You know Christina as the Lady of Lyme. She writes a well-known blog in the Lyme community and is a tireless advocate for Lyme patients everywhere. That's why I asked Christina to participate in "The Lyme Interview" during Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Her story is similar to many in that she was misdiagnosed for many years before an eventual Lyme diagnosis. In spite of everything she has gone through on her Lyme journey, her positive voice shines through on her blog and in this interview. Make sure you visit Lady of Lyme and follow Christina on Twitter where she likes to hang out and interact.
Tell us a little about your blog and who you are:
Hi everyone. My name is Christina Kovacs and I am the creator of the blog Lady of Lyme. I'm from Kentucky and I blog about the ups and downs of my journey healing from Lyme disease, as well as, sharing research and resources with others. I like to think of my blog and my twitter as a little community, because it's very much a give and take. I learn so much from others, and vice versa.
What is your Lyme story? How do you think you contracted Lyme and how long did it take you to get a diagnosis?
I live in Kentucky and prior to getting diagnosed I had absolutely no idea what Lyme disease was, nor was I aware of the danger of ticks and the need to be protected when spending time outdoors. It was 2006 and I was playing flashlight tag in a wooded area the summer before I went to college. The next day I woke up and came down with what Doctors called a "summer flu." I was sick for an entire month completely bed bound, and I remember thinking this can't be normal. I was eventually given some antibiotics that helped (not the right kind or enough for Lyme), and that seemed to get me well enough to go off to college, but I never felt the same. The fatigue lingered and body pain lingered, and more and more new symptoms began to pile on. Looking back I can definitely say that summer night in 2006 is when I contracted Lyme Disease. As with most Lyme stories I got more ill as the months and years passed while searching for answers, and for me it took 5 years to receive a diagnosis.
What are your passions?
Oh goodness, I feel like I have so many. I was in school at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) working on my second degree when Lyme disease finally caught up with me to a point where I could no longer function. I had to quit school just 2 credits shy of graduating and move home for treatment. Design and the world of fashion have always been a passion of mine because of the ability to create. From a very young age I would seek out local seamstresses to custom make clothing for me that I had dreamt up in my mind. I really enjoy crafting, reading mystery novels, and watching crime solving shows (I am a murder mystery fanatic) and a huge animal lover. I've volunteered at rescues in the past, and hope to do that again when I am well enough. I would love to rescue, adopt, and save every homeless dog if I could. And lastly and most importantly my greatest passion lies in God. My faith has been everything to me, and it's what has carried me though my highest and lowest moments.
What was your lowest point and how did you find your way out of it?
Hands down my lowest point was when I relapsed. After fighting through treatment for about 3 years and seeing glimpses of my health coming back, it all came crashing down around me. It felt like it happened in slow motion. I was desperately trying to stop it, but I couldn't. The relapse brought new symptoms, some of which were impossible to control. It also brought along depression (which prior to that I had never dealt with). It hit me hard, and that was definitely my low point. It was a long road, but I got out of it with the support of my family, with my pastor coming to my home for bible studies by my bedside, and with Doctors helping to stabilize me and give me a sense of hope that the downward spiral was slowly coming to a halt. It took baby steps, but I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I would say the key and saving grace was that the people around me carried my hope for me when I was out of steam. I absolutely did not know how I would recover, but I was surrounded by my family and my faith which sustained me.
In honor of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, what do you want people to know about Lyme disease?
That it's not named after the fruit. Haha, just kidding. I do get that question a lot and I always chuckle. But in all seriousness I would want people to know that Lyme Disease is completely preventable if you just take precautions and learn to recognize the symptoms. I wish I knew in 2006 what I knew now, and that I had even 1 person educate me about prevention and early intervention. This disease is something that can be caught early before it causes mass body wide damage, and having the facts can change the course of someone's life.
What are you most grateful for in your healing journey?
The people I have met. I have met some of the most incredible and kind human beings on this journey who I feel so lucky to call my friends. Their strength astounds me and their authentic friendships remind me what it's like to have people in my corner who I can always count on.
What changes do you still feel you need to make in order to heal?
If I had to pick one thing, I would simplify it and just say physical therapy. PT in every different format; from visual PT needed to repair brain damage, to physical PT for my body which has been primarily in bed for years on end. There is a lot of healing and re-learning to do for parts of my body which were damaged and affected by Lyme disease.
Do you have a role model in the Lyme community? Who and why?
Katina Makris. When I was first diagnosed in 2011 I was absolutely terrified and overwhelmed. I had made the mistake of Googling Lyme Disease and was under the impression that I may never be well again. I tried searching for others online who recovered and kept coming up empty. That's when the mother of my boyfriend gave me the book, Out of the Woods by Katina Makris. That book completely changed my life. It was the most honest, hopeful, raw journey, which took me into the depths of the hell Katina fought through. It showed the struggle, but it also showed how she came out of it on the other side stronger than ever. She recovered and wrote the book many years after she was well, so I also got to read about how much richer and fuller her life was after she survived the fight of Lyme disease. That book is what gave me hope to begin treatment, and it gave me the fuel to say, "I can do this and I refuse to back down." If Katina could survive all that she went through, then so could I. She was my first role model, and still continues to be as I see her living her best health life 10+ years post Lyme. She is a huge inspiration through and through.
Please share a mantra or quote that inspires you:
"But God knows the path that I will take; when he has tried me I shall come out as pure as gold." - Job 23:10
"The purpose of life, after all, is to love it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." - Eleanor Roosevelt