My name is Patrick Plum, and I have chronic Lyme disease. You can’t see it on the outside and most people can’t tell unless they look closely. I, however, have not had a moment where I didn’t feel a symptom for over 6 years. Here is my story after 4 years with Lyme Disease:
I awaken to an airplane flying overhead. My head throbs, my eyes burn. My joints ache, my muscles are stiff. I have cotton mouth.
No, I’m not hungover.
In fact, I don’t even drink anymore.
It’s Wednesday. I work as a pilot, so I usually would’ve been waking in a hotel room in either Fort Lauderdale or Portland, depending on the time of year. I’m at neither place, I’m home.
As I sit up, the dizziness and nausea are almost overwhelming.
“Luckily, I just called in sick to work.”
But I didn’t “just” call in sick to work.
I haven’t flown in 3 years.
I turn over to look at my phone, the light of it powering on pierces through my eyes like an ice pick. Usually Wednesdays I’d return back from being gone for 4 days and I’d go out to dinner with friends. As I look at my phone, no missed phone calls, no texts.
Then I realize…..I don’t have those friends anymore.
You see, I’ve been very sick for over 4 years. Everyone has gotten used to it,
Everyone except me.
People don’t know what to say, so they don’t say anything, but their silence is deafening. Then again, I don’t know what to say either.
How did this happen?
How did a person once full of life turn into only existence?
Prior to this, I was young, carefree, muscular, healthy….happy.
You see, I don’t have an illness that mainstream medicine understands. Nor is it an illness that regular people know anything about or even pronounce correctly, but it’s far from rare.
I have Lyme disease.
Most people don’t even care to research it or understand, even though all that takes nowadays is a quick Google search in between Facebooking and snap chats.
Yet, my body doesn’t care about the politics involved.
It’s as real as it gets to me.
“Well at least it’s not (insert name of what a person perceives is a more horrible illness, but is understood by mainstream medicine)”
This statement is not comforting.
I have an incurable illness that most doctors don’t care to research, nor do they think is a problem.
“At least you won’t die!”
I get this one a lot.
Actually, I could. People do every day. Friends of mine. Supporters. People I start to consider family.
Don’t tell a suffering person that death is worse, suicide leads to causes of death from Lyme disease. Followed closely by heart and brain complications.
Lyme disease is as serious as a heart attack, literally.
I didn’t choose this. It wasn’t by some bad diet or lack of self-care, or laziness. In fact, I don’t remember a tick bite. Nor did I spend my life in the woods. I, like most with Lyme disease, woke up one day to watch my health helplessly slip away. All while doctors shrugged their shoulders, some even insinuated mental health problems or attention seeking. All that I wanted was my health back. That’s still all I want.
This isn’t uncommon either.
Over 350,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed every year in the United States alone. Yet, it’s treated like a “rare disease” that’s difficult to get and easy to diagnose.
It is exactly the opposite.
The average Lyme disease patient spends $50,000 a year in uncovered treatment expenses in the hope of regaining some sort of normalcy to their life. Many lose their homes, their jobs, and declare bankruptcy. And yes, most have good insurance. However, that doesn’t matter when you have a disease denied to exist by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Most victims don’t remember a tick bite, or the “bullseye” rash that many physicians rely on to diagnose. Less than half get a positive test. No test exists to tell doctors that your body has cleared the infections.
Lyme disease has been found in all 50 states in the United States and on every continent except Antarctica. Ticks are everywhere. Your front yard even. Some are smaller than the dot you can make with a ballpoint pen. It’s only a matter of time.
Could you be next?
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Photo by Octavian Rosca on Unsplash
One Comment Add yours
Thanks for that story! Ridiculous how little awareness there is of Lyme disease.