Sunday, October 2, 2016

Where I (Think) I Contracted An Auto-Immune Disease

Let me pose a question. Where do you think you can contract an auto-immune disease? Perhaps a sketchy college party or a rusty needle from a back alley tattoo parlor -- heck I don't know! That's a really random question. It's a question that I definitely never thought I would need to answer myself. 

Amidst all of the uncertainty that surrounds Lyme Disease, one thing I do know for sure is -- at this point, I will never know where I contracted this disease. Frustrating, I know! Especially when that is one of the first questions anyone asks. 

I know it was from a tick, but there are ticks infected with this bacteria world wide and cases reported in every single US state, so that doesn't really narrow down the options for me. Obviously, it is from somewhere I have been -- but, I have traveled all over the world, and in the past two years alone, I have visited over 20 US States. 

When my doctors hear my wide range of symptoms, they seem confused and perplexed. Once they review my medical history and blood work, the seem convinced, but not certain. (The Western Blot test is only 14% accurate, so uncertainty comes with the territory.) But then, when I show them where I went just a few months prior to the mysterious back pain that I described in my previous post, it's as if the stars align. 

Let's switch gears before you get annoyed with all I don't know, and I'll tell you about what I (think) I might know. (Okay, that probably didn't sound convincing, but please keep reading! You're not going to believe this!) 

This hypothesis is based on comparing my chronological medical history and comprehensive pharmacy report against the time line of my travels and symptoms. Ironically, I was able to refer back to this very blog to trace my footsteps. And the findings were eerie. Grab your tick repellent, and allow me to tell you a quick story. 

In August 2014, Shane and I took a road trip up the East Coast to visit his family. They host a pig roast each year, and we were so excited to be able to join them. To this day, it is still one of my favorite vacations! Prior to this trip, I had never been farther North than Tennessee on the East Coast, so I was thrilled to cross some states off our list and add to our collection of shot glass souvenirs. 

Hindsight is always 20/20, so before you see the original blog post of this trip, I will fill you in on a few things we realized retrospectively. Keep this in mind while you read the post about our road trip. 
  • Salem, CT is just 8.7 miles North of a small town called Lyme, CT. (This name is not a coincidence.) 
  • Come to find out, Shane's aunt, cousin, two of her children, their dogs and even the dang donkey have Lyme! How have I never even heard of this before some trash TV show? (Hi Yolanda!)
  • This bacteria affects every single person (and animal) differently. Consider it a complete wild card! 
  • And the most controversial bullet point of all --- If caught early enough, a high dose of oral antibiotics can clear out this bacteria while it is still in your bloodstream. When left undetected or undiagnosed, the bacteria has free rein and can wreak havoc on your body. Once it permeates to your bones, muscles, tissues and brain, antibiotics are no long effective and you are left with an auto-immune disease. This bacteria actually builds immunity to your own antibodies and any antibiotics you introduce it to.
Drum roll please --- here is a link to my original post recapping the trip we took in August 2014 -- 

To Grandma's House We Go!  

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