14 inches by 11 inches
Printed on quality heavy weight acid-free matte paper.
Signed and dated by artist Nicole Troup for authenticity. Matte and frame not included.
Please allow up to 10 days for shipping and handling. Shipped in a tube package.
“HEROES FROM OUR TOWN” Project: Jess Hundley’s Story. Nominated by Aryn Hundley
A month before my 13th birthday while at summer camp I became violently ill. I was unable to eat or even drink more than a sip of water at time for nearly a month. Doctors said I likely contracted a parasite while swimming at the summer camp and that “it would run its course.” I went on for a year with chronic, debilitating migraines every single night that I had no explanation for. My primary care wanted to rule out a brain tumor and because we had military insurance I had to see a military doctor who told that I was depressed and handed my mom a card for a therapist. I was dumbfounded that I was being denied an MRI to rule out cancer, and instead it was “all in my head.” I would continue to hear this same narrative from doctors for the next few years while I progressively got sicker, now dealing with chronic pain, numbness, night sweats, bell’s palsy, and constant brain fog. I lost faith in doctors completely and just accepted this would be my life forever.
I began dealing with an intense battle with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder that continued into my early 20’s. As I began college to study social work I struggled to remember the content, writing papers was nearly impossible as some days I would become dyslexic, yet others days I could read fine, but was unable to remember anything 10 minutes later. One particular time I forgot where I was while I was driving, and had to pull over because I did not know where I was or how I got there. I once even forgot my own name while taking an exam. I knew there was no way I could ever continue my education while this sick and finally decided to start looking for answers again. After dealing with my previous, incorrect, diagnosis of juvenile arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and eventually “we don’t know what’s wrong.” I started looking into Lupus, MS, and various cancers. It was a really scary time, and eventually a friend of mine had similar symptoms as me and found a doctor who diagnosed her with Lyme Disease and she encouraged me to go see him. I agreed, paid $600 for a blood test that insurance would not cover, and 10 days later I finally had a real diagnosis. I had Chronic Late Stage Lyme Disease. Not the Lyme Disease you hear about on the news where you feel like you have the flu for a few weeks, take some antibiotics and then you’re fine. No, unfortunately because I was left undiagnosed for so long the bacteria had entered my brain, heart, and central nervous system.
I began treatment right away, focusing primarily on herbal supplements, and eventually taking antibiotics. These treatments made me horrifically ill for months and eventually I had to stop them altogether because of how sick they made me. In the last 6 years I have done numerous treatments, spent thousands of dollars, argued with many doctors who still refuse to believe I have Lyme Disease, but I am finally improving. I stopped treating the Lyme, and instead now treat the damage done to my body and I am starting to finally heal. I do occasionally have moments where I lose my vision while at work, or have my body temperature crash extremely low, and I deal with chronic pain every single day. Even so, I have never lost my faith in God, knowing that he has already healed me so much and will continue to do so. I have also become a runner, as challenging as that is with heart problems and chronic pain, I recently managed to finish my first half marathon in October, and have done numerous obstacle races including my first Tough Mudder in 2016. I am now pursuing my Master’s in Social Work and plan to use my experience to help those I can and advocate for greater awareness of Lyme Disease and other tick borne illnesses that afflict so many.
For more information on Lyme Disease, it’s various stages, and other tick borne illness, please check out https://theavrillavignefoundation.org/ for resources for those afflicted, current research and treatment options and for a place to know you’re not alone!