Turning 50 Did Not Suck.

Fifty is a big number, and I know many people get twisted about it. But I didn’t. Not even for a second. First, what’s the alternative? Not turning 50? I think I’d rather be 50.

We lost my beloved brother when he was only 46, and that has given me a new perspective on growing older. It is truly a gift. My Frankie would have loved the chance to be 50, so how can I even think about complaining about it? Can’t. Won’t. I’m grateful for every year. Every day. Every second.

Another thing that didn’t suck about turning 50: I felt so much love. From friends, family, and especially my husband and daughter. My heart was beyond full. And my husband hit it out of the park. We went away for the weekend, and he arranged for a private dinner prepared by a personal chef. It was such a joy to enjoy a delicious meal without having to go through my long list of food intolerances just to order a piece of fish.

Here are a few photos of the meal if you are curious. I never, ever get to eat anything this interesting and beautiful anymore. And it was all Paleo, with the exception of the cake. The cake was gluten and dairy free and very low sugar, but it wasn’t grain free, and I decided to look the other way on that one. Hey, if you’re not going to look the other way on your 50th birthday, when are you? To keep it safe, I only had a small portion though (I do not feel well if I eat sugar and/or grain).

So that takes care of the traditional birthday celebrations. But for me, there was something different about turning 50. I was 40 when I first got sick, which means I’ve been battling to regain my health for an entire decade. So in many ways, I’m happy to turn the page and see what this new decade has to say for itself.

Who knows how things will turn out, but if my forties were about surviving, I hope my fifties will be about thriving. Thriving means something different to me now than it did before I got sick. Chronic illness has a way of moving the goal posts. For me, thriving means reclaiming little pieces of me that have been lost to lyme disease and anxiety and a wrecked GI tract.

Thriving means rebuilding my life so I have a purpose greater than simply trying to stay alive. Thriving means changing my perspective to see myself as a person not a patient. Thriving means accepting my limitations and doing the most I can with what I have to work with (vs. feeling regret about things I can’t do anymore).

Thriving is a tall order since I’m still stuck in that place somewhere between sick and well. An unavoidable reality of my life is I will have to spend plenty of time trying to restore my health, but I want to spend equal if not more time figuring out how to thrive. I’m not exactly sure how I will do that, but I am sure I’m going to try very hard.

For me, life might just begin at 50. And that definitely does not suck.

Do I Look Sick To You?


I don’t think I look sick. And my guess is you don’t either. And if you saw me on the street, you may not even notice me. I might just sort of blend in with the “normal” people.

The truth is I live in that grey area between sick and well. I’m far removed from the days when I spent more time resting than upright, and when my lyme induced brain fog was so thick that I couldn’t read. (That lasted two years, BTW).

But I’m also far removed from the happy, vital, well digesting person I was before I got sick.

In that vein, let me dissect the above photo (taken while out and about in D. C.) to illustrate the ways in which chronic illness has affected me.

Let’s start with my shorts. For starters, they are not shorts. They are a bathing suit bottom. There is actually a bikini inside, which holds them up. They are a size too big so the waistband doesn’t touch me.

Now that I have you thoroughly confused, let me explain. Somewhere along the way, my entire body became hypersensitive to pressure, particularly in my abdominal area. As a result, I cannot tolerate any type of waistband. Or even a shirt or dress that’s tight through the middle.

In the summer I wear loose fitting dresses, or the afore-mentioned bathing suit/shorts. If I want a dress that’s more fitted, I buy it a size too big, and then have it taken in so it has a little shape but doesn’t touch me.

In the winter I wear leggings. I buy them several sizes too big, then take them to the tailor to have the elastic waistband removed and replaced with a drawstring so I can make them as loose as possible.

Let’s move up to my shirt. It’s slightly loose fitting around the middle. Again, nothing can touch me.

Now, my sunglasses. Note they are lightweight. Anything with a heavier frame than what I’m wearing hurts my head. Same for hats, which is why I’m in the screaming heat with an uncovered head.

On to my purse, which is more like a medical bag than a purse, as I am on a mostly liquid diet. It contains the following:

  • Two insulated cups, each filled with cold water and coconut oil (the oil adds much needed calories).
  • Two baggies containing the protein powder that will go into each cup at the appropriate time (the shake does not hold together if mixed ahead of time).
  • Digestive enzymes to help my body break down the shakes.
  • Oh, and a lipstick and some cash and credit cards.

The things you would normally find in a purse are the least of what I carry.

Why am I sharing this? I guess the moral of the story is you never know what somebody is facing. Looking at me would you ever guess I require a liquid diet to maintain life and can’t wear pants? I don’t think so.

I try not to use this blog to preach, but I’m going to just a little bit. Everybody is carrying something. Some people’s burdens are obvious. Other people’s are more invisible. And in a world that’s becoming increasingly uncivil, I think a little kindness goes a long way.

Be nice. You just never know.





Shaking My Way Around D.C.


Doesn’t everyone plop down on a curb when it’s “lunch time”? Well, I do.

My daughter and I enjoyed a fantastic get away to DC last week. It was quite the whirlwind, and we ended up being out and about for ten to twelve hours per day. That’s not the way we usually roll. We both tend to do best with a moderate amount of activity each day, along with plenty of downtime.

But we were enjoying the city so much that we ended up staying out from morning to evening. D.C. is like New York in that way. You walk out your door with a loose agenda, but then the flow of the city takes over and you end up bumping into fun and interesting experiences. It was one of those serendipitous trips where each day took on a life and flow of its own, and we just went with it.

While that was all very fun, it also created a bit of hassle for me, as I was continuously drinking a shake on the go. You’ll recall I’m on a primarily liquid diet because lyme disease destroyed my digestive tract.

In the photo above I’m preparing my “lunch” just as we arrived at the Holocaust Museum. There wasn’t anywhere to make my shake, so I just sat on the curb. Glamorous.

A few hours later we were strolling through the city when it was time for my afternoon snack. Again, there wasn’t anywhere obvious to make my shake, so we just stopped in front of a random building and I used a window ledge as my table.


I don’t really enjoy this portion of my program. For starters, my shake tastes best when it’s very cold. When I’m going to be out for the day, I store my insulated cups in the freezer overnight and then fill them with ice cold water before we headed out. But it was 95 and humid, and by the time it was shake time, the water was not that cold. Which meant my shakes were not that good.

In general, I have a very positive attitude about the fact I’m on a mostly liquid diet. In fact, I get upset with myself when I feel down about it because I know many people have far worse problems, and would happily trade with me. So, I do my best to be accepting.

But I’m human, and it’s hard to stay positive 100% of the time. I struggle most with optimism when on vacation. Food is part of the fun, right? New cities, new restaurants, treating yourself to things you wouldn’t normally eat. Unfortunately, I don’t get to experience that when traveling. I do eat solid food for dinner, but I’m on such a restricted diet due to food sensitivities that eating out in a new city is not much different than eating at home. And that makes me sad sometimes.

When I’m feeling sad about what I’m not eating, I try to focus on gratitude and perspective. Gratitude that my problems aren’t worse. Gratitude that my liquid diet most likely saved my life. (If you’re new —  I bottomed out at 81 pounds before the liquid diet. My hair was falling out. I hadn’t menstruated in years. You could count every bone in my rib cage. In short, my body was failing.)

Is giving up chewing a reasonable price to pay for leaving that place of desperation? Of course it is. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Especially since I have no idea what the end game is. Will my body ever be able to process enough food to maintain life? Will I ever be able to transition back to a more normal diet? I have no idea.

That’s where perspective has to come in. My liquid diet is a difficult part of my life. But my life could be much more difficult than it is. And many people suffer in dramatically worse ways than I do.

In that light, how can I feel sorry for myself? How can I dwell in the negative?

Did I have a great food experience in DC? No, not really. But did I create priceless memories with my daughter on the eve of her new life in college? Absolutely.  And I absolutely would not have had the stamina for that trip absent my weight gain from a liquid diet. No way. No how.

When I’m feeling down about what I’m not eating, I try to refocus my energy toward what I’m doing and experiencing. And I’m doing and experiencing a lot. And the reason I’m able to do and experience so much is because I’m sipping instead of chewing.

Now, that’s something to chew on.




Well That Was Interesting.

This post has nothing to do with lyme disease, anxiety or digestive issues, but yesterday was such an extraordinary day that I wanted to share.

My daughter and I decided to make a last minute trip to DC before she goes to college in a few days, so I packed up my liquid “food” and off we went.  Yesterday was our first day here, I and I will take you through it as it happened so you can experience it as we did.


The day started out ordinary enough. Since it was Sunday, and many museums were closed we decided to make it a “Monument Day”. We were lucky to find a parking spot close to the Lincoln memorial, so we began there. Such a stunning sight.

Then it was on to the Washington Monument.


From there we strolled down the mall along the reflecting pool, and stopped at the World War II Memorial.


Even though we now live in Virginia, we will always be Minnesotans at heart.

At this point, we decided to walk toward the White House. As we walked, we came across a few people carrying signs, such as these:



As we walked further, we came to what was a relatively small gathering organized to protest the one year anniversary of Charlottesville. I thought it was a great opportunity to show my daughter free speech in action, so we hung around a bit, and then continued on our way toward the White House.

That’s when things started to get interesting, as we basically wandered into a major protest, and a situation that felt like a police state.


There were groups of police and secret service like this EVERYWHERE.

It turns out the “Unite the Right” group of white supremacists that was responsible for the Charlottesville riot had a permit for a rally in front of the White House. In response, thousands of counter protesters from various groups showed up.

And we found ourselves right smack in the middle of it all.

First, there was the burning of a Confederate Flag.


Then the Antifa group showed up, and that’s when things started to feel a little scary.


It’s not every day that you come across a group of people dressed in head to toe black, with their faces covered. At this point, we were staying very close to the police officers, which were there in abundance.

When the White Supremacists arrived, the atmosphere changed. There was a charge in the air, and things began to get very heated in spite of the fact the police had created about a two block neutral zone between the opposing groups. At that point, we decided it was time to leave. I wanted to give my daughter a civics lesson, but she saw enough, and we had to put safety first.

By now, we had been walking quite a bit and were far from our car. So, my daughter had the big idea to jump on the Bird electric sharing scooters. If you are not familiar with how it works, it’s simple. Bird scooters are placed all over the city. You locate one on an app, then walk up to it, scan the barcode on the scooter, scan your drivers license and credit card, and you are off. When you’re done, you just leave the scooter wherever you want, and somebody else will eventually grab it. Brilliant.


Here is my daughter on her Bird on the outskirts of the protest. This is where things became extremely surreal. Here is the situation: the streets are closed for a few blocks on the perimeter of the protest area. The sky is darkening as a storm rolls in. There are police helicopters circling overhead. There are clusters of police officers everywhere we look. We can hear the chants from the protest in the distance.

And in this environment, my daughter and I are on our scooters, cruising down the middle of closed off streets in downtown Washington DC. Surreal is the only way I can describe it.


We passed many intersections that looked like this. They were closed off in this manner in order to prevent truck bombs.

Oh, and there were multiple snipers visible on the roof of the White House.


When we had enough of the protest scene, we decided to scooter over to the Supreme Court. About halfway there, the sky opened up, so we dumped the scooters under a tree and jumped into an Uber.

And things got interesting again. It turns out we parked our car near what turned out to be the staging area for the white supremacists, so numerous streets were closed, and the Uber driver ended up going around in circles trying to get us closer. Finally, he gave us an umbrella somebody else had left behind, and let us out several blocks from our car.

Fortunately, pedestrians were allowed on the closed streets, so we huddled under the umbrella and hustled about half a mile to our car. We had plenty of our own umbrellas in the car, so when we arrived there, we handed the Uber umbrella off to somebody else who looked in need. It was that kind of day.

Once in the car, we realized how hungry we were, so we headed to our vacation “restaurant” of choice. Yes, Whole Foods. I forgot to take a photo, but I had a very paleo meal of steamed vegetables and chicken.

After dinner, the rain had cleared out, so we decided to press on. And we had a glorious night. The storm passed, the light was beautiful, and there were hardly any people around, so we enjoyed a near private visit to the supreme court and capitol buildings. The stillness and quiet and the sense were are nearly alone in the world were absolutely lovely.


A few shots of the Supreme Court in evening light. Above and below.


We ended our epic day with a walk around the outside of the capitol.

IMG_1505 2

We took one last view of the Washington Monument from the Capitol before heading back to the car.


What a day.

Scenes From A Vacation.

I was too busy enjoying our vacation to write about it, so I will do a little recap now that we are home. First and foremost, it was a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with our daughter before she heads to college. I will savor those moments with her for quite a while.

On the health front, it was a pretty good week for me. My anxiety was mostly in check, my energy was pretty good, and my GI tract was mostly cooperative. That’s about all I can ask for.

Here are a few highlights:


For me, provisioning is the first step in any vacation. Since this was a longer one, I shipped the two key ingredients of my life (I am on a mostly liquid diet): Absorb Plus Protein Powder, and MCT Oil (easy to digest) which adds critical calories to my shakes. Shipping in advance saves a lot of hassle, not to mention suitcase space.


We hit the beach the first day, and I had a big reason to smile. Namely, my bikini bottom fit.

Let me explain.

I’ve had many low points during my struggle with chronic lyme disease, but one of the lowest lows came about two and a half years ago when my husband and I were on vacation in Mexico. It was February, and I had not had my bathing suit on since the previous summer. I was still in the stage where I was losing weight at a rapid clip in spite of desperate attempts to gain weight. I had long since given up weighing myself because it was causing too much stress.

Well, my bikini bottom told the tale the scale didn’t.

As I pulled it on that February day I was horrified to find it literally would not stay up. My legs didn’t even fully fill the holes. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, and a very tangible sign I was losing the battle with my GI issues.

My husband and I decided right then and there that something had to change, and fast. As soon as we returned from vacation, I started with a new nutritionist, who put me on the primarily liquid diet on which I remain today. I haven’t regained all my weight, but I’ve found a lot of it, and I had no trouble keeping my bikini bottom up last week. I don’t have the words to describe how good that felt. It’s also a nice reminder for the times when I feel a little down about all the things I’m no longer eating. I can eat real food and lose weight, or I can be on a liquid diet and gain weight.

It’s not really a difficult choice is it?


My daughter is obsessed with rock climbing, so there was no chance vacation would go by without at at least one trip to the gym. She’s been encouraging me to climb for years, but until recently, I’ve never felt well enough to give it a try. I’m definitely a convert, and I love it. On this day my body was pretty tired so I didn’t climb much. But it always feels good to get on the wall, and every time I do, it’s another reminder I’m slowly but surely getting stronger.


We tend to eat in a lot on vacation, as I feel best with home cooked food (and my family does too). But we also go out a couple of times. In this instance, I was thrilled to find a grass fed beef burger, which is the only type of beef I will eat as it’s much healthier than grain fed.

I’m on the Paleo diet, as it’s it is anti-inflammatory, which helps combat lyme induced inflammation. That means no bun. But the burger place was happy to do a lettuce wrapped burger for me, which was a special treat. This will sound funny, but on the Paleo diet, I rarely get to eat anything with my hands. Think: no buns, no bread, no taco shells, no wraps, no pitas. So it’s a real novelty for me to wrap my hands around a burger and dig in. I absolutely loved it. I supplemented it with a side salad, as fries are not on my personal menu.


I feel like I look a little tense in this photo, but I’m sharing it because it’s been a long time coming. We have been visiting the same beach each summer for many years. And every year my daughter does surf camp. And every year she asks me to do it with her. And every year I had to say no because I did not feel well enough or strong enough.

This was finally the year I was able to say yes. Yea.

It was way more exhausting than I expected, but I did it and was happy to have yet one more sign that I’m heading in a good direction.


The last night. The end of a vacation is always so bittersweet. Especially this one, as it’s also the end of an era in a way, as we are about to enter the college phase of our program. I was definitely sneaking in extra hugs whenever possible.


On the way home we had a long layover in the Atlanta airport, so there was time for a sit down lunch. Of course, that didn’t mean anything different for me, as I still had a protein shake. But it was nice to be able to enjoy it with warm water (my beverage of choice) out of a tea cup. You can see my shake cup by my right wrist.

I used to have a very hard time sitting at the lunch table sipping while everybody else chewed. But I’m to the point now where nine and a half times out of ten I’m perfectly fine with it. I just accept it as my reality. At least for now. And honestly, I’d rather sip and feel good than chew and feel badly.

And that’s a wrap on vacation.

Now I need to go and deal with the piles of laundry and mail……..

In the Haze of Moving, A Pause to Overnight my Urine to Minnesota.


You could call that gross, or you could just call it a routine day in my life.

In the crush and mess of moving, I’m doing my best to stay on track with managing my health. Frankly, I’m not doing that great of a job. I’m working too hard, I’m not resting enough, and I’m not making enough time for the things that help me feel well — both physically and mentally.

However, I did make time to keep on track with my GI doctor in Minnesota. He’s currently treating me for yeast overgrowth in my GI tract. I really like my GI doctor, so I decided to work with him long distance when we moved. Fortunately, he has patients all over the country, so he’s used to that.

But, working with a doctor long distance means getting him the information he needs to monitor your progress, so that’s where the urine comes in. While handling my own urine is not my favorite thing to do, I just accept it as part of my reality. And honestly, it was pretty simple. I just collected it, froze it and then overnighted it.

The good news is I’m making progress on the yeast front. My initial infection rated 2.75 (whatever that means), and I’m down to a 1 now. I think the goal is to get to zero, so I’m definitely headed in the right direction. This is very good news considering I had great difficulty tolerating the recommended treatment due to my extreme sensitivity to medication. My doctor wanted me to take three different anti-microbials in fairly high doses, but I was only able to tolerate one of them at the very lowest dose. You can read more about that here.

Since I am so sensitive to medication, this is definitely a marathon not a sprint, but my doctor says I just need to keep at it slowly and steadily, and that’s what I intend to do.

I actually feel a little better in the GI department. Not go-out-and-have-a-burger-and-fries-better. It’s more that I’m eating the same things I usually do, but I feel better doing so. I count that as progress, and I’ll take what I can get.

My GI problems remain a mystery. I have very slow motility, which means my GI tract moves very, very slowly. In fact, it moves so slowly, there is no possible way I can digest enough calories in a single day to maintain my weight. That’s why I’m on a mostly liquid diet.

All my lyme doctors blame my motility disorder on the fact I have chronic lyme disease. Just another side effect.  Non-lyme doctors are not so sure. The Mayo Clinic diagnosed Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction, which is a fancy way of saying your small intestine isn’t really working, and we have no idea why. I’ve met with several GI doctors who are sure my issues are not lyme related, but don’t have any other answers.

Long ago, I decided to let everybody be right. If the lyme doctors think treating lyme will also treat my gut, then great. Have at it. If GI doctors think treating other issues related to my GI tract will solve my problems, they can have at it too. So that’s what I’m doing. Low Dose Immunotherapy (LDI) seems to be keeping my non-GI lyme issues in check. On the GI front, I just continue to plunk away at whatever comes up. Right now, it’s the yeast overgrowth. Once that’s under control, my GI doctor wants to look at other things, and we will see what that yields.

That’s the best I can do for now.

Sometimes I take stock and think I’m doing pretty well. Then I remember I only eat one solid meal per day, and that sort of scares me. How well can I be doing if I’m on a mostly liquid diet?

But the truth is, the liquid diet probably saved my life, as I was 81 pounds and still falling when I started it. I can’t imagine how much lower I could have gone while still maintaining life. So, I’m far removed from that horror.

But I’m also far removed from normal eating and digesting. That’s a hard place to be. In fact, I got a few tears as I typed that. I’m not sad about the food I’m not having — I got over that long ago. I’m sad because I wonder about my future. Will my digestion ever be restored to something that feels more normal? Or am I looking at it?

When I get into thought patterns like that, I remind myself to take a step back. I have to remember I have 100% control over the effort I put in every day, but zero control over the ultimate outcome. That’s out of my hands, and the less I think about the outcome, the more free I feel.

Which brings me back to today. I don’t have the answers to my complex GI riddle. However, I know I have yeast overgrowth. And I know taking care of it will help me feel incrementally better. So, I will focus on that. And when I’m done with the yeast, I will focus on the next thing, whatever that may be.

And in that manner, I will just keep going. Never giving up. Always hoping for the best.


Pulling Away and Eating on the Road.


Here we are in front of the moving truck. A friend is driving it to Virginia for us, and we are traveling by car.

Pulling out of town for the last time was difficult, but not as hellacious as I thought it would be. I think that was in part due to the fact I decided to drive and let my husband take the passenger seat. I had this strong sense that if I was driving it would be more like leaving vs. being taken away. It’s the same reason I walked myself down the aisle (which was actually a dock) when I married my husband. It was my second marriage and I had a child. By that point, I was my own person. Nobody was giving me away. I was entering my new life on my own.

It’s sort of the same with this move. I am leaving the only home I have ever known for my husband’s home town. In some way I need to carry my own identity with me, and for whatever reason I thought being behind the wheel would help.

My heart hurt and heaved a little as I drove down the ramp to 94 East for the last time. And then it cleaved a bit when we crossed into Wisconsin about 20 minutes later. There were tears. But I was not a sobbing mess, which I think was due to the fact I had to concentrate on the road. That was another reason I wanted to drive.

So that’s the leaving. Now on to the eating. Not easy on a road trip when you have my diet restrictions. I am on the Paleo diet, as it is anti-inflammatory, which helps fight lyme induced inflammation. I am restricted by the diet, but I also have intolerances. As a result, my food life looks like this: no gluten, dairy, added sugar sugar, grains, garlic or onions.

Interestingly, my daughter has GI issues that are completely different from mine, however, she shares my main food intolerances: gluten, dairy, garlic, onions. And she mostly avoids sugar. (FYI, the garlic and onion and the hardest to deal with — everything else is pretty easy to work around).

Food intolerances aside, neither my daughter or I are willing to eat fast food, which isn’t really food as far as I am concerned. Our sensitive GI tracts are used to high quality, “clean” food, and we’d probably require medical assistance if we ate at Taco Bell. BTW, my husband can eat anything and feel fine, so he balances us out.

Since I’m on a liquid diet for every meal except dinner, I only need to figure out one meal per day. But my daughter eats real food all day long, so we had to figure out a plan for her. We brought instant oatmeal cups for her breakfast.

My plan for lunch and dinner was to stop at Whole Foods. My thought was that even if we passed a Whole Foods at a non-meal time, we would just pick up stuff for lunch and dinner that day and keep it in the cooler until it was time to eat.

Well, that plan fell apart, as we never passed a Whole Foods that was even remotely close to our path, and we did not want to waste time veering off course.

Enter plan B.

The first night, we managed to track down a grocery co-op in a little town called Stoughton, Wisconsin. Honestly, it was pretty slim pickings, but we made it work. My husband found prepared food (remember he can eat anything), but none of the prepared options would work for my daughter or I. So, I went into assembly mode. I picked up some lettuce, tomatoes, an organic avocado, raw, organic goat cheese (we can do goat dairy), and Applegate all natural deli turkey (technically not on my diet, as it’s processed, but desperate times…..).


Here I am cutting the avocado with a plastic knife while I assemble my salad. You can see my daughter’s meal in the bottom right. We had gluten free bread in the car, so she grabbed that, and I made her a sandwich version of my salad. You can see the fixings gathered around my salad container — the meat, cheese and lettuce. Doesn’t everyone buy a head of lettuce on a road trip?

(FYI, never mind the plywood. Apparently a truck drove through the window of the co-op).


Here is my salad. Not the most beautiful thing I ever made, but it was good in a pinch.


We finished our meal with organic raspberries and a spot of dark chocolate. I can usually tolerate a square, and it’s a nice treat.

So day one went pretty well on the food front.

Day two was more of a challenge.  Once again, no Whole Foods within reasonable proximity.

At lunch time fast food was literally the only option, so we went to Taco Bell… for my husband. I had my protein shake, and I assembled lunch for my daughter from food we were carrying with us. I had packed a loaf of gluten free bread and a jar of organic SunButter in the event this very situation arose. She rounded out her meal with grapes and baby carrots I had packed in the cooler.

So picture this scene at a Taco Bell somewhere along the side of a highway. There is a man eating a burrito. There is a woman sipping from a thermal cup. Spread on the table are the following: a loaf of bread, a jar of SunButter, a bag of grapes, a bag of carrots. The woman makes a sandwich for the teenager sitting across from her. The man eats the burrito. The woman continues to sip, and the teenager eats the sandwich, fruit and carrots.

Just another day in our life. I don’t even get self-conscious about that stuff anymore. It’s just how we roll.

Which brings us to dinner. A complete disaster. Again, no Whole Foods. Nothing viable. We were in Charleston, West Virginia around dinner time, and I had located a farmer’s market that also had prepared food. It seemed like it would be a home run, but everything was closing up about the time we arrived.

Then I Googled “organic restaurant near me” and something came up that looked promising. We pulled up, and it was in a mostly boarded up neighborhood and did not seem to be open. Strike two. Third option — a grocery store. I thought we could get salad fixings and a cooked deli chicken we could pull apart with our hands. Kroger is the local brand, so I entered the nearest Kroger into the GPS, and we were brought to……the side of a river. No Kroger. No nothing. Crap.

By this point, we had wasted about an hour and we still had three hours to drive and just wanted to get on with it. So, we pulled out of Charleston and hoped for something better down the road. There was not much, so we decided my daughter and I would cobble something together from the food we had on hand, and my husband would eat whatever fast food he wanted.

Then I saw a sign for Wendy’s, and a memory from way back came to the surface. Wendy’s has baked potatoes. Technically, white potatoes are not Paleo, but we had to get real here. So, we stopped at Wendy’s. I gathered random things from the cooler — the rest of the avocado from the night before, the goat cheese, the carrots, the lettuce. My daughter and I ordered the plain baked potatoes, and I made myself a side salad with the lettuce, avocado and cheese. My daughter added the cheese to her potato and supplemented with baby carrots.

Before we ate, I said “let’s say a quick prayer over this lovely meal”. Without missing a beat my daughter added “and let’s hope it doesn’t kill us”. I laughed right out loud. It was the first time I’d been in a Wendy’s since I don’t know when, but it was fun and funny. Geezzz..

This morning, we are just three hours from our new home and food will not be an issue. I know for a fact there is a Whole Foods on the way, and we will definitely be loading up.

This might seem like a lot of work, and maybe even a little crazy. And if you think that, consider yourself lucky, because it means you’ve never had serious GI issues. Look, I can barely eat. Just one meal per day. And I if I don’t take care with that meal, I will feel very crappy. Not just for a few hours. But for a few days.

I didn’t enjoy the stress and hassle of the food gymnastics. But my daughter and I feel as well as we possibly can given the circumstances, and that is no small feat. We spent a lot of time talking about how “normal” people would take a road trip vs. how we take one. It wasn’t a sad or remorseful conversation. More wistful. We are both pretty accepting of our digestive situations.

And truly, there are so many people out there with much bigger problems. Everyone has their cross to bear, and this is mine. All things considered, it’s pretty manageable, and I can’t complain. I really can’t. It could be so much worse.




I’m Decentralizing. And I Have Yeast.

IMG_0800How’s that for a headline?

As I often say, chronic lyme disease is very glamorous.

So here’s the background. When you have chronic lyme disease, you are basically dealing with problems on a parallel path. On one track is the lyme infection itself. You need to kill that mother if you are ever going to get back to health. So, that’s job number one.

On the other track, you have the cascade of problems caused by the fact you have chronic lyme disease. For example, the lyme treatment along with my compromised digestive tract caused me to lose 37 pounds (and I was only 118 to start with). Because of my weight loss, I developed osteoporosis and my thyroid began to underperform. The trauma caused by my inability to stop losing weight led to extreme anxiety. My slow motility makes me more susceptible to yeast and bacterial overgrowth in my GI tract. Additionally, I suffered from fatigue and brain fog that were caused by the lyme infection, but made worse by the treatment.

What a mess, right?

In the past, I have tried to find a single lyme literate doctor that can address all my problems. It just seemed like it would be easier that way. One stop shopping. Plus, the theory of many lyme doctors is if you kill the infection all the other problems will take care of themselves.

I employed this strategy for about five years. But recently, I realized it’s simply too much to expect one person to be expert on such a wide array of problems. Particularly because my GI problems and anxiety are so severe.

So starting a few months ago, I decided to unbundle my care to see if I can achieve better results. Here’s what I’m doing:

  • For lyme, I am only interested in non-antibiotic options at this point, as I do not tolerate them well due to my GI issues. The most recent therapy I’m pursuing is called Low Dose Immunotherapy, and it is being managed by Holtorf Medical Group in LA.
  • For my hypothyroidism, I started seeing a local endocrinologist. He suspected my hypothyroidism was a result of my low weight. Since I have gained 26 pounds in the last two years (thank you, Absorb Plus), he thought I could try discontinuing my thyroid medication. Thankfully, I was able to do so, as I now weigh enough for my body to properly regulate my thyroid. My lyme doctor didn’t think of that.
  • For my anxiety I have been seeing therapists for the entirety of my lyme treatment, but my lyme doctor was managing my medication, as I was seeing a psychologist who cannot prescribe medication. But in the late summer of 2017 I started seeing a psychiatrist who could prescribe medication. He adjusted my meds, and I am now on only a very small dose, with much better results. Note: I believe talk therapy does MUCH more for me than medication, but I still need a tiny bit of pharmaceutical help. For now.
  • For my GI problems, I recently started with a Functional Medicine GI doctor who was highly recommended by a friend who is a doctor. The first round of testing indicated a high level of yeast in my GI tract, so I am about to start a protocol to combat that. My doctor said this is just a first step, and there will likely be other testing and other issues to uncover, but he wants to take it one step at a time, so we are starting with yeast. BTW, the yeast is not the cause of my motility issues, but likely a byproduct. Getting rid of it will not provide the Big Cure, but should help matters. BTW number two: I’m actually thrilled when GI testing reveals a problem, as it gives me an opportunity to address something that might help me feel a little better.

It’s definitely more work to have a team of doctors versus a single source, but I am hoping it will be more effective.

Time will tell.

Another Recovery Meal.


I am still trying to get my stomach back on track after getting thrown off by something I ate at a restaurant almost a week ago (see previous post).

When I am in recovery mode, I basically have no appetite and need to keep my food very simple. I can almost always get eggs down no matter what. This meal featured fried eggs (pasture raised, organic) served over a bed of organic mashed cauliflower and a side of grilled organic zucchini.

There is no seasoning whatsoever except salt.

It may seem odd to be eating vegetables as a recovery meal, but when my stomach is off track, I stick to foods I am 100% sure I tolerate well, and zucchini and cauliflower are on that list. Also, pureeing the cauliflower makes it easier to digest, as I’m using the blender to break it down for me.

When I go through spells like this, I usually let my body be my guide. It sort of tells me what will and won’t work. For example, nothing acidic sounds good right now, so no tomatoes, fruit or citrus. Nothing fatty sounds good either, so no avocado. Soft, light, mushy foods are all that sound good, so that’s what I’m eating. The more I listen to my body, the faster I will recover.

My body knows what it’s doing. My job is to stay out of the way. And that’s where the trouble starts. When your digestion is as spotty as mine, it’s hard not to get caught up in the soundtrack of past digestive failings every time a new flare up happens.  It’s a bad soundtrack. And quite unhelpful. But oh, so tempting.

At times like this, I need to consciously turn my mind away from unhelpful thoughts. I need to remind myself of the reality that my digestion is never in a fixed state. It’s constantly in flux — good days, bad days, mediocre days. The job for me is to be OK with whatever is happening and do my best to try not to make it worse by adding fears or negative thinking.

It sounds so simple, but it’s very hard to do.

But I keep on trying. And eventually, this flare, like all others will pass.

Until then…. pass the eggs.


This Is A Recovery Meal.


When I typed the words “recovery meal” I was transported to a time many years ago when a recovery meal involved fired eggs with hash browns and ketchup after having a little too much fun the night prior. Oh, the gooey goodness.

This is a different kind of recovery.

We went out for dinner last Saturday night. Eating out is very fraught for me because my fragile digestive tract is easily knocked off balance. So when we do eat out, it’s at carefully selected restaurants with high quality foods that are willing to cater to special requests.

We went to a favorite restaurant that fits the bill to a T. I’ve successfully eaten there many times in the past, so I was feeling comfortable and confident Saturday night. I did my usual telling of my life story just to order a plate of fish and vegetables, and everything seemed fine.

Then I woke up the next day feeling miserable.

I think when I tell people I have GI problems they wonder what that means exactly. My guess is people’s first assumption is I have some sort of diarrhea issue, which I definitely do not. It’s not constipation either. Isn’t this a glamorous conversation so far?

I have a motility disorder, which means my intestines move incredibly slowly. Imagine a time when you overate. Maybe Thanksgiving after seconds. Now, imagine feeling that way every time you eat, even if it’s a small portion of healthy food. Now, imagine feeling that way all day.

Add in nausea, a general sense of heaviness in the abdominal area, and a feeling that your food just isn’t moving, and now you know what it feels like to have a motility disorder. (BTW, there is not consensus if my motility disorder is a byproduct of my lyme infection, or if I just happen to have two separate things at the same time).

Adhering to a primarily liquid diet with just one solid meal per day at dinner generally keeps my symptoms in check. It’s like my intestines can get the job done once per day, but no more.

But things only run smoothly if I eat foods I tolerate well. And in spite of my careful ordering Saturday night, something went wrong in the kitchen and something made its way into my food that doesn’t work for me. Which caused my GI motility to slow considerably.

So I woke up Sunday morning with the symptoms as described above. It was very unpleasant. I spent most of the day either on the couch or in bed with my heating pad on my stomach, which is the only thing that seems to help. Along with time.

When I am having a flare up like this, I have no appetite or interest in food whatsoever. Fortunately, my protein shakes are incredibly easily to digest, so I can still get them down even if I don’t feel like eating. Then dinner time rolls around. The obvious thing might be to have another shake, but three shakes per day is one too many. Trust me, I’ve tried.

So I try to eat food even though nothing in the world sounds good. Eggs are my go to when I just don’t feel well, so for the meal in the photo, I had an “omelette”.  However, there was nothing inside except a very small amount of raw goat cheese. Nothing else sounded good. I ate my “omelette” with a side of steamed broccoli and cauliflower rice. No seasonings. Nothing. Just plain, plain, plain.

I got it all down OK, but it wasn’t that enjoyable.

It’s now Wednesday, and my GI tract is still not back to normal. Once it gets knocked off balance, it takes days to get back on track.

It is very anxiety provoking to have a flare up like this because the longer it goes on, the darker my thoughts get. Am I going back to square one? Why is it taking so long to feel better? Is something new wrong? Will I start losing weight again? Nothing sounds good. How will I eat dinner?

Of course, this begins a vicious cycle. The anxiety does nothing to help my GI problems, which I’m well aware of, so then I get anxious because I’m anxious, which makes everything worse.

That’s where I’m living right now. Trying to ride out this flare. Trying not to make it worse by adding anxiety to the equation.

I’ve been in this movie many times, and my digestion always rights itself. But it happens on its own time, not mine.

And that’s my message to myself this moment. Hang in there, sweetie. This will pass. It always does. Just hang on.