Lyme Disease. What the heck is Lyme Disease?? And why is it only popping up now? And how do you know that when my blood is still sitting in that lab pick-up box outside?
The doc gave me a quick rundown of what Lyme Disease is, and what it does.
This is what was explained to me then:
Lyme Disease is contracted from ticks. Sometimes you get the tell-tale bulls-eye rash, sometimes you don’t (I didn’t). Sometimes (like me) you don’t even know you were bitten.
The Lyme virus is something called a spirochete. And it’s corkscrew-shaped. This shape allows Lyme to travel anywhere in the body…blood, organs, bone, nerves, and even through the blood-brain barrier. And oh, by the way, it can infect an unborn baby, so my kids who were both under 10 at the time should be tested as well.
Lyme is the great pretender, meaning it’s often misdiagnosed as a whole slew of other ailments depending on what symptoms manifest when. But there are telltale signs which I had three:
– Achy joints, usually starting in the larger joints like hips, knees, etc.
– Shoulder blade pops or grinding with movement, for no particular reason.
– And the strange pain I had in my arm and leg.
Chronic Lyme disease, which he suspected I had, is Lyme that has gone past the initial infection after a bite. Usually, when someone finds a tick bite and it develops the bulls-eye rash, doctors will immediately prescribe a course of antibiotics, usually for about a month, and that theoretically takes care of the infection before it can travel to other systems of the body. In chronic Lyme, the infection has traveled, spread, and possibly mutated in ways that the conventional treatment can’t touch. It can lie dormant, or unnoticed (the great pretender) for years (like mine), all the while spreading.
And then I got an answer to the question of why I was always feeling or getting sick. My doc described chronic Lyme as the teenager who lets their friends (other illness) into the movie theater through the back door unnoticed. A way I explain it now (because I’m a nerd like that) is that chronic Lyme is the Jedi that tells your antibodies, “these are not the germs you are looking for,” as new bacteria/viruses/germs come in, and your body just doesn’t fight them. Lyme Disease, chronic or otherwise, did not sound like something I wanted to have!
After the brief explanation, he handed me a prescription for oxycodone for the pain, some more information reading on Lyme, and a referral to a neurologist for a spinal tap to check for MS, just in case. He said the office would call when all my results were back in 7-10 days and we’d go from there.