I have been reading a lot of Lyme literature again, kick-started by this BBC article about a new study into chronic Lyme disease. Basically, there are two arguments wrt "chronic" Lyme. The standard argument perpetuated by official authorities is that Lyme disease is easy treated by one month of antibiotics and then you're cured (even if you still have symptoms). The second argument, supported by Lyme-specific research groups and Lyme patients is that people with disseminated Lyme disease - where the infection becomes systemic - need long term antibiotics to treat a more complex infection because one month of antibiotics doesn't work in these cases. The problem is that there is not ONE reliable test that can confirm - or exclude - a Lyme diagnosis.
The article (which, as usual, is full of misinformation about Lyme) discusses a new method of diagnosis where uninfected ticks feed on someone with disseminated/ long-term/ chronic Lyme and then the ticks are tested to see if they have acquired the Bb spirochetes that cause Lyme. A study on primates showed this did happen. Basically the study could "prove" that it is possible for Bb spirochetes to survive a course of antibiotics. I never understand why this is so controversial given that other bacterial infections (e.g. TB) and even acne require antibiotics for longer periods of time.
It's actually more interesting to get into the real microbiology of Lyme spirochetes and learn that they are very clever, very adaptable little buggers that can morph into various forms in order to avoid capture by the immune system. One study (in mice) actually showed that the spirochetes could stop the immune system from detecting them as they invaded the lymph system.
In a way it's comforting to read other people's stories and experiences. This site has lots of them. I read a particularly interesting story on there this week about a physician who got Lyme. She was ill for years and years and saw many doctors for various symptoms before she eventually was treated for Lyme. Even although she's a doctor, she was still dismissed by other doctors who didn't take her seriously because her symptoms seemed so disparate. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of stories online about people's Lyme experiences and they are all very similar.
No-one knows why some people get very ill with it and other people manage to fight it - or never develop it after a bite. I suppose it's just the same as some people being allergic to certain foods, or getting acne, or having a low alcohol tolerance. Everyone is different. There are various theories, but no answers yet. It does seem that the longer a person has an infection untreated, the higher the bacterial load on their system, and the worse the symptoms become - pretty simple really.
So back to my situation right now... It is also the case that for whatever reason, spirochetes attack the weakest parts of the body, or attack when the body is weak. At the moment my symptoms have all resurfaced because my body's basically fighting on two fronts. My doctor says that right now my shoulder has to be my priority because getting my body stronger - healed - will help my immune system fight the Lyme again. But as soon as I can handle it we are going to take a more aggressive approach to the infection again, probably with some increased antibiotics. Right now I have increased some of my natural supplements that help in various ways.
There's not really a lot of information on having surgery while fighting Lyme, so I've not been able to find out much information on it. It doesn't really seem to be affecting my shoulder as much as the surgery has affected the Lyme. I suppose it's impossible to really separate them out, but it feels like my energy has to be focused on shoulder recovery and physiotherapy whereas before, all my energy was focused on the Lyme fight.
Another thing that is common in other people's Lyme stories and blogs is the difficulty of explaining it to people. It's often called an invisible illness because it doesn't necessarily make you look ill. It's hard to explain how much energy everyday things use up when most people never give them a second thought. Even having a shower can use up half the day's energy sometimes - which is an improvement on using the whole day's energy, like it did a couple of years ago.
I haven't written my blog for a couple of weeks because it's not been a great couple of weeks. I'm sore, everything feels like a huge effort and I want to sleep all the time because I feel like I have no energy. And I really don't like to moan and to complain so I was waiting to write something good. But really, I started this blog to try to spread awareness of Lyme disease and to help increase understanding of the illness so I guess that means talking about the bad stuff too.
This is my favourite song this week. Nothing like a bit of musical motivation and inspiration!