A city girl from Denver learns the source of her chronic suffering…
and discovers that Lyme disease can strike anywhere
By Linda Warner, guest blogger
Let me start by saying that I am an overcomer of many things. I grew up in a very abusive alcoholic home, where my parents struggled to put food on the table. I left my home at 16 to enter an abusive relationship with my daughter’s father. I stayed in the relationship far too long, but knew it was not what God’s plan was for me. I put myself through school, even going on to get an MBA. I ended that relationship. But nothing has been more draining to overcome the Diagnosis of LYME. I know that God has given me the strength and the tools to overcome anything.
I am not sure when I got bitten by a tick. I experienced no bulls eye rash. What I did experience, seemingly from out of the blue, was bone-deep achiness and endless fatigue and anxiety. Psychiatrists diagnosed me with everything from PTSD to BiPolar. As a single parent, marathoner and hard driving, middle-aged sales rep for a major global pharmaceutical company, I told myself this was normal. After all, my work had me in and out of doctors’ waiting rooms all day long — of course I would be prone to picking up whatever the patients were bringing in. Plus, wasn’t this what all “women of a certain age” go through? One fall day in 1989, driving to a sales call, I literally fell asleep at the wheel. I awoke after colliding with a tow truck. While the truck driver was fine, I suffered a back injury and my body ached worse than ever.
The accident really scared me and served as a virtual “wake up” call to get help. Surrounded by doctors at my job, I had easy access to a wealth of professional advice and diagnoses. And everybody pretty much said the same thing: It was all stress and anxiety.
Thus began a cycle that always began with a deep pressure behind my eyeballs. I’d visit my doctor, who would diagnose a sinus infection – never mind that my nasal passages were absolutely clear. Within a few days on antibiotics, the pressure would lift and I would feel better. But soon the symptoms would reappear, and the cycle would begin again. And that’s the way it was day after day. It was like that tow truck kept hitting me again and again. I popped antibiotics and antidepressants like candy. They were my lifeline, lifting the pain and anxiety and weariness just enough to keep me going.
In 2005, attracted to Colorado’s sunshine and clean air, I moved my family to Denver. After a short hiatus, I took a new job. I was still calling on doctors, but this time they were integrative and holistic, using many different kinds of nontraditional therapies. It was here that I learned about neurotransmitter testing.
As a pharmaceutical rep, I already knew that neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that act as messengers in the body, and that they are required for proper brain and body functions. From these new integrative physicians, I learned that since physical and psychological challenges can cause variations in neurotransmitter levels, it’s helpful to measure them.
Holding out little hope, I agreed to neurotransmitter testing. My results came back high for inflammation, glutamate and GABA. As a result, my doctor urged that I start an anti-inflammatory diet, which I expected…but I never expected she’d also recommend additional testing for Lyme. After all, that’s something campers in Wisconsin get, right? I spend most of my time in my car in Colorado!
Needless to say, I was skeptical. But I was also sick and tired of being sick and tired. So I agreed to what my doctor called a “one-two punch”: traditional Western Blot testing, which detects Lyme antibodies, plus a new test called iSpot Lyme, which measures Lyme antigen-specific T cells. By testing for both antibodies and T cells, she told me, there would be a better chance of finding where Lyme might hide. (Full disclosure: iSpot Lyme was developed by a lab affiliated with my employer.)
My results: I was definitely positive for Lyme, with my iSpot Lyme test showing over five times the limit for a positive diagnosis. Under my doctor’s care, I immediately began aggressive, targeted treatment. I have been through many courses of Antibiotics, and other medications and herbs to address the inflammation, biofilms, candida parasites and co-infections. I have recently been adding frequency treatments.
Recently, I was retested. Although the Lyme bacteria are still present, they are now at much lower levels. Better yet, the deep achiness and fatigue have subsided and I am nearly off my medications. I am beginning to get my life back. I enjoy spending time with my teen children and grand baby. I am learning to support my immune system and pray I can find full remission of this dreadful disease.
Where did a city girl from Denver get Lyme? It’s hard to say, but as I trace back my symptoms, I recall they started shortly after a business trip to Tennessee. After three weeks of sales training, I unwound with a leisurely bike ride through a cool, deep forest. Who knew that what should have been a relaxing end to a long business trip would be the beginning of a quarter-century search for the source of my pain?
Through this journey, I have become a passionate advocate for Lyme disease testing. It’s a common misconception that if you don’t live in New England or the Upper Midwest, you can’t get Lyme. Today, everyone is so mobile that even if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with few ticks, you probably still visit places that do. And all it takes is a single bite from a critter smaller than a poppy seed. Lyme mimics symptoms of other diseases, so it’s hard to pin down. Like me, if you don’t get the famous bulls eye rash, most doctors won’t diagnose it. And, like me, if you’re diagnosed incorrectly, it can lead to years of suffering. The symptoms that proved most bothersome for me were gut wrenching anxiety, fatigue , brain fog and achiness. The best way to be sure is to get tested. It can give you peace of mind knowing whether you are positive or not …wherever you call home.