal pain, rib pain, back pain, head pain, face pain, chest pain, difficulty comprehending and articulating, memory problems, anxiety attacks, brain inflammation, air hunger, weakness, malaise/yuck feeling, etc.

As I said, it’s especially been hard over the last week. I’m not sure if the new homeopathic meds I’m taking are causing me to have a horrible herxheimer reaction or what. With these new homeopathic meds, I’ve been told that it often gets worse before it gets better because they’re doing a lot of killing of the Lyme and co-infections. That means there are a lot of toxins in your body that have to be removed. If you don’t detox constantly, you will feel like death is at your door. No, I’m not being overly dramatic. This is without question the hardest trial I’ve ever been through and I’ve been through some painful $#%& throughout my life.

As tough as I am, I’m literally struggling to make it through each workday. I’ll be painting a house and by 11am my left abdomen, ribs, and back are in so much pain that I have to stop and take an extended lunch break. At times, it literally feels like my left ribs are broken. Thank God I own my own company or I’d be fired. During my break, I’ll eat a little food, and then I put my seat back in my truck and try to get into a deep relaxed state, hoping to activate my parasympathetic nervous system. Sometimes I lay there and listen to a podcast that will help me learn more about my illness and how to deal with it better … or sometimes I’ll recite Scripture, pray, or just repeatedly speak positive/hopeful words of healing to myself. If I’m working close to home, I’ll actually come home for lunch, eat a little, and then lay on my living room floor for 30 minutes and pray. My prayers are typically something like this, “Oh Jesus, please help me to be able to finish the work day. Give me the strength I need. I can’t do this without You.” Then it’s back to work. Unfortunately, I can’t work a full 8-hour day at this stage in my healing journey. I’m typically packing up my gear to come home by 2 or 3pm because the pain has escalated so bad that I’ll easily get sloppy with my painting and I can’t do that.

When I come home, my typical routine is to take a hot epsom salt bath for 20 minutes then quickly rinse off in the shower with cold water. After that, I try to eat a little dinner and then I usually rest on the couch with a castor oil rag and a heating pad over my abdomen and ribs (it actually brings the pain down a few notches). If I have a bad headache, I take a Gabapentin and apply an essential oil mix upon my forehead, temples, neck, and behind my ears to try and bring the head pain down a few notches. If my brain feels foggy and inflamed, I’ll drink a glass of water with 20 drops of Burbur-Pinella. I’ve also been experimenting with a new CBD oil (too early to tell if it helps). The other night I was also dry brushing (it’s another form of detoxing … I was really hurting that night).

My G.I. doc has not given me a definitive cause as to why I’m dealing with daily left-sided abdominal pain and digestive issues. This left-sided abdominal pain began back in September of this year (2019). It’s had me in the ER two different times. He (the G.I. doc) said he’s not worried about it because all of the major tests came back “normal.” The only out of the ordinary thing he saw was a minuscule amount of blood in my stool, but he said he wasn’t concerned about that because it’s probably a hemorrhoid. I was like, “Okay? So then what’s causing this horrible chronic pain in my left abdomen and why is my digestion so jacked up?” He just said it could take six months to clear up and gave me a med that’s supposed to help with the abdomen pain. I don’t think it helps at all.

Based on what I’ve seen coming out of me over the last 3 months, I think I’m dealing with some sort of parasitic infection or intestinal candida (I’ll spare you the details and pics). I’ve treated for parasites two different times over the last three months, but I’ve heard that the little bastards are hard to kill. I’ve even been doing coffee enemas. I know. I know. You’re probably like, “What the heck? You put coffee up your butt?” That was my response to the idea of coffee enemas until I got super desperate and did the research. Then I saw the many health benefits … link here to learn.

So, to wrap this up … at this stage in my healing journey, I’m still in serious pain (daily), but every now and then I get some moments of relief and they’re freggin WONDERFUL! For instances, yesterday during my lunch break, I sat in my truck with the seat back and read a chapter of a new book (Mind Over Medicine by Dr. Lissa Rankin), and in that moment … I had very minimal pain, my heart and mind were calm, and my comprehension wasn’t a struggle. I thanked God for it. Yesterday, I also did a lite 30-minute ride on our peloton bike. In that moment, there was also minimal pain and I worked up a good sweat to detox. I thanked God for it. Later in the day, after my infrared sauna session (another way I detox), I was driving home and I literally felt my pain symptoms come down a few notches to the point where I could stop and get a hot cup of Starbucks coffee and enjoy a few sips (unfortunately, I can no longer finish a full cup of coffee because of what it does to my stomach and that’s been super frustrating because coffee is one of my loves). Anyway, I thanked God for that moment too.

Something I’m learning … When we’re healthy, we take the little things for granted, and then we enter the land of chronic pain/illness and find that those “little things” aren’t little. They’re HUGE! They’re the things that keep you going when life SUCKS! So don’t take the seemingly little things for granted. Treasure them and thank God for them because tomorrow they could be taken from you.

So that’s the latest with me you guys. Thanks for reading. Hope in some way you found some encouragement and motivation for your own battle. You’re not alone.

Battling with you,

Jason

Jason T. George is not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read, seen, or heard from Jason T. George.

How I Deal with Morning Anxiety!

Mornings are often difficult. Lately I wake up and the first thing I feel (along with some sort of physical pain) is anxiety wanting to ruin things. I know many of you deal with the same. Here are a few things I do that help ….

#1. Remember that Cortisol levels are at their highest in the mornings. So relax, it will eventually die down.

#2. Don’t lay in bed and ponder all the “What if” thoughts. Just get up and move into the day.

#3. Drink a glass of filtered water with lemon. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

#4. Eat a little something. For me it’s usually just a banana. I can’t tolerate much more than that when I first wake up.

#5. Enjoy some hot tea or a little coffee (if you can tolerate it) while you read some positive/encouraging truth (I recommend Scripture but to each their own). I also do some praying or journaling. It helps me.

#6. Don’t start off the day googling symptoms or “cures” or “treatments” … in fact, I think it’s better to just stay away from all devices/media for the first 30 minutes of your day.

#7. Do some stretching for like 5 minutes.

#8. Don’t give that symptom or pain the attention it wants. Acknowledge it and move on with your day … “Oh, my chest hurts again and it makes me feel a little nervous. Oh well, I’ve already had tests and scans done on my heart and lungs. They were all normal. This is just part of my Lyme struggle or it’s just anxiety related.”

#9. Do some sort of exercise even if only for 5 minutes. Get your body moving and release those endorphins.

#10. Know you’re not alone in what you’re going through. At the very same time in the morning that you’re feeling it, there are so many of us feeling it too. Hang in there. Don’t quit. If it’s getting overwhelming, talk to a good friend who gets it or a therapist. I have to do it regularly.

Battling with you,

Jason

I’m not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on BattlingLyme.com

Life’s Not Fair!

I recently heard a super frustrated person say, “Life’s not fair!” 

That person is spot on. Life’s not fair. And we must stop expecting it to be fair because that’s not reality. That’s actually a distorted view of the human condition (see John 16:33). The sooner we accept this reality (that life’s not fair), the better off we’ll be in overcoming pain, suffering, opposition, and disappointment. No one gets a free pass on those things. No one. It’s only a matter of time until life knocks you down and kicks you in the face repeatedly.

Many of us are under the illusion that we’re in control of so many things in life, but the truth is … we have little to no control over a large portion of what happens to us. The only thing we truly have control over is our response to what happens to us! 

Holocaust survivor, Viktor E. Frankl, says it best, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation … The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” 

If you’ve never read his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, you need to. If you don’t like reading, then get the audio book. It’s one of the most insightful and inspiring books I’ve ever read.

Take a few moments and really ponder his words … “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation … The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

Those words are powerful because of who wrote them. Frankl is not a mere philosopher or some sort of self-help guru who gave a TED Talk. He’s a man who courageously survived multiple Nazi concentration camps. From personal experience, he knew the dark depths of pain and suffering in ways that most of us never will (I’m telling you, read the book).

I’ve said it numerous times, but it’s worth saying again because so many of us need the reminder (including myself) … At times, life is going to suck (really bad)! That’s reality, and I believe the best thing we can do with that reality is embrace the suck, trust God through it, and make the most of it.

What good does all the fear, anxiety, anger, bitterness, envy, and complaining over life’s “unfairness” do for us? In my experience, it makes our situation worse. Over the last few years, when I’ve responded to my pain and suffering with fear, anxiety, anger, bitterness, envy, and/or complaining … it’s totally made me feel worse (mentally, emotionally, and even physically). It’s so easy to go down that rabbit hole. I hate it.

On the other hand, when I choose to do the unnatural thing and embrace the suck, trust God through it, and make the most of it … there’s an inner peace that can mysteriously show up. Don’t misunderstand me … my pain and problems don’t magically disappear when I embrace the suck, trust God through it, and make the most of it. I’m just saying that there have been times that I’ve experienced an inner peace when I’ve done those three things. It’s like I go from drowning in the crashing waves to riding them.

I recently experienced this mysterious inner peace when I was enjoying an evening on my bathroom floor (sarcasm). I was actually moaning in pain and considering heading to the ER. My anxiety was majorly elevated because of unresolved abdominal and rib pain that’s been my thorn in the flesh for over two months now. My Lyme Doc says it could be the result of a parasitic infection known as Babesia. Or it could be another type of parasite? Or it could be the fact that we are aggressively treating Lyme Disease with some hardcore homeopathic meds that can cause painful “herx reactions.” Who the heck knows?

All I do know is that in that moment on the bathroom floor, I chose to embrace the suck, trust God through it, and make the most of it. I began thanking God for every good and painful thing in my life that I could think of and I told Him that I trust Him through this pain. I then reminded myself that no matter what happens to me, I’m eternally secure in His omnipotent hands (see John 10:28-29). Then I began praying for several of my friends who are also physically and mentally suffering from Lyme Disease and co-infections (Sam, Dennis, Taco, and Hannah). I then decided to text two of them to see how they were doing. That’s what I mean by making the most of the suck. I turned my suck (pain and suffering) into something good.

It’s weird how it works, but when I get the attention off of my pain and suffering and I check on someone else who is suffering, it reduces my emotional pain and can even ease my physical pain. My chronic pain and suffering has definitely made me a more compassionate person (this is something I have majorly lacked in my Christian life).

Before you go thinking, “Wow, what a super saint Jason is!” Don’t. Because I’m not. Showing genuine concern and compassion without any selfish motive is not how I typically roll. I’m not as godly as I have often portrayed myself. Over the last year, I have become painfully aware of this fact.

Here’s some hardcore truth about me … negative, discouraging, and dark thoughts often invade my mind when I’m in the midst of pain and suffering, and sometimes they win the battle. I don’t always think “positive” or “godly” thoughts when all Hell is breaking loose. But let’s get real … no one does! It’s taken me a long time, but I’m slowly learning to let my negative, discouraging, and dark thoughts come and go. I don’t have to allow them to become permanent fixtures in my mind. God has given me the power to replace them with better thoughts (see Philippians 4:8 and 4:13). It’s not always easy. It doesn’t come natural. I have to work at it continually.

One last thing that I’ve been learning that I wanted to share with you is that I’m also really trying to stop expecting everyone to treat me the way that I want to be treated. That’s also a distorted view of the human condition. The Master simply tells us to treat others the way that we want them to treat us (see Matthew 7:12). That’s the code we’re supposed to live by. Just do that and expect nothing in return. Sounds so simple, but it’s not. I’ve really been trying to lower my expectations of how people should treat me (even with my family and friends). I believe that’s going to help my life go a whole lot better. Just focus on treating them the way I want to be treated without expecting anything in return. Period.

That’s all I got for now. Enjoy your weekend.

Battling with you,

Jason

Learning to Live with Chronic Pain!

Today was hard. Very hard. It was one of those days where I had to convince myself to NOT go to the Emergency Room. Like many of you reading this, daily I’m in pain … and my pain migrates. That means one week it can be head pain. The next week it can be rib pain. The week after that it can be abdominal pain. It can even change hour to hour. In my battle against late-stage lyme disease (and all the co-infections that came with it), I endure all sorts of annoying pains … joints, muscles, head, face, neck, ribs, spine, stomach, intestines, throat, lungs, heart, and ears (I probably left something out). It’s been crazy!

For the last few years, I’ve been doing all I can to heal from this horrible disease and rid my life of the chronic pain it brings me. Like many of you, there’ve been countless doctor visits, specialists, tests, meds, vitamins, supplements, herbs, essential oils, chiropractors, lyme specialists, acupuncture, massage therapy, infrared sauna, epsom salt baths, heating pads, CBD oil, dietary changes, prayer, meditation, repeat … AHHHHHH!!!!!

And guess what?

I’m still in pain.

I’m in pain right now as I type this.

Every single day I’m enduring some sort of physical pain … and there can also be mental pain. For instances, lately, my anxiety has dramatically increased. Yesterday it flared up for no reason as I sat talking with a friend and his wife at their kitchen table. Thankfully, I contained it. They didn’t even know, but I left their home super frustrated over it.

The increase in anxiety could be the result of the new treatment protocol I’m on … it can cause severe herx reactions (I’m currently working through the DesBio Babesia Treatment).

I was warned that this treatment gets rough with vials 2 thru 4, and I just recently finished vial #4 (ugh!). I’m also taking other supplements, herbs, and essential oils that can also cause a herx reaction. Heck, who knows? Maybe my anxiety has dramatically increased just because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all of it? I thought I’d be healed by now, but I’m not and it’s hard to accept and make the best of it.

Somedays I’m okay with it, but somedays … it does overwhelm me, and I get really frustrated, discouraged, and anxious. Today was another one of those days. I’m just being real with you. Chronic pain gets old. You just want relief. You just want to feel “normal” again. I totally understand that life in this broken world is full of pain … we get sick … we break a bone … we lose a loved one … we get the blues … I get that! But chronic pain is infinitely different. Chronic pain just won’t go away (at least, not yet). It greets me when I wake up in the morning and it tucks me in at night. It’s my constant companion, and I’m trying to figure out how to be the best version of me through all of it.

Daily I pray for God’s help and healing. Not just for myself, but for several of my friends who are also suffering with Lyme Disease and various co-infections. When you don’t see God answering your prayers, you begin thinking He’s not listening or maybe He’s just flat out ignoring you. I’ve battled all those thoughts/feelings. Nevertheless, I choose to trust Him through this. Faith is often a fight. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

That’s all I got in me for now. I need to go rest.

Battling with you,

Jason

My Backstory with Lyme – Part 4 – Antibiotics, Feeling like Death, and the Grace of God!

As I said in Part 3 of “My Backstory with Lyme” … back in August of 2017 I began seeing Dr. Paul Beals (a LLMD – Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) in Stevensville, MD. He was absolutely convinced that all of my health issues/symptoms were related to late-stage Lyme disease and various tick-born co-infections. He immediately put me on oral antibiotics (Cefuroxime Axetil 500mg). I took it for 5 weeks straight. I remember that I initially felt a little better after two weeks on it, but my symptoms returned on week three. I also began having horrible stomach issues even though I was taking a daily probiotic. He also prescribed Trazodone to help me with my annoying insomnia. He wanted me to take 300mg before bed, but I chose to only take half of that (150mg). It definitely helped me stay asleep through the night, and there were no real side-effects from it. I currently take 100mg before bed.

In August of 2017, I also began taking a few vitamins and supplements to support my immune system in the fight against Lyme Disease and the Co-Infections …

  • Multivitamin
  • Vitamin C
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil
  • Vitamin D-3
  • Magnesium
  • Probiotic

On top of all of that, I also began cleaning up my diet like Dr. Beals told me to. I majorly cut back on sugar, gluten, and dairy. It was extremely hard for me to completely eliminate those three things because they were part of my daily diet for over 40 years. There was also the skeptical part of me that didn’t believe that my diet would contribute that much to my healing. I believed the antibiotics, vitamins, and supplements should be more than enough to heal me. I was pretty naive, uneducated, and arrogant (to say the least). I definitely should’ve listened to Dr. Beals on maintaining the strict diet that he prescribed (it does make a HUGE difference). Over the last two years, I’ve done a TON of research, and I’ve learned that certain foods definitely cause increased inflammation, pain, and can greatly delay the healing process.

I specifically remember one night where I was feeling like my normal self (all my symptoms were at bay), so I decided to have a big bowl of ice cream. I had gone five weeks of being sugar and dairy free, so I told myself, “You deserve a break.” After all, would one bowl of ice cream really mess me up? That bowl of ice cream was sheer bliss, but for the next three days I felt like I had the worst hangover of my life. After that experience, I was done with sugar and dairy. I haven’t had ice cream in well over a year.

People often ask me, “How do you live without gluten, dairy, and sugar?” My response is simple … When you’re hurting bad enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to bring relief and healing … because nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. NOTHING!

Anyway, after being on the antibiotic Cefuroxime Axetil 500mg for five weeks, Dr. Beals then decided to put me on a different antibiotic (Doxycycline Hyclate 100mg – two per day). I took Doxy for five weeks and had to quit. For me, it was WAY worse than Cefuroxime. I couldn’t handle what it was doing to me physically and psychologically. It was horrible! On Doxy, my symptoms dramatically increased and then new symptoms came out of nowhere and hit me like a tractor trailer. I’m talking … nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, headaches, sweating, coughing, dry heaving, racing thoughts, brain fog, dizziness, confusion, hypnic jerks, muscle twitching, insomnia, fatigue, derealization, and very high anxiety. It felt like a breakdown was imminent and I’m not being dramatic.

It was an extremely dark and scary time. I remember exactly where I was when all of this was hitting me full force. It was February of 2018, and of all of the places I could be during this dreadful experience, I was actually speaking at a youth event in Ocean City, NJ. I was a complete mess the entire weekend, but I did my best not to show it (FYI = people with Lyme Disease learn to become incredible actors and actresses). There’s no doubt in my mind that it was the grace of God that sustained me through each teaching session. Before getting up to speak I literally felt like I was going to pass out. I’d finish teaching, talk with a few people, and then head back to my room to take meds and crash. I’d lay there moaning in utter pain and praying for God’s help. I’d take Alka Seltzer Gold and epsom salt baths to try and detox. It helped some, but I was still a mess.

After that speaking event, I was completely wiped out and ready to go home, but I couldn’t. I was scheduled to immediately fly to Georgia and speak at another youth event the very next day. Every fiber of my being was screaming, “PLEASE CANCEL THIS GIG AND JUST GO HOME!” But I decided to do the complete opposite of what I “felt” like doing. I boarded the plane from Atlantic City to Atlanta, sat in my seat, and just began pleading with God … “Father, I can’t do this without You. Strengthen me. Stabilize my health. Somehow and someway give me the ability to make an impact upon these students in Georgia even in this weak and broken state.” I also texted several friends around the country, told them how I was feeling, and asked them to cover me in prayer. Then (like I so often do) I began claiming God’s precious promises …

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” – Philippians 4:13

“He will never leave me, nor forsake me!” – Hebrews 13:5

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear. The Lord is the Stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.” – Psalm 27:1-2

I arrived in Georgia and headed straight for my hotel room to take some meds and rest. I felt a wicked exhaustion, like I’d just finished running a marathon. The next morning I woke up at 5am in my hotel room hunched over on the floor coughing, dry heaving, sweating, chills, and filled with intense anxiety. I contacted the lead Youth Pastor who organized the event, and told him to have someone else on standby to speak. He was very gracious and told me to just rest and get better. I appreciated his kindness, but I wasn’t cool with that. I began crying out to God for mercy and grace. About an hour later my symptoms began to decrease, so I showered, got dressed, and made my way to the event. I was praying the entire time, “Please Father, help me through this. I literally can’t do this without You. Stabilize me. Strengthen me. Heal me enough to be able to teach. In the strong name of Jesus do this!”

When I arrived at the event, I felt weak, fatigued, nervous, and nauseous, but I tried not to show it as I interacted with students and leaders. As best I could, I put a smile on my face and stayed positive. I walked up to the lead Youth Pastor and told him I was good to teach. He was shocked to see me. He said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yup, let’s do this!” Even though I told him that, I was doubtful. However, I made a commitment to God that I was going to take the stage and trust Him for the results. If I vomit or collapse on stage in front of people, oh well! I wasn’t going to allow weakness, doubt, fear, or anything else stop me from at least trying. In my mind, it was another step of faith that I needed to take. I had to find out would God be there to hold me up if I took the step of faith?

It was extremely hard, but that morning (once again) I did the complete opposite of what I “felt” like doing. With weakness, fatigue, raging anxiety, and nausea … I took the stage and taught for 40 minutes. As I began teaching, miraculously my symptoms dramatically decreased. I had an energy and clarity that I didn’t have all morning. When I finished speaking, one of my best friend’s who was at the event told me that I delivered the most powerful message he’d ever heard me teach (and he’s heard me teach dozens of times). I was like, “Really? You’re joking right?” He said, “No man, it was awesome. No one could tell you had anything wrong with you. God really showed up bro!”

He was right … God really showed up. Many students were impacted and made a personal decision to trust Christ as their Savior and Lord. It sure wasn’t my strength, intellect, or ability that made any of that happen. Once again, God’s power was made perfect in my weakness. Over the years, I’ve experienced this kind of supernatural grace time and time again where God shows up right when I need Him the most … right when everything in me says, “You can’t do this. You’re too sick. Cancel. Go home!” Each time I step out by faith, God graciously sustains me in that moment of ministry.

Over the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time deeply meditating on these words from the Apostle Paul (one of my heroes in the faith) …

For we do not want you to be unaware brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ESV

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

Those two passages of Scripture have made me realize that he (Paul) had it far worse than me when it comes to dealing with pain and suffering, and yet God used him mightily through all of it. Fulfilling his ministry didn’t “feel good.” On the contrary, it sometimes hurt him so badly that he said he “despaired of life itself.” I know that feeling well.

Over the last few years, I’ve been learning firsthand that to truly follow Christ and make an impact upon this broken world, it’s often going to hurt. There will be pain, suffering, opposition, resistance, ridicule, etc. That’s just par for the course. That’s just life on the narrow and difficult trail that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 7:13-14, and I’m learning to not only accept that reality, but to actually find contentment, peace, and joy in the midst of it. Don’t get me wrong … I have my bad days where I get super frustrated, discouraged, and anxious over my chronic pain/illness. There’ve been many days and nights where I told God that I just want to die and go to Heaven, but He always has a way of sustaining me and lifting me out of that dark pit. Always!

Anyway … after I finished the two speaking events in New Jersey and Georgia, I flew home and met with Dr. Beals to inform him that I was DONE with all the antibiotics (especially Doxycycline). I told him I was going to pursue a more natural/holistic approach to healing. At that time, I’d been reading through a book by Dr. Bill Rawls, entitled Unlocking Lyme. For many years, Dr. Rawls suffered from Lyme Disease and co-infections, and he studied every possible option for overcoming it. Ultimately he ended up healing by embracing a holistic approach. Now he helps thousands of suffering people do the same. I liked what I was reading and strongly felt that this was the route that I needed to pursue since my body was not reacting well to prolonged use of antibiotics. Dr. Beals didn’t like it and he gave me a total attitude over it. I told him, “It’s my body and I’ve gotta do what I believe is best for it.” He told me I’m definitely going the more expensive route. I said, “I don’t care. I’m done with antibiotics! … DONE!”

We definitely didn’t end on very good terms.

I’ll share more of my story soon … thanks for taking time to read this. Your questions and comments are welcomed. I hope in some way that this encourages you in whatever battle with pain/suffering that you may be facing. Know that you’re not alone. So don’t lose hope and don’t give up!

Battling with you,

Jason

This is me this past summer on family vacation in St. Augustine, Florida … I was taking a break from the waves to rest and recover … and then I went right back out there with my kids and their friends. It was a good day but a rough day for sure! I tried my best to make the most of it.

I’m not a medical professional. The content of BattlingLyme.com is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on BattlingLyme.com