By Sarah Shatel, reporter
30 pills a day. Morning, afternoon and night. Every day. For the rest of his life, Liam has to follow this routine to maintain his health and pain. All because of one camping trip.
Sophomore Liam Schmid, is living with Lyme Disease, while also having to go through life as a regular teenage boy when it comes to school, friends, and family troubles.
Lyme Disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia and is spread by the bite of a tick. The toll it can have on the human body is massive. This infection can reach joints, the heart, and the nervous system causing unbearable amounts of pain.
Liam was bit by a tick in 2010 while camping with friends in Missouri. A week later he became super sick and had a red streak over where the tick bit him. He went to the hospital with his parents, and the results were inconclusive.
¨We´re going to see doctors, we´re going to see specialists, and nothing,¨ Liam said.
After the hospital visit in 2010, Liam and his mother, Amy Nowka, had to walk away and live with the fact that no one would help or even believe in him. However, Amy is a nurse anesthetist, so her medical background drove her to dig deeper.
¨Having a medical background has been very helpful because when we go to doctors visits, we know what questions to ask and usually understand the answer. Also, I work with many different doctors every day so I always have them to talk to and ask questions,¨ Amy said.
About 6 years had passed, and Liam started to feel even worse.
¨August 2016, I got the headaches. Since then, my headache hasn´t gone away,¨ Liam said. ¨December 15, 2016 I started feeling more severe, awful headaches.¨
Finally in March of 2017, Liam couldn´t take it anymore. Liam explained to his mom the increase in pain and they instantly went to the hospital again. At this point, both Liam and Amy had a feeling what was going on, so they looked at the doctors for confirmation.
¨They tested me for Lyme right then and there. Sure enough, it came back positive after almost 7 years,¨ Liam said. ¨Not knowing from August to March during that rough period of pain was so hard.¨
As anyone could imagine, it would be extremely difficult to go through constant pain 24/7 and have doctors not being able to give you answers, although, the answers that Liam got wouldn´t fix the problem.
¨The CDC can´t do anything for you: at least in my case,¨ Liam said.
So, Liam and his family had to take the problem into their own hands.
¨We had to do lots of research on our own, as there is no cure for Lyme and different treatments work for different people. Helping Liam is all about finding the right combination of medications that keep his symptoms under control,¨ Amy said.
Now the challenge Liam and his mom is face is determining which treatments would be effective to help Liam cope with his pain.
¨We regulate all of Liam´s treatments and medications. Some days he takes up to 20 different medications with multiple pills of each,¨ Amy said.
However, treatments don´t just stop there. Liam also goes through many different physical treatments every week that aid him as well.
¨Liam sees his regular doctor, a naturopathic doctor, a chiropractor, an herbalist, an orthopedic doctor, and a pain specialist that are all part of his care. His therapies include chiropractic, acupuncture, sauna therapy, lymphatic therapy, physical therapy, dry needling, cryo therapy, ozone therapy, pain injections for his headaches, and IV therapy just to name a few. With all that, he somehow still manages to find time to go to school,¨ Amy said.
As remarkable as it is, nowadays Liam rarely misses school because of his disease. Even though he might not express it all the time, Lymes does affect his mental health as well.
¨The hardest thing is going to school and teachers thinking you can do everything, but some days you can´t,¨ Liam said. ¨I think different. It has definitely affected my mood and anxiety. I look at things different now.¨
Liam is the class clown. Life of the party. Any of his friends could corroborate that. No one could guess that the Liam they see at school is only a glimpse of his whole life.
¨My body just kinda froze. It was cold everywhere and I went into shock,¨ Liam said.
On January 7, 2018, Liam experienced pain he never had before. Immediately knowing something was wrong, he told his mom and they rushed him to the hospital. However, after a few hours, many tests the doctors ran didn’t show anything abnormal. Just like last winter.
¨Mom, there´s something wrong,¨ Liam said.
Another main obstacle in Liam´s journey with Lyme is the financial toll it puts on his family.
¨There is a huge financial burden as many of his therapies are not covered by insurance so we pay for probably 80 percent out of our own pockets,¨ Amy said.
Throughout this winding path of treatments and medications, Liam and his mom have formed a closer bond.
¨It´s definitely stressed her out. It´s made her sad a lot. No one´s mom wants to see their child in pain and not know what´s wrong for the longest time,¨ Liam said.
He recognizes the weight Lymes puts on his mom. On the other hand, Amy has different worries for her son as he continues to live with this disease.
¨Our biggest fear would be that he would give up and stop trying to get better. He battles the headache everyday; it never goes away. For 18 months he has had this headache. He gets bad joint pain and severe fatigue. Each day is different and his health can change from one hour to the next. Our goal is just to keep looking for the right treatment protocol that works best for him,¨ Amy said.
Although Lymes disease comes with many, many obstacles, Liam manages to get through them throughout his daily life and routine. Whether it’s taking 50 more pills a day than normal or suffering from constant headaches, Liam has pushed through everything, even doctors telling him there is little to no hope that things will ever go back to normal.
¨The worst thing to live with is being told that I have something that can’t be helped or cured. Knowing that everyday I’m going to wake up with the same pain I had the day before.¨ Liam said. ¨But, it´s become a part of my life now.¨