Four years ago my wife and I said, "I do" in sickness and in health. I distinctly remember the feeling as my knees buckled when I saw Kaitlyn walk down the aisle. Our eyes connected and everyone else in the room melted away. My heart raced just like the first time I saw her walk into freshman-year acting class.
Here walking towards me was the girl I fell in love with on the first day of college, and now almost ten years later, we'd confess our love for each other in front of our closest friends and family.
It was the happiest day of our lives.
The next day we boarded a plane to my second home, Hawaii, where I showed her my favorite places to surf and meditate in front of the ocean.
On a beach in Paia, I watched her hair dance in the wind as the sun set over the cerulean blue ocean. We were young and in love, two dreamers excited to change the world.
That's when it all changed.
Strange anxiety attacks, odd joint pain that would migrate throughout her body like an elderly woman, a mental cloudiness, crushing fatigue, and many more horrifying neurological symptoms would emerge, leaving her in constant pain and fear.
On July 10, 2011 we said "I do," and in the winter of 2011, I held her hand on what would be the first of many trips to the doctor's office. The culprit? A tiny tick bite with poison so clever it left doctor after doctor stumped to find a cure.
At first, we were confident she'd return to health in no time. She was a marathon runner obsessed with healthy living, and we were sure she'd surprise the doctor with how quickly she bounced back. Just about the time I'd come home with the groceries, she'd be injecting herself with another round of IV antibiotics. But the IV didn't work and the doctor told her she'd just be crippled her whole life. Then came doctor #2, then #3, and now we have #4, Dr. Richard Horowitz.
We've gone from Western medicine to Eastern medicine full circle -- and now combine the two -- shifted eating habits to the Lyme anti-inflammatory diet, and continue to move forward as we explore all pathways toward health.
This journey hasn't been what we expected when we vowed "in sickness and in health," but through it we kindled a fire to make the world a better place for the upcoming generation.
Kaitlyn had been an elementary music teacher, working with children every day. When she got too sick to work, she stayed at home and wrote her first novel called "Elements." Now, because of her struggle with Lyme disease, Kaitlyn has written a children's book called "Once Upon a Lyme" to bring Lyme awareness to children across the world, and has created a blog space that helps other sufferers stay positive and hopeful for curative treatment.
For Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Kaitlyn created an animated video edition of the children's book, for free: no strings attached. The goal is to help parents begin a conversation about Lyme awareness and prevention with their children. Children should not have to fear playing outside.
Lyme Disease has grown to epidemic proportions with more than 300,000 new cases annually in the U.S. alone. Because it is difficult to diagnose and blood tests are unreliable, the disease has yet to become as well known as others on the autoimmune spectrum, and despite the staggering number of newly infected cases each year, Lyme Disease has one of the lowest amounts of funding.
Spreading the word begins with one conversation, or in this case, watching a whimsical cartoon about how to prevent Lyme disease.