Devin Wethauser shares her story of fighting Lyme disease, Bartonella, and Babesia in an effort to spread awareness.
It all started with the most intense stomach ache I’ve ever had, six days before my sixteenth birthday. That was the beginning of a journey I had never imagined would become my life. My symptoms were random and involved every part of my body, which sent me to over 25 different specialists. In my senior year of college, while under the care of an integrative medicine doctor, my diagnosis of Lyme, Bartonellosis and Babesiosis was confirmed.
I have had almost every symptom in the book, but specifically for Bartonella, I have had and continue to endure headaches, pain behind the eyes, muscle pain, poor appetite, swollen glands, horrible fatigue, random fevers, tachycardia, exacerbation of anxiety and depression, and severe brain fog.
Under the care of my LLMD, I have experimented with so many treatments, which unfortunately for me, have yet to help my conditions. These treatments have included the typical ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, doxycycline, herbals, low dose immunotherapy, and disulfiram. I am now on a combination of dapsone, rifampin, and doxycycline.
I have also developed some difficult mental health issues that made me seek out therapy. This experience, in particular, gave me purpose in my life. I realized that being a therapist, specifically for chronically ill people, is how I take the best of me and my experiences to help others.
The disease has completely changed my life. Since I’ve been sick for over a decade, I don’t remember what it’s like to feel healthy and pain free. I learned that the path I had originally carved out for me was no longer available. I’m not able to work full time as I don’t have the energy to do so. I have also developed some difficult mental health issues that made me seek out therapy. This experience, in particular, gave me purpose in my life. I realized that being a therapist, specifically for chronically ill people, is how I take the best of me and my experiences to help others. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship thinking I’ll be starting a fashion business. However, now I’m currently working on my graduate degree to become a licensed professional clinical counselor and a licensed drug and alcohol counselor.
The advice I’d share with others is that you must recognize every single person diagnosed with tick-borne infections is going to have a completely different journey. One person will be in remission from doxy while another (me) has yet to get there after trying countless treatments. At times, hope can be fleeting, but it’s important to hang on to that small sliver. I also think it’s extremely important to seek out therapy to process, build perspective and develop tools. Having these illnesses and diseases causes grief and trauma. Using professional help to navigate all this was critical for my journey.
In addition, you will have many non-believers, including those in the medical profession. I recently went to the emergency room for low oxygen saturation. The ER doctor said “you’re too young to be on all of these medications. What kind of treatment is this for LYMES disease? I’m going to cure you tonight.” This is a perfect example of why we need GLA and other organizations to fund research for better treatments. Once there’s a better treatment that LLMD’s can use and prove it works, then we can start educating ignorant doctors like the ER doctor in my story.
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The above material is provided for information purposes only. The material (a) is not nor should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor (b) does it necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of Global Lyme Alliance, Inc. or any of its directors, officers, advisors or volunteers. Advice on the testing, treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.
*Opinions expressed by contributors are their own. Devin is currently working as a personal stylist and shopper as she's completing her Master's Degree in Counseling and Psychology. In her free time, she binge-watches The Office or Seinfeld, goes fishing, or cuddles with her two Rottweilers named Mack and Biggie.