Our Family's Lyme Disease Story

Suffering in Silence with Late-Stage Lyme Disease

I let it go on for three years.  I’d feel sick or exhausted and tell myself to suck it up, be a good mom, and complete the tasks on my to-do list. 

But even in the first two years, I battled a bevy of symptoms. 

Symptoms of a weakened immune system like fatigue, hair loss, and frequent infections. Neurological symptoms like headaches, insomnia, and sleep disturbances. Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Even neuropsychiatric symptoms like depression, anxiety, and irritability. 

Christy Brunke battling undiagnosed, late-stage Lyme disease
Me and my daughters FaceTiming Grandma Angie on March 17, 2017. Photo by Angie Brunke.

All those little symptoms I was having? I didn’t realize they added up to one big problem. I just kept going. 

Three. 

Long. 

Years.

And I’m not the only one. In fact, far from it. 

Delayed Diagnosis

Two friends wrestled with Lyme for ten years before getting a diagnosis. Another was bitten by several ticks in her childhood and struggled through her teens before finally being diagnosed as an adult. 

Delayed diagnosis is common with Lyme—it’s one reason it’s one reason I launched this website

As I mentioned in “The Clue in the Diary, I recently compiled a timeline of events and symptoms from 2015 to 2018. I wanted to answer the question, “When was I first infected?”

All the signs point to October 26, 2015, as my initial infection date. But it’s possible—even probable—I was reinfected later.

I noted eight other times when I might have gotten bitten. For example, I went hiking and, twelve days later, got sick with what I thought was bronchitis, a cold, or the flu.

Suffering in Silence

As I read through the timeline, I watched my health deteriorate starting in late 2015. Almost as if I were reading about someone else, my heart broke for myself. For so long, I suffered with late-stage Lyme disease in relative silence. 

When Postpartum Packs a Punch by Kristina Cowan

After the traumatic birth of her son, my friend Kristina Cowan battled postpartum depression. In When Postpartum Packs a Punch, she writes, “Suffering in silence wasn’t my style.” 

Well, clearly, it was mine, because I suffered in silence for far too long. My husband knew more than anyone, but even he didn’t know the extent of what I was wrestling with. 

He always tells me I work too much, so I knew if I told him how bad I really felt, he would make me rest. But between writing, ministry, and caring for our home and children, there was always so much to do! I didn’t feel right about resting (more than was normal) if nothing was wrong with me. 

But something was wrong. Terribly wrong.

Now I’m telling my story so you and your loved ones won’t suffer in silence. You’ll see what’s going on and demand the help you desperately need. 

Two years into my journey, I did finally seek out a doctor, but I left his office feeling like a hypochondriac. Another year would pass—and my symptoms would worsen and multiply—before I was finally diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease in 2018.

Click here to read “An Unwelcome Gift for My Fortieth Birthday.”

8 Comments

  1. Grandma

    FaceTime, lol that was where I got the majority of my pictures, and that is still one of my favorites of the three of you. It was one of those silly days with the girls and I’m pretty sure before you got infected, well from my internal (memory) diary.

    Grandma Angie

    Reply
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