Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease Part II: The Depressed Hypochondriac

A continuation from my previous post: Lyme Disease Part I:The Slow Deterioration….

With my health slowly deteriorating over the span of seven years, I had visited my primary care physician more then a few times.  However, seeing his wife in clear distress, my husband requested that I return back to the doctor for yet another evaluation.  I did.  I recounted to the doctor the long list of ailments that had been plaguing me, adding a few new ones like intense stomach pain, often leading to me doubling over in pain in bed, acid reflux, and what I deemed a rather strange problem, sensitivity to light.  Being in the sunlight was pure torture.  I could hardly open my eyes fully.  It felt as if someone was standing a foot away from me shining a flashlight directly into my eyes.

The doctor made his notations, ran some blood work, and told me to come back for a follow up.  At my follow up visit the doctor explained to me that everything was normal.  For the first time I asked if Lyme Disease could be the culprit.  A clear “no” was the answer.  I had never had a bull’s eye rash, and at that time, such a rash would clearly point to Lyme, but without it, doctors were not open to the possibility that Lyme could be present without it.  Becoming slightly desperate for answers I pressed the doctor.  He mentioned that it could be a hormonal problem, but he honestly said he wasn’t sure what was going on.  He handed me a referral to a rheumatologist.   I made my appointment, provided my ever growing health history, and had a new series of testing done.  My follow up visit showed that all of my tests were normal.  There was nothing wrong with me.  He suggested that I return to my primary care doctor, advice that I promptly ignored.

By this time, my body was so tired and my head so foggy, I spent much of my time in bed or lying on the couch.  I had all that I could do to make meals and take care of the kids.  The fatigue was so great that I could no longer walk up the stairs upright.  I begin to literally crawl; I made sure to avoid going upstairs all together if I could.  Old symptoms continued to intensify, while new symptoms continued to emerge.  I would break out into cold sweats in the middle of the day.  My body would shake for no apparent reason.  My face would twitch nearly constantly.  My jaw would literally lock up while I was sleeping, causing me to jolt awake when my teeth would crash together. Noise, not a ruckus, would be too much for me to bear.  Just the sound of my kids talking at the dinner table was too much to handle.  Their laughter was so intense that I had to leave the room.  I couldn’t listen to special music at church because a high note would send me spinning. What in the world was happening to me?

At a well visit for one of my boys, I desperately told the pediatrician what I was going through.  I had an excellent rapport with him and had known him for years.  I trusted him and valued his opinion.  He promptly told me that I was likely depressed.  I asked him if he had ever seen me in a depressed way at any of our visits.  “No.”  I became a bit indignant and told him that I was sick, not depressed, and left.  For the first time, I remember going home from that visit and crying.  I felt as if I were losing control and resigned myself to return to the doctor one last time.

This doctor’s visit was different.  I was rather forceful.  There was no one advocating for me and soon I began to realize that I had better step up.  I demanded that the doctor do something.  He gave me a round of antibiotics, I believe to shut me up, and questioned whether I was depressed.    With tears in my eyes and my children sitting with me, I quietly told him that I was not depressed, I had no reason to be depressed, I was S-I-C-K, and frankly, I was beginning to feel like I was losing my mind.  He walked out without a word.  The nurse entered the room with the prescription in hand and saw me crying.  I’ll never
forget her exact words: “Honey, you’ve got three little boys; you’re just tired is all.  Lose some weight; get some rest and you’ll feel better.”  Like a knife to the heart.

I took the ten day course of antibiotics and a light bulb went off.  Each and every time I took an antibiotic, I felt better, albeit temporarily better, but better nonetheless.  There was something bacterial going on here because if there weren’t, I wouldn’t see any improvement.  For some reason Lyme Disease kept coming to mind.  I feebly began doing research.  I also sought out a new doctor.  I made an appointment with the new doctor.  It was refreshing to have a physician listen to me.  At the end of our time she told me that she believed there was something going on.  She ran a lot of blood work, we’re talking nearly twenty vials of blood.  I know you know what I am going to say next:  everything was normal.  All of it.  From my sugar, to my cholesterol, to my liver, no sign of Lyme disease…nothing.  She told me to come back if I needed to.

Within a few months I noticed that my new symptoms were now scary symptoms.  I could no longer breath normally.  I couldn’t take in a full breath.  I often stood in front of my refrigerator with my head in the open freezer compartment.  The cold air allowed me to breath more freely.  I was dizzy.  I had one episode in my kitchen where the room started to violently spin.  I would wake in the middle of the night shaking.  I’d come downstairs to avoid waking my husband up.  I would proceed to sit on the recliner, wrap myself up and shake uncontrollably.  Inevitably, my husband would come down and hold me.  I could barely talk.  We were both scared.

I returned back to the new doctor and told her about the new symptoms.  She was concerned.  She sent me to a pulmonologist, who told me that I needed to lose weight and exercise, a cardiologist who said that my heart was fine but a bit weak, his solution was to lose weight and exercise, and finally to a neurologist, who, after running an MRI, CAT scan, and a ECG, determined that I had a sinus infection.

With that, I had come to the end of my rope with traditional medicine.  It had been eight years, eight years of no answers and no help.  The only thing that sustained me was the Lord.  Even in the midst of very dark times, He would shine a light.  Now, we prayerfully considered how to proceed.

My brother-in-law who lives about 45 minutes away, told us of an alternative practitioner in his area.  He had been known to help people who could find no help.  I made an appointment.  At this point my husband didn’t even want me driving anymore.  He was right.  So, he took me.  I provided my health history and we spoke for a while.  He explained his method for accessing patients.  It was different all right.  But it wasn’t new age; it wasn’t invasive, and after prayer, I felt that this was the right direction.  After ten minutes the evaluation was complete.  The practitioner looked at me, gave me his disclaimer that he couldn’t diagnose or say for certain what was ailing me, and proceeded to say that it was likely Lyme Disease.  A flood of tears came flowing out.  Finally!  Finally!  Someone believed me.  I wasn’t depressed.  I wasn’t a hypochondriac.  I was sick, and according to him, very sick.  The majority of my major organs were compromised and my brain was a mess.  This was great news!  Strange, I know, but I can’t tell you how freeing it was for someone to acknowledge that I was sick and not crazy.  Now I knew something.  Now I could do something about it.

I began to meet with the practitioner twice per week.  We began by cleaning out my diet, which wasn’t bad to begin with.  We eliminated new found allergy foods and began a detox.  I took some awfully nasty herbal concoctions and a ton of supplements.  He told me that I wouldn’t see results for almost a year.  However, within a few months I was improving a bit.  There was some hope.  At around the nine month mark, I did feel markedly better.  I had been sick for so long that I had completely forgotten what normal felt like.  I wasn’t back to normal, but things were moving in the right direction, for now…

Up next:  Back with a Vengeance!

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3 thoughts on “Lyme Disease Part II: The Depressed Hypochondriac

  1. Kim, I so enjoy the way you write! This account of your painful journey has me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment. What a difficult time you had of it!

    Like

  2. Pingback: Lyme Disease Part III: Rock Bottom | Life in the Van

  3. Pingback: Lyme Disease Part IV: Finding Normal Again | Life in the Van

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