Treatment, week one.
I glance at the chart, pairing capsules and droppers and sprays to their proper doses and conditions. It's a grown-up matching game. 15 drops, twice daily, the 4th row reads. Empty stomach? Check. The droplets roll into my cup. So tiny and clear, they could be mistaken for rain, tears, possibly even sweat. Expensive sweat.
Bacteria is present, partying in my body like it has for years. But my new practitioner says she's hopeful. This time I believe those words. Because I finally am, too.
If treatment yields a body without pain, I would be so grateful. (Many of you have been praying and are currently praying to that end. Thank you for that. Truly.) Can I be honest, though? This body—the one that creaks and swells and tires—is how I've known it since 18. Life has been lived and loved through it. In those years, I've grown up with symptoms always surrounding me. Plenty of mornings, my energy (or spoon supply) was emptied before I could leave my room. But God was constantly near, his presence encircling me in ways I can't perceive. Unfailingly, his spirit would sustain me when I thought it impossible to continue on.
Joni Eareckson Tada wrote in When God Weeps:
The damp fog of my despair did not dissipate overnight, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I had turned a corner. I was moving in the direction of God. My questions also created a paradox: in the midst of God's absence, I felt his presence. I found him after I let go of what I thought he should be. My despair ended up being my ally because through it, he took hold of me.
I eventually came to know his kindness in my physical suffering. Paradoxes, yes. This is why, without a healed body, I can say I'm grateful right now. It's the Spirit's work, I know. I'm too grumpy and selfish and impatient to produce anything resembling thankfulness. Please remember that.
When coming to Atlanta, I knew nothing of health centers in the area. I started to pray this spring for direction and wisdom on where to seek treatment. The Sunday before Hope Heals Camp, I received prayer for healing from one of our elders. We spoke later that morning, and he said he'd be in touch. Cell service was spotty at camp, but if you held your phone just right, you could load emails on the front patio of my cabin. The message came through on my birthday—the elder connected me with someone who had Lyme disease. She'd seen results through a center up north, where I'm now a patient. By early July, my prayer for direction had been answered.
Next, I needed provision. God has stretched my part-time, hourly pay to cover all kinds of bills and costs, but appointments and remedies from my own check were out of reach. I began to pray for the right resources. I made my needs known and once again, God used his people to answer my prayers. It is through the generosity and faithfulness of my brothers and sisters that I now get to receive treatment. WHAT!?!
Last time I started treatment, I walked away from the church. The isolation I felt made my heart wilt with despair. A few years later and it's the church that is walking with me to wholeness. They don't know how they've already been integral to my healing these last 9 months.
"We want to see you well. Start as soon as you can."
I've never had this kind of support. A billion thank you's could not suffice.
These are photos from my bedridden days over the years. All pre-Georgia. Don't be fooled by the colors and twinkling lights—grief, fear, and confusion were bundled inside. I thought I was Erika the Sick Girl and nothing more. Seems like another life.