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An open letter about my health



I Take 64 tablets a day.

Sixty-four pills: That’s 25 before breakfast, another 20 after breakfast, another 10 before dinner, and another 9 before bed.

I take 64 tablets a day and I feel like it is slowly killing me. Or if it doesn’t kill me directly, then I know at least one thing for sure: it’s really bad for me. In the long term, it’s easy to consume so much medicine regularly bad for you. It̵

7;s literally a nifty trick you play on yourself – a lie you tell your body to keep thinking it’s all right.

It’s a never ending, exhausting, miserable cycle.

But I do it anyway.

I do it anyway because I have Lyme disease. (Since I’m not a doctor, I say I have “chronic Lyme disease”. I can say in a shorter way that this disease still affects me after more than a decade – I prefer it to the alternative “post” – treatment Lyme disease syndrome with currently active infection with another strain of Borrelia and Bartonella and other co-infections. ”) Taking 64 tablets a day is the only way to keep my condition under any control. The only way I can keep myself healthy enough to play the game I love – healthy enough to do my job and earn the paycheck that supports my family.

Healthy enough to live something that is close to normal life.

Courtesy of Elena Delle Donne

I regret not doing anything in the past to talk about Lyme disease. It’s a terrible thing to live with, but not many people know much about it – and I take a fair share of the responsibility for it. I could have used my platform to raise awareness and improve understanding. I could have helped so much more.

I know that I have to help so much more.

I know I have to help us get to a place with Lyme disease where what happened to me in the past week doesn’t happen to anyone.

Here is the crux of what happened.

When the news from COVID spread, I immediately took it seriously. I don’t brag about it; These are just the instincts that I developed after almost a decade with Lyme disease. Over the years I have been told time and again that my condition makes me immunocompromised – This part of Lyme weakens my immune system. I had a cold that caused my immune system to relapse heavily. I fell back from a simple flu shot. There have only been so many cases where I signed something that shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it blew out my immune system and turned it into something scary.

It’s a terrible thing to live with, but not many people know much about it – and I take a fair share of the responsibility for it.

I only deal with that. When I read that immunocompromised people with COVID are at higher risk, I took all possible precautions. (Which, by the way, is clear to me that I have a great privilege that most people do not have.) I treated COVID as every high-risk person should: as a matter of life and death.

When the WNBA started organizing the bladder, I paid close attention to what measures they took to make it safe. I knows How much work has been invested and I know that so many people in the league have invested crazy hours to protect the players and make them as safe as possible. The fact is, however, that I was told that it would be impossible to keep COVID-19 completely out of the bladder if it really mattered. And then the cases in Florida increased. And even if the bladder is the safest place in Florida … if I had to go to a hospital and the hospital was overwhelmed, what then?

I still wanted to play, but it was me frightened. I talked to my personal doctor about what the league was up to and he still found it too risky.

When the league started reviewing players’ cases to determine who should be granted bladder health relief (which means) The league excuses you from playing, but you don’t have to give up your salary), I didn’t even think it was a question whether I would be liberated or not. I didn’t need a group of league doctors to tell me that my immune system was high risk – I did played my entire career with an immune system that poses a high risk !!!

I live with an immune system that is at high risk.

Todd Rosenberg / The Grandstand

But I made sure to follow the protocol.

The doctor who is treating my Lyme disease has written a full report listing my medical history and confirming my high risk status. The Mystics team doctor (who is great but has never treated my Lyme disease) has written a report that is essentially for my Lyme disease doctor and agrees on my high risk profile. I submitted both reports to the league as needed, along with a signed form that waived my right to appeal.

A few days later, the league’s medical team told me – without ever speaking to me or any of my doctors – that they were refusing my request for an exemption.

I now have two options: I can either risk my life … or lose my paycheck.

Honest? The hurts.

It hurts a lot. And maybe it makes me naive to be hurt. And I know that we as athletes shouldn’t really talk about our feelings. But feelings are pretty much all I have now. I don’t have NBA player money. I have no desire to go to war with the league. And I can’t appeal.

So all I really have left is how much it hurts. How much it hurts that the W – a place that has been my only big dream in life for as long as I can remember, and to which I have given my blood, sweat and tears seven times in eight seasons – gave me basically said that I’m wrong about what’s happening in my own body. What I hear in their decision is that I am a fool because I believe my doctor. That I’m faking a disability. That I try to “get out of work” and still collect a paycheck.

I don’t have NBA player money. I have no desire to go to war with the league. And I can’t appeal.

Yes … they caught me.

That’s why I played with THREE HERNIATED DISCS IN MY BACK in the final last year.

That’s why I train in the seven months of the year when we’re not in season, when nobody’s watching me, when I don’t collect my player salary.

That’s why I put my 6’5 ”body into so many bus-class flights that I almost forget what it’s like to have legs and feet are not dangerously swollen.

That’s why I take 64 tablets a day.

Because I’m the type of player who fulfills a condition not to play basketball.

You found me out.

Katherine Frey / The Washington Post / Getty Images

For the record: I am not writing this letter to announce my plans. I still think very carefully and consider my options.

But I wanted to write this for three main reasons.

Firstly, as I said: I know that it is long over for me to take on a more public role in the fight against Lyme disease – a fight that I have been fighting privately for years. I’m really sorry that I haven’t done anything earlier. But I have this platform and I want to help. I hope this is a start.

Second, I know that the decision I face – risk my life or expire my paycheck – is anything but unique. I know that millions of Americans are currently facing similar decisions in situations that are much worse than my own. And of course many have it worse: millions more are completely unemployed. Many of them – especially black and brown people and especially black and brown LGBTQ people – have to do with food insecurity and homelessness. I want to express my deepest solidarity with them.

And the last thing I wanted to say here – and probably the best lesson I learned from my experience with Lyme disease – is this: There is so much in the world that we don’t know.

It’s something I thought about when I started showing symptoms of Lyme. I had this migraine and night sweat. I had extreme fatigue and body aches. I felt terrible all the time. But we still had no idea what it was. We had no idea for a while. One doctor would look and think it was one thing, another doctor would look and think it was another thing, and so on. Even when I went to the right doctor, I finally saw a Lyme-enabled doctor who diagnosed me correctly – even then There was still so much that we had no idea. There were a million different treatments; there was a lot of trial and error; there was a little bit of everything.

It has long been a past for me to take on a more public role in the fight against Lyme disease – a fight that I have been fighting privately for years.

And in a strange way, this became such a realization for me.

I think if you are younger and growing up, if you are relatively healthy, think of the world as very black and white, very solution-oriented: If this happens, we will do it and then it will be fixed. Or: When I feel sick I go to the doctor and then I feel better. That’s how I saw things more or less. But then all the uncertainty happened with my Lyme diagnosis and I started the whole trip … and it really started to hit me, I think how much is out there, we don’t know.

Now, 12 years after this trip, the time has come still Hit me how much we don’t know

Whether it’s the last few months of the pandemic we’ve dealt with and got used to, or the last few weeks of activism that have inspired the rethinking of so many of our old power structures, or anything else … I feel that this year has been, in a way, a long example of the same kind of trip – people who discovered things they didn’t know about the world and realized how much more they had to learn.

And that can be pretty intimidating. Thinking about it can be stressful.

But I also think there is a valuable idea – just in terms of how we treat other people.

I think the idea is something like this: we can never fully understand what someone else is going through or what he has been going through – like nobody else can fully understand what we are going through or what we are going through. have been through.

There is so much in the world that we don’t know.

The best we can do is listen and learn from each other with as much humility as possible.

I hope that the WNBA can strive to do the same in the future.

Many thanks,

Elena


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