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The Lonely Battle of a Lyme Warrior

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The alarm wakes me from a deep world of sleep. Dreams still floating on the surface. But instead of moaning about the morning and the tasks that lie ahead, I am immobilized in bed, burning pain fusing my back to the mattress, eyes sealed with stitches of exhaustion.

Lyme disease means facing a concoction of symptoms on a daily basis, like the unbearable tiredness sinking its teeth deep into your bones. Or the brain fluttering with a confusion of words while pain rips through your muscles. A new day means another 12 hours of wading through thick currents – if you can make it that far. There is no respite from Borrelia, the Lyme causing bacteria, only in the shape of tablets and hope. And even then it can come back.

Sure, fighting this illness makes you strong, but the truth is: you would too. You have no choice, no time-out; it is relentless. You are effectively being tested on a daily basis, and most us become good at coping and exquisitely good at hiding.

So good, in fact, that we begin to live two separate lives. One in which the disease impregnates everything we do, and the other where we pretend everything is OK. This is a Lyme warrior. We are not super-beings fighting off adversity, but instead people with well-rehearsed coping mechanisms, and subsequently, great actors in our daily lives.

The thing is, few people know – except maybe the ones living around you, but even then, concealment puts a smile on your face.

A clue, however, lies in our absence.

Fighting this chronic battle isolates you from the world. You may no longer be able to socialize with friends, do the sports you once enjoyed or even work. Instead you focus on surviving – stumbling through the minefield of symptoms and exhaustion. What’s left of you is sapped into looking normal, into fitting in. Even doctors sometimes fall victim to our traps: “But you look well.”

And thus a new day begins as we wield our swords, alone, in our minds, hoping to get through another day.

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Thinkstock photo via lolostock.

Originally published: May 30, 2017
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