Clodagh Laffey

@clodagh-laffey | contributor
Chronic Lyme Disease Fighter
Community Voices

It still catches me by surprise,

When tears quickly

fill my eyes.

When I think

about my life before,

An illness

shook me to my core.

One little bite

that I didn’t even see,

Has caused

years of devastation for me.

I didn’t even

know what #LymeDisease meant,

Even after

all the testing I had underwent.

It is painful

to think about my life before,

Before all

the doctor appointments & crushed expectations,

Before all

the exhaustion, pain & frustrations.

Before the

stress, burden & fear,

Before the

life as I knew it started to disappear.

Before the unrelenting

symptoms & limitations,

Before the

endless medical applications.

Before all

the missed milestones, events & plans,

Before blood

results & endless scans,

It has taken its

toll that is for sure,

But it has given

me resilience & courage which I am grateful for.

I am sharing

my story to raise awareness & encourage understanding,

To change

perceptions & educate a few,

Even if it

takes my whole lifetime to do.

To provide a

sliver of hope in your darkest of days,

When it seems

as though you cannot fight through this Lyme-induced haze.

With Lyme

Disease, early diagnosis & treatment is key,

And I will be

happy if you learn that from me.

I know one

day soon the light will return to your eyes,

Your soul

will reignite, and you will win this fight.

I know you

are suffering but you are never alone,

I want to

make sure that that is known.

You are

making the courageous choice to keep going anyway,

Knowing deep

down that someday it will be okay.

There is no

single doubt that Lyme has changed my life,

And all of that

from just one tick bite.

Community Voices

An Important Reminder for the New Year

To say I feel grateful is the understatement of the year,

To have survived & battled this illness full of despair, hopelessness & fear.

To pick myself back up after each setback that gets more severe,

So I can live for those moments that I cherish so dear.

The past six years have taught me it’s the little things that make my day,

And I never would’ve survived without a few supportive people, is all I’ll say.

So, for each day that I breathe, walk & talk independently,

And strive to fight for my life goals so desperately.

I’m filled with a gratitude that could make my heart burst.

For no matter how dark my life can get,

I cling to hope & never forget,

My time will come, My body will heal,

Even if right now, my life doesn’t seem real.

So I will keep fighting tirelessly to regain my health,

Knowing deep down that that is my true wealth.

I will continue to share my experience & raise awareness to ensure those suffering do not feel alone,

And know that there’s always someone at the other end of a phone.

So for those suffering relentlessly & buried in grief,

I really hope the next few months bring you some relief.

The past six years of fighting this illness has taught me alot,

Most importantly that kindness, compassion & empathy should never be forgot.

So please count your blessings before it’s too late ,

Even if you feel there’s too much on your plate.

Because your health is something you should never take for granted, that’s for sure,

Trust me, this is from someone who prays everyday for a cure.

#chronicillness #lymedisease

Community Voices

Thank You For Your Support To Help Me Fight Lyme Disease

Words will

never seem adequate for how grateful I am to everyone who supports me in my

battle with Chronic #LymeDisease and multiple co-infections. You have shown me

how much kindness there is in the world. When health insurance did not cover my

medical treatment, you stepped up. You lessened the insurmountable financial

stress on my parents without being asked to. I will never forget the way our

community, family and friends rallied together during one of the hardest, devastating

and scariest times of my life and showed unwavering support. Your kindness and

generosity remind me how blessed I am and how lucky I am. So, this is my thank you

to you all.

I will never

be able to find the words to thank those who fundraise for me to receive

treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease. The pain of

my own illness pales in comparison to the pain of knowing the impact it has on

my family. But you have lessened this pain and burden. Everyone who

decided to step up and start fundraising, you have lessened a burden that was

getting too heavy to carry on our own. You have made the world of difference to

my family and me.

I am grateful to every single person who fundraised for us,

who gave up their time, who gave €1 or €100, who donated prizes, who donated

services, who gave us their help and support, each one of you have impacted my

life. I am in awe of the kindness of strangers who supported the events just

from hearing our story, having never met us. You give me strength. You give me

affirmation to keep fighting. You take away some of the #Anxiety and worry about

the medical bills.

You also gave me the strength to share my story. I’m a very

private person, sharing my story, sharing about my most vulnerable time in my

life hasn’t been easy. But I realise now, that I need to use my voice to create

awareness. If I can help just one person to not go down the road of

misdiagnosis and recognise their symptoms quicker, it’s worth it. If I can educate about prevention

methods, it’s worth it. If I can inspire just one person, it’s worth it. If I

can make one person feel less alone in their battle, it is worth it. You have helped

me to find my voice to create more awareness and educate people about this

disease.

So, thank you for the kindness you have shown me. I am grateful

for every single thoughtful thing you have done for me. For those who dropped

in meals to my Dad and brother when my Mum and sister and I were in Germany

receiving medical treatment for six months. For the texts, emails and phone-calls

of support. For letting us know that we are in your thoughts and prayers. For

the cards in the post that brightened my day and brought a smile to my face.

For lessening the financial burden of all the insurmountable medical expenses

that insurance does not cover. For giving up your time and energy when I know

you all have very busy lives. For organising and showing up to fundraising events,

for supporting us in anyway possible.

So, to each and everyone

who has reached out, who has supported my family and I and who continue to give

up their time and energy, thank you from the bottom of my heart, you will never

fully realise what a positive impact you have had on my life and for that, I am

eternally grateful.

Clodagh Laffey

Thank You to My Parents for Supporting Me Through Lyme Disease

My battle with chronic Lyme disease and multiple co-infections over the past few years has affected my family and my relationships in such a profound way that it pains me to talk about it. I often feel like I do not express my gratitude to the people who support me most in my life and without a doubt that is my parents. Their resilience and belief in my ability to recover is astounding. It cannot be easy for them to sit and watch their daughter struggle emotionally, mentally and physically in a constant battle between recovery and relapse. They don’t wallow in self-pity about the cards they’ve been dealt in life. They have had to deal with watching both their daughters’ lives being taken over by chronic Lyme disease.  The last few years for them has been a series of unfortunate events and yet they keep going. Even when my sister and I had to move to another country to undergo intense medical treatment for six months, my Mum came with us. She gave up her job and moved to a country where we did not speak the language without a second thought. My parents had to be separated with my Dad living at home while my Mum took care of my sister and I in another country and yet never once did they complain, never once did they make us feel like a burden, never once did they consider any option other than being by our side and supporting us no matter what. They continue to deal with the insurmountable stress that comes with having two sick daughters who have to travel to another country for medical treatment. You don’t bat an eyelid when the cupboards in your house have been taken over by my medical supplies. You took it in your stride that your living room now is home to my medical equipment and big oxygen machine. You take me to endless doctor appointments, pick up my prescriptions, cook my specialized food, provide me with medical equipment in my home and with a roof over my head. No matter what, you always put me first. You will cancel your plans if my health takes a turn and stay in with me. You never make me feel guilty when your plans must be cancelled and you stay by my side. There are days where my brain isn’t working as it should or when the insomnia has flared up so I’m tired and irritable and snap at you for no reason. You love me on the days when I am hard to love, when I am angry, sad and depressed for all that this illness has stolen from me. You will support me financially for months when I am too unwell to work and you never make me feel guilty. You sit by my bedside if I get hospitalized. You’ll hold my hand when I’m in immense pain and tears are streaming down my face. You pick me up when I collapse and help me to my room. You bring me the icepacks when my body is on fire. You bring me heat patches when my muscle pain is too much to deal with. You run me baths to help me detox. You bring me meals and water to my room on the bad days when I can’t make it out of bed. You continue to encourage me to reach for my dreams. You continue to remind me that I am more than my illness, that it is not my identity and I am worth so much more. Your selflessness and kindness never cease to amaze me. And I know that when you say you would give or do anything just to make me healthy again, that you would. I know this illness has not only broken my heart into pieces but that it has broken both of your hearts too.  I know the major impact it has had on all areas of your life. So, this is my letter to my mum and dad, I may not always express my enormous gratitude that I feel for you and I am in awe of what you have both sacrificed and done for me. On my worst days when I feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I remind myself to be incredibly grateful that I have both my parents as my personal cheerleaders, always there to help, and it eases my pain that little bit. Thank you for being my mum and dad and, to put it simply, you are both my heroes and I would be lost without you in my life. Having loving and supportive parents is not something I take for granted. Every day you continue to uplift me, comfort me, support me and love me unconditionally. And for that, I am eternally grateful. Getty Image by spukkato

Clodagh Laffey

Lyme Disease: The Reality of Living With a Chronic Illness

I can never quite find the words to describe the reality of living with a chronic illness to a healthy person – the struggle of being in constant limbo between recovery and relapse. But let’s compare it to a broken leg. When you break your leg, overnight you potentially experience a significant loss of independence, mobility, dignity and motivation. You become dependent on someone else, some days you’ll be stuck in bed, some days you probably needed help washing and you could be extremely sad, hurt and angry when you can’t participate in the activities you love or carry out trips you had planned.   Think of the things you miss – you may miss your sport games, your nights out with friends, trips you had planned, the freedom to jump into the car to pop to the shops, traveling plans or working. You begin to feel like a burden as you’re dependent on others. Now think about how your injury has a finish date. You know you’ll only have this cast on for roughly two months, then you can get back to your normal life. Or think about the time you had the worst flu of your life – at least you know you should be OK and recover in a week or two and the symptoms will eventually subside. Imagine if you suddenly woke up one morning and the doctor said this a long-term thing. This is the reality of a chronic illness. It is so unbelievably hard to put into words a way for people to understand the daily struggles of living with a chronic illness. It’s when you’re aware you can do a full 180 from being fine for a few hours to drastically deteriorating in the space of half an hour and knowing you’re about to collapse if you don’t get home and lie down. You operate on a pain level most people wouldn’t get out of bed with. You become an expert in noticing your body signs. When the flare-up of symptoms hit you, they show no mercy; you can barely muster the energy to hold your own head up, you’re nauseous to the point of wanting to vomit, you have a pounding headache from trying to focus and think through your brain fog, you’re dizzy from standing for so long, you’re subtly trying to find a wall to lean against as you can’t support your own body weight anymore and your system has gone into shutdown mode from becoming overwhelmed due to your severe light and noise sensitivity. Most of these symptoms are invisible to the average person. So, I just ask you, please don’t be quick to judge. Because if you look closer there will be pain in their glazed-over eyes, bags under their eyes concealed with makeup that show the exhaustion and endless nights of insomnia, the shifting from foot to foot and side to side to try to relieve some of the pain in their joints and muscles, their inability to follow conversation as their chronic fatigue takes over, essentially smiling through the pain. People ask why we put ourselves through this, knowing the day out or event we attend will most likely result in a worsening of symptoms and we will experience payback. The reason is quite simple: it is because we are still human, we are not our disease, we still want to make memories, we still want to participate in things we love that make us happy, we still want to live our life – living, not just surviving. Every event involves weighing up the pros and cons and the knowledge that you will pay for pushing your body. You constantly do calculations in your head wondering if you take this pain med or this nausea med or another strong cup of coffee, will it mean you can stay and enjoy yourself for another hour? This illness has enlightened me and taught me very important lessons. Everyone needs a gentle reminder that we never know what battle someone is fighting and we never know what it took for them to be here today or even make it out of bed today. This illness has taught me to be less judgmental, to be more compassionate, empathetic and kind and more aware that all illnesses are not visible. Most importantly: never take your own health for granted. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Clodagh Laffey

Why I Don't Want to 'Return' My Chronically Ill Body

Ironically, despite being chronically ill, I am eternally grateful for my body’s resilience. This point may seem counter-intuitive. Why would I be grateful for the body that is essentially not “serving its purpose,” that is “not keeping me healthy,” and causing me so much pain? I see it all over Instagram and Facebook where people want a different body, a different immune system or to “return their faulty body.” But here is another angle. What my body is doing is keeping me alive, keeping me breathing, resiliently fighting hour after hour, day after day, week after week, trying to help me recover from the Borrelia bacteria that painfully invaded every possible part of my body four years ago. Just when I think I can’t fight another second and just want to close my eyes and never wake up, I keep fighting. I pick myself back up and try again. My body is resilient, it keeps breathing and encouraging me not to give up. That it is not my time to go. I have such respect for my body and what it goes through and how it still supports me. There are times I curse the universe, questioning why me, why this burden, crying over all the years of my life I’ve missed and effectively putting my life on hold, dreaming about all I used to do and took for granted, merely surviving -not living. There are times I have wished I could return my body as it is “defective.” But there is a reason. So, I am learning to respect my body for the endless and relentless battles it has gone through, being hit down time and time again. Being bed-bound for two months left me thinking it was the end and wishing I could close my eyes and go to a land of no pain, no insomnia and no relentless exhausting symptoms. But somehow now I look back on that as a distance memory, I’m up and walking again. My body is still fighting against all odds despite the horrific bacteria that has invaded it. So yes, I could be angry and hate my body and view it as a failure, but instead I try to remember to be so grateful for a body that hasn’t given up on me – even though I have given up on it many a time. Mentally and physically my body is still fighting for me. So, I am learning to be kinder and more self-compassionate to myself and my body for all that it is going through. It is not an easy task but cultivating kindness towards oneself and trying not to focus on all the negatives, as tempting as it is. It can be soul-crushing constantly being in limbo between recovery and relapse but either way I will never stop fighting. I’m still here, and there is a reason for that. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 o r text “HOME” to 741-741 . Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .