I have been treating a 46 year old woman with chronic Lyme syndrome for about 18 months. She resides in Montgomery County Maryland and her favorite hobby is(was) gardening. Her presenting complaints were muscle pain, muscle weakness, fatigue, joint pain, neck pain, headaches- with an exacerbation of pre-existing migraines, night sweats, brain fog with forgetfulness- word recall difficulties- short term memory loss- slow cognitive processing and severe depression. She in fact had no idea that she might be suffering with chronic Lyme disease when I suggested the diagnosis. She had been a regular patient for several years treated only for migraine headaches. She had not shared her other symptoms with me because she was worried that I would think she was a hypochondriac. The muscle pain it turns out, was a prominent symptom. She had incapacitating pains in her muscles, especially around her neck and upper back area. Her muscles were knotted and stringy and exquisitely tender. She saw a pain management specialist who diagnosed "fibromyalgia," and treated her with trigger point injections as well as a mix of pain meds. This occurred during the 6 months prior to the Lyme diagnosis. Looking back, it is now clear that she had suffered with fibromyalgia for 20 years. She did not share her symptoms with others in her life. She blamed herself. Somehow, she believed her symptoms represented a personal failing- as she struggled to keep up with other well functioning people around her. Only by sheer will and determination was she able to create the illusion that she was well, when in fact she was getting sicker and sicker.
Finally, almost inadvertently, she shared her story with me.
Her exam had classic Lyme neurological abnormalities. Her labs were fairly unremarkable. Her IgeneX WB for Lyme showed only a positive IgM 31 band with several other IND bands. She wanted a positive test to be convinced she really had Lyme disease. I explained that the 31 band was highly specific. It took some coaxing, but she agreed to start treatment for Lyme. She took Amoxil and Biaxin for about one year. She was nervous about changing medications so we kept to this one regimen. Most of her symptoms improved. Overall, she was 60% better. Persisting symptoms included sweats- which thought were due to menopause AND there had been no change in the fibromyalgia piece of her syndrome. I convinced her to try Mepron, believing that she had sero-negative Babesia. Her insurance turned down Mepron so I substituted Malarone, perhaps fortuitously. Follow up labs continued to be seronegative for Lyme disease by IgeneX standards and Babesia. I also ordered a blood wet mount performed at Clongen. Extracellular motile organisms were present.
After 3 months on Malarone she noted that the muscle pain was almost completely gone. After five months on Malarone all signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia were 100% gone. Her knotty,lumpy muscles were replaced with smooth, normal tissues. This is one very happy patient! Her "menopausal" sweats were also gone.
This is conjecture: She never had Babesia. The motile parasites seen in blood wet mounts may have been responsible for her muscle disorder. We known that these parasites do not live in blood or blood cells- they are extracellular. This means they primarily reside in other tissues. Their numbers must be so numerous that they egress into the blood. A likely place for parasites to live is muscle tissue. One must wonder: could fibromyalgia be caused by muscle parasites, at least in some patients?
This case shows remission of longstanding fibromyalgia with Malarone- used in conjucntion with Biaxin and Amoxicillin.