By Marjorie Tietjen
My life had never been particularly difficult. In fact, I often felt guilty that others appeared to be struggling so, while for the most part, I seemed to sail smoothly along. Of course I had my little ups and downs but never really experienced the tragic in life.
About 17 years ago, as I was driving to work one day, I vividly remember a conversation I had with God. Dear God, I said, I am truly grateful for all the good in my life but I feel as if I am spiritually stagnant, not growing, learning and helping others the way I feel I should be. So...if I need an experience to help me evolve and grow, please....just don't make it too difficult to bear. Looking back, I can't believe I was saying this! Little did I know what I was about to experience.
As the year progressed, I gradually began to acquire odd unexplainable symptoms, such as tingling and numbness in various parts of my body, lower back pain, headaches, stiff and painful finger joints and fluctuating anxiety.� I remember visiting our general practitioner for tingling and numbness in my arms and hands. Without testing of any sort I was handed valium. Of course, the valium did not help.
During this time I was working in the cafeteria where my small children attended school. This worked out well as I had the same schedule as my children. �When school let out for the summer that year, we looked forward to our traditional activities....camping and boating. �I will never forget the camping trip where my life was changed forever.� One morning I woke up in our camper and felt extremely ill. �It seemed as if I had the flu but the symptoms were in some ways atypical. I was very weakened and sick but yet I could not sleep. What was the most unbearable to me however, was the free floating anxiety or panic....for no discernable reason. �I would find myself pacing the floor, desperately trying to get away from it. I remember saying to myself that I would not wish this experience on anyone...not even my worst enemy.
In the weeks and months to follow, I would plead with my dear family, who was so supportive and understanding (even though they couldn't really understand), to just put me away in a mental institution because I felt as if I was losing my mind and I did not want to be a burden. I made an appointment with our family doctor and was given three weeks of antibiotics...just to be sure.....in case I had Lyme Disease. This was around 1989. They did not test me for Lyme at this point. I was told that it would be too early to show accurate results. It was assumed that if I did have Lyme that it must be from a recent bite. However, I feel the illness had been simmering in my body for quite some time.
The treatment did not seem to touch my symptoms at all and in fact, I felt worse. The panic/anxiety became so intense that I was prescribed tranquilizers.
For several months, when I was at my lowest point, I was unable to care for myself or my children so we temporarily moved in with my husband's parents while my husband stayed at our home to continue working. Then the doctor decided that depression must be my problem so he prescribed antidepressants. He informed me that if needed, I could take up to three at a time. That night I did end up taking three pills because they didn't seem to be working and in fact ended up making the situation worse. I woke up in the early morning in a state of fear and with the thought that I needed help. As I went to the top of the stairs to call for assistance, I fainted and fell down the stairs. My seven year old son called the ambulance which took me to the hospital. At the hospital the doctors performed several tests, including a CAT SCAN of the head. When the doctor found nothing obviously wrong with me, I was asked what I liked to do in my spare time. I told him I enjoyed boating with my husband. His only suggestion, before he sent me home, was to take more rides on the boat with my husband and that this would most likely make me feel better. When summer came to a close, it was time to return to work at the school. I was barely able to function but wanted to press on for fear that if I gave up and quit that my life would be over. At least this way, I thought I could keep up some sort of normalcy. My coworkers were not very understanding.....to say the least. At times, I was so lightheaded and weak that I would immediately have to lie down on the cement floor in the stockroom to get the blood flow back to my head. With me, it wasn't a matter of sleepiness but a simple inability to stay upright for very long. The women I worked with would say to me...."well , we get tired too sometimes you know, but we don't have to lie down!"
Time went by, as I struggled every day to function, and I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Even though there was no cure, it felt good to have some diagnoses besides depression. I knew something was seriously wrong with me and that it wasn't just "all in my head". Actually, most of it was in my head, but in an organic way...not psychologically. Every couple of weeks a strange new neurological symptom would add itself to the others already in my repertoire. One of the most difficult parts was that most people just did not understand. How can anyone be so sick for so long while the doctors can't find any concrete cause? I can't blame them really. One has to have had this disease to appreciate the full implications of its diabolical fluctuating nature. Because I didn't want people to feel that I was lazy or mentally ill, I set out to prove that I was really and truly organically sick. This drive led me to begin researching the vague diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I would bring all my research to my doctors, hoping desperately that they would take an interest. My family doctor was very supportive but all the specialists I was sent to told me to accept my diagnosis, that I was depressed and why was I doing all this researching? The doctors would tell me that diabetics for instance...they accept their disease and get on with their life so why couldn't I do the same. My neurologist told me that I should stop all the researching because I wouldn't want her to get the wrong idea and that other doctors would also get the wrong idea about me. She was insinuating that I was crazy. I went home that day in tears. No one who is sick should have to be treated this way. Many patients with vague diagnoses , such as CFS and Fibromyalgia, often express the idea that they almost wished they had cancer so they would be taken seriously. Some have even expressed the thought that at least with cancer, many die and get it over with.
After 8 years of having "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome", my research led me to Lyme Disease. I noticed the symptoms of CFS and Lyme were extremely similar and decided I wanted to check this out. I made an appointment with a Lyme literate doctor and began my still ongoing recovery. I was tested for Lyme Disease by this doctor but the results were negative. However, I was treated anyway based on my history, symptoms and the fact that I lived in a very endemic area. At first my symptoms became worse, as I was warned. I was told that this was a good sign and meant that the antibiotics were hitting the target. I was on a high dose of oral doxycycline and it took four months before I even began to see any improvement and then finally, little by little, some of my symptoms began to fade away. It was a very slow process with many setbacks and flares....but each month these cycles of flares would be reduced in severity. I learned that the setbacks and cycles were almost always temporary. I would often tell myself not to worry when an old scary symptom would reappear. Usually in three to four days the particular symptom would disappear and another one would take its place. Again, in my experience, each month the symptom cycles were less and less severe.
After 4 months of antibiotic treatment, I was retested and was now positive. The explanation I was given for this, which makes sense to me.....is that those who are the sickest, most likely have the heaviest load of the Lyme bacteria. Many times all of one's antibodies are tied up to these bacteria in immune complexes. When the bacteria begins to be killed off, this frees up some of the antibodies which can now be measured. So...in other words....it is often those who are the sickest and chronically ill who test negative for Lyme Disease when using antibody testing.
Two years ago I had to switch to another doctor who specialized in Lyme Disease. I was beginning to slip backwards because of breaks in treatment. I had never really been on consistent long term treatment. This new doctor had me tested with the Bowen test and I tested positive for Lyme and Babesia. Now that I am finally being treated consistently for the Lyme and the first time for Babesia, I feel as though I have my life back.
During those many years in limbo, I felt as if I had lost my connection to God. Lyme Disease had pretty severely affected by brain and nervous system which made it difficult even to think....never mind to experience spiritual feelings. I couldn't understand why I would have to go through a trial or experience which would make it so difficult to feel God's presence.
As my thinking became clearer with treatment, my feelings of spirituality gradually began to reappear. I spent more and more time reading inspirational books. I wasn't trying to be healed nor was I asking or seeking anything else material or specific. I just wanted to feel and be aware of the presence of Spirit or God. I wanted the joy and love and goodness I was receiving from God to flow through me and envelope those around me. As I focused in this way, I felt as if I have emerged from an egg into a new world of excitement, happiness, joy and love. So many wonderful people have crossed paths with me and for this I will be eternally grateful.
Intuition seems to have increased, synchronicity abounds and everyone I come into contact with is trying to serve humanity in their own special way. I have improved a great deal and seem to have acquired new abilities that I had never even dreamed of. It's like watching a play unfold....a good play. I now feel as if I have a purpose in life. The thought of growing older and losing vitality now never crosses my mind. I am finding just the opposite to be true. Not that I will now be free of all problems nor am I totally cured but this illness has brought me to a point where I appreciate life and those around me...so much more.
While I personally don't believe that God sends evil or trials to us, I think our experiences reflect the degree to which we try to abide in Spirit. We all have a desire to know God and to feel God's love so perhaps when we are focused on the wrong things something inside us creates circumstances to head us in the right direction. So, despite the fact that I still have memory and organizational problems and the world seems to be falling apart around us, I am experiencing a more consistent joy and assurance that in reality God is on the scene but that our real need is to open our awareness to this fact.
Lyme can be a devastating disease but there is always hope....especially when we look for it in the right places. I am sensing...along with a growing number of others, that despite what the media is telling us....more and more people are coming together in the spirit of love and cooperation. This spirit of love is the only thing that will truly heal our lives and the world. While, as many of you know, I feel we need to expose the corruption which is seemingly taking place all around us.... it musn't be with a sense of hate, fear or revenge.
I can actually say, even though the Lyme journey has been a very difficult struggle, that if I could, I wouldn't want to change a thing. I feel that the Lyme experience has brought me to a whole new place....one of wonder and amazement.