Lyme disease is something that most of us have heard about, but something we don’t really talk about, after all it can only be contracted in the USA, right? We couldn’t be more wrong and now Joanne of http://joanne-orangecottages.blogspot.co.uk/ wants to share her cautionary tale about the unforgiving Lyme disease.
As one of the thousands of hobby gardeners I put my arthritis pains and stiffness down to the hours I spend working in the garden. That was until I became seriously ill and barely able to get out of bed with severe joint pain in my hips and shoulders which eventually affected just about every joint in my body over time. I also struggled with weakness in my upper arms and upper legs.
Over four years I saw five doctors and three rheumatologists; I was retired early from the Civil Service on ill health grounds and as my symptoms progressed was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, Musculoskeletal disease and Poly myalgia rheumatic. A chance course of antibiotics improved my symptoms and led my GP to suspect a bacterial infection – Lyme disease. My records showed a history of bites, rashes, summer flu and migrating arthralgias, untreated by the doctors I saw.
Most career gardeners will say, “Oh yes I know about Lyme disease”, some hobby gardeners may also say, “Oh yes I know about Lyme disease”, but although I ‘knew’ about Lyme Disease I had never once in the 57 years of gardening, reading about gardens and watching gardening programs heard that Lyme Disease could be contracted here in the UK, in Surrey where I live, I thought it was a disease exclusive to USA.
Lyme disease is not the only disease ticks can pass on to humans when they bite us, it rather depends on where they had their previous blood meal, usually verminous creatures. We humans are frequently infected by tiny poppy seed-sized ticks and as the bite doesn’t itch we are not always aware of being bitten. The classic bull’s eye rash so often talked about is not seen in about 40% of cases and the blood tests (antibody tests) according to research can miss 50% of cases.
Not every tick is infected with Lyme disease (Borrelia) and not every tick bite will pass on the disease but research in this field is sparse, nevertheless it is of no consequence what the statistical data says if you are the one person infected.
Lyme disease can sometimes be held under control by our immune system and not become problematic until years later maybe due to further infected bites, stress, accident, or other health problems affecting our immune system.
There is a lack of patient and doctor awareness of this complex disease; it is no simple bacterial infection, it is a spirochetal disease and like its dumb cousin syphilis is capable of chronic incapacitating illness with many serious consequences. Lyme disease can affect every system and organ in the body thus presenting with a multitude of symptoms neurological, psychiatric, arthritic, heart block, meningitis etc
If caught in the early stages and treated adequately with appropriate antibiotics it can prevent longer lasting health problems for most people.
There are two standards of care over treatment for this disease; UK charity Lyme Disease Action has detailed information for patients and clinicians.
I was fortunate in having an open minded GP who eventually considered Lyme disease as a differential diagnosis and was prepared to treat me on longer courses of antibiotics as I continued to recover.
As you will see by visiting my garden blog I am once again able to garden and enjoy life.
More information can be found here: http://www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/