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Laura Schroeder

Laura Schroeder

The following is Laura Schroeder’s testimony.

Diagnosis: Lyme disease

 

Life was so much different back then. Graduate school, newly married. I could take care of myself. I was independent and self-sufficient. And then a walk around our neighborhood changed my life forever. I would never be the same.

Summer was in full swing in June 2001. I was stressed and tired of studying for my two graduate English classes, and plus our new puppy Pica, full of her Border collie energy, sure did need some exercise.

I had grown up in the country, right smack-dab in the middle of a cotton field to be exact. I was used to being free, up until college that is. So, for the past five years I had lived in town and jumped at any chance to go exploring and experience nature.

The neighboring country club had begun a new development near our apartments, carving out a soon-to-be road between the golf course and a pasture full of mesquite trees, cactus, and deer. A perfect adventure for a stressed-out country girl and her puppy.

So, off we went. We ran and played all through the dirt and weeds, looking at the deer and chasing turkeys. I had no idea that while we were having so much fun, my life was beginning to end. At least life as I’d always known it, that is.

Pica and I returned home, happy and relaxed. I went back to the books, studying until my husband returned from his job late that night, then retiring for a good night’s rest.

The next day was very routine. Get up, get ready, go to class, and study. However, when I was getting dressed, I noticed something on my back, something I thought was just an annoying little pimple. But at closer examination in the mirror, I saw that it was black. Still not knowing what it was, I scraped off the annoyance without a second thought, only to discover that it was a tick.

I had never seen a tick so small. Growing up, I had encountered countless ticks, but they were all what we called “dog ticks.” This one was quite different. It was tiny, the size of a pin point, and black. It was a deer tick.

A little disgusted, I flicked the tick into the toilet, gave him a flush and finished getting ready for class.

I didn’t think anything else of the incident throughout my busy day. But when I was getting ready for bed that night, I noticed a large, red, oval lesion right where the tick had bitten me. I thought it was very odd because no tick had ever left a mark like that before.

When I woke up the next morning, I curiously checked my back to see what was going on and causing such an itch. It was the lesion, except now it was more prominent. I had no idea that this was a warning sign of things to come. I just treated it like a mosquito bite, gave it a scratch, and went on about my way.

The following day, the lesion was accompanied by a stiff soreness in my back, right around the bite site. Now feeling more alarmed, I gave my mom a call before class, and we decided that I should swing by the doctor’s office just to check things out. We knew of a disease called Lyme disease, but I reassured my mother and myself that nothing was wrong. I scheduled an appointment for the following afternoon.

The doctor examined the lesion, drew some blood for testing, and gave me an ointment to cure the itch. It would take a week for the test results to come in.

The next day, a Friday, a new symptom arose. I felt a fatigue throughout my body that I had never felt before. And my back was so sore that it was uncomfortable to sit in the desks at class. I commented to my friends that I wasn’t feeling well and mentioned in passing that the doctor tested me for Lyme disease, not knowing the reality of the disease or of my condition. In my second class that morning, I could barely keep my eyes open. The only thing that helped me do so was the pain I was experiencing in my back. I thought that I just needed to get a good nap and quit studying so late at night. I was relieved when my professor came in and said he was tired, too, and that we deserved the day off. I went straight home to my couch for a nice nap to fix all my problems.

Five hours later, I awakened. Surprised and upset by how long I had slept, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed to the library. I had meant to do so hours earlier instead of sleeping the day away. I did research in the library for a couple hours, finding resources for my next big project. But when it came time to actually pull the books from the shelf, I didn’t have the strength to do so. I held a couple books in my arms, and even they were too heavy to carry. Thinking that I must be coming down with a cold, I opted to save the book gathering for the following day.

I walked to my truck, but couldn’t even find the strength to drive. I slept in the seat for awhile there in the parking lot, then went home to rest some more.

It was finally Saturday, a day I had been waiting for a long time. Not only did it mean a day of no class, but it was also the day one of my friends from college was having a bridal shower in a town 90 miles away.

When I woke up, I immediately remembered my discomfort of the day before, except now it was multiplied many times over. I could no longer move my neck. Yet, despite this prominent stop sign, I was determined to not miss the day I had been waiting for. I told myself I just slept wrong, hopped in my pickup and started driving, singing the whole way to ignore the pain.

My mom, also a friend of the bride-to-be, met me at the shower. She, like all good moms, could immediately tell that something was wrong. I still wasn’t ready to admit it. I participated, in pain, in the festivities of the shower, to the best of my enjoyment, not wanting to spoil my friend’s day. But when, after sitting for quite awhile, I tried to stand up, it was all I could do to make it happen. I turned to my mom and calmly told her it was time to go to the emergency room.

We went to a local walk-in clinic instead, me not wishing to pay for an enormous emergency room bill. I waited for four hours to be seen by a doctor, being assured every half-hour that he’d see me in just a few minutes. In those four hours, I felt the disease spread throughout my body, joint by joint, until every joint was locked tight. I was in excruciating pain. When the doctor finally came, he was so panicked by my condition that he sent me straight to the emergency room where I waited another five hours to see a doctor. The staff ran an EKG and some blood work on me. The tests came back clear, so the doctor returned to say that there was nothing wrong with me, to go home and take some ibuprofen and I would be fine. One of the nurse’s assistants wheeled me to the door and informed me that hospital law would not allow him to help me into my vehicle. He must have seen the desperation in my eyes because he then, out of the kindness of his heart, lifted me and placed me into my mom’s car. I obviously could not drive home, so my mom took me home with her.

The rest of the night was a painful blur. The next day was Father’s day, and also a day my husband and I had set aside to look at a house a realtor had just told us about. Not wanting to let anything ruin the day, I put all of my energy into pretending that everything was okay. Despite my efforts, the pain would not leave.

The next several months took me in and out of the hospital and from one doctor to the next. My joints were stiff; my nerves burned; my muscles ached; my head filled with confusion and forgetfulness; when I did walk, I scooted in little 2-inch motions, unable to lift my legs. I had to move back in with my parents because I was unable to even bathe myself, and my husband needed to work in order to pay for the doctor bills. MRIs, blood work, sonograms, EKGs… I was a pin cushion for the latest whim of the newest doctor. And it was all to no avail. No one could find anything wrong. My last appointment with a traditional medical doctor ended with him telling me to not come back to see him without first consulting a psychiatrist because there was obviously nothing wrong with me – it was all in my head. I was just making it all up to get attention. After that appointment and the blood work that followed, I remember sitting on the curb with my mom, weak and unable to walk the additional 10 feet required to reach our vehicle. Through my tears I declared that he was the last doctor I would ever see. The medical professionals were obviously not there to help me discover and fix what was going wrong, so there was no need to waste my time.

Many months passed before a new glimmer of hope came my way. My mom ran into a friend of ours who told her about a doctor, Dr. Harlan Wright, whom she had seen. She explained that he practiced natural medicine. I was very intrigued by what mom told me – this doctor’s goal was to get to the root of the problem and fix it. It was what I had wanted all along. I immediately called to make an appointment and was placed on the two-month wait list.

I’ll never forget the date – August 20, 2002 – the day my little world was forever turned upside down. In the waiting room, I filled out the paperwork. One page asked me to list what I ate in a typical day. I proudly filled out the page. I had just discovered a new cereal with blueberries in it – now that had to be healthy. Plus, I used skim, not whole milk. And every day for lunch I ate a sandwich – 2 slices of enriched bread, mustard, 1 slice of fat-free processed cheese, and one slice of low-fat lunch meat. We ate out for supper a lot because I didn’t feel well, but we would usually go to a pizza buffet, and I would eat supreme pizza because it had lots of meat and vegetables. And on nights I cooked, I made us a healthy portion of hamburger helper. (I cringe now as I write this.) I just knew that the doctor was going to be so pleased with my diet.

I was taken aback when he wasn’t pleased at all and began to tell me that everything I ate, except for the mustard, was bad for my health. I was actually making my health problems worse by the food I ate. The concept was initially baffling to me, but as what the doctor said began to sink in, I saw that all of what he was saying wasn’t some new scientific discovery – it was just common sense.

Dr. Wright gave me the clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease. I had known all along through my own research that this is what I had, but somehow having his professional diagnosis helped. At least I now knew what to call the sickness I was fighting. Over the next several months, under his care, and while adhering to the nutritional diet he recommended, except for the occasional cheater meal, I began to drastically improve. Pain started leaving, muscles began to relax, joints started moving, nerves quit burning, and the pounds of weight I had gained from more than a year of being sedentary fell off like crazy. I was becoming my old self again.

Since I was feeling so good, I decided that I didn’t need to get my nutritional IVs any more. I also decided that I didn’t need to follow the diet so closely any longer because I was well, and the diet was just for when I was sick. Both of those decisions were horribly wrong.

After only three months of my gradual slip into my old way of eating, I had a relapse. I was bedridden once again. And once again I sought nutritional treatment from Dr. Wright. I didn’t kid around with the diet this time. I knew I had messed up, and there was now nothing that would stand in my way of eating correctly. Unfortunately, I came to that conclusion too late. My body did not respond as well to the treatment this time around. I did improve, but not at the incredible rate I had before, and not to the level I had held for those short three months.

Eventually, the seven-hour round trips to the doctor twice a week took their toll on my energy and our finances. I had to stop seeing Dr. Wright, so I began seeing another doctor in town, one who practiced alternative medicine, but was not as nutritionally oriented. I continued on my nutritional diet regardless and was able to maintain a stable existence, but I just wasn’t getting any better.

That’s when I found Dr. Steven Hines. I attended a digestive disorders seminar he was giving at a local health food store. He talked about Lyme disease in his presentation, and I was filled with so much hope. I talked with him afterwards and asked if he thought he could help me get rid of Lyme. “Of course I can help you,” he replied with confidence. I called to make an appointment to see him the next day.

During the seminar, Dr. Hines talked a lot about a diet he always put his patients on. He talked about how it didn’t include wheat. I remember being nervous before my appointment thinking, “Do I really want to see this guy? He’s going to take away my wheat!” But my desire for health was fortunately greater than my love for wheat.

At my appointment, Dr. Hines recommended a protocol of supplements and the then Specific Carbohydrate Diet for both my husband and me. I will admit that the first few weeks on the diet were hard ones, just figuring out what we could and couldn’t eat. But the results we were seeing and feeling were well worth the effort. Within four days of being on the diet, my joint pain of all those years quickly began to disappear. My husband’s gastrointestinal complaints disappeared and pounds were slipping off of him like butter. I was sold. Any diet that would work that quickly had my complete devotion.

Two months later, I became a patient at Dr. Hines’ Hope Clinic for four weeks, where I received the greatest care and latest researched treatments in combating Lyme disease.

After I returned home, I continued getting better and better. I began to work part time for the first time in years, this time for Dr. Hines. My husband, Jared, and I joyfully adopted our first son, Tucker, only four months after my clinic stay.

I continued on the road of improvement and was so close to being completely well. But then, as I explained earlier in the Spiritual healing chapter, it was like I had hit a wall that this time I just couldn’t climb. That’s when Jesus carried me over and led me to my complete healing and complete freedom from the clutches of disease and from the fear of it ever happening again.

In the opening paragraph of my testimony, I said, “I would never be the same.” I’m so glad. I’ve learned so much on this journey of recovery. I now know how to properly care for my body so that it can take care of me. I’ve gained a better perspective on life, and hopefully along the way I can help others overcome the obstacle of illness they’re facing. I can honestly say I’m a new creation.

The old has gone; the new has come.

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