Lyme disease is a bacterial illness caused by a bacterium called a “spirochete” and it is a bacteria and an illness that can wreak havoc in your life.
photo courtesy of WebMD
In the United States, the actual name of the bacterium is Borrelia burgdorferi. In Europe, another bacterium, Borrelia afzelii, also causes Lyme disease. Certain ticks found on deer harbor the bacterium in their stomachs. Lyme disease is spread by these ticks when they bite the skin, which permits the bacterium to infect the body. Lyme disease is not contagious from an affected person to someone else. Lyme disease can cause abnormalities in the skin, joints, heart, and nervous system. (medicinenet.com)
photo courtesy of WebMD
A few posts ago I shared with you that I am being treated for Lyme disease. I have finished my first wave of antibiotics and am extremely happy to tell you that I am feeling SO much better. Many of my symptoms have disappeared and the symptoms that remain have decreased by about 85%. I had a visit with my Doc yesterday. I started another 21 day round of antibiotics this morning in hopes that we can tackle the remaining symptoms.
If you think Lyme Disease doesn’t concern you, think again. Lyme Disease is at epidemic proportions in the eastern United States and thousands of people are being diagnosed in every single state in the US.
I had no idea Lyme Disease was a bacterial infection. I thought it was a virus. Did you know that the bacteria, Borrelia Burgdorferi, is hard to detect and kill because it has the ability to cloak itself and go dormant? This enables it to hide from diagnostic blood tests and antibiotic treatment.
Did you know that you could have Lyme Disease and not even know it? That it doesn’t always come with that bulls eye rash we all hear about?
photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Did you know that once the tick bites and feeds, then transmits the bacteria, it falls off? That means if it’s tiny and in your hair and stuck to your scalp or in a crease on your body, you may never even know it was there.
photo courtesy of Fairfax County
photo courtesy of Connecticut Audubon Society
Did you know that Lyme Disease mimics 300 diseases? Including MS, Alzheimer’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Epilepsy, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Influenza, Lupis, Migraines,and Parkinson’s…just to name a few….making it even more difficult to sort out the symptoms and be diagnosed? Did you know that scientists have found that the Lyme disease bacteria can live in blood that is stored for donation although there have not been any proven cases where someone has been infected by a blood transfusion?
Did you know that you can have been bitten years ago and continue to have “flare ups” that can be triggered by stress? Only to have them go away eventually because the bug has gone dormant again? Meaning that you can be infected and not be symptomatic in between flare ups. This makes it very difficult to diagnose and treat. Did you know that the bacteria multiplies? And that the longer you have the infection, the more dangerous and difficult it is to get rid of?
photo courtesy of citylifemagazine.ca
Did you know that the bacteria attaches to the cell first, and then enters the cell? Once it attaches to the cell, it causes the cell to release a digestive enzyme that dissolves the cell and allows the bacteria to go from your bloodstream to wherever it pleases… like your brain, eyes, joints, skin, spleen, liver, GI tract, bladder, and other organs.
photo courtesy of Julieslymediseasefight.blogspot.com
The most important piece to this is that I would have never even thought of asking my doctor about Lyme disease had I not been in contact with my husband’s cousin’s wife, Amanda who has Late Stage Lyme Disease. (ha, try to keep track of that family tree) When I became ill in October and the symptoms were mounting weekly, I had talked to her daily. She said, “April, you have almost ALL of my symptoms, you need to talk to your doctor and have them test you for Lyme disease!” Had she not shared her symptoms with me and urged me to talk to my doctor, I fear where my health would be today.
Lyme Disease can be debilitating and in rare cases, even deadly when left untreated.
photo courtesy of lymepeople.com
So before I completely overload you with information, to end Part 1, I will simply share my symptoms with you as they started and as they progressed. It could possibly make all the difference in your health or the health of someone you know and love. Sharing and awareness is of utmost importance, as the symptoms are different for many people, and as I said above, mimic many other medical issues.
Week 1: Flu/vomiting
Week 2: Fluish symptoms remain/ woke with vertigo – Doctor prescribed Meclizine for dizziness, didn’t help.
Week 3: Symptoms remain, physical therapy for vertigo, didn’t help. Blood pressure extremely high. Added symptoms: feel dehydrated regardless of what I drink, ringing in ears, severe morning nausea and diarrhea, major muscle fatigue, severe heart burn, heart palpitations, anxiousness, ongoing headache, numbness in toes, high pulse. - Doctor prescribed blood pressure medicine and alprazolam for anxiousness. Alpraz didn’t work, stopped taking it.
Week 4: Symptoms remain. Continuing physical therapy for dizziness…although it did nothing. BP still very high. Added symptoms: 4 Migraines. – Doctor did EKG, it was fine.
Week 5: All symptoms remain, but BP meds are kicking in and BP is back to a normal level. Added symptoms: Herpes Simplex outbreak on back of left thigh. Deep chills where I need to take a bath to warm up. Sweating but cold. Anxious feeling improved. – Doctor prescribed acute Valtrex dose for breakout.
Week 6: Most symptoms remain, dizziness has subsided. Started natural antiviral and antibacterial ( for 4 days). Added symptoms: Horrible joint and bone pain all over body but especially in hands and legs, feet. Ribs on left side feel extremely sore. Blisters on roof of mouth. – 1 part of first Lyme Disease test comes back positive. Doctor advises we test again.
Week 7: All symptoms remain. Added symptoms: Cold sore on lip, incredibly fatigued. Can no longer go on regular walks and hikes, exhausting to walk up the stairs in the house. Can only accomplish a few tasks a day. (completely different from my all day active lifestyle) Migraines and headaches are worse. Neck and shoulders are stiff and painful. – 2nd Lyme test comes back negative, yet all Lyme symptoms remain.
Week 8: All symptoms remain, but with less nausea. Splitting daily tasks up and resting works better. – Doctor prescribes treatment for Lyme Disease. 21 days on antibiotic, Doxycycline. Prescribes a higher dose of alprazolam for neck pain to be taken at night to determine if the headaches are tension headaches,didn’t do a thing! Took it for 2 nights and stopped.
Week 9: First week on antibiotic and all symptoms remain. Added symptoms: Hands are hot and red. Feet tingling more in feet. Heartburn increased.
Week 10 and 11: A big energy difference on week 2 of the antibiotic. Still headachey and have joint issues, but all symptoms have decreased in intensity. At the end of week 3 when antibiotic was finished, a huge improvement. Can go up and down the stairs without major fatigue, nausea is gone, dizziness is gone, rib pain gone, migraines gone, chills and sweating gone, heartburn gone.
Week 12: Symptoms that remain: daily headache, mild joint pain, neck and shoulder pain, mild tingling in hands and feet, mild numbness in toes. – Doctor prescribed 2nd 21 day round of Doxycycline.
So as you can see, had I not shared my symptoms with Amanda, and she not shared hers with me, I would be swimming in a world of hurt right now. It would have never occurred to me to discuss Lyme Disease with my doctor.
Reading and Informational Resources:
Lyme Research Alliance Symptom List
Lyme Disease Transmission
Could You Have Lyme Disease?
CDC Cases of Lyme Disease By State - per 100,000 population