Lyme has been, for the most part, less of a factor in my life in recent months. Sure, it’s there, and sometimes worse than others (or is that just the bronchitis I spent a month fighting back from?). But it is something I can push to the side — it’s part of the routine, and it’s not my focus. It requires no meds, and the naps & other symptoms are not getting in the way. Perhaps I just need to push it aside — I hardly realized how many headache’s I’d had at one point, until the day I was pain free and even then the first reminder I had that something was different was all the comments I got from others on how perky I looked. Suddenly I realized that a weight really was off my shoulders for that day.
So I really thought of Lyme as something that I could put behind me, at least for now. In fact, my focus was on the sad signs of my beloved dog’s slow progression through old age towards the end of her life — kidney issues, less energy, and so on. A few weeks ago, this became more acute, with vomiting, diarrhea (even in the house), and a loss of bowel control. She became desperately ill, barely able to move, clearly in pain, and I took her to the vet. Her pancreas was inflamed, her kidneys necrotic, her abdomen seemed swollen, a mass inside, and the diagnosis was abdominal tumor, unlikely that she’d make it through the next month… They called an ultrasound to confirm, and found …
[ok I know this was a mean place to put the cut … but the suspense is worth it in this case]
… no tumor at all. No sign of anything but unhappy kidneys, in fact. Further testing ensued, and given her history (two bouts with lyme disease), they tested for lyme again. Sure enough, she had signs of it, and she responded wonderfully to IV antibiotics + fluid therapy for her kidneys. She’s on orals now (doxy), and clearly doing less well — the pancreas must be unhappy again because she’s heaving after every meal, and she’s slowing down. We will keep fighting this, and it is at least something we can treat (she was too far gone for surgery to be an option had it been a tumor, for example). But it is a scary reminder of how virulent Lyme can be, how it can attack any part of the body, that it can kill. I don’t know if she’ll make it, but I’m rooting for her and doing my best to help her recover. And I am railing against those Lyme bacteria for attacking someone I love yet again.
I have, sitting by my fireplace, a small stuffed spirochete that my mom gave me to put on my IV pole right at the start of my diagnosis. I’ve been waiting for the day I can burn it in effigy, the day Lyme is finally eradicated from my life. Perhaps burning it will help speed the day along. Or perhaps that day will never come. I suspect that in the end the solution is not to battle or burn it, not to let it loom large or focus on it … but simply to live and let live. Unsatisfying perhaps, but also perhaps the only way not to let it win.