Ricky Wysocki went from being a top-level pro athlete in his sport to getting Lyme disease to barely being able to walk. The 2x World Champion contracted Lyme disease in 2019 and is currently in remission.
Can you summarize your experience with Lyme disease?
I was first bitten while playing in Europe back in 2019. I found the tick on my thigh after the round, pulled it off, and honestly didn’t really think much of it. I didn’t show symptoms for almost a month. It was actually while competing that I noticed I felt super fatigued, and every throw I made, even at full power, was coming up under 300 feet. I knew something was up, and the rash appeared shortly after.
What made you want to speak out and share your story?
Unfortunately there is a huge crossover between Disc Golfers and Lyme, with it being an outdoor sport. Disc Golf has given me this platform, and I want to be able to help raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those affected by Lyme disease as best I can. I saw first hand what it can do to a person, and have battled to figure out how to best combat my symptoms. If my story can help give moral support to one person, then it is well worth sharing!
How did you manage being a top athlete while battling something as difficult as Lyme disease?
Honestly, I didn’t. I had to take a break, and I actually missed a Major and a couple other tournaments at the end of that season. Luckily, I was diagnosed right around the offseason, so I had around 5 months to rehab and get my body right again. I became very close with my nutritionist, who has battled Lyme disease as well. We formed a game plan that included a strict schedule of supplements, anti-inflammatories, and juices. Not only was he my nutritionist, but he also offered me moral support as a friend. He had been through this before, and on days where I called him not being able to move my hands, he helped me calm down and attack Lyme head on. His moral support didn’t directly help my symptoms of Lyme, but instead gave me the hope I needed. I hope my story can provide someone that same support I desperately needed.
What is your daily regimen like? How do you keep your Lyme under control?
My regimen consists of juicing with natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric and ginger, and sticking to the supplements that have worked for me. Lyme disease unfortunately does not go away, and I have to give my body the nutrients necessary to fight off the underlying symptoms and prevent flare ups. It was tough at first to adjust to this lifestyle, but it is truly life-changing how you can feel when you are committed to giving your body exactly what it needs.
Have you been receiving support from your friends/family/fans or do you find that people don’t understand?
My sister, Lauren, was instrumental in my recovery. I was staying at her house when I was diagnosed, and she was committed to making the juices I needed, cooking healthy, doing anything in her power to help. There were days my joints felt like someone was holding a blowtorch to them, and she was the one who got me a cane, and helped me walk around the house again. I couldn’t have done it without her. She picked me up when I was dying, and shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer herself. She has now passed on, but I can still feel her support. I compete for her when I am on the course.
How did your experience with Lyme change you? Will you make any changes in your lifestyle or behavior now that you’ve been through this?
Health and wellness is now in the forefront of my life, and that is completely different from before I was diagnosed with Lyme. Mentally and physically I have never felt better, just because Lyme has forced a better and healthier lifestyle upon me. I like to say it was a blessing in disguise, because now I don’t have the option of treating my body poorly. I have strived to turn this negative into a positive.
More men are diagnosed with Lyme disease than women, but less men are talking about it. That’s why you stepping forward is so important for our community. What would you say to the men who are battling Lyme? What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
I feel guys often try to be macho and "tough," and never want to show their weaknesses. I was the same way, and thought I could fight through any amount of pain, but it is important for us to get out of that mindset. We must be in tune with our bodies, and be honest about how we are feeling. This doesn’t make you any less "tough." I urge everyone to get checked out and tested, talk to your doctor, and do your research on what will best work for you! Just because I took a more natural approach to my recovery, doesn’t mean that will be the best fit for you. Listen to your body!
Why did you choose to partner with GLA to spread awareness?
I started following GLA when I was first diagnosed with Lyme to hear others stories, and learn anything I could to help my symptoms. I am so happy for the opportunity to work together, and I’m ecstatic that I get to share my story and advocate for others affected by Lyme disease.
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Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.