Liz is a storyteller, attorney, and educator living in Oakland, CA. She is a disability rights activist and cat-mom to Irma. She spends her working hours as a lawyer, thinking about public policy and creating a more equitable future for all.
She has been storytelling for 5 years and her work has been featured on the Moth podcast and in various blogs. She runs storytelling workshops and speaks about overcoming adversity and accommodating disabilities in the work place. Learn more at: liztravisallen.com
College changed my life - but not in the way you would think. After my freshman year, in 2003, a tick bit me when I was leading backpacking trips in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I quickly slipped from being a two-sport Division 1 athlete to someone who had to crawl up the stairs to her dorm room. My heart beat so loudly in my ears that I couldn’t hear what others were saying. My brain was so scrambled, I could barely understand the words on the page. “I’m exhausted” took on a whole new meaning - language became grossly inadequate.
After a year of visiting different doctors, an infectious disease doctor finally diagnosed me with Lyme and multiple co-infections (including Babesia and Relapsing Fever). I thought I would get better. But my experience with Lyme was anything but a linear path to health. Months of relative stability would be followed by precipitous crashes. I became so weak that I was forced to move back in with my parents, use a wheelchair, and pump intravenous antibiotics through plastic tubing running directly into my heart. Despite multiple rounds of different treatments, I couldn’t stay healthy.
Getting better became a singular quest - I wanted to contribute to the world, I wanted to live an adventurous and full life, I wanted a life without crippling fatigue and pain. But there is no guaranteed treatment for beating Lyme (1 month of oral antibiotics did almost nothing to improve my symptoms) - so I made my body a lab and tried every experiment I could. Over the past 15 years, I've gone to 45 doctors, tried 32 different treatments, spent a year out on disability leave, and spent over $150,000 in medical care. It's been a long and arduous fight back to health. It's taken hours and dollars and patience I didn't know I had. For example, in 2017 alone, I went to 112 doctors appointments and spent $12,000 out of pocket (after excellent health insurance coverage).
I am finally making progress - and currently feel the best I've felt in 15 years. It's with this new health that I am tackling this project - to help others who haven't been as lucky as me. Join me in supporting scientific research for Lyme patients all over the world: https://fundraise.globallymealliance.org/fundraiser/1412162
Extreme fatigue (at points in my life I would average 13 hours of sleep a night)
Air hunger and shortness of breath
Heart beat extremely loud - I can feel it in my ears and neck
Searing hip pain
Drenching night sweats
Short term memory loss