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Steve's Story

I keep surprising myself. When I thought about writing this story, I wanted to include all I went through to get where I am now. I have started several times, each a little different but with the same theme. Each was lacking something that I could not place. My story should not include our trouble in finding a doctor to take me seriously in rural North Carolina, or the pain I have had to endure.

I don't want to mention the feeling I had when I was actually hoping that my tests would come back positive for Lyme disease, just to prove to myself and everyone else that I was not losing it. I don't want to include the way I felt when those very tests did come back positive. Instead, I would like to write the story of what has helped save my life and sanity through this whole experience with Lyme disease.

There are times that I want to be bitter with life. I'm twenty years old. I have always been a good student. During my senior year in high school I received the honor of "most likely to succeed." I'm a good-natured guy and I have never intentionally done anything wrong. That's why I want to be angry with the hand I was dealt. Like everyone else, I have questioned why I have to go through this.

Here I am on the forefront of the rest of my life and I feel as though I'm stuck in a painful rut. Why do I have to be doubted by the very people we're supposed to trust the most-doctors? What have I done to cause every muscle and joint in my body to hurt so badly that it's sometimes difficult to get out of bed? Why do I have to feel like a helpless patient when I used to regard myself as strong?

It was this mode of thinking that led me to realize that if I'm bitter, this will not get any better. No, I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't make a mistake or do this to myself. It happened to me and there's nothing left to do but deal with it. Things become easier when I focus on them day by day. Making any given day your very own seems like the essence of living life to its fullest.

There are bound to be good and bad days. Hoping the next day will be better for me helps me keep going. I dare to say that learning to live with Lyme disease has its positive side. Those of us who have become part of "the club" have had to realize a great deal of patience. Instead of throwing myself into every task and activity available, I have learned to back away and observe.

There have been times that I've been extremely jealous of people who could do things that I found difficult. No one wants to come to terms with the fact that his or her brain is sometimes fuzzy and it becomes difficult to think and concentrate. I learned the only way to not disappoint myself was by not setting big goals. Instead, the seemingly "small accomplishments" mean the world to me while I recover. I have my entire life to reach the rest of my dreams. Why rush things when there is a new day tomorrow?

No one wants to snap at a loved one but sometimes that happens, too. Although sometimes it's difficult, it's imperative to realize that those people are the ones who mean the most. My family and friends have been there from the beginning. They have tried to understand what I'm going through the best they can. They are the same people who stand by me and do whatever they can when I hurt or feel alone or go through the gauntlet of emotions having Lyme disease inevitably forces you to do.

I've learned that some people don't doubt me. I'm fortunate enough to have many of those people in my life. They've helped me stand taller with my head raised and eyes level with everyone else's. I am determined to beat this. I know I must accept certain limitations right now, but I will not bow down. I did not play an active role in becoming infected with Lyme disease, but I will eradicate this from my body. I can understand that there are times that I need to stop and rest.

There are even moments that it's okay to sit and cry. We're all human. Having Lyme disease doesn't change that at all. Having Lyme disease makes us all stronger. Each day is a little brighter now. Things move a little more slowly, as do I, but life goes on as normally as possible. I keep reminding myself that this is a disease that tried to take my life away, attempted to consume my hope, but I will not let that happen.

I find myself taking the time to think about the people I pass on the street or in stores. I wonder if they're as happy with their lives as I am with mine. Do they have the overwhelmingly touching support that I'm fortunate enough to have? Do they ever stop to wonder about the same thing that I am wondering about them? Do they realize that life only becomes precious when they don't allow it to pass them by? Do they realize that hope is the most important aspect of our lives?

Instead of the former lack of facial expression, I can smile again. I can laugh and I can cry and I can realize that at this moment, I am the most fortunate person in the world. Lyme disease is treacherous in many regards, but that's all been covered. We know that drill by now. What I think many of us fail to realize through it all is that we're still people, not just patients. We change in a variety of ways but we can't let others, and especially ourselves, forget who we were, who we are, and ultimately who we will become.

Each personal story I've read has been a chronicle of what that person has had to endure due to his or her battle with Lyme. The one thing I haven't read enough about is how one tick can forever positively change one's perspective on the way that person lives. I want to show the compassion we develop for other people and for life in general. Out of the dark and lonely battles we've all waged, there is companionship and light.

Out of our weakness grows the strength we need to win our battle. I want my story to end as the beginning of the rest of my life. I want the world to know that I am still me and I will preservere and continue to be strong and fight. I will succeed despite the hand I've been dealt. With undying hope, I will continue to be surprised with the strides we all day at a time.

Steve Alexander

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