Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Giver

Deep breath. Relax. I do not like this frozen state I am in...and I am not talking about the weather. It is my observant nature to notice the needs of others, to feel their suffering, to do everything I can to help. I seriously think that if I were to win the lottery, I would stash away enough money for my kids college education and the rest would go towards helping others.

I have always been a sensitive soul and believe, as I get older, my purpose is being defined as
The Giver.

Christmas is approaching like a bullet train running full speed ahead and instead of divulging in the chaos, I just want to be still and soak in every cherished moment.  I am noticing that I am withdrawing from the madness. I refuse to go to the mall. I haven't a clue what my Christmas card will be this year. I haven't started writing my annual letter. My shopping is slowly being done with a grudge. The commercialism of Christmas is what I cringe.
It makes us greedy and compare each other to our friends. I try to avoid Facebook on December 26th because I really don't care what diamond necklace you received or if you gave your kid the latest version of the Xbox or iPad.

I resent the fact I have to buy a zillion Christmas gifts and a society deadline/pressure to send out my Christmas cards. I wish the holiday season made us focus instead on doing random acts of kindness, volunteering and relishing the time we spend with our precious family & friends.
Gifts are nice when they are given as a choice, out of love. But these gifts should be given spontaneously, year round, and they shouldn't be focused on "material things." The gift of your time is priceless.
This resentment does not come from jealousy or an inability to compete for giving the best present. It simply stems from a desire to give back, to make Christmas more than about you, to be a giver to those in need, who are less fortunate.

I'm realizing that when life has thrown the biggest hurdle at you and then you are given the grace to get back up again is when you truly understand the concept of what life is really about. None of the material things matter in the end. It is about how you gave back the goodness given to you, with love, kindness and faith.

Take a step back and examine your giving ways. How can you give back this holiday season? How will you focus on the importance of the season instead of the best gifts you can buy? Will you collect winter coats for the homeless? Volunteer at a shelter? Collect food from the neighbors and donate to a local food pantry? Organize a community event and have the donations go to charity? Cook a meal and deliver it to a friend who is having difficulty this holiday season? Write letters to our servicemen/women? Bake cookies and deliver them to a nursing home?
I challenge you to find a way to volunteer, to participate in a random act of kindness or to make a difference in someone else's life, who is not as fortunate as you. Better yet, if you have kids, get them involved too! They are never too young to start learning about how to care for others and to feel empathy. Together, we can celebrate the Reason for the Season and make the world a better place.
"The one thing you can't put in a box and wrap with a bow is your time, love and friendship."
~ quote from my 10 year old daughter, who brings joy to everyone she meets and is always seeking ways to help other's

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

#Giving Tuesday

Today is a very special day.  A day for you to give back to your community. I have organized a fundraiser for #GivingTuesday to benefit the National Capital Lyme Disease Association.

I NEED YOUR HELP! My goal is to reach $2,000. And as a lone fundraiser, this is a lofty goal. No donation is too small and every single $$ is appreciated! *This link will remain active after Dec 3rd. Please help me Take A Bite Out of Lyme Disease!!*

The CDC has confirmed 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease in the United States. It is crippling lives and it does not discriminate.  Are you or know someone who is battling Lyme Disease?

My Story and Why this Cause is So Important to Me ~
I have been fighting my own battle with Lyme Disease since I was 25 years old when I woke up one morning feeling paralyzed. It was terrifying not being able to walk. I remember having to fall out of bed and crawl to the bathroom, the morning when my life as I knew it, would drastically change. I spent 6 months on crutches and battled chronic pain and fatigue. I missed work. I couldn't drive because my neck was stiff. I developed iritis in my eye, a painful, inflammatory eye disease. I saw numerous specialists, had gallons of blood drawn, x-rays taken, a CATScan, and a MRI done, and they all came back with no conclusive answer on why I felt like I was dying at such a young age.

I was misdiagnosed. Over and Over again.  First, it was "all in my head" then I had "ankylosing spondylitis" and finally, it was determined I had "fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue," even though I did not technically meet all the criteria for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I was given an RX for Celebrex which I chose not to fill. I was told to give up running and to take up a new sport, like swimming. Throughout the years, I would have good days and bad days and kept the crutches close by my bedside.

Finally, in 2010, my Lyme Disease diagnosis was confirmed. I was treated with oral antibiotics for 2 weeks and was discharged from my doctor.  However, a couple of months later, while training for my first marathon, I was extremely fatigued and my wrists and elbows hurt which was a new pain symptom. I was referred to an infectious disease doctor who prescribed oral antibiotics for 30 days.  When I finished the 30 days of antibiotics, supposedly I was "cured."

In 2013, after a year long episode of annoying, unexplained foot pain, I advocated to my doctor for re-testing of  Lyme Disease. The same 3 bands came up positive on my Western Blot that were positive in 2010. My doctor didn't think I had been cured. She said I was battling chronic Lyme Disease. I have taken oral antibiotics for two months and have had to advocate for continued treatment. It is difficult for a doctor to believe you have Lyme Disease symptoms when you can run marathon's. I am currently exploring holistic treatment options and have found acupuncture to be helpful. My infectious disease doctor has said the next step in my treatment plan is IV antibiotics for 30 days. I am hesitant to begin this treatment because I'm signing myself up for 30 days of no running or cross training. These are two key components that I have discovered to help me live a productive life, unlike so many individuals, living with chronic Lyme Disease.

I started running the distance on Thanksgiving Day 2009. It is a significant day in my life because it was the day that I decided it was time to move again. I saw my husband putting on his running shoes and joined my husband on a run, which had become a foreign concept to me. At each 1/2 mile, he nervously asked me if I wanted to turn back and I said "Let's Keep Going!" I ran 5 miles that day and ran my first marathon less than a year later. I believe that running has saved me from a life of pain. But I battle symptoms of annoying, unexplained foot pain, neuro symptoms -such as brain fog and overwhelming fatigue and my gut is so messed up, I only eat protein, green veggies and that is about it. I can't tolerate sugar (sugar is in EVERYTHING) and even my morning cup of java is not enjoyable to sip anymore.

BUT I CAN RUN THE DISTANCE!! My infectious disease doctor says it is "Unbelievable" that someone with chronic Lyme Disease is able to run a 50 Mile race!!  I just completed my 2nd ultra marathon, the JFK 50 Miler on 11/23/13, to raise awareness of Lyme Disease and to fundraise for the National Capital Lyme Disease Association. Here is the link to the fundraiser that will be active until the end of the year:

Will you please help me "Take a Bite out of Lyme?" Please donate TODAY using the CrowdRise link and let's find a cure to this disease that is destroying lives.