As I started coiling full body scans for two infections a day, totaling 3 hours on the coil machine, I started to think about how long a day is. Some days seem very long, like the day when daylight savings time ends, which seems much longer than an hour extra. Other days seem so short, like when traveling by plane and crossing time zones.
With Lyme, there are other factors that change the length of a day. When I’ve been very sick, in a lot of pain, needing to rest or sleep during the day–beyond the 10 hours of sleep at night, days seem very short. When I’ve spent three hours coiling during those times, it seems I do nothing else at all.
In contrast, when I’m well and away from home and the coiling machine, days seem so long. Even if I need a two hour nap, the days seem to go on forever.
When I’m well and at home, the days also seem longer. I can do things, from simple housework to blogging, from exercise to visiting with people. When I’m well, when I have energy and little to no pain, I feel free. I tend to be productive. I get to the list of things I need to do and do one or two of them. It is quite nice.
When I started coiling, it made me initially sicker with big herxes, then better. Over time, I associated coiling with feeling better. When I didn’t coil, the symptoms crept up and dogged at me. I couldn’t wait to get back to the machine.
I think, after recovering from the relapse triggered by the vaccine, that I’ve hit a turning point. I’ve started to feel better when I don’t coil than when I coil consistently. At this point, many of my symptoms are mild. I recognize them but I’m not hobbled by them (rib pain, joint stiffness from Lyme; bowel troubles, nerve pain from Bartonella; fatigue from both). Coiling for Lyme now makes me more tired than the Lyme itself does. Coiling for Bartonella gives me a whole litany of problems (tingling in various parts throughout my body, numbness in my arms in the morning, constipation, feelings of hopelessness, etc.), though, beyond the daily bowel tribulations that happen even when I don’t coil, I often can’t tell that the Bartonella infection is affecting me that much.
It is so tempting to stop coiling until the symptoms come back. My days at home would feel like vacation. I might actually get to clean up my office, finish my book about coiling, exercise more regularly, make some photo books. It would be nice. On the other hand, I’d like to get to a point where I have NO symptoms at all. Shortly after that, I hope that the herxes will disappear, too. After that happens, I think it will be time to stop coiling. What a relief that will be. But for now, there are still infections in me to kill.
When I came back from Yosemite, I was feeling pretty good about my body. I started a program of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), that I’ve been reading about from various alternative health sources. I’m not convinced it provides all the benefits of more sustained exercise, but I also know that I need to start somewhere.
On these days when time seems short, 10 minutes of exercise is better than none at all. Even better is to do the HIIT routine one day and yoga or running the next. At least that’s what I imagine. Instead, I’ve managed to do a 10 minute routine every other day, three times, before I crashed. I thought, somehow, that I would be able to pace myself better with this limited program. Instead, the first day it made me tired enough to nap. Then I went for a walk. Then I couldn’t sleep that night…or the other two nights that I did the routine.
After I crashed, I needed several days to recover. I did the routines two Saturdays ago, then last Monday and Wednesday. I’m only now reaching a point when I think I could do some sort of exercise again soon. (It doesn’t help that the Bartonella herx caught up to me, making me more tired and increasing my pain level.) I’m trying to figure out what makes sense in terms of exercising, pacing myself, coming up with a sustainable plan, even as I continue to herx from Bartonella, and to a lesser extent, Lyme.
Rose’s HIIT Program
Each exercise is followed by an equal amount of time walking or stretching or light movements in preparation for the next exercise.
- Running up and down the stairs – 1 minute
- Crunches – 30 seconds
- Lying on my back, biking in the air with my legs (and arms) – 30 seconds
- Modified pushups – 30 seconds
- Jumping Jacks – 30 seconds
- Alternating Lunges – 30 seconds
- Standing, then bending over and sweeping my hands down towards the back, then coming back up – 30 seconds
- Running in place – 1 minute
At some level, it is a triumph that I can do any of these things. Each 30 second period seems to go on for hours. It’s tiring and fun and makes me feel good. The next day, I feel some tightness in my legs, especially the tendons around my knees. For now, the best antidotes are long walks and light massage around my knees.