Diagnosed with Lyme disease, Linda was living a nightmare. Then, everything changed...
Here, Linda Blatt, 35, from Melbourne, Vic tells the story in her own words.
Sailing through the air, the bouquet was headed straight for me!
No way, I thought, laughing as I caught the pretty flowers.
Romance was the last thing on my mind, but it felt like a good omen.
At the wedding of my friends Gina and Rodney, I’d polished off a couple of glasses of wine and hit the dance floor.
The nightmare’s finally over! I thought.
A year earlier, a tick had bitten me while I was on holiday in California and I’d been diagnosed with Lyme disease.
For months, the tick-borne infection had left me with brain fog and memory loss. In agony, I’d also been sleeping 20 hours a day.
But that was all in the past!
I’d just returned from Germany where I’d had a treatment called hyperthermia.
To kill the nasty bacteria, my body had been heated to 41.9 degrees Celsius, and then slowly cooled down.
Amazingly, it had worked and I was on the mend.
A few days after the wedding, I was still on a high.
Logging onto Facebook, I posted an update about my progress on a forum for other ‘Lymies’.
Straightaway, a member of the group, John, started chatting with me, wanting to know more. Messages flew back and forth, and then we Skyped for five hours!
A violinist, he lived halfway across the world in the English countryside. He’d got Lyme disease in the UK in his early 20s.
At 25, John was seven years my junior, but he had an old soul.
We’re going to be really good friends, I just know it, I thought as I hung up.
After that, we chatted all the time. For me, he was a ray of sunshine, especially when I relapsed soon after.
‘You’ll get through this,’ he promised.
Knowing that he was starting to feel better gave me hope.
Despite the pain I was in, I started to see John as more than a friend.
I can’t date anyone. I’m so sick, I agonised. Besides, he’s thousands of miles away!
Still, I felt like I’d burst if I didn’t tell him, so I confessed.
‘I know we’ve never met, but I’ve got feelings for you,’ I blurted out.
‘I need a little time to think,’ he replied, taken aback.
I’ve ruined our friendship! I panicked, even though John reassured me otherwise.
Thankfully, soon after, he told me he felt the same. Now, we just had to meet face to face!
As my symptoms worsened, I booked in to see renowned Lyme disease expert Dr Dietrich Klinghardt in the US.
My mum, Peggy, was going to travel with me, but when she felt unwell the week before we were due to go, I had another idea.
‘Do you want to come?’ I asked John on a whim.
‘Yes!’ He replied.
Initially overjoyed, panic quickly set in. Scrutinising my reflection in the mirror, I felt queasy and it had nothing to do with the Lyme.
I can’t see him like this, I fretted. I haven’t had a haircut in six months!
Still, I couldn’t wait to finally meet him!
Arriving in Seattle a few hours before John, I headed to the hotel for a nap.
I’ve left a key out… I need to lie down, I texted him.
Dozing, I suddenly woke up with John’s arms around me.
‘Hi,’ he whispered, kissing me for the first time.
Snuggled close, we stayed up all night chatting and giggling.
For the next two weeks, John accompanied me to every appointment and took notes.
Filling in a form at a specialist one day, I had to nominate an emergency contact.
Writing John’s name, I looked up at him as I came to the next part.
Relationship to you, it read.
‘Do I put boyfriend?’ I asked, cheekily.
‘Yeah, I think so,’ he laughed.
Celebrating my 33rd birthday there, John took me out for a beautiful Thai dinner.
A romantic, he then gave me the most thoughtful gift.
I’d wanted to read a particular book on Buddhism, but my throbbing headaches made it hard for me to concentrate.
It wasn’t available as an audio book, so John had recorded all 275 pages in his own voice!
‘It’s perfect,’ I gushed.
By the time the fortnight came to an end, we were both hopelessly in love.
‘Come back to the UK with me,’ John said.
I didn’t want to say goodbye, so I did just that, spending three months with him and his lovely family.
Two years on, I’m still chasing a cure, flying back to Germany and the States for treatment, and even to Cyprus where John met me last February.
Thankfully, John’s health just keeps improving. And incredibly, recently he moved to Australia!
In my darkest moments, I believed I was in hell.
Nothing’s worth this, I’d cry.
But I’ve learned that every cloud has a silver lining.
Lyme disease led me to my soulmate.
So, in some way, it’s been a blessing in disguise.