Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Long Slow Unraveling

It is an absolutely gorgeous Memorial Day weekend, traditional beginning of summer, throw open the windows, baseball on the radio, lawnmower humming, hamburgers on the grill kind of day, and these sunny skies with puffy clouds have brought a wistful sort of restlessness in my spirit. 

I've been contemplating sharing what's happening in my life, yet finding it impossible to form the words. Impossible really, to even wrap my head around it, let alone find words to tell you. 

I could gloss over the details and tell you how much I am learning through the events of this season, because I am. I am learning. So. Much. I want to rush through these lessons and get to the victorious end and report these things from the other side of it. Standing on the podium, diploma in hand. 

But I'm not there yet. I am in the messy middle.

I've turned a page in the textbook and suddenly I understand what the lessons are. Two + Two = Four but that root? Wait, what was that root number again? I sigh as my pencil begins to dull. Or maybe it's my thinking, as it were, because Lyme does affect the sharpness of my thinking. 

Chronic Lyme. There, I said it. I have just been diagnosed with Chronic Lyme. Those words have been rolling around in my head, stuck on my tongue, for the past few weeks. It explains so very much.

It is a relief really, to know the root cause of the myriad of illnesses and symptoms I've been suffering for so long; the bone weary exhaustion, the arthritic deep muscle and bone pain, the sleepless nights, fluy aches, the pops and fizzles and twitches and spasms in my muscles, anxiety and depression, the dull thinking and memory lapses and missing words. The crazy hyper sensitivities and so many more inexplicable debilitating symptoms.

But then again, it's kind of devastating.

Last week I told you about my awesome new studio, the permanent one in the same building where I had set up a temporary unit for a few weeks to participate in the Racine studio tour and teach my latest workshop. It's a fantastic space in a building that houses over 50 other artist studios. A community of artists like I have been dreaming of working in for several years. I am finally here and I know it is where I am supposed to be right now. But what I didn't tell you was the full of the why I chose to make that move so soon after moving into my huge studio loft apartment in Racine.

Mold. Unfathomably, I moved into another home that has some sort of issue with mold. And I became sick again. Really really sick. It was hard at first, to acknowledge it, because what the actual f#*k?? But the fact is, that I have not stayed inside the apartment for more than an hour or two since the beginning of April, when I finally had to acknowledge that my symptoms were mounting and the management was not going to fix it.

The doctor noted swollen lymph glands, red irritated respiratory track, sinusitis, hives, and it was hard to overlook the complete loss of my voice, but the suspicion of Lyme was what really threw me. What could this experience possibly have to do with that tick-borne disease?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. Lyme disease gone undiagnosed for decades- misdiagnosed as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Thyroiditis, Tachardia Arythmias, and a host of other seemingly unrelated illnesses, wreaked havoc on my immune system, causing a hyper-sensitivity to issues like exposure to mold. Compound that with genetic markers, discovered through recent labs, that prove me to be among the 25% of the population whose bodies cannot clear the biotoxins created by mold exposure, lyme, and other toxins and you've got a formula for one very sick puppy. This exposure has left me slammed with a flare of debilitating symptoms I can't begin to describe. 

I have been at a complete loss of words over it, and so have avoided mentioning it at all. But it is hard to put on a happy face and not let on that I am in the midst of this crisis. It isn't unusual these days to get concerned email wondering why I haven't yet managed to fulfill some responsibility that I have committed to. All I can say is that it is hard. And I am genuinely sorry. And I am doing the best that I can to keep up. And so much has gone by the wayside.

Yesterday I moved out of the apartment and stored the bulk of my things in my new studio. My husband and I are still working through our issues, not yet ready to reconcile, and though I have a place to stay, I am without my own home until I can find a clean, safe place to move.

I have begun the first steps necessary to help my body clear the biotoxins that it is unable to release. It will be a very long and painful course to try to stabilize enough to even begin to look at treatments for Lyme, and after decades of this disease doing what it will in my body, there is no guarantee that I will get well. The only guarantee is that not addressing it will mean my health continues to decline.

Author and blogger, Glennon Doyle Melton described coming to terms with the chronic nature of her own battle with Lyme disease as a dreamlike picture of God knitting her life together in a sort of wild and beautiful swirly afghan. For myself, the opposite picture holds true, as I get impressions of a “long slow unraveling”.

Tear down this temple and I will rebuild it, Jesus said. He knew that the old systems had to be completely let go before the new could be established. I don't know whether I will be cured of Chronic Lyme disease, the doctor guarantees it wil get worse before I get better. But one thing I can say is this crisis is being used to challenge the old systems and belief patterns inside me. Each one being pulled away to free me. In a long slow unraveling.  


  1. Oh crystal....I'm so sad to hear about all of this/ the constant upheaval and diagnosis of Lyme. I'm so sorry, I hope now with a diagnosis the doctors can alleviate some of the systems. Sending you a big hug.

  2. omg..i hope so that everthing gets better ... big hug

  3. Sending you love and light. You can do this.

  4. Oh, dearheart, as I write this, I stand with my diploma in hand, my issue was different but misdiagnosed for years.. It will improve, nothing comes to stay.. My best advice is refuse to surrender to it and fixate on gratitude and appreciation even for the tiniest things.. Release the responsibilites.. Your health is the most important thing, time to put yourself first... Xox

  5. Thank you for sharing your story Crystal. I hope it creates some movement in those biotoxins. Do what you can and let go of what you can't. Be gentle with yourself and know that you are not alone.

  6. You've been so brave and courageously vulnerable. Thank goodness you have faith and can find value in this suffering. xo

  7. Sending prayers up and to you ~

  8. I am at a loss for what to say - I just want to tell you that I will be thinking of you, praying for you, and sending you loads of strength through the universe to help you in all the battles you are fighting right now. Much love and prayers, my friend. And an extra hug, too.

  9. Crystal, I am so sorry to hear this. You have endured so much! You always seem to go through these trials with such authenticity and wisdom and commitment and I'm sure you will come out well in the end. In the meantime, My thoughts and love goes out to you in this hard time.

  10. Crystal, that is a whole lot to be going through all at once. Maybe now that it is known what is wrong you will be able to have treatment to feel a lot better. I wish you all the best and hope things improve a lot for soon soon.

  11. Crystal,
    Here are some resources that you may want to check out.
    The book is co-authored by Matthew Wood, I love his work with herbs.
    This is an online course, it may be for practitioners, but you may want to look and see if there is someone in your area who is working with this, or ask if the course would be good for a non-practitioner.

    Best wishes for your healing,

  12. I totally get it. I had an uncommon, but nasty uterine infection that went undiagnosed for at least 18 years. Fiiiinally, someone figured it out and I had surgery which helped immensely. Unfortunately, the old immune system was in tatters and I've been rebuilding for the last 3 years. However, heavy pot smoking neighbors and an apartment manager unwilling to confront them blew me apart this winter. A lot of acupuncture visits, a new apartment, and clean eating are helping me rebuild my immune system.
    You aren't alone in this craziness. Keep working on healing. It's a long road, but you'll see rewards constantly. I find, when I grow too weary of the healing journey, I switch to battle mode, throw down the gauntlet, and yell BRING IT!! Lol! Take good care of yourself and do what works...

  13. I'm praying... to the Healer we know and love.

  14. I am so sorry to hear this. I am sending you wishes for hope and healing.

  15. You are so courageous and helpful to all of us fellow-humans out here struggling in a toxic world (physically, emotionally, and spiritually toxic) to share your story with us. I'm cheering you on as you deal with the molds, and the Lymes of life and I will add my prayers on your behalf - may God shine His face upon you and give you peace. I love your art work and your word works (here on this blog). Thank you.

  16. SO sorry this is happening to you. Lord, please help Crystal get through this. Only You know why You are allowing this in her life. There must be a reason. There must be a purpose. Lead her through the darkness into Your light. Amen.

  17. Father in Jesus Name I stand with Crystal as she goes through these trials. I declare a renewing of her damaged immune system. We bind Lyne disease and any underlying parasitic or bacterial intrusions. We loose a cleansing and healing to her affected lymphatic system and blood and her immune system. Total healing from the inside working outward. Lord we call her destiny to be fulfilled. That all you have called her to be and do will come to pass. Now. Healings start this minute. Destinies start this minute. Amen.

  18. Anonymous5:52 AM

    Thank you for opening your heart and life to others - how beautifully written this blog! I'm so glad that you have a doctor who diagnosed the Lyme disease . . . finally! I'll be praying for you. Patricia Burg

  19. Dear Crystal,
    Oh my how you've suffered and yet gone on with classes, art, and writing all so beautifully. You are certainly an inspiration to all of us and a reminder to cherish our health and to be there for those going through unknown battles. I'm sure all the moves have been draining. I attended your night class at AU last summer and I found it to be such s magical learning experience. You were a kind and generous instructor. Lots of work setting up for workshops. I can't afford to attend this year but would encourage others to take your classes!
    Please know that you are in so many positive thoughts and prayers, including mine. Stay strong and rest and heal as much as possible. Your art is so outstanding. Sending love and hugs!

  20. Dear Crystal,
    Thank God for your beautiful heart and spirit. I see amazing grace shining through your struggles and challenges. It makes you such an inspiration. Your giftedness is not diminished by this hellish onslaught. It shows through and I think is even amplified as you face it all in faith with reality at the forefront. God bless you and lead to to the best healing protocols. I continue to be inspired by your art and writings. Wish I could attend the event at Patricia's. I hope some day I'll catch up to you and your wonderful teaching again. I notice a new turn in your most recent art. a Looser sponteneity, perhaps a reflection of your unraveling. I love all of your heartfelt expressions. Hugs and many blessings in your journey. I'm watching and praying. Laure

  21. Crystal, your story and emotions are impactful to me in so many ways. I feel blessed to read about your journey. The way you share it all is so real and in a strange way helps with my own mess. Thank you.

  22. I am so miserably sad this is the diagnosis. This is just an evil evil disease. My heart aches for what you have ahead of you, but you have an army of friends and artists that are arming up with strength to give you when you have none.