For several months, just like Avril Levigne, I felt like I was dying.
I went from being a healthy and active young mom to 4, to being barely able to walk a few yards to my mailbox. Everyday tasks such as taking a shower and getting dressed became incredibly difficult.
And it all happened so fast.
I realized I had taken my good health for granted, something I’ll not do again.
I was soon able to empathize with friends and family who also were dealing with chronic pain and chronic illness.
Because now I was living it too.
The multiple doctors and specialists I went to couldn’t figure out what was causing my rapidly deteriorating symptoms.
Because of this, I was untreated for 18 very long months.
What Is Lyme Disease Anyway?
When Lyme bacteria, or Borrelia Burgdorferi, has free rein over your body for this long without being treated the damage can cause destruction to every organ and system in the body. This includes the heart, brain, neurological and immune systems.
Lyme is called “the great imitator”. This is because the symptoms are like so many other diseases and conditions. These include Multiple Sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, and many others.
I repeatedly asked the doctors if my illness could be due to the tick bites I got at my home after being in the tall grasslands and forest area behind our house. I became extremely sick shortly after discovering the ticks and thought this was something that should definitely be investigated.
Unfortunately, I was told, “You can’t get Lyme disease in Missouri.”
At the time, I was naive to believe that doctors are usually right. Of course, like the rest of us, they are only human.
And, out of necessity, I’ve learned how to advocate for myself as a patient.
I started doing my homework.
And asking the right questions.
The teacher in me. And the life-long learner that I am…It didn’t take long to figure out that, in this case, a wait and see approachwas not appropriate.
With Lyme disease it never is.
I persisted in my quest for answers. Finally, the proper tests were given that proved they were tragically wrong.
You can indeed get Lyme disease in Missouri. And I had it.
Suffering With Lyme Disease, YouTube & Forgiveness
I did in fact have Lyme and another potentially deadly tick-borne illness, tularemia.
Since then I have met many caring physicians who are indignant when they hear I was given the run around for so long without proper treatment, especially when the doctors knew I was bitten by ticks and my health continued to go downhill so quickly.
At the time, my primary care physician simply told me that I had “tick fever”. (I was never clear about what that is.)
Later, I returned to this doctor because I wasn’t getting better. I was, in fact, getting much worse. He said I looked stressed (perhaps from the constant pain and insomnia?).
Then he suggested I watch a youtube video about the benefits of walking.
In my naivety, and my strong desire to do everything possible to get healthy, I did as he instructed. Unfortunately, I was unable to walk further than my driveway due to severe air hunger, heart palpitations and extreme weakness and fatigue….all symptoms of Lyme disease!
I don’t believe these doctors meant to harm me even though going so long without a diagnosis did just that. I believe they wanted to help me and were doing the best they knew how with the knowledge and tools they had.
I do, however, hope that these doctors (and all medical professionals) make concerted efforts to learn more and keep up on the latest about Lyme disease so others don’t have to suffer needlessly too.
If this happened to me it could happen to you or to your loved ones. And I would never wish this horrible disease on anyone! That’s why it’s important to me to share with you to help prevent other people from going through what I, and thousands of others, have.
Finding A New Normal After Lyme Disease
Although life is very different for me now, I’m finding a new normal and constantly working to learn more and become as healthy as possible.
I’m thankful for a supportive family and friends.
In some ways life is actually better because I’ve learned to slow down and bask in the moment. Whereas before I was always multitasking, running from one event to the next.
I’m learning to live in the moment. 🙂
Although I lived a pretty healthy life before, I’m much more conscious of making healthy choices now.
I’m more in touch with my body now. I (usually) don’t push past my limits like I used to. (Bad habits are hard to break.)
I also try to better deal with stress in my life instead of ignoring it.
Healing has been a gradual process. But I’m thankful for every gain and positive change that has occurred.
I’m not well, but I’m stronger than I was a year ago. And that’s definitely a positive in my book!
Suffering with Lyme disease, then finally getting a diagnosis has been a prolonged and painful process. But God has brought me through and strengthened me through the suffering and trials, and He can do the same for you.
If you have a chronic illness, don’t give up!
Do you have a chronic illness? Can you relate? What tips can you share to help others?
Please share your comments and questions below in the comment section. I love hearing from you!
You might like to read the following for help and encouragement if you or someone you love has a chronic illness:
Living with a chronic illness is a struggle, all the more so when the illness is not physically evident. Some people assume you’re perfectly healthy when, in fact, seemingly mundane tasks are hard to fulfill.
People living with chronic illnesses (known casually as ‘spoonies’ in a term coined by lupus sufferer Christine Miserandino, who established the Spoon Theory to communicate an understanding of what her life is like) will draw upon medically prescribed treatments to help with their condition.
The Best Superfoods for Spoonies
They may also seek natural remedies, such as superfoods. These superfoods such as garlic, turmeric, ginger and salmon can provide much-welcome relief to symptoms of chronic illnesses.
Most of them contain anti-inflammatory ingredients which relieve pain and help to prevent cancer, while some are beneficial in terms of stabilizing cholesterol levels.Indeed, the consumption of salmon can even help to fight against feelings of depression. Depression is a hidden illness which can often be experienced by people suffering from other chronic illnesses.
The infographic below from Burning Nightsidentifies seven of the best superfoods for spoonies and deals specifically with five common hidden illnesses, highlighting the best and worst foods for those concerned.
A person living with a chronic illness is likely to grasp at any remedy which can relieve feelings of pain. Consequently, these superfoods could make their condition easier to endure.
Read below to find out more.
I want to express a big thank you to Victoria Abbott-Fleming who is the founder of the chronic pain charity, Burning Nights, for sharing this excellent information and the visual featured above. Also, you can visit her website at Burning Nights.
Eating superfoods such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, berries and grapes, olive oil, hot peppers and salmon can have amazing healing benefits for people with chronic illness. As a result, the best superfoods are an excellent substitute to pharmaceutical drugs for anyone who favors natural remedies and solutions to chronic pain.
Consequently, I can tell you from personal experience these superfoods really work!
Along with other healthy choices a few months ago I started taking turmeric curcumin daily. As a result, I’ve been able to stop taking two medications I was taking daily for chronic pain from chronic Lyme disease symptoms.
Please note, don’t ever stop taking medications without talking to your doctor first.
Do you or someone you love have a chronic illness? Have you tried any of these superfoods? Please share your comments in the comment section below. I love hearing from you!
I’ve been living with late-stage chronic Lyme for the past 5 years. I don’t want anyone to have to go through this horrible illness and believe prevention is essential.
I’m going to share the signs, symptoms, and stages of Lyme disease below so you know what to watch for. I truly hope this will help you protect yourself and your loved ones.
Signs Symptoms And Stages Of Lyme Disease
1. Early Localized Lyme Disease (1 to 4 weeks)
This stage can develop from days to weeks after becoming infected.
Symptoms may include:
Rashes – Less that 50% of Lyme patients remember developing a rash. Sometimes the rash looks like a bulls-eye. This is referred to as erythema migrans (EM). It is a myth that you must have this rash to have Lyme disease (1). I did not ever see a bull-eye rash, but have developed a number of unusual red and splotchy rashes since the tick bites (for more on rashes, keep reading below).
Flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills, fatigue, headache, pain or stiffness in the neck and swollen lymph nodes (2).
Nausea, dizziness and vomiting
Stage 2: Early Disseminated Lyme Disease Infection (1 to 4 months)
This stage develops when the disease is not found and/or treated properly soon after infection. At this point the infection can begin to affect the joints, heart, nervous system and skin.
Symptoms may include:
More rashes that start to appear in different parts of the body due to the infection spreading
Stage 3: Late Persistent Lyme Disease, Or Chronic Lyme
Failure to treat Lyme promptly can cause damage to the brain, joints and nervous system. This is the most serious stage.
Symptoms may include:
Extreme exhaustion which is not relieved by sleeping or resting
Inability to control facial muscles
Heart problems, such as pericarditis
Tingling and numbness of the hands and feet
Arthritis, often in the larger joints, such as the knees
Short-term memory loss
Difficulty thinking or reasoning
Getting lost, even in familiar areas
Anxiety, panic attacks
Sensitivity to sound, light and smells
Headaches and migraines
Mood swings, depression
Migrating joint and muscle pain
Weight gain or loss
Pain in the chest or ribs
Neck pain, stiffness and cracking
Heart murmur or valve prolapse
This list of signs, symptoms and stages of Lyme disease is not exhaustive. I’ve talked to a lot of people with Lyme and many of our symptoms are similar, but others are different.
My friend, if you are struggling with an illness and the doctors have been unable to help you, you may want to consider this list to help you rule out (or in) Lyme disease, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors or live in a tick-infested area.
And of course, if you know you’ve been bit by a tick, mosquito, etc and aren’t feeling well, please get yourself checked out immediately.