Will To Live

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A Story Written By, Matt Pickard

Each story told brings to light a new perspective, and with this new perspective, we not only gain better understanding of those around us, but the way in which we approach hardship, obstacles, and a disease both in and out of our control. And just like that, armed and ready, we find ourselves knee deep in what feels like quick sand, grappling at the idea that the ground below us is not steady or forgiving.

And just like Matt, we continue the fight. We continue to lean into one another while pushing forward, divvying up the weight and realizing that this disease is a little less scary when faced together. When looked at through the eyes of all that is right rather than wrong. All that we have, rather than what we don't. 

And just like this tree, those flowers, and the silent creatures scurrying between fallen branches and brush, making a home for themselves in an often unforgiving environment, I too have the will to live, and I have a feeling you do as well. 

Without further ado, this is Matt's story...

Sometimes it feels like Lyme disease is an endless chore. I clean my room up and come back again to find it dirty. The frustration lies in the simple fact that I have no control over it. My room may be clean for three or four days in a row, a success in my eyes, but then suddenly I walk in and it's a mess. It seems each time without fail I wonder why and how. Sometimes I like to pretend that the mess will go away if I just shut my eyes, take a deep breath and click my heels together. The heartbreak for me is that I take great care in keeping my room orderly. In the years that I have spent cleaning, I've learned a few tricks. Sometimes if I perform a little Feng Shui, the mess decides to take a vacation for a week or two. I never think to myself, oh how I miss that mess, won't you please come back.

Instead I rejoice and nearly forget that the mess was once there. I spend less time in my room and I find the strength to begin the process of getting back to ordinary life.

I never expected to merely want the simple luxury of being able to say, "I can work on those days," or "yeah, let's meet up for brunch on Saturday." Living with Lyme disease has made it difficult to make plans. At 35, I feel like a hypochondriac, laden with apathy. I have found that desire is one thing and reality is another.

Over time, the chores have become easier but the unpredictable nature of the mess is still an emotional process. I get frustrated and tired of keeping up with it. It is in these moments I let my guard down and put aside my cleanliness for a little bit of life's dirt. I indulge in the flavors of dark chocolate and fruit, these have become my vices. Though eating sugar is like going to Vegas and gambling with my health at the Black Jack table. With each bite I hope I don't bust. It's a confusing game because sometimes the dealer wins the hand but leaves my bet on the table. It's as if the dealer is saying to me, "I'm feeling generous today...go ahead and try your luck again." I imagine myself sitting there across from the dealer, my head cocked to the side in a distrusting manner, and suddenly I'm a gunslinger in a showdown pitted against the ominous, indisputable Borrelia burgdorferi. The ammunition loaded in my Colt 45 currently contains supplements and herbal tinctures. With my nerves on edge from a risky bet, I wonder who's going to draw first. I worry I won't be quick enough on the draw and my contender will shoot me down, at best leaving me wounded, hopefully not dead. 

After years of this cat and mouse game, death has become a fixture in my mind.

Personified, he stands over me with a menacing grin holding the customary scythe in his grip. I often wonder, maybe I'll get a second chance, a renewal on life. Or maybe if I just play dead, death won't notice me and drag me away from the things I want to accomplish. Nobody I know wants to cash in their chips early. We all want to keep gambling. We all hope and dream of good health and longevity. But as with any struggle, when we are faced with adversity, we often learn about ourselves through those hardships. I have learned to be more honest and real with myself, and allow myself to feel things and think things that I once avoided. 

I once thought I was invincible, like a superhero born into a life of immortality. Bullets would ricochet off me, disease couldn't penetrate my superior immunity. I was in a sense, untouchable.

For quite some time, I went unscathed after the bite. I was young, carefree and had no concept of what Lyme disease was. Even after the initial intrusion I maintained good enough health to hold down a job, celebrate with friends on the weekends and still play hard. I had no idea that Borrelia burgdorferi would be my kryptonite and would find its way through my defenses to slowly forge an army against me. After the first wave of resistance my forces held their ground and with little casualties I went about my life ignoring the subtle aches and pains. Though, like secret agents on the inside, they slowly collected intel and strategically planned a full-scale attack. They dressed like my colleagues and took over limbs of my government, infecting areas of my body that controlled and managed the whole system. Once inside the command center, they could fuse themselves into the very building blocks and become permanently part of my organism. 

I sometimes think of myself as a host, a night club owner and my guests are throwing an elaborate party at my expense.

They seem to have no respect for me, so I've had to be an asshole and say, "Get the fuck out!" The most stubborn of them argue and say, "We were here long before you. What do you mean get out?" I know what they mean and they have a valid point. Bacteria are the building blocks of life as we know it. How can I be so selfish, I wonder? Maybe because I was taught, this is mine. Well, I've come to the conclusion that this isn't mine and like a Buddhist monk, nothing belongs to me and the very essence of me is in question. Even if I don't succeed from this disease, the infliction of it has given me new insight and coping mechanisms for life. Though Lyme disease was once an intrusive foreigner that I felt disregard for, it has taught me that the will to live is inside of every organism. 

It's never easy to ask for money, but it is easier when you're doing on behalf of someone so deserving and desperately in need, and Matt is one of those people. So please, every little counts! Let's help Matt finally kick this thing...

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