Last week I read the disturbing news reported by the CDC that as many as 300,000 Americans are actually diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. These newly reported statistics are ten times higher than in previously reported years.
I am writing today because these figures are no surprise to millions of people, like me, who suffered with a variety of unrelated illness for years before being properly diagnosed. I also want to let people know that there is hope and help on the way. Don’t give up!
When I was finally diagnosed in 2006, I was deathly ill and I didn’t know I was battling “the Great Imitator,” Lyme disease. My life was hijacked for years by the organisms carried by a miniscule, miserable tick. Every system in my body was affected. I couldn’t imagine going on much longer as I fell apart by the inch.
I sought help from more doctors than I care to remember – no one was able to help. I can still see the doctors’ glazed over eyes, the apathy, and the impatience. I can still feel the helplessness and humiliation I felt as I was referred to a psychiatrist. Was I crazy? I didn’t think so, but I made the appointment anyway.
After hearing my story, this wonderful doctor told me that I was NOT crazy, but had, in his opinion, some type of infection that was probably related to Lyme disease. He said this cluster of debilitating illnesses was probably the work of the new “Great Imitator.”
(A title, once bestowed upon syphilis, is now used to describe the action of Lyme disease. Both Lyme and syphilis organisms share stealth capabilities; and, the ability to physically change shape, in order to avoid detection by the immune system by corkscrewing their way through cell walls.)
My doctor urged me to follow up with a Lyme specialist. I did, and was fortunate to get an appointment with a renowned, Lyme-literate doctor who has had success treating over 12,000 patients spanning his 26-year career.
My wonderful physician, Dr. Richard Horowitz, has seen me through the nearly unbearable challenges I faced fighting several tick-borne diseases and multiple co-infections. This outstanding diagnostician helped me find my way back to health again.
I owe my life to the excellent care I received from these two remarkable, compassionate, astute doctors. I can now drive again. I can stand up without falling over. I can speak and swallow again. I can find my way home without getting lost. I am able to sleep through the night without pain. I am able to actively participate in family activities and enjoy living again.
Lyme and the host of tick-borne diseases (new variants are being discovered every year) are very difficult to diagnose, as many presenting symptoms mimic other illnesses. Sometimes a Lyme diagnosis is truly one of exclusion. This fact is not surprising in light of the fact that there is no definitive blood test that reliably detects all tick-borne infections and co-infections. This may well explain the ten-fold increase in Lyme disease cases reported by the CDC. Doctors and patients now know tick-borne diseases can be found in every state in the Union. It may be that a differential diagnosis of Lyme disease is now being more often considered when evaluating chronically ill patients.
I urge anyone suffering from any tick-borne disease or chronic illness that is not getting better with your current treatment plan, to immediately seek the advice, or a second opinion, from a Lyme-literate doctor. Most Lyme support groups are willing to share the names of Lyme specialists in your area.
For fellow sufferers, especially those with chronic illness who are not able to see a Lyme-literate doctor, you may be interested to know that Dr. Horowitz has written a book entitled, "WHY CAN'T I GET BETTER? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease." The book is scheduled for release in hardcover and e-reader formats on 11/12/13 at bookstores everywhere.
Please remember, you are not alone. You are not crazy. Real help is out there, really!