One year ago, I couldn’t muster the energy to sit up, to change my clothes, or to peal myself off of the couch and out from under my dog. Each exertion sent my world spinning and my vision screaming. My body rejected most food and my brain felt like mush.
Today, one year later, I am exercising again, cooking food, learning the ukulele, volunteering at the local animal shelter, reconnecting with friends, gaining strength and renewing my confidence.
In the past year, I’ve lost my gallbladder, my only uncle, my dearest dog, my trust in society, and my idealistic view of the world. Emotionally and physically, I hit my all-time low, weighing in at 110 pounds. There were days when I lost faith that I would ever beat this relentless illness, but I latched onto the belief that I would one day come out on the other side.
Last spring, we travelled to Washington D.C. to discuss intravenous antibiotics with the best Lyme doctor in the states. I had had my fill of various cocktails of “wonder drugs” and my body was rebelling with vengeance. I had been tested for C.Diff (Clostridium difficile) several times and was having trouble absorbing nutrients as well as medications. The doctors were going to install a port into my chest so that I could receive antibiotics straight to my heart. I was desperate and daring to try anything.
As we prepared for our second trip to D.C. I was approached by another individual to say “this person could really help you”. They handed me a business card with a picture of a stunning red haired woman who treats Lyme disease locally with homeopathy, cold laser therapy and energy work. This sounded a little hokey, but if anything could prevent me from being bed-ridden with a central venous catheter to my main circulatory organ, I would give it a whirl.
At this point, my most aggravating symptoms seemed to stem from the antibiotics. My digestion was ruined and the increased joint pain made me tired and weak. It was becoming difficult to tell what was from the Lyme and what was from the treatment. My doctor and I decided to take a break from my harsh regimen in order to figure out my baseline.
Treating Lyme disease is much like farming. There are about a thousand ways you can go about it. There are many diverse models with varied success. I have read about countless weapons used to tackle the vicious monster of Lyme. I have heard how injecting wild Amazonian frog venom can cure the disease, and how Urotherapy (drinking ones urine) is the best and cheapest medicine (I have not tried it). Supposedly, a friend’s brother recovered from Lyme by reaching enlightenment through a hallucinogenic experience and another kicked the disease into remission by fasting on goat's milk for ten days. Seeing a homeopathic practitioner seemed a lot more appealing than drinking my own wee or borrowing poison from a frog.
I received a get well card from a dear friend that read “I will never refer to your illness as a journey”. I agree that not everyone’s misfortune can and should be turned around to some grand life lesson. We all have shit to deal with, and sometimes unexpected beasts get in our way. We must use our resources, our brain, and our community to get through the hard stuff the best we can.
I know this past year has meant great loss and struggles for many people. I have been turning to an old friend, Bruce Springsteen, for hope and comfort through these hard times.
"Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there'll be sunshine
And all this darkness past"
I have been off of antibiotics for 4 months now and am treating the Lyme with herbs, homeopathy and physical therapy. The state of this country is wearing me down and at times my grief still stings. Yet most days, I am leaving my cane at home and feeling more spunk than I have in years.
"I got something in my heart/ I been waitin' to give/ I got a life I wanna start/ One I been waitin' to live"