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Thursday, February 28, 2013
Go to church
This 37 year old office manager says she hasn't felt well for half her life; and she's pretty angry about it; and for good reason.
She believes she has been sick 1/2 her life. She had mono when she was 15 and says she never completely recovered. She continued to have chronic fatigue, punctuated by bouts of fever, malaise and flulike symptoms. Her doctors said she was healthy. She knew little to nothing about Lyme disease during those years. In March 2009 she went to her family doctor with a small tick imbedded in her back and asked him to remove it. He immediately told her that this small dark tick was not a Lyme tick. She was taken aback; the thought of Lyme disease had not occurred to her. She got sicker than usual: more fatigue and dizziness. One month later she returned to the same doctor. Three weeks after the last visit she found a tick attached to her thigh and now she had a rash. The doctor opined that the rash was too soon for Lyme disease. He prescribed one week of doxycycline to cover his bases. He ordered a Lyme test which was negative, confirming his original impression.
Then she became much sicker: fevers and malaise, joint pains and swelling, increased fatigue and cognitive problems. Her doctor told her that nothing was wrong, it was a spiritual issue, and that she should go to church.
Over time she had the kind of fatigue that makes it hard to lift your head from a pillow. She developed psychological symptoms: irritability, mood swings with emotional lability, an inability to focus or get much done. With increasing memory loss she had confusion and disorientation. Anxiety, and then panic attacks became prominent. Other physical symptoms intensified: night sweats and fevers, headaches, tingling sensation, a feeling of bugs crawling under her skin, weakness making it hard to walk at times, generalized pain with more joint pains with swelling, chills, insomnia, weight loss, cold intolerance, blurred vision and other strange changes in vision, ringing in the ears, painful and swollen glands, air hunger and more. She seemed to have everything on the expansive list of possible Lyme symptoms.
Her family doctor reaffirmed his prior diagnosis: there was nothing wrong. He repeated blood work including a Lyme test - everything was normal.
She came to the diagnosis of Lyme on her own, as so often happens; then she came in to see me.
After 18 months of intensive treatment for Lyme disease and coinfections, she has improved tremendously. Her life is back.
Fantastic news. A pending bill in Virginia will require all doctors to inform patients about the pitfalls of the test whenever they order a Lyme. Hopefully this will inform doctors as much as it does patients.