Lyme:Undercover


While chatting with my friend Patrick over the phone recently about the many challenges of living with Lyme, our conversation migrated to romantic relationships and sexual health.

Patrick: how do you tell somebody you are dating that you have a potentially sexually-transmitted disease?

Briana: I know! And not send him or her running, never to be seen again. I wonder, can a man infect a woman and vice a versa?

…are there preventative options for healthy individuals?

With limited reliable information available about Lyme disease as a whole, it comes as no surprise that facts about sexual transmission are difficult to come by. Though the CDC* denies that the disease may be contacted via sexual activity, we all know that their so called “facts” are often erroneous.

After ping-ponging through questions about the physical and moral responsibilities of sexual health, I left our chat with two questions:

1. Do others with Lyme disease think about related issues?

2. What information have others received about Lyme and sex from medical professionals and or research?

I’m curious to hear from you! Please comment below, or if you would prefer, feel free to send me a message.

*CDC Lyme FAQ http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/faq/

Passenger

Another city, another doctor, another day. I know the arc of my rearview mirror; the waffle of the air vent; the bubblegum circle branded into my seat the way someone else recalls the curve of a lover’s face. A flurry of concrete whooshes beside me. My silver capsule trolls along the road. Again.

Marguerite 

I never saw a tick or tick bite or bullseye rash, so I don’t know exactly how I got infected. But I did have deer in my backyard and deer mice around. I was an avid gardener so I did tick checks and showered after being outside always and somehow still got infected. 

My first two tests were negative but were not done until two years after symptoms began. My symptoms began with mono, which I actually had. I now have chronic Epstein Barr Virus, and quickly progressed within several months to stage four inflammatory breast cancer from an area of swollen lymph nodes. I survived cancer but I am still treating Lyme and coinfections ten years later. I was two years undiagnosed. Now my test is finally, finally CDC POSITIVE for LYME.  

Ashley

Me in the hospital, trip three, day two, all wired up for an ECG.

Me and my dog, right before having to go back to the ER to be stabilized during an awful flare. The 3-day stay was torture, when all I wanted was to be able to be at home with my dog.

Waiting for Worms


Dishware dots my front yard, the chrome circumference of pots mirroring green. From my perch on the couch, my four-year-old eyes wait expectantly. Dribble descends from the sky, pinging into pots as rainfall splatters. In time, I’ll tromp the sodden grass, hand in hand with my mom to see them. Worms that have magically fallen from the sky will squirm in the bath I have created. The grandeur of it all tickles my insides like a feather.

Now, many lifetimes later, I think of those worms and how the delicious suspension of reality afforded me to believe that they came from above. That’s what it’s like, these days, trying to believe I can find home in this body; it’s like waiting for worms to fall from the sky.

Patrick

My name is Patrick Plum, and this is my story:

It was summer of 2012. I was living in the Midwest of the United States a few months before my 33rd birthday.

I had my dream job as a pilot for a major airline for 5 years. I’d been dating a girl for two years and had just bought an engagement ring. I was in excellent shape. I had just earned my first degree black belt, was teaching boxing and working out 2 plus hours a day. I was an avid motorcyclist and on my days off I’d often volunteer taking friends and their kids on single engine airplane rides. I also taught flying part time at a local airport. To be cliche, I was living the dream. My hard work was starting to pay off. One day, I looked in the mirror and saw a big “yellow bruise” on the left side of my chest. It didn’t hurt, so I didn’t think much of it. Little did I know, this rash was about to change my life…

In August I had just returned from a trip to Jackson WY. I’d also been spending a lot of time at my dad’s cabin in western Wisconsin. One morning, I woke up with a pounding headache and what felt like the worst hangover I had ever had. I tired easily and even though I continued to work out, I’d get weaker. I thought I’d been working too much or was experiencing jet lag from jumping time zones frequently, but no matter how much I rested, it got worse. Then came a myriad of other symptoms. Digestive problems, swollen glands, fatigue, malaise, muscle stiffness and several others.

I saw MDs, chiropractors, NDs, nutritionists, dentists, physical therapists, infectious disease specialists, etc. After 36 doctors, including some very well known specialists, they found nothing major. Low magnesium, low vitamin D, high Mercury, and high cholesterol. Several doctors attempted to steer me toward a mental health diagnosis, but I knew my body and wouldn’t accept that. I decided to seek out a doctor who just treated Lyme disease, a LLMD. I fit every symptom of it. She asked if I had been tested for Coinfections which, like most people, I had no idea what that was.

In April 2014, I had an answer. I tested positive for several tick borne infections. Since I had what is considered “chronic” or “late stage” Lyme disease, I was told recovery would not be short or easy. This was an understatement.

In May 2014, I made the decision that in order to fully fight Lyme disease head on, I needed to temporarily hang up my wings. My company has been a Godsend and told me to come back whenever I felt better. In May of 2015, I went public to friends, family and over social media.

It’s been the hardest 4 years of my life. Some of my symptoms resolved quickly and completely, others linger. Some of my friends and family amazed me with their compassion, others shocked me with their lack of loyalty. I continue to ride the roller coaster of symptoms. Above my counter with all of my meds and supplements, I have a picture of myself happy, healthy, and in my uniform at work. Since this is my goal and gives me something to work toward.

Since my diagnosis, I have also learned that doctors are unknowingly very poorly trained in Lyme disease. In fact, some don’t believe in chronic lyme disease at all. Since they won’t get it until they “get it” (get infected), I have made it one of my life goals to be a voice for the millions senselessly suffering due to medical ignorance with Lyme disease. I have vowed that the rest of my life will be used to try to change this. I’ll continue to do this long after I’m symptom free and have my “life back.”

That tick attached itself to the wrong person!

Lyme on the Road: an Expose

The path toward health is often riddled by roadblocks. Each individual with Lyme disease experiences tumultuous trials in simply existing. I’ve started a photo journalism project to document the unique journey each individual embarks on. Lyme on the Road strives to offer a unfiltered view into the varying experiences of living with chronic Lyme disease. Selected photos will be featured right here on Tick Talk.

If you do not have Lyme disease, you can still be involved by helping to raise awareness about this epidemic. Conservative data from the Centers for Disease Control estimates 300,000 new cases per year. However, due to a host of daunting controversies, many more remain misdiagnosed and undiagnosed. You can help raise awareness by spreading the word about Lyme on the Road by sharing this post. Chances are, whether you know it or not, somebody you love has Lyme disease.
To participate, please submit original photos in JPEG format along with a brief description, quote or poem to brianalbeaver@gmail.com

I invite you to come along for the ride and keep up with candid pictorial by subscribing to my blog.image