There are many factors that make a chronic illness miserable, but isolation is high among the hardest to deal with. Thousands of children across the US are sick from Lyme disease which frequently leads to home-schooling, limited opportunities for normal kid activities, and isolation.
At Lyme Warrior, we want to remind these children facing serious illness, that they are not alone. Here is a story from one of our volunteers about how a little love goes a long way.
When I was 4 years old, I got a card in the mail. I remember my mother handing it over to me and watching me from the sink as I opened it. Of course, I couldn’t read it at that time, but my mom read it to me. It was a birthday card. The card was sent by my grandparents from the far way land of Michigan, I lived in New Mexico. The mere presence of that card let me know that they were thinking of me. It also officially announced, to me, that I was going to turn five years old. I proceeded to skip around the neighborhood, card in hand, singing, “I’m turning five. I’m turning five.” As far as I can remember, that was my first piece of mail. It not only let me know that a big birthday was approaching, but it let me know that someone, outside of my immediate circle, was thinking of me and wishing me well. That was magical.
There was another time, not too long after this, when I received another delivery. This time, however, I was sick. I’d been out of school for a week. My parents were both working and I’d had to stay with our neighbors. I remember lying on their couch, feeling miserable, missing my mom and wondering what all of my friends were doing in school and what I was missing. Then there was a knock at the door.
My mom worked at the hospital, she was the Director of Dietary Services. She probably felt just as bad leaving me as I did being sick. She must have mentioned it to her staff because that knock on the door was for me. Her staff had sent me a care package. It wasn’t a lot, but it was filled with lots of love. I received a fuzzy stuffed koala, with a leathery black nose, a small plant and a card attached, wishing me well, with lots of love from the staff. I cried when I received that. I had been feeling so ill and so alone and that a simple stuffed animal, plant and card helped to add some brightness to my day. It let me know that people were thinking of me and alone, I wasn’t. It put a smile on my face for the first time in a week.
Both of those memories have stayed with me for thirty-something years. Not because I got stuff. It was because those cards and small gifts brought me such joy. They lifted my heart and let me know that I was not alone and I was loved, even by people who didn’t really know me or I them. I could feel the compassion and love that they sent to me, and it made a difference in my life.
Now imagine you’re a child who’s suffering from the often-debilitating effects of Lyme Disease. You’re not only missing school, but you’re missing multiple opportunities which the other, healthy, kids get to do, because you’re stuck at home, feeling miserable, while the world goes on without you. It’s happening to children all over the United States. Kids, of all ages, are having to battle Lyme Disease; an unpredictable, debilitating, and socially isolating illness. Many times, people don’t understand what the person fighting this illness is going through. That lack of understanding combined with the often-debilitating symptoms of intense fatigue, pain and overall malaise can make anyone, especially children, feel like they’re alone in this fight.
When I was a sick kid, I knew I’d be able to go back to school after getting better and resume my normal life. These kids, who suffer day in and day out, don’t. And knowing that, struggling day after day, can make it hard to conjure up a smile.
Lyme Warrior wants to put a smile back on their faces by sending our own care package called a Kid’s Smile Box. It’s a care package filled with little things like toys or books or treats which will bring a smile to the young warrior’s face and let them know that they are not alone and they are loved. The volunteers at Lyme Warrior, who also suffer from Lyme Disease, want the kids to know that we are in this fight together, even when it appears that we are alone.
Kid’s Smile Boxes can’t happen without the love of others through monetary and gift donations. So far, Lyme Warrior has been able to put a smile on the faces of over 90 young warriors with our Kid’s Smile Boxes. Want proof? Check out our page at Kid's Smile Boxes to see their beautiful smiles for yourself. If you want to add to the love and create even more smiles for these young warriors, click on the link to find out how to make a monetary donation or a donation of goods.