My body was betraying me…

For six years, my body and I have been at odds.

It all began when my body betrayed me.

Jordon and I were newlyweds. We were living off of love and a tiny paycheck of $7.50/hour, while he waited for his work authorization to come through. He was a striking Canadian I had met in South Africa five years prior. We shared a grand dream of living our lives to love the marginalized and fight for equality. We planned to one day return to South Africa permanently, but for now, we were in the States sorting through immigration and university.

This was the year I stopped being a morning person. I had always loved mornings — the stillness, the sunrise, the newness, and of course, the coffee! Suddenly, mornings were hard though. My body refused to wake up as easily as it had before. It longed to stay beneath those sheets for as long as it was allowed. I cut it some slack. I was working a lot, and I was sure after some time, it would transition, and things would be back to normal. Little did I know, my definition of “normal” would drastically change over the years to come.

My body never did transition back to the way things were. Instead, my body started getting sick all the time. Every year I would catch the common colds and annual flu, but I also developed sinus infections more commonly than most. I seemed to have strep throat, a lot. I was also diagnosed with mono (twice) and even Shingles at one point. “What’s wrong with my immune system?” I thought, more times than I could count. I would take the time off to rest and recover, but my body would struggle to bounce back quickly.

I decided it was time to make some drastic changes, so I poured all my focus into my diet. My body was developing food allergies, and my labs showed several vitamin and mineral deficiencies, so I figured this would do the trick! I tried a gluten-free diet, which turned into a paleo diet, followed by the ketogenic diet. I tried only eating raw foods and then the GAPS diet and finally juicing. I was like a drill sergeant, determined to beat my body into submission. “You will be healthy.” I cut out sugars, and started a regular workout routine. Through all of this, my body never really responded positively. I would feel better for a bit, but then cycle right back into fatigue and illness. Even after 3 years of a strict supplement regimen, my vitamin and mineral values remained low.

My body continued to betray me.

I was starting to lose patience and becoming increasingly more frustrated with my body as this mystery carried on. Its inability to function properly began to bleed into all areas of my life.

It became “normal” for me to run a low grade fever every 2–4 weeks. The fatigue became chronic, effecting my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. My body would ache with muscle tightness and joint stiffness, leaving me in tears some days for hours in bed. My body grew weaker until I could no longer jog those 3 miles a day. I could no longer jog at all. My legs would shake if I stood too long, and even walking could be difficult depending on the day. My mind began to feel cloudy now and then, with bouts of confusion that made it difficult to think clearly or express myself. My emotions rose and dove with the roller coaster of good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. I felt like I was losing myself.

My body was forcing me to pick up skills I never wanted. I had to learn how to selectively spend my energy, because if I chose unwisely, there would be none left to function properly at work. My husband began doing the majority of the cooking and cleaning to help me reserve energy, and we stopped attending as many social events.

My body was waging war and I was losing.

Why? Why was my body refusing to function? It seemed no matter how many doctors we saw or how many tests I took, we couldn’t find the answer… until we did.

After six long years, of my health declining piece by piece, I tested positive for Chronic Lyme Disease. As it turns out, my body was waging war, but it was against the microbes invading it, not me. The fever, the fatigue, the brain fog, the aches… all defense mechanisms or results of small battles lost or won in the larger war taking place within.

Today, it can be said that not much has changed outside of having a diagnosis and name for all this mess. My symptoms remain. Some days are better than others, and yes, overall my health is at an all-time low, but something has changed…

I have made amends with my body. I have stopped blaming it and hating it for being sick. I have changed my perspective to see how my body is incredibly smart and caring to have fought this war for so long. I am no longer going to be just another obstacle standing in it’s way of healing, and I am thankful to it for doing its best.

So, now I am preparing. I’m preparing to love it back the best I can by looking into treatment. This new chapter of my story will require something I’m not used to. It will require vulnerability on my part, and just like any other war, an army must rise up. So here’s my first step towards vulnerability: a war cry for family and friends to gather. I’m ready to battle this enemy that finally has a name. I’m ready to heal. I’m ready to regain my life. I’m ready to win.

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