After being featured in the July 2014 issue of Runner’s World as a runner who has Lyme Disease, I’ve been contacted by many other “Lyme Runners” who’s stories I’d like to feature for several reasons yet mostly because there needs to be awareness about the disease and those who live with it. For me, when I trained for my first marathon post Lyme, in 2010, I only knew of two other runners who had Lyme; Perry Field, a professional athlete and Bart Yasso, another extremely talented and gifted runner. However, both of these persons seemed to be out of my ordinary runner league and I really wanted to find someone like me, a non-professional runner who just enjoyed the sport. Seven years later, thanks to social media and other outlets, I’m meeting others who are like me; Lyme warriors who refuse to give up and who are pushing their bodies, finding health through running and exercise. In order to bring attention to this Lyme runner community, I now share their stories.
Eliot Rogers’ Story
To begin, I intend to pay homage to everyone suffering from this disease. After reading Runner’s World article I personally consider myself truly blessed, reading other’s struggles with this insidious disease and the crippling effects it can carry. To anyone that asks I describe the effects that LD has on my body as the “Tin Man Syndrome”, suffering from chronic pain and extreme joint stiffness. For us runner’s this makes our way of life more complicated, but not impossible to carry on. To cope, I personally incorporate an almost religious recovery regimen. Mornings have been my worst, waking up completely rigid and stiff, so my solution has to begin each day with a rigorous calisthenics session, followed by a run. The soreness and stiffness seem to leave when I start stretching and moving, the so called “oil” to the joints.
Growing up I was very much into athletics, everything except running. During high school I was a member of the football, golf, basketball, and tennis teams. Running became a later post high school hobby. My actual experience contracting the disease and the believed diagnosis was very deceiving. The story is still fresh in my mind, at the time I was in an inpatient rehab facility recovering from opiate addiction, a nice summer day out and our group decided to have an outdoor therapy session. I remember finding the tick on the backside of my knee, pulling it off and making no big deal of it. Growing up in a smaller, spot on the map town in rural WV, I’ve grown accustomed to them. Pulling/burning them off myself and k9’s on numerous occasions. No big deal right, or so I thought, the symptoms occurred within a few days after the bite. Hot/cold chills, fever, general weakness, general flu like symptoms. The deceiving part is that opiate withdraw symptoms and Lyme disease symptoms nearly mimic one another, a pair of twins that are hard to tell apart. My impression was the opiate withdraw was causing these symptoms. It wasn’t until a month or so after the initial tick bite that the classic red bulls eyes circles developed. At first one, then another, until my entire body was littered with them. It was a scary thing, finding 10+ red crop circles scattered over my body, believing God was punishing me for taking Craig’s lunch money in the 3rd grade. Fortunately this indicator brought forth the real culprit, I was given a 3 week course of antibiotics, and that was the song and dance.
Now you can say I chase a different high with running, I’ve been running consistently for the past 3-4 years. Gradually working up my mileage, from 5K’s to ½ marathons. The training for my first ½ marathon was very cautious and I focused much on the recovery aspect of it while also gradually increasing mileage, and at the same time not over doing it. The months preceding the race my biggest expenses were icy hot patchs/gels and Epson salts. Every chance that presented itself I would do something beneficial to my recovery. Icing my feet while at work, stretch while waiting on the trolley, heck I’d be at the bar massaging my calves. My training ended up paying off; I completed Pittsburgh’s Half Marathon 5 mins under PR. My mantra for the last bit was a piece of a poem from Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, and so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
Thank you all for your time and reading my running with LD story.