Jenna Smith (soon to return to her maiden name – Seaver) was a competitive dressage rider (USDF bronze and silver medalist) for the past ten years prior to her first major crash. The picture here was taken during a victory gallop after winning 3rd place (for adult amateurs) at Prix St. Georges in Saugerties, New York at the Region 8 Championships – 2 weeks before coming down with a “mysterious” flu-like illness.
Within weeks Jenna went from daily riding workouts to spending her days bedridden in a darkened room.
“What really frightened me was the combination of symptoms – acute abdominal pain, body aches and chills, itchy rash, joint pain, profound weakness, debilitating sensitivity to light and sound, repeated migraines, dizziness, brain fog and wild mood swings – all of which I had suffered with over the years at different times – but separately. Previous doctor visits and medical tests revealed nothing, and the symptoms always resolved themselves so I stopped going to the doctor when something flared up. I never dreamed it was all tied together – and I didn’t know a thing about Lyme Disease (other than the risk to horses!)”
Luckily, a friend introduced her to a “Lymie Old-timer” who steered her to a Lyme-literate doctor right away. Still, it was thousands of dollars and many, many tests later before getting positive results on a western blot and starting aggressive oral antibiotics.
“I feel fortunate that I had a diagnosis within 3 months – it felt like 3 years because I was so sick, but compared to so many – it was fast. I was also lucky to have a primary care doctor who was open to working with the Lyme specialist – otherwise the insurance company would not have covered the mounting expenses.”
Unfortunately, the oral antibiotics didn’t seem to work, and Jenna’s doctors ordered IV antibiotics. A CD-57 was ordered which confirmed the long-term nature of the disease – a count of 28 after 4 months of treatment (acceptable range is 60 – 360 but for Lyme patients a count of 200 is desired before ending treatment), and provided a goal for IV treatment.
“If you’ve suffered with Lyme disease, you know how frustrating and depressing it can be – especially for someone active like me. Food shopping, laundry and household chores never even registered on my daily list – I just squeezed them in between riding gardening, managing a working horse farm and a mortgage business – now I have to plan a whole day to do laundry and I still haven’t the strength to leave the house let alone run errands.”
As Jenna struggled through the roller-coaster of good days and bad days, she tried to utilize any clear days to research as much as possible about the disease, and any life-style and diet changes recommended for beating illness. Obviously eight years of active struggle can’t be written on one page with any real value, so this website is the result of that effort.
“It was so frustrating to find a list of suggestions, and then have to search for the web for the right products. I found a lot of great information in a great many places, but felt that a central resource site would help other people – especially for those who suspect they have Lyme disease, Hopefully this site along with my blogs can fill that need.”
Bedridden with second grandson in 2009 to riding again in 2013 to Hawaii in 2014
In the fall of 2013, after the failure of her twenty year marriage, Jenna felt healthy enough to attempt a trip to Hawaii which was sponsored by her best friend, artist Sherri Reeve. After spending four months there, the need for family brought her back to New England, and she now lives with her daughter Remy in Boston helping her with after-school care for her grandson.
“Now that I am solidly on the road to recovery, I am writing a book, “Lyme Free: Overcoming Chronic Illness” that will delve into aspects of the disease that are avoided in other Lyme books. And because my illness has been with me for most of my life, my story and successful treatment are unique (and also similar), and yet I hope my journey through hell will inspire those of you who are still struggling.”
NOTE: Jenna is the author of the action/adventure novel, The Goddess of Sumer and numerous health ebooks and magazine articles.