By Amy B. Scher
Would you travel around the world in search of a cure?
Until I turned twenty-eight years old, the question “How far will you go?” only applied to exercise goals and jobs that pushed my limits of sanity.
Saving my life was something I never thought about. But then, all at once, this question planted itself into my life and took over, like the roots of a tree causing cracks in the concrete—until you trip and have to pay attention.
I had been suffering for eight years with chronic Lyme Disease, which slowly devoured every inch of my once agile and awesome (if I can say so myself) body. Pain radiated from every nerve. I had brain lesions, full-blown arthritis, and countless other disabling symptoms. My life as I knew it was gone. And nothing the doctors tried, no matter how drastic, worked. I had exhausted every avenue of the confusing medical maze I had been navigating for years.
This is when the question “How far will you go?” stares me in the face and won’t look away until I answer it. In that moment, I choose to go far.
I decide to take the biggest risk of my life and fly more than 10,000 miles for an embryonic stem cell transplant in India.
Scientists around the world question the treatment’s validity. Physicians call the female doctor, who founded the clinic in Delhi, a scam artist. Online forums cite her treatment as “snake oil.” My doctor tells me it’s likely to kill me. And yet, nothing can stop me from saving my own life. Not fear nor financial famine. I rally to raise funds, I ignore opinions, and I decide I must go.
It turns out to be the longest plane ride of my life. I ask myself repeatedly in between naps on that twenty-one hour flight, “What have I done?”
In a journal entry, I write:
A flight attendant tells me about her mother’s leg pain and explains how tonic water cured it. I giggle silently in my mind. Ah, if only tonic water really did the trick. But then I think, wait, did I try that? I panic for a few minutes wondering if I left an obvious stone unturned all these years. Tonic water is seventy-five cents, and here I am on my way to a rough city for $30,000. On the next beverage round, I ask for a glass of tonic water. It does nothing. I still have shooting pains in my legs. I hate to say it because I’d be happy if anything worked, but to find a cure two hours into a fourteen-hour connecting flight would really piss me off.
When my wheelchair is rolled out of Delhi International Airport, it looks like the entire city is on fire. The thick pollution, the rich scent of Indian food, and outdoor markets mixed with smoke permeates my clothes immediately. I bounce and slide around on a tumultuous taxi ride to the hospital, but I make it in one piece.
The next day, I meet the infamous “snake oil scam artist” doctor, and I nearly melt into her office chair. Something feels right. I still have no idea if my doctor’s prediction will come true—that this treatment will end my life. I also have no idea if my prediction will come true—that this treatment will save my life. I simply have a knowing that I am in the right place.
The next two months become some of the most riveting, adventurous, spiritually transformative ones of my life. I mesh into a city I never gave thought to; I learn to let go of fear that I have been holding onto for far too long; I risk death in the hope for a better life; and above all else, I find out that true healing is more than the repair of the physical body.
And so it turns out that important question “How far will you go?” stretched my limits further than ever and led me to an answer that carried me across the world. But really, I didn’t go anywhere at all. I followed my heart.
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