As school begins, Cort’s Lyme disease battle continues

“It is August…a month that brings many great and terrible things. The ripening food and the work that goes with harvesting and keeping it, the bugs and bees and stinging things that make our work more difficult, our outdoor fun more challenging.

It is August on our farm…the sun comes now at a slanting angle; early mornings are marked by an almost springlike excitement, as if the year might go backward and return to September by way of spring.”

- by Rachel Peden, Rural Free, 1961


This is only mid-August, but because of some strange tendency within our public schools to rush the summer, ours is literally over. Children in this school district head back to school soon.

So, while most kids we know are pondering what backpack they want for this new school year, at our home we are facing bigger decisions. Just last night, my son Cort, who should be about to enter his sophomore year in high school, said to me, “I’m trying to decide which arm I want them to put the PICC line in this time…”

It has not been a very good summer for him. Fighting to get better, his symptoms of chronic Lyme disease have been like living through a nightmare that just won’t go away. Joint pain has returned in full-force as well as dizziness, disorientation and confusion, crushing chest pain with heart palpitations, and stomach pain.

There are days that just going out in to the sunshine is painful because of his light-sensitive eyes, a sign of central nervous system involvement as the Lyme spirochete bacteria sets up shop in his once-healthy body.

The doctor has decided that it will likely require another round of intravenous antibiotics to set Cort on the path toward reclaiming his health.

The three months that he received daily I.V. antibiotics proved to be the only time we have seen improvement since our son was bitten by a tick in July 1998. So, another long trip is in store, another grueling episode of soreness for Cort as the body fights the insertion of a foreign object placed in a vein, running up to the superior vena cava of the heart.

As the school doors open, another big event is lost to this kid who would much rather be in school than out of it, fighting to get better by any means available to him.

As Rachel Peden ends her book on a year in farming, which she says ends when the children go back to school, she writes, “The year is life itself, forever changing, forever leading on to something else.

“In each year we look for cherished and familiar yearmarks, and in finding these, we discover the necessity of the suffering the year exacts, the discipline it imposes, as well as the generosities it pours out to us.

“We do not know where the curving, spiraled pattern leads, nor in fact whether it leads up or down. We know only that someplace on it there is an assignment for even the least among us, and that the fulfillment of that assignment is important to the pattern and ennobling to the individual.”

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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