Ticks. Calvert County, Maryland.
by Kathy Meyer
Virginia Governor’s Task Force on Lyme Disease 2010-13 and
Co-leader, Parents of Children with Lyme Support Network, DC Metro Area
“…The physician cannot rely on a laboratory test or clinical finding at the time of the bite to definitely rule in or rule out Lyme Disease infection, so must use clinical judgment as to whether to use antibiotic prophylaxis. Testing the tick itself for the presence of the spirochete, even with PCR technology, is helpful but not 100% reliable.
An established infection by B. burgdorferi [the bacteria that causes Lyme] can have serious, long-standing, or permanent, and painful medical consequences, and be expensive to treat. Since the likelihood of harm arising from prophylactically applied anti-spirochetal antibiotics [taking antibiotics to kill potential infection] is low, and since treatment is inexpensive and painless, it follows that the risk benefit ratio favors tick bite prophylaxis.”
-Dr. Joseph Burrascano, the longest-treating physician for Lyme in the U.S.
As the weather warms, there is justifiable panic in the question, “I just found a TICK on me, so what do I DO?!” Continue reading
My friend Mickey gave me this magnifying glass cleverly disguised as a necklace. Note the thin tweezers for grasping the tick close to the skin, and the sesame seed next to the largish-sized nymphal tick.
Last week, I had just pulled out of my brother’s driveway in the gorgeous countryside on the outskirts of Middleburg, Virginia, when I felt an itch on my ankle. I looked down and saw a teensy tick clinging on by its mouthparts. Wrenching the steering wheel, I pulled over in a blind panic. Using my fingernails as tweezers, I grabbed it as close to the skin as I could and got it off.
Chanting “Be calm, be calm,” I got out of my car and scanned the parts of my body I could see. There on the back of one leg was a larger tick. I struggled with that one but got it off, too.
Making a U-turn like I was in a movie getaway scene, I tore up John’s driveway, jumped from the car and ran into his house. I shouted out what I’d found as I headed for the bathroom, stripping off my clothes as I went. Continue reading
That’s the little portable pump for my IV drugs. Then there were the pills. More pills. Harsh meds that made me sicker so I could get better. I can’t believe I made it through all that. When it could have been avoided…
It’s 2016, and I’m finally climbing out of the Lyme hell I fell into blindly four-and-a-half years ago. If only I’d known more, sooner.
Maybe I can help someone, somewhere, by offering a few things I was shocked to learn. Frankly, it is damned hard to pick just 10 things. But here goes: Continue reading
Credit: Zappy’s flickr stream
I just saw a Facebook posting by the Lyme Disease Association of Australia that got my Lyme-infected blood boiling:
“Antibiotic treatment for Lyme can often be hard to access in Australia due to our government and health officials opposition and as a result, this can leave patients having to source alternative treatment options…”
At the very least, everyone deserves the chance to see a compassionate, respectful doctor for help with Lyme and other infections from ticks. A doctor who listens and understands and offers medical help — not one who says, “Lyme doesn’t exist here, you don’t have it.” A doctor who offers science-based treatment options. Continue reading
If you’re like me, you want to know the latest scoop on what scientists are learning about Lyme disease. In this May 2013 interview we hear again from pathologist Alan MacDonald. (This interview is part 2 of a 3-part series, see the first one here). I’ve noted some key points you can jump to if you don’t have time to view the entire interview.
I’m wiped out this afternoon. I started a new antibiotic, and the escalation has begun on all fronts: pain and numbness in my legs; a flu-like, all-over sick feeling; ringing in my ears; and hit-by-a-bus fatigue.
When antibiotics cause herxing and my symptoms ramp up, I turn to some tips that help soothe me so I can get through the day.
- Epsom salt baths. I toss 2-3 cups of Epsom salts into a hot bath and soak for at least twenty minutes. The difference can be quite dramatic for me. Note: I did learn the hard way that applying lotion or oil afterwards isn’t a good idea; my pores were open and easily irritated.
- Heat. Hot baths and warm clothes are good, and I have several microwavable heating pads that conform to my legs and provide much-needed relief. Heat lamps like those used by acupuncturists feel wonderful on high-pain herx days.
- Burbur. This extract made from the leaves of the plant Desmodium molliculum is reputed to promote detox, and many lyme patients, myself included, report that it reduces their herxing. Ask your lyme literate doctor about dosages and whether it is appropriate for you.
- Tea with lemon. I’ve heard that lemon is a great detox, so I add it to tea or plain water, and while I’m at it I grate some delicious fresh ginger to reduce inflammation.
- Diet. Don’t let feeling awful be an excuse for eating poorly. On herx days, I double my efforts to avoid foods that cause inflammation like gluten and the nightshade vegetables (including tomato, potatoes, and alas my favorite, eggplant). Juicing gives me an added boost of nutrition.
Be sure to let your physician know if your herx is severe. Some experts say herxing can be dangerous, and set back recovery—so backing off on meds or antimicrobial herbs could be important.
See more on the Herxheimer reaction here.
Do the probiotics I take replace the good bacteria wiped out by antibiotics?
I’m pretty tired of that perky Jamie Lee Curtis and her “Activia” ads on television. Yeah, I’ll admit it, maybe I’m just jealous that she looks so damned good at her age, while I feel my own looks sliding into oblivion as the years slide by.
But I’ll admit she delivers an important message in those yogurt ads—good bacteria promote digestive health. And I’ve learned they do much more.
A riveting article by Michael Specter titled “Germs are Us” in the October 12 (2012) New Yorker magazine addresses this question: “Bacteria make us sick. Do they also keep us alive?”
Specter reports that “…the destruction of bacteria may contribute to Crohn’s disease, obesity, asthma, and many other chronic illnesses.”
As if I didn’t have enough to worry about with threatening bacteria like Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti roving my body and making me sick, I’m quite concerned that antibiotic treatment is killing too many good guys among the tens of thousands of bacteria species in my body. Continue reading
“The Scream” by artist Edvard Munch.
Credit: Christopher Macsurak’s Flickr stream
Sometimes during my recovery, I want to scream. But I tell myself to hang on. Because with Lyme, you often have to feel worse to get better. Welcome to the Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction, or “herxing.”
Today, for instance, my chest is tight and burning, and there’s an uncomfortable sensation like ice water running through my veins. I feel ill all over, like you do when you have the flu or a high fever.
There’s more: Joints in my left foot throb, along with both knees and hips. My legs and arms are on fire with a burning pain deep in the tissue, as is my digestive tract. Add in weak muscles and low energy, and you can see why I’m on the sofa.
My mind might as well be underwater, my thinking is so muffled and remote. (As you may have guessed, it’s actually taking me several days to write this post). Chills crawl over my lower back and hips.
On the worst days, I don’t feel up to reading or watching a movie or visiting with a friend by phone. All I want to do is lie here. I’m good with that. Here’s why.