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Ally Hilfiger on a Lyme Warrior’s Best Weapons

Discovering, Surviving and Managing Lyme Disease

Suffering any disease is draining, grueling and challenging. I’ve had Lyme disease since I was 7 years old. I was bitten by a tick during one summer in my seventh year, and I suffered for the next 12 years with what was essentially an unknown illness. I wasn’t properly diagnosed until I was 19. It was an uphill battle after my diagnosis since the Lyme bacteria had been left at liberty to attack me for so long. I went from doctor to doctor, trying different treatments. I forget the countless waiting rooms I visited, the number of needles jabbed into me, and the many pints of blood drawn.

In a strange way, the doctor’s office almost became familiar and comforting to me. It offered hope for a new and different treatment that would take all of the terrible symptoms away. I made friends with the nurses, and felt sort of at home, in that setting. That feeling obviously didn’t stay with me all the time, however. For feelings of hopelessness, fear, discouragement, boredom, self pity, and being overwhelmed were constantly with me as well. There are so many different emotions which come along with being ill, and trying to find a way to get better. Our medical system is still so confused when it comes to treating and diagnosing Lyme disease, which in turn, makes Lyme patients feel lost, scared, uncared for and, thus, even more unwell.

I thought about what I should bring with me to all these long appointments. I always carry a notebook for a few reasons: one, in order to write down what the doctor has told me, since my memory was compromised by Lyme; and, two, to document my symptoms and response to medications used to treat me, since these changed often. Finally, the notebook allowed me to undertake the most impactful writing exercises of my life, which I believe helped me overcome Lyme disease as much as the medical treatments themselves. Quite simply, I wrote about what I was grateful for, and I wrote about manifesting what I needed and wanted most in my life: simple health.

I filled many notebooks with my focus wheels and written intentions exercises. Everything I wrote still has relevance for me today. I know there is real power in positive thinking. Our subconscious is malleable, and if we focus on retraining the mind in positive ways, these lessons start to manifest into real life positive behaviors which help the physical body. Other items I always had with me were a tote bag with a snack, a bottle of water, some knitting, my notebook, and my current medications. But it was the notebook and the exercises I did that helped to prepare me for recovery.

Like many, I avoid using disposable grocery bags, so I wanted to design a multi-use tote that can be taken to the grocery store or farmers market. After all, a healthy diet is of major importance when it comes to treating Lyme symptoms. In conjunction with the “non-disposable” movement, I am working on an environmentally friendly, low toxicity reusable water container that can also be used for tea and coffee. I sometimes fill mine with smoothies to keep my blood sugar up throughout the day and during those four-hour long doctor’s appointments. My favorite smoothie includes organic avocado, banana, frozen mixed berries, spinach, flax seeds, coconut butter, pumpkin seed powder, almond milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of Manuka honey. The design I am creating for the tote bag may also be used on a tee shirt which will serve to remind us by way of its message that we’re always protected.

The symbols and art I use on these items are very special to me. The figure eight represents things such as rejuvenation, regeneration, balance, the fluidity of the life cycle and infinite healing love. The map of the stars I used in the design emphasizes both the array of emotions and trials we all have to endure in life, but also how we’re all connected and need to support each other throughout life’s trials and challenges.

There can always be a written healing plan worked out between a patient and her doctor, but that’s only one part of recovery. Without the support from our friends and family, and some faith, we cannot navigate our way to full health.

Ally partnered with Global Lyme Alliance for Lyme Disease Awareness Month, to support Lyme Warriors and support the fight against Lyme disease. 

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