There is something that we all have in common. We all go through hard times. I’ve never met someone who hasn’t had to deal with something hard or unpleasant in their life. I’ve never met someone who hasn’t learned from those experiences. We are all human. We all have feelings and emotions. We are all impacted by situations in our lives.
Our lives are made up of a bunch of little choices. Those choices, whether good or bad, lead us down a million different paths. Those paths have brought us here to this exact moment. They all make up our stories. Those paths aren’t all made of the same things. They aren’t all smooth. They aren’t all bumpy. Some are sandy or paved or grassy or littered with sticks. Some are even made of garbage. Some take you up a steep grade and others result in you rolling down a hill. Some might be made of logs strung together along the side of a mountain. Some paths lead to a refreshing river, some lead to dead ends, and some just take you for miles and miles until you’re completely lost. My point is that none of us are immune to tough times and we don’t always know what is next or where we’re headed. Sometimes, we have to use the hard path to get to where we’re supposed to be. Sometimes, the lesson doesn’t lie in the destination, but in the journey.
I grew up in a great home where nothing really bad happened. My parents protected, provided, and prayed for me and my sisters. We weren’t perfect, but we were perfect for us. Growing up (and even still today), I was very competitive and prideful. I didn’t think I’d have to go through hard times or deal with things that other people dealt with. I thought I was immune to hardships and I wasn’t very humble about it. Humility is something I’ve never really had (just ask any of my friends, especially when it comes to football). I rarely back down from an argument. It’s one of my many faults. This past September, I was watching Dancing with the Stars with my family and there was a contestant named Debbie Gibson. She was (and still is) in the middle of a battle with Lyme Disease. I remember thinking, “It can’t be that bad. She’s milking it. I wouldn’t ever get that; I’m careful.”
July 15 or 16, 2017: I was bitten by a tick on my head in the mountains.
July 17, 2017: The tick was removed thanks to Julie, Maya, and Sarah and their bravery.
July 22, 2017: I noticed that the lymph nodes on my neck were swollen and had become painful. I went to a local doctor in Georgia (where I was vacationing at the time) and I was given antibiotics that I was told would clear things up.
July 27, 2017: I made it to Grand Haven, Michigan to visit friends (more like family). I found myself (and my sister, Sarah) driving around for two hours trying to find a doctor that would take a look at my incredibly painful lymph nodes. We found a doctor, but got no answers.
I flew home a few days later and went to multiple appointments in August regarding the lymph nodes. One “solution” was to take different antibiotics. So, I did that for 10 days. That didn’t work. Another “solution” was to talk to a surgeon to have the lymph nodes removed. Um, what was this doctor thinking? That didn’t last long. We hit a dead end.
October 30, 2017: We finally got in with an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor who had performed surgeries on my family before. He was the guy who was going to help me. The visit was short, but resulted in blood tests being ordered (praise God).
November 13, 2017: Blood was taken and results came back quickly: no mono. We cleared that test.
November 20, 2017 (the day before my 23rd birthday and the first official day of Thanksgiving Break): Test results came back: Positive for Lyme Disease. “What? How could this be possible? Are we sure that the results are right? Are we sure that we read the results correctly? Everyone assured me that it wasn’t Lyme. What does this mean? Am I going to die? Will I have this forever? What kind of treatments will I have to go through?” Those are all the thoughts that went through my head. I was shocked. But I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis. I called the doctor to see what we needed to do next. The nurse told me that the clinic couldn’t treat me. She called to infectious disease doctors in Lakeland and no one would see me. We called around to different hospitals and clinics all around the state that supposedly treat Lyme. No one would see me. The CDC didn’t even have answers. We hit a dead end. We were so frustrated and confused and helpless. “How am I supposed to get better if no one is willing to even see me?” This went on for weeks.
December 12, 2017: I was having weird problems with my ears and needed a general asthma check-up, so I paid a visit to my allergist. My dad is friends with the doctor, so he came with me. He told the doctor all about our struggles to find help and how frustrated we were. The doctor was equally frustrated. He decided to start me on the typical antibiotics that Lyme patients usually take for months at a time. A week into those meds and I couldn’t last a day at work. They made me really sick. We switched to a different medication and didn’t have any problems with it, praise God.
January 2, 2018: The allergist knew of some Lyme doctors in New York, Boston, and Connecticut. He made some phone calls to see what we needed to do next.
February 13, 2018: We are still waiting on what to do next. I will be retested in a couple of weeks to see if the medications helped at all. The doctor seems to think that I don’t have it anymore, but I still have the symptoms, so I’m not so sure that he is right.
The end…sort of.
I never thought I’d be faced with a disease like Lyme Disease. I thought I was invincible. I was so critical of Debbie Gibson and what she was dealing with. I was ignorant. I never thought I’d struggle with this and I didn’t think I’d struggle to find a doctor to treat me. I thought it would all just come together. My whole life, I thought that I would choose good paths and make decent choices to ensure that nothing bad would happen to me. Man, was I wrong. (But let’s be clear. My disease isn’t a result of any sin in my life. God isn’t using it to punish me for anything. He doesn’t work that way.)
In my case, a literal path (in the woods) that I was walking on resulted in a disease that is harming my body. That path is a path that I will figuratively be on for a while. While it isn’t an easy one and I know I’ll hit a few dead ends, I know that I don’t walk alone.
This whole process has been hard. I was put on diet restrictions that were so hard to follow (especially since I have a deep love for cheese and bread). The moon sometimes makes the infected cells in my body go crazy, which makes me sick. I get tired easily. I forget things. I have joint stiffness. I have restless arms and legs, which make for many sleepless nights. I have little patience.
However, I’m growing in so many ways. I’m learning to appreciate the little things in my life a bit more. I’m learning to not take my family for granted; they’ve been incredibly supportive. I’m learning that even though I have a weird disease, I can’t let it be an excuse to be anything other than loving, humble, and patient. I may not always be thrilled about the path that I’m travelling, but I can always try to control the way I view it. I know that God works all things for my good. (Romans 8:28). And I know that God will meet my needs according to His will. I have great comfort in that.
So, right now, I’m on a path that is riddled with fallen trees and steep hills on either side, but I’ve got my boots on and I’m going to keep walking. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but ultimately I know that God is guiding me, so I won’t ever be completely lost or alone.