Rae’s Patient Journey Story – Part 1

In mid-March 2020, the San Francisco Bay Area became the first region in the nation to issue a ‘shelter in place’ order to curb the spread of COVID-19. It was six weeks after the area’s first known case of the novel coronavirus, and though officials insisted there was no reason for alarm, a frenzy began.

“We were all panicking about the toilet paper!” recalls Rae, a 35-year-old middle school teacher residing in San Jose. She joined the concerned crowds flooding supermarkets and drugstores to stock up on supplies. As she traveled the aisles, something caught her attention.

“I remember seeing a lot of people with wine and chocolates in their shopping carts,” she says. “That was a wake-up call to me. This pandemic was going to go one of two ways — either people were going to get really fit and healthy, or the opposite.”

Rae promised herself she’d be in the former group. While the world entered a global health crisis, she would go on her own personal health journey and come out better than before.

“The fear inspired me to utilize this time to do some self-reflection and get out into nature to enjoy the beautiful landmarks we have around the Bay Area,” Rae says. “Little did I know that there was an adventure waiting for me, and it was much different than I had originally intended.”



Rae describes herself as an active person with a bubbly personality and a soft spot for the innocent affections of young adult romance novels.

“I grew up as a dancer, so fitness has always been a part of my life,” she says. “I love getting outdoors and exploring nature. I enjoy trying new things and being around people. I’m really into hiking and yoga. I’m an avid reader as well.”

Rae’s adventurous spirit took her on hikes throughout the Bay Area and surrounding regions. She fell in love with the wild beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains, home to ancient redwoods and mountain lions, hundreds of species of birds and mushrooms, and vibrant banana slugs. But soon, a chance encounter with one of the region’s smallest residents would bring her active lifestyle to a grinding halt.

“I was bitten [by a tick] in the beginning of June 2020 in the Santa Cruz Mountains,” Rae says. “I didn’t know. I never had a bull’s-eye rash, and I never thought to check myself.”

The bull’s-eye rash, named for its target-like appearance, isn’t just a telltale sign of a tick bite — it is the earliest stage of Lyme disease, known as stage 1.

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system. Chronic Lyme disease is linked to a range of debilitating symptoms, including severe headaches, facial palsy, arthritis, nerve pain, heart palpitations and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

A month would pass before Rae received a diagnosis.


Rae knew little about Lyme disease, and without having seen a tick or the resulting rash, she had no reason to be concerned about her health.

That quickly changed as she started experiencing severe fatigue.

“It was very difficult to do everyday tasks like running errands and cooking meals,” she says. “I would have periods where I would do something simple like washing the dishes and then I would be down for 20 minutes. I remember feeling like there was lead in my arms, or like I was in quicksand and I was sinking.”

Rae describes her life during this period in just three words: work, sleep, DoorDash. She devoted the meager energy she had to her students, helping them navigate the brave new world of pandemic distance learning. She struggled to take care of herself, and the active, social life she cherished slipped away.

“There were times when people would call me and I would have to text them back and tell them, ‘I do not have the physical energy to have a conversation,’” she recalls. “It’s mind-boggling that I was so weak.”

In addition to the fatigue and weakness, Rae experienced other characteristic symptoms of Lyme disease: muscle pain, joint pain, numbness in her feet, tingling in her feet and legs. Friends expressed concern at her diminishing health.

“​​Someone told me that their 90-year-old mother had more energy than I did, and they weren’t joking around! They were serious!” she says with an astonished laugh.


Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated with a few weeks of antibiotics, but Rae’s case was not so simple. Her symptoms continued, and she became increasingly worried about what her future had in store. Though COVID-19 posed a once-in-a-lifetime health risk that had plunged the world into a collective state of anxiety, all Rae could think about was the disease ravaging her body.

“I knew that something was vastly wrong, and I was approaching a very slippery slope. Time was not on my side,” she says. “That’s when a friend of a friend referred me to Dr. Young.”

Dr. Young finally gave Rae the answer she’d been searching for. Lyme disease was indeed the reason for her symptoms, and it needed treatment right away. Though she struggled for weeks before receiving the diagnosis, Rae sees the bright side of her situation.

“I was very lucky. I’ve heard horror stories of people not getting a diagnosis for three, four-plus years. I know that was a blessing,” she says. “The longer you wait with Lyme disease, the harder it is to treat.”

Rae wasn’t familiar with naturopathic medicine, but instinct told her it was the next step.

“I knew it was imperative that I start working with Dr. Young as soon as possible,” she says. “It wasn’t an option. It was an investment in my health.”