Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Post from Mara: Supporting People Who are ill and Surviving it Intact

Supporting People Who Are Ill and Surviving It Intact
Posted on February 20, 2012

Preface: I recently befriended a wonderful Lyme-literate practitioner who treats very ill Lyme patients up in Santa Rosa - Mara Williams. She works with one of my doctors up there at Gordon Medical Associates. She also has an adult daughter who is completely disabled by late-stage Lyme (much like I was). I was honored that Mara asked to put my story in her book, "NATURE's DIRTY NEEDLE", the proceeds of which will be going to fund an idea that Mara (and I'm sure many in the Lyme community hold): a holistic treatment center/house for Lyme patients, to be named INANNA HOUSE.

I also am honored that Mara asked me to be on the Board of Director of Inanna House. The website for this treatment center/house is currently in progress, but some info is here: http://voyaginglyme.blogspot.com/2011/10/vision-for-new-paradigm-in-health-care.html. The center will have a team of Lyme-literate doctors running the protocols, complete with IV nurses to help patients get started on IV treatment, a psychologist, reiki, naturopaths, holistic healers, and doctors who will check everything that is often missed in treating Lyme patients - hormones, heavy metals, parasites, gut dysbiosis, detoxifcation and methylation pathways, etc. The idea is grand and will require a LOT of money. We will start fundraising for it this year (in fact, Mara has one fundraiser set up in late March).

I truly believe we can create this place for Lyme patients to come (where patients pay what they can afford on a sliding scale, not the full price that bankrupts so many of us) with collaboration, determination, and serious fundraising. This is no light operation: it will take MILLIONS of dollars, but it is necessary. Lyme Disease NEEDS to be brought to the attention of EVERYONE as it affects EVERYONE, but most painfully the sick and the loved ones of these patients. Please buy a copy of Mara's book as a resource and know the proceeds go to Inanna House. A more detailed explanation of her vision for Inanna house is in the back of her book as well!

The reason I mention my relationship with Mara is that I recently confided in her during a breakdown, in which my doctor wanted me to do more treatments to continue repairing the damage that was done by years of Lyme and treatment, and I had no money to pay for it. I already have $30,000 of 'new' credit card debt from the last 6 months of treatment. My bank account overdrafted and I maxed out all my credit cards. My parents were furious. Mara offered to write a post that might speak to my mom (and others' family members); I told her my mom was a tough cookie. She grew up in poverty in India, and asking my parents to go into more debt for me was understandably a difficult ask. It is my health after all, but they have taken out of their retirement funds (they are both 70) for me many times.

I sent Mara's post (below) to my family, and my mom IMMEDIATELY changed her mind. She said she would take money out of her retirement funds for me. I felt so guilty; how could I put my parents through more of this after 5 years? But she knew that it was the only way to help me (without me claiming bankruptcy) to get to 100% healthy, not just 70 or 80% where I mope around and cannot really work full-time. My mom is not an easy person to sway. She is tough and I felt so grateful that Mara's experience as a practitioner AND a parent/caretaker was enough to open my mom's eyes to the continuing costs, emotional and financial, of caring for a patient who has or even had Lyme. Thank you Mara for helping my family understand. I am incredibly grateful for parents that would do this for me, despite our constant fights about the toll this disease has taken on my family....thank you Mara. I know my parents have limited funds in their retirement account and also have maxed out their credit cards paying my medical bills, so we are running out of options...but I believe where there is a will there is a way..

Maybe Mara's post below will help one of your family members or friends understand what you or a loved one are going through.
You never know...So I'm reprinting her post with her permission.

Supporting People Who Are Ill and Surviving It Intact

by Mara Williams

As a Lyme literate practitioner and as a mother of someone with CLD (Chronic Lyme Disease) I want to share some insights I have gained in the last two years. Amanda has had active disease since she was 15. She is now 37. We have been treating her for almost two years. Before I became Lyme literate, I was like any other family member frustrated by the incredible variety of symptoms Amanda complained about. I kept telling her to get help for her emotional issues and to get on with her life. As a “knowledgeable” health care provider I just couldn’t put the array of problems together into a diagnosis that made sense. Amanda would sometimes rage, literally, with anger that was scary. She would get panic attacks and these increased in intensity and frequency as the bugs became further entrenched in her body. Antidepressants were ineffective. Amanda would complain of severe pain, total body pain, joint pain that would migrate, hip pain that made her feel like her bones were breaking, muscle pain, stomach pain, abdominal cramping, and headaches. Wow! It was overwhelming to hear about this and feel helpless to help. She has had horrific stomach issues and would throw up often and feel nauseous constantly. I attributed these symptoms to her inability to resolve her emotional feelings. Yet I believed she needed psych help to get over the pain, that these symptoms were related to the trauma of the rape she experienced at a young age. For many of her family members it was Amanda crying wolf over and over again. Her emotional lability pushed people away as did her rage. I was the person the rage was directed at mostly and eventually I just wanted to disengage from it all. I did not make the connection of Lyme until I became Lyme literate and then everything she had been saying for years made sense.

Initially, I felt guilt for not believing her and helping her to find help. Fortunately we have so much guidance now. But when we had to interact with the current health care system I thought that because I was “one of them” they would believe what she was experiencing, listen, and help. I was foolish to believe this. The disconnect between IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) guidelines and ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Disease Society) guidelines rang loud and clear. I became the drug seeking, interfering mother and my gravely ill daughter became a psych case.

Amanda lived about a mile from us at the beginning of treatment. As I have written before we had a hellish year of 17 ER visits and 7 inpatient hospitalizations before I took her home and started treating her. My husband and I give her medicine every four hours around the clock and have for over 6 months now. She gets IV hydration, nutritional support and antibiotics. We prepare her food, do her laundry, help her with personal care, and are helping to raise her 12 year old daughter. In-between all this we work and make time for our relationship. Hundreds of thousands, probably millions, are doing this across the globe. Imagine the impact this is having on the global economy, as well as the emotional costs for those involved.

The financial costs of treating CLD physically run into thousands of dollars a year and can go on for several years. People lose their homes, their jobs, their relationships. Insurance companies refuse to pay for something that “doesn’t exist.” The burden of this is great and those that have no resources suffer for years. Many simply give up.

For those with the disease, healing on all levels is necessary. This encompasses not only the physical but the emotional and spiritual. The disease is a message to change the way they have been living their life. As Katina Makris states so eloquently in her book, Out of the Woods, ” The more debilitated and stricken people are, the more time has been created in their lives for reflection and realignment with their life dreams and purpose. It’s not random that those who have the most to offer the world – those who are working hardest and have the most altruistic attitudes – can get hit the hardest by this illness as they push themselves so hard, with little self-recognition. We must learn how to love our very selves with true compassion, through the tender and tragic mercies of this insidious and erratic illness”. This aspect of CLD is as critical to address as the physical. The infections will not resolve without doing this work.

I believe this applies to those of us that care for their loved one as well. It is a consuming experience that requires surrender to each moment to avoid burnout that can come with care-giving. The rhythm of each day is dictated by the needs of one person and it can be overwhelming. Some family members walk away when they decide they have done enough. Many choose to believe the mainstream hype that CLD doesn’t exist.

But for those of us that are able to remain steadfast, hold love in their heart, the reward of watching health restored is amazing. It is worth every moment of exhaustion and frustration. I get to assist someone I adore in her transformation; and, like a butterfly coming out of her cocoon, I am witnessing my child coming back to life. The process is slow, agonizingly slow, but each small step is a gift. One of my mantras is “God gives nothing but good, either gifts or lessons, and really, they are the same.” Another manta is “Everything is perfectly manifesting.” This reminds me to embrace the moment and learn so that I can shift my consciousness ever higher, and return to a place of peace and acceptance. Those who are desperately ill with CLD need their loved ones to be present and whole. Like the birthing of a child, a woman is alone with her experience of labor, yet she needs support while going through it. So does someone who is chronically ill, frail, weak, exhausted, and in severe pain. My daughter, who is so ill, is the same being she was before she became sick, working to heal from an all consuming disease, and she needs all the assistance we can give. I will be here until her healing happens and she can move forward in her life once again.

Blessings to you all…Mara

No comments:

Post a Comment