Why I Wouldn't Exchange My Lyme Disease for a Healthy Life


Everyone wants to be healthy. From having a cold, to dealing with a chronic illness, to a life terminal disease or life changing injury, nobody wants to be in pain or suffering. No one was to have their life turned upside down.

I’ve spoken with many people with chronic illnesses over the past years, many with Lyme and associated diseases, and others with different disorders than my own. Many of them ask themselves, “Where would I be right now if I didn’t get sick?” They feel like they’ve missed out, been left behind, can’t keep up with the “healthy crowd,” and wish they never had to go through what they have, especially for such a controversial diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease. However, I think differently.

I would not change my past or present struggles for a “normal life.” Many of my peers say I should…

  1. Be driving
  2. Be in college
  3. Have a job
  4. Have better grades
  5. Be able to do things I used to do

Are those things true? Well I’m 19, so in today’s world of normalcy, I should be driving. I should be in college. I should have a job…but other circumstances changed my plan. My plan of following the crowd and going along to do everything that is typical did not happen as so. And I’m happy about it.

Why?

1. This is what my life was meant to be, and it has a purpose. My purpose wouldn’t of been discovered as wanting to care for others in the medical field, if I was always healthy.

2. I would never appreciate the days of feeling better.

3. I would probably complain a lot more. Many things I see people posting about on Facebook are minimal to me.

4. I would never have any understanding for anyone else with a chronic illness. All these relatable posts I see here on The Mighty never related to me until I got chronically ill. To be honest, I was young and healthy and probably had no idea what a chronic illness was.

5. I care about people more because I know what it’s like to be forgotten. Whenever I hear someone is sick, having a bad day, or anything upsetting, I try my best to at least contact them by text. Whether it’s an old friend from school who has a bad cold, or my friend in the hospital for an extended period of time, I want to be the person who brightens someone else’s day. I truly care about people and let them know I’m thinking about them, miss them, and can’t wait to see them – whether they’re sick, injured, or having a rough day.

6. I know how to stand up for myself and don’t let people walk over me. Before I was sick, I never had to stand up for myself. But with doctors questioning the validity of chronic Lyme, or those who have said rude things about me, my diagnoses, or my amazing doctors, I speak up. I do not stay in a shell hiding. I’ve learned to say the exact opposite to a doctor who told me I was faking my symptoms. I have stood up for myself, multiple times, defending myself because I know my body more than anyone else. This will definitely come in handy sometime in the future.

7. There is something good in every day. Whether it’s hanging out, watching “Dr. Phil” in bed all day, getting to go for a walk, getting dressed, taking a bath, or going to work at gymnastics, there is no day that is 100 percent terrible. There is always something to be grateful and happy about. I would never appreciate showers, leaving the house, and being able to do laundry or wash my hair in the sink if I were always in tip top health.

8. I know that I am extremely lucky and that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. College freshman at age 21? Maybe. What will that give me? More experience, more knowledge, more wisdom. I will enjoy my years in college more than I would have if I went away at 18. Just like I appreciate ballet, exercise, and other activities that were extremely normal to me in the past way more. It’s not that I didn’t know what I had before I lost it…I knew what I had, I just never knew I would lose it.

Does this mean I want to relive every moment I have had since being chronically ill? Absolutely not. I strive to be healthy. One of my biggest fears is my brain function won’t be the same as it used to be.

But right now, if I were to choose be completely healthy and not have to deal with anything I’m dealing with now, or to keep going and keep my past the same, I would not take the easy way out. Tough people come from tough situations. The best lessons can come from the lowest parts in our lives, and if I had to relive this again… I would say yes.

I am stronger, and can only get stronger. I have many more lessons to learn. I have amazing support. I have more knowledge to gain and more knowledge to share. I have plenty of advocacy I want to continue to grow. I know there will be more hurdles along the way, but I’m mentally strong. Illness has made me go from a typical nice girl, to a person who wouldn’t have her life any other way.

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