She’ll use her “spoons” to help solve Lyme disease epidemic
By Laura Notorangelo
You know how people say not to look at the sun for too long? For me, Lyme disease is the sun. If I focus on it for too long, I don’t feel capable of doing much. So, I take a quick glance at my powerful obstacles, take care and leave the rest to fate.
What is the sun to me? Physical symptoms like arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, severe fatigue, heart palpitations and nausea, plus neurological complications including depression, anxiety, memory problems and confusion. It’s amazing what a tick is capable of.
You probably know that Lyme disease is caused by a bite from an infected tick. Who knows where my tick came from? Ticks feed on birds, deer, squirrels, house mice and more. It’s impossible to remember when I was bitten, as I loved the outdoors my whole life.
Found in parks, suburban backyards, forests and more, Lyme-infected ticks exist across America. Even nymphal ticks, the immature ones, can transmit Borrelia burgdorferi (the Lyme disease bacteria). If you are bitten, Lyme disease can lie dormant for years and stress can trigger it to attack your body’s weakest points.
Lyme is dubbed as the new “Great Imitator,” because it can be mistaken for a bevy of other diseases, including ALS and MS.
In 2014, I was misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and prescribed Prednisone, an immunosuppressant that nearly killed me.
Four months into taking Prednisone, I could hardly walk, tie my shoes, open a door, remember my day, or chew. I walked with an obvious limp, nearly getting run over by the fast-walking pedestrians of Chicago. Over-the-counter painkillers didn’t stand a chance against my condition. I was constantly in pain, even when I slept.
Since the Prednisone wasn’t “working,” I was prescribed a chemotherapy drug, methotrexate. I reluctantly picked up the prescription, took out the pills, stared at them, put them back in the bottle and let them sit in my drawer. It felt like having a loaded gun in my room.
Suspecting that Lyme was the root of my pain, I refused to take the methotrexate and saw my family doctor for traditional Lyme disease tests (ELISA and Western Blot), which were negative. But even though a test may come out negative, Lyme may be the cause of one’s symptoms, and we need to consider alternative types of testing.
I soon had more questions than answers, so an established doctor with 30 years of medical experience referred me to an electrodermal tester. This type of testing measures galvanic skin responses to detect energy imbalances. It can also detect the energetic frequencies of pathogenic microbes, including Borrelia burgdorferi.
When I was tested, I was shown the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi in my body, in addition to hypothyroidism and several co-infections. This was taking a toll on my organs, including my brain, pancreas, large intestine, small intestine, joints, muscles, lungs, thyroid, pituitary gland, endocrine system, lymphatic system and heart. My organs were compromised, with some functioning at less than half their potential.
Eventually, I found a Lyme-literate doctor who officially diagnosed me with Lyme disease, tapered me off Prednisone, prescribed antibiotics and suggested a robust nutritional plan.
Within weeks, the swelling in my hands subsided enough for me to make a fist. I remember staring at my hands as I walked around my room, picking up things and giggling like a child. I realized I was hardly limping as well, and I was laughing. I was hyper-aware of my surroundings, so my brain was getting better too.
Once my physical symptoms were under control, I saw a psychiatrist to sort out my neurological disorders. Currently, I only have a few symptoms at a time, which fluctuate, but I’m endlessly thankful to work, date and live my life again.
Even though I needed seven doctors to get an accurate Lyme diagnosis, I’m luckier than many people. Lyme disease is predicted to reach epidemic proportions. It needs to be more accurately diagnosed, identified and treated, or people will encounter severe consequences.
All in all, I call myself a spoonie, as do many others with a chronic illness. The spoon metaphor goes like this: a healthy individual starts the day with 20 spoons and an activity like showering or cooking costs one spoon. But a spoonie starts the day with only 10 spoons and each activity costs two spoons. Therefore, spoonies start and end the day with less energy than an average person.
Ultimately, I learned that spending my spoons wisely is the key to life. I have decided to pursue a career in healthcare and plan to use my spoons to tackle the approaching Lyme epidemic.
Laura Notorangelo is a pre-med student in Chicago, Illinois.