I have Lyme. I’d like to not have it anymore. I also just want cake.
So I really like the internet most days. People are so funny. Millennials are funny. The humorous content they create and share online centers on how much they don’t have it all together, how adulting is hard, how getting out of bed is hard, how managing a bank account is beyond the scope of their will, socializing is the biggest chore of life, and just how little responsibility their mental health can handle. I find this simultaneously humorous and terrifying for future implications. But that aside, today I want to focus on one meme that has come out of this generation recently that I truly love. It’s my favorite. “He’s doing his best okay.”
When applied to circumstances of utter absurdity it is amusing. When applied to my life of Lyme & Co, especially when the sum accomplishments of many of my days resemble an absolutely laughable attempt at normalcy, perhaps even amounting to a negative number… can it get anymore relatable?
When I got sick and it became apparent this was not going away, I descended into this strong desire to leave my body. I fantasized about it. I would eye the old guy meandering down the soup isle at the grocery store and desperately wish I could trade bodies even with him. Enmity grew between me and my body and flourished for a long time. As as I began to improve and my symptoms would begin to ebb and flow as opposed to just constant, my body wasn’t despised as much in my mind but still remained as this thing that I couldn’t trust, would frequently let me down or drag me into setbacks, and that I still wished I could escape from. I think we all understand these feelings.
Recently I underwent a brain MRI to just make sure nothing has changed since my last in 2013. I have no problems with MRIs other than the sound. I change into the supes comfy, 15 sizes too big scrubs and empty my bladder. I am ushered into the cool, dark room with the whooshing sounds made by an MRI machine on idle. I lay on the little padded human conveyor belt bed, get the cage put around my head, and then the attendant leaves the room. As soon as my bed begins to move me into the machine an unexpected rush of heat hits my brain and I feel like I’m going to pass out. And contrary to every previous MRI experience I’ve had, my body begins to utterly, completely, panic.
What. On earth.
I have no history of having problems with MRIs. Or CTs. I’m not claustrophobic in these conditions. I actually find laying in a cool, dark room to be peaceful. I like enclosed spaces. I feel safe and relaxed under weighted blankets. Story time within a story time – I even used to drag my pillow and blankets into my closet and sleep. So clearly, this MRI panic attack made absolutely no sense. But because I am also awkward and didn’t want to screw up the whole scan, let alone hit my panic button and sheepishly be like “um, please stop and also please don’t look me in the eye when you come back”, I bottled my panic attack and just let it internally rage while I laid there pretending I wasn’t actively in the dying process. Throughout that MRI I frequently thought how awkward it was going to be when the attendant came back and conveyor belted me out of the tube only to find that I had sadly passed. I imagined all of the blank faces when they were going to have to go out to the waiting room and inform D that his wife had unfortunately not made it through this incredibly benign procedure in which I am only required to lay still. This was it. After all of the ER visits, picc lines, IVs, herxheimer reactions strong enough to have me fantasizing about running in front of a bus, if I was capable of running… and THIS was how it ends. Of course it would be. Of course my body would do this to me as the ultimate final line in the modern tragedy that was my story… make ME the victim of something so mirroring my own sense of dark humor.
So severe was this panic attack that I genuinely think it ranks in the top ten most difficult acute experiences of my illness. There was no button I could press to drop a lorazepam into my mouth.
As I was summoning everything within my power not to scream and fah-reak out, I was also cursing my body. I was thinking about how much torment it has put me through, how it’s let me down, and how it’s held me back from so much. I mean, really, I was NOT being kind to it at all. This self-cursing would only be interrupted by asking God to spare my life (or to sing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam in my head), of course, because my body was going to kill me and as I mentioned, I did not want to go out in an MRI tube to bad dubstep sounds… like the ultimate one-upper of misfortune my body seems to be. And then, suddenly, something that changed my perspective instantly. A simultaneous chastisement clothed in the most loving and nurturing of tones. A voice came into my mind that momentarily silenced all of the chaos.
“She’s doing her best”.
Man. I melted. I completely melted. I had been viewing my body wrong this whole time. Thank you, God, for sticking up for this lump of flesh that I was being so mean to. Lyme was happening to us, not just me. For over four years now my body has been enduring this hell as well. She’s been fighting and doing the best with what she knows how. She’s countering as best as she knows how. She was given a certain genetic code with instructions for how to respond to this mess and not every line is perfect, but bless her she’s working with what she got. She gets tired, too. She has been that trusty car that doesn’t look like much, shows her wear, but gosh darnit she still carries you around even if her muffler is loud, she’s getting rusty, stalls a lot, and you’re embarrassed to be seen in her. Her only job is to carry you throughout life so you can experience mortality together and she’s giving it her all for you. Sometimes she’s the big yellow duck in the harbor doing nothing but staying afloat. Sometimes she’s the bear banging clumsily on the piano because pianos are meant to be played and she knows how badly you want to make music. She’s trying to give you good moments while also trying to save you both.
In that second, like a powerful rush equal to the initial heat of my panic attack, I felt such a profound gratitude to my body for everything she’s given me. I felt love for her and I felt this overwhelming desire to be kind to her and appreciate her efforts. To treat her like the gift she is.
Maybe I’m the only one who needed to realize this. But I’m sharing anyways. It really impacted me. Me and my body are in this together. We’re fellow sufferers. We are both, simply, doing our best.