Tracey Grumbach

@tracey-grumbach | contributor
Tracey Grumbach is a digital and photo artist working out of Northern Maryland. Her ongoing fight with Chronic Lyme Disease forced her to give up a career as a real estate photographer but led her into a career as a digital artist. All of her art has a direct connection to her struggle and triumph over this difficult illness. She enjoys reading, gardening, writing, photography, digital art, traveling, and spending quality time with her family.

To the Chronically Ill Parent Who Feels Like a Failure

Parenting – it is the most important job on earth. Even for the healthiest person, parenting is not for the faint of heart. Add a chronic illness into the mix and a difficult job can seem impossible. That’s why whenI, the mother of four, became ill with chronic Lyme disease and co-infections, starting intensive treatment for those illnesses, I found myself feeling like I was failing at the most important job assigned to me… being a mom. The pain, exhaustion, brain fog, rage, and confusion caused by the diseases made it impossible for me to be the mother I once was. The fun, outgoing, energetic, type A mom had shriveled into one that could barely get out of bed and take care of herself much less four other souls. I was devastated because I was sure that my kids were better off without me. I was sure I was destroying their childhood and causing them major trauma because I could no longer do the things I used to do. I was sure that when they grew up the only thing they would remember about me was that I was sick and tired. One day I opened up and told a friend how I was feeling. Her response to me was one of the greatest gifts I’ve received and, for me, it created a paradigm shift about parenting while healing from a chronic disease. Her advice was to stop thinking about all the things I couldn’t do with my kids right now and focus on the character traits I was helping them develop because I had a chronic disease. It was extremely helpful advice, so I’m passing along to you five things you may not realize you are helping your child learn, even while you are in bed. I hope this helps you feel confident that you are, indeed, not failing as a parent. 1. Patience You probably can’t do things as fast as you once could. Pain and exhaustion are sure to slow you down, but that is OK. You are teaching your child patience when he has to wait a few more minutes for a request or need. Sometimes he may even have to wait much longer for a want (such as wanting to do something active like going to a playground). Learning deferred gratification is a valuable lesson in this instant world. 2. Commitment and Dedication You are teaching your child commitment and dedication every single time you take your medications, stick to your anti-inflammatory diet, and keep your doctor’s appointments. It takes a strong sense of commitment to heal from this terrible disease and you are showing your child first hand what it means to be dedicated to a cause. 3. Responsibility and Self-Reliance Passing on some age appropriate chores to your child that you are struggling to complete not only teaches them responsibility and self-reliance, it also allows them to feel like a contributing and valuable member of the family. It’s OK if you can’t do all the chores you used to. Depending on age, kids can pitch in by doing laundry, cleaning, cooking, babysitting younger siblings, taking care of pets, collecting trash, packing lunches for school and other various chores. Rest is paramount while your body is fighting off infection. Save your energy by enlisting the help of your child. 4. Empathy and Compassion By allowing your child to see you in a vulnerable and needy state, and by allowing them to help you, your child is exercising his skills of empathy and compassion. Explain how you feel on an age appropriate level and let him “take care of you.” Accept his small gifts of kindness such as handmade get-well cards, cups of water, and band-aids with an open heart. Even if it doesn’t make you physically better, it should ease your heart knowing your child is developing a sense of empathy and compassion for others. 5. Lifelong Healthy Habits Many chronic illness patients live a healthier lifestyle than they did before they became ill. All of those things you are doing to help yourself heal such as eating healthier, doing gentle exercises such as stretching or yoga, and taking quiet time to yourself to rejuvenate sets a positive example to your child that taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically is important. Let him stretch with you, nap with you, eat healthy with you. Soon your good habits will be integrated into his life as well. Hanging on to the guilt associated with thinking you are not parenting well does not help you in the healing process. Let those negative thoughts go and start focusing on the beautiful qualities and traits you are fostering in your child without you even realizing it. You are enough. Your child needs you just as you are. Even though some days you may not feel like it, you are succeeding in the greatest and most difficult job in the world… parenting. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: DGLimages

To the Chronically Ill Parent Who Feels Like a Failure

Parenting – it is the most important job on earth. Even for the healthiest person, parenting is not for the faint of heart. Add a chronic illness into the mix and a difficult job can seem impossible. That’s why whenI, the mother of four, became ill with chronic Lyme disease and co-infections, starting intensive treatment for those illnesses, I found myself feeling like I was failing at the most important job assigned to me… being a mom. The pain, exhaustion, brain fog, rage, and confusion caused by the diseases made it impossible for me to be the mother I once was. The fun, outgoing, energetic, type A mom had shriveled into one that could barely get out of bed and take care of herself much less four other souls. I was devastated because I was sure that my kids were better off without me. I was sure I was destroying their childhood and causing them major trauma because I could no longer do the things I used to do. I was sure that when they grew up the only thing they would remember about me was that I was sick and tired. One day I opened up and told a friend how I was feeling. Her response to me was one of the greatest gifts I’ve received and, for me, it created a paradigm shift about parenting while healing from a chronic disease. Her advice was to stop thinking about all the things I couldn’t do with my kids right now and focus on the character traits I was helping them develop because I had a chronic disease. It was extremely helpful advice, so I’m passing along to you five things you may not realize you are helping your child learn, even while you are in bed. I hope this helps you feel confident that you are, indeed, not failing as a parent. 1. Patience You probably can’t do things as fast as you once could. Pain and exhaustion are sure to slow you down, but that is OK. You are teaching your child patience when he has to wait a few more minutes for a request or need. Sometimes he may even have to wait much longer for a want (such as wanting to do something active like going to a playground). Learning deferred gratification is a valuable lesson in this instant world. 2. Commitment and Dedication You are teaching your child commitment and dedication every single time you take your medications, stick to your anti-inflammatory diet, and keep your doctor’s appointments. It takes a strong sense of commitment to heal from this terrible disease and you are showing your child first hand what it means to be dedicated to a cause. 3. Responsibility and Self-Reliance Passing on some age appropriate chores to your child that you are struggling to complete not only teaches them responsibility and self-reliance, it also allows them to feel like a contributing and valuable member of the family. It’s OK if you can’t do all the chores you used to. Depending on age, kids can pitch in by doing laundry, cleaning, cooking, babysitting younger siblings, taking care of pets, collecting trash, packing lunches for school and other various chores. Rest is paramount while your body is fighting off infection. Save your energy by enlisting the help of your child. 4. Empathy and Compassion By allowing your child to see you in a vulnerable and needy state, and by allowing them to help you, your child is exercising his skills of empathy and compassion. Explain how you feel on an age appropriate level and let him “take care of you.” Accept his small gifts of kindness such as handmade get-well cards, cups of water, and band-aids with an open heart. Even if it doesn’t make you physically better, it should ease your heart knowing your child is developing a sense of empathy and compassion for others. 5. Lifelong Healthy Habits Many chronic illness patients live a healthier lifestyle than they did before they became ill. All of those things you are doing to help yourself heal such as eating healthier, doing gentle exercises such as stretching or yoga, and taking quiet time to yourself to rejuvenate sets a positive example to your child that taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically is important. Let him stretch with you, nap with you, eat healthy with you. Soon your good habits will be integrated into his life as well. Hanging on to the guilt associated with thinking you are not parenting well does not help you in the healing process. Let those negative thoughts go and start focusing on the beautiful qualities and traits you are fostering in your child without you even realizing it. You are enough. Your child needs you just as you are. Even though some days you may not feel like it, you are succeeding in the greatest and most difficult job in the world… parenting. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: DGLimages

Using Art as Expression While Struggling With Lyme Disease, Aphasia

Imagine for a moment that one day you woke up and realized you couldn’t think of the words for common, everyday objects. Imagine having trouble remembering the names of people with whom you have daily contact. Envision being in the middle of a sentence and completely forgetting what it was you were saying…not just once, but over and over again. Now think about the terror of being able to decode the words you see in a book but not being able to make sense of the meaning. This might seem like a nightmare to many, but for me, it was a disheartening and isolating reality. For many of us, one of the most frustrating, embarrassing and frightening symptoms of Lyme disease is expressive aphasia, the loss of ability to recall the words needed to express one’s thoughts.   When words failed me, I fell back on art to help me express what it felt like to have chronic Lyme disease. I began using my knowledge of photography, Photoshop and mobile art apps to create a series of self-portraits. My goal was to communicate to the world, in a nonverbal way, how it felt to have a chronic illness. After displaying many pieces of art in this series in galleries, my website and art publications, fellow chronic illness patients began reaching out to me to say how they could relate to the self-portraits, how they saw themselves in the art. That was the biggest compliment to me. These self-portraits are not created to be a literal replica of me. They are created to portray the psychological and physical manifestations of illness. I am so very grateful for this artistic outlet as it has helped me feel less isolated and cut off from the world. My art has been a conversation starter to discuss Lyme disease with those who otherwise wouldn’t know about it and art has connected me to others who similarly struggle with chronic illness. If you are one of the many people affected by aphasia due to chronic illness, why not give art a chance to help you reconnect with the world? Art is therapeutic, mindful, relaxing, healthy and you can do it almost anywhere. No matter what medium you use or what subject matter you prefer, art can give you an expressive outlet when the language part of your brain shuts down. When aphasia has you frustrated, bring out your art supplies, even if it is just a pencil and paper and allow yourself to try a new form of communication. When you can’t find the words, let your art speak. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

To the Chronically Ill Parent Who Feels Like a Failure

Parenting – it is the most important job on earth. Even for the healthiest person, parenting is not for the faint of heart. Add a chronic illness into the mix and a difficult job can seem impossible. That’s why whenI, the mother of four, became ill with chronic Lyme disease and co-infections, starting intensive treatment for those illnesses, I found myself feeling like I was failing at the most important job assigned to me… being a mom. The pain, exhaustion, brain fog, rage, and confusion caused by the diseases made it impossible for me to be the mother I once was. The fun, outgoing, energetic, type A mom had shriveled into one that could barely get out of bed and take care of herself much less four other souls. I was devastated because I was sure that my kids were better off without me. I was sure I was destroying their childhood and causing them major trauma because I could no longer do the things I used to do. I was sure that when they grew up the only thing they would remember about me was that I was sick and tired. One day I opened up and told a friend how I was feeling. Her response to me was one of the greatest gifts I’ve received and, for me, it created a paradigm shift about parenting while healing from a chronic disease. Her advice was to stop thinking about all the things I couldn’t do with my kids right now and focus on the character traits I was helping them develop because I had a chronic disease. It was extremely helpful advice, so I’m passing along to you five things you may not realize you are helping your child learn, even while you are in bed. I hope this helps you feel confident that you are, indeed, not failing as a parent. 1. Patience You probably can’t do things as fast as you once could. Pain and exhaustion are sure to slow you down, but that is OK. You are teaching your child patience when he has to wait a few more minutes for a request or need. Sometimes he may even have to wait much longer for a want (such as wanting to do something active like going to a playground). Learning deferred gratification is a valuable lesson in this instant world. 2. Commitment and Dedication You are teaching your child commitment and dedication every single time you take your medications, stick to your anti-inflammatory diet, and keep your doctor’s appointments. It takes a strong sense of commitment to heal from this terrible disease and you are showing your child first hand what it means to be dedicated to a cause. 3. Responsibility and Self-Reliance Passing on some age appropriate chores to your child that you are struggling to complete not only teaches them responsibility and self-reliance, it also allows them to feel like a contributing and valuable member of the family. It’s OK if you can’t do all the chores you used to. Depending on age, kids can pitch in by doing laundry, cleaning, cooking, babysitting younger siblings, taking care of pets, collecting trash, packing lunches for school and other various chores. Rest is paramount while your body is fighting off infection. Save your energy by enlisting the help of your child. 4. Empathy and Compassion By allowing your child to see you in a vulnerable and needy state, and by allowing them to help you, your child is exercising his skills of empathy and compassion. Explain how you feel on an age appropriate level and let him “take care of you.” Accept his small gifts of kindness such as handmade get-well cards, cups of water, and band-aids with an open heart. Even if it doesn’t make you physically better, it should ease your heart knowing your child is developing a sense of empathy and compassion for others. 5. Lifelong Healthy Habits Many chronic illness patients live a healthier lifestyle than they did before they became ill. All of those things you are doing to help yourself heal such as eating healthier, doing gentle exercises such as stretching or yoga, and taking quiet time to yourself to rejuvenate sets a positive example to your child that taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically is important. Let him stretch with you, nap with you, eat healthy with you. Soon your good habits will be integrated into his life as well. Hanging on to the guilt associated with thinking you are not parenting well does not help you in the healing process. Let those negative thoughts go and start focusing on the beautiful qualities and traits you are fostering in your child without you even realizing it. You are enough. Your child needs you just as you are. Even though some days you may not feel like it, you are succeeding in the greatest and most difficult job in the world… parenting. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: DGLimages

Michelle Nixon

What Strength Looks Like When You're Chronically Sick

I was talking with a friend recently and I do not remember the exact particulars of the conversation, but something he said really struck me and has stayed with me for months now. He said, “I am not dependent on anyone or anything. I am not weak.” All I could think in the moment is how much he is dependent on things that he does not even realize, like his health, his ability to work a full-time job, his ability to go to the gym regularly, and his ability to fix himself healthy meals. I, too, took those things for granted once upon a time, but that is a post for another time. When did our society take a turn and start associating dependence on others with weakness? What happened to the old adage of “strength in numbers?” I began thinking on this comment more and more and as a chronically ill person, it really bothered me. By his definition, I am weak because my illness forces me to be dependent on others for certain things. It got me thinking about my definition of strength. For me, strength is… when I realize I need help and actually ask for the help I need. It is really hard for me to admit when I need help. Often times when my symptoms are flaring, I will not ask for help even with people offering and will either push through or just ignore the things that I need to get done. The results are a messy house and car and a longer recovery time for me. I am very thankful for the friends who know this about me and will help me regardless. I was really sick one time and jokingly told my friend that the only thing I needed was help with my homework. His response was, “May I bring you breakfast tomorrow?” For me, strength is…when I plan to go out right when my anxiety kicks in, but I take a few deep breaths and spend time with the people I care about anyway. I might not stay as long as I wanted, but I refuse to let the anxiety win and keep me from spending quality time with people. For me, strength is…when depression is trying to take over and all I want to do is stay home for days and hide under the covers. I never know what might set my emotions off and start crying… but I go anyway because once again, I am not my depression and will not let it run my life. For me, strength is… when brain fog flares up right when I had plans with someone. I want to cancel my plans and stay home because they might not understand why I’m not able to think or carry a conversation properly. It is when I am honest with them that my symptoms are flaring, but I still wanted to see them. For me, strength is… knowing that we all struggle with things that only we can see, so even when someone treats us poorly, we can return it with kindness. We know what it is to put on a brave face when we are hurting. We also may know what it is like to lash out at people unnecessarily because of that pain. Strength is… being vulnerable. It is knowing that there is strength in numbers and if I would just be real with people about my struggles, I just might find someone else to make my burden lighter and help fight this battle. Even if it is just a listening ear. It is being hurt by people time and time and time again but still giving each new person a fair chance. Stress is very bad for illnesses, but it is still believing in people despite the fear of the pain. Of course, there should always be a level of self preservation. It is knowing that shutting out some emotions can shut out your ability to fully feel all emotions. Strength is…when I finally decide to write that blog post and post it publicly. It is when I take it a step further and decide to share that blog post with my closest friends and family even though I am afraid it might make me just a little too vulnerable and don’t know if I am ready for that just yet. But most importantly, Strength is… when I am stubborn and do not ask for the help I need. It is when I let the anxiety and the depression keep me at home crying alone in my bed. It is when physical symptoms flare and I keep them completely hidden from everyone because I do not want them to see my struggle. It is when I lash out at some innocent bystander because I am having a bad day. It is when I refuse to open yourself up to someone else because I am so debilitated by fear. It is when I cannot sleep because I am replaying every interaction I had throughout the day in my head, afraid I did something wrong and now people are not going to like me anymore and then my heart begins to hurt until I finally fall asleep at 4 a.m. from sheer exhaustion. However, I wake up the next morning, get up, and keep on fighting. I do this because I know wars are not fought in a day and even though I may lose a few battles, the war has not been lost. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by Grandfailure

Why Hugging You Is Not Good for My Health

Before I became ill with chronic Lyme disease and co-infections, I used to love the smell of many things. When walking in the mall I would be drawn to those fancy candle stores or those luxury bath and body product stores to sniff and sample all the scents they had to offer. I didn’t avoid the perfume counter in the department stores and certainly never thought twice about hugging or sitting close to anyone who was wearing perfume, cologne, scented bath and body products, or strong deodorants. However, since I acquired Lyme disease and co-infections, my senses have gone into overdrive, making me very sensitive to light, sound, touch, and smell. While all hyperactive senses can cause daily hurdles to overcome, the excessive sense of smell (in particular, smells created artificially from chemicals as opposed to natural smells from organic oils and such) has caused me the most difficulty in public settings. If I am at a party, a theater, a restaurant, or any other public venue, I can begin experiencing severe and debilitating symptoms from being exposed to these products. I don’t have to avoid these situations simply because I don’t like the smell, I have to avoid them because the smells can actually make me sick, even if I find the scent enjoyable. For example, an exposure can cause my eyes to water, my sinuses to clog, and my nose to run excessively. Also, I can develop a disabling migraine that causes vision issues and extreme headache pain. In addition, if not removed from these triggers, I can become nauseous and potentially vomit. While asthma is not an issue for me personally, I do know that for other chronically ill people, chemically produced smells can cause asthma symptoms as well. Normally, all I need to do is remove myself from the source of the smell at the first sign of trouble and I can begin to feel better. However, in some situations, I simply cannot leave or move to a new location. For example, hugging people who wear these perfumed products can cause a large set back for anyone who has sensory issues. Even the briefest of hugs can transfer the chemicals that produce these smells to my own clothes and body. This situation is more problematic because, unless I am home and can immediately remove my clothing and take a shower, I am trapped with the chemicals that cause the symptoms. No matter where I go so does the smell, disabling my ability to escape. Since I can control the products I use on my own body and in my own house, I can create a comfortable, safe environment in which to live. However, for me and many other people, being in public can be an uncomfortable and unsafe experience. So, please consider not wearing perfumes, colognes, or other strongly scented products in your workplace and at social gatherings. You never know just how many people are struggling with these triggers. Also, if someone with a chronic illness politely declines a hug from you, please understand we are not rejecting you; we are simply protecting ourselves. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: AntonioGuillem

Having Hope for Healing After Getting Blood Test for Leaky Gut

Hope is knowing the sun still exists even when the night of the new moon wraps your world in total darkness. Hope is hearing a symphony burst forth out of the discord of individual instruments. Hope is thinking you are totally and utterly alone in the world in your experience and finding someone else who understands. Hope is the sound of a baby’s laughter. Hope is going to sleep when the bud is tightly closed and waking to the flower spread open in all its glory. Hope is believing that nothing is impossible in the hands of God. I’ll be honest. There are many times along this journey where I have lost hope. I have reconciled myself to the fact that for the rest of my life I will live in pain and uncertainty, with limited mobility, and feel like a burden on the rest of my friends and family. When in the midst of so much unrelenting pain, it is easy to lose hope – to see only the darkness, to forget the sun is behind the clouds. But, despite how low I became, I hung onto the my last shred of my faith which resided only in God. I believed He knew the answers and loved me enough to show me the path to healing in His time.   So, when I went to my doctor appointment yesterday, hope was difficult to find. I have been in chronic Lyme disease and co-infection treatment over and over only to relapse again and again. Over the years I have times where I feel close to normal only to fall into pain and worsening symptoms again. I have walked this walk, done all the things I was told to do and still was sick on an almost daily basis. Having only started treatment (again!) a month ago and knowing things often get worse before they get better didn’t help my mental state. Hope was running thin and I could feel depression set in. I wanted there to be new answers, new things to try, new explanations as to what was happening inside my body. However, I felt like I was re-walking the same path I had walked before surrounded by the same scenery. My prayers for renewed hope were answered yesterday. After going into more detail with my LLMD (Lyme-literate doctor) about my joint pain and the history of stiffening, swelling and pain in every joint including my knuckles, toes, knees, shoulders, hips, back…you name it, I had pain in it either currently or at some previous time, he suggested my pain may not have everything to do with Lyme and related infections but may be compounded by a problem referred to as leaky gut. Sounds gross, right? Well, actually it is gross. Leaky gut is when your stomach becomes damaged from prolonged illness, prolonged antibiotic treatment or other factors and small particles of food that haven’t been digested get passed through a hyper-permeable stomach lining into your blood stream. Once in your bloodstream, these tiny particles can become lodged in your tissues and the immune system then attacks the particles thinking they are bacteria or a virus, causing inflammation, pain and stiffness (among other problems). This issue can become so severe that it can render patients with such arthritic pain they need to use a wheelchair. So, to see if this is a factor in my unique situation, the doctor ordered an ALCAT blood test that will evaluate how my white blood cells react to over 450 individual foods, additives, colorings, molds, functional foods, medicinal herbs and chemical substances. This will tell me what food sensitivity and intolerance I may have that could cause inflammation and pain. This renewed my hope for better days because it makes total sense to me. I do notice a correlation between eating certain foods and having a flare of my symptoms. So, this may not be the total answer, but if avoiding trigger foods can help reduce my pain levels in the long run, I am willing to do whatever I can to help return my life back to normal. So, I’m still clinging to the hope that more answers may be out there for me, despite that voice in my head that keeps repeating, “Just give up.” This test may or may not help me, but at least in the meantime, I am once again basking in the glory of having hope. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here. Thinkstock photo via ipopba.

Why I Lie When You Ask Me How I'm Feeling

Honestly, I totally get it. It makes perfect sense as to why people who know me and care about me ask me how I am feeling every time we talk to each other. In a way it is flattering because people just want the best for me and are hoping that I am starting to feel better while I am in treatment for chronic Lyme disease. But if I am completely honest, this question is a trigger for me and here is why… I don’t want to be a liar, but this question turns me into one. “I’m fine.” Or, “I’m awesome.” Or some other version of this answer is typically untrue even though one day I hope to give this answer and mean it. You may wonder why I would lie instead of telling the truth. Well, for one thing, I get so tired of talking about the illness that I just don’t feel like going through the list of symptoms I may be feeling at that exact moment. So I say I am fine. When I am around other people I want to talk about every day things like everyone else. The weather, world events, sports, our kids, and heck, even politics would be a better conversation than how I am feeling. I just want to be “normal” and have non-sick, normal conversations. I don’t want my illness to define me, so I will lie to avoid sympathy and long conversations about my condition. Secondly, talking about all the symptoms over and over just reminds me how crappy I really do feel, and honestly, I don’t want to be or need to be reminded. Trust me, I know just how horrible I feel and trust me, you really don’t want to know and probably don’t truly care. Even if you did care, chances are unless you have experienced a chronic illness of some sort you can’t even begin to imagine what it is like. Another reason I may lie is because I can’t gauge just how sincere the question is. Most people just say, “How are you?” as a conversation starter and don’t actually want to know how you are actually feeling. In our society, “How are you?” is a pleasantry, not a real question. Imagine being in a check-out line at the store and the cashier, who is a complete stranger to you, says, “Good morning, how are you today?” They don’t actually want to know how I am. They don’t want me to say, “Honestly, I am barely able to walk, I feel like I am going to vomit at any moment, and I have a splitting headache. The soles of my feet feel like they are bruised and have 10,000 needles sticking in them, my joints are so stiff I can barely move, I’m exhausted and want to lie down in the middle of this gross floor. I have 20 different muscles cramping and twitching at this exact moment and I am not sure if I will remember where I am when I am driving home. And how are you?” It just wouldn’t be socially acceptable. So, I say, “I’m fine, how are you?” It’s just easier. Another scenario when people ask this question is they don’t understand chronic Lyme disease. They expect because I am dressed and am wearing makeup that I feel fantastic, even if I am dying inside. Lyme is an invisible illness that no one can see. I am desperate to feel normal, so on good days I do enjoy getting dressed and putting on makeup. But a “good” day may just mean a day I am not bedridden. It doesn’t necessarily mean I actually feel good. So, if I am dressed with makeup on and someone asks me, “How are you?” and I tell them how sick I really feel, it seems like I am a liar. So, the best course for me is to lie and say I am fine, which is actually quite ironic. Sometimes, people expect that because I am currently in treatment (on antibiotics and other herbals) that I should feel back to normal in a few days like one does when being treated for strep throat or an earache. They think if I actually have a good day and can go to the store shopping that I am cured. No, no, and no. That, unfortunately is not how chronic Lyme disease works. I can have a decent day only to be followed by a day I can’t get out of bed for seemingly no rhyme or reason. Those who have chronic Lyme disease are on long doses of antibiotics (months and months) and are not “cured” in seven to 10 days like other illnesses antibiotics are used to treat. We have good days and we have bad days. We can be in remission for months (and sometimes years), only to relapse again. So, it gets confusing to people who haven’t lived with the disease to understand that sometimes I can go out and have a nice time and the next day (or a few hours later) I am in bed unable to function. So, saying “I’m fine” is just so much less complicated than explaining all of this every single time someone asks how I am. Really, it is a conversation killer. Last, I may lie simply because I am a people-pleaser. I am much less of a people-pleaser than I used to be, but in general, I hate to disappoint people. So, when you ask me how I am feeling and are expecting (and usually I can tell when people are expecting this answer) to hear, “Better!” or, “Great!” because of one of the many reasons I’ve already listed, I just want to say what you want to hear. It is just simply easier, less stressful, and less complicated to let you think I am good. In all honesty, I hate when people ask me how I am feeling. It is just awkward and confusing for me. What I would prefer is, “What’s going on in your life right now?,” “What’s new?” or, “How was your weekend?” These questions let me avoid all talk of illness and let me answer with things that are happening in my life despite chronic Lyme. I can guarantee you would like hearing about my kids, my art, my weekend, or my view on world politics better than hearing me lie to you or list all my chronic Lyme disease symptoms. That I am sure of. Follow this journey on Grumbach Girl. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .