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.
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 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.