The Three Stages of Lyme Disease

Adult deer tick, Ixodes scapularis
Lyme Disease is one of several tick borne illnesses that are often invisible not only to the outside world, but also to doctors and often the patients themselves. Lyme in the initial stages can be difficult to detect because everyone has a different reaction to the bacteria. It can be more difficult if you are bit by a nymph which is the size of a poppy seed, and even worse if that tiny beast gets into your hair. Deer Ticks are the most prevalent carriers of the lyme spirochetes, however, any tick could potentially have transmit the disease. Even if it's rare....

STAGE 1: IDENTIFICATION AND TREATMENT HERE ARE THE MOST CRITICAL, NEVER IGNORE A TICK BITE! 

If you are bit by a tick and have a tick spoon (which we will have available both here and on our fundraising site very soon), get it into a container (dead or alive), go to your doctor immediately and  have them give you and the tick a once over. If you can't save it, it's still critical that you see your If they are familiar with the risks of untreated lyme disease, they will give you a short course of antibiotics and *dingdong* the lyme is dead. If they AREN'T familiar, now YOU are and you can educate your doctor and ask for a course of antibiotics. 

Now, if you think you can't contract lyme disease because you don't live in the epidemic or endemic areas, or didn't get the telltale red target rash, know that about 50% of infected lyme patients never get a rash. Please do me a personal favor if you are in this situation. Keep a log daily of how you are feeling for the next 6 weeks. If you wait, and don't get a rash but start to get mild flu-like symptoms, headaches, unexplained joint pain and a host of strange, seemingly disconnected symptoms within 6 weeks of the bite, you now have a daily log to show to your doctor, explain the tick experience, and with your newfound knowledge you know what will happen if this goes untreated you have a good chance of getting treated. With a knowledgable doctor they will put you on a longer course of antibiotics, and you've got an excellent chance of never seeing or hearing from those spirochetes again. You've just been through Stage 1 [time of bite - 6 weeks]

STAGE 2: HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE, KEEP A LOG, AND DON'T IGNORE YOUR SYMPTOMS

Let's say you go for a hike, are camping, fishing, hunting, or are just generally out among the trees and flowers, enjoying your day. And as a responsible outdoors [wo]man, you inspect yourself carefully for ticks when you get home. If you have a significant other, this could be an interesting activity if you get extra thorough. But that's a COMPLETELY different page :)

You don't find any ticks. You don't get a rash. You feel fine.... for a while. Then you start getting sick. Your immune system seems to be crashing, your joints begin to hurt, your memory starts to get a bit off and your mood unstable, you may have indeed been bit by a tick in a place that once it was done it fell off, never to be heard from again. This is where I urge anyone who spends any time outside to keep a journal of your activities with dates, any bites from ANY bugs, and notes with symptoms. That way if 4 months later your symptoms come up, you can identify that you were indeed outdoors in an endemic or epidemic area and are a likely candidate for a tick bite. SEE YOU DOCTOR. If he doesn't have any idea that you could have lyme from your log or from your symptoms SEE ANOTHER DOCTOR. Go to www.ilads.com and find a lyme literate doctor near you. Or PM me and I can try to connect you with someone in your area that can help. But at this stage it is CRITICAL that you get intensive treatment, because this is STAGE 2, and it goes only from 6 weeks to 6 MONTHS of exposure. After this, Stage 3, gets extremely complicated.

STAGE 3: YOU ARE NOW IN LATE-STAGE LYME DISEASE, THE GREAT IMITATOR, THE SEARCH FOR ANSWERS THAT NEVER ENDS.... UNTIL IT DOES. AND THE ANSWER IS LYME FOR LIFE.

Once you get to Stage 3, things get a pretty difficult. Lyme Disease Bacteria do not discriminate where they go once in your body. It could be tendonitis, then migraines, then thyroid issues. For the next person it could be memory issues, rheumatoid arthritis, and endometriosis. If it goes into your gut/intestines, it can cause leaky gut syndrome which opens you up to a whole host of issues like weight gain, food allergies, autoimmune conditions, skin conditions, thyroid imbalance, hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, gallbladder infection/stones, kidney stones or infection, and the list goes on and on. It really does affect everyone differently, which is why at this stage it is important to find a reputable Lyme Literate doctor. For some reason, there is still controversy over the treatment protocols  for late stage lyme, so it may depend on your area how easily you can find a good doctor. Some will identify themselves with the suffix LLMD instead of just MD. You can go to www.ilads.com to find a doctor near you. No matter where you are in the country, my doctor, Dr. Marty Ross, LLMD can help you as well. Whether it's with initial diagnosis in person and then follow up visits via skype, or helping you find resources in your area, he is one of the best.

At some point during this post, for some of you, a lightbulb may have gone off, whether for you or someone you know. EVEN IF YOU'RE WRONG, talk about it. At this point it could be the difference between 2 years of painful treatment vs. a lifetime of the wrong diagnoses with meds and therapies that never help. I've had this disease for 30 years. Of this, I know.


JUDGMENT DISCLAIMER FOR YOURSELF, YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY:

If you get to stage 2 or 3, do not blame yourself. If you were infected as a child, do not blame your parents or let them blame themselves. Lyme disease bacteria don't discriminate which ticks they infect, and the ticks don't discriminate which body they latch onto. Once they go in your body, it can look like a lot of small disconnected illnesses until you have a large trauma or extensive surgery from which you never seem to recover. It can be difficult to hear that after you've been through a painful procedure or a heartbreaking emotional trauma that you now have a debilitating disease that you will have in some form for the rest of your life. 

Something I will talk about in a later post is that there isn't one easy little test that you can go into your doctor to say definitively YES or NO whether you have lyme (you can thank the CDC for that one). Lyme is a clinical diagnosis, so until you begin showing signs and symptoms, you cannot be effectively diagnosed. So if you start getting illnesses that don't seem connected, find a multisystem disease specialist.

Lyme Disease is a CDC recognized tick borne infectious disease, not something your local MD may be versed in. Also, not something that you can cure with diet, fecal transplants, or being the perfect specimen of a human being. When we get to my history you will see that at several points in my life I had been in the "non-sick" phases. But those were always the commas, not the content of my life.

If any of this rings a bell, turns a light on, blows softly in your ear or slaps you across the face: GET HELP, FIGHT HARD, TELL OTHERS, AND PAY YOUR KNOWLEDGE FORWARD. You won't regret it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    





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About Me

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Seattle, WA, United States
I was recently diagnosed with late stage lyme disease along with other tick borne diseases, which I have had for 30 years. Now begins the fight.