Saturday, December 17, 2011

not labeled

Lyme Disease does not define me.

This is a post I've been trying to put together for a long time; a post I've been trying to "work out" in my own life for at least a year.

It's hard to not feel defined when such an all-consuming disease like this one doesn't leave any facet of your life untouched.  But just because it consumes just about everything in your life, doesn't mean it sucks all the other things that defined you away.  I like to think of them as on hold.

The things that are on hold for me, that used to be a part of me when people would ask, "So, Heather, what do you like to do?" are:

-hiking
-getting my Masters degree

I thought the list would be longer honestly.  I would sort of have pity-parties every once in a while, lamenting what Lyme has taken away from me.  Sure, it's taken some of the joy, energy, and "zip" from my physical life, but here are the things I still get to do that were part of who I was before Lyme took over (albeit differently than I did them before):

-Pursue godliness
-Photography
-Cultivate friendships
-Play with and nurture my children
-Spend time and go on dates with my husband (and best friend) *wink*
-Enjoy good movies
-Love animals (zoo, wildlife, wish for a dog, and love and make fun of our own cat)
-Encourage others

I'm sure there's more.  These things are done differently now because of my energy reserves, but I am still able to do them.  I think I used to lament how much Lyme had devastated my "plans".  But really, they weren't my plans to begin with - GOD had planned it long before I could have seen what was coming.  And so why fight it and feel sorry for myself when this is what God placed in my life for NOW.  He wants me to be cheerful and learn patience, and when I stop crying over what I've think I've lost, I see clearly that I'm still able to do so much of what I used to....just a little differently than I used to.

I often would lead a conversation with a new person with, "I have Lyme disease, so I really can't do much other than lay around."  But that was a lie because if I had thought about it, I could have told those new acquaintances that not all my days were filled with JUST laying.

And who I was before Lyme is still who I am with Lyme, although I'd say I'm a little more worn, wiser, and stronger for it.  I'll tell you what, once you start looking past your life being defined by your disease, a whole other world opens up for you.  There are so many opportunities you can sieze even if you are on the couch; so many other lives you can touch and encourage, friends you can hang out with without bemoaning your existence trapped in your house and a body that doesn't always cooperate.

It's hard at first but when you decide that you don't want people to think of you as "that girl who always talks about how hard her Lyme disease is", you'll find that you can make friendships stronger and richer and in my experience, they still know you have Lyme and they respect you more for it.  It's a very mysterious disease; all of my friends know how debilitating it can be at times.  So I usually get the genuine, "How are you doing TODAY."  And instead of going off on how my wrists hurt so much last night I couldn't sleep, and my energy was spent taking a shower this morning, I usually say, "I've had better days but at least it isn' as bad as my worst days!"  And then I turn the conversation on them and we start having non-disease discussion.

Non-Lyme conversation is SO nice.  Now it doesn't mean I don't "Lyme-it-up" with my Lyme friends.  Sometimes you do need to vent and it helps to see how others are dealing with their disease and even encouraging to find out your very VERY weird new symptom is pretty common with other Lyme patients :)

So I guess all I'm trying to say is that I am more than my disease.  I'm a child of God, a wife, a mother, and a woman who has many passions and hobbies (that for a time might be altered to fit my lifestyle now).  I'd rather be known (outside this blog) as those things than, "that girl with Lyme disease."


P.S - safely made the travel across the country and my body is doing so much better than it did last year. We are so encouraged at the progress I've made.  Onward and upward with treatment!

2 comments:

  1. Onward and upward Indeed! Go get 'em friend. I'm rooting for you (with Lyme or without).

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  2. Very very good post...says it well! Great that you are doing better~ onward and upward as you said.

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