Posts Tagged ‘illness’

This is my second post about, oh, what would this topic be called?  The social aspects of illness, maybe.

Many people want to help me recover from Lyme disease.  My family practice doctor, my infectious disease specialist, my chiropractor, and my naturopath all have opinions about what I should do.  And each of these very good people wishes, correctly, to treat the whole person, not just the disease.   Yet their opinions are sometimes in conflict, which puts me in an odd position.  I need something from each one of them, but it’s not possible to do everything they all want me to do.  Thus I’m having to make some decisions based on not enough information.

One doctor wants me to take Zantac, another doesn’t.  One wants me to alter my diet, others don’t mention it. They all like me, and they are all good doctors, and they all have my best interests at heart.  And I may also add in a rheumatologist, who could very well have another set of opinions.

Then I also have my rolfers and massage therapists, along with my dear friends who have many excellent suggestions.  My yoga teacher is giving me energy treatments (I love this), and today someone suggested acupuncture.  I’ve asked to be referred to a physical therapist so that I can figure out how to regain my strength and also get some help with ergonomics (e.g., how to sleep through the night without waking up with shoulder pain at 2 am).

The treatment of Lyme disease is very controversial, with one end of the spectrum being up to a year and a half of antibiotics, and the other end being three weeks only of antibiotics.  My infectious disease doctor is somewhere in the middle, but I have dear friends who are on either end, and who are worried that I am doing the wrong thing.  I’m trying to stay away the Lyme disease internet resources, because the controversy is about as fierce as, say, the abortion debate, and it’s hard to remain optimistic in the midst of political arguments.

Friends and family also have many many suggestions, most quite good.

There’s no answer to this problem.  I’m glad so many people care about me.  But in some ways I long for the days of my childhood when the doctor was as a god, and you just did what he said and that was it.

The best help from friends and family is prayer, or meditation, or good thoughts, or beaming white light, or sending positive energy, which all comes down to the same thing and for which I am hugely grateful.

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I’ve been sick, as many of you know, with Lyme disease. I’ve tried to refrain from blabbing about it here, because it’s not really of general interest. However, this post and the next post will be about being sick in general.

We all know the person whose illness is his or her hobby. Sometimes it’s a person who is completely focused on the details of the illness itself (“When I got up I was feeling nauseous, so I just ate a little oatmeal, and then later my stomach really started churning. . .”), and sometimes it’s a person who doesn’t trust any diagnosis and goes from doctor to websites to doctor, looking for a miracle. And of course, talking about it the whole time.

I’ve been struggling with how much information to give out. Last night I went to a dinner with business colleagues, and there was no reason at all to say anything about having been sick. That was easy. But my family and friends ask me how I’m doing, and if I say “Fine,” they say “Yeah, but how are you really?”

The arthritic symptoms are pretty all-consuming, because every joint is swollen and sore, so there is a lot to say. But I have a couple of fears about discussing the illness.

  1. I do not want to become married to this illness. I am not sure where the line is between being informative and boring the living daylights out of my listener. If I ask “Is this too boring? Should I shut up?”, people will always say no. We are a polite species.
  2. It’s not helpful for me to focus too much on the negative aspects of this. It doesn’t make me feel better, and I’m pretty sure I will heal faster if I remain optimistic. It’s hard to keep my optimism when I’m mired in the details of what the doctor said or how my ankles look and feel. (Having said that, I should also mention that my walking partner suggested that I be in the moment when I am in pain, not judging and not pushing it away. I do find that to be very helpful, but it’s an internal focus rather than something I would blab about to other people.)

The good parts:

  1. I don’t have much work to speak of at the moment. It’s hard on my hands to be on the computer too much, and I need to be resting. So I have the luxury of time right now.
  2. Despite my reluctance to talk about it, I am very glad I have family and friends who care about how I’m doing. I think that’s a big boost into healing.
  3. It’s a finite illness. The symptoms might take a good long while to disappear (“Weeks to years” I’ve been told), but they will go away.
  4. Maybe I can catch up on my reading and deal with the big mess on my desk.
  5. I can do a lot of restorative yoga.

To my dear friends and family, please speak sharply to me if it starts to appear that I have nothing else to talk about than ice pack management or what the physical therapist said.

I’m saying “I’m recovering from Lyme disease” or “I’ve just finished treatment for Lyme disease” and not “I have Lyme disease.”

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