New Lyme book offers "science plus compassion"
Review of “Compendium of Tick-Borne Disease: A Thousand Pearls.”
“Compendium of Tick-Borne Disease: A Thousand Pearls” is formidable. For starters, it has more than 800 pages and tips the scale at almost five pounds. Luckily for people with Lyme disease, the book’s subject matter is even weightier.
“Compendium” is written by Dr. Kathy Spreen, a physician who had Lyme herself, whose husband had it, whose then-20-year-old son had it. After her family suffered firsthand from the utter cluelessness of the medical establishment regarding Lyme disease and co-infections—and after she recognized her own lack of knowledge on the topic—she embarked on a mission to help improve the situation.
This book, the result of years of research, is a medical textbook about tick-borne diseases. She describes it as “science plus compassion.” It’s aimed at health care providers, patients and caregivers who want to learn more about this highly complex set of illnesses and how best to help people who have it.
The dictionary defines compendium as “a collection of concise but detailed information about a particular subject,” and that’s exactly what this is. It cites more than 700 sources and draws on the experience of top experts in the field of treating tick-borne diseases. She gathered this information from their written work, lectures, and personal discussions with them. She sifted through conflicting opinions. In the book, she outlines alternatives and explores options.
As stated in the publisher’s description, “Previously, the contradictory, confusing an inflammatory rhetoric available made proper diagnosis and treatment of these cases difficult, if not impossible. Because Dr. Spreen compiled, interpreted, and consolidated expert opinion, medical literature, and hands-on experience into one volume, the reader finally has an accessible resource that will aid in collaborative, practical and compassionate decision-making.”
This is a valuable reference book. Between its detailed Table of Contents, index, appendix and glossary, you should be able to easily locate the sections that pertain to your own situation. You can look up symptoms, medications, testing, coinfections, and special subjects such as gestational Lyme, how tick-borne infections affect the eyes, and neuropsychiatric Lyme disease.
The “pearls” of the title are the author’s personal commentaries, sprinkled throughout in italics. At the end of the last chapter, she reiterates 29 points she hopes the reader will take from the book. Among my favorites:
- Lyme is a clinical diagnosis.
- A tick need only be attached a short time to cause disease.
- Chronic Lyme exists.
- More than one thing can be going on at a time.
- Treat infected pregnant women.
- A negative diagnostic test means nothing.
- EM rashes are not as common as we’ve been led to believe.
- Listen to the patient.
- Never give up.
TOUCHED BY LYME is written by Dorothy Kupcha Leland, LymeDisease.org’s VP for Education and Outreach. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .