The beautiful Morven-May contacted me before my exit from blogging regarding her book that is about a young woman and her family and their dealings with Lyme Disease. As I wasn’t able to do reviews at the time but really wanted to help her with raising awareness of Lyme Disease – it is something that I had never heard of someone I knew of suffering, however, I was aware of it – thank you American television! Morven-May, herself, is a sufferer of Lyme Disease.
I am going to apologise regarding not putting the post together A LOT sooner (I believe there will be a lot of that over this next while) but here it is and I hope that I am able to do some justice.
I would like to introduce myself, I feel it’s only fair. Only I know you so well now, you might get a scare. I know you know I’m in there, though I crept with greatest stealth: I am the hidden monster buried within yourself. Joyce is only sixteen when she’s torn from the life she loves. Two years pass, but Joyce, her family, and her best friend Logan, are no closer to learning what’s causing her dizzying array of symptoms. As Joyce tried to come to terms with her increasing limitations those around her struggle to understand what she is going through. Baffled and unsure, the doctors eventually diagnose Joyce with ME and CFS. But when Joyce and her family refuse to accept this diagnosis, her mental stability is called into question. Desperate for the truth and scared for Joyce’s life, their only hope lies in a private hospital where she is finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Can Joyce survive a treatment as brutal as her illness? Can she find her way in a world she no longer recognises?
My name is Morven-May MacCallum and I am the author of Finding Joy which is a novel about a young woman and her family’s fight against Lyme disease. The novel is told from three points of view to reflect the stories and the wave of damage this illness has on the friends and family of the person who is ill – as well as the person who has the illness. I wrote Finding Joy as a fellow bearer of the Lyme disease which is the fastest spreading disease in Europe and can be transmitted through a tick bite to humans and to animals.
I was a teenager when I was forced to leave school as a result of the overpowering symptoms which were battering my body every second of the day. It didn’t take long for the Lyme disease to swiftly drag me into the depth of confinement within my own home. I was previously energetic, enthusiastic and always on the go and because of that, I’d never really given much thought to the term housebound or its hugely traumatic consequences…until the term applied to me. In a short space of time, I lost everything that makes a person who they are: freedom, friends, family, hobbies, school, a future at university and even the illusion in a certainty of any future at all. I was sent from one Doctor to another, given one erroneous diagnosis after the other and I was even told that my illness was inside my head, until we were all so lost in the unknown that I was labelled as having ME/CFS and left by the medical world to fend for myself – by this time, I was eighteen and becoming increasing bedbound. The long list of agonising symptoms that I was experiencing was baffling and overwhelming and they appeared to make no sense. Then my family learned about Lyme disease and suddenly, after nearly five years, everything that I was going through made complete sense.
Proving that I have Lyme disease was a long battle in itself. The testing for Lyme disease is hugely inaccurate which results in a vast number of people, like myself, being wrongly diagnosed with ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Mental illness, Lupus, Arthritis and has even resulted in premature death. I was fortunate to have an incredible mother who worked every hour available to her to pay for me to attend a private hospital that specialises in Lyme disease. It was at the private hospital where I was given undeniable proof that I have Lyme disease and I have since been on around six years of treatment to try and tame the monster which was left unchecked for so long within me. The Lyme bacteria, Borrelia, is thought to be the most complex bacteria known to man and although I’ve made steady improvements in the last six years I still have a very long way to go. Every chink of freedom I regain is often bittersweet because I’ve lost nearly ten years of my life but the sweetness of liberation is far longer lasting and rediscovering the world again makes you see how extraordinary life can be – I’m grateful to be able to have a life again no matter how small my participation may be.
There came a time in my recovery where I was too unwell to leave the house but I was desperate to do something to help raise awareness for Lyme disease. It seemed logical to combine my passion for writing with raising awareness and understanding for this deeply misunderstood illness but writing was my only way to escape this illness and it took a long time for me to give up the only part of my life that was not consumed by Lyme disease but I’m glad I did. Finding Joy has taken me on a journey I never anticipated, it’s taken me to places I never thought I’d be able to go and pushed me to heights I never thought I could reach. Incredibly, Finding Joy has been recognised by Lyme Disease UK, Ally Hilfiger and Maree Todd – who held up my novel before the Scottish Parliament. Since publishing Finding Joy, I’ve been giving talks at school, festivals, along with literary and charity events. It’s been incredibly moving and touching to speak with people who have or know of someone with Lyme disease and to have them share their stories with me. It’s empowered me to want to do all that I can to help end the injustice faced by those who have Lyme disease and to try and help raise awareness to prevent others from having their life destroyed from it. As Lyme disease is currently not a notifiable disease and because many people are forced to seek private treatment, it’s very difficult to know the true number of Lyme cases but WHO has confirmed that there is a 65% increase in Lyme disease worldwide each year. This is a very conservative extrapolation but the consequences mean that within 11 years Lyme disease will reach epidemic levels. I really hope that Finding Joy will help people to understand the complexity of this inhumane illness and to hopefully bring reassurance to those already affected that they are not alone.
I’m from the beautiful and sunny Highlands of Scotland (Ok, the sunny part might be wishful thinking!) and this is my website where I will talk about my book and the events I will be attending should you like to meet and greet in person.
If you would like to reach me by email you, please go to my contact page here
In 2009 I was preparing for a new adventure, in a new city, when I was (rather against my will) enrolled in the university of life where I perfected the skill of being chronically ill with Lyme disease. Although graduation (AKA recovery) is like trying to find the end of a rainbow, I have decided to share what a life with Lyme is really like through my characters Joyce, Aunt Beth and Logan.
I am passionate about creative writing and I am eager to help raise awareness about Lyme disease. I am available to do talks, interviews and book signings at schools, festivals, universities etc. So please feel free to get in touch through the link provided above, whether it’s a business engagement or if you just fancy sending me your thoughts on my novel – I’d be delighted to hear from you!