Four years later after developing pain in my shins, I researched what could cause yet another unrelated symptom without an immediately identifiable cause: Lyme Disease was a possibility. My PCP ordered a tick borne disease test which revealed I had previous exposure to an acute infection of Lyme Disease and new infections of Babesia and Ehrlichiosis (fortunately my immune system produced sufficient antibodies so the tests returned positive). The sudden onset of the symptoms four years earlier now made sense – the onset of stress hampered my immune system that had been keeping previously untreated Lyme Disease relatively in check for many years. There were other symptoms in my medical history as far back as adolescence for which I previously had symptoms treated or simply lived with not understanding their cause.
I count my blessing that I was not only tested for Lyme Disease, but the other tick-borne infections as well otherwise they may not have been discovered for quite some time, delaying proper treatment. After three days of CDC recommended antibiotics and an anti-malarial medication, symptoms cleared up and my quality of life was greatly restored. But remained that way for only one year.
A year later following treatment for Lyme Disease, Babesia, and Ehrlichiosis, an insect bite appeared on my thigh. Although I found no tick attached (I had become very cognizant about tick checking daily, and certainly this was a very conspicuous location that would be very hard to miss) a textbook perfect bulls-eye rash developed seven day later. I knew it meant a new infection of Lyme Disease. I was retested and started on antibiotics right away. The results came back positive for Lyme Disease with no tick-borne co-infections. This time antibiotics did not work and I began exhibiting neurologic symptoms. A second course of CDC recommended treatment failed and I was given a recommendation to a tickborne disease specialist who is a MD. Three months of continuous antibiotic treatment resolved musculoskeletal symptoms then I switched to other antibiotics for neurological symptoms.
“You have MS” I was told by a neurologist 1 1/2 years into continuous treatment (I was aware that Lyme Disease with neurologic involvement is often misdiagnosed as MS). I declined MS therapy and continued with Lyme Disease treatment. It took another two years of treatment to be symptom clear and physically/mentally have my life back. I was even able to function without ADD medication. During the 3 1/2 years of treatment I continued to work but was compromised both at work and home. I was blessed with excellent insurance, sick time, FMLA, and a knowledgeable doctor (a rare combination I have learned from others).
Although I have recovered for now from the tick-borne infections the damage is still apparent. My immune system changed. I was assigned to work in a building that was water damaged with a history of mold about the time I finished treatment for Lyme Disease. After about eight months of working in this building, I experienced what I thought was a relapse of Lyme Disease symptoms. It took another two months to determine that the pattern of acute symptoms that manifested itself within minutes of entering the building would subside two to three days after last being in the building. Seeking evaluation from an Integrative Medicine practice that specializes in environmental illnesses, I tested positive for markers that indicate biotoxin illness due to mold. My immune system response to this causes neuro-inflammation the same way that the Lyme Disease did. Because my body does not easily detoxify from the toxins, I am being treated for that and until clear continue to have chronic symptoms.
When I learned of VALDCT, I decided to join to help others avoid acquiring tick-borne diseases and share some of what I have learned along this journey. Each member who has been afflicted with tick-borne infections or has had a loved one affected has a unique perspective and conviction to help others.