The Gift of Lyme Disease

The thing that I have feared the most has entered my life again. It is the one thing that brought me to life changing realizations about my marriage and my life three years ago. And it made me realize how I want to live for the rest of my life. My four year deterioration from anaplasmosis, a Lyme disease co-infection, made me go places in my mind and body that I never wanted to experience again — and all those fears have come back from a new tick bite. Anaplasmosis put me in physical and psychological pain that left me soulless. Bedridden. Broken in spirit. Unable to be in control of my own body and mind. It affected every part of me and every system in my body that was whole and broke it apart. I was left unable to string a sentence together. Some days, I drifted into a catatonic state. It left me in bed with convulsions, hallucinations, blackouts, rigid and stiff joints and fingers, and the inability to care not only for myself but for my children. It left my children with the fear of losing me on a daily basis, which they still carry with them. There were many days I prayed to God to take me, all for wanting to be out of pain and for the want of not having my children see me slowly dying. For I knew I was dying from the inside out. I have been honest about this because I now understand what chronic pain does not only to your body but the excruciating pain it inflicts on your mind. I am not weak minded for thinking these thoughts as I’ve heard people say to me. I am strong in-spite of these thoughts and I am strong to not be ashamed to share the depths of despair that I have felt. It makes me an ever more empathetic and understanding person to others’ struggles in life. I have had PTSD from this, and a strong conscious fear of it, but it has brought changes in how I choose to live. It has brought me lessons on how to be grateful every day, to not be as reactive and to take chances. I see myself as who I was before Lyme disease and who I am after. And I wouldn’t change any of it because I love this newer version of me. When you are faced with the dark reality of death, you have no other choice but to change how you move through life.

I was bitten again by a tick at the end of March. I was in denial. I thought this can’t be happening again. But this time I had the tell tale rash (last time I did not). The symptoms of chills, vertigo, the neck pain, numbness, muscle twitching, high pitched ringing in my ears, neuro and cognitive deterioration and the Lyme headaches, which are indescribable, set in quickly and swiftly. This time, I knew it was a whole new and different bacteria as it exhibited differently in my body — but it was still all too familiar. I am a host to this tiny replicating life form and I am at its mercy once again. Emotionally, it is all too familiar. I am reminded of how neglected and ignored I felt the first time by the over 20 doctors I saw and by family. How I was told that it’s all in my head, it’s because I’m stressed, that I just needed to deal with it or that I need to just meditate. All those things are being brought up once again but I now have a steadfast and undeniable reassurance in the truth of what I am feeling. And I have the power to take my life back into my own hands and commit to a whole mind, body and spirit healing process.

This time, I am healing with a whole new understanding of my body and how powerfully it wants to heal and fight this. I have faith whereas before I clung to hope. I now know who to go to immediately for all the medical and holistic care I need to help me get through this. And this time I have the support of very loving people, which I didn’t have the first time. I have come to the final conclusion that I can no longer live here — something that I’ve been grappling with for months. It has made me realize that my needs and wants have to take precedence so I can live a long healthy life not in fear of Lyme Disease and the fear of this affecting my children. It has made me realize that I can no longer push aside what is best for me and my future in every way — in life, in relationships and in what is in my heart. I have to speak up for what I want and not put others’ desires ahead of my own. I have stifled what I want to make everyone else around me happy but I can’t do that anymore even though it has brought me to a place of turning away from what I truly love. This time, I have a clearer understanding of what I deserve. So, I see the lessons in this once again and embrace my evolution into the person that I am meant to be going forward.

I am reminded once again the power that my story has had on others in the past and especially in saving children from this life altering and devastating disease before it takes hold of their bodies. If nothing else, I am grateful that what I have been through has helped someone else get early treatment and intervention. I am once again reminded of the power that each of our individual life stories has in altering and affecting another person’s life. That sharing these stories is necessary in our own healing and recovery and that there should never be shame in confessing the deepest, darkest depths from which we have come out of and have survived — or that dark hole we are in presently. For it is from these truths that we can support one another and perhaps save another life.