BY: Abigail DesVergnes
Attleboro resident Patrick Collins, 20, published a book this past week titled, Fighting for My Life: How I Found God and Beat Lyme Disease.
The UMASS Dartmouth freshman and 2016 Attleboro High School graduate wrote the book as a testimony to his journey with Lyme Disease, an illness that ravaged his body during middle school.
Collins wrote the manuscript by himself, hired two freelance editors, and published the book through LULU — an online self-publisher.
The idea of the book began with a series of diary entries that Collins made during middle school.
During this time, Collins suffered through fatigue, arthritis, chronic sinus infections, mood swings, and seizures. After 25 doctors’ visits, not even one could pinpoint what was wrong.
Doctor after doctor told the Collins family that it was “all in his head” and offered the young boy antidepressants.
Collins missed at least one to two days a week due to his illness, and ended up having to stay back in the eighth grade.
Confused and scared, Collins turned to his diary, writing entries like, “What’s wrong with me?” and “Am I going crazy?”
With a loss of hope, Collins’ parents decided to take him into a Lyme Disease clinic, which ironically was run by a family relative. “She was the only person who truly believed that my illness wasn’t something make believe. She knew that something was wrong,” Collins said.
After running a series of Lyme Disease tests, the results came back positive.
Flash backward about a year earlier, Collins remembered finding a small tick on the back of his neck. He didn’t think anything of it, peeled it off his skin, and disposed of it — not telling his parents.
“Who knew that such a small little creature could create such pain,” he said.
At its peak, the disease took a major toll on the young boy, spreading all over his body. It began to shut down his organs and caused him to have seven lesions to his brain — impairing his learning abilities.
“The most frustrating thing was that after all the doctor appointments, nobody knew what was wrong with me. In a sense, they treated me strictly as a patient and failed to see my real suffering as a human.”
From eighth grade to the beginning of his freshman year of high school, Collins was treated with antibiotics. “The recovery time was tough and very long. It really drained me — but I was lucky that through all the darkness, I was able to find the light.”
That “light” was Collins’ Catholic faith.
“When I felt down, I turned to my faith to guide me. I knew that I had more to live for, which gave me the drive to keep on fighting for my life.”
After two years and thousands of dollars later that “light” led Collins to an accomplished high school baseball career, excelling as an honor’s student, who even campaigned to ban plastic bags in Massachusetts.
The cover of Collins’ book is a person walking through a dark tunnel toward the light, a true symbol of the path he walked down to find his recovery.
“Through my book, I hope I can help as many people as I can. I hope that after reading this, people will be able to perceive suffering in a different way.”
Interested readers can purchase the book off of LULU for $12.99. For more purchasing information go to: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Patrickcollins