What Is Lyme Disease and Why All Of The Fuss?

Go Green Lyme Awareness Month

May is Lyme disease awareness month.

It is officially tick season. Summer is peeking around the corner and there are hints of warm, sunshine filled days. Green, growing things are sprouting up everywhere!

Along with all of this beauty comes the presence of creepy crawlies. Be aware that ticks are on the move. This small menace of the underbrush is often an unseen threat during the bright and beautiful summer season.

If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be, “Protect yourself.” Be sure to wear tick repellent. Believe me you do not want to risk getting Lyme disease.  Taking measures to prevent a tick bite is the best way to protect you and your family from this creeping vampire. The Most Effective Tick Repellents For Lyme Season, is a wonderful article written by Dr. Bill Rawls and Ellen Berman that mentions the many types of tick repellents available. 

These tiny carriers of infectious diseases are lurking in tall grasses, bushes and leafy trees. They even hitch rides on our pets and travel indoors, where they can find unsuspecting humans to munch on. Be sure to wear light colored clothing so that you can easily spot these tiny parasites and capture them before they have a chance to attach and increase your risk of Lyme disease and other infections.

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lyme disease awareness

What is Lyme disease and why all of the fuss? 

Do you remember those old commercials about drug use? They would hold up an egg and say,”This is your brain.” Then, they would crack the egg on a hot surface and it would sizzle and fry. Afterwards they would declare in a macabre voice, “This is your brain on drugs.” A simple illustration, yet it stuck! We need a television campaign just like this for Lyme disease awareness. 

I could use this exact same illustration to demonstrate what Lyme does to a body, except it would not be entirely accurate. Because a body with Lyme disease isn’t simply fried, it is destroyed from the inside out. It is ravaged and ransacked by spirochetes that bore deep into the body and brain. These tiny spirochetes are geniuses when it comes to reproducing and hiding from medications meant to kill it. It is like the plague that never ends, seriously!

Lyme is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria called Borrelia. This wicked disease is one of the most misunderstood illnesses on the planet. 

The bite of one small tick can wreak total havoc on a human life.

This misery can last a life time if proper treatment is not obtained. I know, because late stage Lyme disease has literally ruined my quality of life. It has taken any semblance of normalcy and dashed it beneath the stone of severe chronic illness. 

Years ago, when I was still in the midst of trying to figure out what was causing my health to deteriorate so quickly, Lyme disease never crossed my mind. It was never even on the radar. I wish now, that my doctors here in North Carolina had been more knowledgeable about this disease and the permanent and often irreversible damage that it can leave in its wake.

You can read more about my journey to a Late Stage Lyme disease diagnosis here: My Lyme Disease Story Part 1 and here: My Lyme Disease Story Part 2.

What is Lyme Disease-Lyme disease awareness month

What I didn’t know then…

I often think, “If only I had known…I could have possibly prevented so much of my own suffering.” It took me nearly nineteen years to reach the correct diagnosis of late stage Lyme disease. By that time, it was too late, permanent damage had been done to my heart and joints.

Instead of receiving a proper diagnosis, I became a walking advertisement for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and thyroid issues. At one point, I was told by a top neurologist that I most likely had Multiple Sclerosis.

I suffered through several terrible episodes of foot drop and Bell’s Palsy. After the most severe of these episodes, my doctor came to the conclusion that I might never walk normally again. Yet he could not tell me exactly what was wrong with me. A mini stroke disrupted my cardiovascular system and I was diagnosed with a heart block in my thirties.

Today, my joints are swollen and painful and arthritis has set in. The list goes on and on. The bottom line is that Lyme disease is the culprit behind all of these health issues and more.

Take a Bite out of Lyme

The devastating bite of Lyme disease.

I can tell you first hand just how devastating the bite of one Borrelia carrying tick can be. I will never know just when or where I was infected with Lyme disease. I have been bitten by numerous ticks in my life time. As a native North Carolinian, I was never made aware that I would ever need to worry about Lyme disease. I can however pinpoint a time when my health began its steady slide into chronic illness. 

The month of May is Lyme disease awareness month. The Lyme community makes a special effort during this month to share their stories in the hope of helping to raise awareness of this dreadful plague that is sweeping not only our nation here in the United States, but the world as a whole.

It has been said quite frequently, that Lyme is a thief.

It has stolen bits and pieces from my life until it barely resembles what it once was. I can no longer jump out of bed every morning and rush to meet the day and all of its challenges. I have to start each day at a snail’s pace and then slowly measure out how many tasks I am able for, depending upon the level of symptoms I am experiencing.

Lyme devastates, Lyme takes and takes, Lyme is a thief. Help us spread the word about Lyme disease, go green for the month of May. Keep reading below for 12 facts about Lyme disease that everyone should know.

Until next time, stay safe out there and be watchful for ticks,

Valerie

 

12 facts about lyme disease

12 Important Facts About Lyme Disease

  1. You do not have to present with a bull’s eye rash to have Lyme disease. Only 1 in 2 patients present with the typical bull’s eye rash.
  2. Some people never see the tick that bit them. Being bitten by a tick does not always mean you will get Lyme disease.
  3. Most ticks carry more than one disease, also known as co-infections.
  4. It often takes several years to get a diagnosis, which is really scary, because that is a long time to leave Lyme to its own devices multiplying in your body and wreaking havoc on your immune system.
  5. Nymph ticks are as small as a poppy-seed and look like a fleck of dirt or pepper. They can be as tiny as the period at the end of this sentence. So the likelihood of seeing them is slim to none!
  6. Lyme disease can mimic other illnesses like MS, ALS, Autism, Parkinson’s disease, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s and Chronic Fatigue among others!
  7. Lyme disease has been reported in every single state and on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica.
  8. Children are at a higher risk for contracting Lyme disease.
  9. Ticks numb your skin before biting, so you will not feel it and will likely only find it if you or someone else sees it!
  10. Health insurance often doesn’t cover the treatments for Lyme disease.
  11. The Lyme spirochete bacteria is hard to detect and hard to kill.
  12. Lyme testing is extremely unreliable, the most sensitive testing is through www.igenex.com.

How to remove a tick

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8 Responses to What Is Lyme Disease and Why All Of The Fuss?

  1. It took me 19 years to get a diagnosis of Lyme as well. Sucks to have to suffer for so long. Great post! Let’s keep spreading the word!

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Kim,
      I am so sorry that you have had to suffer like this too. Thank you so much for reading and your encouraging comment. Blessings, Valerie

  2. Liz Wilcox says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing all this info. My sister got tested and it came back negative. I keep telling her to try it again a different way because the tests are unreliable. Her face has been paralyzed since 2011, she suffers fatigue, and some other symptoms!

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Liz,
      Thank you! I’m so sorry to hear about your sister’s suffering. Please tell her to get a test done again by Ignex. They are by far the most accurate. I barely missed my Western Blot being positive by one band and tested glaringly positive with IGnex. So false negatives are definitely possible. I will be thinking of her and sending all the best in well wishes. Valerie

  3. Stacey says:

    Such good info!
    Stacey recently posted…5 Tips for Working While Chronically IllMy Profile

  4. Lynn says:

    Valerie, it makes me so angry that some NC doctors still absolutely refuse to recognize that Lyme exists in North Carolina, all over North Carolina! I think I have mentioned that my mom’s doctor told her people in this area don’t get Lyme. A tick in her yard gave me Lyme, with blood results to prove it. I did not realize your search for an answer was so many years in the works. Ugh. Thank you for making more people aware! Love and hugs! Lynn
    Lynn recently posted…Quilt tops, a River Walk, and KittiesMy Profile

    • ValerieB says:

      Dearest Lynn,
      Thank you for reading! It is total insanity the way the doctors here in NC are acting. I have rarely traveled outside this state and I have been bitten by numerous ticks here in NC. If your dear mom feels as if she may have Lyme or the like, I would be happy to share my doctor’s contact info. with you all. Just let me know via private message. 😉 Love and hugs and have a wonderful week,
      Valerie

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