The Journey Begins.............

Despite the many defining moments I have experienced in the past 20 years, one in particular stands out as the moment I knew, intuitively, that my life was going to be forever changed............ 

Those who know me might guess it was the moment I found my beloved Grandmother dead in her apartment when I arrived to pick her up for lunch, or maybe the moment I came home from shopping to a message on my answering machine telling me my Mother had a brain aneurysm and wasn't going to survive, or even the moment I was told my Father had a massive heart attack and likely wouldn't survive surgery, all of which occurred before I was 28 years old. 

As significant and devastating those moments were, none were my personal "defining moment." Even being diagnosed with Late Stage Chronic Lyme Disease on my 44th birthday was not "that" moment for me. No, it was simpler than that, and much, much more ominous.

At the age of 32, I had finished three degrees and was nearly four years into my career as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and my husband was finishing his degree and preparing to go to Law School. His need to move on to a University had prompted us to leave our small town in Eastern Oregon and head to the city. We had chosen a home in the country (halfway between the city where he would attend school and the city where I had been offered a position,) hired a contractor to remodel the house from top to bottom, and rented out the home we were living in at the time.  

We finally received the phone call that our new home was ready, and we packed our U-Haul and headed out, excited about the next step in our journey. It was late in the evening when we arrived on our property, and being in the country, there were only stars, peeking out occasionally from  black clouds threatening rain, to light our way as we crawled out of our vehicles and stood in our front yard. 

As I stretched my aching body, time felt as though it had slowed, and I experienced a wave of deep despair wash over me. I burst into to tears, wondering what had caused such a deep sadness to well up inside me, and that's when I heard the gunshot. Had I not heard the bullet whisper in my ear and blow on my neck as it sliced through the silence, I would have surely convinced myself it was something other than a gunshot I had heard. We didn't know then, but were soon to discover, that our pretty little house in the country sat smack dab in the middle of the Hatfields and McCoys, some of the characters from Deliverance, and the culture of a holler.  Ironically, that discovery proved to be the least of our worries.......but that is a story for another time.

I collapsed to my knees, not because a stray bullet had missed my head by mere inches, but because in that "defining moment" I knew, deep in my core, that our lives would never, ever be the same again. Akin to that moment when a superstitious person breaks a mirror and believes they will experience seven years of bad luck-I felt as though I had just broken the mirror, and I sobbed on my knees in the moist grass until my husband carried me to bed. Call it premonition, intuition, sixth sense, whatever you like, I knew without a doubt our lives were about to crumble around us...........and unfortunately I was right. 

My name is Kim and I am a Life Coach. Not by choice, but by necessity as an 11-year mystery illness has robbed me of my career, my ability to have children, my social life, my goals, and my dreams. It has left me bedridden 75% of the time with severe pain and relentless fatigue as well as 75-80 other symptoms that prevent me from living a normal life. 

On my good days, when I allow the world to see me, one would never even know that I am sick, and I sprint to make up for all the days I have spent in bed since my last good day. I save the ugliness of this illness for the privacy of home, where I believed myself to be a prisoner for many years, unwilling to talk with anyone in depth, sometimes not even my husband, about what was truly happening to me.

Though this is also a story for another time, the cruelty and abandonment experienced when one becomes sick with something that doctors cannot (or in my case will not) name, is indescribable. It forces one to quickly become accustomed to solitude. In that solitude, I spent many years feeling as though I had wasted seven years of my life, and tens of thousands of dollars, on a career I would never be a part of again. 

I loved being a counselor, and I can only speculate that I would have loved just one thing more-being a mom, and maybe even a grandma. In my despair, I could not see that my education, experience, love of people, and my deep desire to help others could somehow be applied to a life spent in bed. 

Then a year ago, I discovered that though there may not be people in my physical world I could help, there were many in the virtual world who would not only become my friends and family, but would also benefit from my services. It was then that I began doing private Life Coaching sessions with individuals on Facebook. It has been, and is, the most rewarding choice for my health, well-being, and spirit. 

After 11 years of not having a diagnosis, but rapidly declining, physically and cognitively, over the last six months of 2011, I decided it was time to make one last ditch effort to find a specialist who might spend enough time with me, my list of symptoms, and my medical history, to finally diagnose and treat me. 

I couldn't have been more filled with joy than I was to find out that not only did my illness have a name, Chronic Lyme Disease, but that there is treatment available, and I could get better. Treatment would be long and brutal, but there was light at the end of the tunnel! I have double health insurance so was thrilled that the extensive treatment would not financially devastate my husband and I, and then I discovered the truth. 

Insurance companies are required to pay for 28 days of antibiotics at the time one is bitten by a tick and develops a bulls-eye rash.  After that, if treatment doesn't work, or as in my case when I was bitten and developed a bulls-eye rash, one is not treated at all, you are on your own when the bacteria finally beats your immune system into submission. At which time, you are also on your own to pay for years of treatment that can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars if you are Late Stage Chronic Lyme and the bacteria has gotten into your brain, as it has mine. 

It was in this realization, this crushing blow, nearly 11 years later, that I heard that bullet whisper in my ear once again..........

In an effort to save my own life and pay for my own treatment, I have combined my love of writing and my desire to help others, and created Ask Abby on the HOME page of One Woman's Journey through the Twilight Zone.  Ask Abby is a private place where, if you donate a minimum of  $5 to Lyme disease treatment, you can ask me a life coaching question  that I will receive, and respond to, by e-mail.  At that time, you are also welcome to request formal, ongoing life coaching if you are interested, at a rate of $25 per 45 minute session which will also be used for treatment.  Thank you everyone, in advance and every day, for taking the time to read my blog, for donating to my medical treatment, and for giving me the opportunity to be a part of your well-being as your Life Coach.  My gratitude is infinite..............

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