Thursday, September 29, 2011


My morning began with my sweet Finley tip-toeing into my room, all dressed for school, cute as a button. She was chowing on a baggie of cheerios. I was sound asleep, the type of sleep that borders on unconsciousness, with my back turned to her.  Then she whispered “mommy.” Who can resist that? I mean even the Grinch would wake up if Finley whispered to him the way she did to me. I pried my eyes open and tried to turn over to face her. I put my hand out to touch her sweet, smiley face, and she dropped half a cheerio in it. She asked if I wanted it. I said I couldn’t. (My kids are very used to the food restrictions from Lyme’s.) She said, “save it till you get better soon.” I said “when is that?” Looking over her shoulder as she left my room she responded matter-of-factly, “In 4 hours.” (She did come back later to give me the other half a cheerio.)

A few days ago I had a major episode while Robyn had a friend over. Melody and Charles were hovering around me, Robyn and Rosemary peeking over their shoulders trying to see what was going on. Robyn, so blaisé after seeing it so many times, explains to Rosemary that, “my mom’s brain is broken for awhile.” a very apt and simple explanation. You could write pages on this disease, but it comes down to that one fact - my brain is broken.

Out of the mouths of babes, right? I guess that no longer works in the 21st century - “babes” has taken on a whole new meaning. Maybe it should be “Kids say the darndest things.” First of all, that was the title of a TV show, admittedly it was very funny, but I think the word darndest was actually made up just for the show. And while I’m a huge proponent of making up words, I just think this one is dumbalicious. I do believe I will just say - my kids are pretty smart.

The part that breaks my heart about these things they say is how used to it they’ve become to me being sick. An “episode” is no longer shocking to them. They know that when they get home that I will most likely be asleep. They know that other people will often be taking care of them. They know that I can’t eat certain things because I’m sick, and yet, every time I push my walker out of my bedroom, Finn says, “you all better now?” or “you not sick anymore?” And the thing that overwhelms me is the hope in her eyes. After my first dr. appt. in DC, Robyn asked to talk to me on the phone. She asked, “So, you are all better now?” She believed that one doctor’s visit would heal me completely. How do you explain to a 7 year old that you probably won’t feel better for almost a year. They believe every day that I’m gonna get better. There is never a doubt that I might not. They never, ever give up. There is just always hope. What a gift.

Hope guides me. It is what gets me through the day, and especially the night.   - A Knight’s Tale

Thursday, September 22, 2011

sidewalk safety

Mr. Mack Truck meet Brooke Fox.

Let’s just all agree that the aforementioned meeting was precipitated by an unfortunate series of events that were somewhat unrelated, but seemed to collide at just the right moment in time.

I had to bundle up I was so cold
 Wednesday, began with a clear liquid diet and ended with serious bowel prep for the next day’s colonoscopy. During my prep, I sprinted (with  walker in hand mind you) to the bathroom about every ten minutes. All the while watching Survivor .... thank you electronic gurus for the pause button.

Back to the serious matter at hand, During the fun but intestinally challenging bowel prep, Charles got a phone call from his sister telling him his mom was in the hospital.


Thursday, 6am: not knowing anymore info about Charles’ mom; dealing with 2 kids that weren’t sure about Mrs. Laura taking them to school. Mrs. Laura did an excellent job by the if you ever need a babysitter at 5:45 am, I’m sure she’d be so happy to hear that I’ve recommended her!

Ready for my Versed
Christy Adkins is my saving grace with these procedures I keep having. She just makes me feel so calm - well - it’s either her or the Versed. But honestly, she is amazing. This time, once I had a little Versed in me, I do remember asking Dr. Cornell what color suspenders he was wearing - twice. I also remember that when it came time to turn onto my side, I giggled to Christy something along the lines of, “now they can see my hiney!”

Still groggy from my colonoscopy, I can overhear Charles on the phone in the hall. It turns out his mom has massive blood clots in her lungs and leg, and is in ICU.

I immediately knew he had to go. Of course he had to go. We would find babysitters and people to help me. Jennie was the first, before he even got the question out of his mouth she was ready to do whatev. Then Melody, of course, Then Jodie. We survived splendidly. I kept it to about 4 meltdowns.

Charles returned on Saturday night, my parents arrived Sunday afternoon, and we left for DC Monday morning.

Poor sick Finn

Are you feeling the frantic chaos in the air?

Tuesday – the big appointment. Dr. Jemsek, end of Cycle #3. Let’s see what bomb we have for those spirochetes now. The trial run of my new antibiotic Cipro went swimmingly. As well as a Ferritin infusion for low iron.

Enter calls from Finley's school - 103* fever.

Stress! Stress!

Back to Dr. Jemsek. He has quite a cocktail cooked up for me. There is  a biosphere – basically a gooey, impenetrable bubble that has helped hide all this junk for 25 years. Dr. Jemsek has found a new combo of meds that can break through the bubble, releasing more of the bacteria so we can kill them all. Something that will make me feel completely awful, but will really throw a hand grenade into those spirochetes and other wily bacteria. Fun times on Oakhurst Drive!
Charles, me and Jen

After our 4 hr appt, I wanted to see this really cool part of downtown that had been hidden to me thus far -  The Shops at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. I admit, I overdid it a little. The weather, so perfect; the stores that we don’t have in Myrtle Beach all up and down the road, the laughter and chats with a great friend who I hadn’t seen in almost 2 years. It was so good, I didn’t want it to end.

No, No, No! 5 more minutes in Anthropologie! Please.........

It was time to go, I was fading fast, barely able to move. As Charles and Jenn loaded me into the van, I could feel it coming......barreling right down the middle of the road.

Brooke Fox meet Mr. Mack Truck

I had done a lot too much. I knew it the whole time, but just for a few minutes I wanted to feel like I was normal again. I wanted to shop, laugh, chat, do all the things I used to do. I wouldn’t change a moment of my freedom. Although, maybe next time, we should stick to the sidewalk.

Friday, September 16, 2011

next time won't you sing with me

WARNING: the following should all be taken in jest. Jest, pure jest. Although I must interject that all the meds listed do enter my body on a daily basis. Yay for me!

Charles is determined to turn every problem into an opportunity. Lyme disease is a pretty difficult one to find the opportunity, but he did it!

So we are taking this opportunity of my Lyme disease and subsequent pill popping 75 pills a day to teach Finley her ABC’s in a very unique way.
one day's worth of pills

A is for Ativan and Acytal L-Carnitine
B is for B Complex Plus and B12 Sublingual
C is for Cytomel, Cortef, Cod Liver Oil, Cymbalta, CP1 and Clindamycin
D is for Deplin, Diphenhydramine and DHEA
E is for Epinephrine
F is for Flagyl and Ferritin
G is for Gamma Tocopherol and Groshong
H is for Heparin Lock Flush
I is for Iron liquid
J is for Jemsek
K is for Klonopin
L is for Lactated Ringers and Lamictal
M is for Mepron, Mobic, Magnesium Malate, Melatonin, Meriopenin and Methylcobal
N is for Neurontin, Nystatin, Nattokinase, and Nutrient 950
O is for Omeprazole
P is for Potassium and Promethazine
Q is for Qinghaosu
R is for Risperidone
S is for Septra, Synthroid, and Saccharomyces
T is for Trazadone
U is for Ubiquinol
V is for Vitamin C, Vitamin D
W is for wheelchair and walker
X is for xerostomia
Y is for *YUCK! YUCK! YUCK! YUCK!*
Z is for Zithromax and Zofran

She is coming along nicely, especially as we feed her each pill as she learns the letter. The distinct taste really makes each letter stick with her. And she enjoys each pill so much, she is anxious to practice everyday. It is very much like the Pavlov’s dog experiment. Although we are having trouble with the letter “Y” because she originally thought “yuck” meant something bad.

We do have to stagger our practicing as she often passes out after just a few letters. But she is doing so well. We are so very proud of her. We are pretty sure we can make it through the entire alphabet before too much damage has been done to her brain.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

the big three-six

 Saturday nite was out to dinner at Travinias (shout out to their yummy Gluten Free Menu) and a movie - the ever depressing and OCD instigating movie Contagion, with my loves Tiffany and Charles.....

Monday morning began with a deliciousioso Edible Arrangement from my in-laws! Yum! Yum! Yum!

The Chocolate Covered Strawberries were definitely Finn's favs and the pinnapple was Charles'.

Monday nite was out with two amazing women in my life, Deanne and Melody. Out for pedis! Just what I relaxing!

My absolute favorite color for my toes! 

Don't you just love pedicures!

Afterward, I came home to cuddle in my chair, hear all about my little girls’ days, hang out with people I hold dear in my heart. We ate, talked, told stories, laughed and watched silly TV. 

There was no cake, there were no party hats or streamers. It was simple and it was great. Even in my adult diapers, my walker, infusions of antibiotics, and a colonoscopy fresh on the was a great birthday. It’s the people you are with that make the birthday - not the circumstances......
 lesson learned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

it happens

This is not for the faint at heart. Although, I have just been informed that for some families it is dinner conversation.

Poop. Yep, Poop. Poo-poo. Doodie. Pooh. Ka-ka. Feces. Doo-doo. Dookie.

Growing up, it was only discussed during diapering and potty training. After that, somehow it disappeared from our lives. Apparently, we had moved to a planet were no one ever pooped. It never happened. The smell was patently ignored. The sounds emanating from the small little room down the hall – what? I didn’t hear anything.

Marriage. Same thing. We are living on a strange planet you know. We clap, jump up and down and do a little dance when a two year old poops, a seven year old, we hold their hand when they have bad cramping from diarrhea, but once they hit the teen years – it’s all over. It completely stops. Do we no longer digest food? I mean, this is a worldwide epidemic.

Maybe rather than bringing awareness to Lyme disease  - I will bring awareness to the fact that people poop. Brown bracelets rather than green.

Of course, now that I am sick, there is no avoiding it. It is now becoming an hourly convo. When you have to start counting, describing, analyzing, etc, there is no avoiding it.

Now the pièce de résistance, the colonoscopy. I thought in all my testing I had somehow escaped this one dreaded test. But ah, it was not to be.

I guess it’s “off we go, into the wild blue yonder.” Well, not sure if it’ll be blue, but at least “To infinity and beyond.” “To go where no man has gone before.”

But indeed, my favorite by far, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.”

Poop happens people. Poop Happens.

Friday, September 9, 2011

the edge

The Edge. It is amazing when you’re barely hanging on by the skin of your teeth (although teeth don’t have skin) how it takes just the littlest of events to push you right over.

Picture a tall tree. No leaves. Lots of prickly branches. Like they show in Halloween cartoons. The scary trees.

Picture me, Brooke, hanging on by the skin of her teeth to the top branch. Hmmmm…..we are back to the skin of your teeth deal…….there is no skin on my teeth, not sure about yours, but……1. mine are fairly clean, except for the black iron stains now and then, and 2. If yours have skin – seriously, see a dentist. Oops there I go, rabbit trail again! I just can’t stop them.

Back to the tree, if I were trying to hold on to a prickly branch – I would definitely not use my mouth, I would use my hands, preferably with gloves, maybe even hook my arms up over the branch, again, preferably with some sort of sweatshirt or something to protect my body.

Unfortunately, for me, none of those were available. I was holding on, my arms hooked up over the branch. It was a little scratchy, but I was having fun with my friends, swinging my feet back and forth, laughing down at them from the top.

Eventually though, the swinging got old, my arms fell asleep, so I dropped down to my hands. Now it got a little fun again. I could swing back and forth. It tore my hands to shreds, but it was fun in a way. But I was starting to hurt pretty badly. I was fading fast.

I finally had to let go. It wasn’t fun anymore. It was torture. I hit every branch on the way down. Ripping my cloths, bruising my body, landing in a sobbing heap at the bottom.

God wrapped His loving arms around me. He gathered me in His arms, my wounds were healed, He kissed my forehead, I closed my eyes and began to fall asleep wrapped safe in His arms. He whispered softly in my ear, “I will always pick you up when you fall.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I get pretty tired of writing to tell you how bad thingsare. Because they are rarely gonna be good, and I just hate to be a complainer. I know you would say, oh no it’s ok, everyone needs to vent…..tell you what, you stop by, and I assure you I will vent, tears and all. But right now I just want to keep things complaint free, if possible.

My cousin Tiff is here. I love her to bits, probably because we are so similar. The more I look at her, the more I see pieces of me. Except for the 3+ inches she has on me. She claims 3, I think it is more like 5. It probably depends on which of her gorgeous heels she is wearing.

Last night I could hear her putting new sheets on my bed. I watched her as she folded the laundry. I overheard her comfort Finley when she got soap in her eye (although, it must be said, she was the one to get soap in the said eye.) I listen each nite as she puts the kids to sleep, and straightens up the kitchen.

I just woke up and I can hear giggles and jumping, laughing and screaming as Tiff and the kids play upstairs. She is doing my job right now. She is filling in for me. She is being the mom that I cannot be, bridging the gap.

She has been here to help this week, and the time is slipping too fast through our fingers. I can hardly bear to think about Sunday morning when she boards that rickety little plane in Florence and, if that little guy makes it to Charlotte, she’ll be back in Austin.

It is so much fun to have someone who just gets you. I am blessed to have more than my fair share.

Tiff is one of those people.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

just the facts, ma'am

I have had several requests for a post that is “Just the Basics.” Here goes.....

I was bitten 25 years ago by a tick carrying Lyme Disease. We had no idea at the time because we lived in rural Pennsylvania and ticks were a part of everyday life. The disease went into a sort of remission and never really bothered me. I would have weird little symptoms now and then, but nothing that was conclusive or that could be really nailed down.

In October of 2006 I was bitten by a brown recluse spider twice. Both bites became infected with MRSA staph infections and I was hospitalized for five days. I was treated with heavy antibiotics. It took me six months to recover. This is what, Dr. Jemsek, the specialist I am now seeing, thinks brought the Lyme Disease out of remission.

In February of 2007 I was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and again hospitalized for five days and treated with antibiotics. Dr Jemsek believes that this was Lyme in my spinal fluid causing the meningitis. Again it took me quite a bit longer to recover than most. Being so sick, I finally had to quit teaching Yoga and Pilates at Fitness Edge after having been there for 6 years.

In August of 2008 I gave birth to a baby girl. After her birth, it again took me a very long time to recover. We were beginning to think there was something wrong.

I started going from doctor to doctor trying to seek some answers. I was told everything from, “it’s all in your head,” to “you are just getting older.” There were even doctors who thought I was just a junkie trying to get my next prescription and refused to see me anymore. We spent thousands of dollars. We sought help from a neurologist, a counselor, our family doctor, my gynecologist, a pain specialist, a naturopath and even a faith healer.  We finally ended up at Mayo Clinic. We were desperate for an answer. We walked away with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, a list of prescriptions, and basically no hope of ever living a normal life without pain again.

Charles, me and my family just weren’t going to settle for a life of pain with no hope. We began doing research about other possible diagnoses. My mom did research around the clock, and without her, we may have never reached the conclusion that we did. We became fairly certain that I had Lyme Disease and my mother began calling doctors, friends, strangers, anyone who had any connection with the disease to find out who knew about this disease and who was treating it. By this time I was so sick I could barely function, much less care for the kids, and Charles was working full-time, so all details were left to her. She found a doctor named Dr. Jemsek who was a specialist in this area. At the same time we were introduced to a man here in Myrtle Beach who had been treated by Dr. Jemsek. After talking to him and researching the doctor, we believed that this was the doctor I needed to see.

My first visit at Jemsek Specialty Clinic was April of 2010. After examining me and sending my blood to a specialized lab in California, I was positively diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Although Lyme Disease is not a curable disease, we were just so very relieved to have a positive diagnosis, at that point we hardly cared.

Dr Jemsek is a very well respected doctor in his field and a specialist who has made great strides in treating this and many other diseases.

The treatment consists of three phases. The first phase is the optimization phase. This phase goes on as long as it takes to get a patient optimized. This means no pain and great sleep. Since I had experienced neither for six years, you might say I was very skeptical. For me, it took about 2 months of trying different combinations of prescriptions and supplements, but with their protocol I was out of pain and sleeping through the night. It was completely amazing. During this time I had several scary seizures. Dr. Jemsek’s opinion was that the Lyme Disease was already beginning to fight back against the medications that I was on.

The next phase is the IV Infusion phase. This phase can go on 6 - 18 months, depending on how a patient’s body reacts to the medication. The treatment usually begins with an appointment in DC where a central line is placed in a patient’s chest and a trial Infusion of the first antibiotic is administered. Dr. Jemsek and his staff monitor the infusion closely to make certain that there are no allergic reactions.  I had surgery to place the central line on June 17, 2011 and then my first trial infusion was June 2, 2011. After that first appointment, I was sent home with instructions and prescriptions for the following month. My protocol for the first month was 3 weeks on the antibiotics and 1 week of “vacation” during which I took no antibiotics.

During the vacation week the plan is too travel back to DC to trial a new antibiotic drug and the whole process began over again. Each month we trial a new drug. Each month Dr. Jemsek looks at my progress and my symptoms report and tailors a program just to suit me. I am currently on two different IV antibiotics, three oral antibiotics and about 75 other pills.

From what we understand, the final phase is the maintenance phase. Dr. Jemsek will wean me off all the IV antibiotics, but I will stay on the orals for awhile. Eventually, I will take the orals once a week, once every 2 weeks and so on until I reach once every quarter. Since the disease has no cure I will continue on maintenance oral antibiotics about once a quarter for the rest of my life in order to keep the Lyme Disease at bay.

I am actually one of the lucky ones. There are so many out there who have Lyme Disease and don’t even know it. Lyme Disease is known as the “Great Imitator.” It attacks the brain, and therefore can attack any of the systems in your body. For me, it has damaged my joints, my muscles, my eyes, ears, digestive system, emotional, comprehension, memory and word retrieval, among many others. It has caused seizures, balance issues, and strange allergic reactions. I am currently in a wheelchair and use a walker to get around the house. It is a very frustrating disease in that you can wake up each morning with a new symptom or side effect to one of the medications. The treatment is extremely arduous, with many more discouraging days than encouraging ones. Being thankful for the good moments are what get you through the bad.  Dr. Jemsek is hopeful that I will return to 85% - 90% of my old self in one to two years, but, because it has been in my body for so many years, I will never be entirely back to myself.

It is also an extremely expensive treatment, with expenses reaching $40,000 - $50,000. We have been very blessed in that our insurance company has agreed to pay a portion of the expense, and we have many friends and family who have given so sacrificially to help towards the astronomical fees, but we are still left with the majority of the cost.

So - for those of you out there who wanted the basics - I hope I answered all your questions - in a nut- sorta -shell :)

Monday, September 5, 2011


Vacay is definitely O-V-E-R; OVER!!!

34 pills, 1 injection, 3 liquid meds, and 3 rounds of IV antibiotics.

WOW! - wake up - we are back in the game!

Have not felt good. not really at all.

Although, it could’ve been so much worse.

But - I woke up this morning with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. 

A wink from God before I started this day.

And my sunshine, my inspiration to keep going - my kiddos laughter and smiles.

Good friends and yummy food.

Hold fast. My God. My Lord. He will ever hold my hand and carry me to safety.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

my daddy

My daddy called last night.

We are close. I would say that there is something special between us because he’d never held a newborn baby before he met me.

We also have a connection because our brains work in the same way. We have so much fun together at the prospect of a project. We could plan it out for hours, adding and perfecting every bit. I love that about us. I feel that in some way that makes our relationship distinctive. Each of the 5 of us has our thing with him, and this is mine.

I remember when I was in kindergarten, one day a week he would meet me at the end of the school road, I remember my heart in my throat because I was so excited for our “man to man” time. We went to a little donut shop and talked about a bible lesson. I’m sure we also talked about school and my friends and he made me laugh because he always did. I remember plain as day sitting in the old yellow plastic booth, looking up into his eyes and feeling like the most special little girl in the world. One of my fav memories. Tears in my eyes.

I remember getting up with him in the middle of the night to polyurethane the floor in the house he was building. I was tired, but I wanted to help and mostly I just wanted to do a good job so he’d be proud of me.

I only remember one time that he told me he was disappointed in me. I had followed a friend into a bad decision - I stole because she did. I learned from that day sitting on the stairs talking to him two things, the first -  I never wanted to follow someone into doing something I knew was wrong again. and two - I’d much rather any punishment than have him say he was disappointed.

I remember eating family dinner, being mad at him for who knows what and he would tease me until I started laughing. I could never stay mad at him.

I remember him carrying me after we lost our son, Zach. He lay me in the backseat of the car and took me home, his hand on me all the way there as I sobbed deeper than I ever had. Tears slipping down my face as I tell you about that moment.

I remember so many times he would pull our family into a big group hug to pray for our safety, for our well-being, for our happiness, for all our dreams to come true.

I could write pages and pages of the things I remember about my dad, but mostly I remember feeling safe. Especially with my little hand wrapped inside his big, rough one.

My daddy called last night.

He wanted to check on me and tell me that they were speaking at a conference this weekend and that all the people there stopped to say a group prayer for me. Tears came to my eyes in appreciation. It is so encouraging every time I hear about the people who are praying for me.

Then we talked about this and that. Right before we hung up he mentioned that he was going to be the one to bring mom later this month.

Now my mom makes it up here about once a month, but with dad’s work schedule, it’s really hard for him to get time away. So when he said he was bringing mom up, I lost it. I didn't even know the sobs were coming, the tears just bubbled over as I asked if I had heard right. He assured me I had, and after I asked him a few more times, I finally blubbered my way through an I Love You and a goodbye.

I hung up my phone and continued sobbing for the next twenty minutes.

I can’t wait to see my daddy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


there are great days.

there are horrible days.

there are many days in is one of those days.

much closer to the bad side.

but on days like this I am very thankful for the great days and I have to believe there are more to come.