Saturday, December 31, 2011


I was sick with Lyme disease for many months before I developed joint pain in my hands. Shortly before the pain set in, I noticed that my fingers were starting to change shape--a noticeable curvature--especially in the last two fingers on each hand.

At that point, I didn't know that what I had was Lyme disease--the doctors said it was mono and no one had any reason to believe otherwise. My bizarre symptoms, however, became less and less "mono-esque," and, ironically, I was taken less and less seriously.

I was sent to a rheumatologist, who, after reviewing my blood work (which had all come back normal) and then hearing about the changes taking place in my hands, dismissed me away with a sigh, and--this is a direct quote-- "Sometimes, when we don't feel well, we notice things about our bodies that we wouldn't normally notice."  Ouch!

Interesting how only a few days later, the throbbing, aching, pins-and-needles feeling set into the joints in my fingers. I didn't know what was happening to my body and I was scared. I thought about all the things that I loved to do with my hands--play guitar, make bread, sew, etc.--and I panicked. Would I still be able to do those things?? When I tried, my hands stung so badly.

I have played guitar since I was 15. I can't say that I'm even remotely good, despite all that time playing; however, I still love to play. It is one of my favorite outlets. As my body started going more and more haywire, I wanted to turn to my guitar more than ever, but because of the joint pain in my hands, I couldn't. Since no one could find anything actually wrong with me, I easily assumed that I would be plagued with joint pain for the rest of my life.

My heart sunk at the thought of not being able to play guitar again (among other things) without pain. And that is when one of my best friends told me something has inspired me through my journey with Lyme disease more than anything else. "You know about Django Reinhardt--the famous jazz guitarist, right?" my friend asked me. "No, I don't think so."  "He was badly burned in a fire and the doctors told him he would never play guitar again. He learned how to play the guitar again with only two fingers!"

Django Reinhardt (Photo Credit here)

Who was I to complain after listening to Django Reinhardt play his heart out with only two fingers! "With rehabilitation and practice he relearned his craft in a completely new way, even as his third and fourth fingers remained partially paralysed. He played all of his guitar solos with only two fingers, and used the two injured digits only for chord work." If Django could do that, why on earth was I letting Lyme disease stop me from doing what I loved to do?!

Life is interesting, isn't it? There are people in this world that have the power to make you doubt yourself (like the hurtful rheumatologist that I encountered) and there are people who will remind you that you can do anything--anything--in this world, if you just believe in yourself. Don't let anyone--especially yourself--fool you into thinking you can't do something. Like Django, look for your own way of doing things.

Tonight, as I prepared to ring in a brand new year after this year packed full of both the most intense and triumphant struggles of my life, I played my guitar by candle light for nearly two hours. I played for Django. I played for myself. I played for my friend who showed me how to believe in myself again. I played for my friends with Lyme disease who have forgotten to believe in themselves. Remember to play your heart out in 2012, no matter what life throws at you!


  1. What a beautiful post, Alyson. And what a great inspiration. I had been pretty slumpy lately but today was the first day in a while that I got a glimmer of "me." It is important to not let the "little things" get to us, and let the "worth-while" things encourage us. Thanks for that little reminder.

    Glad you got to enjoy your guitar. Matthew plays and I don't think there is anything in this world that I would rather listen to, but him playing for me and singing to me. I love it!

    2012 ~ a year to play, laugh, love, heal.
    Love to you.

  2. Wonderful post Alyson. Good for you~ going back to playing your guitar. It is great you can do that again...along with ride your horse sometimes. Yahoo!
    Have a super 2012 filled with joy joy joy and lots of healing.