It’s not about the book

I spent the best part of three years in bed – and not with George Clooney. One of my friends, struggling to understand said: why else would you do that? And btw he’s not my type.

My illness wasn’t life threatening but sometimes made me want to threaten my life. My brother bought me Lance Armstrong’s book It’s not about the bike – and ironically in hindsight it really hasn’t been for him. His tale of cancer survival helped me though and I am still a fan despite his meteoric fall from grace. Eddie Izzard, the transvestite stand-up comedian, also cheered me up. I came across him while lying in bed and channel surfing. I laughed out loud for the first time in a while and it felt good.

Lyme Disease had its light moments. My ex-husband pushing me round the supermarket in one of those wheelchair/carts when my legs gave out, was pretty funny in a black comedy kind of way. Years later, him catching me as I ‘shut down’ making a cup of tea, putting me in my office wheelie chair and pushing me down the landing to my bedroom, hitting every ridge in the wooden floor en route and nearly catapulting me down the stairs. Actually I think those might have been the only really light moments. It was a miserable existence. Pumped full of antibiotics on a daily basis, trying to fight off the side effects of toxin build up, digestive destruction and depression. The thing is you learn to live with it and so do those around you.

The appliance repair man told me that his whole church was praying for my recovery on a regular basis. That’s how prevalent my illness was in the house. He must have come to mend the dishwasher twice in three years. All of that said, I was one of the lucky ones. Misdiagnosed for years prior to my pregnancy, I finally got the proof, much sought after by Lyme sufferers – when they found Borrelia spirochetes in my spinal fluid after being hospitalized with meningitis three months after my son was born.

I was given the standard four-week course of intravenous antibiotics and declared better. I felt better until I didn’t. Relapses are common in late stage Lyme disease and that’s when my fight really started. Going from doctor to doctor, being declared mentally ill as you can’t possibly still be infected. Then fate smiled on me and I met Dr Kule, an holistic doctor luckily enough living just a few miles from our home in South Carolina. He sent my blood to a lab in California and it came back positive for Lyme – some five or six years after I’d been told I was cured. He boosted my immune system, taking the fight from inside out and I improved.

I was able to work and began to ‘get out more’. That’s when I met Lee Brittain, the inspiration for Sterling. I was working on a major polo tournament and needed to get my hair done for the launch. Lee turned me into what he called a ‘sexy mama’. We arranged to meet for a drink…and the rest as they say is history. Several years into our friendship, I sat down and began to write a book, with the working title ‘Bangabrit’. It was based on an imaginary t-shirt design Lee and I had decided would be fitting for his first trip to the UK, a dream that finally came true last year – though we chickened out on the t-shirt. I wrote the majority of ‘Wed, White and Blue’ as it is now to be known, in three months. It took me several years, to arrive at the finish.

I still have the odd ‘Lyme episode’, most recently after a move from the USA to Scotland. I was semi-conscious and unable to move. My parents called an ambulance and pretty soon I was hearing the voice of Braveheart in my head “Sarah! Open yer eyes!” Eventually thanks to the paramedic’s insistence I did. I spent three days in bed, but I got over it and touch wood I’ve been healthy since.

I think it was that final episode that convinced me to finish my book. The fear of putting my work out there, was overshadowed by the fear of never finishing it. Pablo Picasso said, or possibly wrote: “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” It’s a bit extreme, but then so is the notion of being in bed with George Clooney.

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