Monday, July 7, 2008
The Human side
This blog has been very nuts and bolts. I have tried to put a lot of factual information which may be helpful to persons suffering with Lyme disease. Based on the feedback I got from a personal friend suffering with the disease, I feel I have been remiss in addressing the personal toll from an emotional and psychological perspective. Many Lyme patients look relatively well on the outside despite incredible suffering. Others in their lives are frequently unsympathetic and may even suggest the problems are all psychological. This makes everything so much worse. People who are suffering need understanding, love and support. Chronic pain is particularly difficult to deal with. People who have never experienced chronic pain do not understand it. Acute pain is easy. The dentist drills a tooth; it hurts for several seconds and then it gets better. Chronic pain is of a lower intensity, but it never goes away. Sufferers cannot get relief. The psychological and emotional consequences of of this relentless pain are indescribably horrible and are hard to understand unless you have been through it. The medications which treat chronic pain are rarely entirely satisfactory. Narcotics cause sleepiness and mental fogginess. Lyme patients already have brain fog to start with. Patients may be accused of addiction or substance abuse. A wide variety of other drugs may be tried: anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, anti-epileptics and others, but they offer minimal relief. Other modalities such as massage and acupuncture may be tried. These are of some benefit but is not long lasting. The same is true for trigger point injection. Chronic pain and the medicines used to treat can lead to serious depression, mood swings, anger and other psychiatric symptoms. Patients can feel hopeless and even suicidal at times. It is critical that the treating physician listen and be empathetic. It is my hope that many of the treatments discussed in this blog will ultimately alleviate much of this suffering. This is side of chronic Lyme and fibromyalgia which may be the most difficult for many patients. I apologize for not addressing it earlier.