It took me a while to write this post. There’s so much I want to share with you, but I’m afraid it would become overwhelming and I would lose you. The battle between Lyme Disease and Chronic Lyme Disease is probably not widely known across the country, primarily because Lyme Disease itself is not well known. I am going to do my best to try to share my what I know as it relates to the controversy surrounding this illness.
To start us off, I want to remind you that Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria called “Borrelia” and it is most commonly found in deer ticks. Once you are infected with Lyme via a tick bite by an infected deer, it can take anywhere between 3-30 days before you noticed any symptoms. Once you noticed symptoms or you noticed a tick embedded in your skin it’s important that you see a doctor right away. At this point, you will be tested for Lyme Disease and if your test comes back positive you will be prescribed a round of antibiotics (most likely Doxycycline) for about 30 days. At this point the antibiotics will do it’s work and you should be ok. However, if you are bit by an infected deer tick and you don’t get treated within the first 30 days it can be hard to diagnose. The longer you go without being diagnosed, the harder it will be. This is where the controversy comes in.
Some doctors do not believe that an illness that goes untreated for long periods of time, such as Lyme Disease, could turn chronic. Some doctors believe that 30 days of antibiotics will do the trick and cure you. That is not the case with Lyme Disease. If you are infected and go untreated, the Lyme bacteria begins to take up residency in your body. The bacteria spirochetes begin to travel throughout your entire body and eventually every area of your body will become infected. Areas such as: (List not conclusive)
- Central Nervous System
- Respiratory System
- Reproductive System
Once the Lyme bacteria invades the various areas within your body and the longer you go untreated, your symptoms begin to worsen and the illness turns Chronic, as it did in my case. Once this happens, the illness can be hard to detect, primarily because the current tests are not specific or sensitive enough to detect Chronic Lyme that has been invading your body for weeks if not months. The main reason for this failure to accurately test for Lyme is the fact that there are more than 1 strain of Lyme. The traditional tests that most doctors use will only test for 1, which means you could get a false negative. In order to be properly diagnosed you will need to be seen by a specialist who knows about Chronic Lyme and has access to the proper test. When the disease isn’t caught in time, it can spread throughout the body and cause chronic health problems that could otherwise be avoided with earlier detection and treatment.
The short story is, if you are bit by an infected deer tick and become sick, please see a doctor immediately and be test for Lyme Disease. Some of the early symptoms of Lyme Disease are:
- a rash that looks like a red oval or bull’s-eye anywhere on your body.
- joint pain and swelling
- muscle aches
- swollen lymph nodes
- sleep disturbances
Please note that only 70-80% of people infected with Lyme will develop the bulls eye rash, which means that 20-30% will NOT develop one. That means, if you notice symptoms and don’t see the rash you should still see a doctor and get tested. If you dismiss the symptoms as something else like the flu and don’t get tested and seek treatment, the bacteria will infect your entire body and turn to Chronic Lyme and become more challenging to treat. Symptoms will increase and become intense over time, again making it harder to treat. At this point you will need to see seen by a doctor who knows about Chronic Lyme Disease who can determine the best path and begin treatment. The longer you’ve gone untreated the longer it will take to see improvement. In some cases, Chronic Lyme Disease can become debilitating and cause disability.
More work needs to be done, more education, better testing, and increased awareness in order for people such as myself who have been suffering for years, to get the treatment we deserve. For more information, please visit my foundation’s website Windy J Cumberbatch Foundation. To learn more about more story, please check out my podcast “Windy’s Journey” now streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts & more!
Thank your stopping by and thank you so much for your support!