Lyme on my mind

Astrid13 recalls the alarming mental confusion associated with her life of chronic illness and explains how her own search for answers may finally be yielding results – though she still has a long road to travel…

Astrid - Bad Day
Bad day

In 2006, following a miscarriage, I began to suffer the most horrible cognitive decline.

A D&C had been performed under general anesthesia and after a brief recovery at the hospital, I was free to go home.

However, the days that followed began what was to become the most confusing and alarming time of my life.

My hormones were raging, my emotions were going haywire, and I was convinced that I had also left my brain in that cold and sterile Operating Room.

I began to mill around at home, a place I had lived in for the past 2 years and was quite familiar with. I remember making a cup of soup and then beginning to do the dishes.

But as I reached up to activate the garbage disposal, I no longer knew which of the 3 toggle switches on the tile backsplash controlled the disposal function. I froze…

It is ironic that a series of electrical switches baffled me because I also felt it was literally as if someone had flipped a switch in that high functioning part of my brain.

My days were riddled with pain and disorientation…

I got lost going to work, I got lost coming home. I carefully paid the bills using checks and paper statements. I meticulously placed the payment in the envelopes, affixed proper postage and walked the bills to the mailbox located down the street.

For two days I searched for that pile of bills. I contacted each company and arranged for payments over the phone and paid each one. I had zero recollection of paying the bills the two short days previously. It wasn’t until the businesses contacted me one-by-one that I realized I must’ve forgotten the entire process.

My husband and I took a week long trip to White River, Arkansas. I lost everything I touched. Keys to the RV, our camera, my cell phone. My sanity. From those times and through the years that followed, “normal cognition” no longer seemed to apply!

I’d be lucky to remember my birthday, not to mention anything less meaningful. I was swimming through mud each and every day. I was scared and shaken.

I began seeking help for depression after my husband came home to find me sitting in the dark on the cold slate of the bathroom floor, lightly banging my head on the full length mirror. I was lost and no one could find me or my 30 year old brain.

Under Our Skin
Link to trailer

A slew of diagnoses ensued – Depression, possible Bipolar 2, general anxiety disorder, Narcolepsy, ADHD, Fibromyalgia, and more. I was admitted to the ER under the stroke protocol and in less than a year, I suffered a series of seizures as well as catatonia.

The only task that I felt able to perform was powered by Google. I was on the computer around the clock researching global amnesia, and according to the information I found, my brain would begin to recall pertinent information again in due course and by itself.

But that never happened – I continued to deteriorate and suffer. 

It wasn’t until April 2013 that I received a big break. Although my brain was the first to go, my body had soon followed. The arthritis-like feeling in my neck, hips, and fingers had left me reeling in pain, with no explanation or relief.

A stranger to Pinterest, I was piddling around on Fibromyalgia forums in search of homeopathic bath soaks, when low and behold, I saw a notice for “Under Our Skin.”

This is an award-winning feature-length documentary about Chronic Lyme Disease, and I immediately felt the remaining pieces of my puzzling decline were finally within reach.

Diagnosis and treatment…

Lyme Disease Symptoms
The Symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease – image supplied by author

Over the next 2 months, I diligently researched Chronic Lyme Disease and officially received my diagnosis on July 3, 2013.

I had been bitten by something in Arkansas 7 years prior. There was no EM (Erythema Migrans) or “Bull’s Eye” rash that I can recall, and I never saw the tick that got a piece of my left hip.

Perhaps I never noticed, because a nymph tick is size of a poppy seed and can go undetected for days before it is discovered, or falls off of its own accord.  

I was infected with Lyme Disease that had primarily attacked my brain and had then stealthily moved on to a host of other body systems and organs. 

Currently, I am forced to travel out-of-state for treatment. It is a painful but, I feel, necessary, 8 hour drive every 4-6 weeks.

I need a PICC Line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) and IV treatment because I suffer from Neuro Lyme or Neuroborreliosis caused by Bb (Borrelia Burgdorferi) bacteria.  

A catheter is inserted into the superior vena cava and antibiotics are administered through a port above the heart. My physician is leery of PICC because there is not a physician in my home state of Texas willing to cooperate and help keep the PICC clear of infection and complications.

Astrid - Medications
My medications

I have been on a treatment protocol for 9 weeks and have been forced to take an extended leave of absence from work, where I am now at risk of losing my beloved position as an Adapted Physical Education teacher.

I am on 25 pills each day, and 4 of them are high dose antibiotics, together with 1 anti-malarial medication for one of my co-infections, Babesia, and I give myself self-administered injections 2 times a week.

Treatment has certainly been no cakewalk either!

The reaction from the medications coupled with the debilitating Lyme symptoms leave me bedridden most days. Unable to work or care for my children, unable to leave the house or see the sunshine. 

 I am expected to make a recovery, but I am facing 3-5 years of treatment. The antibiotic route is the best for me at this time because I have been infected with Lyme and Babesia for 7 years and Bartonella for 27 years from Cat Scratch Fever at 8 years old that wasn’t properly treated.

It is a long and bumpy road, but despite it all, I do feel I am one of the lucky few. I have answers. I have direction. I have support. It wasn’t always the case, but I encourage each of you to be your own advocate when doors slam in your face and your standard labs come back normal.

I had contacted the specialty lab, Igenex, in Palo Alto, CA. I convinced a physician at a local walk-in clinic to sign the orders. I received the results directly 4-6 weeks prior to getting in to see my LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor).

My relentless Google powered efforts are paying off. So keep up the fight. You are worth it and no one need fight alone.

Share this!