I have wanted to post this testimony for a while. It is very lengthy, but gives every little dirty detail that I felt needed to be shared. I wrote this for another individual struggling with Lyme Disease, and as a result it doesn’t necessarily explain every detail of the disease. If you have any questions about my experience or the disease please comment on my blog and I would love to share anything I can. Thank you for taking the time to learn about my journey.
2007. My sophomore year of college began fairly uneventfully. I was swimming on a division 1 swim team, maintaining a perfect GPA, attending church and home-group regularly, maintaining a successful long-distance relationship and rooming with my best friend. Granted, I was a perfectionist and was regularly stressed to the point of tears, but overall I was doing what I felt was best.
The first half of the semester was proving to be another success, at least on the outside. I was pulling all A’s for another semester and was looking forward to vying for the “valedictorian” title. I swam some of the best races I had ever swum, and was glorying in my MVP title from the former year. I was receiving accolades in every area of my life, and they were really the only thing that motivated me.
On the inside, and even on the outside, the façade was slowly cracking. My relationship with Jesus was suffering for the first time in my life, primarily because I used every spare moment to focus on success in the areas of academia and athleticism. I wept myself to sleep many nights, and recall an overwhelming feeling of emptiness pervading every facet of my life.
Around this time, I began to get sick often. I was working myself into the ground, and every cold or flu that hit campus also hit me. I can’t point to the exact moment, but at some point while I was battling a cold I remember thinking, “wow, this is nice.” For the first time in my college life I was taking a break. It didn’t matter that my sinus’s pounded, and my body ached, because I was able to sleep in, and had an excuse to skip class, avoid homework, and miss swim practice.
The more I seemed to appreciate sickness, the more I seemed to get sick. And then… something snapped inside of me. I no longer just appreciated sickness, I wanted to be sick. One day when I was especially tired I clearly remember saying to myself, “I hope this is something really serious”. While I did not say it, what I felt was: “If I am really sick, then I can stop all this striving and have a legitimate reason. I don’t have to admit I can’t handle it on my own”.
About a month later, the week of our Christmas swimming training, I got sick. This time, I got really sick. Smack dab in the middle of an incredibly intense practice, I started feeling dizzy and feverish. The coach pulled me out of practice, and after it became clear how sick I was, he sent me home from the training week.
I maintained a high fever for approximately 7 weeks. During this time I was incredibly weak, fatigued, and was even struggling mentally (forgetting words, losing focus easily, mental fogginess). The doctors were at a loss, and kept telling me it was just a virus that would go away.
The fever didn’t go away but it dropped to a slightly lower range (99-100), and the fatigue lightened a bit. So, I returned to school and swimming. Almost immediately after beginning the grind, the symptoms increased again. I remember looking at a page of notes in preparation for a test, and finding that the entire piece of paper was literally full of gibberish. The words were misspelled; unfinished, and or complete nonsense words the whole page through. I began sleeping every spare moment, and my grades began to suffer for the first time in my college career.
It was about this time that my mom and I started doing some computer research. We were tired of the fact that the doctor wouldn’t listen to me, and began doing out own diagnoses. We both came to the same conclusion, Lyme disease.
When I was 7 I had my first scare with Lyme. The bulls-eye rash showed up on my arm, I had a positive Lyme titer test, and after 6 weeks of antibiotics I tested negative and never showed a symptom. However, because of that initial scare my family and I were aware of the symptoms, and the possible severity of the disease.
So, we brought our research to the doctor and insisted on Lyme testing. He was skeptical and even borderline angry, but he consented and sent me for a Lyme titer. However, the test came back negative. My mom and I were not dissuaded. We had done our research and new that the Lyme Titer was infamously inaccurate. We presented this information to our doctor, and against his best judgment he sent my blood work for a western blot test. Then, lo and behold, the blood work came back positive for Lyme.
Our doctor obviously knew very little about Lyme. One of his first statements regarding Lyme in our presence was to ask the nurse, “Are there ticks in this area?” (On a side note: we live at the foot of a mountain, literally right beside a forest). So, as soon as we had the positive result we began going to a Lyme disease specialist who was about ninety minutes away.
Over a period of six months the doctor put me on three different antibiotics, and a myriad of herbal supplements, vitamins and minerals. At the peak of my treatment I was on 26 pills a day.
Meanwhile, my symptoms did not seem to improve much. My college experience began to go downhill as my team-mates started treating me like a hypochondriac and generally avoiding me. I had heard about the Lyme disease stigma but had no idea how severe it might be. For months I rushed to bed every-night after dinner, and spent all weekend trying to catch up on homework. The little social life I had disappeared and I began experiencing depression for the first time in my life.
Amazingly, through all of this, I don’t ever recall wishing I was well. I mourned my lost “friends”, I wished for more free time, but never did I ask God for help. I can’t say whether it was the attention, or the excuse to relax, that kept me from seeking to be well, but I know that I had a very unhealthy attitude towards the disease. I think Lyme disease became “my disease”, “my excuse”, and in essence “my friend”.
Six months of treatment passed, and my symptoms slowly decreased. The doctor eased me off my medicine for a few months and I was declared “symptom free”, which in the Lyme world is as good as cured. However, I still maintained a low grade fever (99.4ish), but was told not to worry.
I was relatively happy. I’d had my rest. I’d had my attention. And now I began to look forward to getting competitive in the pool again, and vying again for the “top of the class” position. I assumed everything was done and life would begin again as normal, but I hadn’t really learned anything about my negative attitude towards illness.
2009. My second semester of my junior year was going well. I had been symptom free for a little over six months, and was doing well in school again. However, as the championship season in the swimming pool loomed, some scary symptoms started showing up again. I initially ignored the fatigue and blamed it on the difficult practices, but when the mental fog arose, reality sunk in.
I nervously returned to my doctor and he sent me for more blood work. A few weeks later I returned to his office where he greeted me with the news I was not prepared to hear. “You have chronic Lyme Disease”, he said. Initially, I did not know what this really meant, but I did know that “chronic” was never a good term. He explained that Lyme disease which demonstrated returning symptoms after such an intense period of medication was a Lyme disease that could not be destroyed, but merely treated.
Though Lyme doesn’t ever really leave the system, it can be rendered essentially “dead”, but the Dr. explained that it was probably 99% certain that the Lyme disease in my system would never be rendered truly “dead”. He said that I would have to take mild dosage antibiotic for the rest of my life, and only would be able to go off of them for short periods of time.
I left the office in a daze. The disease I had embraced before now seemed like a death trap. The research I did only compounded the problem, showing me evidence that chronic Lyme disease could even be passed onto children. All of a sudden my whole mind-set changed. I no longer wanted to be sick! But I didn’t even know how to be well. I couldn’t stand the idea of going back onto the meds that abused my digestive system, made me gain weight, and made me feel nauseous at all times. So, I began taking the mild dosage and sadly began mourning my losses and trying to cope.
That May I got married to my high-school sweetheart. As we began our new life together I became a regular attender of his church, Harvest Christian Fellowship, a charismatic non-denominational church nearby. I had grown up in a very very conservative, near Baptist, non-denominational church and the charismatic culture was very new for me.
I had attended Harvest during college, because I had some friends that attended and it was close to my college. I became close to the pastor and his wife, attending home groups and most church services, but I still did not fully agree with the theology. I felt torn between the theology I had grown up with, and the theology preached by the new friends I respected. I tried to search the scriptures, but usually just ended up frustrated and unsure.
My pastor and his wife knew my confusion and were very gentle with me, but they knew I was missing something important in my spiritual walk. I don’t know if they really knew that I’d never even asked for prayer for healing as they had prayed for me often. I never asked for prayer myself, and never did I seek God on my own for healing. I felt numbed to the whole thing, and I think I was beginning to mentally recognize and admit to myself that I had wanted to be sick. It literally made me feel ill to even think about the repercussions of my attitude toward sickness. I attended a church that believed the words we spoke actually effected spiritual reality, and this idea scared me to death. In my mind, at the very least I was a disgusting sinner, and at the worst, I was so steeped in sin I desired illness… something that has destroyed the lives of millions.
On Sunday June 27 I came to church with less than a worshipful attitude. I drank very heavily the night before, and was hung over during worship. As I stood there I felt disgusting. I felt like the biggest hypocrite and most disgusting sinner to ever step foot in church. The worship music slowly began to break me and turned my self-attack into intense repentance. For the first time since the Lyme disease had reared its ugly head I asked for forgiveness for having wanted to be sick, and asked to be healed.
After worship time the pastor stood up to preach when his father-in-law stood and asked if he could say something. The pastor agreed, and his father in law (James) began sharing a vision he had of God as a surgeon, amputating parts of us in order to save the whole person. It ended with him weeping on his knees. Shortly after this another woman in the church stood and shared a similar vision of amputation during the civil war. It spiraled from there. People began weeping and the pastor opened up the front of the church to anyone who felt a need (specifically mentioning healing as one).
I knew I should go forward but felt very timid. God revealed that I had been essentially holding on to my disease. He really showed me the root fear I had of letting the disease go. To let it go, I had to first admit that I had wanted it in the first place. But, I had already begun the process of repentance so I went forward, weeping, and laid at the front of the church.
After a few moments laying on my stomach in front of the church, and silently praying for healing from the Lyme the same lady who had the word about amputation walked up to me and placed her hand on my back. She began praying for healing (I had not told her why I was weeping, and what I was praying for). Almost immediately my body began to shake uncontrollably. It was like every muscle in my body was tensing and releasing spasmodically over and over. She continued to pray for healing throughout my body, and astoundingly began telling me it was ok to let the disease go (as though she had read my mind). I had never before experienced anything like this.
As I lay there shaking I felt the Lord telling me that the disease was as much a spiritual issue as it was a physical issue. He revealed to me that it was something that had followed my family for generations, and I distinctly remember thinking “it’s a spirit of infirmity”. No sooner had a thought this than the lady (Karen) began saying things like “we renounce this spirit of infirmity that has followed Maggie’s family”. At this point my level of belief had jumped through the roof. I had been fighting resistance, still vaguely feeling that maybe this was all just emotions… I was just imagining it… but her apparent mind reading began squelching those thoughts.
And then, the final blow to my doubt came. As I lay with my arms above my head my right shoulder (which has been injured since high school) began radiating pain. I began thinking “well, the Lord is going to heal my Lyme but I guess I still have to deal with this stupid shoulder”. Almost immediately Karen then laid her hand on my right shoulder and began praying for healing in all the bones, joints and muscles. It was almost too much for me to handle. While I lay there my Pastor prayed over me and gave me a word of knowledge on my behalf, and James also came over to join in the prayer for healing. After about fifteen minutes of this the atmosphere changed. As though on cue my body slowly stopped shaking as Karen began praying for peace, strength and a deeper impression of the Holy Spirit in my life.
When everything was over I shared my testimony in front of the church in accordance with my belief that I am now Lyme and shoulder injury free.
Since then I have had no real shoulder pain to speak of and absolutely no fever or symptoms. From day one of Lyme disease I maintained a fever between 99.0 and 103, but as I returned home from church and took my temperature I read a steady temperature of 97.5. Over a year of fever, and amazingly no fever anymore. I could not have been more amazed. I was healed from Lyme!
Of course, the story is not over. It is really only beginning. From a sick skeptic to a healthy faith-filled Jesus lover, my life in Christ really just started. I have since begun both praying for and prophesying over others, seeing many touched by Christ (physical healings, emotional healings and salvations). More fruit has been seen in my relationship with Christ in the past two years than was seen in my entire sixteen years of Christianity prior to my healing.
Jesus told me I will see Lyme healed when I pray. I have not seen it yet but live in faith that I will. God is good and His heart is a heart of healing. I will live eternally thankful of his grace towards me and am excited to celebrate my fourth anniversary of healing in June as I also celebrate the new life that just graced my family… a child that also is completely Lyme free!