Hello, my name is Natalie and I am 28 years old. Since middle school, I have struggled with increasing chronic pain, fatigue and other ailments. Then this past August (2017), I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease. This insidious disease has derailed my life and career.
With my doctor’s advice, I have begun fighting back by making radical changes in my diet and sleep habits. I have begun an intensive and expensive regimen of daily treatments - Unfortunately the majority are NOT covered by medical insurance. In addition, the treatments are causing reactions that have been debilitating and I am often unable to work.
At my current rate, I will need $32,000 to cover one year of treatments. My doctor says it may take 1-3 years of treatments. I need the help of others to continue fighting this battle.
To learn more, please Read My Story…..
Growing up in Pennsylvania, I was a very active child – singing, dancing, creative play, climbing a favorite tree in our yard, exploring the nearby woods with my dog, Jake, and my friends. I played soccer and ran cross-country. I received accolades at school, church and community for my theatre, music and art pursuits. I loved and flourished in that world.
However, I began to have chronic pain and recurring illnesses. From middle school through college, I continually experienced a strange array of symptoms and setbacks. My emotions and mental state often took a beating. My friends and family at times wondered if I was a hypochondriac or “just imagining it all.” Even I began to wonder if I was crazy.
In college, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. However, my symptoms continued to expand and worsen. Over-time, I suspected something else was happening and I grew more and more discouraged. I saw conventional doctors, functionalist doctors and therapists trying to find answers and relief to my life-hampering symptoms.
A Diagnosis is made!
Finally, in August 2017, at the age of 27, I received the results from the most reliable testing service available that I had contracted Chronic Lyme Disease.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by a bacterium. There are two types of Lyme disease - Acute and Chronic. In Acute Lyme disease, a person receives treatment within weeks or a few months after diagnosis and is completely cured, ridding the body of the bacteria.
However, when a tick bite goes unnoticed and/or Lyme goes untreated, the bacteria over time burrows its way into body tissue and the nervous system. It becomes entrenched and creates all kinds of physical havoc. It reaches a point where it can no longer be reversed. This is Chronic Lyme Disease – and it’s insidious.
I have good days, and I have bad days. Good days consist of minimal pain and fatigue, and a slightly more positive outlook. Bad days can consist of aches and pain in my main joints, splintering pain in my limbs, severe exhaustion, throbbing headaches, numbness in my hands and feet, the loss of mobility and balance, fumbling hands, heavy brain fog, dyslexia and confusion, strep throat symptoms, flu-like symptoms, and spells of extreme vertigo. This is accompanied by treacherous anxiety and depression.
Treatment Options and Challenges
Unfortunately, Lyme disease as a whole is not properly recognized or understood in society especially in the conventional medical field. The only doctors that truly know how to treat Lyme are called LLMD's (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor). After an extensive search, I found a LLMD doctor in Hollywood and began treatment in November 2017.
The treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease is a complicated process involving three interactive strategies:
Kill bacteria and co-infections
Detox the body of dead bacteria
Rebuild the body with nutrients and supplements.
Unfortunately, since chronic Lyme disease and its treatment is not recognized by the standard health care system, health insurance does not cover the vast majority of treatment costs.
Counting the Cost
My first three doctor’s appointments with treatments totaled $3,600. Diagnostic tests cost an additional $1,300. Additional treatments involving injections of antibiotics and supplements cost anywhere from $500-600 each visit. In the first three months, my out-of-pocket non-insured costs exceeded $7,500.
In addition, as treatment starts and warfare with the deeply-rooted bacteria commences, it is common for chronic Lyme patients to experience severe reactions called herx reactions. I have experienced debilitating pain, nausea, and exhaustion. I am often bed-ridden and unable to work at my waitressing job. Paying for my rent, utilities, food and other living costs has been severely impacted. I could use $1,000/month to apply toward living costs.
My doctor has warned me that my treatment may last anywhere from 1-3 years.
Chronic Lyme disease is a truly horrendous disease. It takes an intense amount of strength and willpower to tolerate, manage and fight. I must do whatever possible to get the bacteria to a non-threatening and stable state. In addition to my intensive treatment regimen, I have followed my doctor’s orders and made significant changes in my lifestyle. I’ve eliminated gluten, sugar and alcohol from my diet. I’ve reformed my sleep habits.
Although I will never be totally cured of this disease – it will be with me forever - My hope is to return to a more normal functioning life and to pursue the artistic talents that God has blessed me with. If I can harness my Lyme disease, I see an amazing future ahead.
From where does my help come from?
My parents are currently funding my treatment. They are the most supportive, caring and loving individuals I could ever ask for, and I couldn't be more thankful. We anticipated this journey to be expensive, but it has already nearly eroded the $10,000 fund they set aside.
In addition, my immediate and extended family (siblings, grand-mothers, aunt and uncle) have been incredibly empathetic and financially supportive. But these resources will also soon be depleted as I strive to meet both treatment and living costs.
In light of my doctor’s projection and costs already incurred, we estimate I will need an additional $32,000 to meet treatment costs for another year.
Next Steps for me…and others with Lyme.
I definitely feel strange and highly uncomfortable asking for money, but I am asking for any size donation that you feel led to give. If you are in a position to contribute, it would truly mean the world.
Whether or not you are able to give financially, your emotional support is needed just as much. And not just for me. If you know anyone fighting this terrible illness, please take time to research it, listen to them, be there for them and support them. It's a tough, lonely fight, but we can get through it thanks to you.
If you feel inspired to share this page with your friends, family or co-workers, please do so. I truly believe that together we can continue to raise awareness and fight this disease. Thank you all so much for your time, care and compassion.
I couldn't do this without you.
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