When I see people I haven't seen in awhile our conversation has a way of revolving around my illness. I don't do it intentionally. My friends and family are curious about my progress and healing from my illness takes up a lot of time and brain space. My fellow blogger and writer Susan Pogorzelski posted "10 Things About Me Not Related to My Illness" on her Instagram and I thought it was a great idea. I think it's something we should all think about. I did a similar post called 25 Things You Didn’t Know About Me, which was more fun facts, but this will be more about who I am as a person.
10 Things About Me Not Related to My Illness:
1. I recently watched Minimalism: a Documentary About the Important Things and now my husband and I are planning to downsize our living space and get rid of most of our things. I also plan to read the book Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn, one of the men featured in the documentary, to further my understanding of minimalism.
2. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to go whale watching, and I finally fulfilled that dream when we went on a cruise in Alaska in July/August of 2017. During the cruise we saw whale spouts or tails almost every day. Then, when we were in Juneau we went on a whale watching tour and saw tons of humpback whales and even an orca. We were so lucky to see a double breach (although I only saw the second whale). It was amazing, because whales don't usually breach in Alaska.
I plan to get a humpback whale tattoo for the next Ink to End Lyme event to represent rising up from under the water and strength.
3. Podcasts are my new obsession. I listen while I'm getting ready in the morning, commuting to work, and while doing chores. My favorites include: Lyme Ninja Radio, The School of Greatness, Beautiful Writers Podcast, Pod Save America, 2 Dope Queens, Gleeman & The Geek (Minnesota Twins podcast), The Art History Babes, You Must Remember This, and The Social Work Podcast. Maybe I'll start one of my own one day.
6. I love the water and anything that has to do with water. The ocean, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and even fountains. We visited Niagara Falls this past summer and it was breathtaking.
4. I grew up in Minneapolis and it's still one of my favorite places. I go back about three times a year and always love driving along the river and seeing how things have changed since the last time I was there. The friendliest and most down to earth people live in Minnesota. I'd move there if it wasn't so cold.
5. Chai tea lattes are my biggest weakness, so I bribe myself with them. If I go to a yoga class, I allow myself one small chai tea latte (with alternative milk of course). At home, I brew a cup of decaf chai tea and then add hemp milk.
6. I love taking our dog, Scooter, on walks around our neighborhood in Chicago. The truth is he actually walks me, because he knows where he wants to go and leads me there. He's stubborn, but incredibly loving. Sometimes I dress him up and he hates it.
7. I don't have any children and I'm not currently planning to have any. I have a niece and nephew whom I adore and are good for a kid fix when I need one.
8. My lucky number is four and my lucky symbol is the four-leaf clover, even though clover is considered a weed in Ireland. The reason is because I was born on June 14th.
9. I'm a true Gemini--full of contradictions and a personality pulled in opposite directions. Gemini's are known communicators and I love to communicate through speaking and writing. We're naturally inquisitive and ambitious, but also easily bored and overly opinionated.
10. My favorite thing to do is travel and my goal is to see the world. The next destinations I want to visit are Hawaii, London, Italy, and Australia.
Please consider doing this exercise. It helped me remember that my illness does not define me. I decide what defines me. I would be happy to create a blog post for you about your ten things. Just reach out through my contact page with your list and a few pictures.
"Identity cannot be formed or fabricated, but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go." - Doug Cooper
On March 9th, 2017 the Global Lyme Alliance hosted an Evening of Art and Education in Chicago. It was the the first GLA event held outside of New England. The Event took place at the Matthew Rachman Gallery and featured two Lyme doctors, Dr. Casey Kelley from Whole Health Chicago and Dr. Christopher Janson.
The evening began with a social hour with drinks and gluten-free appetizers. I brought my husband, so he could meet people in the Lyme community and learn some new information.
During the social hour we met Kasey, a Chicago area Lyme fighter, who reached out the GLA to bring the event to Chicago, and did much of the planning. We also talked to a newly diagnosed patient, just starting out on the long road to healing. There was an electric energy in the room of camaraderie and understanding.
I was delighted to meet the CEO of the GLA, Scott Santarella, and introduce myself as a contributor to the GLA blog.
After the social hour Scott and Kasey talked about the GLA mission and the importance of bringing events to the midwest. I was touched when Scott said, "There is no other disease in the world where the patients are treated so unjustly."
Then, they introduced the doctors: Dr. Christopher Jason is a neurologist, who works does research and works out of the University of Illinois at Chicago. His current research on the blood brain barrier is funded by the GLA. Dr. Casey Kelley is a functional medicine doctor at Whole Health Chicago.
The doctors gave brief explanations of their areas of expertise and then answered questions from the attendees. People in the group had excellent questions about testing, symptoms, depression and Lyme, and many other important topics.
Dr. Kelley talked about how in Lyme treatment there are, "Different paths up the mountain," and that everyone responds differently. She also commented that a major part of Lyme treatment is "cleaning up the mess, so the body can rebuild on its own," and said, "remission is possible."
It was a lovely evening and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I came away hopeful, but as with anything related to Lyme, also frustrated and confused about why recognition and funding continues to be an uphill battle.
Here's a picture from the end of the evening with fellow Lyme fighter and friend, Jenny:
I want to thank the GLA for bringing the event to Chicago and I look forward to future events.
"Life is precious and time is a key element. Let's make every moment count and help those who have a greater need than our own." - Harmon Killebrew
One reason people get tattoos is to commemorate an important experience. When I was struggling to get a diagnosis and at rock bottom, I promised myself I would get a tattoo when I finally found the answer. I wanted the tattoo to represent the fact that I never, ever gave up, even when it seemed like I might not get better.
As it turned out the diagnosis was only the beginning. Through the process I learned a lot about myself and felt my purpose shifting. A health professional I follow on Facebook posted this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:
The phrase, "no mud, no lotus" rang true true for me. There are so many beautiful things that have grown out of this illness: I have found medical professionals that I trust, I have met tons of amazing people, both in person and online, I started my writing career, I started eating nutritious foods, I made meditation and yoga a priority, and I completely, re-framed my outlook on life. The biggest thing was it gave me the bravery to leave my job.
Oprah says when the universe wants to tell you something it starts with a whisper. My whisper started 10 years ago and kept getting louder and louder. Getting sick was the universe screaming at me, "You're going the wrong way." Without this illness I never would've found my way back to my true path.
So, one day I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, and I came upon a tweet about the Lyme Warrior campaign Ink to End Lyme. (You can read my interview with Lyme Warrior President and Founder Lauren Lovejoy here)
It was the excuse I was waiting for to get my next tattoo. On the Ink to End Lyme campaign page I found out there is a tattoo artist in Chicago who also has Lyme and was participating in the event.
I contacted Kyle Adani at Revolution Tattoo and asked if he would do my tattoo. He graciously accepted and designed a beautiful lotus flower tattoo.
Here he is at work. Doesn't hurt a bit:
And here is the finished product:
It was such a special experience to get a tattoo about my Lyme journey done by another Lyme warrior. We talked about our shared experience, as all Lyme patients tend to do when we meet, and it resulted in a very meaningful piece of art.
Tattoos aren't for everyone, but many Lyme patients feel compelled to document their experience. It's not my first and it won't be my last; it marks another chapter in this long and beautiful journey.
"The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud." - Buddhist Proverb
I'm Kerry and I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in 2016. This is a positive space for those of us coping with Lyme disease and other invisible illnesses.