My body was broken, my spirit was wounded, and there were no answers. My dear pastor in Pensacola, Pastor Schettler, came over one day, and we all got down on our knees, and took it to the Lord in prayer. The Lord promised us that when we pass through the waters, He will be with us. And through the rivers, they shall not overflow us. And when we walk through the fire, we will not be burned.
A couple months later, Mom found a naturopathic doctor in Texas. She was knowledgeable on Lyme disease and she worked with a neurologist. He is a brain surgeon who is also one of the top Lyme Disease specialists in the country. Mom and I flew out to Texas in February, 2005. We planned to just be gone ten days. We were gone two years.
My Dad had to eventually bring me more clothes and my dog, Gizmo. I was not going to live in Texas without Gizmo! He was one of God's priceless gifts to me during my affliction. He was such a little trooper; he never left my side. My days were filled with so much pain, but he still managed to make me laugh every day. God sent me my little Gizzy for such a time as this. A few more of God's gifts to me were my parents, my brothers, and my very best friends Mari, Melissa, and Alan. Their support, their humor, and their faith have been a lifeline. The Lord has surely made a way for me to pass through this affliction. (Gizmo passed away three years ago. A piece of my heart died with him. He was 16 years old. He was the sweetest little thing God ever created. He never got to see me well. . .)
The first week in Texas, one doctor sent me to the hospital. He then sent me to a GI doctor to have my gallbladder taken out. It was diseased from the Lyme infection. I had been having gallbladder attacks for about a year. And since I was in such a weakened state, I had to be hospitalized for 4 days after the surgery.Then a few months later, the doctor realized I was too sick to tolerate the antibiotic program that is protocol for Lyme disease. I couldn't even tolerate the herbs or supplements given to me by the naturopathic doctors I saw in Texas. When I was 29, after two years in Texas, and having been treated by nine different doctors, Mom and I went home. I was still very sick, but the doctors had done what they could. The battle continued.
But during our stay in Texas, Dad had taken a new job as the wrestling coach at Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama. He packed up our house in Pensacola by himself and bought a house in Marion and unpacked by himself. My Dad has been a tremendous father in all this. Willing to pay any price to get me better. My Mom has been my rock. She has been my greatest doctor and advocate! It is because of them that I make it through each day! In the nineteen years of watching their daughter suffer, my parents have never become bitter toward God or turned against Him. They have kept their eyes on the Lord and have lived honorably in this hardship.
Even my brothers, Robert and Nathan, have continued to walk with God. It has been extremely difficult on them having to watch their sister suffer. Robert calls almost every day and the first words out of his mouth are, “How's Kari?” Nathan tells me all the time to keep fighting and not quit. They have been my most faithful prayer warriors. And now my brothers are training their children to pray for me. My nephew Steven and my niece Katie ask me all the time if I am better yet. When they see me that is one of the first things they ask, and then they tell me they are praying for me.
In November, 2006, Mom and I went home to Marion. Our first year in Marion was a nightmare. Not only did I have to be hospitalized for three days in Demopolis for getting violently ill again, but Mom also got deathly ill. She had a life-threatening gallbladder infection that turned gangrenous; also, part of her liver turned gangrene. She had to be transported to Birmingham and given large doses of IV antibiotics, and was hospitalized for five days.
I continued to struggle with my illness. The pain in my stomach, spine, and legs was unbearable. And I was still eating only baby foods and soups. I was still continuing to go downhill in my health, and so again Mom and I researched and found a doctor in Pennsylvania. The doctor tried some different medicines and treatments, but he didn't understand about Lyme disease—how to kill it or how to recover from it.
I have estimated the number of doctors that I've seen these past nineteen years, and it comes to around ninety. The number of states we have lived in for this disease has been seven. The amount of money we have spent on this disease has been around $800,000. One of the antibiotics I had to take for Babesia (a co-infection of Lyme disease), called Mepron, cost $800 a bottle. I had to go through three bottles. So that comes to $2,400 just for one round of medication. In Texas, I had thirty-eight lipid IV injections, which totaled $10,000. I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father owns a cattle on a thousand hills!
All these years my Mom and I spent hours researching not only Lyme disease but also everything there is to know about the human body and how it functions. And I kept reading the importance of enzymes. I discovered that enzymes are the LIFE of the body and are responsible for every chemical process that occurs, from breathing to supporting the immune system. Enzymes do the work required for all life processes. Providing the body with enzymes and the proper nutrients, gives the body what it needs to heal itself under any circumstance.
So, I was burdened to go to an enzyme therapist. By the Lord's leading, we found one in Florida. In December of 2008, Mom and I flew down there for four days. In his clinic, he did some tests on me and also did some work on my spine. I got violently ill that night and ended up in the hospital early the next morning. Since I was so sick, had a fever, and my liver enzymes were elevated again, the hospital physician did not want to release me. But we had a plane to catch to come back to Marion, so I had to sign an Against Medical Advice form, and we left.
The doctor realized that my nervous system had crashed from being assulted by Lyme disease for nineteen years. That is why every little thing all these years made me so violently ill, and why I couldn't tolerate food, antibiotics, lights, noises, or even being out in public. He suggested I seek help from his colleague in Tennessee, who is also an enzyme therapist as well as an acupuncturist.
On December 15, 2008, we were in her clinic. The first week of taking her enzyme formulas and getting spinal adjustments, my stomach already felt better. I was dying, and the Lord in His mercy, used her to save my life.
In January 2009, Mom and I moved to Tennessee to be near her. We couldn't afford the rent for an apartment. But the Lord undertook for us in a marvelous way. He provided a home for Mom and me to live in for free. A soldier in the Army, Sergeant Jamey Stephenson, had orders to go back to Iraq, so he let us live in his house. It took about six months for her to stabilize me. She was then able to put me on a formula called TRMA, which has the enzyme Protease in it. Protease is an enzyme to kill the Lyme pathogens as well as other pathogens in the body. It works slowly, so I am able to tolerate this Lyme medicine. In October, 2010, mom and I moved back to Marion.
Over the last two years I have seen some improvements in my health. My stomach is healing, my kidneys are functioning better, and my immune system is stronger. However, there is still much healing that needs to be done in my body:
--The Lyme bacteria in my cells, blood, and organs, still need to be killed
--I still have severe leg pain and chronic fatigue
--I still can't sleep at night
--There are still toxins, inflammation, and dehydration that need to be addressed
--My common bile duct is still congested, causing pain and constipation
--I still need four prescription pain killers every day
--I am still underweight
But our biggest concern is the brain injury caused from the numerous vaccinations I received as a child, and from the Lyme infection. I have recently begun consulting with three other practitioners who are very knowledgeable on treating brain injury and repairing the blood-brain barrier. So, my fight against Lyme disease continues.
This is not an easy road that I have been called to walk. This disease is frightening and painful. Many days I am flooded with despair, and many days I WANT OUT! But I am determined to trust God in this; believing that He has a purpose for this suffering and that He is NOT going to waste my pain. I will continue to embrace Him every day, and find comfort knowing that He is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE!
I want to share three treasured verses that I cling to in my suffering:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). As a child of God I believe His Word. ALL things work together for good. And if I never know the purpose for my suffering here on earth, I will surely know it in eternity.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you. . .plans to give you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). In all my years of suffering it has been such a comfort to me knowing that the Lord has a plan and a purpose for my life. God doesn't make mistakes! Most people can't see any value to suffering. That's because they don't have eyes of faith. As a Christian, there is much value in suffering. Earthly value, but most importantly, eternal value.
. . . we also glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4). This trial is helping me develop strength of character, and devotion to Christ. It is helping me obtain a deep spiritual growth and love for my Savior. And, it has forced me to seek God with my whole heart! Someday, if God wills it, I will be completely well. Until then I am going to run with perseverance the race that is set before me.
Kari Hazewinkel, Tennessee
“Father, with happy committal I give you my life. Do with it as it pleases you, only give me great grace to do for the glory of Christ Jesus, whatever comes to me, in sickness and in health.”
--Missionary Jim Elliot