Earlier today, a "Memory" popped up on my Facebook page from two years ago. In it, was a photograph of my mom and I'd posted it to thank her for driving me to work that day because I couldn't due to fatigue and vertigo.
A few days prior to posting that picture, I'd been diagnosed with Lyme. The summer of 2014, I went away on vacation for a week but felt a little 'off'. By the time I got home on a Saturday, I was experiencing a full-blown 'flu'.
Fast forward to Wednesday of that week... I couldn't move without crying. I had a high fever, I was sick to my stomach and by evening my neck was so stiff that I was convinced I had meningitis. That night, we also noticed a small circle developing on the back of my calf. My family took me to the ER. The doctors knew it was Lyme because of the bullseye. The following week, I had to go to my family doctor for a check-in to see how the medication was helping - it had masked most of the symptoms I was experiencing, but I was still feeling pretty tired and not myself. Blood tests were conducted, and I continued to test positive for Lyme, but nothing else.
Fast forward to October of 2014, four months after diagnosis. I was still on antibiotics. My fatigue wasn't subsiding, my immune system was shot and I was getting depressed. I had gained at least 15 pounds at this point (another 15 would come my way down the road).
Fast forward to December of 2014. I went to a local specialist at a tick-borne disease center, praying that they'd be able to help me and let me know why I wasn't noticing improvements. They conducted more blood work out of their own lab and did find the problem - I had Lyme disease, but also had another tick-borne illness called Anaplasmosis.
I was informed that it's a pretty rare tick-borne illness to get. Many who get anaplasmosis don't develop a rash, but I did because I'd also gotten Lyme from the tick that bit me.
I was told that I had three options: A. Deal with it. B. Continue oral antibiotics (though I was told this would be a waste of my time because they weren't going to help me) or C. Get daily infusions through intravenous antibiotics every morning before work for 60+ days.
I chose option A.
I can't tell you how many nights I cried in bed for a year and a half, just hoping that one day I'd wake up and be me again. You see, the thing with Lyme and tick-borne illnesses is that (unless you develop an outward physical defect) nobody knows you're sick.
As a fan of reality television, I sobbed while watching Yolanda Foster's speech on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills because in the five minutes that they showed, she completely nailed it: "Looking good and feeling like death is a difficult combination for people to understand. Lyme is like being killed from the inside out and left to uncover your own murder mystery without much clarity from the medical community".
I knew that the disease wasn't going to go anywhere but that I could try to alter how I was feeling from it. I did a lot of diet changing and probiotics that helped with some symptoms, but I realized that I was depressed, and that a lot of the fatigue I was still feeling was related.
Finally, this past October of 2015, I'd had enough. After another long cry, I made a promise to myself that in the morning I was going to get a gym membership. And I did.
I try to go to the gym at least three times a week. I'm not the most fit one in the room, I sweat an embarrassing amount and I can't get abs to form for the life of me ... and I'm OK with that. I'm me again. Getting up and going to the gym feels like a major feat for me every single time that I do it. Lately, I've felt more confident in a pair of sneakers and leggings than jeans and heels because it gives me the that feeling - positive energy and knowing that I'm kicking my own butt in the best way possible. I prefer to infuse water instead of sip a glass of wine, because I know what I'm doing for my body (although I do enjoy a glass of bubbly when presented with the opportunity). I haven't beaten Lyme or Anaplasmosis, and until they find a cure I never will... but I've overcome me.
*** Please learn from my experience: If you've had Lyme, you should also get tested for other tick-borne illnesses... the blood tests that they run for Lyme typically don't cover these.