May is Lyme Disease Awareness month, so we are turning the blog "Lyme" green as a reminder to all to take extra precaution. Do a tick check!
I remember when I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease and Babesiosis (another tick-borne disease, as Lyme rarely travels alone) nearly 5 years ago.
I remember my family and I actually feeling relieved... happy even. The months of persistent fevers, severe headaches and swollen glands, the enlarged spleen and liver, abnormal blood counts, flu-like feelings and inflamed joints, numbness and weakness, bouts of nausea and vomiting, the shooting pains, sweats and chills...finally all had a name.
We would find the best doctor for my condition...and then we would treat it....and then I would get well....and we would all go on with our lives. There was an end in sight and we were ready for this to be over.
That's the way it's supposed to happen, right?
...Or so we thought.
At that time of diagnosis I never could have imagined the medical nightmare I was about to be thrown into, a world where doctors risk their careers to treat their patients while under harassment from insurance and medical boards and where everything about the disease-- from the diagnosis, to the treatment to the prognosis is so controversial.
I certainly never could have imagined how the bite of a tiny 'insect' would forever change, and nearly take my life from me.
The thing about Lyme is that if it is diagnosed when you are first infected the disease can be (and usually is) effectively treated with a course of antibiotics. But when the tick bite is missed or a person goes months or even years undiagnosed, the disease enters its later stages where it can invade virtually any part of the body- including the heart, nerves, muscles, joints, skin and digestive system- In my case, I lost the ability to eat, walk, stand or even sit up. This disease has the potential to cause any combination of complex and disabling symptoms.
During this later stage, the infection can also become deeply entrenched in the brain and central nervous system causing severe neurological illness and symptoms ranging from headaches, dizziness, memory/concentration problems, fatigue and sleep disturbances to tremors, fainting, seizures, numbness and tingling, sensitivity to lights, sounds and other sensory and neuropathic pain syndromes (such as RSD), to stroke and paralysis or even death.
As the disease progresses it becomes incredibly difficult to treat, and even with treatment, a lot of the time there has been so much damage done to so many systems of the body that it is very hard to reverse.
For most patients with tick-borne illnesses, the diagnosis is not the "end in sight" that you hope for. It is just the beginning of a long road to recovery.
That is why it's so incredibly important that everyone has greater access to information about Lyme and tick-borne diseases and are made aware of the devastating consequences of it, especially because early detection and treatment are so essential.
I'm really excited that in honor of Lyme Disease awareness month PBS will be showing the Lyme disease documentary, Under Our Skin!This is the first time that the movie will be on national television!
You can use the link below to search for when it will be airing in your area.
If your local PBS station has not yet scheduled a viewing, call or email them to ask them to!
It is my hope and prayer that increased research and awareness efforts will help to educate others and arm them with the knowledge necessary to prevent others from having to go through what I had to. Recovery is possible, but Lyme disease is preventable!
God bless all who are still struggling daily with Lyme disease and the doctors who risk all to treat their patients. I have the deepest respect and utmost gratitude to all of the Lyme physicians who helped me along my journey, especially to Dr. L.
For more information please read:
Lyme Disease Basics by LDASEPA
Enfermedad de Lyme y otras infecciones ascociadas
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