A 59 year old female visited me for an evaluation for Lyme disease visited me 9 months ago. She had a past medical history of Crohn's disease and celiac disease. She also had a history of congestive heart failure, resolved, 10 years prior to our first meeting. The cause of the CHF had never been determined. In addition, she had a severe history of muscle disease related to the cholesterol medicine Lipitor 6 years back. The lipitor had caused a severe break down of muscle tissue. The disorder is called rhabdomyolysis; this was associated with acute renal failure which has resolved. She reported a history of prednisone use for 18 months for her bowel disease. A previous physician had diagnosed fibromyalgia. At the time of our visit this once high functioning professional was disabled.
Her complaints included: nausea, fatigue, back and neck pain, blurred vision, diffuse body pains, sensitivity to sound and light, diffuse joint pains, pins and needles, rashes, fatigue, palpitations, sweats and severe cognitive issues. Her cognitive problems included poor focus, slow cognitive processing, short term memory loss, word retrieval problems and bouts of confusion and disorientation.
Her physical exam showed multiple abnormalities involving the nervous system. These included changes in cranial nerves, sensory nerves and upper motor neurons.
Her initial lab tests showed: mild anemia, a Lyme C6 peptide index of 0.27 and a single positive Bb WB band IgG 41. The results were otherwise unremarkable.
The controversies about Lyme disease were discussed with the patient. She was given informed consent. She wanted treatment without any further defining laboratory tests.
She has been on a program of typical oral Lyme medications. These have included: Zithro, Mepron, Amoxil, Minocin, Biaxin, Tindamax and Rifampin.
In her particular case Rifampin has been particularly helpful for reasons that are not clear to me. In general this is consistent with my experience that different antimicrobials work better with individual patients.
To date her improvement has been dramatic. The symptoms which had previously been attributed to Crohn's disease are completely absent. Her muscle and joint pains are nearly gone. She does admit to very slight joint pain at times and sensitivity of her skin. Her energy level is almost normal. All cognitive problems have resolved. The palpitations are gone. The sweats are gone. She is functionally normally and now returning to work in her professional capacity.
Comments: 1) Cardimyopathy- the undiagnosed heart failure could be caused by Lyme carditis. 2) Lyme can cause symptoms of inflammatory bowels disease or cause exacerbations. In this case Lyme therapy has for the time being caused a remission of Crohn's disease. 3) This is the most controversial point: Lyme has been demonstrated to exist in muscle tissues and causes myositis. It has been my observation that some patients who develop muscle pain related to statins(cholesterol medications) can later tolerate the drugs when Lyme has been treated. The reasoning here is that it is the double insult to the muscles of Lyme and the drug that causes the symptoms. When one factor is removed(Lyme) the drug becomes tolerable. Given this patient's history I would never recommend that she try taking this class of medication again. She tolerates Welchol well, which as has been pointed out, also frequently provides benefits to patients treated for Lyme disease.