Saturday, December 30, 2017

$100 Cash and a Big Bag of Jerky

The sign the older man held read "Cash or Food Please".  I was sitting in the front passenger seat, inside my warm utility vehicle, when my son and I passed by him.  It was freezing outside.  I cringed thinking about how the homeless man's fingers, hands and face were exposed to the bone chilling air.

Before getting off the highway, our vehicle had slipped off the road, going about 60 miles an hour, due to a very large and sudden patch of ice that covered the entire road. It was terrifying having absolutely no control over what my son would choose to do or where the car would end up.  My son just kept his eyes straight ahead, didn't move his hands, and did his best to keep the tires straight.  Without missing a beat, and without letting the car come to a complete stop, my son (who had just received his drivers permit this year), navigated like a pro, and used the momentum of the vehicle to get back onto the old highway vs taking the risk of getting stuck in the snow by stopping.  Relieved, I told him over and over again how proud I was of him and that he had handled the situation really well by not trying to over correct and had kept the tires straight ahead etc. I cringed thinking about what would have happened to us if the car had rolled out of control, or if we had ran into one of the poles alongside the road or into a tree.  We were in a place in eastern Wyoming that could take an ambulance hours to get to us. As I thought about the man, and about how out of control we were when our vehicle hit that black ice, I thought about how my life had taken on unexpected detours and challenges and wondered what events had transpired to lead this man to where he was now, holding the cardboard sign that said "Cash or Food Please".

When we saw the pan handler holding his sign, I mentioned to my son that I wanted to stop to give him something.  While my son stayed outside to fuel the vehicle, I went inside to see if I could find an ATM.  I wanted to give the man more, but I ended up putting $100 in my purse to give to him. I knew that this was more than perhaps a teacher aide made in a day, but I felt like I needed to get him enough money so that he could afford gas money to get him closer to his destination. I looked around the store and found a bulk sized bag of jerky and debated buying the man some coffee.  The store was all out of the insulated mugs with handles and so I changed my mind about the coffee and decided to stick with the money and food I was going to give him.  "He could afford to buy himself coffee if he wanted it," I thought. I wasn't even sure if he would drink it.  I, myself, didn't drink coffee. A man behind me in line, said he hadn't seen the pan handler before but said someone who works at the gas station had gone out to talk to him.  The man mentioned something about the man needing to get a job vs. asking for money.  Briefly I shared why I had a great deal of compassion for the homeless.  "Three years ago I was unable to speak english, I couldn't write, was going blind, and had difficulty walking and breathing,"  I said to the man. "If it hadn't been for family I would have been homeless also."  The guy brushed the comment aside and said "ahhhh someone would have been there to help you."  I told the man my father had died 15 years prior and my step-father was not the kind to welcome an adult child back into the home." I said if my circumstances would have been different, I might have been homeless also."  The man became silent as he looked at me while processing the information.  I hoped that his judgment of the man would soften a bit.

At my very worst, when I had gone to Mexico for answers, that first day after I was admitted into the clinic, I would lay on the bed, going in and out of consciousness, not even strong enough to think about, let alone figure out, how to press the call button for help.  I had been put in that room in the evening the day prior by a member of the office staff.  The next day, somehow nurses missed the memo that I was there, and so I was alone that entire night, the entire morning, afternoon and evening of the next day without being able to call for help.  My voice was too weak for someone to hear me even if I was able to yell out for someone to help me.  Breathing was difficult and I wondered if I was going to die and people would eventually find me there after it was too late.  It was night time when a clinic administrator entered my room.  He began speaking to me in English.  I shook my head slowly.  I couldn't respond to him.  "How long have you been here?"  He asked panicking. I searched my brain for the Spanish language and slowly replied "Todo el dia.  Llegue anoche." (All day. I arrived last night) The kind, tall man with greying grandfather hair, exited the room quickly.  Several nurses would enter the room with him shortly thereafter and put an IV into my arm.  Food was brought to me and a kind woman who was a cleaning lady there would put her work aside, and take it upon herself to be my adopted mother from that time forward.  She stroked my face and hair, as she would help me eat and drink and would continually tell me that I was going to be ok.  She would tell me over and over how I would be in God's hands and that the people there prayed to God for direction and that they would help me and listen to God for direction.  Her words and the look of love and concern in the faces of each of those earth angels, filled me with incredible peace.  I could feel that I would survive somehow.

I had been to the clinic with my husband the week prior.  I had wanted to stay and told my husband about how I had heard my Grandfather's voice telling me "Steffi, trust Dr. James with your life," but cost and logic was given preference to my intuition and spiritual promptings that I felt I had received.  We returned to the USA for the needed operation because "insurance would cover the cost".  I was promised I could return to Mexico to receive treatment for the "other things" the Dr suspected, was lyme disease, once I healed.  I had cried as we left the clinic knowing that I needed to stay in Mexico.  I felt like I didn't have long to live.  Once back in the USA I met with my Dr. who referred me to a well known surgeon and to an infectious disease Dr. who my Dr. said had saved several of his patients lives - even taking one of his patients to Mexico for treatments not available in the USA.  Everything was taking too long.  It had taken several days to meet with my own Dr., my appointment with the surgeon was booked out over a week away (despite everyone knowing how critical my situation was), and I knew once I met with the surgeon they would then make an appointment for the surgery possibly weeks away from my original appointment time with him.

The night prior to flying back to Mexico, I had struggled to breathe. My husband would be leaving for an early flight in the morning and so I didn't want to wake him, but stayed awake all night long praying and focusing intensely on breathing. It was as if someone was turning a switch on and off in my brain that made my body pause too long to take in air.  It felt as if my tongue was swelling making it feel like I would suffocate.  When my sister came over to check on me, after dropping my husband off at the airport, I would be unable to speak to her.  Fast forward to 2pm that same day and I was on an airplane with only the clothes I was wearing, my purse that only had my passport, my drivers license, my credit card and some of my life-saving essential oils in it.  By the grace of God I made it to Mexico.  My sister cried as she had watched me try to sign my will in front of the witnesses at the bank, before we went to the airport.  She cried again as she watched me struggling to walk, as airport staff would catch me from falling and would bring me a wheelchair. It was a miracle to be in Mexico again, even though I did not have any family with me. I felt and knew that I was surrounded by so many earth angels who were continually monitoring me, giving support as needed as they prayed to God for direction on my behalf.

I was completely dependent upon others.  Too weak to talk, unable to even sign my own name, nurses would race in to apply oxygen as needed.  Tears would stream down my face as they wrapped my head in their arms and coached me to breathe.  I would fade in and out of consciousness.  Prior to leaving for Mexico, the paralysis that held me hostage would ease up just long enough for me to quickly write a GoFundMe page requesting help.  I knew the surgery alone would be $6000.  It was frustrating knowing that if I could stay in the US my insurance would pay for it.  The other help I needed, would be about $2500 a week.  By the time I made it to Mexico, there was already $3500 in donations given.  I cried when I was told my sister-in-law had donated $1000 of it.  Looking up to my Dr. I told him in Spanish what friends and family had done and he replied in Spanish, "Do not worry.  We will take care of you.  I have scheduled you for the operation to be performed tomorrow."  I told him that I didn't have enough money yet and that I had told my sister to try to sell my piano or anything else of value in my house.  He assured me that my life was worth more to him than money and that I needed to relax and know that God would provide. He instructed me that he had needed to give me IV's to get me strong enough before I could be operated on.  Miraculously, 21 days later, I would be strong enough to walk unassisted and to endure the flight back home just in time before my 40th birthday. Over the course of three months we would spend over $25,000.00 for medical expenses not covered by insurance, to work with a "lyme literate Dr.", and to have tests confirm that it was lyme disease, and all of the confections that went with it, that was threatening my life.  Once I healed from the operation, my body would absorb nutrients better and I would be stronger to be able to combat post sepsis neurological lyme disease.

As I looked at the man, who was standing behind me in line, I knew there was no way for him to even understand what I had been through.  So many people with the borrelia post sepsis have died without receiving help.  So many, who had "lyme literate doctors" had died from suicide, or heart failure or suffocation.  How could I shout out to him about the corruption at the CDC, about the developers of the Lymerix vaccine and how they changed the definition of Lyme to exclude neurological lyme so that they could prove their vaccine worked when the vaccine actually caused neurological lyme to occur in each victim who received the vaccine.  How could I explain how Dr's lost their licenses daring to give their patients more than the 2 weeks of antibiotics recommended?  How could he understand that Lyme suppressed the immune system like AIDS, and about all of the co-infections that were killing off people who desperately needed medication, but could not afford it?  I turned away from him.  Unless he had been there himself, walking in one of our shoes, he would never understand.  A fully capable individual, capable of working would never understand unless he chose to take time to get down in the trenches with the individual, hear their story, and allow themselves to realize sometimes life takes us suddenly off of the path we are on.  Some make it back onto the road safely while others become badly injured or killed during the struggle.

After purchasing the jerky I walked out to my warm vehicle.  I asked my son to drive me to where the man was.  My son tried to convince me not to help and told me about how I would be contributing to "pan handling".  I knew what he meant and knew there was a correct time and place to give, but said, "I hope that you will learn that when God touches your heart to do something, you only need to trust that God knows that individual's heart and I hope you have the faith to obey."  I put the 5 $20 bills in the plastic bag with the jerky. I rolled down the window and handed the man the bag.  He caught a glimpse of the money and waved back excitedly.  He didn't say anything but thanked me with his eyes.  I choked back the tears.  The grey beard, the beanie on his head, those clear blue eyes... he reminded me of my deceased father.

We drove in silence for awhile.  I thought about my son's concern.  I understand there are people who may abuse the kindness of others and take advantage, but as a Christian it is my responsibility to follow and to obey when I hear the voice of the Lord asking me to serve one of His children. We should never judge, but keep our hearts open to compassion and understanding. The man could have been mentally disabled, he could have been injured from a war, suffer from PTSD, from depression, have an incurable illness - so many reasons for why people are homeless and unable to work.

Earlier today I saw a post from a man with chronic lyme disease.  A mutual friend had shared his post.  The man explained how he had been a business owner, but after struggling with lyme disease, he had sold his equipment for pennies on the dollar, had used up over $100,000 on trying to treat the disease, and was now looking at losing his home and living in his car. His car needed repairs and was inoperable.  I cringed thinking about this man homeless in the wintertime in PA.  He talked about how the church where he had regularly tithed for so many years, had turned their backs on him, how he had tried to create a GoFundMe page, but had not received the help needed.  He talked about being unable to work and how he slept most of the time.  My heart ached and my mind raced at how I could possibly help him.  He needs housing, he needs food and warmth and he needs medicine.

Celiac Shack.  I want to eventually have these little shacks built where they will be able to house people with chronic illness, and I want to be able to offer treatment that truly is life-changing.

I am a miracle.  As you can see from this blog, I went from being on the verge of death, literally, to slowly regaining my strength to where two years from my time in Mexico struggling to breathe, walk, talk, write, and see, I was dancing and performing on stage with a University Dance Company.  That is something special to shout out to the world.  Because of misinformation and naivety, I underestimated the strength of what I was dealing with and so I relapsed about 8 months ago.  Digging deeper and thanks to the information at, I now understand that I am dealing with immunosuppression.  I am dealing with something that is more like AIDS than it is to cancer.  This changes so many ways I seek treatment. As I listen to the advise of others, without praying for myself to know that it is true, I have suffered.  I've learned to not blindly trust the advise given by supposed "lyme literate" Dr's.  My greatest physician is God, and my Dr. in Mexico, the founders of ResultsRNA and DoTERRA, and my personal trainer/coach Ron Williams have been the pivotal players in helping me to get well.  I am grateful to the amazing men and women, business owners, entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers who have brushed shoulders with me who have shared information.

A few days from now I will be interviewed to tell my story.  I've been told the last video that this company filmed, was viewed over 2 million times.  Rewind to 20 years ago when I left the University at BYU as a dance major, when I received a blessing of comfort from my bishop.  He would place his hand on my head, seek guidance from the Lord as he said the words that would enter his mind.  He said "you have been given your trials for a reason... One day you will share your message with the world."  At that time I literally rolled my eyes and after the blessing finished, I reluctantly shook the bishops hand and thanked him for coming over.  My heart felt like it was going to break as I watched my friends get into their cars to go to Moab for a high adventure, action packed church activity. I collapsed to the floor and crawled up the stairs slowly to my room.  So much life was being wasted.  I turned on the music a friend had brought over.  It was the music that the dance company we were both on was choreographing to.  I had been too weak to attend rehearsals. Unable to move anything but my arms and hands, I slowly but in the most beautiful way, coming directly from my heart, danced.  Through my trials I learned how to dance authentically, I have learned a level of compassion I feel very few can even comprehend.  So when I see someone homeless or hurting, I want to wrap my arms around them giving comfort.  I pray God blesses this little Celiac Shack abundantly so that I can be the conduit for blessing the lives of many of God's children.  There are homeless people that need to know how food affects their brains and bodies. There are shelters, and psychologists and social workers that need to recognize the symptoms of post-sepsis lyme disease that mimic so many other illnesses, and there are teachers and lunch workers that need to understand the role that exercise, and proper foods and nutrition can benefit the behavior of their students positively.

Some day.  Perhaps Celiac Shack will be seen by "the world", but for now, whoever is reading this, I pray that you will turn to God for answers that will be specific to YOU or your loved one.  May you have the courage to never give up resting in the assurance that somebody needs the knowledge you HAVE and WILL work so hard to obtain.  May God bless each of us as we make our "mess our message".  I pray there is something in this blog that will help you.  Every time I make a blog post I pray that the ones who need it most will somehow find this information.

In this coming year, may we each work to listen to God as he teaches us to love more and judge less.  You never know... they may be struggling to overcome post sepsis Non HIV B Cell AIDS (neurological lyme disease) and all of the co-infections that go with it.

With much love,

- Steffi

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