I just got back from a trip to California. It was quite an experience. About 5 years ago, I was in San Francisco in late January when my first signs of debilitation were starting to show. Back then, I was based in New York City, but was working on a project that required me to be in San Francisco or Oakland at least once per month. The travel was getting to me. I’d been having the beginning hints that something was wrong with my body again, particularly strange cognitive symptoms, like slowed thinking, difficulty making decisions and difficulty dialing phone numbers or typing. But on this last trip in January 2007, after a successful union event, I had a strange tingling in my legs. I could still drive. I could still walk. But the sensation was very distracting. Within a few weeks, I couldn’t walk.
So here I go, January 2012, back to San Francisco. It was wonderful to see my friends, both the ones I worked with and some others who have since moved there. It was something short of a triumphant return. Rather, it was a chance to get my bearings among the friends who love me and who knew me as strong, smart and competent, before Lyme turned my life upside down. I felt welcomed and loved. I got to hang out with a few different folks, catch up on the intervening years (though I’d spoken to most of them at least a few times along the way) and just be myself again.
What made it easier was that I finally saw big results from the coil machine by the last few days of December. I get exhausted less easily, or rather can do more before I crash, and my pain level has gone down dramatically. I can walk up and down stairs, the strength in my arms is returning, I have fewer headaches. All these improvements make such a big difference.
In addition to San Francisco, I went to my boyfriend’s house in Watsonville for 10 days to celebrate my birthday. We had a blast. We ate fresh, locally caught, tasty (and low mercury) fish and sea food. We walked on the beach several times. I had deep fried artichoke hearts! Who knew there was such a delicious treat waiting to be discovered on the side of the road to Santa Cruz? We visited several beaches and caught glimpses of dolphins, sea lions, multitudes of birds. I found out what a slough is and went walking along one, listening to frogs and scouting out coots.
As a special present, my boyfriend got me a rolfing session with a “gentle” rolfer. We had a pleasant conversation while he pushed and nudged several areas in my legs, back, shoulders, neck and head. I felt lighter afterwards. I could feel more ease in my perpetually troubled hips and lower back. It was both a surprise and relief to feel so different in my body. Tim Greenstreet, the rolfer, said something profound to me about having had an illness characterized by chronic pain for so many years: you have to teach your body to not suffer. I’ve been mulling over this idea ever since.
I got to try something wonderful on my 37th birthday as we were walking along Sunset State Beach. I took off my shoes. I ran! I ran barefoot on the damp, densely packed part of the sand. I was flying! I ran for about 1 minute before I got winded. It was amazing. It was a different world than the one I’ve existed in for the past 5 years. I felt like I’d flown to the heavens. Since then, I’ve been tremendously hopeful about what the future has in store for me.
Lots of things went well while I was gone. Mostly my symptoms didn’t get much worse than when I was still coiling on January 12. When I ate small quantities of foods on my allergy list, the reaction wasn’t as bad as it used to be. And I kept getting stronger with physical activity.
Still, there were drawbacks to not coiling for so long. I don’t think I had fully eradicated the active Babesia infection before I left. When I tested last night by coiling my chest for 10 minutes, I ended up having a horrendously frightening nightmare that jerked me awake and woke up in the morning all sweaty. My abdomen got swollen towards the end of my trip, accompanied by digestive disturbances, and that has been even worse since I got home. Since I’ve been back, my left leg has been a source of pain and stiffness, emanating from my lower back.
I’m getting back to coiling and figuring out the coiling plan for the next month or two. More details to come…
Categories: healing process