If you haven't already heard about Daniel and Tanner and the 8,000km cross Canada bike ride they are doing to raise awareness and funding for Lyme Disease then please visit their website (Learn more about the mission of Ride for Lyme at Rideforlyme.ca or visit their Facebook page RideforLyme)
Each day of their 2 month journey across Canada, they dedicate that day's leg of the journey to a Canadian Lyme patient. They call it a "daily ride dedication" and they post it on their facebook wall along with a little write up about the person.
Today, they will be riding from Atitokan to Shebandewan, ON and are riding in honor of our son, Parker. It is hard to find the words to express the gratitude we have and how incredibly moved we are to have our Sparky's story and fight honored in this inspiring way.
This Ride for Lyme Daily Ride Dedication is for Parker - affectionately nick-named "Sparky".
When the shadow of Lyme fell upon Parker's life in September 2009, he was a little boy of nine. When he finally emerged from those shadow-lands in May 2014, he was a young man of fourteen. He experienced 7 glorious months of remission. Then, in January 2015, Lyme returned with a fury; once again casting its ugly, all-consuming shadow upon his life.
He has now been essentially bedridden since March 2015. His days are pain-filled, long and isolating but he is not one to complain or be bitter. His sweet smile is always accompanied by a positive or witty remark and he gives the best. hugs. ever. Yet his grief & loneliness over being cut off from life again and deep discouragement over being back in a place of great suffering are palpable.
His recent relapse has been a gutting and devastating blow for our entire family. Hopelessness is a pervasive feeling we daily struggle with. Yet we solidly believe this: there is a road out of this disease and into remission for every person fighting Lyme. We found Parker's way out once and we hold on to the hope that we will find it again. Healing is possible!
Hope in front of Parker. Hope is in front of each of us.
Sept 2009 to Dec 2009
|Our Sparky boy, September 2009|
He was released from a week long hospitilization with a diagnosis of Idiopathic Pain Syndrome and Movement Disorder. The treatment plan included physiotherapy, pain management, psychology and antidepressants. He did not improve at all. In fact, he deteriorated further.
Our Sparky boy lost his spark.
Dad had to take a leave of absence from work in order to help care for him. There were many sleepless nights. We began questioning his diagnosis. Research always led us back to Lyme. Combing through his medical files, we discovered a positive lab result for an infection associated with Lyme. this was news to us. We had been told by Infectious Disease doctors in the hospital there was no evidence of infection. Shortly after this discovery, we made an appointment for Parker to be evaluated by a leading Lyme doctor in the USA.
By the time he was finally diagnosed with Lyme, Babesia and Bartonella in December 2009 by a Lyme doctor (LLMD) in California, he was an emaciated shell of his former vibrant self. He could no longer walk, feed or clothe himself.
|Skeletal and covered in rashes|
THE COST OF IGNORANCE
With a lab-confirmed diagnosis and treatment plan in hand, we returned to Canada with high hopes Canadian doctors would partner with his USA LLMD to provide treatment. This did NOT happen. BCCH doctors harshly criticized his diagnosis, scoffed at his positive blood test for Lyme, and refused to work with his USA LLMD.
|Parker, February 2010|
Parker was abandoned by our health care system.
The ignorance of lyme in BC and systemic bias against treating it in Canada nearly cost our son his life. It cost us too; physically, emotionally and financially. For the next 5 years, his medical treatment was under the care of his USA LLMD - and paid for out-of-pocket by us.
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW
Dec 2009 to Oct 2013
|Parker with his Second of Three PICC Lines, February 2012, Seattle, WA|
It has been said that fighting Lyme is a marathon battle of one step forward and two steps back. This was very much the case for Parker. The years of treatment that followed his diagnosis were a marathon of setbacks; debilitating fatigue, unremitting joint pain, cognitive decline, hallucinations, seizure like tremors, migraines, sound and light sensitivity etc. During this time frame, we often felt like we were living in the valley of the shadow of death. Our Sparky boy could rarely walk independently and was too ill to go to school or play with friends. His childhood was consumed by daily regimens of IV meds, pills and doctor's appointments.
SIGNS OF LIFE
Oct 2013 - May 2014
Finally began to see sustained levels of progress with fewer setbacks. Parker was able to walk more steadily for longer periods of time and with less pain. Then came that first epic trip in which he traveled to see his LLMD without his wheelchair! As the months progressed, he was finally able to ditch his wheels for good! He began intensive physiotherapy to rehabilitate his body.
REMISSION and RESTORATION!
Summer 2014 - January 2015
|Parker, Train Wreck Trail, Squamish, BC, Summer 2014|
It's official: Lyme is in remission! He is slowly weaned off of all his medications. He begins the process of re-integrating into life!
He returns to school! He was so excited and nervous. The last time he was in school he had been in grade 5 - he was now in grade 10! Talk about a steep learning curve. Yet his transition went remarkably well! He made friends, had sleepovers, and hung out.
He made his high school basketball team! The goal of playing varsity basketball was a dream he had held on to through his long years of illness!
He discovered new interests: long-boarding and mountain biking. His Dad, who has run a mountain bike club in local high schools for 15 years, was elated! Parker proved to be a natural rider - effortlessly ripping single track on trails all over the lower mainland - from the North Shore to Whistler. He easily blew past dad, leaving him to eat dust.
|Parker - Killing it in Whistler, BC, Summer 2014|
During this time, we still found ourselves caught off guard just seeing him effortlessly walk into a room, so the sight of him on a bike or on the b-ball court felt completely surreal. It was a miraculous sight to behold!
ON TOP OF THE WORLD
In January 2015, he went on a four day back-packing trip with his class to Tetrahedron Park (near Sechelt, BC). He was one of three students who completed the climb up Mt Steel (summit 5400+ feet).
|Parker and classmates on top of Mt. Steel, January 2015|
He came home pumped and looking healthy and vibrant after this mountain-top experience. Through the long dark years of his illness, we had always held on to the hope that he would recover but never in our wildest dreams had we ever anticipated his recovery would be so full and complete. We finally felt it was 'safe' to exhale and fully embrace his recovery. We were all on top of the world!
Three days after the trip, he got sick. We hoped it was "just the flu" but as the weeks passed and we once again watched our son deteriorate that hope faded.
March 2015 to present
"We are stumbling numb through a twilight zone we dared to believe we'd left behind - how do you even find the words to explain the devastation of relapse." ~ Sparky's Mom (excerpt from "Reality of Relapse" blog post, March 2015)
In March 2015, his relapse of Lyme and Babesia was officially diagnosed by his LLMD in California.
Since January 2015, aside from a handful of days, he has been essentially house -bound. Most days it is a struggle just to get from his bed to the couch. He is no longer able to attend school. In the five months since Parker relapsed, he has received one get well card and a few cherished emails. We can count on one hand the number of visitors he has had. He feels very alone and forgotten.
GOING THE DISTANCE!
We know he is loved and prayed for but, for whatever reason, those sentiments rarely make the transition from thought to action. Practical helps and physical presence is sorely lacking for him and our family).
Why? That's a question we often ask. Is it a case of "out of sight, out of mind"; or not believing the patient is as sick as they say they are; or is the withdrawal simply because folks just don't know what to do or say. Whatever the reason(s) - the silence is deafening and the retreat is deeply wounding. It is challenging to help our son process this when we ourselves do not understand it.
This is a delicate and difficult part of the journey to share. Being vulnerable is risky.
Parker would never ever want to be pitied. We felt it important to acknowledge this part of his journey because this troubling aspect of Lyme is not unique to our family. Feeling isolated and abandoned by family and friends is an all too common experience in the Lyme community. The road to recovery is a long and arduous one. Very few friends and even family members have the stamina to go the distance.
Daniel and Tanner, this is exactly why we believe your Ride for Lyme means so much to so many.
You guys are going the distance for each and every one of us that has felt pushed aside, forgotten and abandoned.
Today, as you specifically ride in Parker's honor, he will see love in action. He will know his story matters because two men he has never met are going the distance for him. As he sees the pictures of you on your bikes, he will know that his pain and suffering are being carried across Canada in your hearts and legs.
Daniel and Tanner, your ride is love in action. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Thank you for going the distance for our Sparky boy, Parker. Thank you for going the distance for all of us. For Lyme. For Hope.
Ride on, Ride for Lyme, Ride on!
With immense gratitude and appreciation,
The Goertzen Family
Graham & Shannon
Taylor, Parker, Avery & our fur-baby, Harrison #lymepooch