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It Hurts So Good: The Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction

"The Scream" by artist Edvard Munch.Credit: Christopher Macsurak's Flickr stream

“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.

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