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Steering My Way Through the Ocean of Lyme Disease Treatment

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The ocean is something that has always been important to me. I am a Pisces, a true water sign. I am a dreamer and my moods flow just like the tides. Ever since I was a little girl, I vowed to live near the ocean. I made that dream a reality when I moved to southern California in 2005 and then to San Francisco in 2011. I loved living near the beach. I would take my dogs there almost daily and any time I needed to get some time to myself to think, being near the water was my place to go. At one time, I lived in neighborhood where I could see the ocean from the top of my street. I sometimes thought that my life was a dream to live in areas of the world that were so beautiful.

woman playing on the beach with her dogs
Photo of me in San Francisco in 2013, right before I began treatment with Olaf and Bender at Fort Funston.

When I began treatment back on the east coast, I knew leaving the ocean and the area of the world I loved was something I needed to do. As hard as it was to come back here, I knew it was a necessary part of my path to healing. Although we do not have an ocean in the Philadelphia area, we do have lakes and streams and those all lead back to the ocean and one day soon I will return.

I relate the ocean to my treatment, like a metaphor for how I feel. Some days I am like a balanced body of water where everything seems to be working properly and the waves of illness are calm. On days when I am in a sunny disposition, there is less fog and I can think more clearly with only a cloud or two passing by throughout the day. Then there are the storms that pass through, when suddenly a cloudless and clear day can turn turbulent and violent without any warning.

Like a storm, I never know how long this will last and I never have any time to prepare. All I can do is hold on strong like I would if I was steering a ship through the rough seas and hope it will pass. Just like a storm, the harder days of treatment always do pass. Just like the captain of a ship, after each storm I learn more and more how to guide myself through the future storms and learn more from each one I go through. Just like a sailor learns the ways of the ocean, knows the sign of weather and can learn the wind, I am learning how to navigate my body.

There was a time in the recent past where every day was a storm. Where I was in the eye of the hurricane and the only way out was to go through the rest of the storm. Where I had no clue what life would be like on the other side and all I could do was hold onto my raft and hope I did not swallow too much salt water and drown. In the thickness of this part of treatment, it was so chaotic that I just did it. I went through every day like a well-trained deckhand doing the same things each day even when I was tired and wanted to give up. Day after day in hopes that one day I would see the skies clear and my path to healing would be more evident.

Right now, I feel like I am at the edge of the storm. I can see the clouds starting to part and signs of land, but I still have some rough waters to pass through. I have learned the way of the sea, the tides, the wind and the clouds, but I am not on dry land yet. Even when I am, I know that storms will still pass through. With the lessons I have learned, I know I will be able to steer myself through anything. I did things the hard way, I am still doing them that way, but the harder way is always the right way.

The darkest times and the times that truly test us are where the lessons lie hidden. As tempting as it is to find a shortcut, to have a rescue crew come and save me from this storm, I decided to take it on myself. I made the decision to set everything aside and forge through to get the main thing that leads to happiness, my health. Along with my crew, the people who stand by me through these volatile seas, I know I will reach land and when I do, I am eager to lose these sea legs and stand tall on firm ground.

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Originally published: August 16, 2017
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