I am glad to finally share this story. Kiki lived with lyme disease for over ten years and she shared her recovery story. Read below.
My life began in a loving home, overflowing with health and happiness. But this perfect life came crashing down one day when I was 15 years old. Suddenly and inexplicably, I felt light-headed and nauseous. Whenever I stood or sat up, I felt faint. It was debilitating and persistent. I missed days, weeks, then months of school. The diagnosis? Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).
This means that when I was upright, my heart raced and blood pressure plummeted. My blood pooled in my feet, creating a lack of oxygen to my brain. I had hypovolemia (low blood volume) even with all the extra fluids and electrolytes I consumed. No matter how much slept, I was tired; no matter how tired I was, I could not sleep. The exhaustion, nausea, and anxiety were painful and disabling. The doctors gave me various pills to try and good luck. There was no cause or cure, the doctors said. They said I would possibly “grow out of it” in three years, five years if I did not respond to the medication.
Why did my life turn completely upside-down? Why did I have to suffer this much? Through doctor’s visits and disappointments, I tried to focus on my blessings and look forward to the occasional good day. As I learned to live with the illness, I struggled to attend school. My peers ‘faked sick’ to get out of class, and I ‘faked healthy’ to attend school and attempt to socialize. But, my friends grew up without me, acquiring driver’s licenses, boyfriends, and college degrees. As my symptoms worsened, so did my social isolation.
I developed social anxiety. Every social outing, I felt like vomiting in the parking lot. My jaw clenched up just thinking about speaking to someone. I wanted to cry all the way home. This happened every single time I went out. I remember going to one class at a community college. My mom would drive me there, while I sat in the passenger seat. My nausea grew the closer we got to the college.
I avoided communication as much as possible, sitting in the back of the class with my feet up to prevent the blood pooling. Relief swept over me in the form of tears when class was over. I quickly got in the car, hoping no one would notice that my mom still picked me, a 20 year-old adult, up from school. I was embarrassed of my condition and ashamed of my anxiety and would not tell anyone about it. My blatant awareness of the anxiety’s irrationality had no effect on the anxiety’s intensity. I wished for my old healthy self, socializing with friends and not having a care in the world.
I felt alone. I was like a zombie, with a decaying body and a dying soul. But then, a tiny spark of hope ignited inside of me. I had an overwhelming feeling that I was going to get better! It was scary and exciting. It was like a divine feeling sent from the God of the universe, calling me to be healed! I did not know how or when I would be healed, but I still held onto this hope for a renewed life!
After six years of illness, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease. Finally, an explanation for my symptoms and POTS! I began treatments targeting Lyme and gradually regained some of my health. Antibiotics were ineffective because my infection had gone untreated for so long, but I found help in alternative and natural treatments. One helpful treatment was vitamin and mineral IV therapy to strengthen my immune system. My IVs had saline, vitamin c, vitamin b complex, calcium, magnesium, and glutathione. Other treatments that helped were biofeedback (by HeartMath), a jugular venoplasty, NUCCA chiropractic, and the paleo diet. As my symptoms lessened, things started looking up! It took about two years until I started feeling somewhat better.
Feeling a little better, it was now time to face my fear of social events. I was terrified and excited to make new friends. It took years to re-learn my social skills as I pushed myself to go to the college youth group at my church every week. Overcoming social anxiety and making friends while living with a chronic illness was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I was slowly coming back to life.
But then I experienced setbacks. Lyme is a complicated disease involving co-infections and biofilms. When one symptom went away, a new one raged my body. Digestive issues caused my weight to drop dangerously low. My protruding skeleton produced fears of dying. I did not think I was going to make it, making sure to spend time with my family members. They were overwhelmingly supportive even though they were scared for me.
It is always the darkest just before dawn. Right when all seemed lost, light and healing broke through! By the grace of God, and a little bit of medical marijuana, my health began to transform. Over the next few months, THC helped me gain back my weight, health, and energy! I was like a new person, come back to life: restored and symptom-free! I thank God that this natural medicine was able to heal me completely after 10 years of suffering from a chronic illness.
The chronic illness gave me greater love for others. I learned that a person’s value is not found in achievements, but in humanness. You are worthy of love because you are a human! I feel blessed with a new life of abundant health, joy, and peace! I am convinced that our blessings are not meant for ourselves, instead I believe we are blessed so we can go out and bless others. Helping others is my purpose in life and I could only come to know that through suffering from and overcoming a chronic illness. I am forever changed and chronically healed!
My new life’s mission is to raise awareness, advocacy, and hope for chronic illness disabilities. I feel called to inspire and help others who are facing impossible situations. I created an Instagram account, @chronicallyhealed and a website, chronicallyhealed.com to reach out to others with chronic illnesses. The response has been overwhelming! I receive messages telling me how I have given others hope, and these messages are worth more than gold to me. If I can just help one person, then my entire journey was worth it. It helps me to know that people are rooting for me and want me to succeed as a model, writer, and speaker to bring hope to others!
It is possible to overcome Lyme disease, thrive after brokenness, and bloom from the darkest of places!
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