How Lyme has affected me
Prior to Lyme …
I lived a very active, fit, and healthy lifestyle. I was always on the go, often working multiple jobs at once while juggling school, competing in bodybuilding contests, getting involved in my church, a robust social life, etc.
I was known as the girl with boundless energy, often getting up at the wee hours of dawn to complete my high intensity training for the day, in addition to a several mile run, hill sprints, etc. My friends and family would dread hiking with me as I was notorious for “running” up the mountain, only to come home and complete another workout or more chores for the evening.
My immune system had always been robust, and others described me as being as strong and stout as an ox, even managing to stay well and not miss a day of work while employed in a bank where constantly exposed to bacteria and sickness.
It seemed nothing could get me down or if I did get knocked every once and awhile I’d quickly recover and was more than resilient. Until one day I started to notice things slowly beginning to shift…
The short story…
The first time I noticed a hiccup in my health was in 2010, when I woke up one morning with unexplained hives on the greater portion of my torso, back, and legs. I was living in the San Fernando mountains of Southern California, finishing my bachelors in Kinesiology at Cal State Northridge, and not in the least bit inhibited physically or mentally. It was common practice for us to be sprinting in the valley heat, hooked up to treadmills measuring our VO2 or total lung capacity, and engaged in land and pool therapy for our clients during student training. I had no prior issues other than a nagging former knee injury I incurred while running years earlier that sometimes flared up, but otherwise I was healthy as a horse.
Imagine my horror when the hives turned into heart palpitations, then chest and rib pain, then shortness of breath, gurgling fluid in my lungs, extreme fatigue, extreme bloating and GI trouble, headaches, severe neck stiffness and pain, inflammation in my skull (most probably meningitis), hormone problems, swollen glands, and trouble swallowing. It was a bizarre series of occurrences in my body, and yet, none of my multiple medical practitioners, not even my interest, ever once looked into testing me for Lyme.
I suffered 2 or 3 severe panic attacks, one of which occurring while driving on the freeway and completely blacking out and having all my extremities go numb, and the others landing me in the ER, but still, no one ever made mention of vector borne illnesses, even though I lived amidst scorpions, ticks, fleas, tarantulas, etc.
My internal medicine doctor made the diagnosis of PCOS, put me on metformin, and sent me on my way. I weaned off the medication two month later, completely reversing my blood panel through switching to a mainly raw, vegan diet. My energy levels slowly came back, but I still battled several unpleasant symptoms such as continued GI and digestion issues and other nagging issues.
Fast forward about 5 years and I am living out my wildest dream backpacking across Europe. Prior to arriving, I injured my left knee at the beginning of the year, and then severely pulled, tore, or otherwise injured soft tissue around my low back (Quadratus Lumborum and Psoas involvement most likely) a few months later…just shy of a week prior to my scheduled European departure.
Hard-headed and stubborn as I was, I strapped on my backpack, slipped on my vibram five fingers, and was off. After an agonizing red eye flight I landed in Germany in such a pain that I had never before experienced. After seeking treatment through a chiropractor and orthopedic surgeon who gave me homeopathic cortisone like injections, I healed very slowly, but knew something was definitely severely wrong.
After a month of too much activity and not enough rest, I hopped over to Turkey where I spent the first weekend with my host family up in the wild, untouched Taurus Mountains….hiking amidst sage brush, pine forest, and tall grass. All while wearing my vibrams, shorts, and no precaution taken whatsoever to any sort of tick or other agent that may be at large. No less than a few days later, I became extremely ill, barely able to awake after 8-10 hours of sleep, lightheaded, nauseous at times, dizzy, lack of appetite, short of breath, night sweats not attributed to the heat as living in an air conditioned building, and with a fatigue and pain so heavy and present that I rarely left my room for the better part of two weeks. And also, again a mysterious rash, not necessarily a bulls-eye, but definitely a raised bump on my upper back and possibly bites I attributed from fleas from the family dog on my legs. From there the pain continued, ebbed, flowed, but generally little by little I got worse, and my quality of life declined.
For a few months I could do some exercise, after the initial “traveler’s sickness,” as they deemed it, left; however, from plantar fasciatis, to numbness and tingling down my leg, to severe muscle spasticity and contraction, muscle twitches, and atrophy and loss of flexibility set in, I began to seek answers outside of the box of “musculoskeletal injury” that I, and every other person I sought treatment from, put me in.
From multiple physical therapists (3 different rounds and approaches to be exact), acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, orthopedic doctors, MRI’s of my thoracic, lumbar, and pelvic region, no one could figure out what was wrong or provide a solid answer. Even my own N.D. whom I had seen for the past 4 years, trusted, and loved, kept sending me home with no answers and no urgency to help, though the pain was so great at times I wondered if I could even keep going on.
It was only by the grace of God that Lyme was mentioned by a close family friend, and a few others whom God placed in my path along the way. And despite not wanting to face the reality that I could have been infected by a tick sometime during my travels or before, I sought a LLMD (lyme literate doctor) to test me, and after a couple more doctors, I finally find the one who had the good sense to order the Igenex test immediately, which came back a very resounding positive.
Although it was never a battle I wanted to take on or fight, I am so glad and so thankful to God that I now have a name and a plan in place to defeat this thing; and I SO intend to win.
Your story may be similar, or it may be very different. I count myself fortunate to have caught this fairly early enough to have somewhat of a fair fight. But even if not early enough, I still believe that there is always hope, and that there is nothing too big for my God to conquer and defeat. With Him, I can overcome even the darkest storm. And I pray that you have the courage to resist the billows and blows of the storm of life with chronic illness, or any other challenge you may face, as well.
Severe muscle pain; migratory, but mostly limited to right side of body, mid-thoracic-low back, glutes, etc, near sites of old injuries.
Mental fog and difficulty finding words and losing train of thought mid sentence
Poor short term memory
to be continued…