How I Felt Like Myself Again After Treatments for Lyme Disease

At the moment this photograph was taken, I had survived a year and half of treatment for Lyme disease. It was a bittersweet triumph, all the pain and heartbreak it took to get there. Maybe that’s why I’ve held on to the story behind this photograph as a keepsake. Just to make sure I never forget it.

This illness will do that to you.

It’ll distort and erase your memories, an all too familiar symptom for all those experiencing chronic Lyme. When my journey towards health began, I had gone through nearly 10 years of misdiagnosis and intense mind and body deterioration. It was a rollercoaster pursuit that burst with doctors’ appointments, blood work, and tears, until I was finally diagnosed in January 2015.

A woman swimming in the ocean, looking at some ships in the distance.

Once treatment began, my days were filled with shattering and overwhelming symptoms, when on the most severe occasions, all I could do was lie on the floor and stare endlessly at the ceiling. It was a brutal process to break through the shell I was trapped in, a shell that did not accurately represent any part of me. After a year on bed rest, I reached a point where venturing out into the world became a possibility. I got to see the ocean during that time, but I would only stand at its front door. I was still too fragile to knock, much less dive into all its homely depths.

As I continued to heal, I felt my whole being wake up, and even on days when progress was slow, the urge to keep chasing the ocean grew louder. I wanted to live once again, not just exist within the boundaries built by this illness. So with a stubborn heart and a suitcase packed with pills and tinctures, I crossed the Atlantic until I arrived at the shores of the Tyrrhenian sea along Ischia, Italy. I cried all the way to my gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport, terrified and exhilarated all at once.

It took four modes of transportation to get to there, a ferry ride being the most difficult, and copious amounts of rest in between. Once I arrived, despite swollen feet, sore knees, and a throbbing head, I dared to meet the ocean waves, and let the sweet saltwater current embrace me. Amid the ocean water, I felt like myself. Like the person I didn’t have to remember, only the person I was, and still am.

The damage that this illness does to your mind and body is immeasurable. It is a devastating and continuous battle, but with hope and obstinance, you can fight on. For someone that could barely handle a flight of stairs, reaching the other side of the ocean felt like an unobtainable feat, yet there I was. And you can too. You can find your own ocean. Because even if you don’t see it right at this moment, it will happen. It will get better. Hold on to hope with a firm grasp, and keep going until the unimaginable becomes possible.

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