I'm Tired of Thinking About Lyme Disease
I have a confession to make. I’m sick of Lyme. Of treating it, researching it and…talking about it. I resent how much time it’s taken out of my life. Maybe you feel the same. You wish you didn’t have to dedicate so many of life’s hours to treatments and research and all the rest. You resent it stealing spaces of your life that were once rightfully reserved for friendships, work and “normal” activities.
Indeed, I was astounded when I first became ill and realized how quickly and efficiently Lyme had snatched my life out from under me. How it managed to shove aside all my life’s activities and demand my full-time attention. How, from the setting of the sun one day to its rising on the next, it had become my life partner – the companion and center of all my thoughts and doings. Kind of like what happens in an obsessive relationship, except there has been no love in this one.
Periodically and as I have fought the disease, its pervasiveness has overwhelmed me, and even though I have managed to add a smidgeon of balance to my life through other activities, my new life partner, Lyme, has always clamored the loudest for my time and attention.
And always I have given my pouting body the help it needs. Always I have heeded the cry to look for the next solution to my symptoms, or to nurse my wounds and whine about my life because my aches and pains and too much knowledge have demanded I do so.
But I’ve also learned that my body never shuts up. And, as long as I devote copious amounts of time and energy (not to mention money) to Lyme-related activities, the disease reigns as King over my thought world and master over my body.
Of late, however, I’ve decided to dethrone the king, and this has meant leaving all things Lyme behind for a while. If I didn’t think my words helped others, I would probably take a blog nap too, but I figure as long as the rest of my world remains filled with things besides thoughts of Lyme, I’ll be OK.
If you really, truly don’t want this disease to rule your life, I believe there are steps you can take to relegate it to a lower rank, but it takes diligence. If you are really sick and have lots of symptoms, this is more difficult to do, and perhaps for a time you must be content to allow it generous space in your brain so you can get the medical care you need. But if you have been at this game for a while and are moderately functional, if you can take walks in the park and go grocery shopping or manage dinner with a friend, then you may be in a position to re-assign value to Lyme and the pursuit of healing.
Millions of forces will conspire against you. Your symptoms will remind you every minute about how broken you are; you’ll want to chat with others who have Lyme; your treatments and research for the next cure will keep you entrenched in thoughts of disease. Getting out from beneath your Lyme-brain will be no easy task.
So what do you do?
Well, I will share with you what I’ve done. I’ve been avoiding situations that encourage me to think Lyme, Lyme and more Lyme! If someone asks how I feel, I give a brief answer. If I’m lonely, and even though I’m tempted, I stay away from Lyme support groups. Sorry guys, I love you, but I need a break from this life. I have put my treatments on hold in favor of giving my body up to God to do with as He wishes, because I think He can intervene more powerfully when I don’t live with one foot in the mush of man’s medicine and another in the world of hope for supernatural healing. Indeed, I have witnessed more instances of supernatural healing in Costa Rica than I ever saw in the United States. (I wouldn’t advise leaving your current treatment regimen in favor of my faith-based approach, unless you feel led to walk that path), but personally, it is helping me to center my thoughts around other things.
Before you think I’m foolish, don’t be fooled: the “other” things of life are, in themselves, treatment for Lyme disease, because they enable me to aspire to a life outside of Lyme. By filling my brain with what I love and what I hope to become, by assuming health by doing what my body thinks I can’t do, by engaging in the lives of others and taking an interest in their pursuits or cultivating interest in a new hobby, I am removed from the world of disease. When my body pokes at me or shouts, “Excuse me! I’m tired!” I heed the call for rest, but smash the laments that follow, replacing them with thoughts about what I can productively do in my rest, rather than what I can’t.
It has taken much practice, determination and perseverance, but I have found I don’t have to think about Lyme disease all the time, or even half of the time. And by making it my servant instead of my master in the palace of my thoughts, I have found it is easier to dream about “living” again, and I in fact feel better. Perhaps you will find the same to be true for you.
This post originally appeared on Connie Strasheim.
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Thinkstock photo via JackF.