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A Day-in-the-Life in Dannie's Words

>> Dannie >>Ari

Dannie Steele—my attempt to share what my life is because of Lyme Disease. LYME DISEASE is a lot of things. It is in every part of me and in every moment. It is hell.

I feel I am a leper; a social pariah in my own respect. Each passing day I find myself further away from healing, more wounded and hardened than before. I don't appreciate attention, like pity, though I am desperate for rescuing. Death is snagging at my heels; I trip. I am lost and weary. Confused as to why I am in this predicament. I feel unsafe. My bag of tricks are proving not to be enough now. I can only disassociate from my body for so long and then the excruciating pain sets in. It envelopes my entire being and there is no freeing. Unbearable, I hold my breath and shake. I can't recall what it is like to be well, to thrive, to not force smiles, but feel joy organically. As much as I fight, I see now that my illness has become my identity. My existence revolves around medication and doctors' appointments. I push myself past my limits everyday; I have no other choice. Home, those rooms, that bed, is my prison. If I stay, I am sure I will soon wilt away. Atrophy into nothing. So I cry and wince, spending 4 hours just to get dressed, even the feeling of cotton rubbing against my skin hurts. I am always hurting. My sickness is a job with no breaks. I pretend I am happy. I repeat the same optimistic sayings over and over convincingly. I have become a well-versed actress. I have no other option. Fight while I can, or give into death. I am not ready. But, in many ways, I am already gone. I feel I have lost everything I had, that could be taken away. My body-- my temple-- has become my enemy. I have no control. I will never be the same. I feel I am beyond fixing. There is no guarantee of curing. I want to start over, I want another chance. Every day watching, yet another opportunity pass.

I drift in and out of reality since most of the time I find it too horrific. No one understands. No one knows what it feels like to lose yourself. In a matter of months…So called life long friends disappeared, no more school or sports (basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc.), no more dance, acting, singing (choir), no more sleep-overs, movies, dances, and days at the beach, etc. Simple chores and activities have become battles. What am I left with? Darkness. What can I offer now? I feel, at times, I am a reject, flawed and unattractive. Baggage, a burden.

I hate the limitations that have become my life, if you can even refer to it as that.
My stomach, my head, every muscle, every joint, every inch of skin aches constantly. It overwhelms me. The disease has invaded every part of me. I am now depressed, anxious and nervous. I go through spells of intense anger --Lyme rages. My insomnia continues to become an increasingly serious problem. Sleep escapes me each night; maybe an hour or two of rest a night if I'm lucky. I feel distracted. Sometimes I cannot focus on anything for more than 5-10 minutes. I have many Lyme symptoms that mimic other disorders. My mind is often not my own. Thinking is now a great challenge. Processing information, word finding, coordinating my movements even to just write is difficult. Any amount of light hurts my eyes, whispers can hurt my ears. My senses are so heightened it is arduous to be out, trying to filter it all, feeling so overly stimulated.

I am not myself. I was strong once. I held so much promise and determination. I had so many gifts, talented at anything I attempted. I was and felt beautiful. I could do anything and I encompassed everything. I was a great performer, athlete and a passionate student. I had my entire life planned out and would have succeeded at anything I put my mind to. I was a social butterfly, with more friends than I could keep track of or count. I had so many dreams and aspirations. All in life came easy for me. I never stopped; always busy and running around. I was secure in myself. I loved myself. I loved my life. I was ahead of the crowd, so smart and blessed. I'll never be at the level I once was, now. I feel so defeated. Like a failure, though I know I didn't cause any of this; I feel responsible for my many short comings. They haunt me. Everything I could of or should have done, or been able to do. I still can't help but dwell on what I would be now had I not gotten this evil illness. I have missed so much. I feel so far behind. And I keep fighting anyway – everyday – in everyway I can.