In January of 2009 I was diagnosed with a viral inner ear infection because I was feeling dizzy and having terrible headaches. After six weeks I returned to work, but I was not the same. I was exhausted and would come home from work to sleep. My husband Chris and I made it our full-time job to keep me at work and to find an answer. When the school break came that June I was so tired and so looking forward to taking the summer to feel better; my plan was go back to work in September refreshed and back to normal. By the third week of September it was clear, I was in fact worse. It was decided with the help of the administration at my school that I would work a modified schedule. I would teach and then go home. This allowed me to sleep each afternoon as by 12:30 I was extremely fatigued and my balance would become an issue.
This was marginally successful for the 2009-2010 school year, but by the next September I had a marked decline in my health. I plugged along until November of 2010 when my now frequent absences were making it obvious that it was time to take a step back and really chase an answer to my health problems.
This was a difficult time for me personally. As many of you know, this is when Chris’ illness was at its worst. While Chris was being tested for Alzheimer’s and dementia, I was being tested for MS, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s. When all of our tests came back negative we were relieved. But then what? Where did we go from there?
Well, three years later and numerous suggested, but soon debunked diagnoses later, we are finally down to Lyme.
I am relieved and anxious for the next steps. Next steps. How wonderful. I have waited for over five years to find out what the steps of my recovery would be. Now I can’t wait to get started. I will be driving to the United States for consultations and treatment. I understand I have two years of antibiotic treatment and an uphill battle in front me. But then, you know what? With any luck I will have my health back and the rest of my life ahead of me without fatigue, balance impairment, pain and cognitive problems. It sounds like a wonderful place to be.
As I approach the next chapter in my journey with a diagnosis I would like to write the last entry of this one. It seems like the perfect time to take a moment to thank all of the people who have stood by me and supported me.
I want to thank Alison Christie for driving me to work every day from February 2009 to November 2010. You allowed me to continue working for as long as I could. This made so many things possible for my family. You may never understand what your generosity did for me, but I will always be grateful.
To Dr. Eroll Sequeria and Dr. Neal Parek, I will always be thankful that you believed me and never made me feel like my issues didn’t matter. Thank you for supporting me and taking me as far as you could.
To Linda Samson and Heidi McBratney, thank you for pushing me to keep searching for answers when parts of me were starting to believe that this might be what the rest of my life looked like.
Thank you to Marian Boudreau, Dave Moore and Melissa Laforge. My trip to PEI changed my life. And Melissa, your persistence with Lyme information pushed me to get tested. I will never be able to relay how important you were on my journey.
Thank you to Cynthia Andreychuk for allowing me to be a part of the Healthy Snack program knowing that I wouldn’t always be able to make it and that if I made it, that I wouldn’t always be able to make it through to the end. Thank you for allowing me my two hours a week when I felt like I was a part of something normal outside of my house and family.
Thank you to Kelly Giles for helping me wade through the Lyme testing process in the United States. It was overwhelming and confusing and your guidance made it much less intimidating.
To my Aunt Peggy Stansfield, you were right! If only the Canadian tests were accurate we could have stopped our search much sooner based on your home diagnosis in 2009 and again in 2012.
To my extended family that drove me to appointments or picked me up from my many misguided attempts to be independent, thank you. I appreciate all of the times you understood my limitations and when you pushed me to not let life pass me by. Thank you for taking some of the burden away from my mom and Chris. We are all grateful for your love and support.
To my friends who never made me feel like I was less fun to be with. That fact that you understood and lent me your ear for listening, your heart for compassion and your time for laughter made this difficult journey so much easier. I would like to say a special thank you to Joey Stansfield for taking me and joining me in Aquafit, to Julie White and Andrew White for always welcoming us for a weekend of no pressure fun and hijinx, and to Jason Smith and Jenn Bender for spoiling me with gluten and pork free delicacies and great conversation.
To Katie Stansfield, thank you for getting me out of the house for girl time adventures and for joining me for pajama days when I needed a belly laugh on the couch; and thank you for not caring which one I was up for. Thank you for always believing in me and for really seeing me.
To Daryl Stansfield and Sabrina Dabovic. Thank you for challenging me to continue looking for an answer. Thank you for knowing when to push and when to support. Thank you for standing by me and Chris through the last five years. We wouldn’t be where we are now without your encouragement and advice. Thank you for knowing how hard this has been. Thank you for helping me find the answers.
To my Dad and guardian angel, I wish you were here to advise me but I know you are looking out for me. Thank you for guiding me and fighting for me. Thank you for your love; I feel it all around me.
To my mom, thank you for being here for us every day. Thank you for looking after me and helping me and Chris make all of this work. Thank you for being so strong when I know that inside you were, and still are, so worried about me. Thank you for everything you do. There are no words great enough to express my appreciation for what you have done for us.
To my animules; Mya, Sadie and Sophie. Thank you for being the best snugglers and nappers around. Thank you for embracing all the time I have been spending in bed and asleep. Your ridiculousness and tender hearts bring me joy every day.
To Isabella. Thank you for never making me feel like I was a second rate parent because I had to nap a lot. Thank you for letting me sleep through your movies while we were snuggled on the couch. Thank you for making me laugh every day. Thank you for giving me a reason to get dressed and try harder on the days when I was too tired and too sore to do it for myself.
And a final thank you to my husband. This journey would not be possible without you. I have always hated Celine Dion’s song “Because You Love Me”. It always seemed like an anti-feminist anthem, but maybe I just never understood it before. “You were my strength when I was weak, you were my voice when I couldn’t speak…you lifted me up when I couldn’t reach, you gave me faith because you believed…” Your love for me has been unwavering. You have made me feel beautiful and worthwhile at a time in our lives when everything was sideways. You have been tender and tough, seeming to know which was needed and when. Two weeks after our wedding I got sick. I will always be grateful that you are contractually obligated to be here. I wouldn’t want to face this journey with anybody else. You have been my rock, you have picked up all the pieces and all the slack without complaint, and you have loved me unconditionally through this. I love you. I love you. I love you.
And to the future me, please don’t ever forget these years. They were here to test you and push you to grow. Throughout all of the difficult days there was always laughter and love and happiness. There were silver linings and wonderful experiences that allowed you to genuinely remain cheerful and grateful. The people around you are wonderful. You are blessed with support and love. You have so many things to be thankful for.
You are one of the lucky ones.