Tomorrow marks five years since I walked out of the doors of a ‘health center’ in south Kansas City, Missouri for the last time. I arrived, hopeful and energetic (well, as energetic as I could be after nearly four years of being mysteriously ill). During my pre-treatment appointments, I was promised that I would be a patient for three to four months, leaving me healthy and well and ready for a return to my life as I had lived it before I became ill. The treatment was rigorous, with twice daily IV infusions of antibiotics and other medications and vitamin shots. In addition to the daily infusions, there were some 35 different prescriptions of varying doses and schedules. The ten alarms on my then flip phone were set for times to take doses of these ‘cures’ for what ailed me.
For nearly eleven months, from August 18, 2008 through July 1, 2009, I followed the strict protocols and did as I was told. For the next ten months, I continued to follow the protocols prescribed for my continuing treatment once I returned home to Montana. For my efforts, I lost nearly half of my body weight, much of my hair, and all of my finger and toe nails. And I was not better. According to my family and friends (who have only recently begun to tell me their thoughts about that time), I was much worse.
People who saw me in the summer and fall of 2009 have since told me that they expected to see me at my funeral. I was told on a number of occasions to get my affairs in order as there was nothing more that could be done for me. I spent all of my savings, retirement accounts, and the monies donated by people ~ some I knew and many I did not ~ to maintain my treatments. Through April 2010, I continued to take those additional pills ~ 30+ prescriptions and other supplements. I injected my thighs twice daily with heparin. I drank more water than I ever thought possible, assured that I was washing the diseases from my body. I so wanted to believe that all of this would work to restore me to my former self.
Thankfully, and miraculously, my high school playmate, Mary Lyn Hammer (who had been alerted to my story and had visited me on a few occasions during 2009 and 2010) was alerted to my situation and had fought similar illnesses for years before I did. She intervened, and according to my new health care providers, she did so just in time. She paid for my flight to be with her; she covered the testing and the costs of care. Through her meticulous research and efforts, she had worked with health care providers in Phoenix to develop a protocol that could help. She was an angel on the earth, ensuring that every form of healing from medication and shots to energy and spiritual healing were available to me. Within four months of my three-week visit to be with her, I had reduced my prescriptions from more than thirty daily to four. I was using natural alternatives ~ food, light exercise, meditation, laughter, and homeopathic supplements ~ to build a new body.
Eighteen months later, in November 2011, I returned to Phoenix to see the naturopath who was caring for me. In that time, I had all but eliminated my need for daily migraine medicine, started working with a trainer to get my muscles back in shape, and was thinking straight for the first time in more than eight years. I was given a clean bill of health and the go-ahead to return to living life ~ an upstat from surviving it.
Since November 2011, my life has move at warp speed in the direction I am committed. Given a second chance at living, I am grateful for each moment I spend. Some moments may seem dismal, and when viewed through the lens of my 40’s, they are a joy. I no longer need a cane to walk. I have the strength to do whatever I want. My energy and vitality allow me to make trips and spend time with people. My hair is back (though a tad less red than I recall it being) and my nails are strong. I exercise regularly, walk almost five miles daily, and love every challenge and opportunity on my path. Some days, I have to pinch myself to be reminded of how far I have come.
None of this would have been possible without several things working together. The synergy of the people in my life and the time they spent with me is moving and inspiring ~ leaving me in tears at the blessing you are and have been to and for me. You listened whilst I rambled. You donated time, money, and your efforts. You reassured me when all I could see was despair. You encouraged and challenged me to face my limitations, real and self-imposed. YOU are my hero. And you have given me back my life. And for that, there are no words.
My commitment to you is that I will live a life worthy of your efforts. My promise is that people will have the strength, facility, and capacity to deal with whatever life throws at them.
Happy fifth anniversary of my ‘release.’ I celebrate because of you!