What’s My Lyme Story?
In 2006 a tick bit me, and I contracted Lyme Disease. I went from being a highly energetic, workaholic, PhD student to house-bound in a matter of days. I had difficulty walking; I was extremely dizzy; I felt confused; I couldn’t stay awake, and I had a great deal of muscle and joint pain.
Of course, I went immediately to see my doctor. He ordered a standard blood panel; it came back normal. So he said, “there’s nothing wrong with you”. I begged to differ; I could hardly function.
So started the parade through the Canadian medical system. I was shuttled from one doctor to the next. I saw endocrinologists, sleep specialists, gastroenterologists, several family physicians and a hematological pathologist. One test after the other revealed nothing; no one could explain the reason for my sudden and aggressive neurological symptoms. By the end of a two-year hunt for a diagnosis, I was at a dead-end.
The dead-end meant that my condition was labeled as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). For three years I saw a CFS specialist. In the mean time, my condition worsened. By 2009 I lost the ability to work; I rarely socialized with friends or family; I barely left my house.
Then in 2011, as I was sitting in my CFS specialist’s office, I overheard a conversation between two fellow patients. One woman spoke about “Under Our Skin”, a documentary about Lyme Disease in America. I had never heard of Lyme Disease but her symptoms sounded eerily similar to mine.
I made mental notes about everything she said. I went home to do some research, and I too watched “Under Our Skin”. I found out that testing for Lyme Disease in Canada is terribly unreliable. More often than not, the blood test comes back as a false-negative, especially if you have had the infection for years. So I found a private lab in the U.S. that specializes in the most sophisticated blood testing for Lyme, and I ordered a test kit.
My CFS specialist signed the requisition form for the test; I had my blood drawn in Toronto, and I couriered my blood samples back the U.S. laboratory. Then a month later my specialist called me back to her office to let me know that my results were in: I was resoundingly positive for Lyme Disease. In fact, if I were living in the U.S. I would be considered a Lyme patient according to the Centre for Disease Control. (My IgG, IgM, and IFA tests were all positive to CDC standards.)
I had my answer but I still had no help. My doctor told me that she couldn’t treat me. In fact if she did, she would be at risk of losing her medical license: Doctors in Canada are not allowed to treat Lyme Disease beyond 30-days with antibiotics. And, since I was disablingly sick, she knew that I would need more than 30-days of treatment. She told me to find a Lyme specialist in the U.S. immediately. She wished me luck, and I was on my own.
When I became seriously ill in 2006, I quickly learned that if I wanted to heal, I would have to take charge of my own health. Like the commander of a ship navigating through the fiercest of storms, I went on a full-tilt-boogie research mission to find answers and strategies to restore my health.
Without medical care in my own country, I decided to find help from one of the best Lyme literate doctors (LLD) in the United States: one that is compassionate, knowledgeable and on my side.
What’s the Update? Did I Recover from Lyme?
I was in treatment for 3-years: that included antibiotic and antiparasitic medications (I had both Lyme and Babesiosis), in addition to a broad naturopathic protocol to support my body through treatment.
I stopped treatment in December 2013, and I took one year to concentrate on rebuilding my body. By January 2015, I had finally hit full physical recovery.
Of course, the 9-year ordeal left its emotional mark, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath. But, I’m getting better as each month goes by. I’m even looking toward going back to work!
I never thought I would get here…back to my old self again. I’m amazed, and incredibly grateful.