October 31, 2008




#10 The universal "one size fits all" should not apply to hospital gowns.

#9 Somebody please explain the rationale behind sequestering sick, germ infested patients in dorm style living. Don't dorms and meningitis outbreaks go hand in hand?

#8 "Hospital Quiet Zone" signage only applies to the OUTSIDE perimeter of the hospital. You are alarmed to discover that the jack hammering that kept you up all night was actually the snoring of the frail, 88 year old lady in the bed beside you.

#7 If sleep is the best medicine, why do they wake you up every 2 hours just to ask how you are feeling?

#6 Within hours of pumping your stomach full of gas, skewering your abdominal cavity with 4 metal prongs, and yanking out an organ through your belly button, they expect you to get up and go for a walk.

#5 Citing "potential complications" they can legally with hold food and water from you for 3 days straight.

#4 While starving you, they intravenously pump you so full of saline and narcotics that you actually GAIN 10 pounds.

#3 Starvation leaves you weak, lethargic and confined to bed. You have no TV, no phone, no computer and no visitors to help pass the time. The only form of entertainment to be found is a stack of Canadian Living Magazines from the 1980s.... 90% of the content in Canadian Living Magazine is RECIPES.

Either the hospital pharmacy doesn't understand the importance of following directions OR they decided to experiment with your dosages - just to see if the warnings on the drug label are really true...
Overdose of Primaxin IV will result in seizures and death.

And the NUMBER 1 reason that hospitals are scary places to be....

They continue to keep giving you your gall bladder medication...
even AFTER they have surgically removed it.


Happy Hallowe'en from the Goertzen Household!

Walter as


Avery as


Parker as


Taylor as


October 28, 2008


"Make sure you always wear clean, nice underwear, she said, in case you get in an accident. I always figured that'd be the least of my worries, but now I'm older and I see that there is a lot you can't control and little you can control...Clean underwear is one of those things you can...for the most part anyway." -Brian Andreas

And make sure to always shave your legs and have freshly washed hair...because you just never know when you could make an unplanned visit to the ER! Hospital gowns leave little to the imagination. In fact, they don't provide adequate coverage period. And even though we've all been told that doctors and nurses don't take notice of things like that, they are LYING! Trust me on that one...I am highly suspect that the strange green elfin socks they gave me to wear had nothing to do with their desire to help me stay warm and more to do with the fact that they didn't want to deal with the obvious sabbatical I've taken from shaving.

But alas what is one to do? I have been terribly sick and incapacitated for the past 5 weeks. So, when we headed out the door to Emergency last Thursday, I was way too sick to take the time make myself look pretty... however, notice I didn't say too sick to care - Regardless of my pain saturated state, I was painfully aware that I was heading out the door a puffy, hairy, greasy mess. If I could have, I would have paused to do something about it. The thought really crossed my mind. I'm weird like that. Admittedly, I've even gone to labor and delivery with full hair and makeup done all 3 times. I like to look good, no matter what. Speaking of labor, I might add that gall bladder attacks are very similar to labor - except worse. A whole lot more painful. Really. And all you end up with when it is over is a belly full of stones and gas. Talk about adding insult to injury.

All kidding aside, I really loathe having to go to emergency. In fact, I avoid it pretty much at all costs for 2 reasons,

#1 I'm famous for saying "I'm too sick to go to the hospital" I'd rather suffer in the comfort and privacy of my own home.

#2 After the skepticism, open hostility and even abuse that I have so often been subjected to in regards to my LD - I have a high level of anxiety over interactions with doctors. It is easy to fear that by heading to the ER, I am potentially putting myself in the line of fire. I am loathe to do that, especially when I am in a weakened and vulnerable state.

But after I had the mother of all GB attacks back in July (which naturally I refused to go to the hospital for), Dr H (my US doc) and Dr Anonymous (my Cdn doc) ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed stones in my GB. Stones that were dangerously close to being big enough to block my bile ducts. I was put on meds to try and break down the stones and both Dr H and Dr A made me promise that I would go to the hospital if or when I had another attack.

Graham reminded me of this on Thursday, as he dragged me out the door kicking and screaming. I kept insisting that it would pass but by this time I had already been keeled over in pain for 5 hours straight. En route to hospital, the pain began to subside and so I tried to convince Graham to turn around and take me home. We did make a U-turn and then Graham thought better of it and ignoring my pleas he turned around and made a bee line for the ER.

Upon our arrival in the ER, I was immediately whisked in to the triage area. Of course even though I was there in regards to my GB, my LD status quickly became front and center. My laundry list of medications and my picc line make it pretty hard to hide the fact that I am battling LD. Naturally, the triage nurse had never met anyone with LD before and so was very fascinated and curious about my condition. Once the triage nurse had been appropriately educated about LD, I was tended to by 2 highly entertaining male nurses. At one point they referred to Graham as my boyfriend, I quickly corrected them. "No, he's my husband." From that point on, they referred to Graham as my "ex-boyfriend". It was very funny. Of course, I was high on morphine by then.

The nurses left saying the ER doc would be in shortly to examine me.

Graham passed the time by taking advantage of my morphed out status... I was slightly confused when he made me hold that newspaper...

"Freaks come out to play!"

Very Funny! Not.
What a mean thing to do to a helpless, drugged up invalid!

As I quietly lay there waiting for the ER doc, I could hear the staff speaking in hushed tones. I kept overhearing "Lyme Disease" and "the woman in bed 10 has Lyme Disease" and "Really, Lyme Disease that is so rare" Of course, this raised our level of anxiety instantly - given our past experience, we naturally assumed their whispered dialogue had negative connotations. Both Graham and I felt like we were sitting ducks. Okay, I think I actually thought I was a duck. One paranoid, anxious duck.

We cowered behind our flimsy little curtain, anxiously, tensely waiting for what felt like an eternity for the ER Doc. ER doc finally came in and did an exam. He asked many questions related to my gall bladder issues and then of course came the questions about LD. A million of them. However, to our great surprise and immense relief, he was quite knowledgeable about LD. Shockingly enough, he even cited how extremely serious a disease it is - how novel! Of course he had never actually met anyone with it and so he was very curious to talk to and examine a real live specimen.

My pain didn't really subside on the morphine so the decision was made to keep me in the ER over night and then send me for an ultrasound in the morning. So I spent a LONG, LONG night in the ER. High and bored.

Come morning I was visited by 2 surgical residents, who did an exam, asked the same questions the ER doc had and then asked a billion more about LD. Surprise, surprise they had never met anyone with LD either. They decided I should be sent for an ultrasound and then pending those results, a decision would be made as to whether surgery was necessary.

After my ultrasound, the same 2 surgical residents came by with the results. They said that while I certainly had a lot of little stones weirdly enough the big stones that were present at my last ultrasound were MIA. They said the surgeon still needed to take a look at my case and test results but they indicated that I would probably be able to go home.

Phew, I was so relieved. By this point, I was exhausted, hungry, bloated and in desperate need of a good cup of coffee. I called Graham to let him know that I'd probably be free to go very shortly. About 45 minutes later, as I was dreaming of home sweet home, the resident materialized by my bedside again.

"The surgeon just reviewed your case and you need emergency surgery. We are admitting you now. And I'm going to need to go over the risks of surgery with you and have you sign this consent."

"WHAT?" was all I could mutter around the fingers of panic squeezing my neck.

I think my heart quite literally stopped, my stomach dropped to my toes, and I nearly vomited up my gall bladder.

I was shell shocked and totally freaked out. This couldn't really be happening. Not now. Not in the condition I am in. I have spent the past 5 weeks bedridden. I am incredibly weak, have limited mobility, not to mention my respiratory and cardiac issues have been giving me serious problems.
How in the world is my body going to withstand a surgical assault on top of all that?

And in that moment, I sent out a desperate prayer. I knew I could Trust God but I needed peace and direction from Him. I prayed for 2 things to happen.

#1 Dr H had to okay the surgery
#2 I had to feel comfortable with the surgeon

It felt like we spent an eternity waiting to meet with the surgeon. When he finally walked in and introduced himself I liked him immediately and a calm settled over me. God sent me Dr Frimer. A surgeon with a great big heart. Not to mention super personable, very caring and even funny. He spent a lot of time asking me questions about my LD. He was very concerned about my condition but he also emphasized that the surgery needed to be done within the next 72 hours. He immediately phoned DR H in California to consult with him about me. Dr H gave him the 'okay' which made everything 'okay' for me too.
The anesthesiologist was also consulted and briefed on my condition too. God answered my pleas and gave me peace about surgery. .

We were really blown away with Dr Frimer's care and concern. In fact, f
or the remainder of my stay, we had many positive interactions with hospital staff in regards to my LD. Interestingly enough, my lyme symptoms didn't beat their usual hasty retreat into oblivion in the presence of doctors and nurses. My tachycardia and arrythmias kept setting off the alarms and quite literally kept the nurses running. My blood pressure kept dropping very low. I had several blood sugar crashes that required immediate intervention. I lost count of how many times they asked me if I was sure that I wasn't diabetic (like you would forget something like that!) my shortness of breath required oxygen and I actually stopped breathing 8 times after surgery.

Yes, you might say, I became the greasy haired, puffy poster child for Lyme Disease. I had a steady stream of nurses and residents wanting to check me out and find out about LD. They looked, they poked, they prodded, they got a crash course in LD...I felt like a live specimen caught in the glare of an interactive microscope. It was very novel to have such a positive experience however my hospital stay was no picnic in the park either.

As Dr H says, "Hospitals are dangerous places to be"

Yes, yes they are.

Did I mention that i was nearly given potentially fatal overdoses of my IV meds FIVE times?

October 22, 2008


Who am I?
I am not Graham.

It's me again.
Who's me again?
Me again...as in Shannon...minus one angry, rebellious organ.

The past 5 weeks have been some of the most harrowing, horrifying, emotionally numbing weeks to date...capping them off with the drama of an emergency surgery was somewhat a nice distraction.

Weirdly enough.

More about that later. I have so much to get down on cyber paper. I have desperately missed spewing forth my thoughts - it's been incredibly trying and frustrating to be so hemmed in by my physical and mental limitations. My brain, my crazy lyme mind is alive with colorful verbage swirling around on one continuous dizzying axiom screaming for release in the form of Size 10, ARIAL font.

Not sure if my return is indication that I am actually coming out of this 5 week long herx or if it is because I have now been off my detox meds since last Thursday or if it has more to do with the fact that I'm pumped full of morphine and various other lovely narcotics.

Somehow I have a sneaking suspicion my reprieve has more to do with the latter.

However, time will tell.

I was telling my mom that I actually feel the best I have felt in 7 weeks.
I thought that was so strange.
She looked at me like I had seriously lost my mind and then said, "Well, of course you do, you are pumped full of morphine."
Oh yeah. That fact seemed to have slipped my mind.
Had a good laugh about that.

However, I guess its a fairly stark reality of just how really bad it has been if I feel that way after undergoing emergency surgery just 4 days ago.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my surgeon to remove my stitches. It was the first time in 5 weeks that I wore clothes and not pajamas. I even brushed my hair and put on make up - haven't been able to do that since we were in California.

Pretty crazy reality to face the fact that even though I was just 3 days post surgery, I was actually the most functional I have been in 5 weeks. Of course, the fact that I also had the nerve to ask my surgeon when I could put my belly button piercing back in, citing that "I don't 'recognize' my stomach without it." is probably an indication that I am still somewhat a little loopy from narcotics. I even made it to our 20 min. Parent-Teacher conference with Parker's teacher. However, given my narcoticly influenced head space, I figured it would be wise if I stayed uncharacteristically quiet.

And oh yeah, speaking of surgery....
That was done on Saturday.

It was a Laproscopic Gall bladder surgery.
Which basically means that they just suck it out through 4 little incisions.

Hoover away, Doc, Hoover away.
Feel free to suck out as many borrelia spirochetes as possible while you are at it.

In all I spent 4 days in hospital.
And boy do I have stories to tell.
The whole experience was one crazy ride that bounced non-stop between insanely boring and incredibly dramatic.

My lyme symptoms certainly gave the hospital a run for their money. Literally.

It was all rather terrifying...and definately a curious, new phenomena to experience. Generally my lyme symptoms go into hiding in the presence of medical personnel, so while it was scary to deal with my crazy symptoms ON TOP of dealing with surgery, it was also a strangely exhilirating, liberating experience.

More about it all later.
Right now, I'm fighting to stay awake.

But most importantly, before I head off into La La Land, I just wanted to say an immensely HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who have supported, encouraged and prayed for us...especially over the past 5 weeks. Graham always relayed your messages to me and I cannot even begin to express what that meant to me. This is an incredibly lonely and isolating disease to fight - I take great comfort in knowing and being reminded through emails and phone calls that I am not alone.

Indeed, I know that I have been the recipient of an amazing and overwhelming outpouring of love and prayer. In fact, I so strongly experienced such an absolute supernatural peace as I was wheeled into the OR, that it is beyond doubt that my peace in that scary moment can only be attributed to the power of prayer.

WHO AM I....that I should be the recipient of such an overwhelming outpouring of love, support and prayer?

WHO AM I...that strangers should choose to send me their love?

WHO AM I...that folks make time in the busyness of their own lives to clean my house, take & pick up my kids from school, nurture my kids by including them in their family experiences and outings, prepare meals for our family, drive me to dr appointments, the list goes on and on...

WHO AM I....that folks have the tenacity and strength to tirelessly and faithfully uphold me in prayer as this battle endlessly and wearily wages on and on and on?

WHO AM I...that folks who carry their own tremendous burdens and pain should choose to come along side of me and share the weight of my burden?

I am moved to tears.
I am humbled.
I am grateful.
I am profoundly blessed.
I am Shannon.
And I am back.

October 17, 2008

Saying Goodbye to an Organ

It's Graham again.

Took Shannon to the hospital last night because of ridiculous gall bladder pain. Poor thing could hardly walk straight. Morphine took the edge off, but the long and short of it is, that it must come out.

We were hoping that her GB would calm down and we could avoid surgery - she's been so weak lately, surgery is not the best thing for her. However, we're trusting that the Lord our God will direct the hands of the surgeons.

I'll be in touch.

Please pray!

October 7, 2008

The Great Planetary Infection

We're poking our heads out of the hellish world of Lyme into cyberspace in order to reach you and let you all know what's going on.

Many of you are commenting on the absence of recent posts, so here's a bit of an update. Thanks for your comments, phone calls and emails to us. Please keep doing this!

Clearly, this has been a most difficult 3 weeks for Shannon.

She's been either in bed, or on the couch except for a visit to the doctor on Oct 1. The doctor was seeing patients on a drop-in basis, so I slotted Parker and Avery in the cue with a bag of chips and returned to wait with Shannon in the van. She could barely sit up so we reclined the seat as far as it would go (how does one make a minivan seat comfortable?). When our turn came, I hauled her out of the van and into a wheelchair to get her into the office.

Since my last post and returning from California, nothing has really changed for her. In fact, it's getting worse. I suppose this delicious detox cocktail she's taking is working. Inside her, there seems to be a great stirring of something that is fighting to either stay or leave. Reminds me of when Jesus cast the evil spirits into the herd of pigs. I'm seriously thinking of buckling her into the van and driving down the street to the Automall and casting her toxic demons into a lot of Toyotas.

That being said, it reality is that this whole thing is in the hands of the great Healer. We're all really tired of this, and I'm beginning to get stretched in ways I didn't know possible. But through it all, we're realizing that it's not just all about me - or Shannon, or Lyme. Our entire planet is infected.

We're either part of a really sick joke that God is playing on us all, or part of a master plan so intricately designed and loving upheld by a Master Creator that it is beyond our wildest imagination.

We've chosen to believe in the latter.