My Experience With Lyme Disease (22 July 2016)

Two weeks ago at this time I was making plans. My sister’s 37-year-old remains were put in the ground on that date and to my surprise I had lost my stoic demeanor. I was deeply saddened, and ready to turn to my usual method of dealing with hard stuff; bike rides and lifting heavy things. Physically I had been feeling strong and had returned to some harder workouts as well as longer bike rides. After months of watching the decline of one of my favorite people in this world, I was ready to return to the things I love with a passion.

That night, my sleep was disturbed by shooting pains in my left hip. I would reposition myself with some difficulty and doze back off. When morning came and I went to get out of bed, I knew something was very wrong. I could not sit up or stand without excruciating pain in my left hip. It was so bizarre! I had no issues with my hip before. No aches or anything. I limped up the stairs and found even using the bathroom would bring tears to my eyes. Any movement like picking my leg up, or moving it side-to-side, would cause such a sudden and sharp pain it would take my breath away.

I thought maybe an Epsom salt bath would help, so I carefully lowered myself in and soaked for a long time. It was incredibly difficult to get in or out. A friend came over for coffee. At that point I thought maybe I pinched a nerve. I sat down so carefully on a chair but couldn’t stay sitting. It felt better to stand; not so sharp at any rate. I grew very tired of standing that day. I would go to lay down and not be able to swing my leg up onto the bed/couch because the sudden pain would overtake me and I would cry out. I tried high-dose turmeric, fish oil, essential oils, muscle rubs, ice, ibuprofen…. nothing…. walking hurt. Stairs were taken like an old lady. Honestly if it would have stayed like that I would not have wanted to continue to live.

Keep in mind I have had a broken bone. I’ve birthed 2 of my 3 children at home without medications on purpose. I have raced endurance mountain bikes and pedaled 15o miles by myself in one day. I’m ok with some pain. This, though…. this was something else. It was a solid 5/10 achy, burning thing in the left hip joint when I was doing nothing and a 10/10 if I tried to stand. I needed help to get off the couch. I hate going to the doctor. I have a high-deductible insurance plan just in case of something terrible but by Saturday night I was dipping into leftover Vicodin from surgery in 2009 and wishing I could just go to the Emergency Room. I was up several times the next 2 nights and medicated myself that entire weekend. It was the most searing pain like a stab with a knife.

Other oddities that had been happening around that time were vomiting, insomnia, heart palpitations, moderate headaches, and brain fog. I chalked those symptoms up to the stress of a loved one dying.

Two or three weeks prior to this pain, I had been bitten by yet another tick. This one was different, in that it was impossibly small. Like a little bigger than the period at the end of a sentence. It was in my left outer thigh. I removed it without issue, but did develop a red rash and itching. It wasn’t a bullseye. I was bit again in that time. When I had hit a deer driving home from visiting my sister in the hospital, I had 7 ticks crawling on me after walking the roadside to collect car parts and make sure the deer was dead. One of them had bitten, but it was a standard woodtick. I wasn’t too worried. Ticks are part of being an outdoorsy girl, after all.

So, Monday morning rolled around. I took off of work and so did Steve. He drove me to Urgent Care so we would arrive as soon as they opened. I honestly feel like the next 1.5 weeks has been a blur. I was x-rayed and lab work was drawn. My x-rays looked fine. My inflammatory markers were up. The doctor listened to my heart and noticed the palpitations. I had a low-grade fever that had been coming and going. I struggled for words and felt ridiculous with how much pain it caused me to even go for the x-rays. I had such little range of motion in the hip joint. The initial Lyme test was negative and a tick panel was drawn to check for other tick-borne diseases. Due to the initial Lyme test being notoriously inaccurate and given my symptoms and history, I was started on doxycycline immediately. I could not even limp back to the car after obtaining the medication. Any sort of regular stride would make me yelp in pain. I was given an open-ended work release and felt completely debilitated. Yet, I’d been off of work so much recently for my sister.

I attempted to go to work the next day. With pain medication I could kind of function. Like, if I didn’t sit much I could get some things done. It was the sit-stand thing that really got me. Not to mention the fact I was exhausted, feverish, and my brain was in a fog. My sweet coworkers sent me home before I even made it to see a patient. They saw me stand up from a chair and said I should probably not be working. They were right! I don’t know what I was thinking. Work ethic and stuff. I did return that Wednesday. I know it was too soon. It took all of my energy and focus to visit my patients and I had nothing left afterwards.

The pain was better to the point of being able to function for the most part just two days into antibiotic treatment. I still woke at night with pain but the improvement with each dose was significant. The things that really lingered were the cognitive issues…. I just felt stupid and at a loss for simple words…. and the cardiorespiratory issues. Walking up a flight of stairs or a small hill had me stopping to breathe. I would have to stop mid-sentence to breathe. The fevers stopped by Wednesday the first week and ever so gradually the cognitive/cardiorespiratory issues are receding each day.

One and a half weeks out, I did kayak around our little lake today. I took a mile walk with the dogs. I tire easily. My muscles burn. My hip lacks full range of motion and has some aches/pains yet like I expect an arthritic joint might. The knee on that side is also affected. I feel a fog in my brain and need a little extra time to find words. But, every day there is improvement.

I have employed some complementary therapies to help my recovery. I’m eating a ton of veggies, more fruit, significantly less meat, drinking a little less caffeine, doing some juicing, consuming only quality flax and olive oils, meditation, coffee enemas most days, and yoga.

I wanted to write all this down before the memories fade, so I can reflect on how it was and how far I’ve come. My short-term physical goal is to…. hmm…. I have to think about that a little longer… and my longer-term goal is to be able to ride a lap on my mountain bike at Washburn by our wedding day in October. That’s all. Other than that, I’m enjoying a slower pace. Enjoying the beauty around me. Grateful for the doctor at the Urgent Care department. Grateful for Steve’s love and kindness no matter what.

Here’s to healing!!