Tuesday, July 1

Happy Birthday, Aunt.

Today is my beautiful Aunt Carole's birthday. (She has always been just "Aunt.") She is also my godmother and a wonderful human being and I love her very much. She is my mom's younger sister and is still plenty young with many years ahead of her.

Unfortunately, because of an insect, the past 4 years have been a living hell for her. My aunt is suffering terribly from late stage Lyme disease- you cannot even imagine what this disease, if left untreated, can do to a person. It invades every part of your body and can make you a mere shadow of your former self, rendering you unable to walk and talk, gasping for breath, and you may not even know why. Such is the case with my aunt. She had no telltale bullseye mark after being bitten. She just started getting stroke-like symptoms which got progressively worse. She has finally, after four years, been diagnosed with Lyme, after first being MISdiagnosed with everything from ALS to Parkinson's to Multiple System Atrophy at hospitals including Columbia, Johns Hopkins and Mayo, in addition to local doctors. She can't even count how many doctors she has seen, many of them dismissing her with "It's Parkinson's, no cure," and some even laughing at her when she asked if it could be Lyme. She has taken multiple medications for diseases she doesn't have, filling her body with drugs that didn't do a thing, all while the Lyme burrowed its way further and further into her body.

After a doctor took a chance on my cousin's gut instinct and treated my aunt with medication to make the Lyme leave the tissue and enter the bloodstream where it could be detected, was she finally diagnosed. The relief we all felt was immense- one doctor had told her she had 3 years left to live, another had given her the diagnosis of MSA, an untreatable and incurable disease with less than a year to live. Now she has a light at the end of the tunnel.

But the recovery is not easy and the herxheimer reaction-- killing off the Lyme bacteria, causing them to release their toxins into the body-- makes her feel worse. That often makes her stop the treatment to get relief from the pain, and she backslides. I know it's hard, and I know the pain must be unimaginable. But she needs to stick with it and finish the treatment so she can get her life back. She has lived through problems in her life that seemed insurmountable before and she came out on top- she can do this, too. I know that with determination she will soon get out of that wheelchair and put on her stylish suits and walk and talk like before. We pray for her every night and fear that she is simply exhausted-- too exhausted to fight anymore, but we know she can do it. This disease has not only affected her and her children, but her 10 grandchildren have missed out on their once vibrant and energetic grandmother, too.

So, Happy Birthday to my Aunt, I wish her strength, perseverance and may next year's birthday find her shopping at Talbot's and celebrating her new life, free of pain and disease.

I love you.

Please help me to send words of encouragement to my aunt, who is unable to talk to me on the phone because Lyme left her unable to speak, by leaving your comments below. Even though she may not know you, knowing that people are praying and rooting for her may help her to stay with her treatment and get better.

For more info on Lyme disease please check out these sites.

Protect Yourself Against Ticks and Lyme
PDF Downloads about Lyme
NJ Lyme rates by county- If you live in Jersey, like my Aunt, watch out
Meant for doctors but very comprehensive information about Lyme
Lyme Diagnosis
What Lyme Can Do to Your Brain
Why Lyme diagnosis gets delayed
Lyme Vaccine Gets Pulled for Poor Sales
Daniel Wood's Story
Personal story- Roger Doyle
Shelly Pinter's Story


AmandaDufau said...

If you are anything like your aunt, she is a strong and passionate woman, and she will pull through all this.

Happy birthday, Aunt Carole!

Val Prieto said...

My best wishes to Aunt Carole for a great birthday surrounded by family and friends. She will be in our thoughts and prayers in the hopes that she fully recovers from this terrible ailment.

And Aunt Carole, if you were my aunt id tell you this: Yes, it is heartbreaking to witness your suffering and it is heartbreaking for your family to feel unable to help you conquer this disease, however, we still need you, and your love and affection and guidance, and most of all we need you to be as courageous and strong as ever now. Dont give up the fight.

Marta said...

Happy Birthday, Carole!

From Claudia's description you sound like a courageous and amazing woman. I pray you will beat this thing. God bless you.


Anthony D. said...


Like Claudia said, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to get there- and you will. You can beat it. Think positive and know that there are many of us who are praying for you.


Ana said...

I'm sending you all the best- both for your birthday and for your recovery, Carole. My sister had Lyme, it was pretty well advanced, and she recovered, and I am sure you will, too. You obviously have a family that cares a lot about you, and that's so important. Remember, you will get better.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Aunt Carole,

Happy birthday. Be strong and know there are people out here pulling for you, praying for you, rooting for you.

Have faith.

Alberto de la Cruz said...

My best birthday wishes for your Aunt Carole and please let her know that she will be in my prayers.

rsnlk said...

Happy Birthday, Aunt Carole. Keep fighting the good fight. Years ago, I was shocked to find out that a woman I knew who was vital and loved life had suffered greatly from Lyme's and overcome it. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You'll be in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Carole, in the short time I've known your niece, she has shown courage and determination against implacable enemies. Those traits are traits that come from family. So never give up, and never surrender. As long as your family loves you, there is hope and there is light. God bless.

Marc Masferrer said...

Carole - Happy Birthday! Please know my prayers are with you tonight, that you have a quick and full recovery and that until then, God graces you with his mercy and comfort. I pray for the same for Claudia and the rest of your family. Be well,

Marc Masferrer

Frankie Salerno said...

Aunt Carole:

Any aunt of Claudia's is an aunt of mine. I am praying and pulling for you to recover soon. Don't lose your faith in God to heal you.

Anonymous said...

How is your aunt now after treatment?

Sigi Me said...

Thank you for asking. My aunt died on December 31st in her sleep. I am saddened beyond words.