treatment

How do I say thank you?

My current med setup, not a household shrine. Promise.

My current med setup, not a household shrine. Promise.

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.

There's no cure. I see hope.

A few days ago, my dad and I discussed treatment plans and the decisions surrounding it. These conversations are unpleasant for me. I'm weary of reevaluating my health status so often. I don't want to be reminded of how painful these last few months (or years, even) have been. Yet to ignore this topic would be foolish.

Can we still afford treatment?
How much longer will you give it a try?
Is this even working?


When I resigned from my job and began this particular protocol in December, I imagined by mid-2016, I would see progress. I marked out a timeline for myself—fairly certain by the end of June I would be healthier. Just in time for my birthday.

Early this morning, I began to look at this situation rather plainly. It's necessary to grab views detached from my emotions. I can't deny the facts about this disease. It is what it is. Regardless of what my body or a medical report reveals, I pray I will cling to God's truth.

The facts say there is no cure for chronic Lyme Disease. And once treated, over 63% of people could still face debilitating symptoms. No one can promise me I will feel better on this side of heaven. Not by June 2016, and not in 20 years.

I've heard this before, but I guess I was hoping for a different story.

This road could be a lot longer than I ever expected. I could still be asked, "are you feeling better yet?" in five years. Or maybe by then, the question will be stale and hardly a topic for discussion.

In my efforts to rush ahead, I put terms and conditions before God. 

Lord, if this treatment works, I could focus on You more.
Lord, once I feel better, I will serve You in many ways. 
Lord, it would be amazing to be miraculously healed.
Then wouldn't others wonder at Your goodness?


Do your prayers ever sound like mine? As humans, we love to have the ideals portioned out like they're baking ingredients. We've got recipes in mind and measurements memorized. Our prayers often uncover whether we've put God to a timer, expecting Him to whip up a treat for us when we see fit.

June is approaching. My self-made timer wants to count down the days.

But this is what I know. The abundance of life (John 10:10) is not going to be found in regaining my health. Or the community I once had. Or money in my bank account. Or living on my own again. Or traveling overseas. If true life could be found in any of those ideals, I would be left out of something God has promised, making Him a liar. And He cannot lie.

David says in Psalm 25:15,

"My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net."

Turning my vision away from myself and off the calendar, God helps me see differently. He reminds me of the eternal life I have now (John 17:3) and of the future glory to come (Romans 8:18). He leads me into truth—guiding me through life's interruptions with no fear in His step.

I don't have to count down the days until a desired date, because I can start counting up right now. I count up God's goodness. I marvel at how He can accomplish much in this frail body of mine. His Spirit does the work, renewing me (2 Corinthians 4:16) and giving me the doses of daily strength I need. Unlike my bottles of treatment, He will never run out.

There doesn't need to be a healing visible to the eyes for me to prove or believe He is good. Hope is alive inside me despite the pain and the losses—how incredible is that? How incredible is HE?

The facts about Lyme Disease are real. I have studied them, and I know them. But I also know a truth which sets me free from those fearful facts.

When I look to the the cross of Christ, I see that my dream life doesn't begin once circumstances align to my liking. He is eternal life, and I know Him now.

Lord, help me keep focused on You today.
I will seek after You. I will serve You. I will see that You are good.

Seeing differently

Expectations vs reality.

Nearly two months ago, I slipped on my glitter heels and swiped my badge for the last time. I was a big girl with a big girl job.

Choosing to resign with little savings and no further plan is not exactly trendy. I wouldn't encourage most to try it out.

Treatment has been monotonous and mainly uneventful. Some lovingly ask if I feel better yet. I don't. Activities the average young adult can tackle in a day are physically taxing for me. Monday, I caught up with a friend. Tuesday, I ran errands for an event. Wednesday, I made a meal. Normal life stuff.

After something as simple as showering, I feel like the big bad wolf in "The Three Little Pigs." My lungs huff and they puff. Tweezing my eyebrows is a task large enough to set my heart racing. I am exhausted by 11 am, when all I've done is gotten ready for the day. 

You might be able to relate.

But maybe you have all the energy I wish I had, and I have all the time you wish you had. Even then, we are probably quite similar.

We don't always get what we think we need. In one way or another, we look in the wrong places for security or regained hope. We are humans, and that's what we are prone to do.

I've got a knack for unrealistic expectations.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were my stark reminders this week. I know when I've pushed myself, because the pain is always worse the next morning.

I thought a diagnosis and a treatment plan would bring the answer and stability I wanted, but I was wrong. If I am not constantly looking to Jesus, I will always be disappointed.

I am learning healing on earth has not been promised to me by a certain date. It is not something that has a due date, like a library book or a baby.

God does not owe me anything. He has given me everything I need.

Some days, that is very challenging to reconcile with. Other days, I am so full of peace, knowing He is more than enough for me.

God is not a fulfillment service, shipping out our orders and delivering them on our time. We may not understand His ways, but we can stand under His truth. Day after day, He will meet us in our weaknesses—whatever our portion may be.

So, this is where I'm at.

It's not what I thought, but it has been the best for my growth. I am thankful.