It wasn’t so long ago that even I started to think that the way I was feeling was all in my head. Doctor after doctor had a different answer to exactly why as a teen and young adult that I was constantly exhausted, forgetful, woke with such stiffness in my muscles and joints that you could actually hear them stretching out as I moved. I was depressed, worried that maybe I had something very wrong with me and the doctors just weren’t going to do the right tests until it was too late.
As the symptoms started growing worse, my fear grew out of control as well. My hands began to curl up so tight as my muscles clamped down. I began to forget the simplest things and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to care for my children. Something had to be done, I needed a miracle. I am so lucky that after years of praying for answers that I was able to find one.
After hearing about Lyme disease from my Mother, I went to my doctor and demanded 3 Lyme tests be done, it didn’t take long for all 3 to return that I had high levels of Lyme bacteria in my body. I knew only a little about Lyme disease, it was something you heard about when you were going to be hiking out in the woods where ticks could crawl on you. But I couldn’t remember being bitten and I was sure I didn’t remember the trademark bullseye rash.
Thinking back, I probably was bitten as a kid in rural Tennessee. I was a tomboy and always out around the animals and running around in the woods with the dogs and horses. I was prone to getting poison ivy, bug bites, and odd rashes. But I was an adult in her 30’s, how could something like that have gone unnoticed for all of these years?
Lyme disease is commonly misdiagnosed as several other diseases and conditions, everything from Mono to MS. I was put on high doses of antibiotics by a doctor who had little understanding of how to treat Lyme disease that was not in the normal 30 day window of infection. This was the first of many times I would go through the terrible side effects of the Herx reaction to treatment. I would suffer for a few more years until I found a doctor who not only knew of Lyme but treated his Chronic Lyme patients with innovative therapy and constant monitoring. He changed my life and has been instrumental in giving me power over my disease. Never once has he blamed any of my wacky symptoms as being “In My Head” as I have heard other Lymies being told. Instead he asks me more in-depth questions and talks with me about how we can manage my symptoms. He gives me the power over my treatment and never makes me feel like I am a victim of something terrible. His gentle smile and ability to laugh with me is always a comfort when I come to him with fears and concerns.
Now I am treated with medications for tremors, physical therapy to keep my circulation flowing smoothly and massage therapy to work on the pain and muscle issues. I watch everything I eat and stay away from processed foods, meat, and artificial sweeteners. I have been vegetarian for about 8 years, but recently had to add in fish to counter the memory and joint issues I was having. There are a lot of things that I keep up on to live with Stage 3 Lyme disease and live a normal life. Lyme disease doesn’t have to be the end of the world. But it’s a new world to live in. There are days when I just feel so weak and want to curl up on the couch with my dog and sleep. Sadly giving in to that has led to weight gain that has added to my discomfort and frustration.
It’s easier to live a sedentary life when your body fights every movement you make, tells your brain how exhausted it is, and retaliation against most treatments. Sometimes I feel just too overwhelmed and feel myself on the verge of a meltdown. Other times I find myself awake in the middle of the night so upset and frustrated that I can’t sleep. But when those fears become too much, I am so thankful to be able to wake my husband up in the middle of the night and know he will always make me feel better. I have amazing friends to lean on who always encourage me and keep my mood up. I know I am truly lucky to have such a great support team. May is Lyme Awareness month. On the outside, we look like we are fine. But our bodies are fighting a war that in our lifetime we may never win. Today I want you to take just a tiny moment of your day and look up Lyme disease and understand what the symptoms are. Maybe you know someone who has it and today you will learn just a bit of what they are going through. Thanks for reading!