Lemons 'n Lyme

When life gives you lemons, use them to beat Lyme


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Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Today is the first day of May which means it’s the first day of Lyme Disease Awareness Month! I spent April working on a video project for this month. I wanted to flip the script on chronic illness and share some positives people had gotten out of being ill. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and that we even get sick for a reason, so I wanted to find out what others had gotten out of their healing experience so far. I was super inspired and motivated by everyones contributions and I hope you will be too!

 


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The Lyme Interview

I hope everyone is having a great Friday, yay for the weekend! I recently did an interview with Kerry over at Body Mind Lyme and it would be awesome if you all would head over there and give it a read (plus let Kerry know how awesome she is). Kerry has a great Lyme blog and a regular series called The Lyme Interview where she interviews various Lymies, sharing their stories and how they remain awesome despite illness ;). My interview encompasses a little bit about my story, why I started a blog, and how I cope with Lyme disease.

I also wanted to share this video a new Lyme friend, April Moor, posted sharing the faces of Lyme and the variety of symptoms we deal with.


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All Natural Home Part 1: Hygiene Care

I’ve been wanting to do a series on how to keep your life “natural” aka non-toxic. So, I’m finally going to be doing a 3-part series on the products I use in my home and on me to maintain a non-toxic (or lower-toxic) life/environment.

Part 1: Hygiene/Body care- all the basics from soap to shampoo

Part 2: Household products- how to make cleaning products at home without the toxic load and how I lower my exposure to toxins from things like tap water

Part 3: Beauty- My tips and tricks for non-toxic make up, hair spray, and more.

This series will be spread over the next few months. So let’s get started with part 1 today! Not all of the products I use are the absolute cleanest, but I have to balance cost with toxic-load. Therefore, I try and find the cleanest products I can within my budget. I also like to make a lot of my own products but sometimes that can be more of a hassle, so I want to show you what you can find in the store. I’m sharing those products with you today and I hope you find it useful if you are also on a budget. All products are $10 or under.

Body:

1. Face Lotion: I have extremely sensitive skin and for a very long time I could only use one, very toxic, face lotion without breaking out. I finally found a brand I like that is less toxic AND gluten-free! This isn’t 100% the cleanest product on the market but it’s pretty good, free of some of the worst offenders, and my skin handles it alright.

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2. Body wash: Again, sensitive skin Sally here! I needed something that would minimize break outs, keep my skin from drying out, and get me clean. I like how simple this product is and it smells amazing! My favorite flavor is the tangerine or the vanilla.

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3. Body Lotion: This product does the trick but another favorite for me is straight up coconut oil! Coconut oil can feel a little greasy until it soaks in and sometimes you don’t have the time to wait, so using a body lotion can be easier. Coconut oil can also clog pores and since my skin is very sensitive, it isn’t always the best option for me. This one is pretty clean and seems to hydrate my skin well (another problem I have- very dry skin).

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4. Deodorant: The deodorant I use is made locally here in Santa Fe so I’m not going to share that brand (but for all of my Lymie Santa Feans, it’s the one sold at my doctors office ;)). I suggest making your own unless you have an awesome apothecary near by and they make deodorant (cough FORT COLLINS I LOVE YOU cough). Pretty much all deodorants in the store are filled with nasty chemicals that you shouldn’t been putting on your skin, especially directly on top of your lymph nodes. There are a few brands out there that you can get your hands on in the big grocery stores sometimes, though, like this one

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Hair:

1. Shampoo: This isn’t my favorite shampoo but it was on sale (2 for 1!) last month so I had to take advantage of it. I’ve struggled to find a non-toxic shampoo that actually works and isn’t a thousand dollars (I have hair that is SUPER greasy on top and SUPER dry on the bottom and is on the thinner side). If you have any suggestions shoot ’em at me! But, this stuff still does the trick and I found my hair has been better since I’ve worked to not shampoo every day and installed a shower filter. The water really does make all the difference. More on that in a later post 😉

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2. Conditioner: I’m pretty nonchalant about conditioner. If it’s non-toxic, I’ll take it. Conditioner is conditioner to me. This was another 2 for 1 deal. Again, any conditioner suggestions send them my way.

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3. Coconut oil: 1-2x/week I smother the ends of my hair in coconut oil, tie it up in a bun, and chill out for 30-60 minutes before washing the oil out. This helps protect my hair, add pack in some moisture (I do live in the desert), and keep it shiny and soft. Basically it’s a non-toxic deep conditioning treatment for your hair! You can feel free to really massage it into your scalp and whole head of hair if you have dry hair or dandruff. My scalp is quite oily so I avoid that and only put the oil on my ends.

Mouth:

1. Toothpaste: There are a handful of good toothpastes on the market these days. Yes, you can very easily make your own but sometimes you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of that. Whenever I buy toothpaste, I look out for fluoride, gums, and sugars on the ingredients label. I’ve always loved Dr. Bronner’s products (so clean!) so I was quite excited when they came out with a toothpaste. I’ve tried a lot of natural toothpastes and this is by far my favorite one.

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2. Coconut oil: I use coconut oil for oil pulling, an all-natural method for keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy! I plan to do a separate post or YouTube video about it but for now you can click on that link to learn more. Have you figured out yet that coconut oil is the miracle product?! If I was stuck on a desert island I’d want a roll of duct tape and a jar of coconut oil!

I hope this gives you all some ideas if you are struggling to transition your products from toxic to non-toxic ones.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3! What are your favorite toxin-free products for staying clean? Are you sensitive like me?


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Evening Routine: How to Prepare for Sleep

Hello, allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Victoria and I am the Queen of Insomnia.

I can stay up… all night… staring at the ceiling.

Although I take sleep medication (I know I know. Yes, I absolutely hate that I need it. Trust me, I need it), I still can manage to spend the night awake. But, over the past month I’ve not only developed a morning routine, but a night routine that helps to calm my mind and allow me to both fall asleep easier and stay asleep (hopefully I don’t curse it with this post).

It’s usually anxiety and a racing mind that prevent me from falling asleep and I’m slowly learning to calm those thoughts. The tips I provide below help with all aspects of the falling asleep process, though. Sleep is a huge issue for me, so the tips I provide aren’t lame “relax your mind, breath, think happy thoughts” tips. They are legitimate tips that have helped me and I think can, hopefully, help you, too!

Last week I shared my tips for STARTING your day and today I’ll be sharing my tips for ENDING your day.

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1. Pick a Bedtime: This is crucial. You need to pick a reasonable time for you to go to sleep. This is important because, not only is routine important (as we are learning), but picking a time allows you to determine when you need to start your wind-down process each evening and lets your body know WHEN it needs to start winding down each evening. Pick a time that not only works with your schedule but also is plausible given your life and personality. Don’t choose 9 pm if you are used to staying up until 2 am. You can get it to 9, but it won’t happen the next night. If your ultimate goal is to be asleep by 10 pm every night and you are used to being up until midnight, start by setting your goal at 11 or 11:30 pm, then slowly work back.

2. Begin Your Evening Routine 30-60 minutes Before Bedtime:  You’ve got to get your body ready for sleep. You can’t be raging to metal music one minute then expect to fall asleep the next minute. 30-60 minutes before the bedtime you’ve chosen, begin preparing your body for sleep. If your mind knows that bedtime is approaching, it will begin to calm down. You have to give it time to prepare itself and your body for sleep.

3. Lithium: Melatonin is a popular sleep supplement. But if you are anything like me, melatonin ain’t yo thang. Okay, but seriously, melatonin KEEPS ME UP! I’ve found lithium to be a much better supplement for sleep and anxiety. I take a lithium supplement about an hour before sleep to calm my brain (anywhere from 2-5 pills).

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4. Download f.lux: By now you’ve already probably heard about how bad screen light (from your computer, phone, Tv, etc) is for you at night and how it interrupts your minds ability to relax for sleep. Let’s be honest, we live in a world dominated by screens. And we all feel the need to check our email/social media/texts right up until we physically can’t keep our eyes open anymore. But that interrupts your bodies ability to not keep your eyes open anymore. I’ve go the solution: f.lux. It’s an application that adjusts the light on your screen to match evening glow and lessen the disruption of screen time on sleep time. You’re welcome, now feel free to email until the minute you pass out ;).

5. Choose Relaxing Activities: I’m not going to tell you to read a book or meditate for an hour before going to bed. But I don’t advise you do high energy or demanding (physically or mentally)  activities in that 30-60 minutes before bed. Watch a movie or favorite TV show, but I suggest choosing one that isn’t super action packed or scary (nothing that is going to raise your adrenaline levels). Reading is always a great option, as well. And if meditating is your thing, perfect! But I highly doubt your unable to sleep and reading this post if you spend an hour meditating before bed each night. Just create a routine and pick activities each evening that aid in relaxation and don’t awaken your body and mind.

6. Evening Yoga/Stretching: I know you might be thinking, why would I want to be active before bed? Won’t that disrupt sleep? Not if you pick a stretching or yoga routine that is calming and designed to help you fall asleep. This has been a life changer in my ability to sleep! I notice a difference on the nights when I don’t do my yoga routine before bed (I have a harder time falling asleep, staying asleep, am in more pain, and wake up early but exhausted). I recently posted my evening yoga routine video on YouTube and I highly recommend giving it a shot. Otherwise, I suggest you pick a couple of deep, relaxing stretches to do. Hold them and breath into them rather then moving quickly between poses. I also suggest doing your yoga/stretching close to your bedtime. I usually do this yoga routine anywhere from 1-15 minutes before sleep.

 

I truly hope these tips help you. I don’t take this topic lightly, as insomnia is a huge problem for me, so I really believe these tips can help you.

What tips do you all have for helping with sleep? I’d love to hear them!


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Morning Routine: How to Start Your Day on the Right Foot

Let’s face it, everyday is not going to be perfect. Or even okay for that matter. Some days are really going to S-U-C-K! And when you have a chronic illness, a lot of days can feel like the end of the world.

This year I’ve been working hard to create a morning routine that either 1) puts me in a good mood, 2) gets me going in the morning, 3) relieves some of the tension I woke up with, or 4) makes me feel like I did something for the day if all I can do is get up, drink some water, and crawl back into bed.

I always thought “morning routines” were pointless. Changing little habits in the morning isn’t going to suddenly turn my life around! But, it could… Wait, hear me out! I have found that creating a morning routine, and not just any morning routine, has helped me cope with my health issues a little better (at least on some days) and work to change my overall mindset. So, today I’m going to share my tips on how to start YOUR day on a better note.

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1. Breathing: It’s not as simple as you think. I don’t just mean breath. I mean take 1-5 minutes to do some specific breathing. I always thought breathing was dumb. It never did what it was “supposed” to do. Deep breathing to calm my mind? HA. Focus on my breath to ease anxiety?  You’ve got to be kidding me, my anxiety is bigger then my breath! But I’ve found that breathing TAKES PRACTICE. At the start of the year I told myself I would practice breathing every morning for the month of January whether I felt like it was helping or not. As I did it more (practiced), I learned how to focus on my breath better and found that it actually could lessen my anxiety sometimes. I’ve found breathing first thing in the morning is a way to try and ground myself before I even step out of my bed.

I have a few different breathing options for you to try. The first is just to lay or sit comfortably in your bed and take some deep breaths, trying to bring your focus to your inhales and exhales instead of having your mind wander. I mean literally, focus on your inhales and exhales by telling your mind inhale (and notice what that feels like as you inhale) and the same as you exhale.

Option two is my favorite- 4/7/8 breathing. You inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. I really enjoy this because it forces me to focus on my breathing (I have to count the inhales and exhales). I like to do anywhere from 3-10 rounds but I suggest a minimum of 3 rounds. Start with 1 if that’s all you can mentally handle.

The third technique can be combined with either of the first 2. Place one hand on your heart and one anywhere else you feel is in pain or needs love (I usually do my heart and gut). As you breath focus on those areas and send the energy of your breath there.

Now, I have to give some credit to my therapist for introducing me to these breathing methods!

If you feel up to it, you can take this time to set an intention for your day as well as verbally embrace your bodies strength in fighting whatever health issues you may have. It’s important to take a moment out of your day to remind your body that you are proud of the work it is doing (whether you truly feel that way or not. Fake it till you make it!).

2. Stretching/Yoga: I recently posted my favorite morning stretching routine to my YouTube channel. I encourage you to go check it out and give it a try. I’ve found that stretching in the morning gets my blood and lymphatic system moving, as well as my body and mind in general. Movement is SO important even for those healing from illness (a whole post on this to come). Completing even just a couple of minutes of stretching or yoga poses in the morning can be beneficial.

If you don’t know where to start I highly encourage you to give my routine a shot, even if you just do a couple minutes of it. The whole video is posted below! (Be sure to head over to YouTube to like and subscribe 😉 [shameless plug!])

 

3. Water/Lemon Water: Do I really have to go into detail about this one? How Many times have you heard it?! Really though, lemon water is great in the morning because it helps get your digestive system flowing, to detox and alkalize your body, and to hydrate your system after 7+ hours without water. So grab a glass of room temperature or warm water and squeeze some or all of a lemon into it. Even if you just drink a glass of plain water, Drink up!

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4. Wash Your Face: I have to say, I don’t really know anyone who doesn’t wash their face in the morning, but if you don’t you better start! If you’re not a morning shower person, make sure to wash your face every AM. Not only does it get the sleepy’s out of your eyes but it cleans your skin from the debris your pillows collect (from your hair, clothes, skin, and animals, if you let them in the bed). I suggest warm water and your favorite toxin-free soup/face wash and then finishing off with a splash of cold water to really wake you up and tighten your pores after cleansing.

5. Get On With Your Day: You’ve completed the first 4 tips? Great, now do your thing! Get ready, eat breakfast, go to work, or get back in bed for Netflix and a nap. Either way, I highly suggest creating a morning routine to both mentally and physically prepare for the day, especially if you are battling a chronic health condition. Creating not just any routine, but one specifically designed to support my mind and body in handling illness has been vital in my ability to mentally manage my current situation. And guess what? You may not complete your morning routine every morning or it may not help that day, but trust me when I say, in time it will make a difference (and you won’t necessarily notice it until one day you wake up and crave your routine because it really does help). FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT, PEOPLE!

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Pepper says, “Let’s do this!”

I hope you found these tips helpful and I’d love to hear what your morning routines look like, what you do to get your day started on the right foot, or what tips you use to help manage being sick! Sending love and healing ❤


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Slightly Sweet Butternut Squash and Red-Lentil Curry (Vegan) and a Small LDI Update

First, I’d like to give a small treatment update, mostly about LDI. A bigger update will be coming soon. I constantly get emails and questions on my blog and Instagram about LDI, how it’s going for me, can I provide an update. Well, it hasn’t been going so hot so I haven’t provided many updates. My last dose was on October 6. The dose before that, at 11c, caused a herx, so we dropped to 12c. I felt nothing. My doctor and I have decided to take a break from LDI because it has made no impact after 6 months of various doses. I’ll be focusing on some other treatments (details to come in future post) and hoping to make some serious progress with those before revisiting LDI.

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As you all know, I’ve decided to return to a plant-based diet. I love it! And I’m having a blast with recipe development. This curry is SO GOOD! YOU MUST MAKE IT NOW! And if you are paleo, leave out the red-lentils. BAM paleo. I’m not a spicy person so I don’t crank up the heat on this curry, but you could. I add some apple to add a little sweetness to the spice and switch it up from the typical curry.

Butternut Squash and Red-Lentil Curry
Serves 2-4
Ingredients
1 small butternut squash peeled and chopped into bite size pieces (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup red lentils
1 small head of cauliflower chopped into bite size florets (about 4 cups)
1 small onion or half a medium onion, diced
1/2 an apple chopped into small bite size pieces (I used Honeycrisp but you can use any pink, crunchy variety such as pink lady, fuji, or even golden delicious)
1/2 can of coconut milk (shaken to mix the cream in)
Olive oil
1 tsp. coconut oil
Filtered water
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. coriander *
1/4 tsp. salt

*If you like the spice, add 1/4-1/2 tsp. white pepper and/or graham masala

Preheat oven to 425 F.
Peel and chop your squash, lay on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until squash is cooked through (pierceable with a fork and taste tested, of course).

While squash is cooking, cook your lentils according to package directions (or if bought in bulk, cook lentils with double the amount of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to low. Cook until water is absorbed and lentils are soft and cooked, about 20-25 minutes).

Also while squash is cooking, chop up your cauliflower, onion, and apple.

Add your coconut oil to a large sauté pan (you can even use a deep soup pan) and heat over medium heat until oil is melted. Add your onion and sauté until beginning to soften. Add the cauliflower and apple. Cook until cauliflower begins to soften, about 10 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of water and cover. Let simmer while squash and lentils finish cooking. When squash is done, remove from oven and check that cauliflower is soft and cooked through. When cauliflower is ready, turn heat down to medium-low and add the squash to the pan.

Add all the spices and coconut milk and stir well. Let simmer for a minute to absorb milk and spices. Add the lentils. Stir everything well, again, taste, and add salt/pepper/spices as desired.

Serve over rice and spinach or as a side dish. My favorite is to add this curry over a big bowl of spinach and allow the spinach to wilt a bit.

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Why I Call Myself a Lymie

There is a divide within the “Lyme world.” There are those who refuse to associate with Lyme, call themselves a Lymie, or define themselves by there illness. Then there are those who 100% define themselves by their disease and would consider nothing else then to be called a Lymie.

I understand both sides. When you are so sick you can’t even lift your arm because of the pain, you feel so incredibly lost that you don’t know what else to associate yourself with other then your disease. I think some people are just more positive about the whole situation or they have many other things to associate themselves with or they have an amazing support system or they’ve been lucky enough to where they haven’t truly suffered. Whatever the case may be, I get it.

I call myself a Lymie but I fall somewhere in between the two extremes (as many do). So why do I associate with my illness? Because it IS part of me. At least for right now. It doesn’t define me but it sure as hell feels like it tries to. I associate with this illness because I feel an obligation to. What I mean by that is this community of Lyme-fighters 110% needs advocates in the world. How many people and doctors don’t believe in chronic Lyme disease? How many sick patients are out there without a proper diagnosis? How many of us who ARE diagnosed are STILL suffering? I define myself as a Lymie to make a point. To let the world know I have suffered, I am suffering, and I will continue to suffer until progress in the medical community is made. I do it to let the world know there are 100’s of others just like me, worse then me, SCREAMING for help and relief and progress.

I spent years in pain and sick, searching for a diagnosis. So yes, I am a Lymie, a Lyme-warrior, a Lyme-fighter. I want the world to know how hard I have fought the system to get a proper diagnosis, to get my health back. I want the world to know how much of a battle this disease is BECAUSE of how abused and corrupted our medical system has become. I want people to know how much I’ve suffered. Not because I want pity, but because I want people to understand how much this “easy to treat and hard to get” disease can take from your life!

I don’t call myself a Lymie to make people feel sorry for me or to feel sorry for myself or to drag myself into the depths of this disease (although sometimes I go there, don’t we all?). I do it to make a point. To bring awareness. To support others in this battle. I’ve put up one hell of a fight to get where I am today and I want everyone (especially the medical community and insurance world) to know that. To know how brave people with Lyme actually are. I want to be the face, the voice, the advocate for those who can’t work, who are bedridden, who have lost friends and family because of this illness. Lyme isn’t a joke and it can’t be treated with just 2-4 weeks of doxycycline.

Do you call yourself a veteran because that’s all you associate with? That’s all you are? No, you do it because it’s a huge part of your life. You fought a giant battle and you probably have scars or medals or insane stories to show for it. We honor you for your bravery. Well, I fought a damn huge battle myself. Against my own body. Want to see the scars? Or hear the stories? I have them. You can call me a veteran if you want, I’ve been brave enough to keep fighting this battle every single day and to keep myself alive through it all. Lyme disease is a large part of my life, every day revolves around treatment and pills and how I feel. It doesn’t define me but it IS a huge part of who I am, how I’ve gotten to where I am today, and what I’ve learned.

I’m not saying you should fall into the trap of your disease or only associate with the negatives in your life, but if you have a chronic illness, it is part of who you are. It’s okay to connect with it, to identify with it. Sometimes that can make it easier to understand and live with, rather then trying to continually push it away and make it this foreign, frustrating thing that has taken you over. Accepting your illness is important for recovery, it allows you to come to terms with it, acknowledge it, and figure out how to move forward. I am still working on this, it isn’t easy. The more I’ve tried to push it away, the harder it is for me to mentally cope because I become angry at Lyme (which is totally okay to do, too) rather then work with it. And those negative emotions towards your disease can actually make it worse and cause flares (anger is a type of inflammation in your life and Lyme feeds off inflammation. Lyme also looks for any moment to pounce and when you are sad or upset or negative, it can weaken your immune system and allow Lyme an opening). I am coming to terms with Lyme by acknowledging I’m a fighter, a warrior.

 

I AM a Lymie. I’m proud of it. I stand up for everyone else who is suffering. I’m making a point.

And this is why I'm a fighter… because I had an IV line in my arm, straight to my heart, for 7 months.

And this is why I’m a fighter… because I had an IV line in my arm, straight to my heart, for 7 months.

Oh, you take a multi-vitamin and fish oil? Add 50 more pills to that and 7 tinctures. Now you're close to my level.

Oh, you take a multi-vitamin and fish oil? Add 50 more pills to that and 7 tinctures. Now you’re close to my level.

Why do you call yourself a Lymie (if you do)? Let me know in the comments!