I love the changing of seasons, especially when they hit you so unexpectedly. Night before last, fall turned into winter without any warning at all. I awoke to the dim early morning light, and before even looking out the window I could feel the snowy silence enveloping me in its stillness. Slippers on I scurried over to the window, immediately sending out a text to all of my family members, "Look everyone, it snows here!" As I start to boil water for tea, my mind begins to wander into dangerously crafty corners. To encourage this craftiness, I go upstairs to light my favorite candles--that's it! I will make homemade candles and soap today. Maybe even venture out into the snow.
My days didn't used to be like this. It has taken me awhile to feel comfortable with the idea of simplicity. Back in December, 2011, I woke up one morning with a tremor in my right hand. A few days later the tremor showed up in my left hand too. Little did I know at the time, that this was my Lyme telling me to slow down. I wasn't sleeping well or eating well. I had spent the previous months staying up late and going to school early. My body did its best to try and warn me that I should take it easy, but I ignored these signs for months and months--until it had no other choice but to break down.
It had been almost ten years since I had any symptoms of Lyme. Sure the occasional headache would catch me off guard, but nothing debilitating. After a month of trying to cope with my tremors, school and work became almost impossible for me. My life was swamped with doctor's appointments and makeup assignments for all the school I had missed. Needless to say, my stress levels were high. Panic attacks and anxiety became day-to-day battles. I had no idea what I was up against. One thing I knew for certain: there was no way I would get better while trying to keep up with this busy city lifestyle. So I took some time off work, barely finishing my winter term at school.
After many months, the search for an answer was over. I had found a doctor who believed me, who didn't give me that predictable look of skepticism. Instead, this doctor agreed to treat me for Lyme. I considered myself lucky. For some people, finding treatment can take up to a year. Especially for those suffering from chronic Lyme, it can be almost impossible to find a doctor who believes chronic Lyme is a real condition. Lyme must be diagnosed within the first couple months; if it is left untreated, it can turn into a life-long battle. For over a year and a half following the treatment, I remained symptom free. I even managed to keep my stress levels down enough to start a life again. I worked, and kept myself busy. Yet I was still ignoring the fact that I wasn't really happy where I was. In the back of my mind, I had a feeling that if I didn't get out soon, my Lyme would make an unwanted appearance again. For months I was scared and anxious about what leaving would require of me: quitting my job, moving out of my apartment, and breaking up with my boyfriend. Yikes. Instead of drawing this out over a couple months, I decided to set myself a time frame. Within three weeks I would be bound for Bend, Oregon. A place where I hoped I could finally come to terms with a lifestyle of joyous simplicity. Rather than cramming my days full with work and pointless distractions, I could take the time to actually get to know myself.
Boy did I get to know myself, and quickly. It didn't take long for me to settle into the lifestyle that is Bend. After my daily job hunt, I would find myself bouldering at the gym. After a couple of weeks I finally had built up enough confidence and strength to boulder outside. It was a beautiful sunny May day. I had tried this route maybe four or five times earlier that day--I was sure I had it this time. I reached my right hand up to the top; struggling to hold on my fingers slipped and I dropped about seven feet to the ground. I landed on the inside of my foot and heard a loud pop. Ouch. you can't say I didn't throw myself into the Bend life style; however, I could have probably done it more gracefully. Six weeks in a cast, then a boot through August. A set back on almost every front. I was not mentally or physically prepared to deal with an injury. The unwanted stress crept its way into my life once again, leaving wide open doors for my Lyme to leap in at any point.
I have faced the fact that I am living, and will forever be living with chronic Lyme disease. My recent flare up of Lyme, after the stresses of moving to Bend, took a toll on my body. That is something that is very apparent. The only difference is this time, it has not taken control of me. I still have days where I feel like I can't get out of bed, or days where practically everything seems impossible. Then I remind myself that there are tiny little spirochetes wreaking havoc in my brain. Not to mention I am taking over three different kinds of medication daily, making it easy for my moods to sway up and down. I remind myself that it will pass, and in turn I will have days where I feel amazing. Days where the snow is glistening, and the silence is soothing. On those days, I remember that it's the simplest things that bring out the very best in you.