How Lyme Affects us all

Lyme disease infiltrates a person’s life so thoroughly and sneakily it attacks organs, bodily systems, joints, tendons, and the autonomic nervous system randomly. Lyme and the associated co-infections also seriously compromise cognitive function. The constant intense physical pain, coupled with the utterly random attacks on the body and mind, can lead the person with the illness, as well as friends and family, to jump to the conclusion that there is an inherent mental or personality imbalance. In a lot of cases, by the time a person receives a diagnosis, the disease has gutted the person’s life physically, emotionally, financially, vocationally, and relationally. Such is the case with Joanna.

I ask you all to understand the randomness of this illness, which makes it so torturous. There may be 4 hours in a day when a person with Lyme feels normal to the point of good, then suddenly “wham”… so ill again, and back to bed, or sauna, or Epsom bath, or whatever one can do for relief. Maybe you saw them at the grocery store during the 4-hour “good” period, because they had to get their groceries quickly while they felt up to it. So that’s what sticks in your mind. Keep in mind; Lyme patients don’t always “look” sick. This is what makes it so hard on them. There is a prejudice… people often saying, “Well, you look fine!” Believe me; sometimes the amount of physical and psychological pain going on behind that fine look is indescribable!

I hope that Joanna’s friends, co-workers, and community members will have the sensitivity to congratulate her when they see her out and about for those few hours, and ask her how she’s doing, and if she needs anything. If you see her out and about it is cause for celebration and encouragement on your part, now that you know what she will probably be doing with the other 20 hours of the day when you don’t see her: intravenous medications and injections, swallowing countless prescriptions, trying to figure out what to eat that won’t irritate or exacerbate symptoms, reading up on treatments and sorting through that maze (on days when cognitive function allows reading), and then there’s countless trips to the Lyme Doctor in the U.S., the endocrinologist, the internist, the cardiologist, the rheumatologist, the blood draw lab, the pharmacy, the physiotherapist, and the naturopath.

This health issue is a concern for all of our friends and loved ones. Lyme is the fastest growing vector-borne disease in North America; far surpassing Aids and West Nile Virus, and has spread worldwide, affecting millions of people. Many people with unexplained fatigue, aches and pains, memory and concentration problems, sleep and mood disorders may in fact have Lyme disease and not know it. It has spread across the U.S., and is in Canada. It is especially problematic, since the blood tests to diagnose Lyme are known to be unreliable, and many people who have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ALS, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, and other autoimmune diseases in fact may have Lyme and associated tick-borne co-infections. Lyme disease is known in medicine as the “great imitator”, and is one of the biggest health challenges facing all of us in the 21st century. Please help us come together to help Joanna, and to fight this growing epidemic!

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