Hope in Darkness
This is a summary of my personal battle with Lyme disease. Though long, it outlines my life from the beginning-present day. One story among many, my dearest wish is that this will offer hope to those who are battling Lyme disease. It is a difficult road, but through it all…
I’ve been assured of these two things: life isn’t fair and God is surely good.
The robin’s voice outside my open window. Bright, cheery, her orange throat throbbing with so great a delight to be alive. Suddenly lifting on strong, gray wings she flits away to grub up another worm for a nest full of hungry babies. Alive.
I “see” all this with my ear. Eyelids too heavy to open, I listen and my own heart settles into what I began calling “a moment,” this being one of the several I experienced that summer. Raw, unknown life stretches out before me. So little in life that summer unfolded in joy, assurance and opening of arms to drink in fullness of life. Yet in the chaos that surrounded, nature brought a deep stillness into life as never experienced before. A single bird’s song cut to my soul, stirred it as a gentle breeze does the air on a hot summer day. A breath of life.
Then I move back into my own world. I’m too weary to open my eyes. Sleep. My body wants sleep. Its too much to swing my feet over the edge of the rough cut, bed frame, put them on the thin carpet that covers the fir floor of the old, one room milk shed remodeled by my uncle in his single days. Too much.
I then repeat my routine of the summer: I have to get up. I cannot lay here all day though I would wish to. Get up. Get up. GET UP! But the sluggish body won’t respond. Limbs are tingly and weak, part of me yet strangely enough, they feel detached. Like wooden stumps. Eyes won’t open, torso won’t tighten to swing legs around, arms lie limp by my side. I’m stuck in a body, a soul stuck in a body.
I begin to murmur the words to myself so I won’t slip back into nothingness of sleep: “get up! Get up!” Words come louder as I force myself to remain alert. Sheer determination causes me to raise my voice from a whisper: “GET UP! Get up! Feet on the floor!” My body has no strength, I don’t have the will power to sit up. In a last attempt, I roll out of bed onto that fir floor. A loud “thump” breaks the quietness of my room. Head begins to clear. I open my eyes. Light tumbles in and I see the color in the rug, the white base of the only door into my home.
“Get up!” I’m loudly commanding myself now. The body sluggishly responds, and I stumble outside the shed. Green grass, wet with dew, sunshine flowing to my body and skin, fresh air. Inhaling, I stumble over to the edge of the small deck and sit with feet in the grass. The robin is hunting with a dozen others in the horse pasture below me.
Lyme disease, the strange sickness I heard about as a child. First, the owners of my parent’s farm, then a cousin; both experienced fainting spells and other issues. I’ve hated ticks my entire life. Sluggish, hard-shelled creatures that attached to the skin of our animals, then using their tiny mouths pierce the skin and suck blood until overloaded, blue and stretched tight like a balloon. The dreaded disease of North America carried by such a small creature, one that damages neurological nerves, carrying a parasite that is infamous for its ability to hide and disguise itself in the human body, impossible to eradicate once it has taken hold of its host.
Welcome to my life.