Taking a Bite Out of Lyme

I used to believe that my healthy lifestyle and knowledge of so many alternative wellness principles made me immune to serious illness. Just five years ago, after I’d successfully taken such perfect control of my body, I was so confident that I’d never need medical insurance again that I fearlessly quit my full-time job in a shaky economy.

But beneath my skin lurked a dangerous secret. I realize now how often it whispered of its presence over the years, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2013 that I finally began to pay attention. Even then, I never would have imagined that, not even two years later, I’d become so closely acquainted with doctor’s visits, scans, blood tests, and antibiotics. (Thank goodness I’d said “yes” to a part-time teaching job that came with decent benefits.)

This month, I’m joining people all over the world in taking a bite out of Lyme Disease–which affects both people and animals–through the Lyme Disease Challenge.

Animal communicator Jill of Ark takes the #LymeDiseaseChallenge for animals and people. Help #TakeaBiteOutofLyme at http://lymediseasechallenge.org.

I can’t tell you with certainty that I am a Lyme Warrior because of a divide within the medical community about how to diagnose and treat Lyme Disease and co-infections. I can only tell you that I very likely am a Lyme Warrior, thanks to the efforts of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) to spread awareness of the inherent complexity of Lyme cases.

The standard two-tiered testing paradigm that is currently accepted by Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is so insensitive that it misses nearly half of positive cases, according to studies. To further complicate the matter, there are 5 subspecies and over 300 strains of borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease) worldwide, and ticks also carry and can transmit other bacterial infections, viruses, or parasites, including Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis, just to name a few.

I was lucky that my symptoms and medical history were taken seriously by an educated practitioner, and that my “partially positive” lab results–coupled with the confirmed elimination of additional explanations for the chronic joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and neurological problems I was experiencing–allowed me to start treatment. Others aren’t nearly as fortunate.

But where I’m not so lucky is that it took a long time for anyone to figure this out. The longer Lyme remains in the body untreated, the more difficult it is to eradicate. And I’m definitely not alone in this club I wouldn’t wish for anyone to have to be a part of. That’s why education is so, so, so important.

While there is much we can do to keep ourselves healthy, we have to remember that some things are beyond our control. A bite from a tick nymph–the size of a poppyseed–could change our lives. But by taking measures to protect ourselves outdoors and by understanding more about Lyme Disease, we can minimize our risks and damages.

If you’re reading this, I challenge you to help promote awareness of Lyme Disease–the fastest-growing vector-borne infectious disease in the United States (according to the CDC)–through this grass-roots campaign. All donations are received by ILADEF, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society’s 501(c)(3) non-profit educational fund.

The challenge is simple:

Why is there a Lyme Disease Challenge? To quote the website, “because those suffering from Lyme Disease and co-infections are challenged in all aspects of diagnosis, treatment, and research funding every day.”

Here are a few more facts about Lyme Disease, courtesy of lymediseasechallenge.org:

  • Studies show that up to half of all patients with Lyme Disease received false negative results. This delayed diagnosis means they don’t receive needed treatment in a timely manner.
  • Children are at the highest risk of contracting Lyme Disease and are more vulnerable to central nervous system infections.
  • The CDC estimates that there are 300,000 new cases of Lyme Disease each year in the United States, 10 times more Americans than previously reported!  Some experts believe the actual number of new cases could be as high as 1-2 million new cases per year in the US alone.
  • Lyme Disease has been called “the great imitator” and can be mistaken for numerous diseases such as ALS, MS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, autism and other difficult-to-diagnose multi-system illnesses.
  • Lyme Disease is prevalent across the United States and throughout the world.  Lyme disease has been found on every continent except Antarctica.

Did you accept the challenge? Share your #LymeDiseaseChallenge photo or video with @jillofark on twitter and instagram. If you’ve been touched by Lyme, I’d love to hear your story! Use my contact form to send me a message.

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