As I watched Avril Lavigne share her story on Good Morning America last week, I couldn't help but cry along with her. As millions of Americans watched her break down in tears, I'm sure many of them thought, "Awww, how awful this must have been for her." Or maybe they were more negative and thought, "Why on earth is she crying when she is all better?" For me, I understood those tears. Those were the tears of someone who knows the pain and torment of Lyme Disease. Unless you have been in that helpless state, where you have absolutely no control over your health, no control over your diagnosis, and no control over your treatment, you could not possibly understand those tears. Those were the tears of someone who knows the secret and until you find someone who believes you, those are the tears of pain. This is Avril's story. This is my story. This is almost every undiagnosed and misdiagnosed Lyme Disease story that I know.
This may be your story too, and if it is, than we are members of the same family. We are now brothers and sisters. We are also classmates who have been schooled by a disease. We have learned what it means to suffer in silence. We have learned that the health care system is broken. We have learned that we must become our own advocates or we must find someone who cares enough to fight for us. We have learned that we are stronger in community. Most alarmingly, we have learned that what we previously believed, that doctors had all of the answers and that they were always looking out for our best interests, was false. Finally, we have learned that friends abandon you when you are sick because they grow weary of hearing the same story day after day– "No, I do not feel better, but thanks for asking."
The truth is, Avril's story is my story. The truth is, I am getting better too. One day at a time. One moment at a time, my strength is returning and yours will too. The truth is, we need each other. We need to encourage each other, just like Avril has chosen to do by using her platform to speak out for us and I just wanted to take the time to say, "Thank you Avril!"
Becca Brinkmann, PhD, writes about her experiences with Lyme disease and how she found hope through the storm of illness. She created hopetohealth.com to provide resources and information on Lyme treatment and support. She recently published a book for her son with congenital Lyme, called My Wish. She lives with her family in Western Pennsylvania. Visit hopetohealth for more information. Subscribe to the blog below!