Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be Bound to the Lord... mostly because I do a lot of binding myself in order to function.  No, there's no sdbm in this house... I just have lymphedema, and that means a lot of binding and unbinding. The flow of lymphatic fluid in my body... well, like almost everything else in my system, it doesn't work correctly, which means less immune system function, more pain, and a lot of uncomfortable heaviness in arms and legs. I hadn't prorgessed to the point of weeping sores or my legs beginning to die when we found this problem, but we didn't figure this out until a few months ago, although the issue has been around for years, (probably since college, when I started gaining weight and couldn't do anything about it).  An interesting function of lympedema--you cannot lose weight no matter how hard you try, because msot of the weight isn't _weight_, it's lymphatic fluid pooling in your body. You can exercise, and you can be healthier, but your shape and weight will probably not change, unless you are continually bound, and then, not very much. Gross, and very frustrating, but scientifically fascinating.

The treatment is to be bound-- gently at first, and then more firmly-- with layers of fabric and bandages, to force the fluid to go back where it is supposed to be.  A semi- stretchy mummification process.  At the clinic where I was taught to wrap my legs, they explained that this problem does not go away after treatment... I will deal with it for my whole life, and I will need some sort of binding and compression daily to be able to function.  This was a new kind of grief cycle for me to being to process....summertime shorts WITH extreme support hose underneath, no dresses without tight bandages. One of those times you really figure out how vain you still are, despite all. I had thought that most of my vanity, weighing a hundred pounds+ more than I was in college, having a limp, having neuropathy variations in my brain for memory and mood, having Lyme in general, was burned out of me, as it should be.  But....

I dreaded being bound up, being tied up in all those bandages. But, as all other things with these sickness, the desperation of the pain and aches and heaviness drove me towards the hope that maybe, just maybe, it could get a little bit better. I bought my super-suit-- a compression tank plus a spanx-like short, variations of the ancient corsets women abandoned after the 1950's-- and began wearing it daily. I began learning how to wrap my calves and thighs in layer upon layer of hot, tight bandages.  And you know what? 

It was wonderful.

Not the time it took to do, or to unwind to shower. Not the thought of having to do that daily for-ever.... but, instead, the binding itself. 

Imagine for a moment, that under your clothing you are wrapped from hip to toe in ace bandages.  Not too tightly. Firmly. They begin gently in the therapy, so you can get accustomed to being bound bit by bit. Under that, you have a layer of polyester batting, like quilters use for blankets, under that layer a cloth layer wicking moisture away from the fragile skin itself.  For someone who gets as claustrophobic as I do, the visualization of this process reminded me more of ancient Egypt than of healing.

And yet...

And yet, it was wonderful.  It was like a firm, gentle hug.  Itching was a bit inconvenient (thank goodness I bought the lymphodema ready-wraps, which are SO much faster and easier than wrapping and unwrapping) but not too distracting.  The most interesting part, though, was how I FELT.  My legs, my hips, my back, even my arms which were still unbound, no longer fetl as heavy and unusable. I could move, and though it was not pain _free_, it was with considerably less pain than before.  I could do exciting new things, like clean more of my house, and better care for my children. Walk upstairs.  Despite the embarassment of seemingly gigantic leg bandages (I've still not bought the two or three hundred dollars worth of super strong 20-30 support pantyhose I need to get...budget budget budget...) I remain bound at church and home and stores and have adapted my wardrobe as best as I can. If I leave myself unbound for a morning, or afternoon, the pain once again increases, and my functonality disappears...

So here's what I have been thinking this last month of being bound. 

Continually, the concept of covenants and being bound to the Lord come into my mind, and I think of that same process we go through when investigating or just beginning to understand the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  First, we contemplate all of the seeming restrictions... no alcohol? No cofee and tea?  No wanton sex ... well, that one isn't difficult for me, but I could see how it would be for some people more accustomed to living in the world and by the world's standards.  We go to church in a three hour block on Sunday morning?  And accept callings to help out others?  We pay a tithe of ten percent of our increase in earnings?  (that's a stumbler for some people... they have not yet learned about God's math.) All of these bandages, though designed by the Creator for healing and comfort, seem confining and more like tethers.

And then, we put them on....

And living the Truth is different than the world's perception of living the truth.  The benefits, the peace and comfort, more than outweigh the vanity option, or our previous idea of convenience.  Before much time passes, we realize it is comfortable to be bound to the Lord.  Before much longer, we realize that we desire to be more firmly bound to Him, to His precepts and truths.  From the outside, someone might think "wow, how pitiful that they have to be bound like that....I'm glad I don't have to be bound," but all the while may be suffering the same pains, the same illness, the same limitations and not know the peace and warmth and comfort being bound can mean. 

Like my outward bandages, my inward binding is a choice.. I can choose daily if I desire to be bound or cast aside my neopreme and velcro concoctions and walk away, seemingly free.  But before many hours pass away, I will be limping, dragging, crawling upstairs to rebind myself, the damage having to be undone, the pain not subsiding immediately but over a period of hours (or days) from my own neglect and refusal to obediently be bound.

How many of us do the same with the bindings of the Lord? How many of us daily seek to be less bound, but hope to continue to have the same blessings of being bound more tightly, without the inward trappings and outward trappings that signify that covenential binding?

This is what I've been considering these past few weeks, and I hope it is of blessing to you.  May your binding be ever more increasing, that you may heal inwardly as well as outwardly in this continued journey.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fresh Courage Take

So for 2011 I'm going to start doing what everybody keeps telling me to do, and begin to blog.  I'd like to think that I am told to blog because I am funny, or smart, or have something interesting to talk about, but probably it is more that I have, since birth, been full of words, all crowding to get free.  I am, however, sometimes quite ill and also my jewels are also quite ill, which means my capabilities will be at best sporadic, hopefully vaguely intelligent on good brain days, and typed with a preschooler on my lap.  I could use that last mention as the excuse for my poorly typed words, but realistically, it's because my fingers do not type words that I've known how to spell since fifth grade in the correct order, and periodically I miss one when I check.  Which would be slightly less embarassing if I didn't have editorial experience.

If you wanted pictures, this is probably not where you want to be.  If want a beautiful story about how to DIY crafts, illustrated with professionally done pictures, (I do too, truly), this is not your blog.  If you have, however, Lyme disease and/or have a family member with Lyme disease, perhaps I can be of some use to you.

Word have always been my chosen medium.  Since I could hold a pencil I have needed to write, and therefore, the progression of this disgusting bacteria throughout my system, creating complications in the neural pathways which create strings of words and communication capabilities is particularly both ironic and frustrating.  But, having a portion of my brain returned to me by a recently completed round of IV antibiotics,  and having five years experience in the ringamarole of Lyme treatment options, as well as 22 years of experience with the detriments caused by this disease, diagnosed or undiagnosed, I feel it is time to begin to contribute what hope and opportunity I have to the discussion of this disease.

I am a 35 year old wife and mother of three small children, two of whom have tested positive for Lyme, having been infected inutero.  I am Latter-day Saint, and have great faith and hope in Christ.  Hope is what drives me forward daily, a continual refusal to collapse under the weight and strain of the pressure from both within and without my body.  My name is Tamar, and I hope that something I have experienced can be of use to you. 

The name of my blog is an ongoing inside joke... You know that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  Everything we do in our household, who we have become, is what happens when life gives you Lyme disease.  Thus, I hope that my small contribution can offer some aid to whatever sorrows and illnesses are plaguing you and your family.  I do not have much, and some days am nearing empty, but in my hermitage I will give all that I can.

I contribute as a former editor and current board member at Segullah.org, which, if your hope meter is running low, you should definitely check out.  It is a LDS women's literary magazine begun six years ago, and is of both the highest quality authorship and doctrine, and I love it dearly.  One of my greatest sorrows has been becoming too sick to be able to further serve as editor, but, with Lyme, you take what you can and return whatever is possible.  Just being able to associate with the women who write, blog, and editor there is a gift to my life.

And now... to change a sick baby....