The Ephemeral Curse of Lyme Disease

Coming to Terms With Reality

Many of us are naive enough to believe that an infection is something which yields an illness of a specific duration. Colds and flus pass through our lives with a fairly specific duration. We understand there are things which are chronic but generally we expect them to come to an end. Such was the case when I receive a visit from Lyme Disease and the spirochetes which cause it.

An Erratic Course of Diverse Symptoms

Diverse symptoms confused the picture. I thought I was getting old. Well, I was but that was not the primary issue. Finally my wife told me I had most of the symptoms suffered by her friends who had Lyme Disease. The blood test I took was negative. Later I learned the blood test is completely unreliable but practitioners were too often relying on it anyway. I never had the bullseye rash and evidently most people don’t. We were told we got it from ticks and now they have decided mosquitos also convey it. Finally I tried a course of antibiotics anyway and suddenly was getting my life back. It was clear I had Lyme Disease and got better. My course was a year without major symptoms and then a year of barely perceptible steady decline.

What I didn’t expect was that I would then suffer a seemingly free year and then a decline again. That pattern repeated again and my denial was finally broken when the fourth episode made it clear to me that I had a chronic disease.

Unfortunate Revelations

I was very disappointed. Over ten years I learned that not only did we have an unreliable blood test but that there was no vaccine for humans. There was a vaccine for dogs but pharmaceutical companies didn’t think it was profitable enough for humans. And while the epidemic infection raged on there was denial in the medical profession.

Endless List off Symptoms

No, there are not consistent symptoms. The spirochetes can attack anywhere in the body with unpredictable durations. My toes curled up and the damage was serious enough to require multiple surgeries. And now that I’m having it fought with a wide range of medications I suffer changing symptoms each day. Yes, there is fatigue, sudden joint swelling, aches and pains, brain fog and on and on. And I’ve learned that the little beasts can adapt so they are resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics. In one course the antibiotic suddenly stopped working. These creatures can put up a shell which protects them. But there is a way to pierce the shell if the physician is knowledgeable about it.

Go online and Google Lyme Disease. It is an eye opening experience.

An Uncertain Future

Quite frankly i feel had and can’t project my outcome. But this should not have happened and the epidemic should have  been contained early on. It is clearly time to improve our health care system and deal with a pharmaceutical industry which needs firm regulation. People are being victimized by out of control costs and poor attention to realistic needs.

It Feels Like An Infestation (Which It Is)

What is distinct about this disease process is that I can feel the reaction and resistance of the spirochetes. It feels like they are fighting back but with a variable arsenal of resistance. We tend to see an invading organism as being somewhat passive and that it can be overwhelmed. But in this instance they are not passive and have a variety of tactics. It is almost like there is an intelligence with an arsenal. And we, as humans, are far behind them. It is like living in a science fiction story.

Recommendations

My recommendations include not assuming the blood test is reliable, if you don’t see the bullseye rash don’t assume you haven’t been infected. Understand that medication may suddenly stop working. Know that symptoms may change very slowly and a return of Lyme may take months before you understand it is back. Understand that there are no typical symptoms and any sudden changes may reflect the disease. Above all, don’t be passive. If you have any hints of infection, study it on line and be vigilant. It is not immediately lethal but can cloak your life in fatigue and serious ongoing consequences. May the force of resistance be with you. And let’s hope our understanding and response improves.

What to do? Seek treatment at once. Study the latest information on line. Be vigilant. Stay with treatment beyond the basic period. Response is still developing so stay on it and continue to seek information.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Orlando! The Meaning and Impact of Mental Illness IV

 

 

Dealing with Life

Each of us can be placed on dimensions of a set of behaviors and processes. When there is mental illness is a matter of dispute and fashion. When mental illness is defined, too often it is a function of funding and professional achievement. That sounds obscure, but think about it for a moment.

When community mental health blossomed, we learned, at least in inner city poverty, that poverty is stressful (seriously?) if not just plain overwhelming. The social workers were closest to the truth and saw our intervention as “case management”. People get depressed and anxious when they are overwhelmed and when we helped them manage their difficult lives they became less anxious and less depressed. In a poverty environment it is appropriate to be deeply concerned or even terrified regarding the future of your children.

The senior professionals above us wanted the grant money, the status and wanted to perpetuate the establishment. The young staff saw things very differently.

Guidance and Management

Through all my professional experiences I have come to see humans as functioning on a series of dimensions which instructs our personal development, defines, guides or disrupts our functioning. Stress exists and causes serious functional problems. Somewhere in there are biologically based issues and without a doubt most of us need guidance from time to time. And some people benefit from exploration of the self which they may find in some form of what is called insight therapy.

Sorting Out Reality 

Overall, I would like to see us dismiss the concept of mental illness entirely. We can focus on problems associated with biochemical processes when essential and detach severe reactions caused by trauma. It would take time to reformulate the field but we certainly could become more effective and husband our resources. Problem solving and management are basic parts of all human endeavors. What do you think would happen if we started to diagnose corporations or political candidates? I doubt there would be much approval by the objects of such activities.

What happened at Orlando was a terrible tragedy but also opened a door where we find the opportunity for reevaluation on a variety of fronts. I know I’m crying out in the wilderness because there is a huge investment of various kinds in maintaining the status quo. But I can dreams can’t I? There might be a world where we are honest with ourselves, where we can be more efficient and effective and accept our complexity and variety of potentials.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Health Care Alternatives and Reality – Series – Pt. 2

Overcoming Innocence

A Lifelong Process

In a previous post I wrote about the lessons I learned from my father, a surgeon.  While he loved his profession, he also had deep reservations which he spoke to me about. It seems I took it in at a deep level because I was not exactly a rebel at such a young age. But over time I found myself having to clear my perception of all kinds of health care alternatives. And each time I found myself examining alternative pathways. And, looking back I think what was happening was that my intuitive personality was dictating that I search for alternatives and possibilities.

Searching Psychology

When I began my studies in college I was told psychology was a science. Well, of sorts. Definitely not hard science entirely. There was experimental psychology and there was clinical psychology. When I was accepted into graduate school at Duke it was in the experimental psychology program. it was a matter of a very few weeks before I walked into the chairman’s office and requested a change to clinical. Graciously he agreed.

Interface with Medicine

Early on we began clinical experience at Duke University Medical Center and eventually I did my internship there. It was eye opening. Up close and personal I interfaced with people I admired and some who horrified me even though they were highly respected. The echoes of my father’s positions were significant.

Now I’m Looking Back

Here it is decades later and I see a process of search and discovery. In this series I’m going to share my thoughts about health care and “treatment of illness”. Notice that there are quotation marks there. There are realities and there are dicta. I found myself weaving through a system which I saw as needing substantive modernization and reevaluation if not downright reform at all levels.

Rushing At the Future

And now we find ourselves being pressed into information technology and changes we are only now beginning to understand. The title of this blog is Cusp of Reality and I firmly believe that medicine resides on a vibrating cusp as well. In coming posts I’ll  be sharing my view of health care realities, misgivings about illness and diagnosis. I’ll be referring to revisions of definitions of illness, the difference between illness and life management. While much of what I experienced was in the psychological sphere, it is impossible to separate it from physiological, cultural and logical influences as well. We are on a rough road into the future and we need to explore and study what may lie before us. There I am again as the intuitive personality type facing a world of possibilities. But much of my viewpoint is conditioned  by experience. Jump on board and let’s explore together. 

What are your biggest concerns about health care?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt