Leia Thurman may look strong and healthy, but inside of her 36-year-old body is a bacteria that's been torturing her for the past six years.
It started with arthritic pain in her hands and burning in her back. Then it gradually spread to her limbs and stomach.
The mother of five and her husband, Jeff, changed their diets, began exercising more and focused on their health. They visited the doctor, but the pain never went away.
"I would lay in bed and it was like this burning sensation up my legs," Thurman tells EastIdahoNews.com. "I remember trying to get up to walk to the bathroom and giving up. I just crawled back to bed because it hurt so bad."
Thurman learned to cope with the pain until Jan. 1, 2017 when she woke up with a horrible kink in her neck. She started getting aches in her ankles and thought she may have been playing the piano too much.
But the intensity of how bad everything hurt became too much.
"The pain was going up to my legs and into my knees. It went everywhere. It just swarmed my whole body and it was a torturous thing," she says.
Jeff remembers how frustrating things were because they couldn't fix the problem and it was affecting every aspect of their lives.
"She's got arthritis, she's got chronic pain, she's got issues with her stomach, she's got memory loss and fatigue – we just didn't know what was going on," he says.
The Thurmans sought out holistic methods of treatment and visited The Healing Sanctuary. A blood test was taken and the results came back: Leia had lyme disease.
Approximately 30,000 Americans get the disease every year with the majority of cases originating from ticks, according to the CDC.
Leia couldn't recall ever being bitten and she had no idea how she got lyme disease, but she knew one thing.
"I didn't want to be a patient for the rest of my life and that is what it sounded like," she says. "So we started being very proactive."
The Thurmans dropped all dairy, gluten and processed foods from their diet. Leia began taking vitamins and minerals, using essential oils and implemented other untraditional treatments.
"I do a shaker that shakes my body and helps pump the lymphatic system around. I do the mini trampoline and I do the sauna," she says.
As Leia worked on her health, Jeff decided to have his blood tested. He had been bitten by ticks in the past while working on the farm and camping so he thought he possibly had transmitted lyme disease to his wife.
The results came back and sure enough, he tested positive.
"If I have it and Leia has it, it could have been passed on to our children," Jeff says. "Or we could have all been on the same camping trip and gotten bit by the same ticks on the same hikes."
Leia has come a long way over the past 18 months. The community has rallied around her with neighbors cleaning her house, dropping off meals, watching her kids and a fundraiser was held at Chick-fil-A to help pay for treatment.
On a scale of 1-10, she says she feels like an eight or a nine most days.
The Thurmans continue to do research on lyme disease and have connected with other "lymies" across the country.
Leia has written a song about her experience and wants to help others as she shares her story.
"I feel like this thing is in me and I'm mad. I want to get it out and I just have told myself that I'm going to knock it out by feeling my body with light and good," she says with a smile.
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