“You want to hear God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” Welp, the big guy must be chuckling up there. As I approach my birthday, I’ve been reflecting on my life over the past year. Never in my wildest nightmares could I have imagined what life had in store for me, or how things would have unfolded. Through all of this madness, somehow I’m still smiling (most of the time). A good friend recently told me that since 28 sucked so much, I get a re-do, and I couldn’t agree more. I guess I’ll see you next year, 29. I’m taking a mulligan for 28!
Although I was bedridden for the better part of the year (and that alone almost destroyed me), the Lyme attacked my body and mind in pretty much every way imaginable, but I did not lose hope. Through the toughest times, one of the things that kept me going was thinking of my client’s son and fellow Lymie. I haven’t even told him how much I admire him- his strength, courage, and resilience has inspired me and has helped me through the darkest and most indescribably difficult times. If he could keep fighting, I knew I could, too- I had to.
The rapid decline of my health began after having oral surgery last year, for which I needed a bone graft. I had no idea how much that seemingly minor procedure would change my life. I had unknowingly been bitten by a tick years earlier, but my body was able to fight the Lyme disease (at least so that I could still function) until after my surgery. That’s when everything started falling apart. The Lyme had already spread throughout my body and was like a ticking time bomb (no pun intended). Anything traumatic at any point (surgery, the death of a loved one, etc.) would have kicked the Lyme into full gear (which is exactly what happened). It was bound to happen sooner or later.
All of this has sucked a lot, but I wouldn’t consider it to be completely negative. I have learned and grown so much, and I now have a profound appreciation for life and every little good thing about it. I love my family and friends more than anything in this world, and will be forever indebted to them for their love, kindness, and support. I hope I am someday in the position to return the favor for all they have done to help me, but if not, you can bet your ass I’ll be paying it forward. That’s the main reason I started this blog- I want to help others who have Lyme (and many do, but just don’t know it yet), educate people about this rapidly growing disease, and hopefully help in prevention and early detection.
There are so many things I once took for granted, but never will again. One of those things was my health- something many young people take for granted. We think we’re invincible and that nothing bad will ever happen to us…but it does happen. Life is unpredictable and can be turned upside down or even lost in the blink of an eye. Never forget that.
Now, minutes, or dare I say hours, or even days without pain or symptoms are like a beautiful dream. I cherish every second. The bad days have made the good ones so much greater. I also see beauty in everything…I’ve always loved taking pictures, but there are so many things in life I never took the time to notice. I was too busy caught up in the day-to-day nonsense of life, worrying about trivial things.
Well, life is way too short and way too fragile to do anything but love it, no matter what it throws your way. Love everyone- even the people who have hurt you and are no longer in your life, for they at least taught you something. In my case, this experience has shown me how blessed I am to have such an incredible support system and be so loved. And as much as it has hurt, I also consider it a blessing to have found myself in a situation that forced people to reveal their true colors.
My client told me on the day I was diagnosed with Lyme that I would lose friends and loved ones, but I would find out who the true ones were, and she was right. Luckily, I haven’t lost many, which really speaks to the character of those I have chosen to surround myself with and have been fortunate enough to have in my life. There have also been people I never expected to be there for me the way they have been- people who have bent over backwards to try to make my struggle a little easier. Lots of love to all of you- you know who you are! Life is tough, and if you’re going to be a coward and run away when things get difficult, or not even have the decency to wish me well, I’m happy to know that now. At least I know I’m sharing each precious second of my life with the people who truly deserve it- the people who love me and will be there for me, as I will for them.
I have seen so many things over the past year: true joy and true misery, true strength and true cowardice, true generosity and true selfishness, true empathy and true apathy…and emotions I can’t even begin to describe. Most importantly, I have learned so many priceless lessons about life and love. Life isn’t easy and it sure as hell isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people all the time, and most of it is out of our control. What we can control is our attitude, how much we love and care for others, and whether we chose to let our trials and tribulations destroy us…or if we can somehow find the strength to make something positive out of the negatives, find purpose and meaning through them, and make the world a better place as a result.
They say you are lucky if you have five true friends in life; through all of this, I have found I have many more than five, so in spite of all the recent bad luck, I believe I am very, very lucky. I am loved, I am healing, and I am hopeful about the future, so, here’s to a fantastic 28!