Rope a Lyme dope

Remember Muhammad Ali and his rope a dope trick. Well, that was a long time ago, so maybe you don’t, but here’s how it goes.

Ali was the world’s heavyweight boxing champ for much of the ’60s and ’70s. He didn’t know it, but he was stealing one of the Lyme bacteria’s killer strategies.

In many fights, he would spend the 14th and second last round huddled against the ropes, gloves up covering his face and his brawny arms covering his torso.

His hapless opponent would pound away at Ali’s rock-hard midsection, and the champ would barely feel it. He didn’t punch back, but just stood there getting his second wind.

Then came round 15 and Bam!, a fresh Ali knocked out the dope who’d just worn himself out a few minutes before.

Sound familiar Lyme sufferers? Who among us hasn’t been that chump? While Lyme bides its time waiting for an opportunity to strike, we often wear ourselves out trying to fulfill our commitments with the limited energy we have. When we do have a window where we feel better, it’s so tempting to try to rush to get things done. Never enough time. Always catching up.

Like so many people, I didn’t know I had Lyme when I first got sick. There was no bullseye rash and the dozen or so doctors I tried to get help from never even brought Lyme up as a possibility.

I felt absolutely dreadful all the time, but the doctors said there was nothing wrong with me. I asked if I should stop working and they could see no reason to do that. “You can’t hurt anything,” one said. And I believed him.

So I kept working, thinking it was some flu bug that would soon pass like all the other flu bugs had over the years. Like most people, I had a stressful job, and I kept running around, wearing myself down until I finally had to stop working.

I desperately wish I had that to do over again. The way to beat rope a dope, I’ve learned since, is to chill. Be like Ali, conserving your energy. Now if I start to feel I’m rushing around too much and getting tired, I stop and take a brief nap. I also take a short nap after lunch and spend time meditating after dinner.

I don’t work full-time, so I can do that. But even if I had that kind of employment, I could make adjustments to keep myself from getting overtired. For example, I have a friend who spends many a lunch hour sleeping in his car.

So, my rule is never, never, never knock myself out. Exercise, yes, but not to the point where I’m bushed. And maybe there’s something I really want to do, but it’s going to require getting stressed out. Regretfully, I pass on it. Too many times I’ve overextended myself and given Lyme the upper hand in our daily tussle.

By refusing to play the dope anymore, I’ve slowly been able to gain back ground from my arch-nemesis in the black corner. It’s rematch time. Lyme won the first battle, but I’m winning the second one.

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Tasting your way to better health

Hmm. I can barely taste that zinc tablet when I suck on it. And the vitamin C crystals sure seem a lot less tangy today. Uh oh, something is thinking of zapping me with a cold.

We’ve all heard the phrase “salt to taste”. But one thing I’ve found on my journey to health is that you can also “magnesium to taste” and “calcium to taste” and “copper to taste”. Etcetera, etcetera.

Our bodies are really smart. They are always trying to help us if only we would pay attention. Take the taste buds for example. There are scores of things the body loves to give us feedback on that we generally don’t consider.

I use a powdered probiotic every morning. Some mornings it tastes really strong, other mornings not so strong, and other mornings downright weak. In the middle is what puts a smile on my face, really strong just means back off a bit tomorrow, and weak concerns me. That means something might be wrong in my gut, so I’ll toss a bit more in my glass and hope for the best.

The general rule is if tastes weak, my body could use some more of the substance in question. If it tastes really strong, I may have too much in my system, and if it’s in the middle, I’m probably in balance.

Balance. The key word. When it comes to minerals, vitamins, other nutritional supplements and just about everything else in life, balance is the body’s desire. For me, megadosing supplements doesn’t work. Too much is often as bad as too little.

The list of supplements I’ve tried where the taste test comes into play is a long one. Just about every mineral applies, as do things like B12 lozenges, colloidal silver and grapefruit seed extract.

My doctor uses this theory when she gives new patients a bit of zinc liquid to swish around in their mouths and gauge its taste, which can range from “like water” to “like dishwater”.  It’s a screening test to get an idea of their zinc level, as zinc plays a vital role in so many of the body’s important functions.

All this is not foolproof science. The body may have other reasons for judging a substance weak, strong or middling. And remember the taste test is a snapshot of a moment in time. You might put the same amount of salt on a plate of eggs at breakfast and another one at dinner and have it taste weak in the morning, and then strong in the evening.

Lyme is at least thousands of years old. If it were stupid, it would have died long ago. It’s probably a lot smarter than I am.  But then again my body is a lot smarter than I am too. So when it’s using the taste buds to try to keep me free from nasty things like colds and flu that could weaken me and give the Lyme a chance to make inroads, I’ve learned to listen very, very carefully.

 

Intro to Lymetips.com

Lymetips is about sharing things I’ve learned from my struggles with Lyme.  I got the full meal deal with this disease- several strains of Lyme, several coinfections, several viruses, severe candida, etc., etc. So whatever you’ve faced, I’ve probably faced it too. At one point, I asked my doctor if I was dying. All she said was, ‘I’m not sure.’ As you probably guessed, I didn’t die, and while I’m not fully recovered yet, I’m waaayyy better than I was.

Solving the wobbly legs dilemma

I’m standing in the supermarket checkout line with three people in front of me. I’m thinking, “Hurry up everybody, don’t you realize my legs could give out at any time.”

Ever been there? Legs left so wobbly by Lyme that you’ve lost confidence they can hold you up for more than a few minutes. It feels like driving an old car that could quit on you at any moment. Not fun.

After going through this several times, I decided I had to do something. I bought a cane, but I hated using that. Vanity perhaps, but really, does anyone want to use a cane?

Then an idea came to mind. I used to cover Olympic sports as a journalist, and I remembered how athletes sometimes wore compression clothes on their legs to gain an edge.

Usually made of spandex or similar material, compression clothes come in upper and lower body varieties. I needed help with the lower. That could mean running pants, cycling pants, knee supports, knee braces and athletic socks among other items. The compression increases microcirculation in the body and thus increases strength and stability.

A bit of research told me that testing showed compression clothes could increase your leg strength by five to 10 percent. Not a lot, but maybe it could make a difference.

My web search started with compression cycling pants. I eagerly awaited their arrival, and when they came, I pulled them on quickly and headed outside. Then I just stood. I stood for five minutes, and it felt good. Then I stood for 10 minutes, and it felt just as good. Eureka!

I quickly found that the cycling pants solved my checkout line dilemma. I could now comfortably stand for a half hour or more instead of less than five minutes.

The experiment continued with online shopping for compression running pants, compression cycling shorts, compression knee supports, compression knee braces, compression running pants and compression athletic socks. 

The first thing I found out is that I needed a high-quality product for it to work. That meant cycling pants and shorts a serious cyclist would wear, running pants and knee supports fit for an Olympian.

Everything did work, but some things worked better than others. My fave combo is compression cycling shorts, compression knee supports and compression socks. I also found that the lowest grade of compression socks (high grades need a doctor’s prescription) felt best for me.

This combination can be counted on to hold me up for an hour, which is as long as I’m called to stand.

Another bonus is this can all be worn under your pants, so nobody knows. Not so in summer, though. At first, I felt a bit goofy, having the black knee supports stick out from underneath my shorts. But then I remembered that a lot of National Basketball Association players wear pretty much the same stuff, and they’re some of the coolest folks on the planet. Besides, it beats the heck out of carrying a cane, and it beats even more heck out of falling down at the supermarket.