Case in point:
A few weeks ago, I randomly picked out a documentary at the local library called The Punk Singer, which was basically the life story of, that's right, a punk rock singer named Kathleen Hanna. I really enjoyed the documentary, it injected me with some much-needed punk juice, inspired me to be more "punk" with my writing and other creative endeavors, but then, three quarters of the way through her story, Hanna started getting sick with mysterious symptoms. The more I heard about these symptoms, the more it sounded like you-know-what.
Eventually, I started almost screaming at the screen: “It’s Lyme! It’s Lyme!” And then Hanna was, indeed, diagnosed with Lyme in 2010. I felt relieved that she finally received a proper diagnosis.
Needless to say, I thought this was a very weird coincidence: how I randomly picked out that documentary, knew nothing about Hanna or her story and it eventually ended up being a story about Lyme. I mean, what are the odds? I randomly pick out a DVD from the library that I think is solely about punk rock and it ends up being about Lyme?
Due to the serendipity, I felt compelled to Tweet Kathleen so I wrote her a very brief note, told her about my Lymey blog and my other work, thanked her for telling her story...
And she actually wrote back!
She said it was a very nice note to get after such a terrible day. I'm not sure why her day was terrible (sorry about that, Kathleen, if you ever read this) but I felt compelled to tell her about my experience taking Artemisia (read my previous posts "The Parasite Problem" and "Beast Mode"), just in case I was "guided" to the documentary for that reason. Maybe she needed to know about Artemisia or a potential parasite problem. Or maybe I was meant to see the documentary for whatever reason. Maybe it was meant to inspire me? Who knows? It definitely seemed serendipitous and meant-to-be.
But that wasn't all. There was more serendipity to come.
A couple weeks later, I watched a movie called The Martian starring Matt Damon. It had nothing to do with Lyme but I found that his character’s situation in the movie paralleled my own situation, my Lyme situation.
The movie is set 20 years or so into the future. Damon plays an astronaut named Mark Watney who's working on a mission way up on Mars. A big storm comes and his crew has to abort the mission, leave Mars and return to Earth. Watney gets injured as they all try to escape, then he's swept up in a great gust of storm wind and he’s eventually left behind, the crew figuring him for dead. But it turns out he isn’t dead and, with his crew gone, he finds he is stuck on Mars for the unforeseeable future.
Watney, of course thinks he is screwed because it would take four years for a new team to come and rescue him. Mars isn’t exactly a friendly place, anything could go wrong and, if nothing else kills him, he will run out of food in less than 400 days. By all accounts, he thinks he is doomed. The future looks bleak. Hope is difficult to muster. Even if he does survive, he will be lonely and isolated for a VERY long time...
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? For a person with Lyme disease, this hopeless dilemma sounds very familiar.
Watney stays present, though. And he begins to solve each problem that presents itself, one obstacle at a time. He (spoiler alert!) eventually finds a way to make food, then finds a way to contact earth, and eventually finds a way to escape Mars and get back home. Calm was key. Patience was key. Problem-solving was key.
The lesson: if you keep calm, stay present, and solve each problem that presents itself, one at a time, you can overcome the greatest and most hopeless-looking of dilemmas.
The Martian spoke to me, baby. There are times during the battle with Lyme that you feel you are completely screwed and there is no hope of ever overcoming this insidious, complex, mysterious and relentless disease. But if you do what Mark Watney does, you can stay calm, stay present, and solve each problem that Lyme presents to you, methodically, one obstacle at a time, and all of a sudden you realize that you are getting better, there is hope, and light appears at the end of the tunnel. The more of the small problems you solve, the more upward progress you make.
Having Lyme is very similar to being stuck on a desert planet, all alone, for four years. The gravity of the situation and the length of time you must deal with the problem is overwhelming. Also, the disease is very isolating because very few people understand Lyme and very few people stick around to support you. However, if you stay present, stay calm, and solve problems, you can overcome the seemingly impossible.
Anyway, I felt that I was "guided" to both The Martian and The Punk Singer for a reason. The movies themselves were telling me Lyme can be beaten but stumbling upon the movies, so serendipitously, was itself a sign that I'm "back in the flow", back in tune with God, order, universe etc. The godless chaos that is Lyme is in the past.