I ran out of coffee this week, and I haven’t had the chance to run to the store. I’ve never run out of coffee before, and you can be assured that I am taking steps to make sure that it never happens again. Especially after I read an intriguing new study suggesting that extra sleep and coffee can be more effective for pain and migraine than medications! While I don’t know if I believe that, between that study and Chronic Coffee Chat, I have a lot of reasons to have my morning coffee.
This week at Chronic Coffee Chat, we’re talking to Valerie of Lilac and Lyme! Let’s let her introduce herself.
I am a chronic illness blogger from North Carolina, living in what is affectionately called BBQ country. As a mother of five, I have homeschooled my children for almost eighteen years. I married the love of my life over twenty six years ago. In March of 2016 I was diagnosed with chronic late stage Lyme disease after being sick for almost nineteen years. Previously I was formally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. On my blog Lilac and Lyme I share my struggles with my illnesses and coping strategies that I have learned over the years. I first began blogging in 2006 to share my Pembroke Welsh Corgi Art with the world, over time it has evolved into a health journal. You can visit with me on my blog here and also on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Q: Okay, this isn’t important or inspirational, but I have to know. On your blog, you say that you love hot tea! (So do I!) But since this is a Chronic Coffee Chat….do you actually like coffee, or is it not your thing?
A: I do love hot tea! But, before my obsession with tea I was an avid coffee drinker. I adore coffee and it was my hot drink of choice, until I suffered from what they refer to as a mini stroke in my late twenties. The stroke coupled with tachycardia, heart rhythm and blood pressure issues have prevented me from enjoying coffee for many years now. Caffeine is not my friend. When I discovered the world of hot tea, it was like a whole new world opened up for me. There are so many flavors to explore and bonus, it is good for you! My current favorite is The Republic of Tea’s dandelion tea. It tastes like dessert in a cup. It is seriously full of flavor. I love it!
Q: On your blog, you talk about life with Lyme Disease, Fibro, and CFS. All of these diseases can be a little misunderstood, to say the least. What do you wish more people knew about life with chronic illness?
A: This was not the life I planned. There is a popular saying among the Lyme disease community that Lyme disease is a thief. While this is true, chronic illnesses in general are thieves. Over the past year I have watched my life shrink, until it has become a shell of what it was before I got sick. The biggest struggle for me has been that people just see the surface of my life. They do not see the struggle that goes on behind closed doors. I might look fairly normal on the outside, but on the inside I look and feel like death. That is one of the reasons that I blog, to bring awareness to the silent struggles that people with chronic illness face. All too often I am invited to go somewhere or attend an event and in the end, I am just unable to go. I think it is hard for some to understand that it is not a choice for me, that my life truly is dictated by how active my disease is on any given day. You cannot make plans with chronic illness, it is totally unpredictable.
Q: You make the CUTEST corgi art! Could you tell us a little about that?
A: Thank you so much! I have been painting corgis for over ten years. My art has been sold to people all over the world. I have always loved the writings and art of Tasha Tudor who is well known for her children’s books and corgi art worldwide.
When I adopted a corgi mix from foster care about eleven years ago, she became the inspiration for my little paintings. Corgis are natural clowns and I love painting them in whimsical scenes. I tell people all the time, that when I am painting my corgis I am in my own little world. Painting is my happy place. There is never a dark day in the land of corgi; the sun is always shining there.
Although in recent years I have been unable to paint as often as I would like due to severe illness, I still try to create something new at least once a month. You can view my corgi art here on Shaggycreations Facebook page and my Etsy shop Shaggycreations Studio. I also sell some of my original art on E-bay. It is a small way that I can help contribute financially for my family while being chronically ill.
Q: What is the main message you hope readers take away from your blog?
A: Before I bought my own domain name Lilac and Lyme this past year, my blog’s name was Silver Linings. I am an optimist at heart and I write about my struggles with Fibromyalgia and CFS, always seeking to find the silver lining within the battle of chronic illness.
Although I strive for authenticity and honesty, I try to put a positive vibe into my posts. There is no sugar coating a life with chronic illness it is a battle field, but there is always a lesson hidden in the struggles of a life. I hope that my readers can draw encouragement from my stories.
Raising awareness for invisible illnesses in general is very important to me. Lyme disease is extremely controversial and much research is needed to further advance treatment options for Lyme sufferers. It is my goal to bring education and awareness to the general public about Lyme, Fibromyalgia and other invisible illnesses. Education and awareness are the keys to changing how the world views chronic illness.
Thanks again to Valerie for being on Chronic Coffee Chat! As always, check the #chroniccoffeechat hashtag on Instagram and Twitter for occasional special bonus content. We’ll be back next week, so see you then!