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How My Lyme Disease Went Undiagnosed for Years Because of My Weight

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“Maybe you need to lose some weight.” I heard that many times before my diagnosis of Lyme disease. Sometimes people would say it with love and compassion and sometimes with scorn. I went to the doctors with pain and inflammation issues that were often attributed to my weight.

Each time I heard that phrase a little part of me shut down. I was a really chubby kid and grew into an obese adult. When you are really heavy it is hard to imagine a path to a healthy weight. In the moment of being called out, it feels like an impossible task.

Over time I began to internalize and accept the idea that somehow I deserved difficulty, fatigue, pain and inflammation problems because I was fat – really fat.

But I didn’t push back, in part because I felt so bad about my body and myself. So I had an infection that went on for years without treatment. I got worse and the pain and inflammation escalated. Sure, some of my symptoms were probably related to excess weight, but all of them? I lost trust in my body and my judgment.

Trust Yourself and Find an Answer

Friends and teachers pushed me to get tests done to find out what was going on. They pointed out to me that I was stuck in a negative feedback loop that was only making things worse. No one deserves the type of pain I was in. There had to be something else working in the background. They pushed me to buck up, take responsibility for my own health and investigate.

So I went back to the doctors and asked for help.

I got caught in the testing problems that many people with Lyme encounter. I tested negative three times with the Elisa assay, before I paid for a more accurate test out of pocket and confirmed Lyme. Subsequent tests also confirmed four co-infections. No wonder getting through the day felt like a siege. My body was under a multipronged attack and battling for its life.

After a hard-fought-for accurate diagnosis, a lot of care and the loss of a lot of weight, I know better. If you are in pain and are told you are getting old or too fat, get another opinion. Sure, be honest with yourself about how you are eating and feeling, but don’t blame everything on excess weight or hitting 50 or, or… Trust yourself and if you believe something is wrong, reach out and get the help you need.

Lyme Healthy Lifestyle Habits Have Double Benefits

Losing and maintaining major weight loss was an incredibly healthy thing for me to do. No doubt it puts less strain on my heart and my joints. Weight loss alone would not help me to recover from all the pathogens that had taken up long-term lease though. I needed serious medical help and self help to fight the infections, reduce inflammation and rebuild my ravaged body.

Building wellness has naturally helped me maintain a much healthier weight. I largely eat to replenish my body with nutrient rich whole foods. Low sugar and low irritants happen to be lower calorie too. Exercise every day moves my lymph and keeps my joints limber. I do this to feel good and support my immune health. Instead of using food to soothe, meditation is my go-to to help me relax and stay positive.

No one says, “Maybe you need to lose some weight” to me anymore. Sure, I could lose a little more, but my priority is eating and living in a way that builds wellness every day. Lyme is a great teacher and I am still learning from it.

I gained key insights from my diagnosis process. Listen to family, trusted friends and teachers when they are trying to help me. Tune into my self talk and address excuses. If I am making excuses for how I feel, it means I am off track. Pay attention – when my body asks for help, respond in a proactive way.

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Thinkstock photo via fraulein_freya.

Originally published: July 11, 2017
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