By Samantha Norman
Almost a year ago, Morgan Yoder of Clark County wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to go to college. Now, in a few short weeks, she will be on her way to Los Angeles, California, to attend the Los Angeles Film School. Making the move from rural Missouri to one of the biggest cities in the United States is rare, but in her case, it is a dream come true.
“I got bit by a tick the end of my 8th grade year, but I didn’t get sick until my freshman year,” Morgan explained of how her journey with her disease began.
Doctor after doctor couldn’t figure out was wrong with her. She had a constant headache, flu-like symptoms, and was able to do nothing but sleep, causing her to miss her freshman year of high school. When a doctor in Columbia, MO administered a Lyme Disease detection test to her, the answer was finally clear. She had Lyme. Lyme Disease is defined in the dictionary as “an inflammatory disease characterized at first by a rash, headache, fever, and chills, and later by possible arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders, caused by bacteria that are transmitted by ticks.”
Morgan was put on antibiotics and was then well enough to attend school off and on.
“My sophomore and junior years I was able to go to high school…I still missed some days here and there, but I got through it and I passed those two years. But then, beginning of my senior year, I got really sick again, and it was so disheartening because everybody wants to do their senior year…I didn’t get to do a whole lot,” she said.
Morgan’s only option for getting well again was to find a Lyme Disease specialist to treat her extreme symptoms, one of which is extensive memory loss. While she does remember some things, from her freshman to senior year of high school, for her, is blurry. She also has trouble recalling childhood memories that she was able to recall before having Lyme.
After her fight with Lyme Disease delayed her from finishing high school, Morgan was forced to hit the pause button on a “normal” life. At the Lyme Disease treatment facility in Florida, Morgan was now having frequent seizures and could not get around without a wheelchair.
“My mom, Amanda [my little sister], and I went to Florida and we didn’t really know what to expect because it’s one of the only Lyme Disease specialist clinics in the country, Sponaugle Wellness Institute…We got there, they put a port in [my chest] the first week I was there, and from March to September of 2017, I got IV treatment Monday through Friday, every single day.” She was receiving large amounts of medicine each day just to keep her symptoms at bay, causing intense pain amongst other issues. After months of strong treatment and struggles, she finally started to improve little by little, and was able to return to Clark County.
“September 2017, we came home. This was after being in a wheelchair, having seizures all summer long. We came home because I had been walking again, started to get the stamina back up in my legs. I was still having seizures when I came home, they just weren’t as severe…they weren’t as frequent either, I had maybe a couple a week, but my mom always knew what to do,” Morgan said.
Despite having problems when first coming home, Morgan was able to heal more and is now able to live “normally” for the first time after five years of struggling with her disease. She doesn’t have seizures anymore, was able to stop her antibiotics, and has been able to spend the last four months finishing high school online and getting her diploma.
Now, she is focused on pursuing her dream: to move to Los Angeles.
Morgan explained that she has a love for large cities, and that Los Angeles has always been her top choice when it came to where she would want to move to in the future. She is not only excited to live and go to school there, but to hopefully get her start in the entertainment industry by getting a job while taking her classes.
“Ideally I’d want to get something [a job] in the music industry. Even just being a receptionist at a music studio or a recording studio, anything like that to try to at least get my foot in the door,” she said.
During the years that she was able to attend high school, Morgan was involved in band, chorus, and music appreciation. She explained that she has always loved music, and that it is what has inspired her to pursue a degree in music production. The Los Angeles Film School, according to their website www.lafilm.edu, offers majors in five areas pertaining to the entertainment industry including animation, audio production, entertainment business, film, and music production.
“Being a music producer, that would be the ideal thing. Working in the studios, helping artists create albums…ideally I just want to be around all the artists, the creative souls,” she said.
Going through such a traumatic experience has made Morgan thankful that she can go to college to reach her goals. “It [going to college] is seriously the best thing ever because a year ago I really didn’t even know if I was going to live. We seriously were preparing that I wasn’t going to make it. Being 18 and having the thought that you’re not going to live and do all these things that you’ve always wanted to do is terrifying. Now I’m just so, so grateful.”
She wants to possibly do something to advocate for Lyme Disease in the future in hopes to aid others going through the same things that she did. For now, though, Morgan gets to do what she thought she’d never be able to and live out her dream.