Jan 31, 2015

5 Steps to Calming an Anxious Heart

I recently had to have an MRI for my wrist, nothing related to Lyme I just injured it trying to move a cabinet that was way too heavy.

I've never had an MRI but I figured it wouldn't be a big deal, they'd just slip my arm in and everything would be good.

The tech however pointed to the table and proceeded to tell me to lie down as he draped a blanket over me.

As we were discussing why I couldn't just put my arm in the MRI (because that techy side of me really wanted to know) he pushed the button that caused me and the table to go into the MRI tube much too fast for my liking.

Surprisingly, I found myself going into a slight panic.  The table was the highest it could go and I'm sure my nose could have touched the top of the machine.  Thankfully my head was just perfectly lined up with the outside edge of the tunnel so that I could still see out.

Jan 28, 2015

A Quick Look at Lyme Disease

  • Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection not a virus.
  • Lyme Disease is spread by deer tick and possibly mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas and mites.
  • Lyme has been found in human tears, breast milk, urine, and semen and has been shown to pass to babies in the womb.
  • Lyme Disease infection produces a rash in 50% of those infected.
  • Only 50% of those rashes produce a classic bulls-eye rash (other rashes are possible).
  • Not everyone who is infected with Lyme will manifest immediate symptoms like a bulls-eye, fever or flu-like symptoms.
  • Lyme can become a chronic infection after 4 weeks.
  • Antibiotics can cure an early Lyme infection if given the correct dose and duration. 
  • Testing for Lyme & other tick-borne infections are grossly inaccurate.
  • Chronic Lyme Infections can mimic many other diseases such as Arthritis, MS, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ADHD, Alzheimers, Parkinson's etc.....

  • Chronic Lyme Disease treatment is generally not covered by insurance.
  • For Chronic Lyme infections it is almost always necessary to seek out a knowledgeable Lyme literate physician.
  • If you get a Lyme infection you most likely have other tick-borne infections like Bartonella, Babesia, or Erlichiosis.
  • Late Stage Lyme Disease costs approximately $10,000- $20,000 per year per person to treat.  For more information visit ILADS, The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society.

Jan 25, 2015

He Restores My Soul

At the end of every church service our pastor stands before the congregation and blesses us with this:

"We don't know what the next seven days will bring, but until we meet again, may God bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine on you, may He fill you with strength and courage and peace. Amen"

I just love that passage in the Bible.  It can be found in Numbers 6:25.  My pastor may never know exactly how those words have filled me and given me exactly what I needed to face the upcoming week.

God's Word has always ministered to my soul over the years especially as I've struggled with illness and watched my children struggle.  When I've felt discouraged because I wasn't seeing the progress I wanted or like I just couldn't go through the trial before me or even when I just needed direction, reading scripture or hearing it being spoken has always brought to me the peace that I've needed.

Verses like 2 Corinthians 9:8 "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

Romans 8:18 "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Psalm 55:22 "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous fall."

Aren't those wonderful verses?  I hope you'll find your own encouraging verses for when you're down and allow God's word to comfort you. 

So, until next time may God bless you and keep you and may He make His face shine on you and fill you with strength and courage and peace.

Jan 24, 2015

When Everything Changed

As I brainstormed on how I would get started with a blog I thought it would be best to share my story with you so that you could get to know me better.  

My real hope is that you understand more about Lyme disease and see how you too can abound in the hope that God can give while living with a chronic illness.

I'm a Lyme Mom.  I have Lyme disease and all 4 of my children have it. As a matter of fact, so does my husband.  It's very frustrating explaining this to others!  

Many times I'll get the question, "how can your whole family have Lyme?"  I usually chuckle and say, "well, a family that plays together gets sick together!", while on the inside I find myself grumbling and asking, yeah, how can my whole family have this?

I'm not sure exactly when I contracted Lyme disease.  I'm suspect I was tick bitten when I was pregnant with my son in the fall of 2006.  But I also started having health problems back in 2000.  This was right after I had my 3rd daughter.  

I remember getting plantar fasciitis not too long after she was born.  I walked 3 miles a day while I was pregnant and the podiatrist told me that was the reason I was having the intense pain and could barely walk on my poor feet.  I went to physical therapy, bought custom made orthotics, got a few steroid shots and I was on my way.

Shortly after this I began having heart palpitations. I felt like they would make my heart leap out of my chest. I went to the doctor and I had an irregular EEG so I was sent to a cardiologist for a nuclear stress test.  

Needless to say, I was really frightened, I mean I had 3 young girls and heart disease runs in my family. I had struggled with high cholesterol since I was 18, despite diet and exercise so of course this consumed my thoughts.

All tests were clear though and the doctor told me everything was fine, except I wasn't fine. Off and on I would have the craziest heart palpitations and fatigue. I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack. My primary doctor told me it was being caused by anxiety and maybe too much caffeine, so I did what I could to deal with that.

In 2003 I got the flu. I don't know if you remember that year but it was one of those "epidemic" years where the flu got an early start.  My 3 girls and I all got very sick. Thankfully, the girls recovered just fine. I, however, didn't recover for another 2 or 3 years.

I suffered with upper respiratory problems, shortness of breath, coughing up phlegm, dizziness, shallow breathing and coughing so much I thought I was going to pass out!  I really felt like I couldn't breathe out or that my breathing would get stuck.  

Naturally, I went to the doctor who sent me to an asthma specialist and she said I had asthma. Only, the medications and rescue inhaler made me worse.   

I began having serious issues whenever I was around chemical smells. Cleaners, shampoos, perfume, body lotions and especially the smell of cigarette smoke. Everything set me off. I was so afraid to leave my own house.

As if that wasn't scary enough I began having reactions to food. It was almost as if I had become allergic to everything. I began to notice that every time we went out to eat I felt as though I was going into anaphylactic shock.  

My blood pressure dropped, my throat felt funny, like I couldn't swallow, I became very dizzy and got very sick. The only thing that seemed to help was taking 2 anti-histamine tablets and going to bed.  I would lie there and just keep saying to myself, "relax, breathe, you're going to be ok!"  Hindsight - I should have gone to the ER.

I went back to the doctor and she said I was allergic to sulfites.  I did a little research and couldn't believe how many food items had sulfites in them.  I also couldn't believe that just eating a salad at a restaurant would expose me to the very thing that would set me off.  

I went on a very strict diet avoiding preservatives of all types, I avoided smells, perfumes and dyes in all of my products and I started having some relief.  

This didn't alleviate my symptoms when I went to church, the store, or even the doctor's office. I became very aware of how the smell of someone's hairspray or shampoo could be dangerous to someone like me.

In 2004-2005 I had two miscarriages. At the end of 2006 I became pregnant again and later gave birth to my 4th child. In the beginning of my third trimester though I began having extreme fatigue, terrible joint pain and lower back pain. I had chronic sinus infections and those heart palpitations came back but nothing would ever show up when I went to the doctor.

By the time I had my son my right shoulder was hurting so badly I could barely lift him or hold him on that side. When I would rise from a sitting position to standing I would get stuck because of terrible pain in my lower back and my sciatic nerve would send the most horrific pain down my backside and into my leg.  

The pain always increased at night and I had the hardest time getting comfortable. Simple things like making a meal would bring on intense pain and burning up and down my back. Ibuprofen and other OTCs did nothing to help. 

I was extremely fatigued. I would fall asleep during the day, even while reading out loud to my kids or if I would lie down for just a minute my kids would come and shake me awake and I would learn that several hours had passed. At night I would sleep so deeply that I wouldn't hear my newborn son cry. 

When my son was 9 months old I began having severe pain in my ankles and the muscles in my calves were so tight nothing could relax them. I went through physical therapy for achilles tendonitis but it wasn't helping. It became so bad that walking was just too painful. I couldn't get up in the middle of the night to get my son because my legs and feet wouldn't work and my body was too stiff.

In the morning, I would have to sit on the end of the bed and do stretching exercises for 5 or 10 minutes just so I could hobble out of bed and walk like a 90-year old down the stairs.  

I remember counting how many steps it would take to go from the kitchen to the living room or from the parking lot into the store.  Counting steps in order to accomplish tasks with the minimum amount of steps possible. 

I was having all sorts of problems with my stomach; acid reflux, throwing up for no reason, it hurt just to drink water sometimes. I had night-time chills so bad, I would shake and feel freezing cold no matter how much I bundled up.

I began noticing that I was having memory issues, in fact I couldn't recall memories from my childhood which really scared me. I had difficulty thinking, reading, comprehending and problem solving, I couldn't do simple math in my head, simple tasks became impossible because I didn't know how to go about them, and I began to have constant, unrelenting pain from my neck down to my feet.

I started having anxiety, depression and anger outbursts, sometimes feeling rage inside. I was terrified, I didn't know what was happening to me. I remember asking my husband if I hit my head because my brain wasn't working, I thought I was suffering from early onset Alzheimer's.

By this time my son was almost 2. I had been to my doctor, the labs for blood work and to get x-rays, the podiatrist, 2 different physical therapists, a pulmonologist, counseling and my chiropractor.  I remember my husband praying for me and asking God to please show us what the cause of all of my health problems were.

At the recommendation of a friend, I decided to visit a new chiropractor because I was sure my regular chiropractor had broken my hip.  My new chiropractor treated me for 4 weeks and I only got worse with each treatment.  

He finally suggested a Lyme test. I thought he was nuts. I had never pulled a tick off of me and I certainly had never had a bulls-eye rash. What was Lyme disease anyway? Didn't that just cause arthritis? 

I reluctantly asked my primary doctor for a test while also getting muscle relaxers and x-rays to see if my shoulder, back and hip were all broken.  

Quite honestly, I was really surprised when that test came back positive. I can look back now and see how truly blessed I was that it did.  

Lyme tests are not very accurate so it's very difficult to get a positive test if you are. So, what did all of this mean?

This is only the beginning of my story and believe it or not this is just a portion of my medical history but it's important that you see the progression. 

Lyme symptoms can happen right away and if they do count your blessings.  The majority of the time however, there are no warning signs like a bulls-eye.  

Like many others who get Lyme, no one in my family had the classic bulls-eye rash and none of us got the initial fever or flu like symptoms.

Read part two of my story  Diagnosis Chronic Lyme Disease

Jan 23, 2015

A Letter to the Chronically Ill Homeschool Mom

Dear Chronically Ill Homeschool Mom,

I know you, I have been you, I am still you but now only occasionally.  Each morning your eyes struggle to open, it feels too early, it's another day.  You still feel so exhausted, like you didn't sleep at all.  You're weary, your body hurts and you don't know how you will get through the day.  Your emotions are raw and tender because of the pain and fatigue.

The calling on your life to homeschool came with great expectations, a peaceful home, organized lessons and diligent smiling children who love each other and obey without delay.

But one day, things just weren't quite right.  You weren't feeling so well but you pushed yourself anyway to follow through with your well laid out plans.  Each day brings increasing pain and fatigue.  You struggle to understand why your body and mind won't cooperate.  You can't remember things, you're missing appointments, and your body hurts so badly.

You wonder why your children aren't understanding their lessons and why they're bickering and fighting.  You walk through your house frustrated because you see all that needs to be done, piles of laundry, the kitchen sink full of dishes with dried on food, toys and dishes still sitting around the living room.  It all overwhelms you and you can barely get breakfast made for everyone much less clean and organize the mess that lies all around.

You begin to ask yourself those questions that will ultimately feed the fear and defeat which are already creeping into your mind and heart.  Am I doing the right thing?  Do I have the right curriculum, the right schedule, the right children?

Maybe I'm to blame for their learning struggles, they're not reading yet, they don't know their multiplication tables, I can't give them what they need, teach them what they need to know or even be a very good example.  Who do I think I am?  Maybe all those people are right and I'm really not qualified to educate my children. Maybe I should just put my children in school!

When that first thought, the first lie creeps into your thinking that's when you need to STOP!  Here are some things that you might try to regain your perspective and think on what's true.

First of all, take a step back and take a deep breath. This may be a good time to get the children busy with something, make a cup of tea and take a little break.

Begin by taking every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Recognize the lies and replace them with the truth.  Grab a piece of paper, your smart phone or even a napkin and write it down.  Write down the truth, that if God called you to homeschool your children He will provide everything you need to do the job.  

Write down why you're homeschooling in the first place.  What was it that first made you want to homeschool?  Maybe write down a purpose statement for your family's homeschool.  Write down what's working.  Is it really as bad as you think?  You may want to get your husband's input or that of a close trusted friend.

Be honest!  If there are things which you could do better or something that you could change to make your homeschool work better then write that down as well.  Then pray and ask God to guide you and give you ideas for how you can change those things.

As a chronically ill homeschool mom, don't try to make your homeschool look like another homeschool and for heavens sake, please don't try to make it look like the public school!  The beauty of homeschooling is that each family can and should seek the Lord for how their family should homeschool because your children are not the same as my children or anyone else's children.

In reality, homeschools greatly differ even in homes where everyone is healthy.  Healthy homeschool Moms struggle with the same questions and doubts at times.  They have similar struggles getting their children out of bed, getting them to do chores and even struggles getting their children to understand that difficult Math lesson.

Our jobs are not easy, it's a calling that has been placed on our lives from the Lord and He promised to help us.

I like to write down scripture verses to remind myself of God's purpose, plan and provision.  Sometimes these are sticky notes that I place around the kitchen or on my laptop so I can be reminded throughout the day.  Sometimes they are reminders that pop up on my phone.  You can use whatever method works best for you.

Through our 14 years of homeschooling God has constantly been faithful to provide help and direction every time I've asked and He will help you too.

Once you release yourself from a standard that is not practical, realize that it's ok to have the children gather around for reading time snuggled up in blankets on the couch or in bed.  It's ok to listen to great books on audio or to watch an educational video when you're having a bad day and can't teach the lesson.

Finally, dear Mom, rest in the comfort that only God can give.  Surround yourself with those who can speak life to you when you just can't hear clearly.  Do not look anxiously about you, fix your eyes on God and take one day at a time.

much love,

All About Me

Hi and welcome to my blog.  I'm Tricia and I live in the beautiful state of Maryland.

I'm so glad you found my little space on the web where I share my journey with Lyme, homeschooling and my deep faith in God.

I decided to start a blog after much prodding and nagging, uh um, I mean encouraging from family, friends and even people I didn't really know, who insisted I share my story and experience living with chronic tick-borne disease.

I've been married to my handsome husband, Scott, for 26 years now.  I got married when I was 2 in case you were wondering my age.

Together we have four children who are now 21, 19, 16 and 9. Our two oldest have graduated from our homeschool and our youngest two will continue on.

Our whole family was diagnosed with Lyme disease, Bartonella, and Babesia and a host of other things back in 2009. Because testing is so inaccurate and doctors are not trained to understand the complexities of tick-borne diseases, it took me 2 years to get a diagnosis and another several years to get each of my children diagnosed. You can read more details in My Story.

My purpose here is to share my experience with Lyme disease in the hopes that this will be encouraging and informative. Lyme disease can be a devastating disease and my hope is that the information here will help you to be educated so that you can protect yourself and your family or get the help you need.

If you are struggling with chronic health problems life can be very discouraging and lonely.

Sometimes having a place to turn where you can connect, even in some small way, can give you the encouragement you need to keep going, make necessary changes and to not just survive your challenges but to thrive in them, to learn how to come to a place of healing.

I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ.  You will find my faith and trust in Him is at the core of who I am.  I hope this won't be offensive to you or keep you from spending time here and getting to know me.

I'd like this to be a place where you can find helpful information and encouragement.  My journey has everything to do with what God has been doing in my life.

This is why I named my blog Abounding in Hope, because with God, through it all we can abound in hope in the darkest of times.

Finally, please understand that I am not a doctor or a health professional in any way.  

I am however, a research junkie and health advocate and I feel very strongly that unless we take our health seriously and understand our own body knowing how it works, then we will not get better.

I hope you find what I share helpful and encouraging.

About My Blog

Welcome to my blog,  I'd like to show you around a little.  I hope that you will find this a place of encouragement for you and that through sharing my story, it might help you to know that you're not alone in your struggles in life, no matter what they are.

Head on over to the "About Me" page to get to know me a little better.  When you're finished there, get a comfy chair, settle in and browse around for awhile.  

I hope my story will help you to understand how serious Lyme disease is and how it began taking away my health, impacted my life and the journey I have taken to regain my health. 

Since I'm new here I have a lot dust so for now I appreciate your patience.  I plan to add more of my story and more information to help you understand chronic tick-borne infections, what to do if you get bit by a tick and how to get proper treatment.  You will find this information in the Lyme Disease tab.

I also have a section called Abounding Homeschool.  I may share some ideas on how to homeschool as well as how chronic illness impacted our homeschool and how we've made it work for our family.

Finally, my section called Encouragement for Your Soul, well, it will be just that.  A place to find hope, abounding, filling you with peace and joy.

Thanks for coming and I hope you like it here and will share with others.