The Pandora Lyme Box

*I wrote this back in July 2015. But all is still relevant, if not more so. When there are over 300,000+ new cases of Lyme a year across our nation, why aren’t the CDC and IDSA doing so much more for the population at large? And why aren’t these organizations being held more accountable for their actions or lack of actions. #LYMELIESCOSTLIVES

Hi out there! Today I listened to the Diane Rehm show and if you caught it as well, it was a program about Lyme disease. Honestly, it didn’t shed any light on the disease for me personally and yet again, some of the guests continued to perpetuate some of the Lyme disease myths floating around. Now granted, I am not a scientist, I am not a researcher, and I am not a doctor. But I am one of the many suffering from this disease so I have read as much information as I can get my hands on about Lyme and I will continue to do so. At this point in my game of Lyme, I feel like I know enough to make fairly decent decisions regarding my own care.

Listening to the program and reading comments on Rehm’s FB page really struck a chord with me in that there are so many people out there suffering from the elusive Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi). And so many of us are not even close to getting the help we need. The medical community is at odds as to what to call the condition where patients suffer symptoms of Lyme after treatment; it is also at odds with whether the bacteria is actually present after treatment or not. On the show, Dr. John Aucott from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center basically agree that yes, in rare cases, patients still suffer from symptoms after treatment but he would not call it Chronic Lyme. He sidestepped this so many times…well anyway. Instead, he made it clear that if, and only rarely, patients have lingering issues, it is due to an immune response but not due to persistent bacterial infection. He stated this as a fact when in reality, this has not been proven as not true in a human subject.

**The two awesome posters above are from a wonderful website and patient advocavy.Please visit http://www.lymestats.org

But how do we even know or how can we even begin to dismiss the idea that this bacteria, one of the most, if not the most, complex and intelligent bacteria we know of, cannot persist? Just because we do not have the means or the way to find out should not lead then to dismissal. I think back to things in the past that were dismissed and then later, after the technology and testing and imaging came to pass, after the WAY to see something became clear, we changed our minds because we actually had the TOOLS to figure it out? Now I am not necessarily trying to make direct analogies here but think about this: women used to be treated as mentally ill if they suffered certain symptoms after delivering a child. Ever read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman? But then as years went on and doctors focused and researched, this “condition” turned out to be a physical one and not merely a “mental” condition we now call postpartum depression. The same comparison be said about depression in general. We didn’t know what it was, we know now, we know it can be hereditary….and on and on.

I just cannot then figure out why the medical community, in this country for sure, is so fixated on sticking to standards set by IDSA, the Infectious Disease Society of America, in 2006. Like many of us, I wonder why more money has not been put into finding out so much more about a disease that is now affecting 300,000 plus here in the states? I just cannot wrap my head around it!

SOURCE: http://nocturny.deviantart.com/art/Pandora-s-box-340317104
SOURCE: http://nocturny.deviantart.com/art/Pandora-s-box-340317104

I know I live in a bubble, don’t get me wrong. I have yet to have anyone in my life doubt that I am still suffering from something, no matter what the terminology. Not everyone has that kind of support system. Why don’t more medical and science professionals care about Lyme? Or why are they staying away from researching Lyme? Let’s just say that the radio show today did not answer any questions for me. In fact, it only made me think about more questions I have about Lyme disease! On that note, dearies, I must take leave of you.

Until we meet again, peace -B

Advertisements

Meltdown City, Next Stop!

What brought all of this on, this visit to Meltdown City? Although I didn’t share it with you (yet), about a month ago, while I was still in school (working) I had a terrible Rash (in fact, it does deserve a capital “R”) on the left side of my face, on my left had, a few spots on both of my lower arms, and inside of my thighs. It came on suddenly. It took a over week, a trip to Urgent Care, 2 trips to my LLMD and a week out of work, along with several medications, to get rid of it. The reason I haven’t posted about this incident is – don’t laugh – is that it was pretty traumatic overall. I promise to tell the drama soon. Anyway, it finally went away, but there was no consensus as to what was the cause (except it was not parasitic).

It went away, school came to a close, my step-daughter graduated (happy dance!), summer started, on and on. Early in June, my doctor put me on this cool supplement called ATP Fuel for my low energy, and I have really been seeing some brain improvement function from it which was a real lift-me-up these past few weeks. Now, I am not saying I am “cured.” Not by any means, but I am certainly feeling like I had managed to get over a significant hump since severe fatigue has been one of my most loyal companions over these past few years!

Let’s just get downright crazy and say that mentally, I’ve had the best 2-3 weeks that I have had since before being diagnosed with Lyme in March 2013. It has sincerely been that big of a deal at, least to me. This past Wednesday, I had an itch near my left eye. Bug bite. That then spread all around my left eye, down along my jawline, and under my chin.Pretty much the same area that the Rash showed up a month ago. It was basically a battle to get into my LLMD. I do not have dermatologist, but I did call around, and I was able to get an appointment for Tuesday. However, knowing how horrible this Rash became last time (the top of my left-hand is scarred now), I saw my LLMD yesterday afternoon. To say this appointment sucked is an understatement. She put me on several medications, anti-viral, steroids, anti-itch pills, and said I must be getting into something and that it will clear up.

I asked, what if is doesn’t clear up? Answer, go to a dermatologist. When I asked if I should come back in for her to check me as well, she said no.It will clear up by Monday. Huh? I asked how will we know what is causing the Rash, and what if it comes back (you know, since this is 2 time in 4 weeks), and she basically said it may never come back. Well, yes. That is one way of looking at it. And while that in fact is true….I HAVE LYME DISEASE! It has taken over my immune system, MY BODY! I’ve had weird rashes in the past, I get cold sores a lot, I have chronic EBV. SO LIKE FOR REALS, LADY. Saying that it might never return is like laughing a the Gods. I don’t like this plan.

My left eye was almost swollen shut this morning, and the rash had spread to the other side of my nose and there was more on my left cheek. My mom picked up my meds for me, and I got started right away. Everything just closed in on me today. Not from this damn stupid rash, really. I’m just tired. I swing from one health crisis to another with barely any time in between to just feel like I have JUST Lyme. I’m not even in school right now, surrounded by close to 4, 000 people a day. Yet, I have a recurring Rash that my LLMD doesn’t really think is an issue. So yeah, the Meltdown City. In the shower. Me, myself, and I.

I think at the crux of all of this is the truth I am beginning to realize, or maybe now I am closer to accepting, is that the LLMD that has helped me thus far, is not going to be the doctor to take me into remission. Not from where I am right now, and not with how I am being treated (protocol). There are no other LLMDs here in the HOUSTON area. Seriously. It is too risky for doctors to advertise that they treat Lyme disease and many don’t. They do not have the first clue about Lyme disease. Truth. So, I continue to periodically request an LLMD list from the Texas Lyme Disease Association hoping that maybe a new name has been listed. And that the doctor listed takes insurance. Most do not.

This causes a whole other wave of worry to hit. Going to a doctor who does not take insurance means lots of money out of pocket. Depending on the doctor, it could run $700-$1500 per visit, not including meds, supplements, etc. LLMD doctors usually do not take insurance because they do not want to be beholden nor required to treat Lyme only by the approved and antiquated guidelines of the USA set by the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA). Many doctors across the US have been stripped of their license to practice for not following these corrupt guidelines. Of course though, insurance companies use these IDSA guidelines as standards for care and so even if one is LUCKY enough to find an LLMD who takes insurance, some things are not covered at all because the treatment doesn’t fall within the -again- corrupted and antiquated guidelines. 

But I have an LLMD that takes insurance and here close enough to where I live. I thought I was so lucky! And yes, she saved my life. I need more now though. My visits with her consist of about 10 minutes time. I list out everything, she focuses on the most detrimental at the time, reviews my blood work from the last visit, usually 3 months ago, and based on that she tells me where we are going, and sends me for blood work – labs we will review 3 months from now. WTH. There is no talking about nor treating any lingering symptoms, talking about detox, diet, anything really at all else about this complex stuff happening to me. Co-infections being addressed? Not at all. 

Finding someone new that I have to pay out of pocket, that is probably 3-5 hours away, is just freaking me out a bit. On top of all of that, I am worried about how much more I can work. I’ve pushed through and I want to work, but this past year has been extremely tough. I’ve been sick with other things more than not, and I am wondering, maybe I need to give my immune system more time to heal before I mix it up in the petri dish of high school. And since my LLMD only spends 10 minutes with me, I try to bring this up, but again, she also works crisis to crisis and that is just not cutting it anymore. Then, if I can’t work, how do I go see a doctor who doesn’t take insurance? How does all of this get managed when my eye is almost swollen shut, and I want to itch off the left side of my face? 

erupting-volcano-night-17297748Oiy. I just do not know. I’m trying to wrap my head around everything right now. I may have to visit Meltdown City a few more times before I get it all figured out.

I hope you and yours have a safe and wonderful 4th. Namaste, my peoples. – Belle

 

P.S. Maybe read some Declaration of Independence, eat a burger, drink a brew and maybe read a little taste of where I was last 4th of July – Fire in the Hole

 

Talk About Zombies

The fatigue is back, and it is taking absolutely no prisoners. If you recall, my LLMD had me take a break from the antibiotics for about 7-8 weeks, recently. I’m really not sure why except that I could use one after 27 months on abx. For the first 3-4 weeks, all was good. Headaches let up, nausea was less. I was hopeful. Then at the beginning of September, I caught a cold. Pretty much all hell broke lose.

I had the cold a solid week. Then I still had sinus, coughing, lingering everything. And the Zombie fatigue came on, full throttle. Ah, the misery! And the achy joints and just body aches. I was convinced also that the EBV was activated again with the fatigue being so terrible. It took everything I had to get to work, and then back to bed every day. I spent the weekends in bed. When I get into my doctor at the end of the month, she said upper respiratory infection caught me. Let’s check for the EBV. I assumed, and I had a list – that we would also check Lyme, Mycoplasma, HHV-6, thyroid, etc. since I told her I was having such severe fatigue. But,nope. EBV came back quiet, and she had actually tested for nothing else. And my follow-up? Yeah, in December. December?!?! Frustrated, I emailed my doctor about my concerns, and now I am going back in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure what will be different this time around, but it’s worth a shot. My doctor did not have a suggestion for the fatigue other than she still thinks it is caused by Lyme. Honestly, I don’t know. When I was at my sickest, right before being diagnosed, I did have this kind of fatigue so it is very plausible. I just worry that now that I have been dealing with the Lyme for so long, is something else rearing its ugly head?

In about 3 weeks, I am actually also going to see a new LLMD. I have been scouting about for someone else to add to the “team.” I love my doc, but I feel like we never have enough time to address all the issues I am having. Lyme is so complex once it is in the chronic stage, and she really just doesn’t have time for the treatment I need right now. I am hoping this new doctor works out; I will still see my LLMD here as well. The new doctor is about 5 hours away so it’s not like I can jump in a car and go see her anytime I want to. I have heard she likes to try to treat Lyme as a whole rather than in pieces. FIngers and toes are crossed that she can help me out.

But this fatigue needs to go! I’m taking iron and vitamin B hoping that helps some. We were supposed to go out of town this long weekend, but I actually got really sick Friday afternoon, and we couldn’t, or rather I, couldn’t manage the trip. It was disappointing. My husband and I were looking forward to going to the beach and getting out of the house. Instead, I was in bed Friday afternoon through yesterday mid-morning. I think I may have actually had the flu on top of the Lyme issues. I’m feeling a little more like myself today.

I’ve never experienced fatigue like the Lyme fatigue that comes on. When I used to say, “I’m tired” I meant that I had worn myself out doing most likely something physical. But once rested, I was back to it, taking my energy for granted. Now, I never feel rested. I sleep, I rest, I don’t do much, and I still feel so exhausted; it is a chore to think about getting up to brush my teeth. The fatigue just adds to the memory issues and the brain fog. Sometimes, I just want to lie in bed, in the dark, with no sensory anything because sometimes this is the only way I can think straight. Does anyone else need to do this? Just go somewhere quiet and lay down?

I know it is overused, but this fatigue really does make me feel like a zombie. I seem to move in and out of each day half-awake, in a weird trance. It’s hard to explain. Outside of work is difficult enough but I can lay down whenever I want. Work is a whole other challenge. I just try not to think about getting through the week ahead but instead focus on getting through the day. This strategy helps I think. And no matter how much I rest each day, by the next day, the fatigue is compounded. But I want to work. I want to do things. I don’t want to be a Zombie. None of use do!

Happy fall, peeps – B

Fall in the mountains

Havoc! And #LymeDiseaseChallenge!

Well, ladies and gents, it’s been a nightmare of a ride these past 10 days. Ironically, my last post was discussing the sometimes, most times, sporadic onset of symptoms. Then, tada! Totally happened to me. And the worst. I hadn’t been feeling all that great over Easter. I was having tummy issues, nausea, indigestion. And headaches. Really painful headaches. I missed a family member’s birthday celebration along with Easter since I was basically incapacitated.

Then it was Monday. And all hell broke loose. I got up and started getting ready as usual. About 25 minutes into my routine I began getting dizzy, lightheaded, and severely nauseated. Just like that. I laid on the bed for a minute, panting and hoping I wouldn’t throw up. I couldn’t go to work like this. No way, no how. I spent the entire day in bed miserable. I couldn’t eat. My stomach kept cramping and then the migraine made its appearance. Tuesday was yet an instant replay of Monday. No fever, but I could not stay upright. I have never felt this horrible before.

Wednesday I already had an appointment with my LLMD set. My mom had to drive me. I was afraid of a dizzy spell or whatever might show up next. I’d like to say my doc had all the answers. I wanted Doc to tell me that I could do *this and I would be OK. Alas, as it always is with Lyme and Company, not so much. My EBV is reactive and has been since January. I have a mycoplasma pnuemonia infection. I have one MTHFR mutation. I also now may have an hpylori bacterial infection which I am being tested for. My body is on the fritz. Overloaded by fighting on so many fronts at once, I don’t know, maybe my immune system has just given up. I was to stop my antibiotics, and I was directed to bed rest for the next 2 days through the weekend, returning to work Monday. Oiy. I told Doc that this is the worst I have felt since beginning treatment 2 years ago. Definitely scary and disconcerting. The rest of Wednesday was a replay of Monday and Tuesday. I swear, I haven’t slept so much in my life.

So here I am, resting. The nausea let up finally yesterday. I was able to eat a decent meal as well. Headaches are manageable. I feel like at least half a person now. Missing this much work had been distressing though. It worries me and while I want to plan for the future, what do I plan for? Right now, I plan for the Worst Case Scenario: I can’t work. Realizing many of my fellow Lyme sufferers are already in this boat, I am extremely grateful that I can still work and that I can manage these incidents for now.

While I am waiting to get my labwork back, Doc tested me again for EBV, mycoplasma, hpylori, thyroid (I have Hashimoto’s) along with ATP, CD57 and Lyme, I am wracking my brain about what I can change on my side to make things better. I definitely need to detox better and more. I think it is time to make a serious diet change. And most importantly, I need to embrace the fact that I am chronically ill and start working with what I gots. As the Indigo Girls sing, “What makes me think I could start clean slated, the hardest to learn was the least complicated…”

*you know, a pill, a diet, a one stop shop cure

P.S. My pretties, please do not forget about www.lymediseasechallenge.org and check out Dr. Oz and his segment about The Lyme Disease Challenge!  #lymediseasechallenge

www.lymediseasechallenge.org
http://www.lymediseasechallenge.org

I hope it is a pain free day – B

All the Noise, Noise, Noise!

Howdy! Hope we are all having some relief!  Lately, I have developed a sincere noise sensitivity. At first I thought , oh, I can’t really hear well (although I have never had any issues with my hearing). Then, it was, oh, I am just getting old (although I really am barely middle age). And then, I finally realized that I am having some certain noise sensitivities! This is a newer symptom, and it seems to get worse as I progress in my treatment. I have read about people having both noise and light sensitivities with Lyme, but I have always been very sensitive to light  and only just recently am I noticing the noise issues.

Hmm. No bueno! I don’t seem to struggle much when it is a one on one conversation but if the pitch is too high or low, watch out! My poor husband. We get up early for work, about 5:15 a.m. and there are some mornings like today, that I keep telling him to please lower his voice a tad to the point where I can’t even hear him. Then he is like WTH?!?!  It’s a weird feeling when this happens. It is almost like the sound travels in my ears directly to my brain and zaps it. My thoughts start jumbling up and my head starts to hurt. Does anyone else have this experience?

Of course, it is waaaaay worse in a crowd, and by crowd, I mean like more than 4 people. Haha! No, really. In a crowd, there are just so many different noises and pitches and inflections. I try to focus on one, but I just can’t. When this happens, I get really frustrated. Some places/situations I have issues: when one person is talking to me at the speed of lightening, talking on the phone, parties, classes, stores. You name it. Pretty much anywhere there is a cacophony. It for sure makes it even more difficult to socialize…..What is “that”, you ask? 🙂

It’s been happening more and more lately so I am going to discuss it with my doctor on the 22nd. However, I am guessing there is nothing that can be done? I mean besides becoming a hermit which I have down except for this silly working thing. I am making light of all of this but it can be really irritating and depressing. Anyone else dealing with this phenomenon and if so, how do you do it without becoming the Grinch, like me?

GrinchPeace and joy to all of you. Thank you so very much for stopping by and reading.  – B

Accepting or Embracing Chronic Lyme

Howdy, fellows!

Loss for words
My brain on words!

I think I may have mentioned before that I am in the process of accepting, or at least trying to accept, the fact that this disease is going to take a while to shake off. Not only am I struggling to come to terms with that, I am also struggling with the notion that this is a chronic condition (even though the CDC denies this fact).  For me, there is a fine line between acknowledging the illness and embracing it. What I mean is that in my messed up brain, I feel like acknowledging  that I do have chronic Lyme equals giving in. And, I am not a fan of that!

It is ridiculous, I know. Accepting does not equal giving in, but again, in my lymie brain, getting over the semantics of it seems to be a real challenge! Plus, I just read an article about Debbie Gibson in which she states that she doesn’t call her experience with Lyme Disease a battle, she calls it “overcoming” Lyme Disease. See here: http://www.people.com/article/debbie-gibson-lyme-disease-recovery. She says that referring to Lyme Disease as a battle gives it more power. Maybe. Maybe. So, I guess for me, maybe this is a similar conundrum.

Yes, there are bigger and more important fish to fry! But the reality is that I have been dealing with this disease for several years now. I spent about 4 years sick with no idea what was going on, and now I have spent another 21 months in treatment. Sometimes, it is difficult to think about all of this time spent “overcoming” this illness. Although, many people out there have suffered way longer than I have for sure. I just feel like the words I use in my self talk are really important. Do you feel this way? Or am I wasting time on something that really means nothing?

At first, when I started treatment, I did feel that it was a battle. But now, almost 2 years later, I feel battle weary. I was really hoping it would be a short war, and that I would be the victor! I bet we all had hoped this!!   But here I am, years later and still, every day feels like I am fighting. Fighting to get up, to go to work, to make it through the work day…etc. I sure do not feel like I am overcoming anything! Lately, though, I have tried to just accept that indeed, getting up each day for work is a challenge, working all day is a challenge. I am trying to get my brain in sync with my body but without giving in.

Does any of this make any sense to anyone out there? Bottom line is that I know I need to accept this stage I am in more than I do right now so I can hopefully move forward and deal with life as it is right now a little better. But how do I acknowledge or accept where I am right now without feeling or thinking that I am giving in? Can anyone relate to this at all and if so, can you give me any suggestions/advice?

Wishing you all a pain free day. Peace-B