I’m a firm believer that everything that happens in life has a purpose. One of my favorite lines is, “If it was meant to happen any other way, it would have.” Inasmuch as I believe this, finding the reason for life’s occurrences can be quite the serious challenge. When we first found out last month about the situation in our home and began to put all our sickness pieces together into a puzzle of assorted chemical exposures, I could not for the life of me understand why, after less than a year of wellness, I was stuck being sick again- and sick in as serious a way as Lyme disease, if not more so. It was impossible for me to jump out of victim mentality as the shock began to settle, and, “Why me, why us?” was the main thought in my mind. I mean, really- I spend my life eating clean, organic foods, using natural cleaners, not drinking out of plastic bottles, etc., just so I can get slowly gassed and poisoned in my own home for months on end?
Once we began to try and sort all this out by going to various doctors, setting up treatments, and consulting with a lawyer, I steadfastly grew more depressed. The unfairness of it all was so overwhelming. Our cat- Ace’s baby and love- was gone, my brain is shot, I’ve been in pain all year, Ace has “seasonal allergies” no matter what the season… our list of symptoms is literally pages long, and it’s a lot to digest. The notion that some of my brain damage may be permanent was horrifying news, and the ten hours of neuro-psych testing I did was far from the easy experience it would have been before all this. I continued asking, “Why?” as I worried about ever getting better, instead of listening to everyone who told us how lucky we were to be alive.
It finally dawned on me that the only thing I hadn’t done after recovering from Lyme was document my story, which numerous people had both suggested and requested. When I realized I could do that now, and write a broader story about surviving not just Lyme disease but also carbon monoxide and assorted chemical poisonings, it struck a strong chord in me. This is my path. I am passionate about healthy food and wellness and constructed a business based on the model of feeding people healthy snacks they would be able to eat without even realizing the nutrition benefits of.
I am going to write a book about how to be well, even when you’re not. As soon as I decided this, I began to feel hopeful. While my physical symptoms have yet to lessen at all even though I’m about a dozen sessions into hyperbaric oxygen treatment, this decision lifted a good bit of my depression cloud. I was reminded of “Yo Pal” Hal Elrod, someone I greatly admire. He is an RnR customer who overcame a vehicular accident that technically killed him for a few minutes. Due to his “attitude of gratitude” and strong will, he recovered at an alarming speed. His bones and brain literally healed faster than doctors said was possible because he decided that he was going to get well. Now he is a motivational speaker (and excellent writer) who empowers others to live their lives to the fullest.
Writing a book makes perfect sense given that I have a degree in writing, but is daunting to me because so many parts of my brain feel broken nowadays. I’ve decided to take this on as my summer project, as a reason to get out of the house daily even if I don’t have the memory and learning skills to go back to work anytime soon. Once my neuro-psych report is completed, I’ll find out what treatments are going to be involved to help my mind recover. I do have a feeling that some aspects of the brain damage are going to be deemed untreatable, but I will still be taught how to work with them. As someone who has always been very proud of her intellect, this entire experience has been devastating, and the idea that I may never be as smart as I was before is very hard to stomach. But one important part of life that I learned from Lyme is this: we are never, ever going to be who we used to be again. Thinking, “I want my old life back,” is insane, because no matter whether you’re sick or not, life is change. You’ll never be who you were before, no matter what. I just want to be the best new version of myself I can be. All I can ask of the world is help in becoming that.
To say, “Thank you,” to those who have stood by me- or, more like, propped me up completely- lately feels very trite, but it’s the best I’ve got right now. So thank you, to my family, to my friends, to the hyperbaric technicians who don’t pressurize the chamber too fast because my ears are sensitive, to customers in stores who don’t get freaked out when I stare at blankly at them for long periods of time while trying to remember what I needed from that aisle, and of course to Ace (who also counts in the family section), for continuously insisting that no matter what, we are going to get well. And thank you to the forces that be that I am still alive and here to embark on yet another healing journey.