The most common question I have received about writing Papier Mache Princess is “Was it hard to write?”
The answer is a resounding yes.
But not for the reasons you might think.
I thought I had lice.
Turns out I didn’t.
But I kinda wish I had.
“Will you check one more time?” I pleaded and turned my back to my husband. He lifted portions of my hair, section by section, while holding a small flashlight in his mouth, and examined my scalp.
“There’s redness and bumps, but I don’t see anything else,” he said.
For the twelfth time.
After the twelfth search.
I felt certain that lice or some other kind of creepy crawly had taken up residence on my head. I had a sensation that something – or lots of somethings – were slithering around beneath my scalp, leaving an unbearable itch in their wake. It had been going on for weeks. I sighed when Scott gave me The Look.
“Fine, I’ll call the doctor’s office tomorrow.”
Two days later, I sat on a cold examination table in the office of a doctor I’d never met before. “It looks like it could be contact dermatitis,” she finally said, although I had neither used new hair products nor worn new head gear. I accepted the prescription for a steroid foam and hoped it would take care of the itch.
It didn’t. It was months before the insufferable itching went away. Temporarily.
I can look back and pinpoint that time as a season of increased random, weird, and unexplainable symptoms.
Rashes that came and went.
Swelling of an eye.
Pain – muscle pain, joint pain, head pain, neck pain. Pain that would migrate from one area to another. I started questioning my sanity. (I know, I know…y’all have been doing that for decades.) Maybe I was crazy and imagining symptoms. I even asked my primary care doctor and my GI doctor if maybe I was a hypochondriac.
The doctors couldn’t confirm the crazy aspect but assured me I was not making things up.
There were skull crushing migraines.
Shingles that didn’t follow typical shingle patterns.
Constant ringing in my ears.
Shoulder pain, first diagnosed and treated as a rotator cuff injury, but when physical therapy made things worse, and I couldn’t lift my arm, the diagnosis changed to Frozen Shoulder.
Then there was the nausea. Like having a massive hangover while on a fast spinning merry-go-round. Every. Single. Day. For months.
Stomach distention. In a matter of 24 hours my stomach would go from flat to looking like I was seven or eight months pregnant.
I endured a three-hour breath test in a Gastrointestinal Clinic and it revealed that I had severe Methane Dominant Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth. SIBO. I had never heard of it before but learned that my numbers were astronomical. (“I’ve never seen anything like it!” The GI doctor confessed.)
Shortness of breath. In fact, I went from hiking a 14’er in 2019 to finding myself out of breath climbing a flight of stairs in 2022.
So many migrating symptoms.
And pain. Did I mention pain? Some days it hurts to bend down. To stand. To sit. To lie down. To move. To think.
The doctors ordered endless lab work, and other less pleasant tests. Negative. Negative. Negative.
Nothing could explain the SIBO numbers, the fatigue, and rashes, and pain, and stomach distention and stomach erosion.
But I had this friend, Kimberly, who asked me if I had ever been tested for Lyme Disease. I brushed away the thought, convinced that SIBO was causing all my issues. “Once I get that under control things will improve,” I volleyed back to her time and time again.
Things didn’t improve. After five rounds of antibiotics and steroids, along with other medications, and a brief stint on an elemental diet, the SIBO numbers were lower, but I was still struggling.
All the while my persistent friend kept advocating, kept mentioning Lyme Disease and the need to get tested, until I finally decided, why not?
I had been tested for every other bacterium and parasite under the sun. And every test came back negative. I was sure it would be the same for Lyme Disease.
So I was shocked when the lab results showed positive for Babesia, a malaria-like parasite that is most often seen as a co-infection of Lyme Disease.
A parasite my GI doctor didn’t think to test for because she had never even heard of it.
I don’t have lice. (But I kinda wish THAT was the problem.)
And while the jury is still out on whether I’m crazy, the fact is, there is something very wrong inside of my body right now that I am having to fight hard against.
Interestingly, since I have mentioned the words “Lyme Disease” people have shared their own stories with me. Harrowing stories about having the disease themselves or watching a loved one suffering from its effects. I’ve heard about tremendous weight loss and wheelchairs and hospital stays and faintings and seizures and neurological effects, cardiovascular effects, and brain fog and cognitive decline. Exhaustion and relentless pain. Even death.
“Why aren’t people talking about it more?” I asked my friend and if she wasn’t so kind, it would have been a slap-me-up-side-the-head moment. She had been talking. I just wasn’t hearing.
I feel so very grateful for Kimberly who is a Lyme Disease advocate, and how she continued speaking to me about the disease even when I didn’t think it applied to me. She confessed that sometimes it is exhausting to talk about because some people don’t believe, or don’t want to hear. I’m sure she wasn’t referring to me…
And there is a great deal of misinformation out there concerning Lyme Disease.
Because Kimberly did not give up, I’ve already been able to start natural supplements to help with the healing until my scheduled appointment with a Lyme Doctor in late June. (I scheduled it in April. He was booked until the end of June. What does that say about Lyme Disease in Colorado?) I’m grateful because I have learned that sometimes it takes a decade or more before Lyme is diagnosed, and by then so much permanent damage has been done.
Anyway, back to Papier Mache Princess – the hardest part to writing it was being unwell the entire time.
I am so very thankful for the prayer team I had when writing the book. I’m not sure it would have been finished without their prayers, which mostly involved praying for my unexplained health/physical issues.
Now y’all know what I’m about to do, right?
I never share personal stuff just for the sake of sharing. I’m going to apply a spiritual analogy that God has shown me along the way – ‘cause that’s how I roll. 😊
As I thought about Kimberly’s persistence due to her own experience with Lyme Disease, I realized the importance of being brave and steadfast in sharing truth. As a believer in Christ, I know that it’s easier for me to keep quiet about my faith in Him, just like it would have been easier for Kimberly to stop saying “Lyme Disease” to me. But because I believe Christ is Life and the answer to so much that is plaguing people in the world today, I can’t help myself. (By “Christ” – I’m not referring to “religion as in “shiny, happy people” religion, but knowing Jesus Himself.)
I believe John 10:10 with all my being – Jesus said “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.” I believe the abundant life that so many long for is found in Christ.
I also believe we can treat many of our “symptoms” – anger, jealousy, loneliness, fear, bitterness, racism, shame,etc. and still not experience healing because our underlying condition is our need for Christ. Unless we treat the underlying condition, the symptoms will just migrate and change, improving and then worsening or showing up as new ones, until they ultimately cause death in one form or another. Scripture says:
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:14 NLT
I am not responsible for outcomes, but I CAN share Jesus so that others will be able to make the choice for themselves. I never would have been tested for Lyme Disease or Babesia without my friend sharing her knowledge and experience with me. For a long time I resisted, but I had the information and the opportunity to choose. Fortunately, I eventually chose to get tested.
I know people will disagree with me, even hate me for speaking of Jesus. Many believe He isn’t even real, that He is an imaginary “crutch” and that Christians are delusional. Likewise, there are some in the medical field who claim long Lyme Disease isn’t real either, but that didn’t stop Kimberly from sharing the life-changing truth with me, for educating and sharing about Lyme Disease. Did I mention how grateful I am?
And I’m gonna be like Kimberly.
I’m going to advocate. Yes, for Lyme Disease. But more importantly, for The Advocate.
I’m gonna keep speaking the name of Jesus and encouraging others to seek Him for themselves. When we surrender ourselves to Him, He becomes our greatest advocate in all things pertaining to life – the here and now, and the eternal.
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 1 John 2:1 NLT
Last month was Lyme awareness month, and I watched The Quiet Epidemic documentary. I challenge you to watch it as well. And I challenge you to get to know the Living Word, Jesus. He has come that we may have abundant life.
Grateful for this abundant life,