Those of us with chronic Lyme disease have been living in the neighborhood of Hard Knox for a long time. Physically, emotionally and financially.
So I know you will sympathize with me when I tell you about my friend Jamie, who is living with her eighty-something year-old grandparents because she is destitute and bedridden with Lyme disease.
I’ve known Jamie for a few years now. We have lived our Lyme journeys together, but during the time that I have known Jamie, I have watched devastation upon devastation ravage her life. And not just Lyme disease.
And yet, my friend has kept on fighting. She is one of the kindest, most loving people that I know, and has always reached out to others with a word of love or encouragement, no matter how bad she has felt. She has always remained positive throughout her battle with Lyme disease. Much more than I have ever been able to, and despite the fact that her circumstances have been much more difficult than mine.
Her loving spirit, gentleness and kindness have been a lamp of light that has shone brightly upon my own life of hardship, and she has brought immense joy and blessing to my life.
But here’s the thing.
The string of tragedies that my brave friend has faced over the past couple of years have been collectively greater than what some people face over a lifetime. Yes, toss a tomato at me for trying to quantify human suffering, but you might at least agree with me when I tell you that what my friend Jamie has endured over the past two years has been nothing short of astounding.
I remember making dinner one night, about a year and a half ago, when I received a call from Jamie. She was in the hospital and through tears, told me that she didn’t think her mother was going to survive a surgery that had been performed on her.
Indeed, and while still a young woman, Jamie’s mother passed away shortly after that.
Jamie’s mother had been her best friend and the one who had helped her the most to endure the cruel seizures and other difficulties of Lyme disease.
And all of a sudden, Jamie’s greatest supporter was gone.
As if that weren’t enough, two months prior to her mother’s passing, Jamie’s father also left this world.
But the death of her parents has been only the tip of the tragic iceberg for Jamie.
Since I have known Jamie, she has struggled to treat Lyme disease, and not for a lack of motivation, but because she has had to spend her days caring for her two year-old, because her husband has not been available to do that, and neither did she have the money to pay for a caretaker. This has meant stopping antibiotics whenever the herx reactions would become so severe that she couldn’t take care of her son. Too often, she had to choose between caring for her son and treating her Lyme disease.
But this is still only the beginning. Jamie’s husband, like so many family members and friends of Lyme disease sufferers, has failed to understand that Jamie is sick. Over the past three years, I have witnessed her battle to save her marriage. She has overlooked many offenses in her relationship with her husband, in order to preserve the union that she so much valued with him. She has done her utmost to remain a faithful wife and to provide for her husband, despite her condition.
And this, despite the fact that her husband was not adequately providing for her, neither financially nor emotionally.
Whenever he would leave her alone with her son, so that he could gamble or go on a vacation, Jamie would be forced to stop treatments so that she could properly take care of her son in his absence.
And now, because of all these things, my friend Jamie is bedridden with Lyme disease and her life hangs in the balance.
She can’t chase her two year-old around the house anymore. In fact, she doesn’t even have him with her now and she misses him dearly. He may have been the only thing that has kept her going.
Her husband has turned a blind eye to her needs. He has put other things above his son and wife. Whenever she needs money for the most basic of necessities, such as food or toothpaste, he does not provide. Furthermore, and despite the fact that she is bedridden, he yet believes that she is faking her disease. That she lives in bed and has lost a lot of weight seems irrelevant to him.
As you can see from the link on this blog, a friend has set up a support fund for Jamie’s treatments. But it has not been enough so far.
My friend Jamie needs intravenous antibiotics immediately if she is to survive, but she doesn’t have enough money to do them yet.
If I had the money, I would give it to her in a heartbeat. But I live in Costa Rica because I cannot yet afford life in the United States and I treat my symptoms only minimally due to my own financial hardship. It grieves me that I don’t have twenty thousand dollars in the bank so that I could give Jamie half, because I love my friend so dearly and don’t want to lose her.
Of course, I give what I can, but as I give, I have to ask myself objectively what it means to lay down my life for my friends, as Jesus did. Because sometimes I think it means giving away all that I have, even though my love, discernment or faith in God has not yet allowed me to do that.
But I do have enough faith to believe that in general terms, the more I give, the more I will receive. And so I give according to my faith.
Yes, indeed, all of us with Lyme disease suffer from financial hardship. We could all use a little (or a lot) more money to get proper treatment. I know.
Not all of us, however, are in a life-threatening situation, and not all of us have lost two parents, a husband, and a son over the span of two years.
So as I write this, with tears streaming down my face, I would like to ask you all to examine your hearts, and to ask yourself, or God, whether offering Jamie a small donation would not be the best way to bring healing into your own lives. Whether it could mean a greater retribution for you down the road, from the One who is the giver of all good things, or because you believe in karma or that “what goes around comes around.” And I know that not all of you need this appeal–for some of you, you know that you are taken care of, no matter what, and that giving to another sufferer is the greatest path to healing, and to life.
Thank you for your love and for your consideration of my beautiful friend. I know she would thank you from the bottom of her heart if you could help her, even a little, to regain her precious life.
If you would like to contribute, just click on the link at the top right column of this page, under the heading, “Help A Lyme Sufferer In Need.” Thank you!