Lyme Disease

1

So, today is the day that I am supposed to post a blog about the church my family attended last Sunday.  I would love to post that blog.  Unfortunately, I cannot write that blog.  Even though my family chose a nice little covenant church to attend, I was not able to go with them.

I woke up Sunday morning quite ill.  My head had a blinding pain running through it and every muscle in my body hurt.  You know what I’m talking about.  The kind of sick where you hurt in places you didn’t even know existed.

I was not going to church.

I was a little upset.  So upset that I may have been just s teeny bit unreasonably snappy toward The Pastor.  I’d like to say that he had it coming.  He didn’t have it coming.  His only real mistake at the time was being in the house with a sick Snarky.

It was not pretty.

I was in a lot of pain, I was stressed out about how I was going to write a blog, and I was mad because I couldn’t make my body get out of bed.  This continued for about three minutes.  Then I fell back into a deep sleep for the next six hours.

My family went to church and my children reported back to me so that I could at least write a blog.  This is what they told me.  “Church was good, pretty normal, the pastor asked Dad to help with some ministry so we waited around a lot.”

Um, that is not a blog.

“Oh, and Second Son told everyone you were dead, so you may want to lay low for a while.”

Um, the blog just got better.

Here is what happened to the best of my knowledge.  The story was told to me by five different people, so the details are a bit fuzzy.  I will do my best to piece it together for you.

After a pretty uneventful church service, a local pastor asked The Pastor to “do some ministry”.  This means that The Pastor counsels and prays for someone and their problems go away.  He’s actually really good at this.  If you’ve never had a session with him I would highly recommend it.

While The Pastor was helping people, my children were left to their own devices.  They were bored and surrounded by caring strangers.  Strangers who were not prepared for what they were about to encounter.

A lovely couple apparently struck up a conversation with Second Son.  After a few pleasantries, the lovely couple said “We should probably get home to our daughter.  She’s sick with Lyme Disease!”

“Oh,” said Second Son casually “My mom had that.  It killed her.”

Second Son is a little lacking in the compassion and tact department sometimes.

“Oh my!” said the lovely couple “How terrible for your poor father!  Was it recently?”

“Nah,” said Second Son “It happened a long time ago.  Firstborn was only a year old.”

“Oh,” said a now very confused lovely couple “did your father remarry?”

“No!”

“So… you’re all…adopted?”

“Nope.”

The Pastor may not be invited back to do ministry at that church.

Here is the real story, with a few details that may have been left out in my children’s retelling.

In spring of 2001 I became very ill.  After weeks of extreme joint pain and exhaustion, I finally went to the doctor.

“I think I have Lyme Disease.” I said.

“I believe you,” said my amazing doctor “but we can’t find a bite site on you so I need to run a test to prove it.”

I took the test.  I failed the test.

You see, everyone has a little bit of the stuff that they test for in their body.  Because of this, they can’t treat your for Lyme until your numbers get above a certain level.  My numbers were super low.  Because my HMO was calling all of the shots, my doctor wasn’t allowed to treat me.

I dragged myself home and a week later I went back to take another test.  The numbers had increased a little.  Not enough to allow treatment.

I did this back and forth thing for over a month as I continued to get sicker and sicker.  My doctor tried prescribing arthritis medications to help with the pain.  They didn’t help.  Soon I was also randomly passing out as well.

My doctor decided to send me to a specialist who dealt specifically with pain.  The day I was supposed to see this doctor I developed a bizarre rash all over my body.  As embarrassing as this rash was, it was a good thing.  It was a classic sign of Lyme.  I could finally get treated.

The pain doctor prescribed some medications and was about to send me home when I offhandedly said “You know, I’ve been passing out a lot and have a weird flip flopping sensation in my chest.  You don’t think that’s anything to worry about, do you?”

“Probably not,” said the pain doctor “but let’s send you down the hall to cardiology to make sure.  We’ll get a quick EKG and they’ll give you a call later if anything looks weird.”

No problem.  I walked down an empty sky-way to the cardiology department.  I only passed out twice.  (Why yes, I did drive myself to the doctor’s office.)  When they finally hooked me up to the machine, a very nice nurse said “Okay, you just sit there and OH MY GOD!!!!  Lay down right now and don’t move!  I’ll be right back!”

This did not give me a sense of peace and relaxation.

Another doctor, a famous heart doctor, was rushed into the room.  He looked at the machine and said “Yeah, we’re going to need to get you over to the hospital.  Right now.”

“Okay, but I need to be home by 5.” I said.  “I have a babysitter.”

“Well, you’re probably going to be in the hospital for a while.” he said.

“Like for a few hours?” I asked.

“Like for a few weeks.” He said.

It turns out that when untreated, Lyme attacks your weakest system.  My weakest system was my heart.  More specifically, the nerves that sent my heart the signal to beat.  All that passing out I was doing?  It wasn’t from the pain.  It was my heart forgetting to beat for a bit.

After two days in the hospital the pain started to get tolerable.  Mostly due to pain killers.  Both the doctor and I started to think things weren’t as bad as we had initially thought.  When the machine that delivered the heart stimulant to my IV stopped, we didn’t think there would be a problem.

There was a problem.

The problem was that when you medicate away the symptoms, it’s really hard to judge how healthy someone actually is.

I remember sitting up in bed and calling the nurse.  I remember telling the nurse that something felt very wrong.  I remember the doctor entering the room at just that moment with the group of medical students he had asked me about earlier.  I remember him yelling at me to cough, because coughing can stimulate your heart.

Then I remember flashing lights and pictures.  It was as if everything I had ever seen or thought was being played on a giant screen in my head all at once.

And then there was peace.

It was the most perfect peace I had ever felt.  I found myself in a boat in complete darkness, floating peacefully.  There were two people behind me in the boat, steering.  I don’t know who they were.  I didn’t care.  I was too overwhelmed by the perfect peace.  After a short while I saw our destination.

Ahead of us, floating in the darkness, was the most beautiful light I had ever seen.  It was made up of every imaginable color, all swimming within itself.  The light became my everything.

All I wanted to do was get to the light.  It was like an obsession, if obsessions were filled with joy and peace.  It was a relaxed urgency.  I knew that this was the part where everything became perfect, just as soon as I joined the light.

And then there was a tug.  It was a sharp, electric tug.  A tug that was pulling me in the wrong direction.  I tried to fight the tug, but then there was another tug, a stronger one, and suddenly the light was gone.  I had the sensation of being underwater and surfacing quickly.

Suddenly, I sat up and gasped for air.  I was back in my hospital room, along with just about every hospital employee on the floor.  My doctor was standing with his students looking pale and shaking.  Nurses were cleaning up bottles and syringes off the floor.  Another doctor was standing next to me holding those paddles that you see in nighttime hospital dramas.  He had a look of triumph on his face.  I looked around at everything.  Then I looked right into the eyes of the doctor with the paddles and said “Put. Me. BACK!”

Paddle doctor’s face went from triumphant to confused.  “We…We’re not allowed to do that…” he responded, and then left the room.  I left to get my new pace maker, but not before a nurse leaned over me and whispered “What was it like?”

“What was what like?” I asked.

“You were dead for fifteen minutes!  They were just about to call it.  What happened?” she asked.

So yes, Second Son was correct.  Lyme Disease did kill me.  He just forgot the part where I also came back, and that’s kind of an important part.  It’s the part where you understand that The Pastor isn’t some romancer going around having lots of children with women he isn’t married to.  It’s the part where I’m still his mother, which may be the part he’d like to forget.

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