By Perry Louis Fields
My name is Perry Louis Fields, a former track and field professional, who spent 5 years figuring out how to cure myself of multiple autoimmune illnesses, including chronic Lyme disease. There are lots of stories out there about chronic “death bed” illnesses and there are hundreds of thousands of people who are sick just like I was. Many call themselves survivors, but I think I’d rather call myself enlightened.
I was an “invincible” athlete. My face was always turned towards the finish line. I thought about training hard, working hard and winning. When I felt sick, I pushed through. When I was bitten by a tick a year before I succumbed to its effects, I shrugged it off and didn’t really know what Lyme disease was. I had a stellar track year and almost made the Olympic team in 2004. But in 2005 after a very stressful year with a new coach and a move, I finally couldn’t shrug off the symptoms that were increasing. I felt toxic, but when I got treatment I went into a downward spiral from which I thought I would never emerge. It was hell.
Lyme disease is simply not studied enough. I believe, as do many other researchers and medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of Lyme disease, that it will become an epidemic. Mothers can pass it on to their unborn children. And since Lyme disease even hangs out in the skin of its victims, it is believed that people can pass Lyme disease to each other through human contact.
Even scarier is the fact that Lyme disease can be treated pretty much successfully when it’s diagnosed and treated immediately. But this is often not the case. The ticks that carry Lyme disease are hard red ticks, which can be so small you won’t even notice them on your skin. As such, most people who are bitten and get Lyme disease don’t even know it. Those infected may be sick for years and years and may eventually die prematurely from all of the after effects of the disease slowly invading their cells and taking over all metabolic functions. People are diagnosed with MS, Bell’s Palsy and even Parkinson. Some get paralysis and the majority have excruciating debilitating pain on a daily basis.
These are the type of horror stories you hear from most of those with Lyme disease. There is no shortage of online forums, Facebook posts and websites with people sharing their stories about the hell they are living in from the disease. There are even books out there with nothing in them but the description of how a person is living day to day with Lyme disease.
Chronic disease in any form is pain. That is something we all understand. I could write pages upon pages of what it was like to live bed ridden, about the days that I felt my body was as fragile as a 95 year old, that I thought I was made of ash and that a strong wind would disintegrate my body into thin air. I could write about how hard it was for me to move back into my parent’s house because I couldn’t take care of myself and I certainly couldn’t drive to my appointments.
The most interesting take away was my initial conventional treatment with a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) whose standard cocktail of drugs pushed me over the edge and made my mental state suspcious. At one point I was close to asking my mother to commit me to keep me safe from harming myself or other people. I was a strong candidate for suicide when I was introduced to long-term antibiotics. But the worst part of the journey was when I was told by these professionals that you never get rid of Lyme disease, you just manage it.
Anyone who has ever been sick and told that their disease is not curable and that you will be managing it for the rest of your life understands the fear and dread and the hopelessness. Words here cannot even express the scope of the despair.
After these LLMDs made me a guinea pig and wanted to manage my disease forever, I went in the opposite direction. It’s hard to be brave in these situations when you are scared into believing that only their method will work for you. You are scared to leave the care of a doctor who has supposedly treated thousands of patients with your illness and has had so many years’ experience. He’s an expert, right!
But many times just taking a break and shutting off the outside noise and tuning into your own heart will provide you the most outstanding answers. You meet people for a reason. You are reading this for a reason.
Being the young, brash, never tell me “NO” type of gal paid off. Even with my results of Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Lupus, I was determined to move on. I knew I could either plan my death or plan a future. Since both were going to take some research, I decided for the future. In that instance when I had decided where I was going, it was only a matter of time for my reality to be formed to fit my beliefs. And that’s exactly what happened.
I never took another antibiotic and you know what happened? I got better. I reduced the bacteria load naturally and I never went “psycho” again. It was a slow healing, but the truth is for most people who find themselves chronically ill, you have to factor in a lifetime up to that point of questionable daily habits (stress, environment, foods, etc.)
Each day gets better and better, you may have a few dips along the way, but that’s common when healing properly. As your days get better and you find yourself having these amazing days where you did activities you haven’t done in years, you realize you are on the right path and it gives you the encouragement to keep working until you are totally well. There are no vicious cycles of feeling slightly better and then becoming really ill, worse than before.
We are all given choices and we all make choices. Some are made by just not knowing any better. By getting sick, it’s a wakeup call to do things differently. If you ignore it, you live a life that’s not ever 100% and you die prematurely. If you use it as an opportunity, it becomes just that.
Throughout my journey with Lyme disease I met a lot of people with Lyme. Most are negative and angry, and this is totally understandable. They feel like their doctors have given up on them or they are some “test subject” who is given drug after drug to fight this invisible infection. Since there is no shortage of sad stories out there, people get bogged down into the negatively of the others who have the disease. It’s best to make a break from the pack.
Since I got ill, I started coaching people with chronic illness, even when Lyme disease is not the diagnosis, someone with “mystery illness.” I’ve seen people who were once in my position recovering fully when given no hope by their doctors. I’ve seen people who I think were worse off than me become fully well. What they all have in common is that they made it an opportunity and they set their intentions of what they wanted and it became a reality.
We are all given the same healing gifts and have inside us a miracle that is the human body. It endures all kinds of trauma. Several years ago my 92 year old grandmother received the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. She said she was too old for chemo and didn’t see any alternatives. She was ready to check out, but it wasn’t as easy as she thought it was going to be. She was seemingly frail and decided to stop eating and stop drinking anything. It took several weeks for her to finally pass. It left a lasting impression on me. A motorcycle accident I witnessed in Orlando knocked a kid’s helmet off and his head hit the pavement. When I ran over to him, half of his head was imploded from the impact. Not knowing what to say, I told him to stay relaxed and breathe, though he showed no signs of life. All of a sudden he took a huge breath. He later died at the hospital, but to this day I still cannot figure out how he could have still been alive when I came over to him on the road.
Since my ordeal with Lyme disease, my first physical feat was riding a mountain bike (on dirt paths) from Pittsburgh to Washington DC in 4 days. Then I entered a professional triathlon (my first ever). I came in third and nobody was more surprised than I was! After that I went back to track and made an appearance at the USA Track and Field Championships in the 800m. Then I decided to become a sprinter, gained 15lbs of muscle and ran the 60m competitively for several years.
The body can endure in a chronically ill state. When given the proper guidance, the body can make miraculous recoveries.
There is always a way.