Stealthy in Summer-Lyme Disease

Stealthy in Summer-Lyme Disease

Summer is here and as many of us are enjoying the beauty of exploring nature we tend to let go and be care free in the fun spirit of it all. Summer is a time for freedom, a time for camping, swimming, barbeques and flat out fun. Summer is also a time for ticks. That’s right, I said ticks. An insect known to carry a multitude of infections that can cripple and debilitate a person in weeks to years. Some are so impacted by the debilitating illness, the Lyme community has lost lives due to suicide or Lyme-related complications. The tick is a fairly small insect that imbeds itself into the host. Once this phase occurs, it begins to take in the hosts blood and push out its personal blood back into the host. This causes any and all infections the insect carries to be transmitted into the host.

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I was personally debilitated by this disease for many years and as I have watched the Lyme community grow in numbers, the CDC (Center of Disease Control) report more and more cases every year, I have sadly noticed a decline in the amount of news coverage over this disease. As numbers rapidly grow four times the amount of HIV cases per year, Lyme disease is becoming the newest epidemic of our era. For years doctors, insurance companies, lawyers and patients have battled between what is right and wrong over this illness. Testing is difficult and can read false positive and negatives, treatment is controversial and insurance companies are not covering the amounts needed for proper care.

Growing up as children or teenagers, many of you may have seen or at least heard of a tick. Yet we were never really informed by our educational staff in schools, our parents or our doctors that this insect carried so many infections. Once bit, the patient only has six weeks to get on a treatment protocol (typically antibiotics) in order to get the infections to be dormant. After those few weeks if treatment has not began, phase two does. This phase is where the infections grow rapidly throughout the body in a multi-systemic way, spreading to many vital organs and creating havoc on the body. Four phases (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary) occur during the growth of the illness.2-Stealthy Photo2

Imagine one day you wake up with horrible knee pain that lasts for days so you make an appointment to see the doctor. By the time you get into the doctor the pain is gone and now you are having headaches. Your headaches last for a few days then all of a sudden disappear as well. Now you are having trouble sleeping and noticing your thought clarity is troubling you. By the time you see the neurologist those symptoms aren’t present in that direct moment and some other symptom appear instead. This creates the perfect situation for anyone (friends, family, co-workers) to think you are suffering from being “psychosomatic or a hypochondriac.” So you sit back and wonder “Am I crazy? Maybe I’m just getting old or I’m too stressed.” You begin to get confused and paranoid how others are perceiving you so you ignore some of the many symptoms getting worse and become afraid to even go to the doctors because you realize how often your own symptoms are changing and that it doesn’t seem to fit into any category.

(I attempted to place a symptom list here but the list was too large to be able to read in an image. So I counted them instead; there are 86 different symptoms from just one of the infections.)

Months to years go by and symptoms begin to get worse yet all occurring in different ways making it hard to determine what could be wrong. Lyme and it’s co-infections are considered “the next great imitator” as Lyme (borrelia bacteria), is a cousin of syphilis. Although Lyme is not sexually transmitted quickly the way syphilis is, both are a blood borne spirochete bacterias known to cause symptoms imitating so many illness’ and effecting so many areas, it is extremely difficult to understand. We now have a lot more information on syphilis but we are still in the beginning stages of understanding Lyme and tick related infections. Ticks can carry up to ten infections, all creating different symptoms and all requiring different treatments. (see more at Photo3

Similar in it’s spiral shaped way to syphilis, Lyme also has been speculated to be passed down from the mother to child during pregnancy. The placenta unfortunately cannot protect the fetus from the spiral bacteria passing through and spreads throughout. At this time, hundreds to thousands of families have several members all with the infection and testing has shown mother’s who have the illness have children born with the illness as well. This illness will effect you or someone you loved for the rest of their life. For myself, I am currently in my second remissive stage. Being an active member in the Lyme Community, I see and speak to thousands of Lyme sufferers every year. This illness is real and creates so much damage it’s as if you mourn your previous life day by day as you get sicker and sicker. I will be doing another article on how Lyme effects family and relationships along with the political side to the illness next month. This illness is our generations most dangerous pathogen currently known. So what can you do?

Currently awareness is the best thing anyone can do. Educate yourself, your family and friends on how to check for ticks after being outdoors and how they are transmitted. Check you pets for ticks as well to help prevent the tick from infecting them and from passing it to you. If you are bitten by a tick, go to the doctor immediately and ask for a western blot test as it currently is the most reliable. Also, look for a doctor knowledgeable in the area of all four phases of the infection: LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) or an Infectious Disease Specialist.

If you know anyone who has this illness, support them in their battle. Many go a very long time, some for the rest of their lives, without proper support.7-Stealthy Photo4

An incredibly informative documentary on the topic is available on Netflix or can be ordered at Amazon. “Under Our Skin” is extremely helpful as you get a glimpse of the life of the patient, relationships impacted, politics behind it and the doctors debating on how to treat or test for this life-threatening illness.

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Learn how a small insect can rapidly change you or a loved ones life and help prevent that from occurring.

This was originally published in Sonic Eclectic by heatherochsnerprince June 27, 2013

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