Lyme Disease begins with a tick bite, and about half the time people have a bullseye-like rash appear in the bitten area, and half the time people don't even know they are bit... I was one of those that didn't have the rash. However, now that I have been diagnosed, and the test proved that I was bitten about 10-12 months before, a memory was jogged that changes, and I do know a possible time I was bit, but that is a different story for a different day.
After being bit symptoms start to kick in about 3 weeks after being infected. The problem is Lyme Disease is know as "The Great Imitator" because it imitates so many different kinds of diseases, and that is why it is so hard to diagnose. For example, if you would have asked me in July or August of 2014 why I got sent home, I would have told everyone it was because of depression, the fact is that Lyme Disease imitates depression, or MDD. It can also imitate Fibromyalga, MS, Bipolar, CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), Alzhimers, and also arthritis. It can effect basically anything in the brain, joints, nervous system, heart and muscles according to lymedisease.org. And from my blood tests that came back BEFORE I was tested for Lyme disease I had MDD, some possible Bipolar, some CFS, I was projected to have early heart problems, and countless vitamin and hormone deficiencies.
The thing is, people will get diagnosed with, lets say Fibromyalga, but the medication won't help them. So they go from doctor to doctor searching for help, and being told that it is "all in your head" luckily I was blessed to have Dr. Andrew Peterson D.O. of Holtorf Medical Group, recognize the symptoms very quick after getting back all my blood work, he immediately suggested I take a Lyme Disease test, because all of these sudden problems like MDD had shown up, without any background or history of MDD in my family, along with Bipolar, so we went from there.
The problem with figuring out that you have Lyme Disease is there are 2 different groups that deal with Lyme Disease, and 2 different forms of treatment, with 2 opposite views that are constantly bumping heads with each other. Basically one group that is control, the IDSA (the Infectious Desease Society of America), simply states that if you are tested positive for Lyme then you are given 2-4 weeks for of antibiotics and told that you are cured. If it works than kudos to them. If it doesn't work and your symptoms persist or get worse, than you are told that it is "all in your head" or to go get treated for your MDD or Fibromyalga because that is what you have. Many Lyme patients are not huge fans of the IDSA, who are sort of sponsored by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), who gets the final say, becuase they are ran by the government, on what is put in the books. In short, IDSA says "We know all there is to know about Lyme Disease, it is easy to cure and we have it under control."
The other group is called ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases). They are about focusing on the individual patient instead of a set in stone treatment. Because every patient is dealing with different problems (thus why it is so easy for Lyme Disease to slip through the cracks), they are each going to need different treatments. It sounds and makes the most sense correct? If you have a sinus infection you will be put on some sort of antibiotic but also take Advil for your headache, and a decongestant for your stuffed nose, and some cough drops for your sore throat. That is how ILADS works,
The big difference is that ILADS claims Lyme as a Chronic Disease, while IDSA says it is not.
Luckily my doctor recognizes that 3 weeks on Doxycyclen won't kill the disease, and so I will probably be on 3-4 Antibiotics for up to 2 years, until we can at least beat the symptoms. The kicker is that I will never be "cured". My doctor explained it to me like a cancer patient in remission, there is no way they can tell if all the cells are killed, just like that, there is no way to tell if all the bacteria in my body is killed. So I will just symptom free, there is a chance I can have it come back again. So Lyme is a part of my life now, for the rest of my life.
There is a lot more information on Lyme Disease, my doctor even gave me a book to read on it that I am currently trying to motivate myself to pick up. But here are some facts that I found pretty interesting:
So on the mission I started with depression. I couldn't explain what was happening, or ho I was feeling, but I was down all the time. I cried almost every night before bed, and I started to be really negative towards myself and critical of everything about myself. Every little mess up that happened, I started to blame myself for, and I started to hate myself, my image, my way of teaching, basically I ended everyday by saying "you are stupid" and I began every day by saying "I hate myself". I started to tell myself that I just needed to "suck it up" that this was just "all in my head". The first time my companion suggested that I was depressed, I totally blew her off thinking that it wasn't even a real thing. That people don't just get sucked into depression, especially while doing the Lord's work and sharing the gospel with others. And when I voiced that to my companion she explained how she knew of people that got sent home from their mission because of depression. Again, I blew her off thinking that if someone went home because they were depressed then they are a big fat weenie, and can't handle a mission. This was in January.
So around April (after talking to a counselor and getting put on an Antidepressant, and having to face that I truly was depressed), I was still having trouble with my self-esteem, I was always asking my Heavenly Father "why" and it was at first the question "Why me?" But then it turned into "Why Now?" And I found that asking Him that didn't provide an answer, so I would just get more and more frustrated with myself, believing that I still truly could "snap out of it", that I just had to find a great enough will power to "Suck it up".
Than the motivation factor became lost. My last companion (bless her heart, for putting up with all of me until the very end), used to say all the time that "If we can get the investigator a big enough Why, than they will do any What." I loved this. And I soon found I needed it more for myself than the investigator. One morning when the alarm went off at 6:20 AM so that me and my companion could go running, and usually I am up and ready to go. Mornings don't get me down, and I usually wake up and am able to go running. But that morning I could not get up. It wasn't that I couldn't wake up, I was very awake, but I could not get up. I didn't want to face the day, I didn't want to run. I just couldn't find it in me to get anything done anymore.
This motivation problem, which is caused by depression, is my main source of discouragement right now. Because I can't make myself do things anymore, I may start something, and never finish it. I have started this blog post 3 times, but for some reason I can't find "a big enough why" to get it done. Every morning when my alarm goes off I lay in bed for 15-20 more minutes, not because I am tired, but because I can't get up. I literally can't motivate myself to get up, and so I am rushing off to work every day, which does not help my anxiety at all.
Another problem that became very prevalent on my mission is what is known as "Bells Palsy" or facial paralysis. I would wake up some mornings and look in the mirror and my left eye would be closed, and swollen, and since I was hating myself and having such bad self-esteem, I would be very self conscious about it.
The Bells Palsy is in my left eye, with Sister Stolworthy and Sister
Eames. (sorry it's a little pixleated)
Since coming home I have experienced the anxiety, the flu like symptoms and some abdominal pain as well. Coming home was a big shocker to me and a very humbling experience. For the first 3 months of my return from my mission I was home early because of depression and anxiety. The very thing that I had laughed at. That I had thought "only weenies go home for that reason." I am not an expert on depression, nor do I claim to speak for everyone that has it. But depression is real, it cannot be helped. And it is not an excuse. I remember every day in the mission saying "I make no excuses for my efforts." I do not make excuses, but I know that depression is not an excuse, from experience. And my heart goes out to those people that have dealt with depression their whole lives! I came home blaming and hating myself for using what I thought was an excuse. But it is not. I now can say I came home because I have Lyme Disease.
Any other info you want on Lyme Disease can be found at these websites: