Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Ocean, The Great Healer

Here I am on Cape Cod, in the West Dennis Beach area, if you want me to be specific. It's about a three minute walk to the ocean. Salt is in the air. And I've been swimming like a fiend. Well, more like soaking like a fiend. A little swimming. But I can only handle so much.

And, holy cow, I feel so much more normal. My gut has been better. My mood has been better...

Of course, most of us feel better near or in the ocean. I mean, how could you not? It's beautiful. It's relaxing.

But the feeling we get from the beach isn't just psychological. Upon doing some research, I was surprised to learn that the ocean possessed all sorts of physical health benefits that I was never aware of.

Most importantly, it's great for immune function. There are minerals, vitamins, amino acids and living microorganisms that help strengthen the immune system. Even the iodine itself within the salt water helps regulate the thyroid which, in turn, boosts immune function.

Swimming in the seawater also increases circulation and opens up your pores, which allows you to absorb all the ocean's vitamins and minerals but also eliminates toxins more easily. In fact, the ocean is a great detoxifier. 

Furthermore, the ocean is filled with negative ions that you inhale from the sea mist. Negative ions are great for your overall health because they help reduce inflammation, regulate serotonin (the feel-good chemical) levels and neutralize other positively-charged ions in your body that accumulate from the pollutants of modern society (computers, TV, cell phone etc.). The rougher the seas, the more negatively-charged it is, but don't go drowning yourself, dude.

Other benefits from the ocean include muscle relaxation, stress relief, sleep regulation and greater skin health (due to the high levels of magnesium).


Oh, and last but certainly not least: the ocean heals the aura, or, in other words, the human "energy system" that I discussed in my previous blog. According to one article I found, salt water is "physically and emotionally cleansing for removing minor psychic debris" from the aura (source).

Could the ocean be one of the best healers for Lyme? Possibly.


If you don't live near the ocean, you're not out of luck. Epsom salt baths are very beneficial, too. However, nothing beats breathing in the ocean air, soaking in that ocean water and surrounding yourself with those negative ions.


Of course, t
oday's profit-hungry medical industry doesn't want us to know that some of the greatest healing agents can be found in nature, right under our nose, totally free of cost. If this secret gets out, the medical industry loses its power over us and, in turn, loses its money.

But it's true: the ancient-old ocean has always been here to help heal and cleanse us of our ailments.


SOURCES:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/400377-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-swimming-in-sea-water/

https://www.healthextremist.com/splash-in-and-enjoy-the-benefits-of-the-sea/

https://www.powerofpositivity.com/3-ways-to-cleanse-your-aura-of-negative-energy//

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Repairing the Soul

As I wrote in my previous blog, I've been suffering from intense depression, anger and anxiety lately. Overall, I would say that it almost feels like my soul is broken. Life no longer excites me. There doesn't seem to be any presence of joy whatsoever. My self-esteem and feelings of self-worth have never been so low. A lot of the time, I'm ashamed to even exist. I get surprised when a stranger is nice to me like in a store or out in public somewhere else, almost as though I feel like I don't deserve it. 

Yes, it literally feels like my soul is broken. 

And, in a sense, this may very well be true. I mean, it could be scientifically true. Allow me to explain:



I've recently been reading a book entitled Psychic Vampires. It's a book about the people in our lives who bring us down or who literally drain our energy when we're around them. There are different levels of psychic vampires but most of us have encountered these people to varying degrees.

The book also discusses how it can be scientifically proven that our bodies are comprised of one giant energy system (a less scientific term would be "aura" or, indeed, "soul") that, at its healthiest, runs like a well-oiled machine. Psychic vampires, however, try to penetrate the energy system and drain the energy from it. Over time, a determined psychic vampire can wreak havoc on the body's energy system and, in turn, can wreak havoc on the physical body, because a good energy system means having a healthy body, a bad energy system means having an unhealthy body.

Anyway, while I've been reading the book, it suddenly hit me that Lyme functions as one gigantic psychic vampire sucking on my life force energy (in fact, in previous posts -- click here or here, -- I've discussed how Lyme may have an energetic and even spiritual component to it). Along with all the physical and mental shit that it does to us, Lyme throws a monkey wrench into our energy system, the ramifications of which have manifested themselves in the way I've been feeling lately:  i.e. depressed, angry, low self-esteem, lack of joy/hope/ambition, etc.

The book suggests ways in which you can repair your energy system but I think for all you non-New-Agey people out there, I think the best thing you can do is pray, pray your ass off. I recently said a prayer to Saint Jude, the patron Saint of impossible situations, and I felt a big difference afterwards. I plan on saying a whole Saint Jude novena soon and I will state my specific intention as repairing my energy system.

The soul must be repaired. If your soul is broken, there is no hope of having a healthy body. It's at the root of everything. I must repair the soul.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Got a Gut Feeling

It's been a month since I started the gluten-free diet. It hasn't been going too well.

I'm not sure if going gluten-free is to blame, but I've been extremely depressed lately. And extremely angry. In fact, it's possible I've never been so depressed and angry. It's bad.

The other night, I was taking a walk and there was such a dark cloud over me. I was at a recreational park with a bunch of baseball fields and soccer fields and such. While I was walking through the parking lot to this place, there was a car-full of kids making a ton of noise while they waited for their dad to stop talking to another group of parents. I found the noise rather annoying. I had this strong urge to look over to the dad and say, "You really ought to tell your kids to shut the fuck up." I didn't say it, but I wanted to, really, really bad. I felt a vile venom inside of me. It was nasty.

It didn't hit me until much later that, shit, dude...they were just kids on summer vacation, man. They were probably just being goofy, yet my extremely negative mental state saw it as annoying. That wasn't me. That's not the kind of person I am. It has honestly been like something has been possessing me. 

Is it the Lyme? No, I don't think that's quite it, though it might be. Lyme has been known to corkscrew itself into the brain, kind of like syphilis and, also like syphilis, can make you somewhat mental.

Am I just feeling depressed about my current state of affairs? Maybe. I certainly don't like the fact that it's been over a year now since I was diagnosed with Lyme and I still can't walk more than about a half a mile at a time. Admittedly, I also don't like that I can't drink (even a little) beer (read about why in my previous post). Also, I've been feeling so isolated and lonely. Most friends have kind of moved on with their own lives, and I lack the ambition to make new friends. I also don't know whether I should be dating given my current physical state and whom I should be dating and how I should "break the news" of my condition to them and all that shit. It's literally like I have to start my life over completely. But that's not easy to do at 36 years old and when you're only halfway healthy.

Or???

Maybe my depression is actually physiological but not necessarily because of the Lyme. My theory is that toxins could be to blame. Some of these toxins are neurotoxins from Lyme die-off that still haven't been flushed from my body. But I also think many of these toxins are from candida die-off, which has been exponentially greater lately due to my gluten-free diet.

Candida lives off gluten. If you eliminate the gluten, candida can no longer survive and you get a die-off. When die-off occurs, nasty endotoxins like aldehyde, ethanol and ammonia get released from the candida carcasses and these endotoxins can be nasty (source). My theory right now is my depression/anger has been intensified by a larger presence of endotoxins due to going gluten-free.

But, yes, depression and anger are perhaps my biggest symptoms right now. And, oh, my gut issues (read about these in my previous blog), which, by the way, are likely linked with one another. According to articles I found while browsing the web, if your gut is in bad shape, your mood is in bad shape and vice versa. The gut is responsible for absorption of neurotransmitters and if your gut flora is all out of whack, then your neurotransmitters will be out of whack, thus making your mood all out of whack, too. 

Also, according to another article I found, "Gut microbiota influences serotonin and dopamine production. In, fact, 90% of the body's serotonin is found in the gut" (source). Serotonin is the "feel good" neurotransmitter that is largely responsible for happiness. It's also responsible for regulating gastrointestinal motility, or "peristalsis" is the more technical term, the movement of food materials through the digestive tract. So, if serotonin is lacking, both your mood is horrible and your gut is dysfunctional (source).

Indeed, the key to my mood issues probably lies in my gut "microbiota", also known as flora, which for whatever reason is abnormal right now. Is it abnormal because of candida, or is it due to some other issue? Right now I'm thinking candida, but that's still up in the air. 

Then again, maybe my gut is only off because of anxiety, depression and other mood-related issues. You know, it's the chicken or the egg dilemma. Did the mood mess up the gut or did the gut mess up the mood? Yeesh. More confusion. More complexity.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Wink

There I was walking around Trader Joe's in what-felt-like a drunken stupor. 

Only I wasn't drunk.

I had just gone for walk at a nearby recreational field and this walk was for a half a mile or so, as part of my post-Lyme disease "physical therapy". About a half a mile walk was my limit and I had apparently pushed the envelope a little too far.

What results from pushing the envelope is this drunk feeling. I don't know what it is. Toxins are usually eliminated during exercise, so maybe my liver's unable to keep up with the workload. Instead of being excreted from my body, the toxins enter my bloodstream. And go up to my brain. And then I feel drunk as a skunk.

The store was a kind of blur and I couldn't help but wonder if people were looking at me funny. Did I look drunk? Was I stumbling? Because I felt like I was walking at a sideways 45-degree angle. Some of the hipster employees were looking at me weird. Did they notice something was off?

My objective was to get a frozen pizza. I was supposed to be eating gluten-free but I had recently determined that eating 100-percent gluten-free was making me very irritable for whatever reason. Searching online, I read that the irritability could be due to candida die-off, which is what occurs when you stop eating wheat. Either way, I figured it was ok to pump the brakes on all this gluten-free business. Besides, the pizza was organic. Close enough.

It took me a little while to find the section where the frozen pizza was. The longer it took me, the longer I had to walk around the store like a village drunkard. And the longer I walked around the store, the more boozy I felt.

I eventually found the blurry box of pizza and proceeded to the checkout. "Ok," I said to myself, "Now you must go to a cashier and hand her money and then you leave the store." Yes, I had to tell myself all this because confusion comes along with the drunk feeling. "I repeat: locate the cashier, say 'hello how are you', hand her cash, take whatever change, and then get the hell out of there, man."

I managed to successfully find the cashier and start paying for the pizza, but not without realizing how ridiculous this all was. "I can't even walk a fregging half a mile without feeling like this afterwards? How depressing. I still have a loooooooooong recovery ahead of me. This blows! Shit!"

It was a low point, maybe even rock bottom, or maybe I'm being a tad dramatic. But that was when I saw a man come around from the register behind me. Maybe in his 50s or so. Looked a little nerdy. Kind of like the sort you would see working at a used record store. Longish hair, about lower-neck length. Eyeglasses. And a mustache. But not an ironic one. 

He looked at my purchase, the pizza, and said...


"But I thought you would go get sushi...and not pay!"

At first, I thought to myself, "Here we go again." Over the years, I had come to accept that I was, for whatever reason, a weirdo-magnet. I don't know if it's my blood-type or what, but I have been known to attract weirdos wherever I go. They sniff me out. They must sense my compassion. They know I'll be nice to them.

But then his words sunk into my cortex and I realized...


Oh, he saw my shirt!

Yes, I had been wearing a very faded Repo Man shirt. Repo Man, if you don't know (most people don't) is a great 1984 cult film starring Emilio Estevez and the late Harry Dean Stanton. Let's go get sushi and not pay is one of the great lines from the movie!




I smiled at the man and pointed at him in "good one" fashion. "That was good," I said to him. "That was really good."


And, boy it WAS good. Like, wicked good. So sharp and witty and quick. Holy crap, it was just so perfect. I never would have come up with something like that so on-the-spot. How long did it take him to think of that?


I laughed the whole way home from Trader Joe's. I couldn't stop giggling my ass off.

That was the first time my Repo Man shirt had ever been commented on in public. And I don't think the timing was coincidental, either. Earlier that very day, I had noticed that my mom was reading a book called When God Winks by Squire D. Rushnell. This is a book that talks about how coincidences are God's way of "winking" at you, letting you know you're not alone so stop your worrying and keep the faith.

What I'm getting at is that I think the used-record-store-looking guy crossed paths with me at just the right, divine time, when I was feeling so low. He lightened the load, brightened my mood, got me laughing when I needed laughter the most. 


Yes, that man was God's messenger angel that day. He probably didn't even know it but he was God's wink for me. 

Maybe I'll be God's wink for somebody in the future, unknowingly delivering a message or a sign to them that they need oh-so-badly. Or maybe I've already been a wink for somebody in the past. And I didn't even know it...

Maybe we've ALL been winks at some point in our lives. Or perhaps we're constantly being used as winks, on a daily basis. It's kind of like we're being moved around like chess pieces, to wink at each other all the time on the great chess board of life.

Who knows: I may have been God's wink for the girl I bought ice coffee from last night.

Or the guy whose status I commented on, just a little while ago.

Or maybe...just maybe...I'm winking at YOU right now.

Wink.

Monday, July 23, 2018

I Read a Book!

Okay, so my last few blogs haven't been as "positive" as some of my other ones, but, hey, recovering from Lyme disease is not always easy and I would be a phony (and kind of annoying) if I were super-positive in all of these blogs. Lyme rage has been a significant problem and I needed to write about it as truthfully as possible. My stomach has also been a problem, way more sensitive than usual, and being unable to have a beer and/or eat Chipotle has been very depressing to me. Hence my need to write "darker" blogs where I sound like Mr. Whiny-Pants.

This blog, however, will be much more positive because I've had a bit of a breakthrough. Last week, I decided to pick up a book I've been meaning to read, one that I've kept on renewing from the local library, and I figured I would at least try to read a few pages before I finally returned it. I expected I would only be able to read a couple pages here and there because my eyes have been uncooperative when it comes to reading print (i.e. non-digital) books. My right eye gets all dry and itchy and stingy and sometimes even feels like there's a fregging Dyson vacuum cleaner sucking it out of the socket. For these reasons, I can usually only read a few pages of a print book at a time.


So, I picked up the book, read a couple pages and then something weird happened. I suddenly realized my eye didn't feel so bad and I could probably read some more. And some more. And some more? What the frig-newton?!


This is the book I read.
Indeed, my eyes felt much more comfortable reading the book. I was practically reading like a normal human being, a feeling I hadn't felt in so long and it was great! Within a few days, I completed the 280-page book. It was the first print book I was able to read in more than a year!

What happened? What changed?

Well, I have two different theories:

The first theory is that the Artemisia I've been taking has killed off more of the parasites that have been messing with my eyes. I've been taking the parasite-killing herb for about four months now (read my parasite/Artemisia blog HERE) so it's very possible the results are finally starting to show.

The second theory is that my recent change of diet had something to do with it. Basically, I've gone gluten-free or, to be more accurate, I'm about 98% gluten-free. I had been wanting to go gluten-free for quite some time but kept procrastinating because I didn't think it would make that huge of a difference. However, I finally decided to bite the bullet when my stomach started giving me problems (see last blog). I figured my belly issues were the writing on the wall and I needed to finally take the gluten-free plunge.


See, gluten -- along with other carbs and sugar -- feeds both Lyme and the parasites (including candida) that usually come along with Lyme. If you remove gluten from your diet, it's much more difficult for Lyme and parasites to thrive inside of your body.


Also, Lymies are, for whatever reason, much more intolerant to gluten than the average person, kind of like they have celiac disease but they usually don't test positive for celiac (I didn't). In fact, gluten is essentially a toxin for people with Lyme so, if you remove gluten from your body, you're consequently much less toxic, you experience much less inflammation and your immune system is all the stronger.

Now, if you're like me, you're thinking that wheat should be one of the most simple and harmless foods out there. After all, what do you learn about in grade school but the five basic food groups and grains are on the top of the list. Wheat is a staple, for crying out loud, so you would think it would agree with most people! But it's changed over the years because of hybridization; today, there is 8-10 times the gluten in one kernel of grain than there was when hunter and gatherers started to farm 10,000 years ago. This explains the human family's growing gluten intolerance. (Source)


So, for me, gluten is out of the equation for now and reading print books is back in the equation, which I'm happy about. So many books at the local library. And now I can finally read some of them!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Please, anything but this!

It's now officially been a 180-degree transformation. Daddy is dead. Don't know what I'm talking about? Go back a year ago and see my very first entry to this Lymey saga. The entry is called One Last Hurrah with Daddy, which is about all the fun I used to have drinking alcohol. But now I can't seem to tolerate any alcohol. Not even a single drop.

Up until recently, I couldn't tolerate much alcohol, but I could at least tolerate a little. A nice tall glass of a well-made IPA on a Friday and/or Saturday night made me more than happy. I would usually watch a movie whilst sipping. It was something I looked forward to. A slight escape from the Lyme hell I was in.


But now, for whatever friggin' reason, I can't tolerate any alcohol, literally not even a few sips (trust me, I methodically tested my limits). At first, I feel like I have bad heartburn, but then the burning travels down into my stomach and it seriously feels like I have fucking lava down there. Sleeping is not pleasant and it usually takes a good 24 hours or so for my stomach to return to a state of relative normalcy.


What happened?!


Well, the trouble all started on July 5th. As I described in my previous blog, I woke up with a tremendous stomach ache and my gut was messed up for at least a few days. I'm not really sure why this happened but I think it was Apple Cider Vinegar that triggered the downward spiral. As I described in my blog, I ate some chicken that was marinated in Italian dressing with ACV as its second ingredient.


Eventually, my stomach pain went away but it seems to come back when I eat spicy food--usually from Chipotle, my favorite place to eat--and, yes, also when I drink a beer or any kind of alcohol for that matter.


Seriously, Chipotle and alcohol were the last two things keeping me happy but now they're the only two things my stomach won't tolerate whatsoever! What is this all about? Is God trying to test the limits of my sanity by literally taking everything away from me that gives me joy? One or two nice cold beers (a week!) was all that was keeping me sane through this whole Lyme saga but now it's unavailable to me! Agh!


I've searched my mind for alternative ways to escape reality. I thought maybe I should try smoking weed but I'm pretty sure that would be disastrous. I rarely had a good experience with the devil's lettuce in the past and my Lyme-damaged body would surely find a way to have an adverse reaction to it.

So, for now, I'm forced to suck it all up and deal with reality without any numbing agents. This hasn't been easy so far. I've noticed that my mood has been all over the place lately. I've been very agitated and depressed and back to agitated again. My body and mind know that there's no escaping the hell, that I can't even look forward to a relaxing beer on a Friday or Saturday evening. And knowing this makes me extremely unhappy.


Thinking back on everything, I still can't help but wonder why I have this sudden onset in alcohol intolerance. I mean, is a little Apple Cider Vinegar really to blame? Did that trigger some sort of toxic die-off reaction that made my stomach more sensitive? Or is something else going on?


I have some theories about this.


Theory A: I have pancreas problems, mainly pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. I don't like this theory because I don't know why I would have pancreatitis, unless Lyme or the stress of Lyme somehow triggered it. I've hardly drank any alcohol in a year. Plus, the symptoms don't quite match up. I don't really have "pain"; I would call it more like discomfort when I eat the aforementioned beer or spicy foods. With pancreatitis, you have pain in your upper left abdomen that shoots to your back or chest, I guess. I don't have that, nor do I have any vomiting or fever, which are two other symptoms.


Theory B: I have gastritis. Gastritis is inflammation, irritation or erosion of the stomach lining. This can be triggered by excessive alcohol consumption, drugs (such as aspirin and anti-inflammatories) stress and infections, both viral and bacterial and, yes, parasitic! Symptoms include a burning, knawing feeling in the stomach. Indigestion. Abdominal pain. This sounds a lot like what I have, but why would I suddenly have this? Again, I hardly drank any alcohol in more than a year. I took no anti-inflammatories. Maybe stress could have done it. Or maybe the parasites (i.e. candida or Babesia etc.) got aggravated by the ACV and caused an infection.


Theory C: I have an MCAS issue, and I'm not talking about the standardized tests you take in high school. MCAS stands for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, which is a disorder that can commonly happen after having Lyme. According to an article I found, MCAS can be described as the following:


"An immunological condition in which mast cells inappropriately and excessively release chemical mediators....In other words, Mast cells are cells that generate an allergic reaction. Allergens binding to these cells cause the release of histamine, which causes immediate, and sometimes very intense, hypersensitivity reactions." (Source)

Lamens terms: MCAS is when your body has an inappropriate or excessive response to allergens or stress. It's an auto-immune-like condition where the body essentially starts attacking itself. Chronic inflammation in various parts of the body is the end result.

Of course, MCAS symptoms overlap with Lyme symptoms so it's hard to tell whether my problem is MCAS or post-Lyme-related complications. Testing for MCAS can be done, but for me, it's a little too early to seek tests. It's ragweed season after all, so maybe the ragweed is making me more allergy-sensitive than usual, which leads me to...


Theory D: I'm just more allergy sensitive than normal. But why? Because of MCAS? Or for other reasons. It's hard to tell right now.


Again, the complexity of Lyme never ceases to amaze me. I mean, when will this Lyme rabbit hole end? I've been falling and falling and falling...but the hole must end at some point, right? Or is Lyme infinitely complex, an endless web that intertwines upon itself forever and ever? Hopefully, there is an end to all this. Though epic in nature, this seemingly never-ending war can hopefully still be won. I want to emerge from the rabbit hole and leave Lyme and all its side effects behind me for good.


Also, I want to drink again. Just a little. Because, honestly, life without alcohol (just a little) is extremely dull and boring. I know that's the talk of an alcoholic and, if I'm an alcoholic, so be it, but, c'mon, God, just please let me have a couple beers a week. Please! Also, end starvation and bring world peace. Thank you.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Lymiversary

Well, it's officially been one year now since I began experiencing symptoms of what-would-eventually turn out to be Lyme disease. July 5, 2017, right after Independence day, which is a bit ironic since getting Lyme was all about losing my Independence, at least for a little while.

So how am I doing?

Well, today being my Lymiversary and all, I was hoping to spend much of the day in relative comfort and appreciate the fact that I was much better than how I was a year ago.


This didn't quite happen.


I woke up this morning July, 5th, with the worst stomach ache I think I have ever had in my life. There was burning and sharp pains. At times, it felt like I was getting stabbed right through the gut with a zillion razorblades.


At first, I thought I may have had food poisoning, but I didn't have a fever and I wasn't vomiting either.


Then, I thought I had appendicitis, but appendix pain is supposed to be more on the side. Mine was right in the center.

It wasn't until a little later that I realized the pain could have been a herx (i.e. die-off) reaction, or at least some kind of adverse reaction, to apple cider vinegar. See, over the holiday, I unknowingly ate chicken that had been marinated in an Italian dressing that had apple cider vinegar as its second ingredient. Apple cider vinegar kills off yeast, parasites and God-knows-what-else so it's very possible the pain was from the release of endotoxins during die-off.


The stomach pain was so intense that I was laid up on the couch all day and this triggered very vivid flashbacks from one year ago. Even the sight of the tray table I had in front of me with half-sipped drinks, straws in each glass, seemed all-too-familiar. The cream of rice I ate...the daytime TV channels I watched...the overall malaise that I felt and inability to go outside of the house--it was like I was experiencing a downward spiral all over again, exactly one year later. I kept saying to myself, "This seriously can't be happening, exactly one year later. What are the odds?"


As I write this, my stomach is a little better so I'm hoping everything settles down eventually and that this is all simply a herx issue and nothing else major. But, man, talk about a sick little trick to be played on somebody who's experiencing their one-year Lymiversary. What can you do, though, but roll with it and don't start panicking!


Stomach issues aside, how am I doing one year after getting Lyme disease?


Not too bad, I suppose. In fact, I recently saw my (Lyme-literate) doctor, just about a week ago, and he gave me a stellar report. According to the orthomolecular machine he uses, my body now requires about 70 percent less vitamins and herbs than it did at the end of January. Even better, many of the vitamins and herbs I took specifically for liver function are no longer needed. One of these herbs is milk thistle, which means my liver is officially "cleaned out".

This is all good news. But I'm still far from being back to normal.

The biggest issue is still physical stamina. For the past month or so, I've been going up to the local high school's track to do workouts, though when I say "workout", I mean walk around the track, no more than twice. In fact, I've found that I literally can't walk more than twice around the track, which is a quarter of a mile in length so this means I can't walk more than a half a mile at a time. Even walking around the track a full two times is too much for me so I usually do about one and a half laps. There is a football field in the middle so I do one lap, then a half a lap, cut across the field and then I'm done, that's all she wrote.

I've even tried jogging at the track but it was brief and I mean very brief, probably for no longer than five seconds. Judging by how I felt after, I realized jogging any longer than five seconds or just jogging in general would be a total disaster. It made me feel vertigo and I had trouble walking in a balanced manner. Three hours later, I also felt gross, like really gross. Terror set in. I thought I may pass out but the feeling eventually passed, thankfully.

So running definitely isn't in the cards right now, which I'm ok with. Walking for a third of a mile or so without dying afterwards is pretty good considering where I was just about a year ago. Really, I'm one of the lucky ones and I need to be grateful, even though I still mourn the loss of my former self.

Along with the improvements in walking, another milestone has been my ability to drive longer distances. Just a few days ago, I drove on the highway for the first time in more than a year. This is a big deal because I've felt so cooped up for so long. I've been in a weird bubble of a twilight zone, so isolated and so alienated. Driving on the highway made me feel free again.

Since I'm able to walk and drive further, I've been generally more out and about in the world. Just the other night, I went out to see the local fireworks display and let me tell you: I was very apprehensive about doing this, mainly because I knew a significant deal of walking would be involved. The usual tradition is for me to meet up with my friends at one of their houses, which is, I believe, maybe a half a mile or so from where the fireworks go off, drink a few beers, then walk to the fireworks. I knew that, this year, however, I would not be able to do this walk. I'd probably be able to make it to the fireworks ok, but then I'd be dead to the world and I'd be unable to get back.

So I hung out at my friend's house as usual but then I had to drive as close to the fireworks as I could possibly get. I didn't think I'd be able to park very close, but I still thought I'd be clos(er) than my friend's house. As it turned out, the closest I could park was the nearby train station. I still wasn't sure if this was close enough for me, but I decided to take the risk and go for the walk anyway. Would I regret it? I hoped not.

Let me tell you: that walk was a very lonely one, because I was alone and I passed couples and friends and families and, well, I felt so alone. It would have been easy to feel sorry for myself but it was also kind of beautiful, and I don't know why. Maybe because it was a perspective from which I had never experienced the traditional fireworks night before. In fact, this has been a recurring theme throughout this past year: seeing life from a different perspective; seeing reality from a different perspective.

See, before Lyme, I was set in my ways, habitual with my routines and went through life in a kind of cruise control. It's amazing to experience how much more there is to reality, but you can only start experiencing it when something life-changing like Lyme slaps you out of your routines. Experiencing the fireworks from a different perspective was just one example of this*, but there have been several of these moments where I find myself in the same situations or the same physical space that I've always been in but I'm experiencing the present reality from a completely different perspective, or, to put it another way, it's like I'm in the same reality but tuning into a different frequency within that reality. What you end up realizing is that life can become so much more interesting and you don't even need to go anywhere different; all you need to do is tune into different frequencies. 

So, yes, my walk alone made me experience the traditional fireworks night from a different perspective and this was why the walk was quite beautiful. However, what also made the walk rather beautiful was that the solitude made me enter a kind of meditative state and it enabled me to take some time to reflect back upon the year and realize how much I had been through and how much I had overcome and there I was, struggling to get to the fireworks display to celebrate my new Independence. Every other year, I had been buzzed (ok, usually drunk), surrounded by friends, numbed to my surroundings but this year I entered that meditative state and truly got to appreciate what freedom actually is because now freedom means more to me than it ever did before I was sick.

I still have a ways to go, that much is for sure. But I should really be grateful for the freedom I do have right now. A broken life is better than no life at all. In fact, sometimes the broken life is preferable to the perfect life because it's from the brokenness that we grow and become a stronger soul. I actually recently wrote a poem about this very topic, so I shall close with this poem:


SQUEEZE OUT EVERY LAST DROP

The way I see it
You can have an imperfect life
A broken life
One that is a fucking nightmare at times
Or you can have nothing

I choose the broken life
That's better than choosing the nothing

And even if there's an afterlife
And I believe there is one
There's still only one Matt Burns
Ever
So I figure
It's best to squeeze out every last drop of him
And see what comes of it

*I was recently at a park that I formerly used to run in but, this time, I was forced to walk a minimal distance and then sit down on a bench. Sitting on the bench, I looked across the park and saw the tree line that was moving and swaying a bit from the wind. The wind carried fragments of sound to my ears, like a little girl giggling in the distance, as well as the echoed sound of a basketball bouncing in a nearby court. I don't think I had ever been so tuned into my present reality than I was at that very moment. Lyme forced me to slow down, sit my ass on a bench and tune in.