So I was telling a good friend this story and she was absolutely blown away. It was after thinking about what she had said that I realized that Lyme Disease gave me a truly wonderful gift.
Prior to my Lyme Diagnosis, I was terribly shy. And when I say shy, I mean sometimes if I had to talk in front of people or to new people ... I would literally get sick afterward. Now one would think that because I was in the band, colorguard, winterguard, and a dancer that there was no way I could feel that way, but truth be told ... when I was participating in those items I was portraying a character. I wasn't me.
As soon as I stepped onto the football field, I was a different person. Ask me about Guard and I could have talked for hours. If you knew me back then, you may not have realized I was shy because well ... you KNEW me. The trouble was getting to know me. My best friend has always said that if people would just get to know me then they'd love me. The trouble was letting them in to get to know me. Some people just had the gift to get right inside my heart and others I put up this wall.
Then I was diagnosed with Lyme. Friends left. I felt an overwhelming sadness. People I knew a lot of my life were disappearing like flies. I figured they just couldn't handle. What's odd is that they handled things just fine when it was undiagnosed and I just had symptoms, but once the doctor put a name on it ... they just vanished.
I started a small group with a few of my Lyme friends that live in North & South Carolina back in the last part of 07. It was my friend Sarah (that I went to the HS graduation a couple of years ago) in South Carolina & I that were discussing the possibility of a small group. We talked back & forth on the computer and created a great name for our group (I don't want to say b.c I don't want it to be inundated with new requests from people). Sarah drew something up and my friend Missy graphically designed it so that we would have a beautiful logo.
A couple of weeks in, we had about 8 friends. Our close online buddies that we talked to daily. I never imagined that it would grow to be more than 15. Soon we got our first request for someone we had never spoken to. We knew that we had to keep our small group safe so I created a small survey to send to the people that asked to join us (especially for those that we did not know or someone in the group could not vouch for!). As I go to different Lyme events, I find out if they are on FB. As I become friends with them, I add them to the group. Now we are almost at 50 members.
You may ask, how does this get back to what Lyme gave to you? Well, I have friends online that understand exactly what I've been through. In reverse, I can understand exactly what they are going through. We are friends. It's simple as that. We are advocates for Lyme Disease. Some of them have transitioned from "My Lyme friend" just to "My friend." You may remember when I went to the NC Lyme Walk and met several Lymies. I'm not very close online friends with several of them. I had no problems talking with them and I didn't even feel a tinge of nausea of meeting them and talking with them. This is just a pure gift of Lyme.
The story that made my friend go "What? seriously? You did that?" Well during the week I had been talking with two online friends. Whitney (my friend that had the benefit raffle and the articles in the paper) & Sarah J. We decided that we would get together at Whitney's house and hang out for the morning. Whitney & I had never met Sarah, but thought it would be safe for us to meet at Whitney's house (we've all been talking for sometime). Well Friday morning Whitney's Mom called and told me that she wasn't feeling well. That we should postpone our fun morning. (and by Fun I mean, sitting there complaining about Lyme Disease and planning our first advocacy event). So I called Sarah J and left a message. I thought we wouldn't meet and started heading home.
She called me back and I mentioned that maybe we could meet anyways. So I plugged in a new address to the GPS and off I went. So yes, I drove to a mall (one that I rarely go to) and met with someone I've never met with before and it was as if we were old friends hanging out. Crazy. It was exactly that way when I met Whitney the first time. Now granted all these people I have been talking to online for sometime so it's not exactly like they are new people, but still.
I just realized the other day that I have now met 15 of the 47 Lyme people in our small community. That's amazing! I'm in the beginning stages of planning an event for all of us (like maybe a Saturday luncheon somewhere to plan for how we can improve the knowledge of Lyme Disease in North Carolina). So excited!