[Image shows: 3 spoons laying on a laptop background while a clipart of torn white paper with a red paper clip is in the center. On the paper in green words says “Lyme Disease Awareness Month by Guest Writer Mikaela Cash” with a small green awareness ribbon overtop.]
May is a very busy month for awareness, there is arthritis, lupus, mental health, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, World IBD Day and then there is Lyme Disease. Something many do not know about. So we have guest writer Mikaela Cash to talk about her experience with Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease Awareness Month
by Guest Writer Mikaela Cash
As a child, I was always told to stay away from woodsy areas and to constantly be checking my hairline for hidden ticks, but I was never told why these tiny little creatures were so dangerous. That is, until I suddenly got sick. I went to specialist after specialist in an attempt to figure out what was wrong with me, but with every diagnosis came more questions. Nothing was adding up. Every once in awhile, one of my mom’s friends would ask her if I had been tested for lyme disease, but we were so stuck on the diagnoses I already had that us and all my doctors kept thinking that it couldn’t possibly be lyme. This went on until earlier this year when my mom started to question whether it really could be lyme that I had. And when we found the horrible stretch mark-like rashes all up my sides, it was decided. I had lyme disease.
Of course, testing was still needed, but the rashes on my sides were characteristic of an infection called bartonella that always goes hand-in-hand with lyme disease. Within the next few weeks, my first blood test for lyme came back negative. The testing for lyme is so inaccurate, however, that it almost never comes back positive the first time. So we tried again with a second, better test. This second test not only came back positive for lyme, it came back positive by diagnostic standards set by the CDC, which is extremely rare and requires testing to come back positive for several strains of the disease! Along with being positive for lyme disease, my testing also told that I had two lyme disease co-infections, which included the bartonella that we had already assumed I had from my rashes. I finally had a diagnosis!
By now, you may be wondering what this lyme disease I keep mentioning is. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by an infected tick bite. The symptoms are different for every patient and often mimic the effects of other diseases, which is one of the reasons why it is so hard to diagnose. And as I said before, the tests are horrible and it is very common for results to come back with false negatives. This is why even if you have tested negative for lyme, it can never truly be ruled out as a possibility.
It might seem like lyme disease is rare, but you’d be surprised how common it really is. Very recently it has become more clear how common lyme really is. More and more people are being diagnosed every day, even if areas where ticks aren’t thought to be found in. Lyme disease is quickly becoming a pandemic, and nobody even realizes it! May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and I am here to spread awareness. I’ve barely said in this article, and yet I have said so much. I am telling you right now that even if you don’t think you have lyme disease, to be tested anyways. And don’t be like those people who give up after the first test comes back negative. Go back and do a more accurate test. Always consider lyme disease as a possibility until proven otherwise.
All of this does sound awful, but there is hope. Lyme disease is treatable! But the treatments mean nothing if nobody is being diagnosed. So please, do your research and educate yourself further on lyme. Talk to your doctor about running tests. And most of all, help in the struggle to raise awareness! In this month of May, I challenge everyone who reads this to find at least one fact about lyme disease and share it on all your social media platforms. With your help, so many more people can be able to get the help they need.