I had a lot of bloodwork done recently, and the good news is that I don’t have an autoimmune condition. The not-so-good news is that I have Lyme disease. I wonder why we continue to add diseases like we do flowers to a bouquet. Fibromyalgia, meet your new mate. So far, my bouquet contains fibro, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism, and now Lyme disease.
It’s incredibly hard when your goal is to remain as healthy as possible, but your body has other plans. Knowing the symptoms of Lyme disease has helped me to understand a bigger part of my health picture. Though my recent diagnosis answers many questions, I can’t say that I’m happy to add this to my list of chronic illnesses.
According to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Foundation:
“Common symptoms of early Lyme disease include:
- EM rash (80% are solid-colored, and less than 20% have a bull’s-eye appearance)
- Muscle and joint pain.
“The non-rash symptoms are often described as a ‘summertime flu.’ Some people may notice areas of numbness or tingling.
“Once the infection extends beyond the skin, it can affect any system of the body, causing symptoms including:
- Debilitating fatigue
- Muscle pain
- Nerve pain and weakness
- Heart problems
- Psychiatric symptoms
- Difficulty with thinking, memory, language and math skills
- Problems with vision and hearing.”
I currently have all of the systemic symptoms from the above list. It appears that I contracted Lyme years ago, and it is now considered chronic. Co-infections such as Bartonella (which I also have) usually exacerbate the symptoms of Lyme disease.
According to LymeDisease.org, common symptoms of bartonellosis include “blurred vision, numbness in the extremities, memory loss, balance problems, headaches, ataxia (unsteady gait), and tremors. Bartonellosis also sometimes triggers psychiatric manifestations.”
I experience all of those symptoms, and I’m finding it difficult to figure out which ones go with which illnesses, as many seem to overlap.
Dr. Richard Horowitz is a Lyme disease expert. An article published a few years ago in Psychology Today titled “Are Your Fibromyalgia Symptoms Due to Lyme Disease?” includes a link to a questionnaire that he has devised based on studies conducted in his medical clinic.
He writes that a score of 46 or higher indicates a “high probability of Lyme disease and associated infections causing your fibromyalgia.”
Dr. Horowitz adds that, “Although blood testing lacks sufficient sensitivity to conclusively eliminate Lyme disease as a cause of FM, a Western Blot showing exposure to the 23, 31, 34, 39 and 83-93 kda bands is definitive evidence of exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease, and helps to confirm the clinical diagnosis.”
I am convinced that Lyme disease and Bartonella were a primary factor in my developing fibromyalgia. I scored 85 on the questionnaire.
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