Letter: National Lyme Disease Awareness Month
May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, chronic Lyme disease is one of the most debilitating diseases there is. The challenge is that many people go for years and even decades before getting properly diagnosed and treated. Instead, we are made to feel crazy or a hypochondriac thanks to our vague and intermittent symptoms.
Here’s the crux of the problem: The current testing methods and diagnosing criteria promoted by the CDC are completely inadequate. Standard lab tests only look at a few strains and are less than 50 percent accurate. Lyme is fairly easy to diagnose clinically when one is properly trained. Most Lyme-literate medical doctors back up their clinical findings with a test through IgeneX. The IgeneX test is the most accurate and reliable test that is currently available. Knowing how to properly interpret the results is another matter. One of my doctors looked at the results and told me the good news, that I was negative for Lyme. My Lyme doctor took a detailed medical history, said his clinical observations confirmed Lyme and that same test was a “slam dunk.”
Many people suffer from Lyme disease and never know it because they wrongly believe that you need to be bit by a deer tick and have a red bull’s-eye to confirm Lyme. Most people never remember a tick bite, and many of us never had a rash or sickness after our bites. Also, every biting insect has been shown to carry Lyme and co-infections like Bartonella, Babesia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, etc. Women can pass it on to their children through the placenta and breast milk. Recent research indicates that it may be sexually transmitted, as well.
If you have developed an autoimmune disease, thyroid issues, neurologic symptoms, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and you are not getting better, perhaps it is time to investigate Lyme disease as the root of your problems. Your challenge will be to find a doctor to properly evaluate and treat you. As far as I know, there are only three medical professionals in Colorado who are capable of treating chronic Lyme disease. These doctors have long waiting lists. If you want to find a qualified doctor, please visit http://www.ilads.org for a list of doctors near you. Based on my experience, I would only trust an International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society-affiliated doctor to treat chronic Lyme disease.
With 300,000 and growing new Lyme diagnoses each year, the demand for medical professionals who can properly diagnose and treat chronic Lyme disease is critical. The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society provides great training to help medical professionals get up to speed quickly. Contact it at http://www.ilads.org. If all doctors were familiar with the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease, fewer patients would have to suffer through unnecessary and dangerous tests, multiple ER visits and side effects of drugs that make things worse.
Over the years, I have been a huge consumer of medical services. There were so many opportunities where a doctor could have helped me tremendously by just saying, “Have you considered Lyme disease?” Instead, I would get the deer-in-the-headlights look and a prescription for antidepressants and leave the office in tears. Doctors, if your patients are not responding to usual treatments, they continue to decline and you don’t know what to do with them, please consider Lyme disease.
Chronic Lyme disease is real; I’ve been living with Lyme my entire life and have been extremely ill for the past eight years. Yet I was only diagnosed and began treatment last year. If anyone wants to contact me about Lyme disease or if I can help in any way, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do get bit by a tick, insist on receiving a strong course of antibiotics immediately. Don’t wait for symptoms to show up. The only way to protect yourself once you’ve been bit is to take aggressive action.
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