Updated: Jul 23, 2020
Many of you following my story know it's been a long road. If you are new here I'll catch you up a bit. In 2007, my senior year of high school, I started getting GI issues that lasted for about a year. In 2009 after a few weeks in Puerto Rico, I came back to NYC and one day I got super dizzy, with a pounding headache. That headache literally did not stop for 10 years. While I had relief for most of the time, I usually just dealt with it since doctors seemed to not know why it was happening to me. I went to my primary doctor, multiple ENT, multiple neurologists, physical therapy, had multiple tests in the hospital, and no answer. They ruled it out as depression and gave me different antidepressants for a decade. When the symptoms came back they increased the dose or changed the medication. If you are familiar with those drugs you know changing them takes a while to kick in, which is not fun.
March of 2019 I woke up in the morning to go to work. My neck felt stiff as a board. I literally could not move my head side to side. This was not a, "I slept wrong stiff neck." It literally felt as if there was a metal rod from the base of my skull to my pelvis. I go to clock in at work and I'm fighting to hold back tears. I lie on the couch in our break room and my supervisor calls an ambulance. I get to the hospital and of course they run the usual blood tests. The nurse tells me my back is really stiff. Like yes, I'm aware, that's why I'm here. A while later a doctor comes into the room. I get my hopes up that this guy will give me an answer. The doctor was a black man, maybe in his 40's or 50's and I am not really used to that. I'm here thinking wow this guy will definitely give me answers because he's like me. Dique. So anyway he comes in, stands a few feet away from me and tells me, "your labs are normal, you're most likely in pain because you're depressed." I was never examined, never asked any questions, nothing. That is basically how I've been treated by every medical professional I've ever seen. So I'm prescribed some more pain killers and muscle relaxers. I have a drawer full of medications I've been prescribed over the last decade. Half of them haven't been taken since my gut has been destroyed. I stayed home for a couple weeks since my job at the time required heavy lifting. Once I went back to work, little by little, my job became more difficult, and in May I had to leave and take an office job.
July comes around and my headaches and vertigo come back full blown. I literally cannot function. I'm in between jobs so I am in between insurance coverage and just start doubling up on the medication. I have to find some relief and try and be a normal functioning human being at my wedding that was coming up in August. It must have worked because nobody noticed I was ready to end my shit. Luckily I enjoyed most of my time in Puerto Rico and my wedding, except for the fatigue that would kill me at night.
Now I'm back in the states. It's the end of August. I was on my way to meet my mom in the city after I got out of work for dinner as she was in NYC for a work conference. I'm walking and it felt as if a truck had just hit me out of nowhere. I obviously decided to just make my way straight home. Over the next day or so my fever shoots up. I am shaking, having cold sweats, no appetite, and can barely lift my head. My aunt takes me to the ER and my fever is 103. I am diagnosed with pneumonia and kept there over night on an IV and oral medication.
Over the next few weeks I am still exhausted and having trouble walking long distances and going up flights of stairs. You can imagine how terrible it is navigating NYC subways while having a hard time breathing. Currently I'm convinced I had COVID, but that's a whole other topic.
The end of September I call my primary doctor that I had seen for about 7 years and find out she no longer works for the practice I would see her at and I had to find another doctor. I am stressed but I need to get answers for these headaches. I go to a new doctor who seemed nice. My chart is digital so she can see my medical history. She is stumped as to my symptoms and suggests I see the head of medicine in the same office. In the meantime she increases my medication and I make an appointment to see the other doctor. I'm absolutely miserable at this point and even walking straight is difficult. I go to see the other doctor about a week or two later. She already knew about my issues from her colleague. I'm describing my symptoms to her and she looks at me, with her head nodding to the side, squinting her eyes. She asks me, "have you been tested for Lyme disease?" I literally said to her, "the bug thing?" I know absolutely nothing about it. She tells me she thinks that's what I have. The nurse comes in and tries to take my blood. Between the hospital visits and me feeling like crap for a month my veins are shot. She tries both arms with no luck. She finally finds a vein in my left hand and when she goes to get the next tube to fill with blood she hits a nerve in my hand and I vomit all over myself. She could not finish taking my blood so the first tube had to be discarded. I had to end up going to a lab to get my blood taken. About 7 tubes were taken.
A couple days later I get a message to my Mt Sinai portal. The doctor writes to me, "Your results are in. Your labs are normal but you did test positive for Lyme disease. That most likely explains your headaches and muscle/joint pain. I am sending in Doxycycline to your pharmacy. You have to take it for two weeks and then I will see you for a follow up."