Kimberly was diagnosed with chronic, late stage Lyme disease just this June, after suffering for over a decade. By the time it was finally discovered she had three co-infections and four parasites as well as significant GI issues to contend with. She’s started treatment but she’s had Lyme disease for so long it’s far from a quick fix or guaranteed recovery. As she states, “Without proper treatment, it will take a long time to overcome. A lot of issues that arise during treatments can spike in severity and potentially have a permanent impact. There’s no promise of a complete cure.”
She does have hope, however, pinned on the possibility of receiving a specialized ozone therapy that combines other elements to the O3 that will cleanse the body at an intra-cellular level.
Kimberly is not sure how she contracted the disease, but hypothesizes that it was sometime during her childhood:
“I grew up in San Diego and we traveled often. I was outside all the time; it is very possible I got it [Lyme] then. Growing up our options for treatment even for normal illnesses were pretty limited. We were often homeless and on state aid. When I was 8, I experienced horrible abdominal pain. The doctor who was covered by welfare aid blamed it on eating too fast, stating that it was simply gas. Since I contend with very similar issues to this day, it’s very plausible Lyme was affecting me then. Going through family history from childhood onward and taking into consideration the odd sicknesses I would come down with has prompted my mom to consider the fact that she may be Lyme positive and passed it to me in utero. Because Lyme can be transmitted in such a way, my son has to be tested as well.”
She’s been experiencing symptoms for more than fifteen years.They began to be very severe when she reached 22. She began to have seizures and for a year underwent various neurological testing only to be told she had a version of chronic fatigue and should be taking vitamins. She states, “ I couldn’t drive because fatigue would hit so quickly. I had no warning or control over it. I had become a road hazard.”
She began to have serious gastrointestinal problems. She had lesions throughout her GI tract and her colon was black. She had six miscarriages and was never given an explanation as to why. She spent two months last year at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota looking for answers as her digestive issues progressed and she was lacking necessary nutrients. Her colon is essentially paralyzed but once more she left a clinic without answers.
She had been tested for Lyme disease once before, but it came back with a false negative and she never gave it another thought. Her visit to a naturopath changed that. After she finished discussing her symptoms the naturopath had a hunch, and with electrodiagnostic testing, Kimberly finally had a diagnosis. At first she was hesitant to believe that Lyme was the cause of all she had been dealing with, but as she read more about late stage Lyme disease things came together.
As she said “It’s been a lengthy process but everything finally makes sense.
My son, Noah, has witnessed the progression of issues. It’s difficult because you have to work, be a parent, and simply function. You train yourself to present an image of being “ok” because you don’t want to worry people. Now, at the age of 18, he’s had to carry me when I couldn’t walk and drive me to work. Due to the lack of insurance and financial support, he wants to become financially stable so he can help with the medical costs. I feel both tremendous pride and guilt over this. No parent wants their child to start their adult lives with such worries.”
Since she received the diagnosis she’s joined an advocacy group where she gets daily support and gets some of her questions answered. She also says she’s very blessed to have a new doctor who is accessible to her 24/7 and responds rapidly. She even says that she has “ Grown to consider my doctor a friend. She has charged less for appointments when she knows I am unable to pay, has done many services for free, and shows genuine empathy and compassion for her patients.”
Her treatment currently involves a combination of natural and traditional medicine therapies. Unfortunately, because her immune system has been suppressed for so long and the bacteria and parasites aren’t necessarily keen on departing, her symptoms have gotten more severe. Her liver is not responding well to all that it now has to filter so her doctor has decreased certain aspects of her treatment for now in order to give her body a chance to heal and get stronger. She still however, is taking numerous supplements and medications in order to treat the symptoms that are side effects of the Lyme etc. At this point, she is on what would be considered toxic doses of medications to address her non-functioning colon.
She continues to struggle with getting enough nutrients and even occasionally digesting her medicine. She eats mostly soft foods, even baby food, to try to intake enough. She shares her thoughts regarding starting treatment for late stage Lyme:
“It gets much worse before it gets any better. That’s why it’s imperative that I educate myself about this process. Thus far, I feel that going the route of long term antibiotic IV therapy isn’t the right option for me. The ozone therapy I’m seeking is less violating in the sense that the increase and severity of symptoms is much lower when compared to antibiotic therapies and the length of treatment is approximately 4 months as opposed to potentially years. I hope there will be significant progress made in Lyme awareness, options for testing and treatment, and an overhaul of the medical system in general. It’s been ignored, mistreated, and overlooked for far too long. Too often people such as myself have been deemed as mentally unstable, as if we are being untruthful about the health issues we are experiencing since we don’t fit neatly into a medically labeled box. Even close family and friends who acknowledge that I’m sick fail to grasp the severity of it predominantly because I don’t wear a “sick face”. I’ve taken pictures of my swollen abdomen and other outward manifestations to use as proof or to validate my claims. I’m hoping, since topics pertaining to Lyme have been made more prevalent in the media, with the addition of a new bill being passed to educate the medical community in addition to other changes, we will see heightened levels of awareness, preventative measures, and treatment options. Hopefully, society will gain a better understanding of what we suffer with and this will push stigmas to the side.”
Her hope is to raise enough money via the crowdfunding site, GoFundMe, to be able to afford a special treatment in a clinic in Florida. After a lot of research and conversations with clinics throughout the US, she believes this treatment, Ozone therapy, may be her best chance of long term, significant improvements in her health. She also wants, as she states, “Awareness, first and foremost. I don’t want anyone else to have to contend with this. I want to be able to help both those who are still seeking a diagnosis and those who are already in treatment. I feel that putting our stories on display is imperative.”
To help Kimberly raise funds for her treatment, you can send donations to her personal funding page. Donations large and small, both in monetary form or as items for silent auctions, are more than appreciated.
Get Kimberly’s story out to your social networks as we prepare for many other personal stories in prep of Invisible Illness Awareness Week.
Featured image by Ken Rieves, all other images by Kimberly.