Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Lyme: A patient I saw today
There she sat before me: fearful and worried. She knew the remicaide prescribed by her rheumatologist wasn't working. She had been chronically ill for more than 10 years. She had seen many doctors. She was besieged by pain which racked her entire being. She had lost weight. Her muscles had atrophied. Now, her brain was clearly failing. She had to take notes of everything that transpired during the visit, because her memory was shot. Her list of symptoms could take up pages if I were to list them all. I had told her I suspected Lyme for several years. She was skeptical. All the usual lab tests were negative or equivocal. Finally, I convinced her to cough up the $200.00 for an IgeneX Lyme WB test. It lit up like a Christmas tree. She had 10/14 IgM bands and met CDC criteria as well. She had recently viewed Under Our Skin and was becoming a believer. At this point it was hard for her to remember most of the film. She is 37 years old. By chance, another Lyme patient was in the office. I asked them both if she could could share her story; she jumped at the opportunity. This 46 year old patient was doing great! I forgot how sick she had been. She had suffered with partial paralysis, severe fibromyalgia, severe cognitive dysfunction, many other symptoms and had been essentially disabled. She had been tossed about by many doctors over many years without finding answers or help. By chance, one of my patients whom she knew casually and seldom saw gave her my name. Today, after one year of treatment she was bright, energetic and sharp as a tack. This was the best she had felt in over ten years. Her only fear was that this all wasn't real or permanent, that she might wake up from a dream to find herself back in the Hell that had been her former life for so many years. The boyfriend who had left her because he thought she was a hypochondriac was back in her life and appropriately remorseful. As she shared her story with the frail and terrified woman who sat before us, I noticed a glimmer of hope light brighten those eyes which had been dim for too long. I know she will be tough. There are many factors which make her case particularly difficult. A and long and bumpy road awaits us. Today we started.