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.

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