Cleveland State University senior swimmer, Madisen Tretter, has been met with many challenges throughout her collegiate swimming career, but none have been more taxing than her battle with Lyme Disease.
Diagnosed in October of 2015, Tretter was forced to miss her junior season that followed. Coming off a season that saw her lead CSU in both the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke along with third place finishes in both events at the Horizon League Championship, this news was devastating for both Tretter and the swimming team.
Tretter discussed her battle with Lyme Disease, opening up about the hardships that were posed throughout the fight. She said that when she was diagnosed, it felt that she would be able to return to swimming in only a few months. However, she later found out that it would be much longer.
“A few months into my first treatment and I was homebound — barely able to get off my bathroom floor or leave my house,” Tretter said. “I definitely had thoughts that I would never be able to swim again.”
Tretter was originally told that a round of antibiotics would be enough to make her feel better. However, she later got a call from her doctor who stated that her condition was worsening.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common symptoms of Lyme Disease are fatigue, rash, headache and fever.
These symptoms were significant enough to completely disrupt Tretter’s life as she knew it.
“One of the most difficult parts of having Lyme [Disease] and being in treatment has been just having my world flipped upside down,” Tretter said. “I went from working out twice a day to barely being able to walk around, eat or leave my house.”
Lyme Disease not only took a physical toll on Tretter, but also a mental and emotional one, too. She explained these burdens stem from the physical pain. While it was easy to become depressed, her family, friends and teammates gave her the support that she needed.
Her commitment to the swimming team was not the only aspect of her life that was affected due to this disease, her academic life has been altered too.
Since Lyme Disease can affect how a person feels on a completely random basis, Tretter has missed many classes since last fall. Luckily, a switch to online classes during the Spring 2016 semester aided in her school work.
“Spring semester of 2016 I had to switch to all online courses because I had to live from home in Pennsylvania so my parents could help take care of me,” Tretter said.
Because of the disease, Tretter’s projected graduation date has changed from Spring 2017 to Summer 2018.
Tretter’s return to swimming was not easy. Intense workouts, training and detoxing were hard on her body, but she said that she enjoyed every second of it. Since her battle is not over, she still misses practices from time to time, but she is overjoyed to be back doing what she loves.
In her first meet back on Oct. 1 at the Splash Bash meet, Tretter finished second in both the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard breaststroke. She posted times of 1:11.93 and 2:35.99, respectfully. She competed against teammates and alumni in the intramural meet, but has not competed since.
Tretter’s treatment is still not complete. There is currently no set date for completion and during this round of treatment, which started in March, Tretter said she’s made significant improvements. She was able to start eating, going to the store and exercising. Now, back on the swim team, her morale is at an all-time high.
“I have made so much progress in the past eight months with this treatment,” she said. “But I still have a ways to go to get a normal life back so we are not able to predict how much longer I will have.”