WOW, You Look Great!!! How Are You Feeling?
By Laura D. Field – October 1, 2015
I have been working my way through the treatment of Chronic Lyme for 11 months now. In doing so, I am prescribed various cocktails of antibiotics that wreak havoc on my body as they work to kill the nasty bacteria bugs that have invaded my body.
Lyme treatment varies from person to person. The response to treatment varies as well, depending on the person’s immune system, their determination to work through the ups and downs, their attitude, their spiritual connection, their support system (spouse, family, friends, co-workers), their emotional environment, and whether they have a good LLMD who listens and works with them. I’m sure there are other factors to healing, yet these are the ones that stand out for me.
Despite the struggle, I’ve made the decision to fight the battle with the help of my LLMD and support of my husband and immediate family. I have also come to accept that although it is a daily battle to feel well, I will always have the Lyme within my system. The goal I am striving towards is that of eliminating as many symptoms as possible to allow myself to enjoy the quality of life we are all given the opportunity to enjoy.
One of my pet peeves in working through the treatment of Chronic Lyme is that of meeting up with people who know that I have this disease. They are those silent acquaintances that simply do not know what to say to anyone who has a disease or disability that one might meet out in public. Yet, when the surprise of meeting you in public occurs, their immediate response is “WOW, you look great!! How are you feeling?” Seriously, how does one respond to that? First, in exhilaration, you told me I look great, leaving me with no option but to say “I’m doing great!.”
The one misunderstanding of Lyme patients is that many look great. It is an invisible disease. Those who are serious about fighting this battle, and it is a battle, eat healthy, exercise and focus on a healthy lifestyle. For those of us on antibiotics, something I never thought I would EVER be on for long-term, find that this is the only toxin we intentionally ingest which we would rather avoid. Unfortunately, bacteria needs antibiotics to eradicate it. Yet, with our choice of a healthy lifestyle, we present ourselves as looking healthy.
With Lyme disease, we are dealing with spirochetes that are a spiral, corkscrew shape that have the ability to drill their way into the immune system. The bacterium has the ability to survive and hide within in the human body, causing a great deal of inflammation, even with aggressive treatment. This is the reason a patient might go through various cocktails of antibiotic treatments. These treatment changes cause a Herxheimer reaction that bring the spirochete out of hiding, enhancing the symptoms of the disease that one is trying to eliminate.
One way that I am able to clearly describe the response is that in correlating it with a hornet’s nest. When you choose to use hornet spray to eradicate the hornets within the nest, the hornets get pretty ticked off, causing them to lose their cool. Only until they die off or those that survive move on to rebuild their nest, can the nest can be removed.
The Lyme bugs have the same reaction to treatment and changes to it, and in doing so, get mad and move about in anger. Some will die off with the new treatment, where others will find another hiding spot within the body.
As a Lyme patient works hard at being well, they tire easily, they have great days as well as days they would rather stay in bed and sleep. Some of the things that I do to prevent symptoms from making themselves known is that I avoid toxic people, toxic chemicals, crowded places, loud noises and bright lights. And for someone who is naturally a sociable person, this is difficult yet necessary.
So, I’ve been on treatment for 11 months. There have been positive changes that have occurred, and yet I return for follow-up visits with my list of what I call complaints yet are really my symptoms of Lyme. I even tried to remove myself from antibiotic treatment (with LLMD supervision) but the symptoms returned to the point of where I had begun to stop functioning again. I was disheartened. I felt defeated with my pride smashed to pieces, and yet my LLMD reminded me that Lyme disease is not the result of choosing to intellectually do something to hurt my body, but rather an environmental event that has affected my body where I need to see it as “not my fault”.
So, I wear a smile (because I love life, and the muscles that form that smile are ones that do not hurt). I exercise even when it hurts, I try to find a positive attribute in each day, I participate in activities that provide balance, I eat healthy, and I am richly blessed with a husband who loves me unconditionally along with adult daughters who call to check in on me and help out when they visit. This is why I look great to you! I have joy. What you see is a great distraction from how I might be physically and emotionally feeling on any particular day.
So, what does one say to a person who deals with Lyme (or any disease that can be life changing)? Instead of preluding your question of how one is doing with “WOW, you look great!” simply say: “It’s great to see you. How are you doing?” Sharing that you are happy to see them helps to distract a person from how they might be feeling making them realize that people think fondly of them. It really does brighten up their day. But please know, that for many of us, to repeat our list of how we feel (which we already discuss with our LLMD), is tedious and we simply do not have the energy to chat about it when out in public.
But, for those who really do not want to know the answer to how one is doing, don’t ask. Simply saying “Hey, it’s great to see you” is still a great method of greeting someone.
Laura – Blogger, paid Freelance writer