It has now been well over two years since I was physically able to spend more than 5-10 minutes on the back of a horse. In the summer of 2010 I began having some serious health problems that has taken me the past four years to figure out. Initially we thought my problems were all caused by endocrine issues. As it turns out though, what had been the best riding summer of my life had also had been the summer that I had unknowingly been infected with Lyme Disease.
Why am I writing about this here? I am writing about this here to help prevent you from going through the same hell, from facing financial ruin while you pay for the treatments you need that your insurance will not cover, and most importantly, from being robbed of your precious health and the ability to live your life and do what we love most, ride. I got Lyme Disease while riding my horses though the beautiful, tick infested, rolling hills and woods of the Bluegrass in Lexington, KY where I lived happily for 15 glorious years.
Following is a short educational article that I wrote after hundreds upon hundreds of hours dedicated to researching this silent, debilitating, and misunderstood epidemic. Yes, it is an epidemic. It is the number one fastest growing vector-born illness in the WORLD. I now have Late Stage Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease, and I am told by the best Lyme specialists in the world that I will never fully eradicate the bacteria from my body, that all I can hope for now is remission. Please trust me when I say that you do not want to go through what I have been through, so please read the piece I wrote, educate yourself, and above all else, PROTECT yourself, your families, and your horses and dogs.
Here it is...
After a very long, extremely frustrating, and arduous battle to find out what the heck is going on inside my body, as of today, I finally have answers. It turns out that my body is host to an unwanted house guest. His name is Borrelia burgdorferi. The infection he gave me is Late Stage Neuroborreliosis, more commonly known as Lyme Disease. Not only that, but Bb, as he is called for short, brought his buddies- see he likes to travel in packs. The friends he brought to the party are Babesia and Bartonella.
Now, before you blow it off as no big deal.. I implore you to please educate yourself. Watch the documentary Under Our Skin on youtube to start. I will post a slew of educational web links later. You and your loved ones are NOT safe from this disease that we have all been led to believe only exists in New England, USA. This bacteria has been found infecting humans, animals, and birds on nearly every continent- the only place it is not found is in the far polar regions. There are people on my online Lyme forums from all over the world, every state in the US, and every province in Canada. This disease knows no state, provincial, or country border and it hitchhikes on mammals, and even more disturbingly, migratory birds, which explains how it has spread like wildfire. There is an ever increasing body of evidence that puts forth that Lyme and Co. is spread to humans through other means besides just tick bites, ie: mosquitoes. The medical community and the CDC make it sound like Lyme just gives you short lived Flu-like symptoms, and some muscle and joint aches.
I am here to warn you that there is so much more. SO. MUCH. MORE.
Honestly, I would not wish this disease on my very worst enemy. It is not at all what mainstream medicine has led us to believe. There are so many things that the majority of doctors just simply don't know about this disease, and an insane amount of things that they were completely WRONG about. Lyme Disease can mimic over 300 other diseases, including Lupus, MS, Parkinson's, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There are over 100 different known strains of Borrelia, just in N. America alone, over 300 worldwide. Our blood tests in the US can currently only detect 3. I myself have personally have seen no less than a dozen different doctors over the last several years trying to figure out what in the world is causing my bizarre symptoms. I have had numerous other diagnoses. I have been told everything from-"It's all in your head" to "Just drink coffee like everyone else" to "You're just lazy," and "That's just part of getting old"- I was 25 years old the first time I heard that particular one. All these seemingly unrelated symptoms that I have, three notebook pages worth of them, can all be traced back to and caused by Lyme. Another myth they have fed us- the one about the hallmark bullseye rash, well let me set that straight right now... Lyme does NOT always cause a bullseye rash in patients, a rash presents in only 30-40% of patients. Also, Lyme does not always immediately produce symptoms.
I specifically asked to be tested for Lyme, just days after pulling an attached and engorged tick off of me, while sitting in a doctor's office presenting classic flu-like Lyme symptoms in Late JULY and was LAUGHED at by the doctor who told me that "We don't have Lyme Disease in KY, and even if we did, you don't have the bullseye rash." If that ignorant, arrogant ass of a doctor had given me a month's worth of doxycycline at that time, I may not be velcroed to my bed and couch now. What's more, this insidious disease can lurk in your body for exceedingly long periods of time, just waiting. It hides out in some people without them even having the faintest clue, until one day something suppresses the immune system, like stress, injury, or other illness..and Borrelia b. gets a foothold. To add insult to injury, it is EXTREMELY difficult to test for this disease, the testing is horribly unreliable. It is known to produce many false negatives, which leads to missed diagnosis and a suffering patient who goes untreated, sometimes for as long as a dozen years or more, like so many people I know. Furthermore, even if you do happen to test negative through bloodwork- you may STILL actually be infected with Lyme Disease. States like VA have a state law that requires physicians to tell you that a negative Western Blot or Elisa test does not mean that you don't have Lyme Disease, and I sincerely hope all 50 states soon follow suit. If you have had Lyme Disease for a long time, the bacteria most often has burrowed deep inside your tissues and no longer shows up in the blood, and your immune system is too suppressed to make antibodies against it. The sneaky buggers can also go into stealth mode, living in slimey bio films or cyst forms that are not detectable by the immune system. They can literally shapeshift. They are crafty little devils, I'll give 'em that. And, even once you do find out what this organism is that is wreaking havoc with every organ system in your body, the hardest part of all is finding a doctor who will treat you properly, or more often than not, to treat you at all. It is a travesty. Lyme Disease is the number one, fastest growing vector born disease in North America. The CDC just recently revised it's numbers in 2013, finally admitting that the number of people newly infected with Lyme Disease each year is TEN TIMES HIGHER than what they had originally thought. The doctors on the front line of this disease still consider the new number to be VERY conservative. The only time that the standard mainstream treatment, a 30 day course of antibiotics has a real shot at fully eradicating Lyme is when you catch it right away, within 1-30 days after being bitten. After that, you're in for a rough and very painfully loooooooong road like me and so many others I know...
Here is a list of some of the symptoms that Lyme can cause- this is not an exhaustive list, just some of the more common symptoms.
If you have been bitten by a tick or any other blood sucking insect, and currently have or have in the past had a bullseye rash, or *any* rash of unknown origin, or ANY of the symptoms listed above, it is absolutely crucial that you purchase a test kit from Igenex laboratories in CA http://www.igenex.com/Website/
and have your blood drawn for testing. Igenex has the most accurate testing available today, it is MUCH more sensitive than a standard Western Blot or Elisa test. Please don't forget, just because the test comes back negative doesn't mean it can't still be Lyme Disease. The sooner you begin treatment the better your chance of regaining your health. You will need to find an ILADS trained Lyme Literate Doctor to help guide you on your healing path. Please see www.ilads.org
for help in finding an ILADS trained Lyme specialist. The quicker you begin treatment the better chance you have of living a normal life again without permanent organ damage, neurological and central nervous system damage, cardiac dysfunction, or permanent disability.
Everyone who knows me well knows I am nothing if not a survivor. I have done what the doctors said was impossible many times before and I will do it again! Just stayed tuned.. Lyme and Co is just my current Everest. Please wish me blessings on the journey!!