WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?
Nicole has actually never been diagnosed with Lyme here in Canada. It was Nicole’s mom, Chris, who finally recognized Lyme disease after tirelessly researching lists of symptoms on the internet. Few Canadian doctors are trained to recognize Lyme disease, and those that are “Lyme literate” have their hands effectively tied with inadequate tests and restrictive diagnostic guidelines.
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In fact the sicker Nicole got, and the more doctors and specialists her family took her to, the greater the variety of diagnoses she received: Athsma, Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Growing Pains, Anorexia – you name it – even a need for attention was mentioned as a possible cause! Meanwhile, Nicole’s symptoms worsened: Her breathing became increasingly labored and shallow. She began to forget things and get lost in her own neighborhood. She developed waves of all-over body pain so severe she could not even get a gentle hug from her mother.
On the advice of one informed BC doctor, Chris paid for Nicole’s blood to be sent to California for a proper analysis. As soon as they got the positive test results for Lyme, they began their regular trips to the US for the long-term antibiotic treatments Nicole desperately needs, and which are prohibited here.
AN ACTIVIST IS BORN....
Chronic Lyme disease is not easily cured. Nicole’s family used up all of their savings and sold the family home to finance her treatment outside of the country. Even with medication, long-term Lyme infection has affected Nicole’s mobility so that she now must use a wheel chair to get around - and she continues to suffer from frequent pain and short-term memory loss.
Yet despite such adversity, Nicole remains optimistic about her recovery and enthusiastic about life in general. She continues to remain engaged with her close and supportive group of friends, and appreciates the dedicated support of her parents and teachers as significant motivating factors in her life.Inspiringly, Nicole has chosen to use her misfortune as an opportunity to become active in her community and bring awareness to others about Lyme disease and Lyme politics in Canada.
Currently, Nicole maintains an ongoing blog about her personal Lyme journey through which she has reached and encouraged many other Lyme sufferers. She has volunteered her time and wealth of experience with a group of Vancouver Island medical students with the hope of motivating Lyme literacy in Canadian doctors. She has done fundraising and spoken out publicly about the effects of Lyme disease to schools, forums, and even in the Legislature, continually calling attention to the need for more accurate testing and reliable management protocols in Canada. And, with daily doses of self-administered intravenous antibiotics (and the support of her family and community) she has even managed to continue playing music and complete her high school curriculum online.
What is it that gives Nicole the strength to be a Lyme hero rather than a Lyme victim? She believes that that making a difference isn’t always about big heroic acts. It’s about waking up each morning thankful to be alive, setting goals, and always moving forward, however slowly. Mostly it’s about not giving up hope.
So, perhaps med-school is still in the plans? Seems like a distinct possibility. And if not med-school then surely with Nicole’s combination of confidence and talent, she can have her pick of just about any other idea she sets her mind to - artist, writer, musician, teacher… Although it’s still a long road of healing ahead, and there is much need for education and action around Lyme disease in Canada, Nicole is living proof that when you set your sights high, the sky’s the limit!
You can follow Nicole’s blog, contact her, and find more Lyme related links at:
To find out about Lyme symptoms, prevention, treatments, and research in Canada, or to make a donation please go to the website for the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation: