In June 1999, Tan started showing symptoms of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection acquired from the bite of an infected Ixodes or “black-legged” tick. Although Tan had the resources, it took almost four years and tens of thousands of dollars before she received a final diagnosis. By then, the bacteria had already crossed the blood-brain barrier, and had thus turned into chronic or late-stage neuroborreliosis. She described in her book and in her Web site the harrowing details of how she almost lost control of her life to Lyme disease.
“I saw people walking into my room, two girls jumping rope, numbers spinning on an odometer, a fat poodle hanging from the ceiling. I also had strange episodes in which I behaved strangely but had no recollection of what I had done as reported to me by others. I apparently rang people up at midnight and talked in a wispy voice. I had flung laundry around the living room. My husband said I acted at times as if I were in a trance, eyes wide open but unresponsive to his and a friend’s questions. I now had nightly nightmares and acted them out, punching at lamps or my husband, and once landing on my head in a dive toward my dream assailant.”
Thanks to her stubborn streak, she refused to throw in the towel. She exhausted whatever energy and imagination left of her to do her own research and insist that her doctor perform tests that would confirm the diagnosis. When she knew what kind of “terrorist” she had in her body, she fought to capture it.
Tan now joins thousands of Lyme disease patients in promoting awareness and prevention. Her campaign against Lyme is just one of the many ways she uses her talents and influence to reach out to her readers. Through her works as a writer and an advocate, she reminds me that we all serve a purpose for one another; that our existence and our innate skills did not happen by chance.
We may or may not find the things we lost, need or wish for. The answer is in God's time, but whatever it is, it is not as important as who we are now. I, for one, am not Oprah, the Crown Princess of Denmark, a rocket scientist or the person who discovered Lyme disease . But I am a wife, friend, daughter, sister, mentor, writer, and a champion of many beliefs. I take each of my roles with aplomb and appreciation. I am something to somebody, and so are you.
For more information about Amy Tan, her life, works and campaign against Lyme, visit: www.amytan.net
For information about Lyme Disease, visit: www.LymeDiseaseAssociation.org