My Lyme Story Part II: When All Hell Broke Loose
How do you pinpoint when you first became ill? For me, I know when I crashed. It was the Spring of 2013 and I crashed hard. But there were signs many years beforehand. If I would have known or understood these signs, I probably could have avoided this crash, but I am thankful that I was diagnosed quickly after my immune system officially "gave-up"on me. Ugh! What a journey this has been. If you are feeling desperate and need some answers, please grab onto hope. Here's my story...
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A Summer Flu
Crushing fatigue. That's how I felt in the spring of 2012. I thought that I caught some kind of flu, but I had no fever. Each day, I would get up with my kids, make them breakfast, turn on a children's TV program, and lie on the couch–all day, every day, for four weeks. Slowly, I recovered, but I felt weak and I knew that something in my body wasn't right. I was also experiencing extreme kidney pain with bouts of having to pee around the clock. This symptom would come and go, but the kidney pain remained. I had kidney stones in the past, so I switched over to purified water with lemon. This seemed to help and things improved.
I decided that maybe I just needed to exercise, so I joined a gym, but had difficulty with the simplest classes. So, I did what any busy mother of two toddlers and a teenage daughter would do, I upped my daily coffee intake and just kept pushing myself. That was my answer. I added a little b-12 and thought, well, I guess I am just stressed out. I began reading a little about adrenal fatigue, but I didn't take things too seriously. I mean, who has time for a health crisis anyway? Then, I began to experience other strange symptoms like crazy panic attacks that would hit me out of nowhere, triggered by nothing. A few times I ended up in the ER for possible heart attack symptoms. One was so bad that they kept me for three days of extensive heart tests, but everything was normal.
Next, came the intruding thoughts. I was having weird, intrusive thoughts that were out of the ordinary for me. I kept pushing them aside. And even though my husband thought that my staying up until 3 am was definitely not normal, I thought my behavior was perfectly okay. I didn't have a sleep issue, I was sick and didn't know it. What was happening to me at night is difficult to describe, but I would feel a dark fear creep up on me around 11PM. It was so disturbing that I would turn the TV on to tune out the fear and stay up until I was so exhausted that I would crash on the couch. This went on for over a year before I was diagnosed. I even tried a "life coach" to help me out of the funk that I was in, and although it helped me, it did not fix the problem, for the problem was way deeper and complex than just "I need to re-focus my life, eat healthier, and get more sleep" kind of fix.
Another weird symptom was my lack of emotional connection with my family. I seemed to have withdrawn emotionally from everyone around me. Sure, I took care of my kids. I gave them loving kisses and hugs, but I really wasn't as emotionally there as I was before. It was as if a part of me had died, and what was left was this shell of a person, running on fumes, trying to make it through another day.
A house of Sick
The winter of 2012/2013 was an interesting time. I had this unfounded fear of getting the flu or a cold. It was such an intense fear, that I didn't go out and I rarely took the kids out because I didn't want them to catch anything. I think somehow my subconscious knew that my immune system was frail, and one tiny illness could send the whole body into crisis. I made sure that my daughter used hand sanitizer before and after every class at school and I was a fanatic about hand-washing. Finally, in February, my family and I decided that we needed to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. We live in Western PA and the winters can be torturously long. We went to the mall and on the way, we picked up my daughter's boyfriend. When he got into the car, he didn't look well. He was pale and sweaty. He had a hacking cough and I later discovered, he had a FEVER! Ugh! I wanted to kick him out of the car, but I told myself that I was being irrational. We had a fun time that day. The boys played in the mall playground. My daughter shopped for clothes and we had a nice dinner together. I was feeling better than I had in a long time, and I really felt like I was turning a corner for the better.
Three days later, the flu hit. I was the first one down, followed by each member of my family. By day three, everyone else was recovering, but me. I had a fever that spiked to 102, my head was pounding, my sinuses were completely clogged, and it was as if some force was shoving tennis balls behind my eyes. I was a little tired as I tried to nurse myself back to health.
Now it was the weekend and things weren't improving. I thought, "hey, I'll just visit the walk-in clinic and get a round of antibiotics to knock this thing out." I wasn't big on taking antibiotics, but in this case, I just wanted to get better. I never had an issue with antibiotics in the past. Typically, I would feel better within a few days of taking them. The doctor at the clinic agreed that I had a sinus infection and prescribed a round of amoxicillin for 10 days. This is where the story takes a dark turn for the worse...