Lyme Disease & The Accessory that Gives Back

The Truth about Lyme Disease 

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Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
— 'Fighter' by Christina Aguilera

Today I want to get personal with all of you and share a story about someone who is very dear to my heart.  Cristina Marie, my best friend, basically sister, and recent victim of lyme disease.  

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What is lyme disease you ask?  I am assuming many of you have heard of it but don't know too much about it.  That's exactly where I stood on the topic until my best friend was officially diagnosed about 3 months ago.  

But before we get much deeper into this, I want to share a little background on mine and Cristina's story.  Fall of 2007, Cristina and I met moving into the dorms our freshman year at USD.  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  I was so nervous for college because I was going out of state to a school I didn't have any friends attending.  As I was unpacking my stuff, I heard a girl stop in the hallway and ask "Who plays tennis in here?"  Cristina was referring to my tennis bag she saw on the floor.  After she left and went off introducing herself to more dorm mates, my family said "She was so sweet, you need to be friends with her!"  And from that day forward we became best friends.  Oh, and we ended up playing tennis only once I think haha.  We were probably too busy going to lacrosse and soccer parties hahaha.  

Cristina is very special to me because not only has she become my best friend and basically 3rd sister, she was the reason I ended up staying at USD.  My first semester I didn't like it at all and I wanted to transfer.  Girls were not friendly, I didn't rush a sorority so that made it even harder, and I wasn't sure what friend group I belonged in.  However, after getting close to Cristina that all went out the window.  Sophomore year we lived together and basically took every class together, no joke!  Junior year we decided to study abroad in Madrid and this was hands down one of the most memorable experiences of our lives!  I could go into further detail on that semester but there probably isn't enough space in this blog post for that lol.  But lets just say she is my travel partner and ride or die for life.  

See the one thing about Cristina is that she is super easy to get along with.  She is that individual that makes you want to become a better person.  She is so incredibly smart, fun/funny and has a heart of gold!  She is always unconditionally herself and postive in every way.  She is basically family now.  

Cristina and I have also been through a lot together, to say the least.  We've both been there for each other through some real tough shit and have probably seen each other at our lowest.  However, without judgment I know I can always turn to her.  We were unseparable for 4 years of college, and after graduation she unfortunately had to move back to the Bay Area.  However, whenever we visit or talk, it's like no time has passed.

About 11 months ago Cristina went on a camping trip in the East Coast and unknowningly got bit by a tick.  For 8 months she struggled with rare side effects and was constantly misdiagnosed by multiple doctor visits.  I remember her telling me she had all these symptoms and I remember assuming she was either under a lot of stress or maybe coming down with the flu or something.  You know normal things that we typically get antibiotics for.  However, some of her side effects were unheard of and really hard to explain.  I knew she was struggling and it was tough because you feel helpless not knowing what in the hell it could be.  In October I went up to SF and witnessed first hand how upset these side effects were making her.  It was heartbreaking and I just prayed some doctor would figure it out soon!  Two months went by, and I remember around Christmas time she called me very emotional and told me that she might have made a discovery.  She said she had been researching a ton and came to the conclusion that her side effected pointed to lyme disease.  I remember thinking what?! No way, it can't be that serious, and what is lyme disease??? 

After finally getting into a lyme specialist and undergoing multiple tests and blood work, Cristina's results came back positive for lyme and the unknown became a reality.  About a month ago, Cristina took a leave from work, moved home and started treatment.  Unfortunately, with lyme disease the treatments tend to make you feel worse in the beginning as they start working in your body.  In March, I went up to SF for her 29th birthday and I have to say I've never seen someone so fucking strong.  I watched my Dad battle stage 4 kidney cancer a few years ago and it wasn't easy.  Undergoing a lot of meds, chemo and radiation my dad was super irritable and angry all the time, understandably.  Although I am not comparing lyme to cancer or cancer to lyme, an illness is an illness, and it's never fun watching anyone you love battle through it.  The point is, witnessing Cristina as she started treatments put some major things in perspective for me all over again.  Although you could tell she was dealing without a lot of pain, she is such a warrior.  Obviously breakdowns happen, but she is so strong and has such a positive outlook on all of this when most people would be bitter at this sudden change.  She is truly so brave and she fights with grace and beauty, turning this diagnose into a purpose.  Her purpose is to connect with others who are also struggling with lyme and make more people aware of this invisible disease.  

So thanks for making me a FIGHTER
— 'Fighter' by Christina Aguilera
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Witnessing your best friend go through this really puts things into perspective like I said.  As a generation I believe we take our well being for granted.  Every day we are distracted by things that truly don't matter and I'll be the first to admit, I totally get caught up in social media and materialistic things from time to time.  However, when life takes a turn for you or your loved ones, you truly realize what is important.  So everyday wake up and be thankful that you have the one thing in life that that matters most, your Health.  For everything else, think of it as an addition.  

Cristina, 

I love you and will always look up to you as my hero, God has bigger plans for you, I know it!  You are such a fighter.  

 xoxo Nic

 

May is lyme awareness month.  For those of you who want to know more about lyme, read Cristina's full story or want to contribute donations for lyme disease please visit these links below.  

https://www.facebook.com/cristina.paiva/posts/10214343695439573

https://www.facebook.com/LymeLightFoundation/

Also I am obsessed with these Teleties (bracelet/hair ties) pictured above.  I don't ever leave the house without one!  Not only do they serve as a cute accessory, they don't kink or pull your hair.  Amazing right?!  But the best part, Teleties give back to the Global Lyme Alliance.  You can find them here:

https://www.teleties.com