Imagine, at age twenty-five, being sidelined by a mysterious sickness so severe you have to surrender your independence to move back to your childhood bed. Imagine battling for validation and diagnosis as your friends’ lives move steadily forward. Imagine wrestling family tension you thought you’d already escaped, pining to get back to your own life but not knowing when or if you’ll be able to do so.
Now imagine that entire journey being set off by an insect smaller than a poppyseed.
Years before she became a COVID-19 long hauler, before that term became vernacular, Jennifer Crystal was already living the long-haul life. Bitten by a tick at age 19 but not diagnosed with Lyme and other illnesses until she was 27, Jennifer endured years of intense treatment, including a shattering relapse, that brought her from the pinnacle of post-college momentum to the precipice of despair. She struggled with the identity loss that occurs when you can no longer do what you love and can’t fulfill expectations set by yourself, your family, and society. Wrestling with her sense of purpose, Jennifer’s lifeline came from an unlikely source: her first love, murdered just as his own career was getting started, returned to her in a dream that changed the course of her convalescence.
One Tick Stopped the Clock gives personal voice to the collective journey that millions of chronic illness patients were experiencing before the pandemic, and which countless COVID-19 survivors now join. More than just a medical narrative, however, One Tick Stopped the Clock is a story of survival. Through universal themes of resilience and perseverance, One Tick Stopped the Clock showcases exactly what it means to refocus broken dreams and create a new normal. Blending medical mystery with wit, sensitivity, and a sharp understanding of the human experience, Long Hauler explores the big questions of identity and belonging. The narrative offers hope and inspiration for anyone who has life has been halted by adversity or trauma; for anyone who can’t go back, but instead must move forward at a new pace.