Breaking Up With Illness, What Life Without Lyme is Really Like
Ten years ago, I was given a life sentence of Chronic Lyme Disease. It was horrifying and a relief all at once. Chronic illness conditions us to a mentality of stasis. What we are now is what we will always be. There is comfort in a reality of stasis. Without fear of the unknown, we can curl up in our little bubble of pills, supplements, brain fog, and heated blankets. It is safe here in the comfort of our distress.
Fortunately, the only constant in life is change. Yet, when the opportunity to cure my life of Lyme, antibiotic cocktails, ongoing pain, and heart wrenching insomnia, I didn’t know what to do.
Life after Lyme isn’t something I was prepared for, because I never expected it. Because when we’re told a belief is fact, that belief becomes our truth. Belief: You have chronic Lyme forever. Fact: This is your future. Belief: Your Lyme Disease is healed. Fact: Your story is ready for a rewrite.
Because when we’re told a belief is fact, that belief becomes our truth.
Life Without Lyme Disease is…
lonely. Do you ever miss something you never expected to miss? Every day I woke up and fell asleep with my disease. Billions of little microbes waged wars within my body, but at some point I accepted them as friend, not foe. They were mine, after all. They’d committed to me, so the least I could do was commit to them. It’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had, and was the elephant in the room that destroyed all competing relationships. Without Lyme, the only one here to keep me company is me. At first, this was a horrifying premise. No wonder people around the world are so lonely, I thought. Being alone is so empty, and quiet, and dark, or is that just my bedroom when I wake from another night terror about dying alone in my thirties? It took a long time to grow comfortable with the fact that being alone actually affords me the gift to be with myself on all levels of being. Without Lyme, I’ve grown to know myself, and realize that we never really are alone, because the Universe, Cosmos, Spirit, God, Whatever You Want to Call Mother Nature and the Collective Consciousness is there ALL THE FREaKING TiME! Everyone has these existential moments of loneliness.
Just like High School Musical said, We’re All in This Together, and that’s not so scary after all.
scary. The future is uncertain. There is no routine of fifteen pills three times a day, or doctors appointments every Monday morning. There are no blood tests marked on the calendar every six weeks. The calendar is wide open with possibility of adventures, and not just the kind I’m accustomed to in books and Netflix Originals, but the IRL variety that requires the stamina, agility, and strength that my physical body now has without Lyme. Potential can be a very scary thing.
Losing Lyme was like taking a wedge out of the Trivial Pursuit pie of my life. I wasn’t winning, or losing, I was just a not-so-special-normal person.
normal. As horrible as it sounds, Lyme made me feel special. I had a disease none of my friends understood. It wasn’t killing me (thanks to my awesome doctor and parents) but it was also never going away. It became an automatic point of interest, making me more interesting. Want to talk about drug reactions or PICC Line insertions? I’m your girl. Interested in strange medical procedures or invisible handicaps, here’s my card. Losing Lyme was like taking a wedge out of the Trivial Pursuit pie of my life. I wasn’t winning, or losing, I was just a not-so-special-normal person.
There are no hand-drawn animated birds to hang up our princess dresses, or princes in tights to slay the dragons in our dreams. There’s just us, and the potential to rewrite our ever-changing stories, because if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s change.
harder than I ever expected. We dream of different realities. Lotto wins. Getting picked up by celebrities in the Whole Foods parking lot. Free upgrades to first class. But when those day dreams become reality, they don’t feel like the dream. They come with layers. Guilt. Grief. Sadness. Confusion. Joy. (well maybe not for an airline upgrade) We think like Walt Disney trained us—when dreams become reality life has a fairytale ending. But there are no hand-drawn animated birds to hang up our princess dresses, or princes in tights to slay the dragons in our dreams. There’s just us, and the potential to rewrite our ever-changing stories, because if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s change.