Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Willing Thankfulness

It find it ironic that this is Thanksgiving week.  We will have a simple family turkey dinner and also celebrate my youngest daughter's birthday.  We are up to our ears preparing for The Vermont Farmer's Market Christmas Fair at Poultney High School  in Poultney, Vermont on Friday and Saturday (10:00 a.m-4:00 p.m.), to be followed by The Common Thread Give-Away on Cyber Monday, Dec 4th. I am to be the featured artist and will be giving away one of my special pincushions and we are posting almost all of my wares in my Little House Home Arts Etsy Shop for the occasion.

I recently complained to my doctor that I don't multi-task well, and she laughed and told me that at my age I need to give up on that goal. Being realistic about my limits, however, continues to be a weakness of mine, and so I find myself full-speed ahead and going in all directions, with certain chaos ensuing. My doctor is right.  Clearly, my ability to organize more than a one ring circus is past!

Thanksgiving week also brings another tradition.  It is the time to "squeeze in" (pun intended) my needed mammogram.  It doesn't require long-range planning that way and still gets the job done before the new year begins with new insurance deductibles.  So while everyone is making their Thanksgiving pies and rolling out their pie dough, my breasts will go through a similar process! My daughter recently found me a card commemorating a song I re-wrote for the aftermath of this procedure. "Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow?"...Clearly the card must have plagiarized what has now become my Thanksgiving season song.

Have you ever noticed that "it never rains but what it pours"? And so it is this Thanksgiving Season that the reality has hit that my husband's new job of many months has not yet brought the promised salary and it is time to face the facts that we can no longer stretch the pay that equals one-third of his previous salary to meet our needs. I have to smile and consider the holiday season and realize that "genuine thankfulness" will require an exercise of will.  There is no doubt that blessings abound, but clearly this season we may have to go looking for our blessings beneath the clutter, the chaos, the physical torture, and our needs appearing to out-weigh our fortunes. But isn't that where true blessing are often found?

Buried under it all, we have found many blessings: a Thanksgiving Day child now 26, our bellies soon to be full of turkey and trimmings to make us sleepy and relaxed  prior to a busy two day craft sale, and then a cyber sale. I am also thankful that my oldest daughter is doing most of the cooking, and is now "brave enough" (in her words) to pull the giblets out of the turkey herself! Our pantries are filled with our home-canned goods, our freezer is full as well and our Thanksgiving gathering will remind us that we have the love of each other! Could we want for more?

I wish all of my readers a truly wonderful Thanksgiving Day, filled with gratitude for your blessings, no matter the circumstances that may surround you! (And if you live in or around Vermont, do come and see us at Poultney High School on Friday and Saturday!)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Part Seventeen: Living with Chronic Lyme Disease: a long and difficult journey

Part Seventeen: Encouragement to Never Give Up

I have completed five successive years of treatment on the Marshall Protocol and six months of other treatment prior to starting it. This does not include other treatments that have lasted days, weeks or months before.  The end will be determined by my body versus the number of years. I did suffer a minor stroke in the middle of this treatment, and was fortunate that my return of function was no less than remarkable.

I don’t count the days till the end of treatment Iike I used to. It is a way of life for me right now.  I take few prescription medications. Although I still suffer Herxheimer reactions, I am otherwise comfortable in treatment. These reactions, I am told, are signs that the MP is still finding bugs to kill and is considered good, no matter how inconvenient. I am learning to live with this paradoxical thought process.  It isn’t too different from other sorts of disciplines. Persistence in the day to day tasks is never easy, though the outcomes are desirable.

Life is good and getting better as my health improves. Will it make me well?  Who knows, nor do I know how long its effects will last. That is not what matters. It is the necessary investment in living my life as completely as I can. Of course no one knows the course of their life, and it is just as well that we don’t. I simply live it prayerfully day by day.  This has been a long and difficult journey, but there seem to be no losses without gains and no gains without losses, and I am ever so grateful for my life, no matter the hardships and struggles.

I sometimes worry about my girls and their future or even sometimes about my own and my husband’s.  His recent lay-off was another "bump in the road", but I am learning that in all issues we experience in life, there are opportunities for creative problem solving and all of us will, no doubt, get ample chances to courageously and creatively live our lives, taking one challenge at a time, one day at a time.

I hope that my journey will in some way encourage you or another to fight the fight, keep the faith, seek knowledge in whatever illness or problem you struggle with so as to better advocate for yourself and be a careful consumer of medical care or other forms of support or assistance.

There are no perfect doctors or nurses or counselors—trust me on that one! Though trust is important in a patient-doctor-therapist relationship.Trust yourself even more to know when to seek more information and dare to ask the hard questions.  Where is my illness going?  Am I overcoming the issues that I have and how can I change the direction of their course? What can I do to take better care of myself?  Is there something that my present doctor or treatment isn’t providing?  This isn’t about being critical, selfish or demanding. This is about maintaining what is most important to your life, your health and well-being.

For me living is about loving our families and friends and taking care of ourselves and our homes and creating bits of what is beautiful and comforting—a form of prayer and praising the God that has blessed us all. Do take care of yourselves, each and everyone.  We may well live a long time and where will you live, if you don’t have a healthy mind and body?

(This is the end of my seventeen blogs on Living with Chronic Lyme Disease.  Know that at any time I welcome any questions you may have.  You may post them in the comment section or email me privately at  I would be happy to answer them from the experience that I have lived.  I am not an expert on the care of others with Lyme Disease or Chronic Inflammatory Illness, though I have become an expert when it comes to my own care. None of my blogs are meant to be actual medical advice but rather meant only to empower others to face health issues as equal partners with their medical providers and/or counselors and never give up questioning and exploring what alternatives may be available for conquering the issues that you are facing.  Living life with chronic illness is a daily challenge and it is my prayer that no one give up on living their life to the fullest extent possible.)

(The illustration above is done by Hannah McMillen and the figure drawing by Sarah Kate McMillen.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Part Sixteen: Living with Chronic Lyme Disease: a long and difficult journey

Part Sixteen: Ten Lessons I Have Learned Along the Way 

1) I have learned that I remain valuable to God, myself and my family as a person, and not just as the functional role of mother or wife or work I perform. What I am able to do and what I am able to be throughout my life will continue to change (hopefully increase as well as decrease) and to accept this is critical to survive.

I believe all losses bring gains with them. Even helplessness has purpose, no matter how difficult it might be. In caring for my mother, I learned that her helplessness provided me with lessons as to how to love in a deeper and more real way. Perhaps my time to be helpless will do the same for another, though the timing of that will be God's decision and not mine if I can help it.

2) I realize that I am not ultimately in control of my life or death, but hopefully will have some control over how I accept it and deal with it and that will make a difference to others.  I have accepted pain and loss as part of life, and I believe that there is redemptive value in suffering . I thank my father, mother and brother, as well as Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul, and others whose example strengthens me!

3) None of us can pick our death process, but we can alter it somewhat by the care we choose, and I hope with as much as has been possible, to have changed the course of my illness and death. The MP has high risks, but I prefer taking the risks to arrest or change the course of my illness, rather than to give up and into what was inevitably the downward progression of my illness. I believe that maintaining a positive attitude and hope are everything when it comes to fighting illness. Ongoing learning as well as prayer does this for me.

4) I don’t assume what my family will or will not sacrifice for me and my care.  That decision of commitment is their’s to make and not mine. I am, however, grateful for the support of my family thus far in all that I have struggled with as well as sought to accomplish. I pray that my strength in facing whatever I need to face will be an example and source of strength to them in facing the illnesses and decisions in their lives. That might, in fact, be my greatest gift to them.

5) My girls, having acquired Congenital Chronic Lyme Disease from me, is a good reason for me to be a guinea pig for scientific research for the betterment of medical treatment for the next generation of Lyme patients or those with chronic inflammatory disease. I hope that my participation in, what I consider to be, the next leading edge of treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases will in fact make someone else’s journey easier than my own, most especially the journeys of my own daughters.

6) I have seen that chronic illness debilitates versus kills quickly.  It is my goal to maintain what function I can for as long as I can, for that, to me, is what it means to live and die with dignity. Giving into illness robs us of what function we might be able to preserve and it is important to me and to my family to preserve whatever functioning I can.  I often joke about still being able to feed myself and wipe my but. There are no tasks too small to take for granted!

7) I pray that I can preserve what brain function is left to me despite several brain lesions caused by my illness. I value others and being able to read, write and communicate with them means that I can practice what I value. Pursuing on-going treatment is a good investment in keeping this damage to a minimum.

8) To euthanize myself is not an option for me—I believe in living or dying according to what God has in store for me and I am hopeful and trusting that the cost of my care will remain reasonable and affordable. I am committed to working at this goal.  This means being a careful consumer of health care. Tests or treatments that aren't likely to maintain or improve my care or contribute to what will help my girls should be done only with careful consideration as to its gain.

9) I learned in caring for my mother, that long term end-of-life-care is so expensive, that it can deplete most people’s financial resources. On my worst days, I will choose to fight my illness to eliminate or at least shorten the amount of time I might need this sort of care and thus be as small a burden to my family as possible.

10) I read on facebook once that a chronic illness is like holding a glass of water.  For a few minutes, is no big deal, holding it for half an hour, a bit inconvenient. The longer one has to hold it, the more tired, and frustrating the experience, and for a very long time, it can be likened to torture. The same can be said for having or supporting another with chronic illness.  Support given short term is easier than long term support, and the more care required, the more stressful care-giving can be. It is important that we all set the glass down as best as we can from time to time, making “holding it” or “caring for another” tolerable or even a learning experience versus a torture.

There are good lessons to be learned by experiencing an illness or dealing with someone that is dealing with chronic illness. The more that I can do for myself, however, the easier on all those around me. Setting down the burden of my illness is a spiritual activity that I will practice and  it is important that I encourage others to do the same with my illness, their own or for caring for those that they love. Stepping away from it as best as you can in either mind or body will help to maintain mental and spiritual well-being and freshness to be better able to better cope and deal with it when you have to.(To be Continued...)

(The illustration above is done by Hannah McMillen and the figure drawing by Sarah Kate McMillen.)

(*Caution: These blogs are not meant to be actual medical advice but rather meant only to empower others to face medical issues as equal partners with their medical providers and never give up questioning and exploring what alternatives may be available for conquering their illnesses.  Living life with a chronic illness is a daily challenge and it is my prayer that no one give up on living their life to the fullest extent possible.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November's Winner of the Common Thread Give-Away is...

Pam is the lucky winner of this month's Common-Thread Give Away. There was no last name left but this particular Pam is the one at high-place. Congratulations Pam!

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

This is an example of how "the apple doesn't fall from the tree" or how from a little acorn grows yet another oak tree, much like the one from which it came.  Read what my youngest daughter just wrote and posted on facebook.  Should I be proud that she  "takes after her mother" in more than physical resemblance?  Should I admit that I am her mother?  Read this and let me know!

"just a small word of advice to you all..... do NOT leave a pizza box in your oven from a previous time of ordering pizza, placing it in the oven to stay warm, and leaving it there intending to eventually deal with it when you take recycling. From personal experience acquired tonight, I can surely tell you that chances are that you will in fact NOT remember, or in other words forget, and will turn your oven on to pre-heat, soon realizing as the smoke is billowing out of the top, that in fact something large indeed must be burning!! And when you rush over to open the oven to find out the issue, you will be forced to face your now flaming idiotic mistake! You will then in fact proceed to run frantically through your house, with a flaming pizza box in hand, rushing it to the outdoors, praying that along the way you haven't managed to make yet another idiotic mistake of catching any of your other beloved belongings on fire!! Trust me, the procrastination of dealing with the old pizza box is not worth the chaos of running a flaming box out of your house, even if you would like to enjoy the smell of a wood stove  DEAL WITH THE PIZZA BOX YOU LAZY FOOL!!"

My youngest daughter has gone from graduating with honors from Castleton State College to The School of Hard Knocks, where she will obviously learn some of the more practical lessons of life.  Just like her mother, she will realize that not everything is in a degree and that "common sense" isn't an innate, inborn quality and must, for some, be acquired by trial and error! Would she have listened to me if I had told her that she was "a lazy fool"? Never!  So save your breath dear mothers and realize that there are lessons that come later in life, and with them comes the sweet joy of seeing your dear little ones, that aren't so little anymore, at last do a bit of "growing up". But do keep them in your prayers, for they need protection from themselves in this stage of "learning the hard way"!  It is good that we take on the job of reminding God and His angels to not be fooled by their size or their degrees!  They are still our "little ones" that are beyond the safety nets of their parents now!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Part Fifteen: Living with Chronic Lyme Disease: a long and difficult journey

Part Fifteen: The Marshall Protocol,  My Present Very Long Term Treatment

After experiencing three recurrences of symptoms following three five-to-eight- month treatments of antibiotics, anti-malarial medications or anti-TB medications to kill off lyme and its common co-infections, I am now in a very long term treatment regimen called the Marshall Protocol. It is an "out-of-the-mainstream" treatment that is monitored, in my case, by a Lyme-literate doctor. I am also connected to an on-line study-site support group connected with this protocol and the research doctor that is heading the research for this new and progressive, but not widely accepted, treatment of inflammatory sorts of chronic diseases, referred to as TH1 illnesses.
Although the Marshall Protocol is too involved to cover in this brief blog, at the heart of this protocol is the belief that chronic inflammatory illnesses are caused by infections of various sorts. It is Dr. Trevor Marshall's belief that these illnesses have mutated into a sort of bacterial soup within our systems that go on to dys-regulate Vitamin D, which is both ingested as well as manufactured within our bodies in response to sunlight. It is theorized that this Vitamin D dys-regulation shuts down the immune system’s ability to fight off infection. By reducing Vitamin D through diet, light exposure and medication, the immune system is reactivated and with the help of low-dose, pulsated antibiotics the body is able to then kill off these mutated bacteria and restore health.

It is a slow and hard treatment that is marked by Jarisch Herxheimer reactions that are not pleasant, but indicative that "kill off" is taking place. This "kill off" must be done very slowly lest the "kill-off" kill the patient. Most of the reactions are tolerable and my goal is to monitor my reactions and modify them with the few and specific medications deemed appropriate on this protocol.  It is actually a fairly natural kill off with little of the side effects of full-dose antibiotics, though it is believed that these low doses antibiotics effects are potentiated by eliminating Vitamin D and so the "kill-off" effects are equally as effective as full dose antibiotics.  It is not without risk and comes with no guarantees, but then that is true for any medical treatment, which is why it is said that doctors practice medicine.

It is a very involved process that I have oversimplified. I don’t profess to have expertise despite my nursing background when it comes to the biochemical processes involved in this treatment. I can read it with some understanding but retaining it, much less explaining it to another is beyond my scope. Again, I refer you to articles found by googling "The Marshall Protocol" if you are interested in learning more about it and I hope that my basic understanding of it isn't in any way misleading. My story is just that--my understanding and perception of my journey of living with Lyme Disease and is not meant to say what is right for another with this illness (or any other chronic illness for that matter).

Many in the medical world don’t consider the Marshall Protocol (MP) option a good one for various reasons.  I can only say that its long term treatment, usually lasting three to five years looked short to me, with my history.  My illness was beginning to seriously affect my brain and its ability to process, read or write.  I value all of my body, but most especially my brain. I never say "never" when it comes to what I am willing to do to support my health, providing it comes at a reasonable cost.  I have also learned throughout my illness that there are good lessons to be learned with every loss.  Still I minimize what losses I can, for I value all of me and feel the same way about those I love. There isn't a part of our bodies that is easy to do without, though I have had a chance to experience temporary losses of all sorts in the course of my illness.

My doctor thought that perhaps it was time for me to step away from what wasn't working in a sustainable way for me and I was delighted to have yet another option, though I was assured that there were yet other options should I not choose this one. My doctor felt that the Marshall Protocol offered me the best chance of potentially permanently arresting my disease process and hopefully even regain lost function.  It didn't take much for my arm to “fall off” with only a bit of a twist and I jumped at the chance to reverse what had become a clear and steady declining progression in my health.

Treatment on the Marshall Protocol  includes a healthy diet, with many restrictions.  Sugar increases inflammation and so needs to be mostly eliminated. Indiscretions, I rationalize must be allowed occasionally as part of living life, but foods fortified with Vitamin D are eliminated very strictly while on the MP as well as other foods that interfer with a body's inflammatory process.   I am certain that the next question you would ask, is can a person live without Vitamin D. If they have an inflammatory illness where it has become dys-regulated in their body? The answer is yes. While Vitamin D is important in bone health, those with a dys-regulation of Vitamin D can develop bone issues like those who lack Vitamin D. Throughout this treatment our doctors do lab work periodically to be sure that the treatment isn't cause for greater decline.

Exercise is also very important and the right amount.  Too much during treatment is not advised, and every time I have pushed myself beyond, I realize this truth! Spirituality is critical to my well-being too. It helps me keep everything in perspective . I credit prayer and God to keeping me "balanced".  My creativity is essential to my well-being as well. I would be lost without it.  It gives purpose and structure to my days, and makes me less dependent on others to feel good about myself.

The results of this protocol to date have been positive. My sleep is restful and restorative, which is huge to healing.  My aches and pains have been mostly eliminated. My thinking has largely cleared and I am able to read, write and cognitively process more quickly. I shock myself and my family with being able to remember names and words, not easily found prior to treatment.  Unfortunately, with my Herxheimer reactions, I still have much inflammation which  which causes skin lesions and muscle and joint weakness.  It is also necessary for me to rest a lot.

My reactions seem to show that their is still much "kill off" going on, and so I don't believe I have exhausted this protocol yet. I have had little to no acute illnesses while being on this protocol five years.  I still must limit my exposure to light and activity and prefer the comforts of home, where I can rest as needed.  It is my hope to get back to swimming at our local college pool to regain my strength and stamina here soon. With my family's support, my writing and sewing, I am leading a more productive life.  Do I have a ways to go? Definitely, and I continue to hope for more energy though that has improved as well. (to be continued...)

(The illustration above is done by Hannah McMillen and the figure drawing by Sarah Kate McMillen.)

(*Caution: These blogs are not meant to be actual medical advice but rather meant only to empower others to face medical issues as equal partners with their medical providers and never give up questioning and exploring what alternatives may be available for conquering their illnesses.  Living life with a chronic illness is a daily challenge and it is my prayer that no one give up on living their life to the fullest extent possible.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 2013's Common Thread Give-Away

"Bounty" by Kim Gifford
This month's Common Thread Give-Away Artist is Kim Gifford. It is always my pleasure to feature Kim. Although I do not see her as much as I would like, just thinking of her makes me smile. To know Kim is to love her.

Her talents are many as a writer, teacher, artist, photographer, and sensitive philosopher-psychologist-sort of person.  She describes herself as "free-spirited" and happy. Indeed she is and it is hard to not be the same when you are around her, read her writings, or look at her artwork.  Her joyful spirit is infectious! She seeks activities that are fun-filled and captures all of it in her stories, artwork and photographs. Make no mistake however, that there is a serious side to Kim too. Her writings are laced with much understanding, meaning, humor and wisdom. She is a deeply spiritual person whose life is filled with love, caring and purpose.

To qualify for the  8" x 10" whimsical drawing, "Bounty" that is printed on watercolor paper and is matted with an 11" x 14 " mat ready for hanging or framing, just visit her website at and leave a comment for her anytime between Monday through Wednesday of this week.  The winner will be announced on Thursday. Who wouldn't feel truly blessed to win this fun picture?

In this blog I have included a picture of Kim and her pugs ready for fun, as well as a sample of Kim's photography and artwork to entice those of you that don't know Kim to peruse her website and get to know her, her writings, photography and artwork. Her cards and prints might just make a perfect gift for a special person in your life this holiday season.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Part Fourteen: Living with Chronic Lyme Disease: a long and difficult journey

Part Fourteen: Treatment Options

I have had Lyme Disease for so long that it has affected my brain, joints, muscles, skin, bladder, heart, digestive and nervous systems. I was deteriorating and my prognosis was not good without ongoing, and more aggressive treatment. My Lyme-literate doctor decided that I needed more extensive antibiotic treatment. I improved though after treatment, my symptoms reoccurred. More treatment was prescribed in hopes to produce more kill-off of the infection that had likely mutated and hid, and again I improved, but still again my symptoms returned after discontinuing treatment.

I was then tested for co-infections that would necessitate a different sort of treatment and was found to be positive for Babesia, but not Bartonella. As stated before, with all the different strains of infections, sometimes tests don’t tell the whole story and so clinical symptoms supported further treatment for both of these co-infections. Anti-malarial, and anti-TB medications were used.

Treatment is not as straight-forward as it would seem to be. There are many sorts of treatment regimens including herbs and different antibiotic medications, rife and various mixtures of treatments known as protocols. Lyme, as stated before, has the ability to change into different forms to evade treatment, and then come out again after treatment is discontinued. So sometimes treatments are pulsated or given by IV to better attack different tick-borne disease entities in their various forms or sometimes different protocols are thought to better get at persistent strains.  “Pulsating” means to not take a treatment every day. Sometimes pulsating medications will fool such hard-to-kill-bugs to coming out of hiding, and then surprise attack them.

I am simplifying the many treatment options available. Unfortunately the word treatment is used whether a doctor is going after the infection or only treating the patient palliatively.  This is confusing for patients as one treats the cause and the other only treats the symptoms. The difference is huge, though both may be very important.

Some palliative care may make the patient feel better, but may potentially support the underlying infection to grow more and thus make the patient sicker in the long run. Steroids are notorious for this. I have been fortunate that in my palliative treatment preceding my diagnosis with Lyme, steroids were very rarely used to treat my inflammation. This isn't always avoidable in cases where inflammation is life-threatening.

I am not here to give advice as to what is the best option for all patients, but I do have to say that in my case, I would likely have deteriorated even more than what I have, had I not “lucked out” and “fell into” the care of a “Lyme-literate doctor”, though it took me thirty-eight years before finding a doctor who even considered Lyme disease behind all the medical issues I was having. My story is NOT an uncommon one.  I have since had to advocate for myself to continue finding such supportive Lyme-literate doctors.

Being a nurse and in the medical field, I have even had to step away from beloved, well-meaning, non-Lyme-literate doctor and nurse friendships and even lost credibility by openly sharing my out-of-the-mainstream Lyme treatment experiences in hopes of better educating my colleagues. I have learned the hard way that change in a traditional institution takes many decades. Medical knowledge comes at a high price and isn't easily given up for new theories and beliefs
I want others to know that long term treatment, though not particularly fun has been financially affordable and has also been less damaging than palliative care. I learned the hard way prior to being diagnosed with lyme that palliative medications prescribed by my rheumatologist made me feel worse and not better.  I am chemically sensitive and this wasn't always respected by doctors determined to make me feel better using pain, muscle relaxing, anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory medications. Sedatives of various sorts were also prescribed with great hang-over side effects.

Long term antibiotic treatment (especially the low dose ones used on the Marshall Protocol- to be discussed in a future blog) has alleviated pain, restored restful sleep without sleep medication, and has even restored function that I would not have without it and I am sad that my friends in the mainstream medical world, of which I was a part, remain closed to accepting these positive changes.

Essentially my treatment choices were “no-brainers” when I considered what was happening to my body and brain. My choices were mainstream palliative/pain and comfort care and deteriorate or continue to seek and try other alternative options, and I did what likely anyone would do with the help and direction a good Lyme-literate and caring doctor who encouraged me to continue treatment of the underlying infection.

Antibiotic treatment can cause kill-off reactions called Jarisch Herxheimer reactions and are not comfortable, yet my body could tell the difference between these tolerable but unpleasant reactions and the serious side effects caused by palliative medications that weren't eliminating the cause of my disease that my body could not tolerate.

If someone is mildly affected with lyme disease, perhaps aggressive treatment’s Herxheimer reactions would be worse than the disease, though early intervention may well eliminate the disease entirely.  I didn't have this choice.  By the time I was diagnosed and treated, I was severely ill and fighting the infection was my best hope of arresting the progression of what looked to be serious and progressive neurological decline if I did not.

I do recommend that consideration of long term antibiotic treatment be an option, at least left open, when advocating for what is best for yourself.  Even if you are challenged  income-wise and we have been off and on, one can be a careful consumer and search out affordable Lyme-literate doctors and obtain medication through special discount pharmacies. From my days in nursing I know that pharmaceutical companies will offer free medication for those in financial need, and so I encourage people to first determine what options they have for care, consider their goals (wants and needs), and then seek out affordable ways to make it happen. Even expensive specialists will sometimes discount their care to people who can’t afford it otherwise. (to be continued...)

(The illustration above is done by Hannah McMillen and the figure drawing by Sarah Kate McMillen.)

(*Caution: These blogs are not meant to be actual medical advice but rather meant only to empower others to face medical issues as equal partners with their medical providers and never give up questioning and exploring what alternatives may be available for conquering their illnesses.  Living life with a chronic illness is a daily challenge and it is my prayer that no one give up on living their life to the fullest extent possible.)