When I was felled by Lyme, my college roommate Tracey said, “I know you don’t see it this way right now, but your Lyme battle is going to change your life in good ways, too.”
But she’s right. Now that I’m a little better, I see that chronic illness definitely gives you perspective about what’s important.
Sure, I miss out on a lot of life. But what I can do, despite limitations, is somehow sweeter. Exhilarating, even.
Recently I heard someone enumerate the gifts she’s gotten from Lyme. She explained that her family has “renovated our life-style” because of the gift of awareness.
She and her husband and teenagers live differently now, even as she’s regaining her health—and they won’t go back to their previous stressed-out, too busy, frenetic life.
Another person chimed in to say she had a stressful corporate career before Lyme caused her to step away; she’s realized the job wasn’t fulfilling. When she can return to work, she’ll chose a different path. She’s learned to live with less income, and less stress. She much prefers her life now to her life before.
It’s true for me, too. I’m learning to enjoy life in the slow lane, eat better, restore myself —all changes that aren’t not just good for recovering from illness, but changes that enhance quality of life any time. Changes I plan to hold onto for good.
Of course I feel unlucky to be so sick. But I know I’m also lucky to be in treatment that seems to be working, slowly but surely.
I’m pulling for those still so compromised with pain and other symptoms that they can’t get out of bed. I’ve been there and I know just how devastating it feels.
I’m thinking of those who live alone like I do, and hoping they reach out and find the support network that can sustain them.
And I’m stricken for those who could not hang on and passed away from Lyme complications—or became so overwhelmed they took their own lives.
I’m praying that the biggest gifts we need—an end to the controversy in the medical community and unity in finding answers along with research breakthroughs to enhance diagnosis and treatment—is right around the corner.
Meanwhile, during this holiday season I’m grateful for the gifts Lyme has given me.
More than anything else, being so ill has shown me how many true friends and caring family members enrich my life.
It’s also brought so many extraordinary new people my way: my compassionate doctors, so many spirited fellow Lyme patients on Facebook, the awesome individuals I meet through my local support group, the courageous people reading this blog and sharing their experiences.
Lyme has also taught me a few things about myself. Like the fact that I am stronger than I realized. Maybe not physically right now…but I have learned that I possess strengths like mental toughness and humor that will help see me through.
All these gifts don’t come in packages; they’re intangible. May I never take them for granted. And may I get well enough soon to give something back.