When I tell people I have Lyme Disease I usually get one of two reactions: “That is the thing Avril Lavigne had right?” or “Oh wow, did you get bit by a tick?” Why are these the most common reactions when people hear the words ‘Lyme Disease?’ Because nobody knows a thing about it. I sure didn’t before I was diagnosed, so I am going to spread some knowledge about it in hopes to raise awareness.
What actually comes with a tick bite is quite alarming, especially for those who do not get treated right away.When one is bitten by a tick they get an array of co- infections, the most commonly heard about is called Borrelia Burgdorferi. I am going to let Google explain what this is: “Burgdorferi is a bacterial species of the spirochete class of the genus Borrelia. B. burgdorferi exists in North America and Europe and until 2016 was the only known cause of Lyme disease in North America. Borrelia species are considered gram-negative.”
When one contracts this bacteria from a tick, they may show a bulls-eye rash and flu like symptoms. This would be considered Stage 1. If caught soon enough it can be treated with antibiotics. If it is not, the bacteria will spread through the body via blood and start to affect major organs. This is Stage 2, common symptoms are fatigue and fever, but it can come with organ specific symptoms that can become debilitating. It can affect the heart, musculoskeletal system and both the central and peripheral nervous system.
For those who go undiagnosed and the infection is left untreated, you hit Stage 3. This is called late disseminated stage Lyme, and it occurs months or years after initial infection. You would think this is the worst stage of this disease, but trust me, I haven’t even got to the bad part yet.
When Lyme is left untreated, not only is this bacteria wreaking havoc on the organs, it is also destroying the immune system. This is called immune suppression, and this is what is the real killer (literally) when you have this disease. For those who have been battling this disease for years but have gone undiagnosed, they would have what is called chronic immunosuppression, and that is very difficult to bounce back from. Chronic immunosuppression means your immune system is not functioning properly, and when this happens it can re-activate a whole bunch of viruses that have gone dormant in your body. Now that is something to be worried about.
We all carry viruses in our bodies, but for healthy people you generally do not have to worry about them. For someone with a compromised immune system, the viruses can awaken with vengeance and start to destroy everything in their path. This leads to an array of debilitating symptoms that have no rhyme or reason for presenting themselves, and this is where people get left in the dark.
Common viruses are HHV-6 (Human Herpes Virus), EBV (Epstein Barr Virus, aka Mono), Coxsackie Virus (commonly known as hand foot and mouth disease, which presents itself differently in adults) and VZV (Varicella Zoster Virus, aka Chicken Pox/Shingles.) Keep in mind, just because you or your child has had mono, HFMD, chicken pox or shingles it does not mean you have Lyme Disease. These are just common viruses that go dormant in our bodies over time and generally do not resurface. However, when they do resurface due to a compromised immune system, the symptoms can be life threatening and horribly debilitating. If left untreated, these viruses can cause meningitis or encephalitis, pericarditis, myocarditis, type 1 diabetes, chronic fatigue, chronic pain of the joints and/or muscles, unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms and an array of neurological symptoms like confusion, memory loss, muscle weakness, mood disorders (bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression), seizures, headaches (migraines), and dizziness (vertigo) to name a few.
I would like to end with this, I am not saying that everyone who has any of these symptoms has Lyme Disease. However, if you or someone you know is battling an undiagnosed illness of any kind that has lead to numerous ER visits, countless tests that have all come back normal, a frustrated GP and tons of random medications, please, be an advocate for your own health and please consider trying alternative medicine. General Practitioners are generally not well trained in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, but Naturopathic Doctors are and they will get to the root of the problem without masking the symptoms with medications.
For anyone who would like to learn more, please check out this blog post from a fellow Kamloops Lymie – https://rjspiritualityandthetruthaboutlymedisease.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/the-tale-of-the-fibromyalgia-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-myalgic-encephalomyelitis-gulf-war-illness-or-lyme-disease-tick-bite-post-sepsis-warrior-imagine-what-it-feels-like-to-walk-amongst-the-livi/
Also, check out my Youtube Channel – Let’s Talk About It
-by Dana Lee