Meagan - a beloved mother of 3 young boys, wife, and friend - suffers from chronic Lyme disease. Once vibrant with limitless energy, Meagan now experiences tremendous and chronic pain that prevents her from doing many things we take for granted. BUT, Meagan is a fighter and will do whatever it takes to get better, especially for her family. Meagan regularly travels from NC to DC to see a specialist and is preparing to undergo gall bladder surgery and a new round of intensive antibiotic treatments that will leave her bedridden as her body fights the Lyme disease. (She'll start at least six months of these strong antibiotics after the doctor inserts a port catheter in her chest to deliver the medicine on June 9.) Her treatments are expensive and not covered by insurance. (For more information, watch Under Our Skin). Medical bills are mounting fast. Despite her daily challenges, Meagan is determined to heal herself and her family physically, spiritually, and financially; she maintained her job throughout this difficult time and is grateful to be working from home. She is an incredible woman, but needs our financial support and prayers more than ever. WE CAN HELP HER GET THROUGH THIS! By financially supporting Meagan here, you will be encouraging her to continue fighting and working toward remission. Please donate to Meagan's treatment fund today! Our fundraising goal is $50,000, which will help to cover the cost of the new course of treatment she will begin in June.
Friends of Meagan compiled this page and asked Meagan to share her story.
MEAGAN'S LIFE WITH LYME (IN HER OWN WORDS)
One night while my husband and I were watching TV, I reached up to scratch my head. I felt something weird and asked him to take a look at it. He discovered it was a tick, fairly embedded in my scalp. He removed it. Life went on as normal, and we never thought another thing about it. At the time, I was pregnant with Tanner, my second child.
Tanner was born in December 2010. It was the beginning of 2011 that I started to realize that things weren't quite right. I was doing a job that was requiring a lot of travel, and it was getting harder and harder to manage due to fatigue. My joints started to bother me tremendously, at first in my hands and my knees. I remember having a hard time getting up after a short flight as my knees would be so sore. In May, I decided enough was enough and that I needed to figure out what was wrong.
I went to my primary care physician, who has become a Godsend to me. She ran a host of lab tests, thinking that because of the bilateral pain I was experiencing, that maybe I had rheumatoid arthritis. I didn't think much of it until she called me a week later. I clearly remember sitting in my desk chair, watching Collin (my oldest) play on the floor and Tanner bounce in the jumparoo. She told me I had Lyme. My jaw dropped open, and life as I knew it closed.
I began to see a slew of specialists. Some doctors were friendly to Lyme patients, others said chronic Lyme did not exist. I started all kinds of meds. And still I got worse. These were difficult months as my husband Aaron and I were trying to navigate the unknown while getting conflicting opinions from a range of specialists. For those that are not aware, Lyme disease can be somewhat controversial, and it was only recently that the state of North Carolina has been considered an endemic state.
I have a dear friend who is in remission from Lyme. I spoke with her often in those days, and also with the parents of a student whom I taught who both were critically ill with Lyme disease. After much of my own research, pouring over the internet, collaborating with Lyme support groups, and watching the now well-acclaimed documentary "Under Our Skin," I reached out to Dr. Jemsek at the Jemsek Speciality Clinic in DC. My first visit was in October 2011. The doctor read my labs, conducted physical and clinical evaluations, and confirmed that I was in fact, experiencing chronic Lyme disease.
It was surmised that because of the late diagnosis, my immune system did not have the capacity to fight off the spirochetes on its own. You see, when a person gets Lyme, they always have it. The trick is to get your immune system strong enough to win the battle against those little bugs.
Then, I began a protocol of oral antibiotics. I also started a very strict new gluten free, low sugar diet and a regimen of detoxing to bolster my immune system. At this point, I began to lose weight. Rapidly. Too rapidly. I was sent to a GI specialist. After in-depth testing that I hope to never have again, they determined that I had developed a hiatal hernia and an intolerance to gluten, similar to the onset of Celiac disease. As a result of not being able to keep food down, the medicines were coming right back out and not being absorbed. After months of discomfort, this was not the news I wanted to hear.
I was traveling back and forth to DC to see my specialists, and the toll on my body was hard. However, there was a glimmer of light about each trip there. My kindred spirit and friend since college, Megan, lives just outside the city and each time I travel there, I stay there with her family. It's like the Lord knew when to make those appointments for another DC visit. When I would hit a low point, I would travel north and see the sweet encouraging face of my dear friend. It always uplifted my soul.
In May 2012, I knew something was different. On Mother's Day, it was confirmed. I was pregnant with Cole. I remember telling Aaron as we were getting dressed for church. He just stared at me. Although overjoyed, we were terrified at the same time. The repercussions to the hard medications that I had been on while pregnant were unknown. I became a high-risk patient and continued my pregnancy at Duke Prenatal. I had to stop all major antibiotics and was put on a "maintenance" plan while pregnant. We were unsure if I would carry the baby to term, if the baby would live, and whether there would be complications.
But I serve a faithful God. I cried out most every day that He would protect my baby. Though I never gained the weight during that pregnancy I should have, baby Cole was born healthy and strong. Tiny, but strong. He has been the joy of my life since the day he came home. I look at him every day and am reminded of the Lord's faithfulness.
I think it is only Collin (my oldest, who is almost 5) who truly understands right now what Mommy is going through, and for that I am grateful. As I am typing this, he came and asked me for some water. I got up and winced and he said, "Do you need help walking Mommy? I will hold your hand." And he walked me to and from the refrigerator. He has had to call his dad when I have passed out, held my hair back as I've thrown up, and cuddled with me when sleep would not come. He has rubbed my head and held my hand. It's too much for a four year old and the guilt that I often feel can be all-consuming. Most days I'm just grateful that he is here and that I can see his sweet face.
My recovery from a third C-section in 3.5 years was slow. I did all right until a few months later when the symptoms began to return and become much more intense and difficult. At this point, the fatigue is insatiable, the stomach complications unexplainable, the joint stiffness and soreness at times insufferable, the emotional toll intolerable, and the neurological efforts rapidly growing. I experience problems with my eyes, my balance, my ability to read, and my ability to remember in the short term. My weight is declining rapidly even though I am doing my best to be as healthy as I can.
The emotional side of all of this is something that cannot be explained. I am just now getting to the point where I can say the sentence "I have Lyme Disease". It is very difficult to encapsulate the feelings I have around being sick, not being able to take care of my children, and feeling very hopeless and helpless. I used to run. I ran a marathon one time. I used to sew. I made quilts for two of my children. I used to clean my own house. I used to travel the world with my husband. That is not the woman I am now, but that is the woman I so long to be again. My true heart is to be a servant for the Lord and for three years I have felt like I am being served and not the servant. This is so hard for me to swallow as I long to be used by the Lord. I look forward to the day when I can be the girl again with limitless energy and ideas of ways to serve others and our Father. There is a verse in Proverbs 31 where the dear wise woman is described saying "and she smiles at the future." I want to be that woman. I want to endure this time with dignity, humbleness of spirit, and thankfulness of heart.
And so after 3 years of oral antibiotics and continuing to grow worse, we are going a new route of IV antibiotics, hoping that these meds will bypass the stomach and get straight into the bloodstream. I will begin by having a port catheter inserted into my chest on June 9th, 2014, just after gall bladder removal surgery on May 2nd. I will continue with IV antibiotics for at least 6 months, depending on how I respond. I will also continue with light oral antibiotics at the same time. Once things have improved and it looks like my immune system might be in charge again, I will come off the IV and stay on orals for a while. The goal is being symptom free for 18 months and then perhaps I can come off orals altogether.
The Body of Christ has been a remarkable blessing during this challenging time. The words of encouragement, meals, acts of kindness, hours of prayer, and moments of service have been truly, truly amazing. This is the first time in my life where I have seen and felt the power of the body of Christ. Do you remember this old song? "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God...." It's only now that I can truly appreciate the words that I sang countless times as a young girl at church. I cannot imagine doing this alone.
The Lord is faithful. He has taken care of my family and me thus far, and I know He will continue to do so. Though the costs of treatment are outrageous and nothing is covered by insurance, I know I serve a miracle working God. He has never left me, nor forsaken me. And years from now when I look back on this time, I am sure I will see even more ways that the Lord was working on my heart and the lives of my children and husband. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope by in reading these words, your faith will be challenged to call on the name of the Lord during your time of trial. For only He alone can truly heal.
If you have any questions about this page or Meagan's story, please contact us. Thank you for your support!
Determined, hopeful, and forever grateful,
Friends of Meagan
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