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While working nights at the clinic, there would be moments when my mind would go blank in the middle of a sentence. I began struggling to remember words as simple as “scissors.” I thought I was just adjusting to working overnights. My parents noticed I would space out in the middle of conversations, and most days, I walked around like a zombie. I became so tired that if I wasn’t at work I would be sleeping. I was irritable and depressed but still, I chalked it up to working overnight.
Early symptoms in my health journey
I became ill multiple times with GI issues, and doctors couldn’t figure out why. During my anniversary trip to the beach that summer, each time I walked outside, I felt ill and any food that wasn’t bland made my acid reflux unbearable. I couldn’t explain why; it was almost like every nerve was on end all the time and I was physically and mentally exhausted.
Then it all took a turn. Three months ago, I woke up in extreme pain. My whole body was stiff and aching. It felt like I had run a marathon just getting up from the couch. I went to the doctor and my mother pushed me to get tested for everything under the sun.
My doctor suspected:
- Chronic Fatigue
My mother suspected Lyme Disease. My sister was diagnosed with Lyme a year before, after two years of unknown extreme fatigue. I wasn’t so sure. I haven’t been in the northeast in over two years and I never saw a tick on me.
Lyme disease diagnosis: stage 3
The next day walking to my truck after a ten-hour shift at work, I blacked out. I was able to get myself to the ER and was admitted with chest pain, shortness of breath, and extreme body aches/joint pain. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and sent me home. Two weeks later, my test results came back. I had chronic Lyme disease and because of my symptoms, it was likely in stage three along with another co-infection: Bartonella.
You see, when you get Lyme disease, you most likely have another co-infection with it and because the tests are so unreliable most Lyme literate doctors treat for the symptoms of the co-infections. I started a six-week course of IV antibiotics along with more vitamins than you can imagine.
26 years old and living with arthritis
The pain that I felt before I was diagnosed was nothing compared to the herxheimer reactions I had on the antibiotics. You see, when the Borrelia spirochetes die off, they form together in little clumps and release toxins into your body. Nothing helped and everything hurt. Any injury that I had from the past has become aggravating joint pain and at only 26 years old, I have arthritis in my hands and knees. I can’t be around loud noises or people and sometimes my body is in so much pain that it hurts to be held or touched.
Now, almost four months after being diagnosed, I am still in agony and unable to work. This disease has changed everything. I was just accepted into veterinary school and I’m not even sure if my body can make it through the rigorous studies that are required. A dream that I’ve had since I was little, and Lyme disease might ruin it.
My suggestion: Get tested if you have symptoms, wear preventative clothes and gear when going outside, and always check yourself and your loved ones for ticks.
A huge thank you to Cassidy McCarthy, Lyme Warrior & veterinarian, for sharing her story with us.
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