As many of you know, May is Lyme Awareness month. For those who don’t know much about Lyme, I have decided to share my Lyme journey with you.
To give you a brief introduction, my name is Cassidy. I was born and raised in south central Pennsylvania and have lived here ever since (except for living in the south for 6 months). After graduating from high school, I went to a nearby college and graduated with a degree in Marketing. I am now a Marketing Coordinator at DeerBusters with an awesome marketing team by my side.
My first tick experience was in second grade. I ran into the house to tell my mom that I had a huge tick on my belly and the nurse at school had to remove it. At the time, I was scared because the thought of a spider sucking my blood sounded absolutely horrifying. Fortunately, I had no bulls-eye rash and no “boo boos”. After crying to my mom for a while, I went back to playing outside and never thought anything of it.
I have always been the “outdoorsy” “tomboy” type, I spent most of my days outside in the yard or seeking adventure out in the woods. My carefree attitude didn't question the possibilities of what if. Today, that has certainly changed.
In 2014, I started to feel achy, fatigued, got headaches a lot—At first, I blamed it on college kicking me in the butt. However, even after my semester ended, I found myself still going through it. As much as I dreaded the doctor, I finally went (also, the extensive help of my mom's persuasion helped, per usual).
“You are perfectly healthy.” Not the words I wanted to hear from my doctor when I had been feeling like this for months. After multiple attempts to figure out what was going on with me, my mother finally suggested getting bloodwork done. Turns out, I had 2 coinfections of Lyme called Babesia and Bartonella. I could barely pronounce the co-infections name, yet even begin to describe how they were affecting me (we can dive into that later). Anyway, I brought the bloodwork back to my doctor and they put me on the normal 30-day Doxycycline prescription. I assumed that this would heal me, and the doctor said it was all I needed. Not the case.
NOTE: What many people don’t know is that doctors and insurance companies do not recognize Lyme Disease as a chronic illness and tend to overlook and misdiagnose it. Lyme also mimics other commonly known illnesses such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, insomnia, and many others. This is why people can spend years trying to uncover that they have Lyme.
Let’s skip ahead to graduation in December of 2017. I was feeling great! College was over, and I was ready to start my “adult life.”
I was on the job hunt to find my first career as a college graduate. (Harder than one would assume!) After months of searching, I finally found a management position in a high-end fashion retailer. March started out as a great month but ended unexpectedly. Soon after receiving the job, my health took a turn for the worse. My joints ached, headaches were back, could barely stay awake, and this was just the start. As months went by, I could barely walk, forgot my own name (memory loss-this was terrifying), my joints were so inflamed; they were red and hot to the touch, fatigue so draining that I could fall asleep mid-conversation or at the wheel of a car, I lost mobility in my body which left me needing help with everyday activities like making myself food or getting dressed; the list goes on. I was in pain 24/7. The pain jumped to new spots every single day, so I never knew what would happen day by day. Not only was I physically deteriorating; I declined mentally with anxiety and depression. I missed events, social gatherings, and many other endeavors that I enjoyed doing.
You could say 2018 was not a fun year. I took antibiotics for over a year, nothing seemed to help, and my symptoms got worse and worse. As scary as it is to say, my body started shutting down. I had had enough. I went rogue. I stopped all my medication, and I decided to research a holistic approach.
With time and even more patience (I didn’t know I had left), I started to feel better. I changed my diet, went to a few holistic doctors that gave me many natural medicines, stretched every day, and gained a more positive outlook on my well-being. Don’t get me wrong, I still had aches and pains and doubts about my health, but I was finally feeling the relief I had wanted for so long.
In December 2020, COVID made its way back into my system- which led to my Lyme acting back up. Since then, I have been dealing with a few arthritic issues in my shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands...but I am still grateful. There are things I still cannot do, and I am learning that accepting help is a good thing. Words can’t begin to describe how thankful I am for my incredible support system; I am not sure where I would be without them. I still have a ways to go with my Lyme journey, but it has taught me a lot. One of the biggest lessons I learned is to never take your health for granted and you are stronger than you think.
Working with DeerBusters has also given me knowledge about deer and how many ticks they can carry! I feel good knowing that ourfence can deter deer from yards and gardens, which can reduce the amount of tick exposure to people.
Thank you for letting me share a little bit of my Lyme story!