Asking for financial help in order to continue to receive treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease. Although Lyme Disease has done extensive damage to my body, I remain hopeful and focused on all that this journey has taught me, and the possibility that my body can overcome this.
My name is Marisa Santiago and I am 32 years old. I have been challenged with health issues for most of my life. I began developing joint pain, bladder and hormonal issues and food sensitivities in my early teens. I did not understand what was going on with my body. I could not participate in many teenage experiences which led to confusion, anxiety and isolation. As the years went on, there was a worsening of symptoms, countless doctor visits, treatments, and medical bills that my insurance did not cover. After several years of searching for answers, there was still no explanation for all the medical issues I was experiencing at this time. I continued to search for answers, and finally after over a decade of constant and chronic pain, unexplained symptoms and surgeries, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease. It seems illogical to be relieved to receive a positive test result for Lyme, but I actually felt that way. This was very emotional for me to finally be validated by this blood test. No longer would I allow another doctor to make me doubt myself.
Due to the severity of my symptoms, in 2009 I had to stop working as a teacher, a job I truly loved. I have not been able to return to work. This insidious disease has affected many of my organs and most of my joints. To give some examples, during a span of three years, I had surgeries on both knees and both shoulders, and yet I continue to have difficulty with these joints. I was experiencing a lot of pain in my gall bladder and subsequently had to have it removed. My bladder is inflamed causing frequent urination and sometimes pain. My kidneys are affected in the same way. A recent brain scan showed inflammation and abnormalities as a result of the Lyme Disease.
A major neurological symptom of the Lyme is that I become sick from any scented or chemical products. The places that I can go without feeling ill from smells are very limited. I often have to leave places, or cannot attend family/friend functions due to these sensitivities. Those I spend time with have had to change the personal and cleaning products they use (such as hair products, laundry detergent, etc. – everything must be “free and clear”). In addition, the list of foods I can tolerate is very short. What is cooked in the house must be carefully managed.
When I was first diagnosed with Lyme, I received the standard protocol of several weeks of oral antibiotics. But I still felt very sick, and my doctor at that time, although experienced in treating Lyme disease, admitted that he could go no further with treatments. Insurance companies just won’t pay for them. It was clear that I would need to explore other treatment options. After much searching, I finally found the right doctors for treating my advanced chronic Lyme. Because of their experience and high rate of success with Lyme patients, I was confident that they would be the ones to help me.
They explained to me that the Lyme organism has been doing damage for many years – getting deep within my connective tissue, nervous system, and even my brain. And that because of the prolonged and advanced stage of the Lyme, it would need to be a long treatment process. They recommended a treatment plan of several months of intense intravenous antibiotic therapy and then several months of oral antibiotics.
Unfortunately, much of this treatment protocol is not covered by my insurance. It is extremely expensive due to the high cost of the intravenous antibiotics and the regular visits to these out-of-state doctors for monitoring. The medicines have cost thousands of dollars a month and I have now been under this treatment for ten months. My family has been so generous with helping me pay for medical bills.
With the care of these doctors, this treatment protocol, and my continued faith I can see myself as a healthy woman, being able to work again, having the freedoms of living a vibrant healthy life, and to one day have a family. At this time, my primary concern is being able to continue to receive these treatments so I can be well again. I wholeheartedly believe in this treatment plan as I have already seen improvement in my symptoms, such as fewer sensitivities to certain foods and smells, and I feel more clarity of mind. I want to be Lyme free. I am writing to humbly ask for your donation so I can continue this protocol. Please help with anything you can. It is so very much appreciated.