TBB Takes the Lyme Disease Challenge

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

Lyme Disease, you would think it’s something new, considering all the press it’s recently gotten. Thanks to people like Yolanda Foster (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) and Avril Lavigne, and the internet phenomenon known as The Lyme Disease Challenge, Lyme has recently gotten some long awaited attention, extremely long awaited.

Flash back more than 20 years ago, when I was just a teen, and not even a blonde. I was a little bit of an earth child, listening to bands like Steve Miller and the Grateful Dead and shopping for perfectly worn in jeans and flannels at the used clothing store that became very trendy where I lived. When the warmer months came I refused shoes, going barefoot any place that would let me get away with it. I sat under trees reading books by Thomas Harris  and John Grisham, while adults from the camp I attended called my mother saying they were concerned that I often chose to be alone over socializing. I spent a lot of time in the grass bonding with nature and not caring what others thought of it. I also didn’t care when I got warned that there was a new disease being spread by ticks in that very grass.

Teenagers are unaware of their mortality, and it’s that invincible feeling that makes those years so exciting. I laughed off the notion that my penchant for refusing to wear shoes could even make me sick. “The grass between my toes is good for me,” I’d retort. Diseases happened to “other people” who were really old or in After School Specials, they would not happen to me.

When I was about 16 I started to feel different. My knees ached, I was tired, I was moody…and not in the regular hormone infested teenage girl way. I would cry hysterically without reason. You could ask me, “What’s the matter?” and I would answer “I don’t even know!” The pain in my knees started spreading and I would feel it in my elbows, my toes, my wrists, another friend who had it described it as “a mouse running around your body” which is exactly as it felt. It was like the pain was a pinball and it would bounce from joint to joint causing terrible pain.

My pediatrician first diagnosed me with growing pains, but as my fatigue and pain increased he ran out of ideas. He told my mother to take me to a shrink. That these perceived symptoms were all in my head.  My mother knew better than to do that, but we didn’t know where to go. Then one day at a family gathering I made a beeline for a relative’s bedroom and went to sleep. I woke up in a panic, I could not lift my arm, which was throbbing in pain, off of the bed. I begged my mother to help me find the right help, expressing that I feared I would end up wheelchair bound if we didn’t find somebody who could help.

A rheumatologist diagnosed me with Lyme after I showed borderline positive on a blood test (it was so hard to diagnose that even the slightest sign of a positive is taken very seriously). I was treated for 4 weeks with strong antibiotics. The first two weeks I got sicker (called the Herxheimer effect) and then in the final two started to feel better. There was a life back in me that hadn’t been seen in so long. My mother said that the “soot under my eyes” lightened up. I started to feel like the old me again. Then the doctor pulled the meds, saying four weeks were enough. I sunk even lower than before. My short term memory started to fade and the exhaustion was back with a vengeance.

Through a neighbor we found a doctor who was gaining fame for treating Lyme about an hour from our home. He said there was no question that this is what was making me sick. For two and a half years he fought this disease with me with antibiotic cocktails until I was symptom free. He saved my life. To this day he is my hero.

Life after Lyme is never the same. I have early onset arthritis that makes it hard for me to write on some days. When it rains my ankles and wrists swell. I need to make sure I get enough rest or it could knock me out for a few days. But I am happy to say that for the most part Lyme is behind me. What I am unhappy to say, however, is that the disease still exists and more and more people are getting sick, very sick. Lyme Disease is no joke, it’s serious, though often misunderstood. Please view my Lyme Disease Challenge video below and take the challenge yourself. Let’s save some lives one bite at a time!

*For more information about Lyme Disease and The Lyme Disease Challenge please visit lymediseasechallenge.org .

The RHONY Season 7 Premiere and TBB on Huff Post Live!

Sonja and Ramona on Huff Post Live. I chime in around 7:30 and then I'm back at the end.

Sonja and Ramona on Huff Post Live. I chime in around 7:30 and then I’m back at the end.

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

The Real Housewives of New York City are back, and they are back in a big way, a big Bethenny (Frankel) way. If you love Bethenny this is great, if you’re not her biggest fan, well it might not be. “The show was at least 40% about her,” my husband quipped at the end of the Season 7 premier episode which aired last Tuesday. So what happened in the other 60?

Ramonja– Ramona Singer, fresh from a very public divorce, and Sonja Morgan, who is acting like she’s fresh from her divorce, continue to be best frenemies. They fight for dominance of conversation, of the camera. Hey ladies, give up, Bethenny wins.

Heather Thomson– I love her, but was she even in this episode?

Kristen Taekman– Her daughter is finished with physical therapy, which will leave her plenty of time to go for the psychiatric variety she will be needing from having had a mother on Housewives.

Carole Radziwill– Carole has missed a deadline for a book deal. Perhaps Aviva Drescher‘s suggestion of a ghost writer wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Countess LuAnn DeLesseps– She looks very, umm, refreshed. Hey I’m not knocking it, I just want to know what she’s done. Spill the beans please Lulu!

Dorinda Medley– Though Sonja and Ramona assured me on my Huff Post Live appearance (see clip below) that she “hit the ground running”, she seems more Real Housewives of New Jersey to me, than RHONY. Maybe it’s her boyfriend who seems the Jersey dry cleaning stereotype.

Bethenny Frankel– Aaaand back to the star, hey, she has no control over how much they edit her in or out. She’s back with the one liners and she’s as interesting as always. One thing that lit up Twitter was her scene with Million Dollar Listing New York‘s Fredrik Eklund, in which a displaced B states she is homeless, in the same breath that she talks about having bought a house in the Hamptons over the summer. In the words of Ramona on that evening’s Watch What Happens Liveshe should rent something while she works on renovating her new apartment, and figuring out what to do about the one that her soon to be ex still inhabits. Between her and Kim Zolciak‘s similar statement on last season’s Don’t Be Tardy, I think it’s time for a new series…The Real Homeless Housewives, now that would be an interesting show. Skinnygirl dumpster dive recipes anybody?


PS: I was not at the premier party this year. I blame the harsh New York winter that made me a hermit on my absence of an invite. I turned too many invites down over the last few months. I love everybody and sincerely wanted to go to everything but, I don’t love you more than I hate the snow!

What did you think of season 7 opener? Share your thoughts with us!

TBB on Meredith Vieira!

On October 24th I appeared on national television on the Meredith Vieira show! It was an amazing experience and I learned some valuable healthy eating lessons! In the coming days I’ll share the whole story including meeting Meredith and The Biggest Loser’s Dolvett Quince as well as what goes into making a segment like the one I was on. Until then here is the clip in case you missed it. Sorry for the poor sound quality, I bootlegged while my little ones were asleep..it was either that or hearing them play in the background!