Over the past five months or so, I’ve swapped my slender banana-shaped body for that of an ostrich. You know- slender neck, slender legs, but bulky in the middle? Yup, that’s the “new” me. It’s taking some getting used to, but I’m trying to tell myself that the bulk is mostly good. The body can’t put on muscle without putting on some fat when it has been deprived of essential biochemicals for over eight years. Lyme turned me into a “lyma” bean and my model-thin physique turned a few heads over the years but now nobody would mistake me for any kind of Cover Girl as my body builds muscle mass and then some.
I almost want to tell it, “You don’t need to go into survival mode and made sure I’m adequately padded in case we have a setback!”
But this is the weight that I was at, at age twenty-nine, before I got super sick, and it’s probably closer to the weight that I should be. People tell me that constitutionally, I look and seem stronger. I’m happy about that.
Still, the rapid weight gain has startled me a bit, and just to make sure that this ostrich isn’t in danger of blossoming into an elephant, tonight I decided to do something that I haven’t done for at least four years…get on a piece of cardiovascular exercise equipment. Yikes.
I have always walked, 3-4 days per week, for 30-40 minutes at a time, while suffering from chronic illness. Even on days when I felt half-dead, I would still force myself out the door to do a few laps around the block. But chronic fatigue and severe lower back and hip pain have mostly precluded me from doing much beyond that.
So I was reticent, but I decided to trust in the recent effects that prolotherapy injections have had upon my back and hip, and in the fact that lately, I have been stronger.
Amazingly, I managed thirty minutes of exercise on an elliptical machine, without my face turning tomato red and my body collapsing from fatigue. There’s still tomorrow, and who knows what the body will do after it has had a night to think about the effects of this new, and rather intense, exercise, but I am elated. Could this be the sign of better days ahead?
As I step away from taking antimicrobial remedies and treating infections, and rejoice in this new found freedom, I yet realize that I will never be able to live as I did before Lyme disease. And not just because I can’t, but because I don’t want to.
Of course, my body has yet to repair and regenerate itself from the damage that Lyme has done to it, and will need all the nutritional and lifestyle support that I can feed it in order to accomplish that. It has been under a great many attacks and the only way it will continue to function normally is if I treat it like royalty. Because I’m a broken piece of glass that has been put back together, but I am not sure I will ever be the same.
And that’s okay, because the lessons that I have learned along the way have meant that I now know how to care for myself in a way that will probably enable me to survive for longer than most people my age who have never had a chronic illness. I know what it takes to be a healthy person; organic food, nutrients, rest, exercise, prayer, peace, detoxification, happy thoughts, trust, and having relationships with other healthy people. There’s more, but the life I live now is radically different than what it was pre-Lyme.
I used to work 14-hour days. I used to eat Cheerios and drink wine on a regular basis. I rushed through life. I ate toxic food, took no supplements, and didn’t know the meaning of the word “detoxification.” I had unhealthy relationships. I didn’t know what God’s love looked like. I went from day to day with a barrage of negative thoughts flooding my brain.
I still work too much, but not 14-hour days. I make sure I get enough sleep. Always.
I eat organic food. Dessert and wine are for nights out and special occasions. I take care of my body, spirit and soul, and am constantly mindful of when I am violating boundaries in myself or others. I have healthier relationships. I know what God’s love looks like. The negative thoughts are fewer and more far between.
I am living true to myself, because I now know that the stakes are high if I don’t.
I suppose that this was the gift of illness. To teach me a new path, and a new way of life. God doesn’t ordain illness, but if the journey of disease will bring us to health, He may allow us to walk it for awhile.
And if health means having an ostrich-shaped body, then so be it. I rejoice in the little freedoms that I’m starting to experience and in even better days to come. But I’m still on the path, still learning.
I tell people, “If I can be healed, then you can, too.” I had so much wrong with my body, spirit and soul, that there were many times I just wanted life to be over. I thought I was the most messed up person on this side of Kansas. But God can do anything, and I hope that my story will encourage you to believe, when circumstances clamor for you to not to. There is hope. There is a better life that awaits you, even if the road to happiness seems eternal.
If you want to know more about the spiritual strategies that God taught me for healing, I invite you to check out my new book, Healing Chronic Illness: By His Spirit, Through His Resources.” More information can be found at: http://www.healingchronicillness.org. This book is about supernatural healing, but it also goes into other factors that are involved in healing the mind, body and spirit besides supernatural encounters with God. It is the result of eight years of intense suffering, prayers, and research into mind-body healing and God’s ways. I believe it will be an integral resource for some people’s journey back to health, and a source of hope for the helpless and hopeless.
In the meantime, I pray that illness is for you, the same great teacher that it has been for me.