So for the past two days, I got really sick, seemingly out of nowhere. (Isn’t that always the way?) So bad, in fact, that yesterday, I missed over 2 hours of class. Our last class. Class that constituted clinical hours that I would need to graduate and sit for the licensing exam.
I emailed my instructor. I texted my study group to alert my instructor to read her email in case she hadn’t by the start of class. I hate missing class, even when I am in really bad shape, I do what I can to force myself to show up, hedging my bets that the adrenaline will eventually kick in and distract me from whatever I am suffering from.
I really hate writing those emails, even as infrequent as they are. I always feel like someone is going to think I’m making excuses. Or worse, that I am looking for attention. I have a love-hate relationship with the somewhat public nature of my illness. I want to spread awareness, because I would HATE to see someone suffer the way I have suffered, and to that end I think I’ve already helped a few people seek out proper treatment. I seem to be the go-to person for those friends and acquaintances in my life who have questions about Lyme disease and tick bites and treatment. And I’m happy to be that resource. But because so many now know, I get asked “how are you doing today?” with that really concerned and knowing expression in their eyes. Or, on my really bad days, “You don’t look so hot, what’s happening?” I hate those days the most. It means I am failing miserably at hiding my illness, and I sincerely don’t want people to think I am begging for attention or making excuses, especially when I know so many around me are also fighting battles of their own.
There is another part of me that thinks, “They NEED to know.” People need to know that something as innocuous as a walk in the woods with their pooch can debilitate them if they aren’t aware of the risks. They need to know to wear bug repellent and protective clothing. They need to know what to do if they find a tick, and how they should be treated. And if they don’t have cooperative doctors, what they can do to help themselves.
I’ve dedicated the remainder of my life to this disease. It’s the reason I’m in school, again, after 20 years, and the reason why I will continue my education until I can treat my own patients one day. I know I will be fighting not just the disease, but the establishment as I do so. I’m ok with that.