I have Lyme Disease.
One sentence. Four words. Five syllables. And yet, it has so much power in it because it’s true. I have Lyme Disease.
I don’t consider myself a person who shies away from being open and honest, but when it comes to admitting to others who aren’t my friends and family that I have Lyme, it can be incredibly difficult for me. Because, you see, once you know about it, it’s what you remember about me and most likely label me as that sick girl. It’s not a label you want synonymous with your name. Believe me, I know. So, it’s just easier when first meeting people not to mention that big detail about me.
But the thing is, it is who I am.
So I’ve been fighting with myself over whether to share my story with you all, or at the very least, to publicly admit and claim that large piece of who I am. And now, I’ve decided to do just that- to publicly claim that piece of me. Who knows- maybe through my story, one of you will see the signs and symptoms of it early enough to treat it and not go through what I’ve been through. Or maybe it will simply just be a growing experience for me. Either way, I hope you’re able to get something out of my story. And it’s a long one, so I will be sharing it in several parts.
I suppose I should start at the beginning. I was fourteen years old, just graduated eighth grade, and was at Bible Camp. It was one of those hot summer days, so my friends and I had gone down to the creek. Not knowing anything about Lyme disease or ticks, I naturally sat on the surrounding logs and the leafy dirt ground as we hung out. It wasn’t until later on that I saw a little black something in my leg. So I went to the nurse, and she examined it. She told me it was a splinter, quickly pulled it out with tweezers, and sent me on my way.
Except it wasn’t a splinter. It was a tick. Actually, it was the tick that gave me Lyme disease, to be precise. But we didn’t know that at the time.
When I got home from camp, my mom noticed a large target-shaped rash on my leg where the “splinter” had been. Not knowing a target-shaped rash is the first sign of Lyme disease (though a lot of Lyme patients never get a target rash), we shrugged it off as a weird spider bite or something. If we had only known.
I began my freshman year of high school soon after, joining the tennis team and making friends. Everything seemed normal, until I began to feel sick, slowly becoming sicker and sicker. I constantly had an upset stomach, felt nauseated and nearly always had a fever. I developed a constant headache and had painful attacks in my head that stopped me cold and had me crippled on the floor in pain. I was extremely tired and fatigued all the time, losing much of my control over my body. It got to the point where I couldn’t even hold my tennis racket anymore.
Then my grades began to slip. I’d always been an A/B student (with an occasional C), all my life. So it was a shock when I began making Fs, and not for a lack of trying my hardest. I couldn’t remember any new information my teachers were giving me, no matter how hard I tried or how much I studied. It was like it went in one ear and out the other. I found myself foggy headed and unable to really think and understand things. I even got lost in the school once. That was when we knew something was seriously wrong.
So the testing began…