• Emily Cashel

I may look normal, but I still have pain.

Unbroken. Pain. Sick. Hopeless. Desperate. Dark. Lonely. Troubled. Fear. Worry. Misery. Despair. Angry. Troubled. Depressed. Suffering.

All of these words are used to describe my last eight months of my life. It was the years of 2013/2014, in which I decided to take off a year of school and figure out what to do with my life. I spent that time questioning everything. My thoughts were endless. I knew some of my passions, but couldn’t distinguish my passions between the call, will and purpose that I had for my life. I spent that year really trying to figure out who I was as a person. Most of the time I just spent hours a day at the gym by myself, or researching health and wellness constantly. It seriously consumed my life. I literally, was addicted. I ignored what was most important to me: God, family, and friends.

The beginning of 2014 came around and I began training for my first marathon in June. On April 19th, I had two options. Option number one being to help my friend Michelle out at a church fundraiser the following day, or option number two being tagged along with my friend Marey to go on a 20 mile run the following day. I woke up early the next morning and saw that it was down pouring rain and 20 degrees. I texted my friend Marey and asked if she still wanted to go on the run with the awful weather. I really didn’t want to due to my terrible backpain, freezing temperatures, and the pouring rain. I needed to get a long run in anyway and felt obligated to go, so I went. Needless to say, it was dreadful.

From there on out, my back symptoms continued to get worse. I had went to several chiropractors to get adjusted and had prolotherapy so I could do the marathon without back pain. I specifically remember one of the chiropractors asking if the prolotherapy injections helped. I fibbed and said it did, but it really didn’t, my back still hurt. I continued to run no matter the pain.

Later, June came around and I began to experience some other random symptoms out of the blue. I went to the urgent care to have some blood work, EKG testing, chest X-rays, hemoglobin, etc. testing done and everything came back fine. The night before my marathon, June 20th, I experienced tingling sensations throughout my whole legs and numbness of my feet. I also only had about 4 hours of sleep that night. I woke up around 4:30 am still had the same symptoms and to top it off I forgot my regular breakfast that I had before my long runs. Crap, I really don’t want to do this. But I knew I was strong enough and have always told myself not to give up on your dreams (I wanted to qualify for Boston’s Marathon). Then, during running it I just prayed that I could finish it because my legs and feet were in a lot of pain. I could see the 3:35 time right ahead of me so I tried to stay with that marker the entire time, but my body just wouldn’t letme. I was 4 minutes shy of qualifying, which was quite frustrating.

But as I was walking towards the finish line after the race, I saw that people in wheelchairs were doing marathons. Wow, was I inspired. As days went on, I became very sick, not knowing the heck what was going on with my body. I thought that maybe I was overtraining for my marathon, but it just didn’t seem to add up because there were more symptoms that kept appearing. My mom and I decided to go to the doctor to check everything out. I went to my regular doctor and she tested me for quite a few things such as: mono, ear infections, bronchitis, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, etc. It turned out everything was fine, so it seemed. Until I saw that my Lyme disease results came out negative for one part of the test and positive for the other part. I called my doctor back and she said that it overall came back negative so I didn’t have Lyme. I was kind of skeptical of this, but just let it slide because I thought the symptoms would subside, boy was I wrong.

A lot was going on, and my body was not functioning properly. Running was hard, and I dreaded going to work because I was so depressed. I went to the doctor again, she did many tests. I went to the ER multiple times because I would have episodes. I was so much pain. It was not just one of these episodes I had, but multiple that happened throughout the months. One in particular, was when I was at Walmart by myself checking out groceries, I began to feel really weak. Then as I was about to exit my whole body started to shake and I couldn’t stop coughing. As I lay on the ground by the exist doors at Walmart one of the employees asked if I needed medical help.

Soon after, I was washing my hands after going to the bathroom and all of a sudden my body was shutting down. I lay in the hallway shaking, sweating, hard time breathing, etc. I thought I was having a heart attack, and seizures, whole body was going nuts. My mom and sister were home lucky and dragged me to the car because I couldn’t walk. They brought me to the ER . I waited five hours to get in. As my appointment was done, the ER doctor said it was basically all in my head. That’s all I got for answers. I was not going to take this.

A few days later, I had a conversation about this with one of my neighbors and she told me about a doctor that she had that discovered her unresolved health issue. I decided to go to the regular doctor I see one more time because my heart was set on that it was Lyme disease because the tests were off the first time. September rolled around and my doctor said the tests show that you don’t have it . However, she said sometimes the results are inaccurate.

I decided to call up the doctor my neighbor referred me to and would go there. About a month later in October, I got a call saying they had an opening. Thank goodness. I thought I could finally get in and find out what I had. The doctor practically knew right away that I had Lyme disease. He did elaborate testing that sent the blood work I had to CA, which has better testing for Lyme disease.

Finally, on November 13th, they actually received the results back from CA and I found out that I had Lyme disease. What a relief to know my diagnosis, I truly was so grateful, doing the biggest happy dance that while I was cooking something in the oven I got distracted and started a fire. Anyway, these months, I felt so hopeless, my siblings were at school and my parents were working, so I was alone. My world had literally turned upside down & I had no choice but to rely on God providing me.

If you ask me how I am feeling today the truthful answer would be not normal, but a lot better from the start. The one thing to know about Lyme disease is that it is an invisible disease so I may look normal but I still have pain. So never ever, judge a book by its cover because you never know what is in the inside of that book.

My words to hold on now include:

Hope. Faithful. Trust. Positive. Encouragement. Wisdom. Understanding. Compassionate. Willing. Grateful. Endurance. Courage. Fearless. Strength. Myself. Open. Honest. Loving. Sharing. Better Communicator. Helper. Inspired. Motivated. Passionate. Knowledgeable. Life long Learner. Seek. Greatness not comfort. Thoughtful. Giving. Goal-oriented. Thankful. Believe. Create. Control. Visualize. Change. Forgiven. Humble. Peaceful. God first.

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