Jul 31, 2015

Getting Ready For Another Homeschool Year

What I'm changing to make our year great!

We're rapidly approaching another school year and for many of us that means another year of homeschooling through our own chronic illness or that of our child's.

How do you eagerly approach a year that you know is going to bring a lot of hard work, stress and possibly conflict? For some, it brings about increased symptoms from our illness.

I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that none of us would look forward to that kind of year. 

So, as homeschool Moms who are either working through a chronic illness or helping to care for a chronically ill child, there are some important things you could do before school starts.

Here's what I've been doing this summer as time and health allow.

1.  I'm Changing My Attitude
Our homeschool is greatly influenced by our attitude. One of my very favorite authors is the late Zig Ziglar. His famous quote, "Quit Your Stinkin' Thinkin" is also one of my favorites. I'm not naturally a positive person and have to say this to myself often.

We may find ourselves approaching our homeschool with dread, telling ourselves that it will be hard and miserable, listing all the reasons we're messing up our children. 

A better approach would be to enter in with a positive attitude and gratefulness that we have the awesome privilege of teaching and learning right along with our children, knowing that we have God's help.

I love how my friend approaches her day in the morning, she happily greets her boys with, "Good morning, we get to homeschool today!"  Now I'm usually not quite that chipper in the morning but I'm determined to greet our mornings with the best smile I can and a cheerful "good morning!"

2.  I'm Changing My Environment
I'm a book and a paper-a-holic and I tend to be surrounded with books and articles that I want to read, am currently reading or those that I want my children to read.  That can get pretty messy if I'm not careful.

This summer I've been working on clearing out and cleaning up my school bookshelves, my desk, my piles and my files.  

I've been tossing things that can no longer be used, putting up for sale things that hopefully someone else wants and giving away things that are still usable but not worthy of selling.

I'm also working on the areas of our home that have collected clutter and areas that require a lot of my attention.  

I'm trying to get as organized as possible before school starts so that I can focus on school and not the clutter.

When I was at my sickest, this sometimes meant putting a pile of stuff in a box and hiding it somewhere until I could get to it. Don't stress, just do what you can and enlist the help of your family or a good friend.

3.  I'm Changing My Plan
As I plan for school this year, I'm thinking about the things that worked in the past and the things that brought about the most melt-downs. I have 15 years of experience with four children but I'm always open to changing and looking for ways to make our days run more smoothly.

If this is your first year homeschooling, don't worry if you have growing pains, that's completely normal. You'll be learning to work with your children, identifying their learning styles and setting boundaries.  

They will have a learning period as well, besides their schoolwork, they may need to learn to deschool if they've been in the public or private school setting. This can take the whole year but don't throw in the towel.  

Work on building your relationship and setting up a good system that works for your family.

If you've been homeschooling for awhile, be flexible and willing to change what doesn't work. Think about what caused your homeschool to be stressed or what just didn't work well and come up with a few solutions. You may have to do this periodically throughout your school year.

A vital part of my plan are the schedules I've put in place for how our day will run, when we'll have group studies and a flexible chore schedule.  

Having structure, even when we may be having a bad health day is so important and helps our family stay on course.

4.  I'm Changing Controls
It doesn't matter how long I've walked with the Lord, it seems to be a constant exercise for me to give up control and put it back where it belongs, in God's hands.

He has called me to homeschool and He promises to help and be there every step of the way.  

I have quite a history with the Lord and I know, but often forget, that when He has control over my homeschool it works much better. Does that mean my days will be rosy and my children will do all their chores without my asking and never argue? Not a chance. We all have free will.

What it does mean, is that I don't have to stress over what I'm doing each day or worried about the 10th sick day in a row or how in the world will we ever finish school.  

I don't even have to worry that I don't know how to teach a topic or that my child's not getting it. When I stop during those times and seek the Lord through prayer He always leads and guides me and provides the help I need.

Despite my older girls missing chunks of their academic years in Middle and High School, they both did very well and successfully graduated. How did that happen you say?

We learned to skip the fluff and focus on the material that was most needed and required.

Learning will continue for the rest of their lives. My goal is to teach my children how to learn, how to think, how to find out anything that they want to know and most importantly to love learning.

So, now that you've seen a few of the steps I'm taking to make this year great, what steps will you take to ensure that your upcoming year will please the Lord and be successful?  I'd love to hear your ideas.

Jul 26, 2015

Babesiosis - The Most Tenacious Co-Infection To Lyme Disease

Babesiosis, most often referred to as Babesia, is considered one of the most tenacious and dangerous co-infections to Lyme Disease and is now one of the most common tick-borne co-infections.

Babesia is caused by harmful parasitic microorganisms known as piroplasms.  It is very much like malaria and infects the red blood cells.

There are more than one hundred strains of Babesia, mostly affecting the animal population.  Only three strains have been found to affect people.  Those strains are Babesia microti, Babesia WA-1 (Babesia duncani) and Babesia divergens (found in Europe).

Babesia can sometimes present in such a mild way that it goes undetected.  However, when it is contracted by someone with multiple infections or an already compromised immune system it can become severe. Babesia can be fatal especially to those without their spleen.

Babesia is often misdiagnosed because doctors typically look for hemolytic anemia, jaundice, low platelet count, congestive heart failure and renal failure.

If doctors suspect Babesia they typically only test for strains that they believe are endemic to their specific area when in fact multiple strains of Babesia are found across the United States.

Babesia infections can cause the above symptoms but can also include any of the following:
*  Fatigue, Malaise, Weakness, Fever
*  Headaches (migraine-like and persistent)
*  Shaking Chills
*  Excessive Sweating (many times at night)
*  Decreased Appetite
*  Spleen and/or Liver Enlargement
*  Capillary Angiomas
*  Ear Ringing
*  Blurry Vision
*  Anxiety
*  Nausea
*  Hormone Imbalance
*  Vasculitis (red skin with white patches)
*  Jaw/Head/Neck Pain (stiffness & sometimes severe pain)
*  Severe Muscle Pains (especially large muscle groups)
*  Unexplained Cough
*  Shortness of Breath
*  Air Hunger.
*  Lab abnormalities that may include low white blood count, low platelet counts, mild elevation of liver enzymes, and elevated "sed rate".

Babesia exasperates typical Lyme symptoms as well as increases depression, anxiety, and mood swings.  Left untreated, Babesia can cause severe disability as well as severe psychological disorders.

People with Babesia infections should avoid immune suppressing drugs such as steroids.  The immune system is what will help to fight off the infection.

Babesia spreads the same way Lyme disease does because it's also transmitted by ticks, deer, and mice.  It can be transmitted from person to person, from mother to unborn baby and has become a problem in the American Blood Supply.  CDC Source: US Blood Supply Vulnerable To Parasitic Infection Spread By Ticks

Babesia is found throughout the United States and around the world.  Babesia WA-1 Duncani is also found on the East Coast despite doctor's believing it is only a West Coast disease.

Testing is problematic because only specific strains of Babesia are looked for.  If infected by a different strain tests will come up negative.  Many times a Babesia test will also come up negative if Lyme is the primary infection at the time or if the infection is mild.  Blood smears are only reliable for the first two weeks of the infection.

More accurate tests include:
Immunoflourescent Antibody Assay (IFA)
Nucleic Acid Based Diagnostic Test (PCR and FISH)

For more information on testing please visit IGeneX and Imugen Labs

Energetic Testing may also be useful in diagnosing Babesia infections.

If you suspect you have Babesia, it is necessary to seek out a Lyme Literate MD or ND.  They can guide you to the appropriate testing, diagnosis and treatment.  Standard antibiotic treatments for Lyme will not work to treat Babesia.  Anti-parasitic medication along with specific antibiotics are necessary.  Doctors are finding that multiple treatment options are best for treating Babesia because standard treatments using Mepron and Azithromycin no longer work the way they once did.

Homeopathic and natural treatment modalities are also showing promise in treating Babesia infections.

Lyme Disease.org  Co-Infections
Pangaea Clinic of Naturapathic Medicine Babesia Coinfection and Treatment of Lyme
Good Bye Lyme.com Why You Need These Herbs For Fighting Drug-resistant Babesia
Buhner Healing Lyme Protocols for Babesia
Psychology Today Babesia The Malaria Disease In Your Yard

Why Can't I Get Better, Dr. Richard Horowitz
The Lyme Disease Solution, Kenneth B. Singleton, M.D., M.P.H

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor and what I have stated here is only my opinion based on my research.  Seek out a knowledgeable Lyme Literate Physician who can better help you.  Visit ILADS

Jul 19, 2015

Restoring Your Health From Lyme Disease

If you have Lyme Disease or other tick-borne infections you know how quickly your health can deteriorate.

For some it happens overnight after an initial tick-bite.  For others, like myself, it can happen over the course of months as symptoms gradually appear and eventually debilitate you.

The fight to restore your health will be much harder the longer infections are present and untreated.

Tick-borne infections can essentially affect every body system and every organ while completely evading detection.

Here are some important things you can do to regain your health.

1. Find A LLMD
The most important step when dealing with tick-borne diseases is to find a Lyme Literate MD or ND (Naturapath).

Preferably find a doctor trained or educated through ILADS but at the very least someone who believes that chronic Lyme exists, knows about co-infections and understands the complexities of tick-borne infections.

A quick way to know if you have the right doctor is to ask them if they follow CDC guidelines for diagnosing and treating tick-borne infections.  If they do you will most likely be misdiagnosed and improperly treated.

A LLMD will help you address areas of your health that could prevent you from getting well such as mold exposure, heavy metal toxicity and candida.

Find a doctor here: ILADS Physician Referral

2. Learn About Tick-borne Infections.
Many people with tick-borne infections lose their cognitive abilities which makes reading and comprehending almost impossible.  If you find this is a problem for you, find an advocate, someone who can help you make sense of what you're going through.

Take them with you to your doctor's visits so they can take notes and ask questions for you.

3. Change Your Lifestyle
You cannot heal from a chronic disease without making changes in your life.  If your diet is poor your body will not heal.  If you're drinking or smoking you are compromising your health and will not heal.

Eliminate stress, simplify your life, eat healthy and get plenty of rest.

You may be too weak or fatigued to exercise but try to at least do some gentle stretching and when you're able add in a reasonable exercise program.

4.  Don't Buy The Snake Oil
In the Lyme Disease community many are severely ill.  All of us are desperate to do, try and buy anything that may help alleviate the pain and the debilitating symptoms.

In my 6 plus years of treatment for myself and my family, I've realized that slow and steady truly does win the race.

Over the years I've watched what others were doing and I realized that while they may feel better initially, most of the time their symptoms returned and they were left with a ton of debt.

Use wisdom when choosing a treatment protocol, do your own research, consult with your doctor and ask what other Lymies are doing.  

Remember though, no two Lymies are the same.  There are many complicated reasons why we each respond differently to the same protocol.  

Your doctor should be able to help you wade through the many legitimate options.

5.  Find Support
Everyone needs a friend but those who are chronically ill really need a good support system. 

The burden of caring for and encouraging someone who is always sick can be too much for our loved ones and close friends.

Give your caregiver permission to take breaks.  Find a support group where you can open up and share about what you're going through.  It's important to be heard and understood.  

Something very healing happens when you find out that you're not the only one having those horrible symptoms especially when many of us have been told that our symptoms are all in our head or that they are just stress related.

We can help our loved ones understand us by sharing with them what our struggles are and telling them how they can best help.

When pain is your life, it's easy to fall into discouragement and give up hope.  Having tick-borne diseases can be a very long and emotional battle.

I know all too well that discouragement.  I'm a Lyme sufferer, my husband and children are as well.  

It's always a struggle and if we're not all feeling terrible, there's always someone here who is.

Don't give up!  Find a reason to live and to fight for your health.  Find a reason to hope again.

If you need help, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Get help right away.  It's worth it.

*** Since writing this post, our family has come out on the other side of Lyme disease.  You really can be a Lyme Thriver.  Keep up the good fight and don't lose hope!

Jul 12, 2015

Good News / Bad News Lyme Check-Up

Here we are approaching the end of our first year of treatment for Lyme Disease and Coinfections with our newest doctor.

It was quite an interesting experience at first and the doctor's methods were very different than anything we had ever experienced in the past.

I had heard of muscle testing before but never auricular energy testing.  Honestly, I doubted much of what this doctor was doing until we began seeing major improvements.

Before that, the only thing I had to go on was the highest recommendation from several people at church whose teen and college age children were treated successfully for tick-borne diseases.

Before switching to Dr. S., five out of six of us had been treated with an aggressive antibiotic protocol for years.  We had also been given anti-fungals, anti-malarials and were told to take probiotics, Saccharomyces, and a box-load of other supplements.  We were constantly detoxing, gluten free, sugar free and fun free.  Not really fun free, but for the kids being on such a strict diet was a bit of a downer.

We were really very sick with Lyme, Coinfections and then Candida from all the antibiotics.  Life was hard and it was even harder to stay positive and encouraged when we weren't getting better and our doctor had no idea what else to do.

I was desperate to get better and to get my children better, they had lost so much of their childhood.  This led us in a new direction and off antibiotics.

Now, instead of antibiotics we're spraying anywhere from 15-27 homeopathic/nutritional supplements in our mouths three times a day.  

Sometimes when we're sitting at the table getting ready to take our sprays, we make eye contact and the race begins to see who can finish theirs first.  I mean, after 8 years of this madness you kind of have to make the best of it.

Last week, the girls and I had our check-ups, we go about every eight weeks.  My oldest is showing that most of her infections are almost gone.  She still has some infections showing but it seems her bigger issue has to do with her blood sugar.  

At the recommendation of a good friend we decided to start her on a new product in addition to what she's doing.  This product addresses her blood sugar, heals her gut and gives her the energy she so desperately needs.

So far we're seeing positive results and she's been up out of bed since starting, but it's only been a week.  If she continues to do well, I'll be certain to tell you all about it.

My sunshine girl is doing much better. She still gets fatigued but not as often and it's usually when her schedule is really full, she's going to bed late or she's not eating well.  She is doing much better than she was so the doctor reduced her remedies and doesn't need to see her for at least 4 months.

My baby girl, who isn't a baby by the way and already taller than me, had some return of symptoms.  We were sure it was because she was feeling so good she wasn't taking her remedies when she was supposed to.  Imagine my surprise to hear the doc say she has Lyme again, as in she got Lyme again.

I'm actually not really that surprised since we've been doing a lot more outside activities.  She's been outdoors a lot with friends and with the youth group at church.  It seems they're always doing things in the woods, fields or down at the creek.  

Of course I demand the kids look for ticks but honestly, nymph ticks are almost impossible to see.

My little man is doing great.  He had a Zyto scan done and was first treated for Mycoplasma and then Borrellia (Lyme).  He hasn't complained of any pain.

My checkup went well but there are still some issues to deal with.  I had to go on an antibiotic in May for an infection I got in my finger after I had nerve testing, so once again I'm dealing with Candida.  

I haven't been feeling well, joint pain, leg & feet pain, tics, and some memory problems.  Most of these symptoms could be from the Candida.  My leg pain was so bad that I wasn't sleeping well at night. After a few days on my adjusted protocol I began to feel so much better.

So that's our update.  I'm really thankful we're being treated in a way that isn't damaging our immune system like antibiotics were.  

We're working on strengthening our immunity and our bodies so that it can do the work needed to get rid of these infections.

My oldest is not as strong and still has to regain her health in order to get back into life, but it looks like we're finally on the right path.  

The rest of us have seen positive improvements and are really thankful that while we know we are not as healthy as we want to be, we are able to be busy doing things we love.

Jul 4, 2015

When Exercise Hurts But You Know You Should

Exercise is essential for good health and a strong body.  Everyone knows it's good for you, but what do you do when you're too fatigued or it just hurts too much?

Before getting chronic Lyme Disease I loved to exercise.  I loved how I felt afterwards and the benefits of having a strong healthy body.