It’s funny how things in life come full circle. When I was diagnosed with Lyme and co-infections in 2012, after (grueling and agonizing) years of searching for answers to a notebook filled with health problems, it was after Ryan had left his management IT job of ten years to go full time into the ministry. We downsized from our 5 bedroom, 4 bath, 3,600 sq ft home to a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1,191 sq ft apartment for a few years. So, obviously we purged, sold a ton of stuff, and stored the rest. I did most of the selling and packing myself, which took it’s toll.
By the time we moved, my body was shutting down on me completely. The next few years is a blur to me now. I was in constant pain, severely fatigued, and was intermittently bedridden. I remember being so thankful that I had such a small space to clean and no more stairs to climb in pain anymore!
My youngest daughter was not yet in school during my worst years with Lyme, so she saw what no one else did – the raw moments of debilitation that this disease causes. I believe this is why she has always been my biggest advocate. Starting at age four, she watched me struggle with my health on a daily basis and helped as best she could. I have moments tucked away that are precious to me of her wiping away my tears, praying over me, and bringing me ice packs and stuffed animals for comfort. It wasn’t always bad, but some days were very hard and she was a trooper through those dark days.
When she started Kindergarten, she educated her class about ticks and talked about Lyme disease. She advocated for me throughout my entire journey. Everywhere we went, she would speak up about my disease, telling others to do regular tick checks. She even drew detailed pictures to further illustrate her points. It was convicting to see a child live with compassion and want to make a difference for others. She saw first hand what this disease was doing to her mommy and she wanted to make sure that it didn’t hurt anyone else.
Little did we know that just a couple of years later, she too would be suffering from this awful disease.
When Cammie began having Lyme like symptoms, I think I was in denial. I didn’t want to believe it was possible that I could have passed this to my children in utero. I knew how bad the burning pain was and I wouldn’t wish this kind of aching fatigue on my worst enemy. After she tested positive, I was devastated. I am thankful she is getting treatment, but everyday I still mourn the fact that I was not educated about Tick Borne diseases earlier in my life. It could have made all the difference in the world if someone had been a change maker for me and told me about Lyme.
Last year I met Megan, an amazing woman in the St. Louis Lyme Disease group who is a 4th grade teacher, also living with Lyme and co-infections. She is an awesome advocate and spreads Lyme education and awareness every chance she gets. One of her students, Emily came to her early one morning in February before class and told her she had been collecting donations from family and friends for over 6 weeks. Emily had taken it upon herself to gather donations to help those suffering with Lyme. Megan told me she wanted to see Emily’s donations go to another child suffering from Lyme Disease. I cried for over an hour. Camdyn’s doctors appointments are not covered by insurance and every visit is hard for us financially. The money Emily gave covered a visit and one of her prescriptions. Humbled. Amazed. Thankful. I don’t think there are many words to describe that kind of generosity, but those were my first. When I told Cammie what another little girl did for her, she immediately went to her desk and wrote Emily a thank you letter. I am hoping she can give it to Emily in person soon.
Emily’s loving act for my daughter further fuels my desire to continue spreading Lyme awareness and understanding. With understanding comes compassion, and with compassion comes hope. When presented with the facts of this disease, Emily was moved to compassion to help those suffering. Oh, what we can learn from a child.
I want to thank Emily and Megan for their generosity, big hearts, and for showing my 8 year-old what it looks like when love comes full circle. What a beautiful thing for my daughter to witness. She saw this scripture in action, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Cammie was my change maker and helped me when I was at my worst.
Emily was Cammie’s change maker and helped her when she needed her the most.
Whose change maker are you going to be today? Who can you offer hope to? Be a giver of hope!