My first husband and I lived on old farmland in the Midwest with deer on our property. We enjoyed spending time outside with our dogs and cooking on the grill. During the summer, I suddenly woke up one morning with incredible neck and back pain, feeling flu-like. At age 26, I had never heard of Lyme disease which is contracted through a tick bite. Lyme has become a highly controversial disease. Unless caught early, it’s a long-term, incapacitating disease. Now I describe it as being tortured in a lingering way, like a prisoner of war, but a prisoner who is not allowed to truly come home.
I went from an active woman pursuing a career to a lethargic person with mysterious flu-like symptoms. I searched for answers but doctors couldn’t find any. And this is the hardest part because a Lyme sufferer is dying for people – even doctors- to truly understand what is now called the “Invisible Disease.” As Lyme disease progressed, I had to move home to Texas where I was blessed with a wonderful support system while consulting doctors.
Life as I knew it, slowly faded into the background. I miss dancing, I miss working, and I miss a social life. I miss doing things that make a tiny difference as the friend, the wife, the organizer, the leader, and the support. Now every day is about mere survival. I can do very limited things, purely by the grace of the LORD Almighty. Without Him, I don’t know how I could do anything. I find great comfort in the special ways God shows up through this difficult battle.
For instance, several years ago, I felt sick all day and in the evening I passed out on my bathroom floor. Lying in a pool of blood, I thought I could be dying. When my husband came running, he went into shock as he also wondered if I would make it. Several ambulances came with six EMT’s around me trying to figure out the source of the bleeding. We arrived at the ER and the hospital admitted me in the wee hours.
My first nurse in intensive care was Hope and her name struck me. She cared for me while helping me into bed, taking my vitals, and eventually giving me medication. In the morning, Faith, a young, enthusiastic nurse walked through the door. When she said her name, I smiled as it hit my spirit. I instantly knew she was a believer. I even asked her how she got the name Faith and can’t recall her story.
For years, I had a daily Excedrin habit for my constant pain which ate a huge hole in my stomach. The next morning, my GI doctor reported my condition as life-threatening. He performed a scope and administered two blood transfusions since I had lost about 6 pints of blood. I spent three days in hospital. They pushed to release me before I fully recovered. More hurt from the fall than the ulcer, I tried to explain but the insurance company interfered. By end of the week, I had to be admitted again.
At this point I really looked like death, pale as a ghost with bruises under my eyes from the anemia. I still had blood in my body from internal bleeding but not in my bloodstream where it’s needed to be. To my surprise, my next nurse introduced herself as Joy. That’s when it truly hit me: God is speaking in this situation through the names of the caregivers. I felt as if God said He’s sending Hope, Faith and eventually Joy! He confirmed these three gifts are my deepest needs no matter what I am facing.
Being so weak and drained, joy was not present within me. They gave me fluids through an IV again but I continued to feel awful. I sent an email to my Sunday school class prayer team. During the afternoon, my good friend, Donna, sent out a detailed emergency prayer request to the team. Later, I discovered that at the exact time she sent the request, I literally felt my body receive new, fresh strength. I knew it wasn’t simply the IV kicking in; it was the power of GOD supernaturally flooding my body in that hospital bed. I was released the next day. A year later, it was confirmed the ulcer was gone!
As the years progress I now have late-stage Lyme disease, deeply entrenched in every tissue and my central nervous system. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came so to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). My key to survival is clinging to God; I hold onto to His promises while living in the light of eternity. Sometimes the healing comes on this earth and sometimes the healing comes in Heaven. Either way, my body will be fully healed, whole and complete and I will dance again in a brand new body the minute I see Jesus in Heaven!
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