I just got off the phone with the secretary of a helpful doctor I was referred to when I was very ill last year. This doctor works at the sleep medicine clinic at one of our hospitals. She is a psychiatrist who specializes in sleep.
Before I tell you about today, and the reason for the title of this post, let me tell you about this doctor. Even though she was not well versed in Lyme disease, I did not feel demeaned by her. She truly wanted to help me resolve my sleep issues, whether they were from Lyme (as I knew they were), or stress. She never actually said, "Yes, I really believe you have Lyme!" But she never discounted it either. She listened well, and engaged in dialogue with me. She encouraged me in my efforts to follow her "sleep plan" for me, and she never spoke condescendingly or in a reprimanding tone. This doctor arranged to have a sleep study done for me very quickly, and when I was ready to come off of the sleep medication, she helped me out SO much. I really appreciated her at a time when other doctors were shutting their doors to me.
So back to today. I was to have an appointment with her this coming Wednesday which I knew would be my last appointment because I've been sleeping well for many months now. (Hooray! I never thought the day would come when my sleep would be restored.) Anyway, the secretary needed to reschedule my appointment to an earlier time which unfortunately didn't suit my work schedule. In the end, I just cancelled the appointment altogether. I might as well free up an appointment time for someone who really needs her. The secretary told me that if I should need to see her again beyond 3 months from now, I would need to be referred again, but the problem is that she is not taking any new referrals!
My heart sank. For a little while, feelings of insecurity washed over me. Here I am, at the END of this relationship, with no chance of coming back should my situation change. I felt a bit scared.
Then I got thinking about what it will be like when I'm no longer seeing my LLMD (Lyme-literate medical doctor). He literally saved my life! And soon, I'll be let loose, out on my own, to "wait and see" what happens, if anything.
So why the fear? If I've finished treatment, that's all there is to it, right? Wrong. The concern of relapse will always be a dark cloud overhead. It's hard to fully eradicate the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, once it's entrenched in organs and tissues. As one LLMD wrote, "you can beat it down, but you can't beat it out." Now this all depends on how soon after being infected that you begin treatment. In my case, I don't know when I was infected. I believe that the bacteria was dormant in me for quite some time before multiplying and developing into full-blown Lyme. Although I started treatment 5 months after the onset of my symptoms, I may have been infected years before. So who knows if I can ever really be "cured". And that's the frightening part. Being out on my "own" and no longer under the care of a doctor.
Those of you who know me personally will be thinking to yourselves, "Where is God in all of this? Has Paula forgotten all He has done for her during her illness?" Well absolutely not! I remember every big and small thing God did to help me pass through this valley of the shadow of death. I will never forget it. But sometimes the fears and feelings of insecurity block out the other emotions. I am human. And that is when I realize that I need turn back to Him who can comfort me, protect me, help me, and who will never leave me or forsake me. When I think on these things, it warms my heart and gives me that peace that transcends all understanding.
Despite the fact that relationships with my doctors will soon be ending, God is and always will be my Great Physician. And no matter what happens, it's going to be alright.