Regardless of my health crisis, life had to move on. Our household which normally exuded turbulent clatter, suddenly faded to an eerie silence. No longer were my high-strung children being a nuisance. Each day their affection toward me increased; it simply broke my heart every time I wiped a budding tear from their eyes. In their young minds, I was slowly dying and it was very difficult to make them understand my suffering.
A picture that hubby captured of me in my darkest moments. (Not sure what his intentions were at the time)
At this time, I sank into a grave depression which forced me to slowly sever all ties with loved ones near and far. I soon forgot about the pleasures of socializing within my community and resorted to keeping a low profile, making myself available to my family exclusively. Though my physical pain was unbearable some days, it was the detachment from friends and relatives that affected me the most.
Now that all my options had failed, I figured things were only going to get worse if I didn't take my health into my own hands. Traditional doctors have left their mark on me and I vowed to never set foot into an MD's office ever again. Instead, I tried to connect with somebody who might have overcome a life-threatening illness with alternative medicine. I became aware of one friend in particular who had recently recovered from an infectious disease with the help of a naturopathic doctor.
At that time, my awareness of what a naturopath did was very limited. I learned that they look at the entire body to find the underlying causes that contribute to many diseases. Being in a debilitated state of health, I had little to hold on to, but I proceeded to call the first naturopath listed in the phone book.
The next day - still feeling hesitant - I awaited my turn in the office while a thousand doubts crossed my mind: What can she possibly find that others couldn't? What if I was to be sent home again with no direction? Aren't these doctor's full of quackery? The medical assistant could sense what I was thinking and walked over to me. I won't forget her convincing words: "Hang in there - you're in the hands of the best doctor in town. She's very thorough and doesn't miss a thing."
It sounded too good to be true; and yet a sense of calm enveloped me. The doctor herself must have felt overwhelmed at my initial entrance because almost immediately I fell apart as I gave her an hour and a half tale of the last six months. Though I felt embarassed by my own rambling, her gentle constitution and openness comforted me; her countenance exuded sympathy. It felt amazing to me that a doctor was interested to hear my crisis while taking notes of each symptom. Despite my panic-ridden tone, her assuring responses gave me courage I hadn't felt in a long time.
I was not expecting answers that first visit. What mattered most was that someone had heard my plea for help and committed to finding a cause without reservation. With all my pain in tow, I left alleviated knowing that a process had begun...
Over the next weeks, my doctor set out a plan to run tests of every sort: intestinal analysis, hormone panel, thyroid blood work and heavy metal toxicity, to name a few. I never knew that such medical tests even existed! As expected, there was some concern with the results but still none conclusive enough to promt a diagnosis. In the meantime, I was administered immune boosting IV's which offered mega doses of vitamins. Additionally, there were regular adrenal and B12 shots given to revive my non-existent energy.
Yet with all these powerful applications, my body still managed to deteriorate further. My adrenal function plunged and the all-consuming fatigue became insufferable. Clearly, this invisble monster was thriving despite all efforts to immobilize it. Doubt set in and I could sense despair blanket me all over again. In spite of my frustration, the doctor did not show defeat. Her theory of removing each new layer of evidence pointed in a possible direction - one I would never suspect.
In the weeks following, my doctor approached me with an unexpected medical questionnaire. I knew she was on to something when I nearly answered "yes" to all the questions that were posed. There were multitudes of symptoms that accurately matched my own. I lit up anticipating the doctor's verdict: "Are you familiar with Lyme Disease?" she asked. I shook my head in surprise, all the while feeling resistant at her rationale.
She began to fill me in on the nature of the disease and I knew it was not something I wanted to hear about. In short, Lyme disease is the fastest spreading infectious disease in North America and can lead to serious complications when left untreated. She urged me to have some blood drawn in order to send it off for testing in the US. The cost of such a test was staggering. But I sensed a diagnosis was within my reach so I jumped at the opportunity.
One week later with hubby by my side, the doctor gave me the report that forever changed my life.
"Susie, I have some good news. We finally have the answer!"
To this day I'm not sure if I cried out of joy or dissapointment at the news of having contracted Lyme disease. But The relief was immense! A plan was under way and I could finally start attacking the enemy. I later discovered that my doctor was the only Lyme literate physician nearby, specializing in the treatment of this complex disease. Without her, I would likely have travelled long distances in order to obtain treatments generating alarming medical costs. I am forever grateful to this amazing individual who has literally given me my life back!
But...there was still a very long and arduous journey ahead...