My Friend Bert

When I was diagnosed with Lyme disease I decided to take a natural and holistic approach to my treatment which was recommended by my chiropractor.

Part of my treatment plan consisted of taking a few ounces of different herbal tinctures at breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition, I would take liquid vitamins and minerals throughout the day. Thus, I needed some sort of measuring device. I knew I would be doing this treatment for a few months so I didn’t want the standard medicine cup. This is when Bert entered my life. Although Bert resembled a duck, he had the cutest puppy-dog face. He always knew how to make me smile when I took my medicine. I mean look at him….

unnamed-1 unnamed

Like any good friend, we’ve been through a lot together. There were days when I wasn’t feeling good and wanted to throw him across the room. Other days, I was happy to see him and gladly took my medicine because I knew it was essential for healing. We’ve also traveled many places together because I had to take my medicine almost everywhere I went. Whether it was to class, restaurants, track meets, or vacations Bert always came with me. Although we had to deal with many weird looks and stares from people as they watched me pull out my lunch bag full of my medicine bottles, Bert always had my back.

As you can see, I tried to make light of the situation. And this would be my suggestion to anyone dealing with Lyme disease. Learn to find joy in the little things.

Stay lively my friends,

– The Lively Lymie

P.S. For more information about my natural approach to treatment you can read this article: http://asecondopinionmag.com/archives/1927

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Do Limes Cause Lyme?

What is Lyme disease? Well, that’s a great question. Once somebody asked me if I got it from eating too many limes. As odd as that sounds, most people know nothing about Lyme. After reading this blog post, I hope you have a better understanding of this complex disease.

Definition 

Tick Diagram
Diagram of the relative sizes of tick species at various life stages. Courtesy of the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance.

Lyme disease (also called borreliosis) is an infectious illness caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria (spirochete) called Borrelia Burgdorferi that is most commonly transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged (deer) tick. However, recent evidence suggests Lyme may be transferred in other ways such as being bit by infected mosquitoes, fleas and other types of ticks.

In addition, the tick may release other forms of bacteria including Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, Mycoplasma and viruses. These are known as co-infections of Lyme disease, which definitely complicate the diagnosis and treatment.

Symptoms 

Bull's-Eye Rash
Bull’s-Eye Rash

Early symptoms:

  • Bull’s-Eye rash
    •  However, more than 50% of Lyme patients don’t recall seeing a rash or even being bit by a tick
  • Flu-like symptoms
    • Stiff neck, swollen lymph nodes, fever and chill, lack of energy

If left untreated symptoms become more chronic and severe:

  •      Headaches, dizziness or fainting
  •      Poor memory and concentrating
  •      Difficulty sleeping and night sweats
  •      Partial loss of facial muscle control (Bell’s palsy)
  •      Numbness or tingling in arms or legs
  •      Depression and mood swings
  •      Fatigue
  •      Chest pain and palpitations
  •      Joint and back pain (Arthritis)

These symptoms may wax and wane for months or years after being infected. Some symptoms can become so debilitating that it leaves people in wheelchairs, bedridden or death in severe cases.

Testing for Lyme

There is much controversy over how to diagnose someone with Lyme. First of all, Lyme is difficult to diagnose because of the multitude of symptoms that mimic other diseases such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and many other diseases – hence it’s coined “The Great Imitator”. In addition, many conventional testing such as the ELISA and Western Blot tests have been proven unreliable. There are even some physicians who believe Lyme disease does not exist and the symptoms are in the patient’s head. Thus, leaving many people with Lyme misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.

Treatment

Once again, there is great controversy and confusion about how to properly treat Lyme. The standard care for a newly infected person is to treat with a short course of an antibiotic such as Doxycycline. Most patients have had positive outcomes. However, if it becomes chronic Lyme disease there is not a standard treatment. Many doctors treat with various oral and/or IV antibiotics for many months. The results of this have been disappointing. Some have gotten better, but much more have seen a relapse in their symptoms. At this point, patients are often told there are no further forms of treatment. This has caused many people to look into integrative and alternative approaches.

A Hidden Epidemic

Lyme disease has traveled far beyond the boundaries of where it was first located in Lyme, Connecticut. Today, Eastern and upper-Midwestern parts of the country are primarily the affected areas. But there has been an increasing number of reported cases throughout the nation.1990-2013map_350dpi

According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease infects more than 300,000 people a year. This is 10 times the amount of people previously reported. In addition, new Lyme cases are now four times more commonly reported per year than new cases of HIV/AIDS. And those are just the actual reported cases. The CDC has also labeled it as the fastest growing vector-borne (transmitted by blood-sucking insects) infectious disease in the United States.

Hopefully, in the near future there will be less controversy surrounding Lyme disease so the energy can be spent developing better diagnostic and treatment options. But at least you now know eating limes doesn’t cause Lyme. So, go ahead and enjoy that lime in your Corona!

Stay lively my friends,

-The Lively Lymie

Relationship Status With My Health: It’s Complicated.

Boy, oh boy. Where do I start? Let’s just say if I were in a Facebook relationship with my health, our status would be “it’s complicated”. Let me tell you why with an infographic I made using Piktochart:

Lively Lymie (1)

As you can see, my health and I have a long history – mainly due to Lyme disease. Many people associate Lyme with getting bite by a tick. However, I don’t remember being bit by a tick and I never had a bullseye rash (an indicator of having Lyme). Now knowing the symptoms, I probably contracted Lyme in the spring of 2007 when I began experiencing pain in my ankle. The multiple symptoms I had over the years such as foggy memory, general fatigue and back pain were either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed (because there are a multitude of symptoms similar to other diseases, Lyme disease is often referred to as “The Great Imitator”).

Over time the symptoms became more pronounced and lasted longer. Eventually, it got to the point where it was difficult to function in everyday life. It took three or four times as long to do homework and I would sleep at least 11 hours a day. I was one of the top runners in the state of Minnesota since 7th grade, but by the end of 10th grade it started to affect my performance. It eventually got to the point where I couldn’t run and it hurt to walk or lie around throughout the day. In fact, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to run again.

It wasn’t until March of 2012 when I was officially diagnosed as having chronic Lyme disease, along with many other co-infections. The past few years have been full of highs and lows, as I’ve battled this disease. I’ve gone to numerous doctors in different states. Furthermore, I’ve tried different treatments and diets. I’ve been told that I’ve been Lyme free, just to go back and find out I still have it. There’s a lot of confusion and controversy surrounding Lyme, but I’ve always remained hopeful and trusted in my doctors and treatments.

Currently, as of January 19, 2015, I’m done with my Lyme treatment! However, I’m still in the process of healing my leaky gut, thyroid and immune system – which were all related to my Lyme disease.

Just like any relationship, it takes time and work to remain healthy. My status with my health may be “it’s complicated” – but it’s a work in progress!

Stay lively my friends,

– The Lively Lymie

The Preblog.

I wasn’t sure what to entitle this post because I feel that I need to give you an insight into why I’m creating this blog before I just start writing away – hence, the term preblog.

Blogging. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never really knew where to start and always seemed to find an excuse not to do it. Well, this all changed when I walked into my social media marketing class on the first day, sat down and was told I had to create a blog and write one blog post per week for the entire semester. “Say what? I have to do what?” I thought. Why did I feel so uneasy about blogging when it’s something I’ve wanted to do? Maybe it’s because I had no idea what I was going to blog about. I’m not an overly opinionated person, so I knew writing critiques would not be my forte. I thought about doing a food blog or a health/fitness blog, but I didn’t have an overwhelming desire to pick those as my topics. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I knew all along what I wanted to do… but that would involve writing about myself and something that has greatly affected my life. I’ve never been the type of person to talk about myself. I’m not sure why, but I would rather tell or hear someone else’s story. However, starting today – with this blog, I will share glimpses into my life and what it’s like to live with Lyme disease.

I’m not exactly sure what this blog will encompass. But hopefully by putting my thoughts on paper (or should I say computer screen?) and sharing my experiences, a story will unfold that will help or inspire someone else. I guess only time will tell. So for now…

Stay lively my friends,

– The Lively Lymie

P.S. I’ll give you a more formal introduction in my next (real) blog post.