We returned from camp and began to live life again. At the time, I was cautiously optimistic. I continued my medication and went to meet with my Lyme specialist. I walked him through what happened that day in Tahoe and the subsequent days. How do you explain a miracle? Listening intently, he said, I believe you. Then respectful of my experience, he attempted to explain the science behind what happened. Our thoughts can change our brain chemistry and that in turn can heal the body. Interestingly, extensive studies by neuroscientists confirm that our mental machinations do alter the physical structure of our brain matter. So, when you change your mind, you change your brain. I appreciated his theory. I still have a hard time explaining what took place. Was the week or so of low dose Lyme medication enough to clear my brain of this bacteria’s grip on me? Was there something about my conversation with Chow that had triggered this brain chemistry? Something that had given me hope? Why had this all lifted so suddenly? Had something broken that morning when the men prayed?
Have you ever watched how the ocean waves break on the shore? I have stood on the beach innumerable times with my children as they have played endlessly in the rushing of the water. Squealing with delight as they run from the wave and then followed it back to the sea, only for another to come and chase them again. Sure the tide ebbs and flows, but it has boundaries. Limits. A beautifully poetic verse from the book of Job comes to mind, “Who enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and total darkness its blanket, when I determined its boundaries and put its bars and doors in place, when I declared: ‘You may come this far, but no farther; your proud waves stop here’?” (Job 38:8-11) This far and no farther. The crashing wave, it has its limits. God draws a line on our suffering. In his sovereignty He brought me out.
There are treatments for Lyme and protocols. Although my symptoms had disappeared, we felt that it was a wise decision to follow them. I continued on my medications, changing the antibiotics every 5 weeks. I had started in June and by October my doctor told me to stop. I had begun to feel fatigued again and he said maybe it was the antibiotics. He advised we stop. I was on an antidepressant as well and very slowly began weaning off that so as not to have side effects of withdrawing too quickly. Thankfully the anxiety medication that I had taken daily for over a year was at such a small dose I was able to stop almost immediately.
I remember taking a walk around my neighborhood. I was by myself, which was unfamiliar yet welcome. Always in the past two years I would need to be accompanied. I was looking around at the trees and flowers and it occurred to me that I could see color. I could see the distinct leaves and watch a bird fly across my path. Anxiety changes a person’s visual field. Depression changes the way a person sees, eliminating the vibrancy of naturally occurring colors. Those with depression have been known to see a world of grey. This day I was caught up in these simple beauties again. As summer turned into fall I took in every seasonal change of the leaves. Never had the reds been so penetrating or the orange hues delighted me.
I started doing normal things again. Grocery shopping. Making dinner. Planning events. And looking forward to them. One day I noticed a friend had posted a need for a babysitter for her little foster son so she could get her hair done. The thought hit me that I could do this. My husband had said multiple times, “there has been so much pain, there has to be something good that will come of it”. I began to see this become a reality.
After this first time helping with a foster baby I began doing regular respite. Sometimes for a few hours, sometimes a weekend or once for a week while the family vacationed with their older biological kids. This was my first experience with foster care. Because I have 7 of my own children people always assume I must really love kids. I don’t know how to say this politely, but I don’t. Did I just say that? What I mean by that is I am not one drawn particularly to babies or to young children. Some people are and I want to give them that due respect. They love working in the nursery at church. Actually crave it. I don’t. I find that extremely exhausting. Don’t judge me here. I find babies adorable. But in my own nature, I would much prefer older kids, young adults actually. This is not to say that I have not absolutely loved every stage of my own children’s lives, (and now grand kids). I never even wanted them to move from newborn to infant. I loved everything about toddlerhood. Honestly every single age of my children’s lives, through adulthood, has been thoroughly appreciated. But this is why this next part was not on my radar.