ProHealth is proud to introduce Connie Strasheim as our new Lyme disease editor. Connie is a medical writer and the author of nine books, including three books on Lyme disease. Her interest in Lyme disease, however, goes far beyond simply being a medical writer. She herself is a Lyme disease survivor.
Prior to contracting Lyme disease, Connie lived an active, exciting life, full of hopes and dreams for her future. But as happens to so many, after Lyme barged into her life, she found herself watching helplessly as everything she had worked and planned for seemed to dissolve before her eyes.
Determined to get better, Connie embarked on a healing journey. She utilized a multi-faceted approach that incorporated her faith, Lyme-literate doctors, nutrition, and numerous natural remedies and therapies. It was a difficult but worthwhile journey. With the Lyme infections currently in remission, Connie has committed herself to helping others who are battling chronic Lyme disease.
We asked Connie about her experiences with Lyme disease.
ProHealth: Please describe your life before Lyme disease.
Connie: I was a flight attendant, novelist, missionary and world traveler. I led a busy, active life, had many friends and was financially stable. I owned a home and was always visiting new countries, traveling overseas to do humanitarian work, and meeting people of other cultures. I had no serious health problems except back pain and some anxiety.
ProHealth: Were you aware of being bitten by a tick? Did you get a bull’s-eye rash?
Connie: I was never aware of a tick bite nor a bull’s eye rash.
ProHealth: When were you diagnosed with Lyme disease? How long did it take you to get a correct diagnosis and were you misdiagnosed with anything else first?
Connie: I was diagnosed in 2005, at the age of 31, after struggling through intense symptoms for about a year. The 14th doctor I saw diagnosed me properly after running many tests. Before that, I had been told that I had everything from depression, to arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. One doctor even told me that I was a hypochondriac.
ProHealth: How did Lyme disease change your life?
Connie: Lyme disease turned my world upside down. I went from being an energetic, intrepid world-traveler with a busy life to a housebound, tired, isolated woman who couldn’t leave the four walls of her home. I ended up losing nearly everything: my condo, my job, my 401 K, my savings; even my best friend and boyfriend, who both abandoned me and married one another shortly after I got sick. But most importantly, I lost my ability to function. Brain fog, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, insomnia, digestive and cardiac problems and a host of other symptoms overtook me. Within two years, I went from being the strong woman who climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro, (one of the world’s tallest mountains!), to the weakling who could barely get off the sofa. Little did I know at the beginning of my healing journey that the hardships that I was about to endure would make me stronger than any climb up a mountain, but in a different way.
Over the following eight years, I moved eight times, mostly due to not being able to work and having to spend all of my money on medical treatments, which left me with little income for decent housing. I first moved back into my parents’ home at the age of 32, then to Costa Rica, where the cost of living was cheaper, and then back to the United States, where I moved from one cheap, noisy apartment to another for years until 2012, when I could finally afford a decent condo again. Until then, I survived on savings, the charity of my parents and SSDI income, until I became well enough to work part time as a writer. I lost many typical opportunities that people in their 30s have; the opportunity to get married, have a family, get established in a career, and buy a home. I spent nearly a decade of my life doing only five things; praying, crying, researching, doing treatments, and writing books. I had time, money and energy for little else. Sometimes I still grieve that Lyme disease “wiped out” my thirties.
In my stronger moments, I realize though that it hasn’t all been a waste. Lyme disease caused me to fervently seek God and a new purpose in life. As I did, I learned that God would help me, comfort me, give me wisdom, and provide for and heal me, as I chose to surrender to and trust Him. Through my relationship with God and my battle with Lyme disease, I’ve learned countless lessons and developed a new purpose in life, which have forever changed me.
Among these lessons, I’ve learned how to receive the love of God and how to love, honor and respect myself as well as others on a deeper level. I’ve developed compassion for the suffering of others, and less of a love for the superficial things of this world and the world’s trappings that in the end, don’t fulfill the soul or spirit. I’ve faced death and realized that life is short, and that I need to enjoy it fully and invest my time in caring for others while also taking care of myself. There is a better life after this one and I believe I will be rewarded according to what I did or did not do on earth to help others.
Seeing people healed and set free has become my passion, and while the hardships I’ve faced have left scars upon my soul, I have a wiser perspective about life and healthier, more loving relationships than I’ve ever had before.
ProHealth: How are you feeling now?
Connie: I feel relatively good, if I take care of myself. That means eating well, sleeping well, taking my supplements, doing detoxification treatments, investing in my relationship with God and maintaining healthy boundaries with myself and others (which is sometimes easier said than done!). I can work, travel, and have a social life. I can take walks, but I can’t climb mountains. I am not as physically strong or energetic as I was before Lyme disease, and I couldn’t get up at 6 a.m. to drive two hours in traffic to an 8-to-5 job, but I can function. I wish I could say I felt great—but I still have hope that someday, I will. The Lyme infections are in remission though, and the residual symptoms I have now I surmise are due to damage done by the infections and factors indirectly related to Lyme.
ProHealth: To what do you attribute your improvement?
Connie: First and foremost, I attribute my improvement to prayer and my relationship with God and learning to overcome lie-based thinking that kept my body and mind in a perpetual state of “fight or flight,” or fear, throughout my entire life. I also have healed because others have loved me throughout my healing journey. These were not the people that I expected to be there for me, but others that God put in my path along the way. After these things, treatments such as herbal remedies, live cell therapy injections, bio-identical hormones and nutrition, amino acids, detoxification and other natural remedies and therapies helped to bring me to a higher place of wellness. Eliminating infections played a role in there somewhere, too.
ProHealth: What or who inspired you to begin writing about Lyme disease?
Connie: My own need for healing incited me to write about Lyme. When I realized that there were no doctors in my state who truly understood Lyme disease, and that there were few good books on the market, I began to research the disease full time, interview doctors, and share my findings in a blog. Five years after I became ill, I ended up publishing a doctor interview book, which ended up helping many people, and soon led to other wellness books.
ProHealth: What advice would you give to people who suspect they might have chronic Lyme disease?
Connie: Find a doctor who treats Lyme disease exclusively, or as a main part of their practice. Do lab tests, but also do unconventional methods of testing to get diagnosed; things like muscle testing and electrodermal screening. Travel if you must to find a good doctor. The disease is complicated and complex and it is essential to work with a Lyme-literate physician, and perhaps even consider others to be a part of your healing team. The doctor who knew how to treat my infections wasn’t the same doctor who knew how to balance my hormones.
Eat healthy, organic food; exercise, get out and about and be around people whenever you can; do treatments but don’t make your life all about Lyme disease. Most importantly, don’t give up! Remission and/or full healing are possible. Seek God for wisdom and healing. Don’t try to figure it all out because healing isn’t just about having all the right answers; it’s also about trusting that the right answers will be brought to you. Rest, pray, and take time out to do something every day that will make you smile. Have hope that your life can be restored. For some of us, it can take months or years, but I feel that if I could get better, then anyone can!
ProHealth: Do you have a motto (or just a few sentences) that sums up your approach to dealing with Lyme disease or any chronic illness?
Connie: Lyme disease isn’t just about infection with a bunch of pathogens. It represents a breakdown of the body on multiple levels, and frequently, infections are only one factor in the overall symptom picture. Sometimes, it’s important to heal not only the body, but also the spirit and soul. Most people can’t just take some antibiotics and expect to get well. I know a few people for whom that was sufficient but most of us need to address the whole person, and heal and detoxify the inner terrain of the body; replenish nutrients, restore functionality to the systems and organs, and heal the emotional wounds of the past, as we also learn to replace toxic thinking with healthy beliefs and happier thought patterns.
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You can visit Connie’s website and blog at: http://conniestrasheim.org/
Connie’s books are available for purchase below: