Jaclyn – Undiagnosed Lyme Disease Put My Life on Hold
Ten years ago, I was proud to be following in my father’s footsteps. I had a degree from JMU and a dream job at a local winery, where I was by all measure a top performer. My hard work and studies—my determination and work ethic—were paying off as promised.
But then, I started feeling “off.” At first, it just seemed like a bad flu. But the symptoms persisted, and they got worse—more frequent and more severe. I was walking around foggy most of the time. I lost my ability to focus; tasks that would previously take 10 minutes now took an hour. And, I was in excruciating pain—even though I was taking 16 ibupofen pills a day. I could hardly walk. Washing my hair was torture. Work was almost impossible. My mouth was so swollen, I could only eat yogurt with a knife.
Whatever this was, it was affecting my job—my whole life. And there was no end in sight. I went to a long line of doctors, who ordered a multitude of tests: EKG, EEG, MRI, cat scans. Everything came back “normal.” The consensus? There was “nothing wrong” with me. I was divorced and far from family, fearful of losing my job, feeling like I must be crazy.
No one in Loudoun should have to face a life of pain and fear alone.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
A year and a half after experiencing the first symptoms, I took a medical leave from my job and started to see a therapist to help me cope with the stress. After hearing my story, she sent me to a specialist—a Lyme-literate physician who was able to finally give me a diagnosis. I had never found a tick on my body, nor had I ever seen the bull’s-eye rash. Nonetheless, I was suffering from a severe case of Lyme Disease, an autoimmune disease afflicting at least 320,000 Americans each year.
My doctor put me on an 18-month journey to health. An aggressive regime of medications, a tightly controlled diet, and a commitment to reducing stress were the keys to managing and ultimately eradicating my symptoms.
During my recovery, I found a new spirituality and a personal calling—to help those who are struggling with undiagnosed autoimmune diseases. Virginia and Loudoun are at the epicenter of the Lyme epidemic. Today, I work with multiple organizations to educate the public on the prevention, symptoms, and treatment of this horrific disease.
It is my great purpose and passion in life: To help the people who must walk the path I followed. If I can just point them to the resources and information I did not have, help them advocate for their own answers, and avoid all the misinformation that warps the public understanding of this disease, I can shorten their suffering and get back to a healthy, fulfilling life.
Won’t you help me End the Need in Loudoun?