Langley’s Amy Dyck is an artist, a wife, a mother to two children, and is struggling to perform daily activities.
The 38-year-old has been suffering from a mysterious illness since symptoms first hit her when she was 20. She explained her body’s functionality seized, and she experienced symptoms such as brain fog, depression, loss of strength and stamina, over-sensitivity and more.
Tests came back without any answers, and over time, she was able to recover some of her health by eating carefully, and listening to her body. She married, had children, began to work, and created art.
“No one knew what to do with me for a long time. So I ended up trying to manage whatever it was, and got pretty good at it for awhile, and then it hit me again a year and a half ago and that’s when I started going back to doctors again,” Dyck explained.
Within the last year and a half, the debilitating symptoms returned. This time around, she uses a wheelchair, is foggy-brained, has confusion, and is burdened by pain.
Fortunately by 2018, the medical system was able to diagnose Dyck with neurological Lyme disease – something that is often thought to be transferred to a human by a tick bite.
“Part of the problem is I don’t have any memory of a tick bite, but I have all the symptoms. I’ve got three doctors who all agreed with each other,” Dyck said.
Dyck added as soon as she received test results that revealed she had Lyme disease, she cried.
“I called my mom and I said ‘mom, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not broken.’ All those years of nobody acknowledging something was happening, I started to feel like I was somehow broken as a person. It was a big relief for me to have an answer. As soon as you know what it is, you can start to target it.”
Before her diagnoses, Dyck worked part-time, because her symptoms didn’t allow her to work more than that.
She added it’s also been hard for her daughter, 9, and son, 11, to see her this sick.
“My husband is great, and he has to do more, but he does.”
Dyck explained if a tick bite is identified within two weeks, the disease can be been fought with antibiotics. Since it’s been in her system for so long, the symptoms have turned into neurological problems.
“My legs will give out on me, and I’ll get really tired.”
Since the diagnoses, Dyck has been on three rounds of antibiotics, but they haven’t been enough.
“They got me out of bed, and out of the wheelchair. I’m less in the wheelchair these days than in the beginning. One of the things I’m learning with Lyme disease is how to be flexible with my expectations about what life is going to be because everything is unpredictable. One day I’ll think, ‘am I going to walk today, I don’t know.’”
Another challenge has been the cost.
Medications, prescriptions, and supplements cost Dyck and her family upwards of $600 per month.
But antibiotics alone won’t heal Dyck. She said her doctor has suggested a care plan of health sessions that require her to get daily intravenous antibiotics, special supplements with the goal to kill off bacteria, and eventually get her off daily antibiotics.
Dyck will need at least three of these sessions, and each session costs at least $2,500. Her first treatment begins on April 17.
“The idea is to get better, and move on. All I can do is do my best and take care of my body,” Dyck added.
To offset the costs, a GoFundMe has been set up for Dyck with the goal of raising $10,000. So far, the community has raised more than $6,000.
Another step in the healing journey has been creativity.
On Thursday, April 11, Dyck is giving an artist talk at the Watershed Arts Cafe where her artwork is being showcased.
The exhibit is called Dwell and is an exploration of Dyck’s journey of suffering.
Admission is free, and the talk begins at 7 p.m.
“I’ve never really known how to express this. I felt like telling the story of what’s going on. For a long time I kept it inside. I learned to just get up, figure it out, and move on. I felt like I needed to acknowledge how hard it was, and how hard it is, in order to move on.”
The collection took Dyck approximately a year to complete, and it’s the first time she’s been vocal about her disease.
“What I love about this is by sharing my story, all these other people that have similar stories are coming out and saying ‘Look I’ve struggled too, this has been really hard.’ It’s a really neat way of connecting and saying ‘I see you. That’s your story, this is mine, and we’re all in this together.’”
Dwell is on display at the Watershed Arts Cafe until May 3.