Lately, I've had a bit of anxiety over the pups. They are both fine and quite healthy for seniors. They don't act much like seniors. They still demand their daily walks and adventures. I'm convinced daily exercise is what keeps them spry. The problem is me. I'm the one who aged much faster than they did. By some miracle, during the years I treated Lyme disease, I was able to continue our daily walks. And don't forget, I was fairly active in Switzerland when I didn't even know I had Lyme. As the years went on during Lyme treatment, we no longer bike-jored or ran long miles as we did in Switzerland, but we still managed about ninety minutes most days, an hour on others with only a handful of days each year where they didn't get any walks. Considering my condition, those stats are impressive.
But a funny thing happened as I emerged from the hole of Lyme disease. Though I consider myself recovered from Lyme, I found I couldn't do what I used to do before treating Lyme. I sure did a lot when I had Lyme and I didn't treat it. I managed to experience a great ex-pat life, ran, rode bikes, traveled, socialized and entertained at home. So it's natural to expect that this is what I should be able to return to, albeit at a lesser level, in a post-Lyme recovery state. But that's just a pipe dream. At least for me, it is. Sure, we could claim that my inability to do many hiking miles is just time to rebuild my endurance, but I assure you, as a long-time endurance athlete, this is not the case. Something happened to my body with Lyme disease and it will never be the same. And while that's definitely true of aging, those who've had serious chronic illness know that the changes are much more severe than just aging. It's like aging to the power of 10 in a short period of time.
It's hard to put my finger on it, but most Lymies or people with autoimmune disease will tell you, your nervous system is bonkers. That's the best way to explain it. Any kind of stimulus, whether it's a party, a big hike, or just the stressors of work, can bring on an inability to shut down. When I can't shut down, I lose sleep. When I lose sleep, the dog walkies get shorter. And that just brings on more anxiety. If I can't keep my dogs moving, they will certainly slow down as well. Believe me, exercise is the best thing for Juno and Loki goes stark raving mad if he doesn't get at least an hour each day. He really misses the stimulus of all the work he used to do on top of his daily walk. All of this just triggers more anxiety and guilt for not being able to give them what I believe they need to stay healthy. That because I've slowed down, I've caused Juno's muscles to get weaker and Loki to become a bit sad. Rationally I know this is ridiculous. Anxiety always is. None-the-less, that anxiety just adds to the mounting pressure to do more when the reality is, I'll never be able to do as much as I used to do. My body cannot keep up with my intentions. So you see, it's me.
But none of this stops me. I'm still working, still writing, still shooting photos, still dog-walking, still practicing yoga, still gardening, still cooking a bit, and have recently added in another fun activity with Mr. Wild Dingo once per week. (Get your mind out of the gutters, readers! It's a fully-clothed activity!) It sounds like a lot for someone who says they can't do much, but I do tailor all of this and manage by prioritizing and making a lot of time for "down-time" each day. If I don't, the anxiety creeps in and becomes a never-ending vicious cycle of insomnia and all the nasty crud that comes along. If I don't watch out, it can cripple me to the point I can't do a thing. My life is ridiculously over-structured, but it's the crutch I need right now.
"Sounds ruff mom. But do woo want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future? Remember, nothing gets rid of anxiety faster than a roll in the grass!"
And poof! Just like that my anxiety has vanished. Nothing cures stress like a sage-advice and a Siberian-belly-up, or as we like to call it, a "white out" because her belly is blindingly white and spellbinding. Juicy is the sage everyone needs!
Hey, readers, FYI, have you checked out the team section? The pups have their own call-out! I crack myself up. Check it out!
I am seeing some of this with my wife who is six years into lyme plus, even though her many lyme/co-infections apparently cleared about two years ago. In some ways she is actually stronger than before she was infected (for example, walking five to eight+ miles/day at 73), but I suspect she will never fully recover in other areas. The past two years have been very much "three steps forward and two steps backward" (which her very experienced lead Doctor told her would be her path at our very first consult). I am also finding that people who have not had a close family member go through this just don't understand why miraculous recovery has net yet occurred.
I am very happy to see that the pups are doing well!
Thanks Joe! I always enjoy your insight as a partner to a Lymie!