Five Ways I'm Coping with A Major Flare Up

Last week, I started getting flu-like symptoms. I thought it was a sinus infection. The next morning I woke up feeling even worse- achy, feverish, sore throat, sinus pain and pressure, nausea, fatigue, weakness, headache, with chills and sweats. A day later my nervous system went berserk and I was up the entire night with insomnia, heart palpitations, anxiety that wouldn’t go away with my usual go-tos, a burning sensation in my hand and a restless feeling in my body that made me want to pace my apartment even though I couldn’t really move. Then I noticed a large swollen lymph node in my right armpit.

I completely panicked. The last time I had a swollen lymph node in my armpit, flu- like symptoms similar to these, and neurological symptoms, I started going to doctors trying to figure out what was wrong. I first went to an endocrinologist who diagnosed me with “stress” and “shaving cuts.” She told me the 20 symptoms I was dealing with on an almost daily basis were from stress and that they would go away- that I look great and I’m completely healthy. I was then diagnosed with “chronic fatigue syndrome,” “fibromyalgia” and “unknown viral or bacterial infection.” I was told there was nothing I could do. One infectious disease doctor said maybe I could try going to a holistic doctor, but everything would probably just clear up on its own. It took over a year of debilitating symptoms (and years of other random symptoms) to be properly diagnosed.

Unfortunately I think many of us have traumatizing stories when it comes to feeling scared about our health and having doctors and other people in our lives invalidate us and tell us we look healthy and our symptoms will just go away- especially when we know deep inside that this is something very serious. And as with all traumas, there are situations that can trigger us and bring us back to the feelings of fear, dread, and hopelessness that we once experienced.

And after having been treated for months and even years, we know this is not an easy road.

I had believed that Lyme and Bartonella were in remission. I had herxed from some energetic treatments over the past year but didn’t really have random flare ups of symptoms like these. I also hadn’t experienced some of these symptoms (especially neurological) since I stopped treating Lyme and coinfections over a year ago.

I was triggered and automatically started going down a spiral of “what ifs” as I lay in bed barely able to get my head off the pillow.  What if I got bitten again? What if this is a bad flare-up, but it doesn’t go away? What if all the treatments and healing I did the past few years went out the window and I’m starting at square one? What if I have to go on medical leave again? What if...??

I called my mom - hysterical, texted a friend, and then just cried. I cried because it felt unfair. I cried because I was scared. And I cried because we all know that there’s not always a simple fix, and I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to go through everything again.

Then I realized that even if Lyme and other infections are active again, this time it will be different. It doesn’t mean I won’t have to go through the herxing, the pain, the fatigue. That I won’t sink deep into the depression of what lies ahead. But I’ve healed myself before, when I never thought it was possible, and I will do it again. It took a long time, but I got so much better and felt so much closer to being “normal” and “healthy” again.

Lyme was one of my greatest teachers, and although I wasn’t planning on being a student again, I can and will get through it.

Here’s what I did:

1) I reread many of my articles and posts that I wrote to myself at one point, points when I was filled with darkness and despair but needed to send myself some light. I looked back and saw how far I’ve come- and reminded myself of this every day. I reminded myself that I have the support of family and friends. That I have the support of this Instagram community who understands this feeling more than anyone else.

Even though my body may have gone back to being sick, my mindset and perspective are different from the last time I got sick. I am stronger, more in touch with my body, and I’m better about making myself a priority. I now have lots of physical, mental, and emotional healing tools in my toolbox.

2) As I mentioned in a recent Instagram post, I will take things one choice at a time- each choice a healing choice with my best interests in mind.

3) I reminded myself that healing is not linear. I will have good days and bad days. I will have major breakthroughs and major setbacks. But all the little steps forward add up. 

4) I made a list of things I can and can’t control.

Things I can’t control: a possible reinfection, a flare-up, my symptoms, missing several days of work.

Things I can control: listening to my body, choosing self-care practices (which for now involved going to the chiropractor, increasing my immune herbs and supplements, resting, infrared sauna, baths, breathing, meditation, journaling), allowing myself to feel the mix of uncomfortable emotions that come up.

5) I reminded myself of the quote I have in the “About me” section of this blog- a quote that my friend sent me when I was going through a really hard time. “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.” I know that although this is a giant wave, the last few years have made me an expert surfer.