Ellen Hobgood turns her suffering into art. She's the owner of Ellen Hobgood Gallery in Herber Springs, Arkansas, where she paints and teaches others to paint. You can learn more about Ellen and her gallery by following her on Instagram, and Twitter. Ellen is known for her paintings of Santa Claus, which you will see later in the interview. Her business endeavors are all the more impressive once you hear her Lyme story. This is a picture of Ellen and her fellow artist and Lyme fighter, Angela Turney. Ellen hopes that sharing her struggle will help others.
What is your Lyme story? How do you think you contracted Lyme and how long did it take you to get a diagnosis?
I keep up with it by the date of the Oklahoma City bombing. I was bitten the day before. I woke up with a low grade fever and headache. I thought had the flu. I was bitten on side road in Herber Springs, Arkansas. The road was industrial park road. I was taking a short walk on my lunch break. So the tick was on me less then a hour. I found on my left leg. It was like no other bite I have ever experienced. It felt like a set of pliers had cut into my skin. I have lived in Arkansas all my life. I hadn't ever been bitten like this before. I went to the doctor that was local. He looked at it said tick borne illness. No tests were run. I assumed all these years it was due to me not having health insurance. I had a preexisting condition of a pituitary tumor. My husband was in between jobs and I lost my healthcare. After all these years I learned that even if I had healthcare I would still have been denied. I took 1500mg of Doxycycline twice a day for 13 days. I was assured that was enough.
A year to the date I was bitten every joint in my body went stiff. I was reassured that it wasn't connected to the tick bite. Dial it forward to 2010. UAMS did Elisa test on me came back negative. ANA titres were elevated. But I didn't have Lupus or MS. My nurse practitioner denied me additional test for 7 years. I didn't find this out until I pulled my medical results from the hospital in 2016. I was so frustrated to learn that I had been denied for 6 years. I had a stressful time between 2008 and 2010. I'm a gallery owner. It was rough running a business and keeping my health in check. Doctors had linked it to stress not Lyme Disease. I'd seen so many doctors by this point, 11 to be exact. Doctors making me feel like it was in my head. By now Fibromyalgia, stress fractures in both feet, scohlis in my right hip, joint replacement in my right hip, needing 3 more joint replacements, neuropathy in both feet now in my hands, sight declining along with my grip, shortness in breath, constant yeast issues, and being tired all the time. At one time I was on 9 pharmaceutical medications. I know that other folks have been on more than that. It completely affected my ability to function. I gradually over a years time weaned myself off the all the meds and switched over to holistic supplements. My weight had become a huge issue too. I got up to a whopping 295.5 pounds in 2013. I joined our local TOPS chapter in my attempt to lose weight.
What was your lowest point?
Exactly a year ago June 2016. I was having shortness of breath and couldn't lift my arm to paint. I convinced my nurse practitioner to send me to a neurologist at Baptist Medical. He did a full tick panel on me. After I begged him to test me. He tested me it came back Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, R.Corrni, R.Arkri, Echrolis Chafniss, Rickistial. Two of these infections don't even exist in United States.
Is there a person who inspires you in the Lyme community?
Me and fellow artist Angela Turney were diagnosed same week. We had both searched for answers all these years. I found a doctor here in Arkansas he just moved here one visit was all it took. I have been going ever since last October 2016. I have eliminated now 66 pounds to date. I'm starting to feel hope again. Angela and I go every two weeks to see the doctor go over supplements and our diets. It is amazing to find someone that can help and that we have a support system in the two of us.
What is the one thing that you have found most helpful in treatment?
I think there are no coincidences in life. God has guided every step of the way. I'm not in remission yet, I'm just beginning my journey to get healthy and understand myself. Maybe I can help others by sharing my journey. And my art sharing is an amazing therapy. Maybe Angela and I can help others through our art. This is what artists and friends do.
Thank you for letting me share my journey.
"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." - Zig Ziglar