And, We’re Back in Business

It was last week when I felt a little twinge and I thought “Humm… I would like to work on When Life Hands You Lymes again.” I didn’t think much about it because I was in the process of writing a book in a totally different series. 
Then, a day or so later I felt the urge again. That’s when it hit me, Oh my goodness! I WANT TO WORK ON WLHYL! I was amazed and excited and enthusiastic and promptly sat down to begin the sixth draft. 
Why did this evoke so much emotion from me? Well, ever since finishing the fifth draft of WLHYL at the end of October I have not wanted to see or hear or even think about anything to do with the book or with Lyme disease. It was to the point that I would immediately switch to a new train of thought if the story entered my mind or else I would feel like crying. (Drama much, anyone?)

After a six and a half week break I felt refreshed, renewed, and eager to tackle the project again. Reading the book has been rewarding this time through. Yes, there are still issues and who knows what all a professional editor will say when they get it in their hands… But it’s come so far from the first draft and even further from the seed that was planted in my heart when I was on my way home from an out-of-state specialist who finally diagnosed me with Lyme disease three and a half years ago.

This isn’t my story, and yet in a way it is my story. That is what makes it so hard and tear-inducing and rewarding. That is why I want to make it the best that I can. That is why it’s taken me so very long to complete.

Wanting to immerse myself in WHLYL again feels like a gift and I’m so very thankful for it. I think within a few weeks (maybe months?) it will be time to move on to the next stage of getting the book published and I think at long last I’m ready for that.

* * *
What about you? Do you have a project that is hard to work on because it’s so much a part of you? What stage are you on with your writing? 

When Life Hands You Lymes #88

Happy Friday! Yikes, y’all. This is the second to last When Life Hands You Lymes post. Crazy, right? This is the 88th week of me posting these segments and I’m not sure how to wrap my mind around the fact that it will soon be over. It will be incredibly weird for me to write a normal post on Friday, so I still haven’t decided what I’ll do… 
Anyway, I have a busy day today, but I made sure to get up in enough time for me to post this in the morning because hey, it’s important to be on time for the second to last week, right? 
I hope y’all have a great day and enjoy the story! 

Last Chapter 
“There are so many things spilling around in my head that I can’t even think any more.” I gave Julia a dull look. “I know I need to move on. I feel ready to move on. Yet I’m not sure how to processes all that’s going on inside my brain and every time I start to process it, life gets in the way and sabotages what little headway I’ve made.” 
“So, outsmart life.” Julia didn’t look up from the examine she was studying for. 
“Right.” Going over I closed her textbook. “How?” 
“Get away from it.” 
“No.” Julia stood up and stretched. “I didn’t think you were actually talking about breathing when you said life.” 
“Ok. I wasn’t.” She did have a point. 
“You’re talking about the every day interruptions and duties and people, that kind of thing, right?” 
“Get away from it.” 
“Go spend a week in some far away location where no one will bother you and you can block out the world.” 
“You’re a lifesaver.” I grabbed her hands and danced around the room. “Where should I go?” 
“Where do you want to go?” Julia grinned. “I mean, after all your Dad does own an airline which pretty much means you have the world at your finger tips.” 
I sat down on the couch, put my elbows on my knees and rest my face on my hands, a smile spreading across my face. “Hocking Hills sounds good.” 
Julia gave a dramatic sigh as she plopped down next to me. “A national park that’s a two hour drive away would be my choice of destinations if I was offered any place on earth, too.” 
I nudged her, “Hey, this isn’t about where I’m going or what I can see. It’s about closing one chapter of my life and opening another, right? So who cares what it looks like as long as it’s peaceful, secluded and safe?” 
When I told my parents about Julia’s idea, they quickly agreed. 
“Madalyn, that really is just what you need. A week to think through everything that has happened and find healing and get ready to move on.” Mom gave my shoulder a hard squeeze. “I’m so happy that you’re getting better.”
“Me too.” 
“Do you think a week will be long enough?” Dad was already busy looking on-line for a place where I could go to. My parents are total go-getters.
“I’m not sure, but I think if I went for any longer than a week I might just go crazy. I’m not used to being by myself for so long.” 
“Honey, when have you ever been by yourself?” Mom went and looked over Dad’s shoulder. 
I tilted my head, thinking about her question. “I’ve never gone away by myself.” That surprised me. “Wow.” 
“This is going to be a good experience for you then.” Mom made a silly face at me. “As long as you don’t get it into your head that you want to move out.” 
“Haha, thanks. I’m perfectly happy living here.” And I am. I don’t know if I would have been able to survive my years with Lyme disease without my parents support. 
“What about this cabin?” Dad turned the laptop so I could see the screen. 
“It’s cute and cozy, has peaceful surroundings and yet is still close enough to other people so that it isn’t dangerous.” Mom began ticking off the points on her fingers. “And look, right there is the perfect place for you to set up your keyboard and, oh, a kitchenette so you don’t have to leave to eat.” 
“It looks good. Thanks.” I gave Dad the thumbs up and he began drafting a email to the owners. 
“So, what did your parents think of the idea? Julia asked that night when I climbed into bed. 
“Have I ever mentioned you’re nosey?” I smacked her with a pillow. 
“Have I ever reminded you that it was my idea in the first place and that I’m your best friend and that you would be totally lost without me and that I help you with more stuff than you can even imagine and that half of your good ideas come from me and-”
“And that you sing your own praises and butter your own toast and drink your own tea and make your own bed and sometimes even wash your own hair.” 
“What does that have to do with anything?” Julia grabbed the pillow from me and then whacked it across my stomach. 
“That’s what I thought you little answer-avoider, changer of subjects and all-around sneaky little muffin.” 
“What flavor?” 
“Of muffin? Blueberry.” 
I made gagging noises. “Come on. At least let me be orange-cranberry.” 
Come on, at least let me be orange cranberry and if I keep talking enough and changing the subject then I’ll confuse Julia and she’ll forget her question.” Julia spoke in a squeaky voice, mocking me. “Ew, you smell by the way.” 
I gave Julia a curious look. “I just took a shower and brushed my teeth.” 
“You said I smell.” 
“What else would you do with your nose.” 
“Uggg.” I covered my face with my hands.
“I know, I’ve been hanging out with Darrick way too much.” 
“Ok. So, the cabin’s rented. Dates are set and I’m going to be packing next week.” 
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Julia raised to one elbow and gave me an incredulous look. 
“Your family is so fast with everything. After six months I’m still getting used to the fact that one of you get an idea and the next thing I know it’s either being worked on or it’s already accomplished.” 
“Is that a problem?”
“No, it’s utterly fantastic. I love how you guys make things happen.” 
“Are you sure you’ve packed enough?” Julia’s sarcastic voice made me glance around. “One keyboard, one violin, one guitar, a suitcase of clothes, five gallons of water, food to feed an army, a computer, six notebooks and journals, three candles and a dozen miscellaneous things.” 
“I forgot my teapot.” I turn to go back in the house. 
“You can’t be serious.” 
“I am. Thanks for reminding me.” I ran up the stairs, two at a time, grabbed my tea pot from my kitchenette and came back downstairs. 
“Are you sure you should be going alone? Maybe you should have someone there so you can cry on their shoulder.” Julia helped me load my stuff into Harmony. 
“I was just thinking that.” I jiggled my piano to make sure it was secure. “I really do need to have this time to process though.” 
“I know.” Julia gave me a hug when we’re finished loading. “And I’m glad you can go. I’ll miss you though. You know that, right?” 
“And I’ll miss you, too.” 
“You’ve got to go and I’ve got to get back in to work,” Julia said after we’ve stood there for a minute. “Go have an amazing time. This is going to be awesome and life changing and all that good kind of stuff.” 
“Thanks.” I gave her one last hug then climbed in my Jeep and drove away. 
Somehow I knew this week was going to be bigger and more important than I could even imagine. I’d been sick for three years. Closing one chapter and opening a new one would be difficult, but worthwhile. 
I felt almost giddy with excitement as I pulled on to the main road and rolled my windows down. I put some praise and worship music in and sang along with it at the top of my lungs. 
The two and a half hour drive seemed to fly by and I was amazed when it was finally time for me to begin following the directions the owner of the cabin had emailed us. The cabin was just as cute in real life as it was on line and it smelled like honeysuckle and wild mint. I unloaded my belongings, struggling to get the keyboard through the doorway, and then stood back and surrey my pile of stuff. 
“First things first.” I turned the classical music on my phone to random and then began organizing everything, starting with the perishable foods. An hour later everything was set up and I had two candles burning. 
I slipped off my shoes and then took the clock off the wall and stick it in a drawer. This week I was going to focus on the internal instead of the external. I picked up one of my prayer journals, reclined on the couch and began reading. 
That night when I finally crawled into the bed my mind is bursting, going around in circles, trying to sort and categorized everything I’d read, felt and experienced in the last few hours. I turned to explain something to Julia, only to remember that she’s not here with me. 
The next few days dragged by. I read my journals, took notes and wrote down ideas. I relived the pain I felt while feeling alone and forgotten. I let myself recall the times people had been insensitive. The mean things Katie said. The thoughtless comments my friends would make. The uncalled for remarks from nurses. Each time I recalled an instance, I would dwell on it for a moment, remembering the pain, then I would shake it out of my head. “Those days are over. I forgive them. I’m moving on.” 
Allowing myself to remember so I could purposely forgive began the emotional healing processes I had been searching for. Instead of feeling guilty whenever I thought about the hurt I had felt, I let myself accept it as part of my past. Because my past is part of my history. My past could make me stronger if I choose to use it as a springboard to move to the next level. 
Some of the hardest times to remember were when people who were close to me had hurt me by being insensitive. I loved the people so it bothered me to actually acknowledge the fact that they had caused me pain. I wanted to blame myself, to beat myself up for being sensitive. But I had spent years beating myself up. Now it was time to accept, forgive and move on.
My mind was achingly numb each night after the many hours I had spent playing my violin and keyboard. I composed songs with a mournful tunes I didn’t even know I had in me. Grabbing my phone and notebook I recorded all of my music sessions and scribbled enough to fill two notebooks. Mom had told me once that my pain might some day turn into music that people could relate to, and it seemed like she was right. 
The second half of the week filled me with excitement. Now that I had explored and learned from and re-experienced the sick years of my life I was ready to move on. I placed all my journals in a box and taped it shut. Going around and around with the heavy duty tape until the box was no longer visible. I wouldn’t throw it away, but I would bury it deep in some unknown closet and forget about it. After sticking the box under the back seat of my Jeep, I skipped joyfully back to the cabin. 

“New chapter. Blank page. A world of possibilities.” Sitting down at my keyboard, I took a deep breath and let my smile spill down to my fingers and race along the keys in a jaunty tune. My world was now a brighter place. A universe filled with possibilities and joys that were just waiting to be explored. 

When Life Hands You Lymes #87

Happy late Friday night! I’m sitting here at the Creation Museum listening the rain outside and thinking about how excited I am about tomorrow and our caving adventure that is going to be taking place. 
I hope y’all enjoy the 87th segment of my fictional story, When Life Hands You Lymes. 
“This is a beautiful location for a doctor’s office.” Darrick pulled out his cell phone and snapped a few pictures. “Why didn’t you tell us it was so magnificent?” 
We’re standing in the driveway and Darrick and Julia are both turning in a full circle, taking in the mountain ranges and brilliant blue sky. “I was focused on other things.” 
“Right. And speaking of that we should head on in.” Mom pointed toward the door. “We don’t want to be late. We’ll be here most of the day though, so if you want to come back outside after we’ve signed in, then be my guest.” 
“I’m really glad you guys included me on this trip.” Julia whispered to me after we are seated in the waiting room and all the paperwork has been done. 
I laughed. “You make it sound like we’re going to an amusement park, not sitting in a doctor’s office.” 
Julia shrugged. “In my mind it’s a mini family vacation and I’m enjoying every moment of it.” She pulled out her laptop and turned it on. 
“To each her own.” I grinned and tapped the computer. “Nothing’s more fun in my book then sitting in a waiting room filling out reports for my boss.” 
“Hardy ha, ha.” Julia smacked at my hand. “Aren’t you just so cute.” 
“I think she is. She must take after me.” Darrick plopped down on the other side of me. 
“Wait a second, is it possible for a sibling to take after another sibling?” I gave Darrick a puzzled look. 
“I think you’re proof that it is.” Darrick knocked on my head with his knuckles. 
“Or we both take after Mom and Dad.” I gestured toward our parents who are sitting next to each other and working on the same computer. 
“You do kind of look like Dad,” Darrick studied my face. “Except you don’t have as much of a shadow as he does.” 
“Did he just insult you?” Julia’s eyes widened. “Cause I can totally take him out into the parking lot and beat him up for you.” 
I felt my shoulders sag. “You two are acting just like little kids.” 
“Cute little kids,” Darrick winked at me. 
“Well, at least one of us is cute.” 
“Madalyn, would you like to be first?” The nurse smiled when I stood up with a nod.
“Mom, you’re coming, right?” 
“Of course.” Mom never missed a chance to take notes. “You’re not nervous, are you?” 
“I plead the fifth.” I followed Mom and the nurse up the stairs to the doctors office. It was just as comfortable and comforting as I remembered and I felt a thin covering of peace fall over me. This is going to be good. No matter what the doctor had to say I’d be able to accept it as my reality for that moment but know I was moving on. 
“Your blood pressure is high,” the doctor said after checking it. Dr. Shay is the first doctor I’ve ever had who checked it herself instead of regulating that duty to a nurse. 
“I’m a little worked up.” I willed myself to calm down. 
“Why is that?” Dr. Shay sat back and clasped her hands in her lap as if she has all day to listen to me. 
“I have a feeling that I’m going to find out that I’m over Lyme disease.” 
Dr. Shay’s eyebrows raised. I don’t bother looking at Mom because I’m pretty sure her reaction is the same. “Is there a problem with that?” Dr. Shay asked. “I was under the impression that that was the goal we were working toward.” 
“It is.” I rubbed my neck with both my hands. “The problem is that I was hoping I would feel all of the way better when I found out I was over Lyme disease, and I’m not. I just need to get used to the idea.”
“Why is it that you think you’re over the disease?” 
“I don’t know.” I grimaced. “I have this intuition that I am though.” 
“And your idea is that if you find out that you are over Lyme disease and yet you still don’t feel up to par people are going to look down on you and judge you again and think you’re lazy?” 
I snorted. “Are you a mind reader, Dr. Shay?” 
She laughs, “No, but I’ve been around the disease long enough to know how it works. Don’t worry though. If the tests come back telling us that you are healed, then take that as a gift and celebrate the milestone. Don’t allow yourself to be robbed of happiness at good news just because expectations aren’t met or people are going to think the wrong thing about you.” 
“Thanks for the pep talk.” I took a deep breath. “Let’s get this thing going.” 
An hour later we’ve covered a large range of topics and I’ve given her updates on all the health conditions I can think of. She commended me for sticking to my diet so well and told me that I can stop taking one of my herbal teas. 
“Are you ready for the news?” Dr. Shay asked after studying the results from the tests we’ve been running while I sat there. 
I closed my eyes and watch the last three years of my life rush past me. So much of my history is contained in those three years, but even though the news of me being healthy might not come in exactly the condition I had dreamed of it arriving in, I am ready. “Bring it on.” 
“You, my dear Madalyn, are free from Lyme disease.” 
I felt tears welling up in my eyes and suddenly it doesn’t matter that my health isn’t in mint condition. “What?” I needed to hear the words again. 
“You are free of Lyme disease.” 
The rest of the appointment was a haze and I couldn’t keep the smile from taking over my face. 
“I think I’m going to go for a walk,” I told Mom as we were coming down from the doctor’s office. 
“Do you want to tell the family first?” 
I shook my head. I want solitude. “You can.” 
“That’s not happening.” Mom shook her head. “You can tell them when you come back in.” 
“Ok.” I left the building, happy I didn’t have to go through the waiting room. I spent the first several moments trying to categorize my emotions then gave up. I jogged slowly up the mountain side, my breathing still adjusting to the higher elevation of the town. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. When I reached a plateau at last I found a boulder and sat down on it. The air is warm around me but the rock is still chilly from the cold night. There are flowers growing and patches of earth and rock chips. Somewhere off in the distance I could hear birds singing and the low rumble of vehicles passing by. The wind blew gently, bringing a wave of warm air. 
“God, thank You.” I raised both hands in the air and looked up at the cloudless sky, joy filling my veins. “I survived.” The two words are all I say, but I felt them deeply. Somehow I knew that no matter what the rest of my life brought I would always know I am capable of more than I had realized. I survived Lyme disease and I came out the victor. 

Sure, I still had a long way to go, but at least I was on the right side of the mountain. I was going down now instead of continuing the endlessly long trek upward. The trail still had bumps and I’d surely fall and get bruises along the way.  I was tough though. I could handle some blood and bruises. I sat there long enough, gazing at the world around me, for the sun to noticeably change positions before climbing off my rock and stretching my legs and beginning the walk back down the mountain trail to where my family sat in the waiting room, waiting to hear the news that they’ve probably all already guessed. The Emerson family is Lyme disease free and that is reason to celebrate. 

When Life Hands You Lymes #86

Good morning, y’all! I just spent a while reading the last couple chapters of When Life Hands You Lymes because guess what? We only have three segments left after this one! That means September is the last month that I’ll be posting segments of When Life Hands You Lymes on Noveltea. I’m so excited about that. You, me and this book have been through a lot together!
Today was also the first time I’ve read the ending to the book since I wrote it back in April. Of course it needs a ton of work, but it was pretty cool getting to actually read the ending! I hope y’all enjoy this segment and as always, comments are appreciated. 
Have a great Friday, y’all!

“It will be good to see Dr. Shay again.” Mom shifted in her seat. 
“I’m glad you all are coming along.” I gave Darrick and Julia both a thumbs up. Mom had been so excited about the health tips Dr. Shay had given her when we visited back in January that the whole family who lived at home was flying out in one of our personal planes with Dad as the pilot. 
“Do you think you’re over Lyme disease by now?” Darrick peered at me intently, as if trying to see into my thoughts. 
“I’m don’t feel like I am.” I shrugged. “The doctor did say that because of the high level of stress my body has been under while trying to fight the disease that I’ll continue to feel bad for several months after the disease itself has been killed.”
“Right, and you’re not having any herxhimer reactions any more so that’s a good sign, right?” Julia asked. 
“I’ll say it is. I wasn’t sure I’d survive her wrath when those spirochetes were dying off.” 
I glared at my brother. “I wasn’t sure I would survive it either, so cool it.” 
“What will you do if you find out that you are over Lyme disease?”  
“I will go for a run all by myself and laugh and cry and celebrate. Then I will take my violin to the top of a mountain and play while watching the sunset.” 
“You’ve thought about this before?” Darrick seems surprised. 
“How else do you think I convince myself to keep going? Of course I think about the next step on the road to recovery. I want to be whole. I want to be better. I dream of diving back into life and experiencing it like a healthy person would.” 
“We’re close you know.” Darrick punched my shoulder. 
“To Colorado?” 
“To recovery.” 
“You think so?” It was so hard to find the balance between being hopeful and being realistic.  I didn’t want to set myself back by having too high of expectations, but I didn’t want to be cynical either. And the balance between the two was being rather elusive. 
“Yep. I think so.” Darrick grinned at me then turned to look out his window. I followed his example and sighed in delight at the gorgeous mountain ranges below us. 
Our night at the hotel was filled with games, popcorn and coconut juice.
I sighed. “I can hardly believe we are here to go to a doctor.” Julia was brushing her teeth as I lie in bed, arms above my head. “It feels like a family vacation, yet I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach like tomorrow is going to be huge.” 
“It will be huge.” Julia turned off the light above the sink and crawled into the bed next to mine. “No matter what the doctor says it’s going to be progress. Even though you don’t feel perfect you are getting better and that’s what matters right?” 
I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me in the dark. “I almost don’t want to find out that I’m over Lyme disease.” 
“I dreamed of feeling all the way better when I found out I was over Lyme disease, but recently I’ve realized that might not be the case.” 
“Meaning you don’t want to find out that you’re ‘quote and quote healthy’ when you’re still struggling so much with your health problems?” 
“Exactly.” I rubbed my face with both hands and let out a little moan. “I feel so complicated at times.” 
“I don’t think that’s complicated.” Julia’s words are slurred like she’s falling asleep. “It’s natural that you want to feel well so you can thoroughly celebrate getting better and moving on with life.”
I don’t bother answering, Julia’s probably asleep anyway. After forty-five minutes of my brain continuing to twist and turn down previously-explored pathways I slipped out of bed and rummaged as quietly as possible through my backpack until I found my journal and pen. Going into the bathroom I shut the door then turned on the light. I placed a towel on the floor then sit down with my back against the door and opened my journal. 
Normal. I crave it. Only I don’t know what normal is any more. Is it some hardship that I’ve glorified? A picturesque ideal that will never exist in my life again? Am I supposed to find a new normal? Be content with my current state of being? 
If I do hear that I’m healed from Lyme disease will I be able to rejoice or will I only mourn my continued lack of energy and not feeling well? I feel so much better than I did a six weeks ago. I’m leaps and bounds beyond where I was six months ago. Yet I crave to have the boundless energy Julia seems to have. To be able to go, go, go like Mom. To be pain free and live life without the fear of sudden break down of total exhaustion. 
God, am I ungrateful for the gifts You’ve given to me? I pray not. I am thankful. I do rejoice at how well I’m feeling. But sometimes it feels like it’s not enough. I’m on a journey and in the far distance I can see the beauty waiting for me, beckoning me to come but the path is treacherous. 
I leaned my head back against the cool wooden door and closed my eyes, taking a few minutes to breath deeply. To exist in the moment. To not worry about what I will or won’t hear tomorrow. 
My destination looks like it’s far away in the distance, yet I can see it. I’m happy to continue the journey. If I find out tomorrow that I am over Lyme disease though, what will I feel like then? I know I have a problem with feeling guilty about the silliest things and I don’t want to feel guilty if I find out that I’m healed when I’m still suffering. 

I sit there twiddling my thumbs for few minutes then put the lid back on my pen and go back to bed. “Whatever You have in store for me, God, I’ll be happy and I will rejoice.” 

When Life Hands You Lymes #85

Hey Everyone! Here it is! The 85th segment of my fictional story, When Life Hands You Lymes. Please sit back and enjoy. 
“The days when the herxheimer reaction started were the worst. The most horrible and plain-laced, guilt-driven and miserable days of my life. I curled up in bed, begging God to let me die. I didn’t know how to handle what was going on and I had lost the fresh face of hope that had been offered to me when I had been feeling better. The seconds, minutes, hours and days crawled by in a haze of pain, confusion and heart-wrenching calls to God to sustain me, then they blurred as weeks passed. 
“When I finally began to feel better, I was skittish. I’d gone through too many ups and downs to even let myself hope that one day I’d be all the way better. So I pushed the thought out of my brain. I had learned to cope while being sick and I could continue on. It was all I knew. Somewhere back in my far distant childhood I knew I’d felt energetic all the time, but those days were more like a dream than anything else by this time. 
“When I finally realized that the herbs were indeed doing their job and I would continue to get better and one day soon I’d be free of Lyme disease, I began a legit freak out. At first I didn’t know what was going on. I spent many hours at night staring at the ceiling wondering what in the world was happening. Then finally it hit me. Being sick was my comfort zone. It was all I remembered. I am so used to being me, I was so used to having Lyme disease that I wasn’t sure how to function with being healthy. 
“Pain, brain fog, tiredness… It’s all part of my life. It’s so engrained in my brain that I was’t sure how to get rid of it. And, I wasn’t sure what I would do without being sick. Somehow, without me knowing it, Lyme disease had snuck in and became part of my identity and I hated it. I was ashamed of it. That right there is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever said. My days were spent trying to re-work the facts in such a way to give me peace of mind and help me be able to say that no, I wasn’t actually scared of being healthy. And if the whole truth be known, I wasn’t just scared of being healthy. I was terrified. I was so confused and so out of my comfort zone and so in over my head that I felt like an emotional wreck half of the time. Then I beat myself up because logically that was the stupidest thing I had ever thought or done or even considered. 
“I’m logical. I know how to deal with emotions. I know how to box up my thoughts and categorize them and make sense of all the little leftovers. But with this I felt absolutely helpless. I was frozen with fear. I felt stupid and humiliated. If I had any pride left from my almost three years of being sick you may be assured that my pride has met it’s death under the swift and unmerciful master of my dread. 
“And yet I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get all the way better until I could condition my mind and come up with the right mindset. That made me feel even more guilty because in essence that meant that I could be doing leaps and bounds better by then, but my stupid, embarrassing, horrifying fear of being healthy was holding me back.” Turning around rapidly I pounded the bed with my fist, “Did you hear me, Julia? I’m scared to death of being healthy!” I screamed the words, my heart thumping wildly. “I know,” I whispered. “I must be going crazy.” I tried to find the strength to pull my eyes up and meet Julia’s gaze, but I was afraid. I didn’t know what I’d see. Condemnation. Confusion. Boredom. Fear. Maybe even hatred. 
“Madalyn. You’re the strongest person I know.” 
Her words came out so soft that at first I wasn’t sure I had heard them right. Of course she couldn’t have just said I was strong. I had just confessed I was scared of being healthy. In my mind that was the ultimate sign of weakness. How could someone become so immersed in themselves and their sickness that healthy no longer seemed like the right choice?
“Madalyn.” Julia called my name again, and this time I dared to look up. “You, Madalyn, are the strongest person I know.” 
I opened my mouth, maybe to argue, maybe to defend myself in case she was being sarcastic, but then I stopped. Because right there, stamped on her face, amid her tears, was the smile of acceptance and love that I had craved for but thought was so far away. “Really?” Confusion washed over me. Had she not heard a word I had just said? 
“Being sick is your comfort zone right now. It is what you know. Being healthy must be a terrifying thought. But you’re fighting. You’re fighting those fears. Fighting those boarders of your comfort zone and you’re going to break though. I know you will.” 
For the first time in several months, my heart began to hope again. “You really believe that, Julia, don’t you?” 

“One hundred percent.”

When Life Hands You Lymes #84

Hey Everyone! Yes, yes, I know this post is rather late. It seems to be the theme on the Friday posts, but it’s up! Welcome to the 84th segment of my fictional story, When Life Hands You Lymes… 

“That’s when the trips to the doctors began. There were so many of them. Different doctors had different responses. Some doctors we went back to, others only took one visit for us to know they weren’t going to be helping with what we needed. It was also during that time that I began to realize people weren’t understanding what was going on. Because I still looked fairly healthy and normal, I began being pegged as lazy. As a snob. As someone who didn’t care about her friends any more. 
“I tried to explain what was going on, but there was no diagnosis. Even my closest friends tried to rally me out of my silly, sick mindset. They thought that if I just made up my mind to be better, then I would be. I remember one particular time when I had a handful of my closest friends come for a sleepover. I’d been looking forward to the party for weeks. My happiness knew no bounds when I actually felt well and enjoyed hanging out and playing games with them. That was until they gave each other knowing looks then gathered around me in a half circle. I asked them what was going on, what was wrong. They told me that they loved me too much to let me keep on being sick when all it was was my mindset. They told me that they wanted me to start hanging out with them all the time again because they knew that if I actually got up and did stuff, then I’d feel better. That I was making myself worse by allowing myself to imagine something was really physically wrong with me. After all, the doctors couldn’t find anything, right? 
My little world of happiness fell apart right there. It was a sting deeper than any physical pain I’d ever felt to hear my closest friends tell me that. They were just like the rest. They thought I was lying, they thought I was putting on a show because I was lazy. I determined there and then that I would hide it. I would grit my teeth and bare it whenever possible, and when it wasn’t, I would hide out by myself. 
“I became an expert at finding quiet nooks to curl up in when I couldn’t talk my way out of going somewhere, but more often then not I either stayed home or retreated to the car as soon as I could find a chance. I went into survival mode. I learned how to cope and deal with what I had to. I learned to be content being by myself. I learned to expertly avoid people. But I never learned to deal with the pain. I never learned to get over the deep desire to have someone who truly understood me. 
“I’d lie in bed at night, though the long, lonely hours of darkness and pray, begging God to give me someone who would be there for me. Who wouldn’t consider me to be lazy. At first I had people in mind when I prayed, but at last when person after person let me down, I gave up on suggesting names. I spent those years feeling so isolated. I often wondered what happened to the happy-go-lucky Madalyn of the past, but I couldn’t find even a figment of her in the loneliness of my reality. 
“Then came the day when I decided it was useless to continue feeling sorry for myself and so I decided to snap out of it. It wasn’t easy, but I made it. But by that time, even when I did want to be around people, I often didn’t feel well enough. I can remember going to my aunt’s house and lying up in the guest bedroom, ears straining to hear the conversations that were going on downstairs as my body rebelled against me and tied me down with exhaustion and pain. 
“Eventually I learned how to deal with that, too. My aches, my migraines, my stomach-clenching pain and my constant fogginess of mind became my norm. I was happy. I learned how to push through. Getting up and working for several hours a day was a victory and one I was happy to celebrate. I was the happiest I’d ever been in my life because I learned to rejoice even when things didn’t go my way. I was content. I even told God that if He was going to allow me to be sick for the rest of my life, then I could deal with that, I could find joy in living the life He’d given to me. 
“Then we changed some medications and I would go through spurts where I felt well. I was thrilled. I couldn’t do enough. I worked until I fell exhausted into bed and then I would lie there, heart racing and hands shaking from pushing my body too hard. I had to learn the lesson of being content all over again. As soon as I could work, I put my identity in what I could accomplish, not in who I was in Christ. It was a long, slow lesson, but eventually I began learning it. 

“Then we found out I had Lyme disease. My word suddenly became a brighter, happier place. I had hope. I had a light at the end of the tunnel. They warned me it would be a year or so before I was better, but they could have told me five years and I would have been equally as ecstatic. Just knowing that I had words to describe what was happening to me was more than I had been able to hope for. Now I no longer had to be ashamed of not feeling well. Now I could say that I was going to get better, but it was a process. Now people would understand. Or so I thought….

When Life Hands You Lymes #83

Happy Friday, people! I’m quite pleased to finally be home after being gone for the past sixteen days. It’s quite a bit cooler here than when I left home and I’m reminded that September is right around the corner. Crazy thought! 
I hope y’all enjoy the 83rd segment of my fictional story, When Life Hands You Lymes. I’m excited about sharing these last few segments with y’all and am trying to think of some way to celebrate when the story has all been posted… 

New Chapter 
“How are you feeling?” Julia asked as I lick the envelop shut after sticking in a letter for Grandma.
I used my most fancy penmanship as I added Grandma’s address. “It’s not too bad.” I kept my voice chipper. 
“Which means you’re in pain but you don’t want to complain.” Julia blew on her nails. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Which means you’d like to be left alone so I’ll just be quiet now.” 
Julia was correct, so I didn’t say anything. I had known for a long time that in order for me to have a best friend I would need someone who understood my need for solitude. Julia, friendly and out going though she as she was, was perfect at giving me my space. 
After finishing Grandma’s address I put away my writing supplies and went to the kitchenette to begin getting ready for the night. First I flipped the switch and turned on the electric tea kettle. Next I peeled a clove of garlic and crushed it between two spoons. I set my timer for fifteen minutes and then pulled four glasses out of the dish drainer and added an inch of water to three of them. After that I went through and added the various powders and tinctures to three of them. I drink the first one and then time it for five minutes when the next one would be ready. 
Opening up the cupboard I pulled out the asparagus tea packet, tore it open and dumped it in the forth glass. Spinning the Lazy Susan around I gathered up the five vitamins the doctor had me taking, so very thankful I wasn’t taking ten times that many any more. By this time the water had boiled so I poured three inches into the glass with the tea, then quickly added a couple inches of tap water. Looking at my phone I timed it three minutes while gulping down the contents of glasses number two and three. When my alarm went off I took the spoonful of garlic and swallowed it as fast as possible, followed by a spoonful of honey. At last I drank my asparagus tea and I was done with my regime for the night. I washed up my dishes and tidied the kitchenette then headed into the bathroom to take a bath with cleansing salts in the water. 
“Feeling better?” Julia looked angelical in a fluffy white robe over her pajamas. She was perched in my bed, surrounded by a pile of white pillows and my down comforter. 
I climbed up on the other side of the bed, moving slowly because my joints are aching. “Mentally, yes. Physically, no.” 
“Which bothers you more?” 
I tilted my head, once again thankful that I somehow ended up with such a thoughtful friend. “It depends.” I went over the question in my head. “It’s the worse when I am physically doing almost ok, but mentally can’t concentrate or get stressed out around people because then I feel guilty about it. At least when I’m in actual pain other people can understand then they feel like they can relate to me and I don’t feel so alone.” 
“Do you ever despair about feeling better? Wondering if the day will ever come?” Julia turned off all the lights besides the white Christmas lights that are around the border of our room. I had decided to leave them up because they’re so homey. 
“How sleepy are you?” The bath relaxed me and I’m ready to have someone to talk to. 
“As sleepy as you want me to be.” Julia leaned forward, “Do you want me to put water on for tea?” 
I nodded. 
Julia was back five minutes later with two steaming mugs of tea. I took mine appreciatively and wrapped both hands around it, savoring the warmth of hot tea and friendship. “Thank you.”
“My ears are yours.” Julia sat back against the pillow and assumes a relaxed expression on her normally excited features. 
“This is going to sound like the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard.” I felt tears coming on, but fight them, trying to act jovial. I’m not ready for this. I am so not ready to actually speak the words that have been making me cringe with shame. 
Julia’s blue eyes softened with sympathy. 
I turned my back to Julia so I couldn’t see her. My words come out slowly but surely. I didn’t stumble over them. I’d rehearsed them so many times in my head as I tried to convince myself that they weren’t true that I have them memorized. I’m just an actress on a stage, performing a comedy, but if that was the case then my heart wouldn’t be tearing apart and I wouldn’t be feeling so alienated from the human race. 
“I’ve been sick for so long. It started when I was fifteen. I’m eighteen now. Lyme disease stole the second half of my childhood from me. I went from being a vivacious, out-going girl into a hermit. I remember loving to be around people. I remember when the only thing I wanted was to be surrounded by throngs of people all the time. They called me out-going. People said I was the life of the party. I was invited everywhere and I never turned down an invitation. My life was practically perfect. I loved who I was. I loved every single aspect of being me. I can’t even remember struggling with how I looked because I had the deep assurance that God really had made me just the way I was and that He thought I was beautiful. That was enough for me. 

“Looking back now I remember being sick one summer after we’d gone horseback riding. At that time, and for years afterward, I thought it was just some kind of summer flu. No one else in my family got sick, but that didn’t bother me much, I figured I’d caught it from one of my friends. That must have been when I got the tick bite though, we just didn’t know enough to look. My health slowly faded during that summer, but it happened so gradually that it took us until school was about ready to start before we became concerned…” 

When Life Hands You Lymes #82

Hey everyone… I know it’s late, but I have it up! I hope y’all enjoy this segment of my fictional story, When Life Hands You Lymes. We are almost at the end of the story that I’ve been posting on here for twenty months now. Exciting, right? Anyway, I hope you enjoy! 
My music dream began back when I was twelve and our family went to Europe for the first time. Sitting in the cathedrals, I was awestruck at the beauty that poured forth from mere humans. My whole existence was changed in that moment when I realized that I, too, could become something bigger than myself. That I could do something that would inspire people. Something that would compel people to move forward and try their best. 
The next few years I dedicated much of my time to practicing on the piano and violin. Closing my eyes I could see the music sheets, the technique books, the stern faces of my teachers and the applause of my parents dancing across my memory. Mostly though it was endless hours spent in the practice room, blocking out the rest of the world so I could focus. 
Then came the sick years. Music became my escape. My companion during the lonely nights. My friend when humans couldn’t understand. Music was my breath of fresh air. The hours I spent with my music increased as my time doing everything else decreased. As I began to seek God more, my music became a wordless prayer, telling Him what my brain couldn’t put into words. 
Then came the days when I thought my dream was over. When I thought I’d lost everything I’d worked toward and faith became so much more than a word. It was my valley of darkness. The lowest of lows. 
Yet somehow God resurrected that dream even after it had been embalmed. How it had happened, I’ve stopped trying to figure out. I think there is a time in each person’s life when they need to open their hands, their heart, their soul and offer God the dream they hold closest to them. In His hands the dream will be safe. It will be painful, heart-breakingly painful, but in the end it will be worth it. 
Once the crevices of the heart having been cracked open and purified in a way only God can, then He replaces our dream. Only this time it’s grown into a God-sized dream. The kind of dream that can’t be accomplished without His help. 
I used to dream of my music being able to change people’s lives. Of people finding renewed purpose and extra strength as they listen. I would imagine an ill child in a hospital, sleeping peacefully as my music played in the background. I would imagine elderly couples dancing around a living room filled with fifty years worth of memories as my music gave them something to twirl to. I would close my eyes and picture the soft strains of my music playing as a young man got down on his knee in a romantic, candle-lit gazebo. 

When Life Hands You Lymes #81

Hey people! If you can’t tell from the sporadic posting I’ve been traveling. Now that I have internet again though, my post is ready for y’all. Please enjoy the 81st (and one of the final!) segment of my fictional story When Life Hands You Lymes

I entered my first music contest several months later after I was well on my way to a healthier life. I had wanted to keep it quiet that I was entering, but somehow the word leaked out and so people started asking me about the results and I started freaking out.
When I finally did hear the results, I didn’t know quite how to respond.

“So?” Julia asked as I walked in the room. She opened a file and began to flip through it. 
“So?” I mimicked her tone as I twirled my chair around and sat down, the pressed the power button on my desktop. It felt so good to be at work, at a regular job, where I knew I was making a difference and accomplishing something real each day. 
“Oh, so we’re going to act all innocent now.” Julia slammed the folder shut and plopped it on the desk. “How did it go?” Her gaze was so intent I couldn’t keep the news from her any longer. 
It felt like my lips were about to split from the grin that took over my face without any permission. “Seems like someone might just be beginning to have her dreams come true.” 
Julia’s response was everything I could have hoped for. Her squeals and enthusiastic hug around my neck did a pretty good job of portraying her excitement. “Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness, girl! You can’t imagine what it’s been like waiting to hear how it went. I’ve been so nervous I have literally been shaking. I just wanted to appear nonchalant when you came in in case stuff hadn’t worked out, you know?” Julia’s pitch and volume is climbing with each sentence, but despite being in the office I can’t shush her. “Look, look!” Julia sticks her hands in my face and I see they are indeed shaking. “Oh my lands, child. I don’t think I’m going to be able to handle this. I just want to scream and yell and fly and jump and dance and twirl off in a sunset.” Julia pulls me up from my seat and dances me around the room. “Do you realize what this means? This is huge! This is what we’ve been praying for and crying over and lying in bed through sleepless nights agonizing about.” 
I let her pull me around the small space in an awkward waltz, all the time marveling at how I got such a best friend. I’ve dragged her though so much muck and yet she’s stuck with me. 
“Come on! Aren’t you excited?” Julia drops my hands so she can pump her fists in the air and jump around even more. 
“Of course I’m excited. I’m just pretty sure you can express it well enough for both of us.” 
“Have you told everyone yet?” Julia sits back down and begins taking deep, measured breaths. 
“Just my parents. I wanted you to be one of the first to find out. Besides,” I wave at the office. “I was pretty sure after I told you it wouldn’t be long until everyone else found out, too.” 
“Hey, hardly anyone’s in today.” Julia gives me a superior look. “Well, when are you going to tell everyone?” 
“Jason, Katie and Darrick?” I shrug, “Probably some time today. The rest of the world will figure it out eventually.” 
“Sometimes I wonder how in the world we became best friends,” Julia mumbles as I turn back to my computer. 

Deep down inside I am happy. I’m ecstatic. There have been few moments in my life that have been so filled with joy, excitement and promise. I position myself at the computer, ready to begin working for the day, but somewhere between my brain and hands there’s a short circuit and I find myself day dreaming. 

When Life Hands You Lymes #80

Hey everyone! 
Can you believe it, we’re already on the 80 segment of my fictional story When Life Hands You Lymes. I’ve actually been using the original story for the last while and I’m happy to announce that we’re getting very close to the end of the story! 
I hope y’all enjoy this segment. It’s one of the ones that makes me smile. 
New Chapter
“There are times when I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.” Julia is painting her nails and has a scowling expression on her face. 
“I take it that bothers you.” 
“Of course it does. Doesn’t everyone know what they want to do with their lives by the time they are in their twenties?” Julia blows on her fingers on her left hand and then holds them off to study them. “I mean, I know that everyone doesn’t really, but everyone in your family has, so I feel like I’m way behind since I don’t.”
I shake my head. “My family is totally unusual.” 
“You know what it’s like to feel like there is so much to live up to though, right?” 
I nod. I know the feeling all to well. 
“I know you do.” Julia looks at her right hand and I join her sitting on the edge of the bed and hold out my hand for the purple nail polish. “I realize that no one is going to look down on me if I can’t decide if I’m going to go back to college or keep doing online courses and of course I would love to continue working with Emerson Airlines, but who knows what I’ll be doing twenty years down the road.” Julia’s eyes sparkle and she lets out a deep sigh. 
“Sometimes I think you know what you want to do but you’re scared to admit it you yourself.” I begin painting her thumb nail with gentle strokes. 
“You’re probably right.” Julia’s words are more like a whisper of air than an actual admission. 
“When are you going to get over that?” I get a little bit of nail polish on her actual thump and use a piece of tissue to wipe it off. 
“Who knows.” Julia shrugs. “It feels so silly to actually verbalize what I want. I mean, what if people think it’s not a worthy enough venture to peruse?” 
I look up, my eyes sparkling. “Why do you care what people think? No one besides you is living your life. That means that you’re the one who will have to stand before God at the end of this life and give an account for how you spent your time.” 
“I think I might remember telling those words to you at some time in the past.” Julia laughs. 
“I think I might remember you telling them to me, too.” 
“And how’s it working out?” 
“Following my dreams and not allowing what other people think of me to stop me from moving forward?” 
Julia waves her hand. “Never mind, I know how it’s working out for you. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.” 
“Then what would you say if I told you that I wanted to become a farmer?” 
I laughed. “I would be quite surprised but if that’s really what you felt like you were supposed to do with your life I would support you fully.” 
“What if I told you I wanted to become an astronaut?” 
I rub the back of my neck then pick up the nail polish brush and start on her index finger. “Then I’d be proud to say that my best friend was the prettiest gal that ever went into space.” 
Julia laughed. “You’re the best. Ok, so what if I told you that I wanted to open a chain of coffee shops?” 
“Then I’d ask you if you needed a musician to play at the grand opening of the first one.” 
“And if I wanted to be a stay at home mom?” 
“That I can’t think of a better girl to take the job and I think your kids are in for a treat.” 
“What about a business guru?” 
“I’d tell you that I thought you were already a fantastic one.” 
“What about a mixture of a business guru and a stay-at-home-mom?” 
“Then I’d say you learned from the best.” 
Julia stopped her rapid questions and her shoulders slumped in relaxation. “I really look up to your mom.” 
“I really look up to her, too.” 
“I love the way that she’s been able to support her husband and raise her kids and work with a business. I can’t imagine ever being able to do so much, but I would love to try.” Julia tugged at one of her curls. “Oops, my nails are going to turn my hair purple.” 
“You’re so full of energy.” I shrug. “If you want to give the whole super-woman thing a try, then why not work toward it?” 
“So, you don’t think it’s utterly hopeless to imagine being able to work at home and all that crazy kind of stuff like your mom did when you kids were little.” 
I shake my head.