Peter’s Story

In His Own Words (age 15, living in Connecticut)

I am a junior in high school, and for most of my life I have lived with Lyme Disease.

It started in second grade. I had no idea what Lyme Disease was back then.  The only thing that I did know was that my mom had it. She was virtually bedridden and in great pain. It bothered me so much to see her like that.

When I started to feel sick, I didn’t really know what to think. My pediatrician said that I was just upset because my mom was so ill. My doctor’s denial of my illness made me feel alone and scared   As bad as that was, going into school made me feel even worse. I kept falling asleep in class; I would get fevers and horrible chest pains. I also became extremely sensitive to sound, so much so that I had to cover my ears in music class because the sounds of the music would give me terrible headaches.

At that point, my pediatrician told me that all of my problems were caused by a virus. My mom finally took me to a Lyme doctor who quickly diagnosed me with Lyme.  My treatment began with the right medications prescribed. What I didn’t know was that the treatment would be very rough. When I first started to get the Herxheimer reactions [flare of the symptoms caused by die off of the infection], I didn’t think I would be able to continue. The pain that I experienced was so horrible and so frightening; all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and give up. I managed to make it through the hardest part, and my body began to make antibodies for the Lyme, fighting off the infection. From that point, I would have good days and bad days. Some days would be worse then others. When I started high school, my health started to decline again. I was struck by depression, memory loss, extreme fatigue, and several other symptoms. I started treatment again and I am also under the care of  several specialists. Since then my social activity and my school grades have both improved substantially.

Looking back on what had happened I would say that Lyme disease has taken away my childhood. I was never able to go out with friends. Some classmates thought that I was faking my illness. Hearing that always made me feel bad. It made me think to myself, “How can someone ever believe I was faking this kind of suffering?”

Aside from dealing with what my classmates said, I would also have to deal with some of my teachers. Even though my parents went to school and talked to my teachers, some of them never understood what I was going through. I went through eight years of suffering, and I am still combating this disease.

However, I also feel that Lyme disease helped me mature in some ways. I have become very empathetic and kind towards others who are sick or just have a rough life. I want to help other kids my age so they won’t have to go through what I have gone through. Sometimes, the pain and suffering that someone goes through adds another dimension to a person, one that understands the suffering of others.

Thanks to the California Lyme Disease Association, Inc. for special permission to reprint this story. It first appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of their publication Lyme Times.

© 2007 California Lyme Disease Association, Inc.