Now that I have finished the IV protocol, I am being transitioned to the next phase of my treatment, which is a pretty potent oral antibiotic regimen. My doctor says that he has gotten enough of the infection out so that I can be transitioned to the oral-only protocol but that the infection is not to the point where treatment can be stopped. He says I will be taking these for another year to year-and-a-half. He explained that we need to keep whittling away at the bacteria that go into hiding so that they can never build up enough to cause me problems in the future. I only take the antibiotics on the days that the bacteria are actively replicating. Thus, I get 18 days off a month. I will do this for 3 months at a time and then go back to see him after each cycle so he can keep a watch on me.
I have started my new regimen and notice that I feel fairly good during the time that I am not taking the antibiotics but feel fatigued, achy and cloudy on the days that I do take them. Although this is a nuisance, I am grateful for how far I have come as well as for the fact that the antibiotics are helping to clear out the infection.
The overwhelming fatigue where I pretty much spent the whole day in bed in my pajamas is no more. To think that there was a time when taking a shower or styling my hair felt insurmountable seems surreal.
In addition, I remember when I had difficulty going down the stairs because, due to my balance issues, I was afraid I was going to fall forward or at the very least tilt to the back or the side. Now I wake up in the morning and do not have to be focused on this.
I go to bed in the evening and do not worry about whether I am going to sleep through the night. If I do wake up, I do not wake up with the same terrible anxiety or night sweats that I used to get. They happen occasionally but they are nowhere near the intensity.
I also used to have problems with swallowing. I knew I needed to swallow but I could not get my brain to make the connection to the nerves and muscles. Now I drink and eat without thinking about it.
Entering this world of chronic illness and suffering has caused me to get connected with two different Lyme disease organizations—one at the state level and one at the national level. Both host medical conferences for healthcare practitioners. Being involved in this way has given me the opportunity to use my nursing knowledge to enable nursing attendees to receive continuing education credits after the completion of the conferences and to learn the latest information out there.
Going through this difficult health journey and volunteering in this way has allowed my story to be published in local newspapers and a magazine and to be interviewed for a blog talk radio station.
I share this so that you know that this disease does change you but the fruit of that suffering is the ability to stop, look and listen to others’ suffering in a way you would never have been able to do before. There’s nothing like being comforted by someone who’s been there and knows just how hard it is.
Then it causes you to look outward and find the role that best allows you to be part of the fight for better screening, treatment and insurance coverage. You might notice that you will start getting involved with a local Lyme support group or volunteer for a state-level Lyme Association. The more you get educated, the more you will be able to help yourself and be an advocate for others.
God does not waste pain. Hang in there. It’s taken me a LONG time to get to this point. I am not well yet, and I do trust that I will continue to improve past the point that I am at now. But it is nice to be turning the corner. Like I said, it’s been a long time…