She pussy-footed in
From the humid New Hampshire night
Into the elevator we went
As she breathed deeply and sighed.
“Are you here for the Lyme meeting?”
She asked in barely a whisper
“Yes,” said my friend and I.
“Let’s all go together.”

Her cheeks were flush
Her eyes a somber blue
There was no sparkle or shimmer
Just a dull drab hue.
“What is your name?” I asked
She looked so familiar
“Leslie” she said meekly
I knew our stories were similar.

The elevator door opened
To the church basement hall
Husband-n-wife, father-n-daughter,
Moms and friends, came one and all.
We sat in a circle
Some eager, some reluctant
Most there that night
Had just been inducted.

Into the Hall of Lyme, that is
So new to the journey
They’d thought the roller coaster was over
But have learned otherwise in a hurry.
Diagnosis was just half the battle
It became painfully clear
That the next set of challenges
Would bring as much turmoil and tears.

Her name was Leslie
She sat silently stunned
Her head started spinning
As the facilitator begun
One at a time, from right to left
Symptoms were listed, antibiotics too
Around the circle we went
About politics and Western Blot blues.

Her name was Leslie.
And she sank in her chair
Overwhelmed and unprepared
For this type of chatter.
Co-infections and rashes
Diet, studies and doctors
Herbs, probiotics, and protocols
It all made for mental clutter.

Her name was Leslie
Her turn had finally arrived
After almost three hours
It was now a quarter of nine.
She searched the air
For the words she couldn’t find
For the sentences she couldn’t string
For the blanks in her mind.

She’d seen the bite
Next to her pregnant belly
She’d felt such anxiety
It had turned her nerves to jelly
She’d overcome stroke-like episodes
And battled numbness and sweats
She cried for her babies
Worried about their exposure threat.

Her name was Leslie
And I wish I could have said
Leslie, please don’t worry
Your tired pretty head.
I’ve had stroke scares and anxiety
Just like you.
I also had symptoms during my pregnancy
And worry my baby has it too.

She had finally shared her story
It sparked much advice, well-intended
But she was exhausted and confused
Paleness soon descended
I didn’t like what I was seeing
I knew where this would go
Her heart was racing
And the walls would soon start to close.

She was having an attack
I wanted to reach for her hand
Please Leslie stay strong I thought
Don’t give in to the panic
But before I knew it
She’d ran out and left
So swiftly and abruptly
I hadn’t a chance to interject.

I wish I had chased after her
As I heard footsteps running above
She was out the door and gone for good
Before I could give her a hug.
Her name was Leslie
And I felt all of her pain.
Please, Leslie, please
Come back again.

You’ll find a home here,
I promise you will.
Or another group somewhere
You’ll need them still.
Don’t be deterred
From finding your place
Among the others
Who have stared the beast in the face.

Her name was Leslie
And I don’t want her to feel alone
Please, Dear God
Help find Leslie her home
Among supporters and cheer leaders
And listening ears
Shoulders to cry on
And smiles to allay her fears.

Leslie, if you are out there
There is so very much to take in
We’ve all felt like you have
Too overwhelmed to begin.
If I could tell you one thing
It would be this
There are many people and places
That can help you feel lifted.

Lyme support groups can help
If you find the right fit
Search books, blogs and Facebook
For Lyme voices and advocates
Her name was Leslie
She has a place in my heart
As do all the “Leslie’s” out there
Just getting their start.

There’s a new class of Lymie
Those who’ve made it through the thunder
Who can help the Leslie’s of the world
Like me, the Lyme Whisperer.
Because once we’ve weathered the storm
We turn and extend our hand
To pull the next in line
Towards the shores of sun and sand.

Her name was Leslie
I regret I didn’t reach out
Please, Dear God, just lead Leslie
To the hand that can pull her now.