Five days ago, I boarded a motorboat bound for Playa Zancudo (that’s Mosquito Beach, aptly named, by the way), in the Southwest corner of Costa Rica near the Panamanian border. As the boat wove its way between narrow water channels, I felt the heaviness in my chest returning and my breathing growing more labored. Fantastic. The Lyme symptom, which hadn’t been a problem over the past seven months, had sure picked a glorious time to come back.
The voice of a friend resounded in my brain, “What if something happens to you while you are so far away from home?”
And here I was, taking a boat to spend five days in the remote Costa Rican rainforest. On a boat and a few too many hours away from “quality” healthcare.
But since when did I place my sense of security in being close to an ER and in the presence of loved ones? Since Lyme? What did I believe, deep down?
As the boat cruised along and the spectacular rainforest unfolded before me, I reminded myself that only God gives and takes life. The two times I’d gone to the ER with Lyme were exercises in reassurance and nothing more (aren’t they almost always just that?). I hadn’t had an adrenal crisis yet and I didn’t believe I was headed for one now. So why was I still nervous?
Nonetheless, the 2.5 mgs of cortisol I had stashed in the front pocket of my backpack soon alleviated the breathing problem, confirming to me that air hunger in Lyme isn’t just a symptom of Babesia, as some experts think, but also adrenal insufficiency. I surmise it has to do with the fact that cortisol works with epinephrine to dilate bronchial passageways, which in turn aids breathing. (FYI, asthma is thought by some to be the result of adrenal insufficiency).
That afternoon, as I lie in a hammock strung between coconut palms and fronting the spectacular Pacific, my breathing semi-normal again, I was reminded of why I traveled so far. Greenery. Sea air. Tranquility. Perspective. To banish the fear-based belief that it’s better to hover close to a hospital, just in case.
I laughed. Just in case what? I keel over dead?
Then God reminded me that the fear associated with my inability to breathe, as so many other things, has been based more upon the distorted belief that I am expendable, rather than the reality of illness. Am I not a child of God, loved and cared for by Him?
I can’t say it was the first time I’d heard this, but how quickly I’d forgotten.
No, I wouldn’t advocate remote rainforest travel for all Lymies. Legitimately, for some, it’s good to be near healthcare facilities. And I wouldn’t advocate isolation for too long, not even for myself. But sometimes, I have to take risks and do things that scare me a little, in order to purge myself of the real fears inside.
I closed my eyes in the hammock, thanking God for allowing me to be mobile and functional enough to take a plane, three buses and boat down to Central America. All is well with my soul. Thank God for mosquito beaches.